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through the gamut of the emotions. And yet, pervading the whole, is still the invariable vein of comedy. For there is Mr. Pericles, in the thickest of the terror and the fighting, appalled by no danger, arrested by no scruple, abstracted in the absorbing enthusiasm of his vocation, and still keeping his eye on the volatile prima donna, who, like the will o' the wisp, always threatens to elude him. Mr. Meredith has been painting a series of portraits and scenes rather than writing a connected story, and so he brings down the curtain abruptly. The victims of a defeated cause disappear simultaneously in a tragic dénouement, and Vittoria is left lamenting but resigned. There are some eloquent passages in the epilogue. Her soul had crossed the darkness of the river of death in that quiet agony preceding the ' revelation of her Maker's will, and she drew her dead ' husband to her bosom and kissed him on the eyes and the 'forehead, not as one who had gone quite away from her, 'but as one who lay upon another shore whither she would 'come.'

As for One of our Conquerors,' we may sum up our criticism in three words. If it is not Sturm und Drang, it is spasm and gasp. Here Mr. Meredith has surpassed himself in his peculiar manner, and no more need be said.

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Passing on to Beauchamp's Career,' which, with all its eccentricities, has much more to recommend it, with no vish to be ill-natured we may again quote Mr. Meredith imself as unintentionally indicating his favourite style. fter describing his hero's character he remarks: That vas the impression conveyed to a not unsympathetic hearer y his forlorn efforts to make himself understood, which were like the tappings of the stick of a blind man, mystified by his sense of touch at wrong corners. His bewilder'ment and speechlessness are a comic display, tragic to 'him.' Though we modestly admit that the bewilderment may be on our own part, and the speechlessness' ought to be translated into elliptic and unintelligible speech. A page or two afterwards is another sentence equally applicable, but more self-flattering: Since the day of his purchase he had gone at it [his book] again and again, getting golden 'nibbles of golden meaning by instalments, as with a solitary pick in a very dark mine, until the illumination of an 'idea struck him that there was a great deal more in the 'book than there was in himself.' We assent to the truth of the last sentence, but we might be helped to a clearer knowledge did we understand the book's purport. Here,

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as often, Mr. Meredith puzzles us. Is Beauchamp's 'Career' a satire upon political faddists or a eulogy of farsighted sturdy independence? Are we to admire the hero for conscientious tenacity of purpose, or ridicule him for perverse pigheadedness? As usual, Beauchamp and his wealthy connexions regard filthy lucre with supreme contempt, so that the risks he runs, and the sacrifices he courts, are more apparent than real. In ordinary life, as in ordinary fiction, the youth who offends the uncle from whom he has great expectations knows exactly what he may expect. When he makes an ineligible marriage, or goes to grief in any other way, he has counted the cost, and is prepared to pay the penalty. But Mr. Meredith's heroes, with a sublime assurance, which is seldom misplaced, show their faith in the nobility of paternal or avuncular nature by following up gross offences by the drawing of heavy cheques. Beauchamp thwarts his uncle's opinions and crotchets in every conceivable way, and then looks to the reactionary aristocrat for the election expenses when he stands as an advanced and subversive demccrat. Yet Lord Romfrey did draw the line at a certain point. Beauchamp made use of the house in London, and he called at Steynham for money. that he could have obtained on the one condition, which 'was no sooner mentioned than fiery words flew in the room.' The condition had nothing to do with politics; and it was only because Beauchamp could not accede to it, that the uncle got irritated over the nephew's radicalism. The election drags out to tedious length, and is described rather metaphysically than dramatically. In point of exciting interest it will bear no comparison with the contests that have been immortalised by Warren, Thackeray, and the first Lord Lytton. But Beauchamp's first love affair is handled with wonderful force and delicacy, when he surprises the heart of a beautiful French girl whose hand has been pledged by a family compact. Her father, and her brother, who is Beauchamp's admiring comrade, have absolute confidence in her. Nor is the confidence misplaced, for duty triumphs over love, although opportunity and the voluptuous associations of romantic Venice nearly betray her into forgetfulness and an elopement. The tie between them is relaxed, but not severed, after she has resigned herself to the fateful mariage de convenance; for afterwards she summons Beauchamp to France, when urgent private affairs demand his presence in England. It is characteristic of him that, casting prudence and the proprieties to the winds,

Of two courses

he is prompt to respond to the summons. he will always choose the more absurd, and any crotchet or rash act has an irresistible charm, if it only sets his interests and common sense at defiance. The object of his early adoration has taken leave of her husband, and a very delicate reason is assigned for the sudden snapping of the ungenial connexion. Matters might have been simplified had the husband had the courtesy to die; and with advancing years and failing strength he might have taken himself away to the other world politely and decorously. But that natural solution would have been too much in accordance with conventional rule. Beauchamp not inconsistently engages himself to a girl whom he may have reason to respect, but never pretended to regard with affection. Possibly be pledges himself out of gratitude to her guardian, who has inoculated him with the visionary doctrines which have marred a promising career. At least, they have so far marred it as to make him a political failure, and an object of ridicule to his friends and relations, although their abilities were infinitely inferior to his own. But otherwise his follies have cost him nothing, so we fail to find a moral or a meaning in his story. For his tragic end was a simple accident, the result of his acting upon one of his habitual impulses; and it was his unfortunate betrothed who was the more to be pitied, though we doubt whether the happiness she had hoped for would have long outlasted the honeymoon.

We have found as little meaning, and certainly less of moral, in Mr. Meredith's last novel. The style is exceptionally involved, and the purpose is phenomenally obscure. As in One of Our Conquerors,' the main interest in the plot turns upon the false position of an unacknowledged wife. But in the former novel vice was visited by retribution; in Lord Ormont and his Aminta' the sinners not only escape with impunity, but have coals of fire heaped upon their heads, and are blessed by a victim to whom cursing came naturally, and who was the last man to let injury pass unavenged. If there be a moral, the moral is this: That it is safe to give illicit affection free course, and not only right, but wise to run away with the wife of your benefactor. Matthew Weyburn has no sort of claim to Aminta beyond that of a foolish boyish fancy. If they had a common tie, it was in a sympathetic hero worship. Young Weyburn, who must have been a precocious and rather priggish private schoolboy, had devoted himself to the study of contemporary military history. He made a personal griev

ance of the wrongs and grievances of Lord Ormont, the brilliant Indian general, who had been misconceived and maltreated by a scurrilous press and an ungrateful country. A strange coincidence makes Weyburn confidential secretary to Lord Ormont. The injured and neglected hero is writing his memoirs, which are to be an indictment of the crass stupidity and gross ingratitude of that 'lout' the English people. Weyburn admires as much as ever, but he is thrown into familiar relations with the insulted wife. The superficial ice of that frozen statue is melted, and she first betrays herself when she and her old school acquaintance stand together over the death-bed of his mother. When she flies from the stately home and the protection of her chivalrous but egotistical husband, she confides unreservedly in Weyburn, who for the time, to do him justice, does not abuse the trust. They come to an understanding in circumstances which should have cooled or tempered the passion. It is grotesquely characteristic of Mr. Meredith, and yet a delightful bit of extravagant comedy, when the world is well lost for both of them in the waves, as they indulge in a prolonged and epigrammatic tête-à-tête while bathing off the Essex coast. Weyburn's secretaryship has only been an interlude in his fixed life purpose, which was to become the philanthropic principal of an international school. The prelude of a culpable elopement would hardly have seemed a recommendation to parents, but Weyburn actually makes capital out of crime. For the gifted and charming companion of his flight is there to superintend a seminary for young ladies. Weyburn's worldly success in the circumstances is something of a shock to our moral principles, but Lord Ormont's conduct throughout staggers us still more. We should have said that no man was less likely to bend his will to popular prejudice, and having placed a coronet on Aminta's head, why should he hesitate to avow the act? He is robbed of the wife he really adores by the favoured protégé he has admitted to his intimacy; and a chance brings him into contact with the ravisher when the pair who have outraged him were peaceable and prosperous. By all we know of human nature and of this hot-tempered and vindictive soldier, we should look for a terrible outbreak of wrath. A word from him as to their past would suffice to ruin them. We do not pretend to say whether it is from transcendental generosity or sublime contempt, but the fateful word is never spoken. On the contrary, Lord Ormont sends his favourite grandson to be educated and cherished by the vipers w'io had stung him

What is the mean

when he had taken them to his bosom.
ing of it all? we ask again, as we have to ask so often in
attempting the interpretation of these novels. As the
mystic of fiction, Mr. Meredith takes precedence before
Browning, the mystic of poetry, as in the eccentric contor-
tions of his style he far surpasses Carlyle. To the last, and
after conscientious and scrutinising study, we dare hazard
no conjecture as to whether he thinks in the dialect he has
originated or does his work in ordinary English, translating
as he goes along. We believe that most brilliant writers
yield to the fascination of their own fictions, and that their
enjoyable abstraction among the creations of their fancy
sweetens the intellectual toil, and repays them for physical
exhaustion. But we feel inclined to pity Mr. Meredith
for the self-imposed and intolerable strain which turns
to incessant tours de force what might be pleasant diversions
in light literature. And when criticism concerns itself with
a man of his calibre, it is impossible to avoid an uneasy
consciousness that the fault may be ours if we have not ade-
quately appreciated the genius we have cordially recognised.
For undoubtedly the man must be extraordinarily gifted
who by persevering determination has asserted a position
which makes it a fashion to profess some familiarity with
his novels among triflers who, if they cared to read, could
have scarcely a glimmer of their meaning.

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