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a stratum of secret vice underlies the this we are a little doubtful; but outward seeming of society. Most the fact that this new and disgustof our neighbours, we know, are ing picture of what professes to be very good sort of people, and the female heart, comes from the we believe unfeignedly that our hands of women, and is tacitly acneighbours' neighbours resemble cepted by them as real, is not in

It is possible to believe any way to be laughed at. Some that very fine people or very shabby change must have been wrought people are profoundly wicked, but upon the social mind ere such as for the world as represented on things could be tolerated at all; our own level we know that it is and even now we are not awakened not so.

The girls of our acquaint- out of our calm to a full consciousance in general are very nice girls; ness of the change. When we are they do not, so far as we are aware- so, then we will, of course, accordnotwithstanding a natural procliv. ing to our natural English course ity towards the society, when it is of action, take tardy measures of to be had, of their natural com- precaution. We will attempt, in panions in existence-pant for in- the face of all our traditions and discriminate kisses, or go mad for habits, to establish the Index Exunattainable men. And yet here purgatorius; we will lock up the stands the problem which other- books which are not for the jeunes wise is not to be solved. It is gens; we will glance, ourselves, with thus that Miss Braddon and Miss curiosity and a sense of guilt, “just Thomas, and a host of other writers, to see what it is like," over the explain their feelings. These ladies objectionable portion of our library might not know, it is quite pos- parcel

, and we will make up our sible, any better. They might not minds to say nothing of it before be aware how young women of the girls. Vain thought! If the good blood and good training feel. girls are such as they are therein The perplexing fact is, that the described, one book or another will subjects of this slander make no do them little harm; and if the objection to it. Protests are being picture is false, why do they accept raised everywhere in abundance, it? So far from showing any diffibut against this misrepresentation culty on this point, it is those very there is no protest. It seems to be books, according to all appearances, accepted by the great audience of which are most in demand. The the circulating libraries as some- 'Times' deals them the crowning thing like the truth. Mr Trollope's glory of its approval. The critical charming girls do not, now that we journals, if they do not approve, at know them so well, call forth half least take the trouble to discuss; so much notice from the press as and “the authorities at the great do the Aurora Floyds of contem- circulating libraries," as somebody porary fiction. Is, then, the picture says—those sublime critics who sit true ? or by what extraordinary im- at the fountainhead of literature, pulse is it that the feminine half of and enlarge or choke up at their society thus stigmatises and stulti- pleasure the springs of our supplyfies its own existence ?

find it impossible to resist the pubThe question is one at which we lic craving for its favourite food. may wonder, but to which we can Mr Mudie, too, may utter a “progive no answer; and it is a very test,” but it is futile in face of serious matter, let us look at it as we the protests of fiction. We conwill. It may be possible to laugh fess to having felt a sense of injury at the notion that books so entirely in our national pride when our soworthless, so far as literary merit lemn contemporary, the 'Revue des is concerned, should affect any Deux Mondes,' held up in one of its reader injuriously, though even of recent numbers the names of Miss

Annie Thomas and Mr Edmund And the fact is all the more Yates to the admiration of the humbling when we consider the world as representative novelists of very small amount of literary skill England. And yet, after all, though employed in the construction of the

acknowledgment naturally costs these books. In France, again, it us a pang, the Frenchman was is the other way. A wicked novel right. Such writers are purely, there may be very disgusting, but characteristically English. They it is generally clever, and sometimes are not brilliantly wicked like their possesses a certain hideous sort of French contemporaries. The con- spiritual interest. When the vilest sciousness of good and evil hangs of topics happens to fall into the about them, a kind of literary hands of such an anatomist as fig-leaf, a little better or worse than Balzac, or under the more human nothing. Though it is evident that touch of Victor Hugo, there is the chatter of imaginary clubs or something of calm science in the still more imaginary studios is their investigation-a kind of inexorable highest idea of social intercourse, and passionless dissection which still the guardsmen and the painters renders even such studies impresdo not talk so freely nor half so sive. But English sensational books cleverly as they would have done of the day have no such attraction. on the other side of the Channel. We do not gulp down the evil in That sublime respect for sentimen- them for the sake of the admirable tal morality and poetic justice skill that depicts it, or the splenwhich distinguishes the British dour of the scenery amid which it public, stands forth in them beyond occurs. On the contrary, we swalall question. The wicked people low the poorest of literary drivelare punished and the good people sentiments that are adapted to the are rewarded, as they always should atmosphere of a Surrey theatrebe; and there are exquisite bits of descriptions of society which show pious reflection which make up to the writer's ignorance of societythe reader for a doubtful situation style the most mean or the most or an equivocal character. This, inflated—for the sake of the objechowever, is what we have come to tionable subjects they treat. The in the eyes of our neighbours. It novels which crowd our libraries is not so serious as the moral ques- are, for a great part, not literature tion, but it is in its way very at all. Their construction shows, serious. A critic, indeed, may in some cases, a certain rude skill, deceive himself when he looks in some a certain clever faculty of across the mists and rains of the theft; but in none any real invenChannel ; but if he is guided by tive genius; and as for good taste, what English papers say-by what or elegance, or perception of charadvertisements say—by the evid- acter, these are things that do not ence of circulating libraries and pub- tell upon the sensational novel. lishers' announcements—how can The events are the necessary he judge otherwise ? The glories things to consider, not the men; of the moment are in the hands and thus the writer goes on from of Miss Thomas and her class. one tour de force to another, losing Whether it be in appreciation, or even what little natural gift might contempt, or amazement at the extra- belong to him in its over-exercise, but ordinary character of such successes, never losing the most sweet voices the fact remains that our weekly which he has once conciliated. critics never fail to say something Such at least is the evidence of about their productions ; and is the newspapers. 'Rupert Godwin,' not Maga also now beguiled to the for example, the last work pubfurther extension of their fame? lished by Miss Braddon, although It is humbling, but it is true. published only a few days, is already, according to the advertise- and though it may be possible ments, in the fourth edition. Yet to borrow with small acknowledgit would be difficult to point out ment a French story, it is temerity, one single claim it has to popular indeed, to plagiarise so well-known approval. We have met with a production. Yet this is what many curious things in these lower Miss Braddon has ventured to do. regions of bookmaking, but it has She has taken the bones of the never been our fate to meet with tale, as a poor curate might take a any piece of literary theft so bare- skeleton sermon. Having no flesh faced and impudent as this book. to put upon them, it is true that, The story is copied in all its im- honester so far than the curate, she portant particulars from Mr Charles leaves the bones as she found Reade's well-known and powerful them; and, notwithstanding a libnovel of ‘Hard Cash'-a work, we eral mention of violet eyes and need not say, as far above the lower golden hair and dark Spanish world into which ‘Rupert Godwin' beauty, presents her personages to has been born as it is possible to us in a skeleton state. But this, it conceive. The story of ‘Hard would appear, makes no difference Cash,' as everybody knows, is that to an admiring public. Here is the of a sailor captain, who confides his compiler's own account of the rehard-won money to the care of a ception given to this piece of stolen banker, and, being cheated, goes goods :mad, and is only rescued after

“Rupert Godwin' was written for, many moving adventures by sea and land, his wife and children journal. From this source the tale was

and first appeared in, a cheap weekly in the meanwhile being left des- translated into the French language, and titute. In 'Rupert Godwin' the ran as the leading story in the Journal conception is so far varied that the pour Tous.' It was there discovered sea-captain is stabbed, and left for by an American, who retranslated the dead by the wicked banker ; but matter back into English, and who oball the other incidents may stand in the columns of the New York Mer.

tained an outlet for the new translation as above narrated. There are two cury. These and other versions have been pairs of lovers, son and daughter of made without the slightest advantage to the respective banker and victim, the author, or indeed without the faintin both books; there is a madhouse est approach to any direct communica. in both books, and a clerk who be. tion to her on the subject. Influenced trays his master, and a marvellous by the facts as here stated, the author

has revised the original, and now offers recovery for the killed and mad the result for what it is namely, a tale hero. The only little difference is, of incident, written to amuse the short that in one book this hero is a intervals of leisure which the readers of certain glorious sailor, dear to our popular periodicals can snatch from their hearts, noble old knight of romance, daily avocations, and also as a work that simple old English seaman, David has not been published in England, exDodd, altogether one of the finest cept in the crude and fragmentary shape conceptions in English fiction; and

already mentioned.” in the other a miserable ghost called The public has rewarded this noWestfield, about whom nobody ble confidence in them by consuming knows anything nor cares anything. already three editions of this muchHow such an amount of self-confi- produced tale. Three nations, acdence, or confidence in the folly of cordingly, have united in doing the public, could be attained as is honour to‘Rupert Godwin.' Engdisplayed in this publication, it land, France, and America have would be difficult either to explain seized upon it with that eager apor to understand. Mr Reade is not preciation which is the best reward yet a classic. He is one of the most of genius. Most probably before powerful of contemporary writers; this present page has seen the light

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it will have been reviewed in more ing the attraction of impropriety, than one leading journal with praise and yet loving the shelter of law. proportioned to its popularity. These are real results which Miss Was there ever literary phenomenon Braddon has achieved, and we do more inconceivable ? We stand not grudge her the glory of them ; aghast with open mouth of wonder, but yet we cannot conceive how thé and are stricken dumb before it. éclat of such triumphs, great as it Miss Braddon has, without doubt, may be, should cover a piece of imcertain literary claims. "Aurora posture. The boldness of the feat Floyd, 'notwithstanding its unpleas- is the only thing that does in any ant subject (though we don't doubt way redeem it; and that is not an that its unpleasant subject has been excuse either for literary larceny in reality the cause of its great suc- or that marvellous public credulity cess), is a very clever story. It is and folly, which is the really alarmwell knit together, thoroughly in- ing feature in the transaction. The teresting, and full of life. The life author of 'Rupert Godwin'has is certainly not of a high descrip- compelled the world to accept not tion, but it is genuine in its way; only a copy, but a very miserable and few people with any apprecia- copy, by the mere form of her name. tion of fiction could refuse to be She has palmed off upon three inattracted by a tale so well defined. telligent nations, according to her The ‘ Doctor's Wife' strikes even a own account, a fairy changeling, higher note. It is true that it is bewitched out of natural beauty to some extent plagiarised, as was into decrepitude and ugliness, and pointed out at the time of its France, England, and America have publication, from a French story; taken the imp at her word. This but the plagiarism was so far is a power which the greatest of perfectly allowable that it clearly writers might envy. It is one of defined wherein the amount of li- the finest privileges of a great name. cence permitted by English taste To have made such an impression differs from that which comes natu- upon your contemporaries that the ral to the French. Other books whole civilised world thus acknowof Miss Braddon's have not been ledges your sway, is a thing rarely unworthy, to some extent, of the achieved even by the greatest. But applause bestowed upon them. it has been achieved by Miss BradThere has been a good story now don; and in sight of such a climax and then, a clever bit of construc- of fame and success, what can any tion, even an inkling of a character. one say? She is the inventor of the fair-hair- We feel disposed, however, to ed demon of modern fiction. Wick- emulate to some extent that pertied women used to be brunettes long nacious critic who once, as the story ago, now they are the daintiest, goes, took upon him to annotate softest, prettiest of blonde crea- the course of a sermon, by announctures; and this change has been ing the real authorship of its finest wrought by Lady Audley, and her paragraphs. "Turn that man out," influence on contemporary novels. cried the aggrieved incumbent. She has brought in the reign of hi-“That's his own,” said the critic. gamy as an interesting and fashion- In like manner there is something able crime, which no doubt shows in “Rupert Godwin' which is Miss a certain deference to the British Braddon's own. When the poor relish for law and order. It goes widow's virtuous and lovely daughagainst the seventh commandment, ter earns her scanty living on the no doubt, but does it in a legiti- stage, she is made the victim of one mate sort of way, and is an inven- of those romantic abductions which tion which could only have been used to be so frequent (in novels) possible to an English woman know- forty or fifty years ago. As it

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happens, it does her no harm either inconsolable, though this also is in reputation or anything else, and, utterly unconnected with the story. in short, is of little service anyhow Esther's beauty had been of the except to fill up so many pages; but demoniac order in her appearances it is purely original and not copied on the stage. She inhabited a This it is only just to say. A fool- bijou mansion in Bolton Row; her ish young marquess sets his heart drawing-room was approached by upon the queen of beauty in the “a richly decorated staircase, where stage tableaux, and declares him- nymphs and satyrs in Florentine self ready, as foolish young mar- bronze smirked and capered in the quesses, our readers are aware, are recesses of the pale grey wall, reso apt to do, “ to lay his coronet at lieved by mouldings and medal. her feet, and make her Marchioness lions in unburnished gold.” Tropiof Roxleydale;" a desire which the cal flowers shaded the open winvillain of the piece immediately dows, and the room was furnished seizes upon by way of carrying out with amber satin. Yet all this, his own vile projects. And accord- and the hunter worth a thousand ingly Miss Braddon, with a stroke pounds, and circlets of diamonds, of her wand, brings back out of the and flounces of the richest lace, all ancient ages that post-chaise with bought with her duke's money, the locked doors and the impassible seems to be considered by Miss man on the box with which we are Braddon quite consistent with reall so perfectly acquainted. The lations of the purest character belovely Violet is thus carried off to tween the duke and the operathe old decayed house, with the dancer. And when she dies in. old half-imbecile housekeeper, this perfectly admirable way, the whom also we know. But we are duke remains a kind of spiritual bound to say that the young lady widower, to carry out all the last takes the accident with the com- intentions, and build a monument posure becoming a young lady of over the grave of his love. In the nineteenth century. Half-way such an ethereal and lofty way are on the road, when they stop to things supposed to be managed bechange horses, she satisfies herself tween young English dukes and that the pretext of her mother's ballet-girls. These episodes are illness, by which she has been in- both Miss Braddon's very own. veigled into the carriage, is false, We recognise in them the original and sinks back relieved, with a pro- touch of the artist; and no doubt found sense of gratitude to heaven. it is thus she has indemnified herShe is rescued, as we have said, and self for giving up her natural fathe whole affair passes off in the culty of construction, and using calmest way, as such a natural acci- somebody else's story. Notwithdent might be supposed to pass. standing the undiminished success This abduction is Miss Braddon's which has attended the essay, we own. And so is the episode of Es- cannot but think it is a pity. Honther Vanberg, a ballet-girl, who dies esty is the best policy. A writer a most exemplary death at the Star whose gift lies in the portrayal of and Garter, Richmond, after hav- character, in delicate touches of obing been thrown by a wicked horse servation, or sketches of real life, which she had ordered her lover, may possibly find it practicable to a young duke, to buy for her for take the mere framework which a thousand pounds. The horse is has served another man; but for bought, and runs away and breaks an author whose sole literary gift the reckless young woman's spine, is that of construction, it is a pity. and she then makes an edifying Miss Braddon has proved that she end which would become a saint, can invent a story. She can do it and leaves her duke touchingly much better than she can discrimi

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