Infomotions, Inc.The Ethics of George Eliot's Works / Brown, John Crombie, -1879?



Author: Brown, John Crombie, -1879?
Title: The Ethics of George Eliot's Works
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Tag(s): george eliot's; don silva; self; george eliot; eliot's works; highest
Contributor(s): Sluijters, Jan, 1881-1957 [Illustrator]
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Title: The Ethics of George Eliot's Works


Author: John Crombie Brown



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***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE ETHICS OF GEORGE ELIOT'S WORKS***






Transcribed from the 1884 William Blackwood and Sons edition by David
Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk





THE ETHICS OF GEORGE ELIOT'S WORKS


BY THE LATE JOHN CROMBIE BROWN

FOURTH EDITION

WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
MDCCCLXXXIV

_All Rights reserved_




PREFACE.


The greater part of the following Essay was written several years ago.  It
was too long for any of the periodicals to which the author had been in
the habit of occasionally contributing, and no thought was then
entertained of publishing it in a separate form.  One day, however,
during his last illness, the talk happened to turn on George Eliot's
Works, and he mentioned his long-forgotten paper.  One of the friends
then present--a competent critic and high literary authority--expressed a
wish to see it, and his opinion was so favourable that its publication
was determined on.  The author then proposed to complete his work by
taking up 'Middlemarch' and 'Deronda'; and if any trace of failing vigour
is discernible in these latter pages, the reader will bear in mind that
the greater portion of them was composed when the author was rapidly
sinking under a painful disease, and that the concluding paragraphs were
dictated to his daughter after the power of writing had failed him, only
five days before his death.




PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION.


It is a source of great gratification to the friends of the author that
his little volume has already been so well received that the second
edition has been out of print for some time.  In now publishing a third,
they have been influenced by two considerations,--the continued demand
for the book, and the favourable opinion expressed of it by "George
Eliot" herself, which, since her lamented death, delicacy no longer
forbids them to make public.

In a letter to her friend and publisher, the late Mr John Blackwood,
received soon after the appearance of the first edition, she writes, with
reference to certain passages: "They seemed to me more penetrating and
finely felt than almost anything I have read in the way of printed
comments on my own writings."  Again, in a letter to a friend of the
author, she says: "When I read the volume in the summer, I felt as if I
had been deprived of something that should have fallen to my share in
never having made his personal acquaintance.  And it would have been a
great benefit,--a great stimulus to me to have known some years earlier
that my work was being sanctioned by the sympathy of a mind endowed with
so much insight and delicate sensibility.  It is difficult for me to
speak of what others may regard as an excessive estimate of my own work,
but I will venture to mention the keen perception shown in the note on
page 29, as something that gave me peculiar satisfaction."

Once more.  In an article in the 'Contemporary Review' of last month, on
"The Moral Influence of George Eliot," by "One who knew her," the writer
says: "It happens that the only criticism which we have heard mentioned
as giving her pleasure, was a little posthumous volume published by
Messrs Blackwood."

With such testimony in its favour, it is hoped a third edition will not
be thought uncalled for.

_March_ 1881.




THE ETHICS OF GEORGE ELIOT'S WORKS.


"There is in man a higher than love of happiness: he can do without
happiness, and instead thereof find blessedness."

Such may be regarded as the fundamental lesson which one of the great
teachers of our time has been labouring to impress upon the age.  The
truth, and the practical corollary from it, are not now first enunciated.
Representing, as we believe it to do, the practical aspect of the noblest
reality in man--that which most directly represents Him in whose image he
is made--it has found doctrinal expression more or less perfect from the
earliest times.  The older Theosophies and Philosophies--Gymnosophist and
Cynic, Chaldaic and Pythagorean, Epicurean and Stoic, Platonist and
Eclectic--were all attempts to embody it in teaching, and to carry it out
in life.  They saw, indeed, but imperfectly, and their expressions of the
truth are all one-sided and inadequate.  But they did see, in direct
antagonism alike to the popular view and to the natural instinct of the
animal man, that what is ordinarily called happiness does not represent
the highest capability in humanity, or meet its indefinite aspirations;
and that in degree as it is consciously made so, life becomes animalised
and degraded.  The whole scheme of Judaism, as first promulgated in all
the stern simplicity of its awful Theism, where the Divine is
fundamentally and emphatically represented as the Omnipotent and the
Avenger, was an emphatic protest against that self-isolation in which the
man folds himself up like a chrysalid in its cocoon whenever his
individual happiness--the so-called saving of his own soul--becomes the
aim and aspiration of his life.  In one sense the Jew of Moses had no
individual as apart from a national existence.  The secret sin of Achan,
the vaunting pride of David, call forth less individual than national
calamity.

At last in the fulness of time there came forth One--whence and how we do
not stop to inquire--who gathered up into Himself all these tangled,
broken, often divergent threads; who gave to this truth, so far as one
very brief human life could give--at once its perfect and exhaustive
doctrinal expression, and its essentially perfect and exhaustive
practical exemplification, by life and by death.  Endless controversies
have stormed and are still storming around that name which He so
significantly and emphatically appropriated--the "Son of Man."  But from
amid all the controversy that veils it, one fact, clear, sharp, and
unchallenged, stands out as the very life and seal of His human
greatness--"He pleased not Himself."  By every act He did, every word He
spoke, and every pain He bore, He put away from Him happiness as the aim
and end of man.  He reduced it to its true position of a possible
accessory and issue of man's highest fulfilment of life--an issue, the
contemplation of which might be of some avail as the being first awoke to
its nobler capabilities, but which, the more the life went on towards
realisation, passed the more away from conscious regard.

Thenceforth the Cross, as the typical representation of this truth,
became a recognised power on the earth.  Thenceforth every great teacher
of humanity within the pale of nominal Christendom, whatever his apparent
tenets or formal creed, has been, in degree as he was great and true,
explicitly or implicitly the expounder of this truth; every great and
worthy life, in degree as it assimilated to that ideal life, has been the
practical embodiment of it.  "Endure hardness," said one of its greatest
apostles and martyrs, "as good soldiers of Christ."  And to the endurance
of hardness; to the recognition of something in humanity to which what we
ordinarily call life and all its joys are of no account; to the
abnegation of mere happiness as aim or end,--to this the world of
Christendom thenceforth became pledged, if it would not deny its Head and
trample on His cross.

In no age has the truth been a popular one: when it becomes so, the
triumph of the Cross--and in it the practical redemption of humanity--will
be near at hand.  Yet in no age--not the darkest and most corrupt
Christendom has yet seen--have God and His Christ been without their
witnesses to the higher truth,--witnesses, if not by speech and doctrine,
yet by life and death.  Even monasticism, harshly as we may now judge it,
arose, in part at least, through the desire to "endure hardness;" only it
turned aside from the hardness appointed in the world without, to choose,
and ere long to make, a hardness of its own; and then, self-seeking, and
therefore anti-Christian, it fell.  Amid all its actual corruption the
Church stands forth a living witness, by its ritual and its sacraments,
to this fundamental truth of the Cross; and ever and anon from its
deepest degradation there emerges clear and sharp some figure bending
under this noblest burden of our doom--some Savonarola or St Francis
charged with the one thought of truth and right, of the highest truth and
right, to be followed, if need were, through the darkness of death and of
hell.

Perhaps few ages have needed more than our own to have this fundamental
principle of Christian ethics--this doctrine of the Cross--sharply and
strongly proclaimed to it.  Our vast advances in physical science tend,
in the first instance at least, to withdraw regard from the higher
requirements of life.  Even the progress of commerce and navigation, at
once multiplying the means and extending the sphere of physical and
aesthetic enjoyment, aids to intensify the appetite for these.  Systems
of so-called philosophy start undoubtingly with the axiom that happiness
is the one aim of man: and with at least some of these happiness is
simply coincident with physical well-being.  Political Economy aims as
undoubtingly to act on the principle, "the greatest possible happiness of
the greatest possible number:" and perhaps, as Political Economy claims
to deal with man in his physical life only, it were unreasonable to
expect from it regard to aught above this.  Our current and popular
literature--Fiction, Poetry, Essays on social relations--is emphatically
a literature of enjoyment, ministering to the various excitements of
pleasure, wonder, suspense, or pain.  And last, and in some respects most
serious of all, our popular theology has largely conformed to the spirit
of the age.  Representative of a debased and emasculated Christianity, it
attacks our humanity at its very core.  It rings out to us, with
wearisome iteration, as our one great concern, the saving of our own
souls: degrades the religion of the Cross into a slightly-refined and
long-sighted selfishness: and makes our following Him who "pleased not
Himself" to consist in doing just enough to escape what it calls the
pains of hell--to win what it calls the joys of heaven.

This is the dark side of the picture; but it has its bright side too.
These advances of science, these extensions of commerce, these
philosophies, even where they are falsely so called, this Political
Economy, which from its very nature must first "labour for the meat that
perisheth,"--these are all God's servants and man's ministers still--the
ministers of man's higher and nobler life.  Consciously or unconsciously,
they are working to raise from myriads burdens of poverty, care,
ceaseless and fruitless toil, under the pressure of which all higher
aspiration is wellnigh impossible.  Sanitary reform in itself may mean
nothing more than better drainage, fresher air, freer light, more
abundant water: to the "Governor among the nations" it means lessened
impossibility that men should live to Him.

If in few ages the great bulk and the most popular portion of literature
has more prostituted itself to purposes of sensational or at most
aesthetic enjoyment, it is at least as doubtful if in any previous age
our highest literature has more emphatically and persistently devoted
itself to proclaiming this great doctrine of the Cross.  Sometimes
directly and explicitly, oftener by implication, this is the ultimate
theme of those who are most deeply influencing the spirit of the time.
Our finest and most widely recognised pulpit oratory is at home here, and
only here: Maurice and Arnold, Trench and Vaughan, Robertson and Stanley,
James Martineau and Seeley, Thirlwall and Wilberforce, Kingsley and
Brooke, Caird and Tulloch, different in form, in much antagonistic in
what is called opinion, are of one mind and heart on this.  The thought
underlying all their thoughts of man is that "higher than love of
happiness" in humanity which expresses the true link between man and God.
The practical doctrine that with them underlies all others is, "Love not
pleasure--love God.  Love Him not alone in the light and amid the calm,
but through the blackness and the storm.  Though He hide Himself in the
thick darkness, yet" give thanks at remembrance of His holiness.  "Though
He slay thee, yet trust still in Him."  The hope to which they call us is
not, save secondarily and incidentally, the hope of a great exhaustless
future.  It is the hope of a true life _now_, struggling on and up
through hardness and toil and battle, careless though its crown be the
crown of thorns.

Even evangelicism indirectly, in great degree unconsciously, bears
witness to the truth through its demand of absolute self-abnegation
before God: though the inversion of the very idea of Him fundamentally
involved in its scheme makes the self-abnegation no longer that of the
son, but of the slave; includes in it the denial of that law which
Himself has written on our hearts; and would substitute our subjection to
an arbitrary despotism for our being "made partakers of His holiness."
One of the sternest and most consistent of Calvinistic theologians,
Jonathan Edwards, in one of his works expresses his willingness to be
damned for the glory of God, and to rejoice in his own damnation: with a
strange, almost incredible, obliquity of moral and spiritual insight
failing to perceive that in thus losing himself in the infinite of holy
Love lies the very essence of human blessedness, that this and this alone
is in very truth his "eternal life."

Among what may be called Essayists, two by general consent stand out as
most deeply penetrating and informing the spirit of the age--Carlyle and
Ruskin.  To the former, brief reference has already been made.  In the
work then quoted from, one truth has prominence above all others: that
with the will's acceptance of happiness as the aim of life begins the
true degradation of humanity; and that then alone true life dawns upon
man when truth and right begin to stand out as the first objects of his
regard.  Never since has Carlyle's strong rough grasp relaxed its hold of
this truth; and howsoever in later works, in what are intended as
biographical illustrations of it, he may seem to confuse mere strength
and energy with righteousness of will, and thence to confound outward and
visible success with vital achievement, that strength and energy are
always in his eyes, fighting or enduring against some phase of the many-
headed hydra of wrong.

Of Ruskin it seems almost superfluous to speak.  They have read him to
little purpose who have not felt that all his essays and criticisms in
art, all his expositions in social and political science, are essentially
unified by one animating and pervading truth: the truth that to man's
moral relations, or, in other words, the developing and perfecting in him
of that Divine image in which he is made,--all things else, joy, beauty,
life itself, are of account only to the degree in which they are
consciously used to subserve that higher life.  His ultimate standard of
value to which everything, alike in art and in social and political
relations, is referred, is--not success, not enjoyment, whether sensuous,
sentimental, or aesthetic, but--the measure in which may thereby be
trained up that higher life of humanity.  Art is to him God's minister,
not when she is simply true to nature, but solely when true to nature in
such forms and phases as shall tend to bring man nearer to moral truth,
beauty, and purity.  The Ios and Ariadnes of the debased Italian schools,
the boors of Teniers, the Madonnas of Guido, are truer to one phase of
nature than are Fra Angelico's angels, or Tintoret's Crucifixion.  But
that nature is humanity as degraded by sense; and therefore the measure
of their truthfulness is for him also the measure of their debasement.

In poetry, the key-note so firmly struck by Wordsworth in his noble "Ode
to Duty" has been as firmly and more delicately caught up by other
singers; who, moreover, have seen more clearly than Wordsworth did, that
it is for faith, not for sight, that duty wears

   "The Godhead's most benignant grace;"

for the path along which she leads is inevitably on earth steep, rugged,
and toilsome.  Take almost any one of Tennyson's more serious poems, and
it will be found pervaded by the thought of life as to be fulfilled and
perfected only through moral endurance and struggle.  "Ulysses" is no
restless aimless wanderer; he is driven forth from inaction and security
by that necessity which impels the higher life, once begun within, to
press on toward its perfecting this all-possible sorrow, peril, and fear.
"The Lotos-eaters" are no mere legendary myth: they shadow forth what the
lower instincts of our humanity are ever urging us all to seek--ease and
release from the ceaseless struggle against wrong, the ceaseless
straining on toward right.  "In Memoriam" is the record of love "making
perfect through suffering:" struggling on through the valley of the
shadow of death toward the far-off, faith-seen light "behind the veil."
"The Vision of Sin" portrays to us humanity choosing enjoyment as its
only aim; and of necessity sinking into degradation so profound, that
even the large heart and clear eye of the poet can but breathe out in sad
bewilderment, "Is there any hope?"--can but dimly see, far off over the
darkness, "God make Himself an awful rose of dawn."  In one of the most
profound of all His creations--"The Palace of Art"--we have presented to
us the soul surrounding itself with everything fair and glad, and in
itself pure, not primarily to the eye, but to the mind: attempting to
achieve its destiny and to fulfil its life in the perfections of
intellectual beauty and aesthetic delight.  But the palace of art, _made
the palace of the soul_, becomes its dungeon-house, self-generating and
filling fast with all loathsome and deathly shapes; and the heaven of
intellectual joy becomes at last a more penetrative and intenser hell.
The "Idylls of the King" are but exquisite variations on the one
note--that the only true and high life of humanity is the life of full
and free obedience; and that such life on earth becomes of necessity one
of struggle, sorrow, outward loss and apparent failure.  In "Vivien"--the
most remarkable of them all for the subtlety of its conception and the
delicacy of its execution,--the picture is perhaps the darkest and
saddest time can show--that of a nature rich to the utmost in all lower
wisdom of the mind, struggling long and apparently truly against the
flesh, yet all the while dallying with the foul temptation, till the
flesh prevails; and in a moment, swift and sure as the lightning, moral
and spiritual death swoops down, and we see the lost one no more.

Many other illustrations might be given from our noblest and truest
poetry--from the works of the Brownings, the "Saints' Tragedy" of Charles
Kingsley, the dramatic poems of Henry Taylor--of the extent to which it
is vitally, even where not formally Christian; the extent to which the
truth of the Cross has transfused it, and become one chief source of its
depth and power.  But we must hasten on to our more immediate object in
these remarks.

Those who read works of fiction merely for amusement, may be surprised
that it should be thought possible they could be vehicles for conveying
to us the deepest practical truth of Christianity,--that the highest life
of man only begins when he begins to accept and to bear the Cross; and
that the conscious pursuit of happiness as his highest aim tends
inevitably to degrade and enslave him.  Even those who read novels more
thoughtfully, who recognise in them a great moral force acting for good
or evil on the age, may be startled to find George Eliot put forward as
the representative of this higher-toned fiction, and as entitled to take
place beside any of those we have named for the depth and force, the
consistency and persistence, with which she has laboured to set before us
the Christian, and therefore the only exhaustively true, ideal of life.

Yet a careful examination will, we are satisfied, show that from her
first appearance before the public, this thought, and the specific
purpose of this teaching, have never been absent from the writer's mind;
that it may be defined as the central aim of all her works: and that it
gathers in force, condensation, and power throughout the series.  Other
qualities George Eliot has, that would of themselves entitle her to a
very high place among the teachers of the time.  In largeness of
Christian charity, in breadth of human sympathy, in tenderness toward all
human frailty that is not vitally base and self-seeking, in subtle power
of finding "a soul of goodness even in things apparently evil," she has
not many equals, certainly no superior, among the writers of the day.
Throughout all her works we shall look in vain for one trace of the
fierce self-opinionative arrogance of Carlyle, or the narrow dogmatic
intolerance of Ruskin: though we shall look as vainly for one word or
sign that shall, on the mere ground of intellectual power, energy, and
ultimate success, condone the unprincipled ambition of a Frederick, so-
called the Great, and exalt him into a hero; or find in the cold heart
and mean sordid soul of a Turner an ideal, because one of those strange
physiological freaks that now and then startle the world, the artist's
temperament and artist's skill, were his beyond those of any man of his
age.  But as our object here is to attempt placing her before the reader
as asserting and illustrating the highest life of humanity, as a true
preacher of the doctrine of the Cross, even when least formally so, we
leave these features, as well as her position as an artist, untouched on,
the rather that they have all been already discussed by previous critics.

The 'Scenes of Clerical Life,' delicately outlined as they are, still
profess to be but sketches.  In them, however, what we have assumed to be
the great moral aim of the writer comes distinctly out; and even within
the series itself gathers in clearness and power.  Self-sacrifice as the
Divine law of life, and its only true fulfilment; self-sacrifice, not in
some ideal sphere sought out for ourselves in the vain spirit of self-
pleasing, but wherever God has placed us, amid homely, petty anxieties,
loves, and sorrows; the aiming at the highest attainable good in our own
place, irrespective of all results of joy or sorrow, of apparent success
or failure,--such is the lesson that begins to be conveyed to us in these
"Scenes."

The lesson comes to us in the quiet unselfish love, the sweet hourly self-
devotion of the "Milly" of Amos Barton, so touchingly free and full that
it never recognises itself as self-devotion at all.  In "Mr Gilfil's Love-
Story" we have it taught affirmatively through the deep unselfishness of
Mr Gilfil's love to Tina, and his willingness to offer up even this, the
one hope and joy of his life, upon the altar of duty; negatively, through
the hard, cold, callous, self-pleasing of Captain Wybrow--a type of
character which, never repeated, is reproduced with endless variations
and modifications in nearly all the author's subsequent works.  It is,
however, in "Janet's Repentance" that the power of the author is put most
strongly forth, and also that what we conceive to be the vital aim of her
works is most definitely and firmly pronounced.  Here also we have
illustrated that breadth of nature, that power of discerning the true and
good under whatsoever external form it may wear, which is almost a
necessary adjunct of the author's true and large ideal of the Christian
life.  She goes, it might almost seem, out of her way to select, from
that theological school with which her whole nature is most entirely at
dissonance, one of her most touching illustrations of a life struggling
on towards its highest through contempt, sorrow, and death.  That
narrowest of all sectarianisms, which arrogates to itself the name
Evangelical, and which holds up as the first aim to every man the saving
of his own individual soul, has furnished to her Mr Tryan, whose life is
based on the principle laid down by the one great Evangelist, "He that
loveth his soul shall lose it; he that hateth his soul shall keep it unto
life eternal." {15}

Mr Tryan, as first represented to us, is not an engaging figure.  Narrow
and sectarian, full of many uncharities, to a great extent vain and self-
conscious, glad to be flattered and idolised by men and women by no means
of large calibre or lofty standard--it might well seem impossible to
invest such a figure with one heroic element.  Yet it is before this man
we are constrained to bow down in reverence, as before one truer,
greater, nobler than ourselves; and as we stand with Janet Dempster
beside the closing grave, we may well feel that one is gone from among us
whose mere presence made it less hard to fight our battle against "the
world, the flesh, and the devil."  The explanation of the paradox is not
far to seek.  The principle which animated the life now withdrawn from
sight--which raised it above all its littlenesses and made it a witness
for God and His Christ, constraining even the scoffers to feel the
presence of "Him who is invisible"--this principle was self-sacrifice.  So
at least the imperfections of human speech lead us to call that which
stands in antagonism to self-pleasing; but before Him to whom all things
are open, what we so call is the purification and exaltation of that self
in us which is the highest created reflex of His image--the growing up of
it into His likeness for ever.

We may here, once for all, and very briefly, advert to one specialty of
the author's works, which, if we are right in our interpretation of their
central moral import, flows almost necessarily as a corollary from it.  In
each of these sketches one principal figure is blotted out just when our
regards are fixed most strongly on it.  Milly, Tina, and Mr Tryan all
die, at what may well appear the crisis of life and destiny for
themselves or others.  There is in this--if not in specific intention,
certainly in practical teaching--something deeper and more earnest than
any mere artistic trick of pathos--far more real than the weary
commonplace of suggesting to us any so-called immortality as the
completion and elucidation of earthly life; far profounder and simpler,
too, than the only less trite commonplace of hinting to us the mystery of
God's ways in what we call untimely death.  The true import of it we take
to be the separation of all the world calls success or reward from the
life that is thus seeking its highest fulfilment.  In conformity with the
average doctrine of "compensation," Amos Barton should have appeared
before us at last installed in a comfortable living, much respected by
his flock, and on good terms with his brethren and well-to-do neighbours
around.  With a truer and deeper wisdom, the author places him before us
in that brief after-glimpse still a poor, care-worn, bowed-down man, and
the sweet daughter-face by his side shows the premature lines of anxiety
and sorrow.  Love, anguish, and death, working their true fruits within,
bring no success or achievement that the eye can note.  By all the
principles of "poetic justice," Mr Tryan ought to have recovered and
married Janet; under the influence of her larger nature to have shaken
off his narrownesses; to have lived down all contempt and opposition, and
become the respected influential incumbent of the town; and in due time
to have toned down from his "enthusiasm of humanity" into the simply
earnest, hard-working, and rather commonplace town rector.  Better,
because truer, as it is.  Only in the earlier dawn of this higher life of
the soul, either in the race or in the individual man; only in the days
of the Isaacs and Jacobs of our young humanity, though not with the
Abrahams, the Moses', or the Joshuas even then; only when the soul first
begins to apprehend that its true relation to God is to be realised only
through the Cross--is there conscience and habitual "respect unto the
recompense" of _any_ reward.

In 'Adam Bede,' the first of George Eliot's more elaborate works, the
illustrations of the great moral purpose we have assigned to her are so
numerous and varied, that it is not easy to select from among them.  On
the one hand, Dinah Morris--one of the most exquisitely serene and
beautiful creations of fiction--and Seth and Adam Bede present to us,
variously modified, the aspect of that life which is aiming toward the
highest good.  On the other hand, Arthur Donnithorne and Hetty
Sorrel--poor little vain and shallow-hearted Hetty--bring before us the
meanness, the debasement, and, if unarrested, the spiritual and
remediless death inevitably associated with and accruing from that "self-
pleasing" which, under one form or other, is the essence of all evil and
sin.  Of these, Arthur Donnithorne and Adam Bede seem to us the two who
are most sharply and subtilely contrasted; and to these we shall confine
our remarks.

In Arthur Donnithorne, the slight sketch placed before us in Captain
Wybrow is elaborated into minute completeness, and at the same time freed
from all that made Wybrow even superficially repellent.  Handsome,
accomplished, and gentlemanly; loving and lovable; finding his keenest
enjoyment in the enjoyment of others; irreproachable in life, and free
from everything bearing the semblance of vice,--what more could the most
exacting fictionist desire to make up his ideal hero?  Yet, without
ceasing to be all thus portrayed, he scatters desolation and crime in his
path.  He does this, not through any revulsion of being in himself, but
in virtue of that very principle of action from which his lovableness
proceeds.  Of duty simply as duty, of right solely as right, his
knowledge is yet to come.  Essentially, his ideal of life as yet is "self-
pleasing."  This impels him, constituted as he is, to strive that he
shall stand well with all.  This almost necessitates that he shall be
kindly, genial, loving; enjoying the joy and well-being of all around
him, and therefore lovable.  But this also assures that his struggle
against temptation shall be weak and vacillating; and that when, through
his paltering with it, it culminates, he shall at once fall before it.
The wood scene with Adam Bede still further illustrates the same
characteristics.  This man, so genial and kindly, rages fiercely in his
heart against him whom he has unwittingly wronged.  Frank and open,
apparently the very soul of honour, he shuffles and lies like a coward
and a knave; and this in no personal fear, but because he shrinks to lose
utterly that goodwill and esteem of others,--of Adam in particular,
because Adam constrains his own high esteem,--which are to him the
reflection of his own self-worship.  Repentance comes to him at last,
because conscience has never in him been entirely overlaid and crushed.
It comes when the whirlwind of anguish has swept over him, scattered all
the flimsy mists of self-excuse in which self-love had sought to veil his
wrong-doing, and bowed him to the dust; but who shall estimate the
remediless and everlasting loss already sustained?

We have spoken of Captain Wybrow as the prototype of Arthur.  He is so in
respect of both being swayed by that vital sin of self-pleasing to which
all wrong-doing ultimately refers itself; but that in Arthur the
corruption of life at its source is not complete, is shown throughout the
whole story.  The very form of action which self-love assumes in him,
tells that self though dominant is not yet supreme.  It refers itself to
others.  It absolutely requires human sympathy.  So long as the man lives
to some extent in the opinion and affections of his brother men,--so long
as he is even uncomfortable under the sense of being shut out from these
otherwise than as the being so shall affect his own _interests_,--we may
be quite sure he is not wholly lost.  The difference between the two men
is still more clearly shown when they are brought face to face with the
result of their wrong-doing.  With each there is sorrow, but in Wybrow,
and still more vividly as we shall see in Tito Melema, it is the sorrow
of self-worship only.  No thought of the wronged one otherwise than as an
obstacle and embarrassment, no thought of the wrong simply as a wrong,
can touch him.  This sorrow is merely remorse, "the sorrow of the world
which worketh death."  Arthur, too, is suddenly called to confront the
misery and ruin he has wrought; but in him, self then loses its
ascendancy.  There is no attempt to plead that he was the tempted as much
as the tempter; and no care now as to what others shall think or say
about him.  All thought is for the wretched Hetty; and all energy is
concentrated on the one present object, of arresting so far as it can be
arrested the irremediable loss to her.  The wrong stands up before him in
its own nakedness as a wrong.  This is repentance; and with repentance
restoration becomes possible and begins.

Adam Bede contrasts at nearly every point with Arthur Donnithorne.
Lovable is nearly the last epithet we think of applying to him.  Hard
almost to cruelty toward his sinning father; hard almost to
contemptuousness toward his fond, foolish mother; bitterly hard toward
his young master and friend, on the first suspicion of personal wrong;
savagely vindictive, long and fiercely unforgiving, when he knows that
wrong accomplished;--these may well seem things irreconcilable with any
true fulfilment of that Christian life whose great law is love.  Yet,
examined more narrowly, they approve themselves as nearly associated with
the larger fulness of that life.  They are born of the same spirit which
said of old, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!"
fulfilments, howsoever imperfect, of that true and deep "law of
resentment" which modern sentimentalism has all but expunged from the
Christian code.  The hardness is essentially against the wrong-doing, not
against the doer of it; and against it rather as it affects others than
as it burdens, worries, or overshadows his own life.  It subsists in and
springs from the intensity with which, in a nature robust and energetic
in no ordinary degree, right and wrong have asserted themselves as the
realities of existence.  Even Seth can be more tolerant than Adam,
because the gentle, placid moral beauty of his nature is, so far as this
may ever be, the result of temperament; while in Adam whatever has been
attained has been won through inward struggle and self-conquest.

In the 'Mill on the Floss,' the moral interest of the whole drama is
concentrated to a very great degree on Maggie Tulliver; and in her is
also mainly concentrated the representative struggle between good and
evil, the spirit of the Cross and that of the world; for Stephen Guest is
little more than the objective form under which the latent evil of her
own humanity assails her.  Her life is the field upon which we see the
great conflict waging between the elements of spiritual life and
spiritual death; swaying amid heart-struggle and pain, now toward
victory, now toward defeat, till at last all seems lost.  Then at one
rebound the strong brave spirit recovers itself, and takes up the full
burden of its cross; sees and accepts the present right though the heart
is breaking; and the end is victory crowned and sealed by death.

From her first appearance as a child, those elements of humanity are most
prominent in her which, unguided and uncontrolled, are most fraught with
danger to the higher life; and for her there is no real outward guidance
or control whatever.  The passionate craving for human sympathy and love,
which meets no fuller response than from the rude instinctive fondness of
her father and the carefully-regulated affection of her brother, on the
one hand prepares her for the storm of passion, and on the other, chilled
and thrown back by neglect and refusal, threatens her with equal danger
of hardness and self-inclusion.  The strong artist temperament, the power
of spontaneous and intense enjoyment in everything fair and glad to eye
and ear, repressed by the uncongenial accessories around her, tends to
concentrate her existence in a realm of mere imaginative life, where, if
it be the only life, the diviner part of our being can find no
sustenance.  This danger is for her the greater and more insidious,
because in her the sensuous, so strongly developed, is refined from all
its grossness by the presence of imagination and thought.

When at last, amid the desolation that has come upon her home, and the
increasing bareness of all the accessories of her young life, its deeper
needs and higher aspirations awaken to definite purpose and seek definite
action, the direction they take is toward a hard stern asceticism,
cramping up all life and energy within a narrow round of drudgeries and
privations.  She strives, as many an earnest impassioned nature like hers
has done in similar circumstances, to fashion her own cross, and to make
it as hard as may be to bear.  She would deny to herself the very beauty
of earth and sky, the music of birds and rippling waters, and everything
sweet and glad, as temptations and snares.  From all this she is brought
back by Philip.  But he, touching as he is in the humility and tender
unselfishness of his love, is too exclusively of the artist temperament
to give direction or sustainment to the deeper moral requirements of her
being.  He may win her back to the love of beauty and the sense of joy;
but he is not the one to stand by her side when the stern conflict
between pleasure and right, sense and soul, the world and God, is being
fought out within her.

With her introduction to Stephen Guest, that conflict assumes specific
and tangible form; and it has emphatically to be fought out _alone_.  All
external circumstances are against her; even Lucy's sweet unjealous
temper, and Tom's bitter hatred, combining with Philip's painful self-
consciousness to keep the safeguard of his presence less constantly at
her side.  At last the crowning temptation comes.  Without design, by a
surprise on the part of both, the step has been taken which may well seem
irretraceable.  Going back from it is not merely going back from joy and
hope, but going back to deeper loneliness than she has ever known; and
going back also to misunderstanding, shame, and lifelong repentance.  But
conscience, the imperative requirements of the higher life within, have
resumed their power.  There is no paltering with that inward voice; no
possibility but the acceptance of the present urgent right,--the instant
fleeing from the wrong, though with it is bound up all of enjoyment life
can know.  It is thus she has to take up her cross, not the less hard to
bear that her own hands have so far fashioned it.

One grave criticism on the death-scene has been made, that at first sight
seems unanswerable.  It is said that no such full, swift recognition
between the brother and sister, in those last moments of their
long-severed lives, is possible; because there is no true point of
contact through which such recognition, on the brother's part, could
ensue.  We think, however, there is something revealed to us in the
brother which brings him nearer to what is noblest and deepest in the
sister than at first appears.  He also has his ideal of duty and right:
it may not be a very broad or high one, but it is there; it is something
without and above mere self; and it is resolutely adhered to at
whatsoever cost of personal ease or pleasure.  That such aim cannot be so
followed on without, to some extent, ennobling the whole nature, is shown
in his love for Lucy.  It has come on him, and grown up with him,
unconsciously, when there was no wrong connected with it; but with her
engagement to Stephen all this is changed.  Hard and stern as he is to
others, he is thenceforth the harder and sterner still to self.  There is
no paltering with temptation, such as brings the sister so near to
hopeless fall.  Here the cold harsh brother rises to true nobility, and
shows that upon him too life has established its higher claim than that
of mere self-seeking enjoyment.  There is, then, this point of contact
between these two, that each has an ideal of duty and light, and to it
each is content to sacrifice all things else.  Through this, in that
death-look, they recognise each other; and the author's motto in its full
significance is justified, "In their death they were not divided."

'Silas Marner,' though carefully finished, is of slighter character than
any of the author's later works, and does not require lengthened notice.
In Godfrey Cass we have again, though largely modified, the type of
character in which self is the main object of regard, and in which,
therefore, with much that is likeable, and even, for the circumstances in
which it has grown up, estimable, there is little depth, truth, or
steadfastness.  Repentance, and, so far as it is possible, restoration,
come to him mainly through the silent ministration of a purer and better
nature than his own: but the self-pleasing of the past has brought about
that which no repentance can fully reverse or restore.  Even on the
surface this is shown; for Eppie, unowned and neglected, can never become
his daughter.  But--far beyond and beneath this--we have here, and
elsewhere throughout the author's works, indicated to us one of the most
solemn, and, at the same time, most certain truths of our existence: that
there are forms of accepted and fostered evil so vital that no repentance
can fully blot them out from the present or the future of life.  No
turning away from the accursed thing, no discipline, no futurity near or
far, can ever place Arthur Donnithorne or Godfrey Cass alongside Dinah
Morris or Adam Bede.  Their irreversible part of self-worship precludes
them, by the very laws of our being, from the highest and broadest
achievement of life and destiny.

Leaving for the present 'Romola,' as in many respects more directly
linking itself with George Eliot's great poetic effort, 'The Spanish
Gypsy,' we turn for a little to 'Felix Holt,' the next of her English
tales.  It would be perhaps natural to select, from among the characters
here presented to us, in illustration of life consciously attuning itself
to the highest aim irrespective of any end save that aim itself, one or
other of the two in whom this is most palpably presented to us--Felix
himself or Esther Lyon.  We prefer, however, selecting Harold Transome,
certainly one of the most difficult and one of the most strikingly
wrought out conceptions, not only in the works of George Eliot, but in
modern fiction.

Harold, we believe, is not a general favourite with the modern public,
any more than he was with his own contemporaries.  He has none of those
lovablenesses which make Arthur Donnithorne so attractive; and at first
sight nothing of that uncompromising sense of right which characterises
Adam Bede.  He comes before us apparently no more than a clearheaded,
hard, shrewd, successful man of the world, greatly alive to his own
interests and importance, and with no particular principles to boast of.

How does it come that this man, when over and over again, in great things
and in small, two paths lie before him to choose, always chooses the
truer and better of the two?  When Felix attempts to interfere in the
conduct of his election, even while resenting the interference as
impertinent, he sets himself honestly to attempt to arrest the wrong.  He
buys Christian's secret; but it is to reveal it to her whom it enables,
if so she shall choose, to dislodge himself from the position which has
been the great object of his desires and efforts.  By simply allowing the
trial and sentence of Felix to take their course, he would, to all
appearance, strengthen the possibility that by marriage to Esther his
position shall be maintained, with the further joy of having that "white
new-winged dove" thenceforth by his side.  He comes forward as witness on
behalf of Felix, and gives his evidence fairly, truly, and in such guise
as makes it tell most favourably for the accused, and at the same time
against himself; and, last and most touching of all, it is after he knows
the full depth of the humiliation in which his mother's sin has for life
involved him, that his first exhibition of tenderness, sympathy, and
confidence towards that poor stricken heart and blighted life comes
forth.  How comes it that this "well-tanned man of the world" thus always
chooses the higher and more difficult right; and does this in no
excitement or enthusiasm, but coolly, calculatingly, with clear
forecasting of all the consequences, and fairly entitled to assume that
these shall be to his own peril or detriment?

We cannot assign this seeming anomaly to that undefinable something
called the instinct of the gentleman, {29} so specially recognised in the
elder and younger Debarry, as a reality and power in life.  To say
nothing of the fact that this instinct deals primarily with questions of
feeling, and only indirectly and incidentally with questions of moral
right, Harold Transome, alike congenitally and circumstantially, could
scarcely by possibility have been animated by it even in slight degree,
nor does it ever betray its presence in him through those slight but
graceful courtesies of life which are pre-eminently the sphere of its
manifestation.  Equally untenable is the hypothesis which ascribes these
manifestations of character wholly to the influence of a nature higher
than his own appealing to him--that of Felix Holt, the glorious old
Dissenter, or Esther Lyon.  Such appeals can have any avail only when in
the nature appealed to there remains the capability to recognise that
right is greater than success or joy, and the moral power of will to act
on that recognition.  In the fact that Harold's nature does respond to
these appeals we have the clue to the apparent anomaly his character
presents.  We see that, howsoever overlaid by temperament and restrained
by circumstance, the noblest capability in man still survives and is
active in him.  He _can_ choose the right which imperils his own
interests, because it _is_ the right; he _can_ set his back on the wrong
which would advantage himself, because it _is_ the wrong.  That he does
this coolly, temperately, without enthusiasm, with full, clear
forecasting of all the consequences, is only saying that he is Harold
Transome still.  That he does so choose when the forecast probabilities
are all against those objects which the mere man of the world most
desires, proves that under that hard external crust dwells as essential a
nobleness as any we recognise in Felix Holt.  There is an inherent
strength and manliness in Harold Transome to which Arthur Donnithorne or
Godfrey Cass can never attain.

Few things in the literary history of the age are more puzzling than the
reception given to 'Romola' by a novel-devouring public.  That the lovers
of mere sensationalism should not have appreciated it, was to be fully
expected.  But to probably the majority of readers, even of average
intelligence and capability, it was, and still is, nothing but a
weariness.  With the more thoughtful, on the other hand, it took at once
its rightful place, not merely as by far the finest and highest of all
the author's works, but as perhaps the greatest and most perfect work of
fiction of its class ever till then produced.

Of its artistic merits we do not propose to speak in detail.  But as a
historical reproduction of an epoch and a life peculiarly difficult of
reproduction, we do not for a moment hesitate to say that it has no
rival, except, perhaps,--and even that at a distance,--Victor Hugo's
incomparably greatest work, 'Notre Dame de Paris.'  It is not that we
_see_ as in a panorama the Florence of the Medicis and Savonarola,--we
live, we move, we feel as if actors in it.  Its turbulence, its struggles
for freedom and independence, its factions with their complicated
transitions and changes, its conspiracies and treasons, its classical
jealousies and triumphs,--we feel ourselves mixed up with them all.  Names
historically immortal are made to us familiar presences and voices.  Its
nobles and its craftsmen alike become to us as friends or foes.  Its very
buildings--the Duomo and the Campanile, and many another--rise in their
stateliness and their grace before those who have never been privileged
to see them, clear and vivid as the rude northern houses that daily
obtrude on our gaze.

So distinct and all-pervading, in this great work, is what we are
maintaining to be the central moral purpose of all the author's works,
that it can scarcely escape the notice of the most superficial reader.
Affirmatively and negatively, in Romola and Tito--the two forms of
illustration to some extent combined in Savonarola--the constant,
persistent, unfaltering utterance of the book is, that the only true
worth and greatness of humanity lies in its pursuit of the highest truth,
purity, and right, irrespective of every issue, and in exclusion of every
meaner aim; and that the true debasement and hopeless loss of humanity
lies in the path of self-pleasing.  The form of this work, the time and
country in which the scene is laid, and the selection of one of the three
great actors in it, leads the author more definitely than in almost any
of those which preceded it to connect her moral lesson, not merely with
Christianity as a religious faith, but with that Church which, as called
by the name of Christ, howsoever fallen away from its "first love," is
still, in the very fact of its existence, a witness for Him.  While, on
the other hand, through many of its subordinate characters, we have the
broad catholic truth kept ever before us, that, irrespective of all
formal profession or creed, voluntary acceptance of a higher life-law
than the seeking our own interests, pleasure, or will, is, according to
its degree, life's best and highest fulfilment; and thus we trace Him who
"pleased not Himself" as the life and the light of the world, even when
that world may be least formally acknowledging Him.

The three in whom this great lesson is most prominently illustrated in
the work before us are, of course, Romola herself, Tito Melema, and
Savonarola.  And in each the illustration is so modified, and, through
the three together, so almost exhaustively accomplished, that some
examination of each seems necessary to our main object in this survey of
George Eliot's works.

Few, we think, can study the delineation of Romola without feeling that
imagination has seldom placed before us a fairer, nobler, and completer
female presence.  Perfectly human and natural; unexaggerated, we might
almost say unidealised, alike in her weaknesses and her nobleness;
combining such deep womanly tenderness with such spotless purity; so
transparent in her truthfulness; so clear in her perceptions of the true
and good, so firm in her aspirations after these; so broad, gentle, and
forbearing in her charity, yet so resolute against all that is mean and
base;--everything fair, bright, and high in womanhood seems to combine in
Romola.  So true, also, is the process of her development to what is
called nature--to the laws and principles that regulate human action and
life--that, as it proceeds before us, we almost lose note that there is
development.  The fair young heathen first presented to us, linked on to
classic times and moralities through all the surroundings of her life,
passes on so imperceptibly into the "visible Madonna" of the after-time,
that we scarcely observe the change till it is accomplished.  From the
first, we know that the mature is involved in the young Romola.  The
reason of this is, that from first to last the essential principle of
life is in her the same.  Equally, when she first comes before us, and in
all the after-glory of her serene unconscious self-devotedness, she is
living to others, not to herself.

Her first devotion is to her father.  Her one passion of life is to
compensate to him all he has lost: the eyes, once so full of fire, now
sightless; the son and brother, who, at the call of an enthusiasm with
which their nobler natures refuse to sympathise--for it was, in the first
instance, but the supposed need to save his own soul--has fled from his
nearest duty of life.  To this devotion she consecrates her fair young
existence.  For this she dismisses from it all thought of ease or
pleasure, and chooses retirement and isolation; gives herself to
uncongenial studies and endless labours, and accepts, in uncomplaining
sadness, that which to such a nature is hardest of all to bear--her
father's non-appreciation of all she would be and is to him.  From the
first, her life is one of entire self-consecration.  The sphere of its
activities expands as years flow on, but the principle is throughout the
same.  In the exquisite simplicity, purity, and tenderness of her young
love, she is Romola still.  There is no self-isolation included in it.
Side by side with satisfying her own yearning heart, lies the thought
that she is thus giving to her father a son to replace him who has
forsaken him.  Her first perception of the want of perfect oneness
between Tito and herself dawns upon her through no change in him towards
herself, but through his less sedulous attendance on her father.  And
when at last the conviction is borne in upon her that between him and
her, seemingly so closely united, there lies the gulf that parts truth
and falsehood, heaven and hell, it is no perceptible withdrawal of his
love from her that forces on her this conviction.  It is his falseness
and treason to the dead.  Then comes the crisis of her career; her flight
from the unendurable burden of that divided life; her meeting with
Savonarola; and her being through him brought face to face with the
Christian aspect of that deepest of all moral truths,--the precedence of
duty above all else.  Savonarola's demand might well seem to one such as
Romola laying on her a burden too heavy to be borne.  It was not that it
called her to return to hardness and pain; she was going forth
unshrinking into the unknown with no certainty but that these would find
her there; it called her to return to what, with her high ideal of love
and life, could not but seem degradation and sin,--according in the
living daily lie that they two, so hopelessly parted, were one.  To any
lower nature the appeal would have been addressed in vain.  It prevails
with her because it sets before her but the extension and more perfect
fulfilment of the life law toward which she has been always aiming, even
through the dim light of her all but heathen nurture.

She goes back to reassume her cross: sadly, weariedly forecasting, as
only such a nature can do, all its shame and pain; and even still only
dimly assured that her true path lies here.  The very nobleness which
constrains her return makes that return the harder.  The unknown into
which she had thought to flee had no possibility of pain or fear for her,
compared to the certain pain and difficulty of that life from which all
reality of love is gone: where her earnest, truthful spirit must live in
daily contact with baseness,--may even have, through virtue of her
relation to Tito, tacitly to concur in treason.  She goes back to what,
constituted as she is, can be only a daily, lifelong crucifying, and she
goes back to it knowing that such it must be.

Thenceforth goes on in her that process which, far beyond all reasonings,
makes the mystery of sorrow intelligible to us,--the "making perfect
through suffering."  It is not necessary we should trace the process step
by step.  It is scarcely possible to do so, for its stages are too subtle
to be so traced.  We see rather by result than in operation how her path
of voluntary self-consecration--of care and thought for all save self--of
patient, silent, solitary endurance of her crown of thorns, is
brightening more and more toward the perfect day.  In the streets of the
faction-torn, plague-stricken, famine-wasted city; by the side of the
outraged Baldassarre; in the room of the child-mistress Tessa; most of
all in that home whence all other brightness has departed,--she moves and
stands more and more before us the "visible Madonna."

How sharply the sword has pierced her heart, how sorely the crown of
thorns is pressing her fair young brow, we learn in part from her
decisive interview with Tessa.  She, the high-born lady, spotless in
purity, shrinking back from the very shadow of degradation, questions the
unconscious instrument of one of her many wrongs with the one anxiety and
hope that she may prove to be no true wife after all; that the bond which
binds her to living falsehood and baseness may be broken, though its
breaking stamp her with outward dishonour and blot.  Otherwise there is
no obtrusion of her burning pain; no revolt of faith and trust,
impeaching God of hardness and wrong toward her; no murmur in His ear,
any more than in the ear of man.  Meek, patient, steadfast, she devotes
herself to every duty and right that life has left to her; and the dark-
garmented Piagnone moves about the busy scene a white-robed ministrant of
mercy and love.  Ever and anon, indeed, the lonely anguish of her heart
breaks forth, but in the form of expression it assumes she is
emphatically herself.  In those frequent touching appeals to Tito,
deepening in their sweet earnestness with every failure, we may read the
intensity of her ever-present inward pain.  In them all the self-seeking
of love has no place.  The effort is always primarily directed, not
toward winning back his love and confidence for herself, but toward
winning him back to truth and right and loyalty of soul.  Her pure high
instinct knows that only so can love return between them--can the
shattered bond be again taken up.  She seeks to save _him_--him who will
not be saved, who has already vitally placed himself out of the pale of
possible salvation.

One of the most touching manifestations in this most touching of all
records of feminine nobleness and suffering, is the story of her
relations to Tessa.  It would seem as if in that large heart jealousy,
the reaching self-love of love, could find no place.  Her discovery of
the relation in which Tessa stands to Tito awakens first that saddest of
all sad hopes in one like Romola, that through the contadina she may be
released from the marriage-bond that so galls and darkens her life.  When
that hope is gone, no thought of Tessa as a successful rival presents
itself.  She thinks of her only as another victim of Tito's
wrong-doing--as a weak, simple, helpless child, innocent of all conscious
fault, to be shielded and cared for in the hour of need.

At last, after the foulest of Tito's treasons, which purchases safety and
advancement for himself by the betrayal and death of her noble old
godfather, her last living link to the past, the burden of her life
becomes beyond her bearing, and again she attempts to lay it down by
fleeing.  There is no Savonarola now to meet and turn her back.
Savonarola has lost the power, has forfeited the right, to do so.  The
pupil has outgrown the teacher; her self-renunciation has become simpler,
purer, deeper, more entire than his.  The last words exchanged between
these two bring before us the change that has come over the spiritual
relations between them.  "The cause of my party," says Savonarola, "_is_
the cause of God's kingdom."  "I do not believe it," is the reply of
Romola's "passionate repugnance."  "God's kingdom is something wider,
else let me stand without it with the beings that I love."  These words
tell us the secret of Savonarola's gathering weakness and of Romola's
strength.  Self, under the subtle form of identifying truth and right
with his own party--with his own personal judgment of the cause and the
course of right--has so far led _him_ astray from the straight onward
path.  Right, in its clear, calm, direct simplicity, has become to her
supreme above what is commonly called salvation itself.

It is another agency than Savonarola's now that brings her back once more
to take up the full burden of her cross.  She goes forth not knowing or
heeding whither she goes, "drifting away" unconscious before wind and
wave.  These bear her into the midst of terror, suffering, and death; and
there, in self-devotedness to others, in patient ministrations of love
amid poverty, ignorance, and superstition, the noble spirit rights itself
once more, the weary fainting heart regains its quiet steadfastness.  She
knows once more that no amount of wrong-doing can dissolve the bond
uniting her to Tito; that no degree of pain may lawfully drive her forth
from that sphere of doing and suffering which is _hers_.  She returns,
not in joy or hope, but in that which is deeper than all joy and hope--in
love; the one thought revealed to us being that it may be her blessedness
to stand by him whose baseness drove her away when suffering and loss
have come upon him.  But Death--the mystery to which we look as the
solver of all earthly mysteries--has resolved for her this darkest and
saddest perplexity of her life.  Tito is gone to his place: and his
baseness shall vex her no more with antagonistic duties and a divided
life.  There is no joy, no expressed sense of relief and release; no
reproach of him other than that implied one which springs out of the
necessities of her being, the putting away from her, quietly and
unobtrusively, the material gains of his treasons.  The poor innocent
wrong-doer, Tessa, is sought for, rescued, and cared for; and is never
allowed to know the foul wrong to her rescuer of which she has been made
the unconscious instrument.  Even to her the language is that "Naldo will
return no more, not because he is cruel, but because he is dead."

One direct trial of her faith and patience remains, through the weakness
and apparent apostasy of Savonarola.  Has he, through whom first came to
her definite guidance amid the dark perplexities of her life, been always
untrue? has the light that seemed through him to dawn on her been
therefore misleading and perverting?  In almost agonised intentness she
listens for some word, watches for some sign, which shall tell her it has
not been so.  She outrages all her womanly sensibilities by being present
at the death-scene, in hope that something there, were it but the
uplifting of the drooping head to the clear true light of heaven, shall
reassure her that the prophet was a true prophet, and his voice to her
the voice of God.  But she watches in vain.  Without word or sign that
even her quick sure instinct can interpret, Savonarola passes into "the
eternal silence."  What measure of overshadowing darkness and sorrow then
again fell over her life we are not told: we only know how that life
passed from under this cloud also into purer and serener light.  This
perplexity also solves itself for her in the path of unquestioning
acceptance of duty, human service, and human love; and as she treads this
path, the mists clear away from around Savonarola too, and she sees him
again at last as he really was, in the essential truthfulness, nobleness,
and self-devotedness of his life.

Of the after-life little is told us, but little needed to be told.  We
have followed Romola thus far with dulled intelligence of mind and soul
if we cannot picture it clearly and certainly for ourselves.  Love that
never falters, patience that never questions, meekness that never fails,
truth clear and still as the light of heaven, devotedness that knows no
thought of self, a life flowing calmly on through whatever of sorrow and
disappointment may remain toward the perfect purity and blessedness of
heaven.  Few, we think, can carefully study the character and development
of Romola del Bardo and refuse to endorse the verdict that Imagination
has given us no figure more rounded and complete in every grace and glory
of feminine loveliness.

The sensational fiction of the day has laboured hard in the production of
great criminals; but it has produced no human being so vitally debased,
no nature so utterly loathsome, no soul so hopelessly lost, as the
handsome, smiling, accomplished, popular, viceless Greek, Tito Melema.
Yet is he the very reverse of what is called a monster of iniquity.  That
which gives its deep and awful power to the picture is its simple,
unstrained, unvarnished truthfulness.  He knows little of himself who
does not recognise as existent within himself, and as always battling for
supremacy there, that principle of evil which, accepted by Tito as his
life-law, and therefore consummating itself in him, "bringeth forth
death;" death the most utter and, so far as it is possible to see, the
most hopeless that can engulf the human soul.

The conception of Tito as one great central figure in a work of art would
scarcely, we think, have occurred to any one whose moral aim was other
than that which it is the endeavour of these remarks to trace out in
George Eliot's works.  The working out of that conception, as it is here
worked out, would, we believe, have been impossible to any one who had
less strongly realised wherein all the true nobleness and all the true
debasement of humanity lie.

Outwardly, on his first appearance, there is not merely nothing repellent
about Tito; in person and manner, in genial kindly temper, in those very
forms of intelligence and accomplishment that specially suit the city and
the time, there is superficially everything to conciliate and attract.  It
is almost impossible to define the subtle threads of indication through
which, from the first, we are forced to distrust him.  Superficially, it
might seem at this time as if with Tito the probabilities were equal as
regards good and evil; and that with Romola's love thrown into the scale,
their preponderance on the side of good were all but irresistible.  Yet
from the first we feel that it is otherwise--that this light, genial,
ease-loving nature has already, by its innate habitude of self-pleasing,
foreordained itself to sink down into ever deeper and more utter
debasement.  With the "slight, almost imperceptible start," at the
accidental words which connect the value of his jewels with "a man's
ransom," we feel that some baseness is already within himself
contemplated.  With the transference of their price to the goldsmith's
hands, we know that the baseness is in his heart resolved on.  When the
message through the monk tells him that the ransom may still be
available, we never doubt what the decision will be.  Present ease and
enjoyment, the maintaining and improving the position he has won--in
short, the "something that is due to himself," rather than a distant,
dangerous, possibly fruitless duty, howsoever clear.

The one purer feeling in that corrupt heart--his love for Romola--is
almost from the first tainted by the same selfishness.  From the first he
recognises that his relation to her will give him a certain position in
the city; and he feels that with his ready tact and Greek suppleness this
is all that is needed to secure his further advancement.  The vital
antagonism between his nature and hers bars the possibility of his
foreseeing how her truthfulness, nobleness, and purity shall become the
thorn in his ease-loving life.

In his earlier relations with Tessa, there is nothing more than seeking a
present and passing amusement, and the desire to sun himself in her
childish admiration and delight.  He is as far as possible from the
intentional seducer and betrayer.  But his accidental encounters with
her, cause him perplexity and annoyance; and at last it seems to him
safer for his own position, especially in regard to Romola, that she
should be secretly housed as she is, and taught to regard herself as his
wife.  Soon there comes to be more of ease for him with the
bond-submissive child-mistress, than in the presence of the high-souled,
pure-hearted wife.  In the first and decisive encounter with Baldassarre,
the words of repudiation which seal the whole after-character of his
life, apparently escape from him unconsciously and by surprise.  But it
is the traitor-heart that speaks them.  They could never even by surprise
have escaped the lips, had not the baseness of their denial and desertion
been already in the heart consummated.

We need not follow him through all his subsequent and deepening treasons.
They all, without exception, want every element that might make even
treason impressive.  They want even such factitious elevation as their
being prompted by hatred or revenge might lend;--even such broader
interest as their being done in the interest of a party, or for some wide
end, could confer.  They have no fuller or deeper import than the present
ease, present safety, present or future advantage, of that object which
fills up his universe,--Self.  He would rather not have betrayed the
trust reposed in him by Romola's father, if the end he thereby proposed
to himself could have been attained otherwise than through such betrayal.
His plot with Dolfo Spini for placing the great Monk-prophet in the hands
of his enemies, has no darker motive than the getting out of the way an
indirect obstacle to his own advancement, and a man whose labours tend to
make life harder and more serious for all who come under his influence.
Bernardo del Nero, with his stainless honour, has from the first taken up
an attitude of tacit revulsion toward him; but there is no revenge
prompting the part he plays towards the noble, true-hearted old man.  He
would rather that he and his fellow-victims were saved, if his own safety
and ultimate gain could be secured otherwise than through their betrayal
and death.  There is no hardness or cruelty in him, save when its
transient displays toward Romola are necessary for furthering some
present end: he never indulges in the luxury of unnecessary and
unprofitable sins.  The sharp, steadfast, unwavering consistency of Tito
is even more marked than that of Romola, for twice Romola falters, and
turns to flee.  The supple, flexible Greek follows out the law he has
laid down as the law of his life,--worships the god he has set up as the
god of his worship with an inexorable constancy that never for one chance
moment falters.  That god is self; that law is, in one word,
self-pleasing.  Long before the end comes, we feel that Tito Melema is a
lost soul; that for him and in him there is no place for repentance; that
to him we may without any uncharity apply the most fearful words human
language has ever embodied;--he has sinned the "sin which _cannot_ be
forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."

"Justice," says the author, as the dead Tito is borne past still locked
in the death-clutch of the human avenger--"justice is like the kingdom of
God: it is not without us as a fact; it is within us as a great
yearning."  In these solemn truthful words we have suggested to us how
feebly mere physical death can shadow forth that spiritual corruption,
that "second death," which we have seen hour by hour consummating in him
who has lived for self alone.

Few of the great figures which stand up amid the dimness of medieval
history are more perplexing to historian and biographer than Savonarola.
On a first glance we seem shut up to one or other of two
alternatives--regarding him as an apostle and martyr, or as a charlatan.
And even more careful examination leaves in his character and life
anomalies so extraordinary, contradictions so inextricable, that most
historians have fallen back on the hypothesis of partial insanity--the
insanity born of an honest and upright but extravagant fanaticism--as the
only one adequate to explain the mystery.  Whether George Eliot has in
this work produced a more satisfactory solution, we do not attempt
formally to determine.  We are sure, however, that every thoughtful
reader will recognise that the solution she offers is one in strict and
deep consistency with all the laws of human action, and all the
tendencies of human imperfection; and that the Savonarola she places
before us is a being we can understand _by sympathy_--sympathy at once
with the greatness of his aims, and still more fully with the weaknesses
that lead him astray.

The picture is a very impressive one, alike in its grandeur and in its
sadness, speaking its true, deep, universal lesson home to us and to our
life: alike when it shows us the strength and nobleness of life attuning
itself to the highest good, and battling on toward the highest right; and
when it shows us how self, under a form which does not seem self, may
steal in to sap its strength and to abase its nobleness.

The great Monk-prophet comes upon the scene a new "voice crying in the
wilderness" of selfishness and wrong around him--an impassioned witness
that "there is a God that judgeth in the earth," protesting by speech and
by life against the self-seeking and self-pleasing he sees on every side.
To the putting down of this, to the living his own life, to the rousing
all men to live theirs, not to pleasure, but to God; merging all private
interests in the public good, and that the best good; looking each one
not to his own pleasures, ambition, or ease, but to that which shall best
advance a reign of truth, justice, and love on earth,--to this end he has
consecrated himself and all his powers.  The path thus chosen is for
himself a hard one; circumstanced as our humanity is, it never has been
otherwise--never shall be so while these heavens and this earth remain.
Mere personal self-denials, mere turning away from the outward pomps and
vanities of the world, lie very lightly on a nature like Savonarola's,
and such things scarcely enter into the pain and hardness of his chosen
lot.  It is the opposition,--active, in the intrigues and machinations of
enemies both in Church and State--passive, in the dull cold hearts that
respond so feebly and fitfully to his appeals; it is the constant wearing
bitterness of hope deferred, the frequent still sterner bitterness of
direct disappointment,--it is things like these that make his cross so
heavy to bear.  But they cannot turn him aside from his course--cannot
win him to lower his aim to something short of the highest good
conceivable by him.  We may smile now in our days of so-called
enlightenment at some of the measures he directs in pursuance of his
great aim.  His "Pyramid of Vanities" may be to our self-satisfied
complacency itself a vanity.  To him it represents a stern reality of
reformation in character and life; and to the Florentine of his age it
symbolises one form of vain self-pleasing offered up in solemn willing
sacrifice to God.

One trial of his faith and steadfastness, long expected, comes on him at
last.  The recognised head of that great organisation of which he is a
vowed and consecrated member declares against him, and the papal sentence
of excommunication goes forth.  We, looking as we deem on the Papacy
trembling to its fall, can very imperfectly enter into the awful gravity
of this struggle.  To us, the prohibition of an Alexander Borgia may seem
of small account, and his anathema of small weight in the councils of the
universe.  But it was otherwise with Savonarola: the Monk-apostle,
trained and vowed to unqualified obedience, has thus forced on him the
most difficult problem of his time.  This to him more than earthly
authority, the visible embodiment of the Divine on earth, the direct and
only representative of the one authority of God in Christ, has declared
his course to be a course of error and sin.  Shall he accept or reject
the decision?  To reject, is to break with the supposed tradition of
fourteen centuries, and with all his own past training, predilections,
and habits of thought; it is to nullify his own voluntary act of the
past, accepting implicit obedience, and to go forth on a path which has
thenceforth no outward guidance, light, or stay.  To accept, is to break
with all his own truest and deepest past, to abandon all that for him
gives truth and reality to life, and to retire to his cell, and limit his
attention thenceforth--if he can--to making the "salvation" of his own
soul secure.  We may safely esteem that this is the culminating struggle
of his life.  We may well understand the solemn pause that ensues, the
retirement to solitude, there to review the position before the only
court of appeal that remains to him,--that inward voice of conscience,
that inward sense of right, which is the immediate presence of God
within.  But we never doubt what the decision will be.  "I must obey God
rather than man; I cannot recognise that this voice--even of God's
vicegerent--is the voice of God.  Necessity is laid on me, which I dare
not gainsay, to preach this Gospel of God's kingdom, as, even on earth, a
kingdom of righteousness, truth, and love."

Such is one phase of the Savonarola here portrayed to us; and herein is
placed before us the secret of his greatness and strength.  This firm
assertion of the highest right his consciousness recognises, amid all
difficulty, hardness, and disappointment; this persistent endeavour by
precept and example to rouse men to a truer and better life than their
own varied self-seekings; this unflinching struggle against everything
false, mean, and base,--these things make him a power in the State before
which King and Pope are compelled to bow in respect or fear.  Over even
the larger nature of Romola his words at this time have sway,--the sway
which more distinct perception of _all_ the relations of duty gives over
a spirit equally earnest to seek the right alone.

In time there comes a change, almost imperceptibly, working from within
outwards, first clearly announced through the changed relations of others
to him, though these are but symptomatic of change within himself.  The
political strength of his sway is broken, its moral strength is all but
gone.  The nature of the change in himself he unwittingly defines in
those last words to Romola already quoted, "The cause of _my party_ is
the cause of God's kingdom."  Various external circumstances have
contributed to bring about the result thus indicated; but on these it is
unnecessary to dwell.  God's kingdom has lowered and narrowed itself into
his party.  The spirit of the partisan has begun to overshadow the purity
of the patriot, to contract and abase the wide aim of the Christian; and
he has come to substitute a law of right modified to suit the interests
of the party, for that law which is absolute and unconditional.  He whom
we listened to in the Duomo as the fervid proclaimer of God's justice,
stands now before us as the perverter of even human justice and human
law.  The very nobleness of Bernardo del Nero strengthens the necessity
that he should die, that the Mediceans may be thus deprived of the
support of his stainless honour and high repute; though to compass this
death the law of mercy which Savonarola himself has instituted must be
put aside.  As we listen to the miserable sophistries by which he strives
to justify himself--far less to Romola than before his own accusing
soul--we feel that the greatness of his strength has departed from him.
All thenceforth is deepening confusion without and within.  Less and less
can he control the violences of his party, till these provoke all but
universal revolt, and the "Masque of the Furies" ends his public career.
The uncertainties and vacillations of the "Trial by Fire," the long
series of confessions and retractations, historically true, are still
more morally and spiritually significant.  They tell of inward confusion
and perplexity, generated through that partial "self-pleasing" which,
under guise so insidious, had stolen into the inner life; of faith and
trust perturbed and obscured thereby; of dark doubts engendered whether
God had indeed ever spoken by him.  We feel it is meet the great life
should close, not as that of the triumphant martyr, but amid the depths
of that self-renouncing penitence through which once more the soul
resumes its full relation to the divine.

* * * * *

We have now come to the one great poem George Eliot has as yet given to
the world, and which we have no hesitation in placing above every
poetical or poetico-dramatic work of the day--'The Spanish Gypsy.'  Less
upon it than upon any of its predecessors can we attempt any general
criticism.  Our attention must be confined mainly to two of the great
central figures of the drama--Fedalma herself, and Don Silva; the
representatives respectively of humanity accepting the highest, noblest,
most self-devoting life presented to it, simultaneously with life's
deepest pain; and of humanity choosing something--in itself pure and
noble, but--short of the highest.

Fedalma is essentially a poetic Romola, but Romola so modified by
circumstances and temperament as to be superficially contrasting.  She is
the Romola of a different race and clime, a different nurture, and an era
which, chronologically nearly the same, is in reality far removed.  For
the warm and swift Italian we have the yet warmer and swifter Gypsy
blood; for the long line of noble ancestry, descent from an outcast and
degraded race; for the nurture amid the environments, almost in the creed
of classicism, the upbringing under noble female charge in a household of
that land where the Roman Church had just sealed its full supremacy by
the establishment of the Inquisition; for the era when Italian subtleties
of thought, policy, and action had attained their highest elaboration,
the grander and simpler time when

            "Castilian gentlemen
   _Choose_ not their task--they choose _to do it well_."

But howsoever modified through these and other accessories of existence
are the more superficial aspects of character, and the whole outward form
and course of life, the great vital principle is the same in
both;--clearness to see, nobleness to choose, steadfastness to pursue,
the highest good that life presents, through whatsoever anguish,
darkness, and death of all joy and hope the path may lead.

On Fedalma's first appearance on the wonderful scene upon the Placa, she
presents herself as emphatically what her poet-worshipper Juan hymns her,
the "child of light"--a creature so tremulously sensitive to all beauty,
brightness, and joy, that it seems as if she could not co-exist with
darkness and sorrow.  But even then we have intimated to us that vital
quality in her nature which makes all self-sacrifice possible; and which
assures us that, whenever her life-choice shall come to lie between
enjoyment and right, she shall choose the higher though the harder path.
For her joy is essentially the joy of sympathy; mere self has no place in
it.  In her exquisite justification of the Placa scene to Don Silva, she
herself defines it in one line better than all words of ours can do--

   "_I_ was not, but joy was, and love and triumph."

She is but a form and presence in which the joy, not merely of the fair
sunset scene, but primarily and emphatically of the human hearts around
her, enshrines itself.  It has no free life in herself apart from others;
it must inevitably die if shut out from this tremulousness of human
sympathy.  And we know it shall give place to a sorrow correspondingly
sensitive, intense, and absorbing, whenever the young bright spirit is
brought face to face with human sorrow.  Even while we gaze on her as the
embodied joy, and love, and triumph of the scene, the shadow begins to
fall.  The band of Gypsy prisoners passes by, and her eyes meet those
eyes whose gaze, not to be so read by any nature lower and more
superficial than hers--

            "Seemed to say he bore
   The pain of those who never could be saved."

Joy collapses at once within her; the light fades away from the scene;
the very sunset glory becomes dull and cold.  We are shown from the first
that no life can satisfy this "child of light" which shall not be a life
in the fullest and deepest unison to which circumstances shall call her
with the life of humanity.  That true greatness of our humanity is
already active within her, which makes it impossible she should live or
die to herself alone.  Her destiny is already marked out by a force of
which circumstance may determine the special manifestation, but which no
force of circumstance can turn aside from its course; the force of a
living spiritual power within herself which constrains that she shall be
faithful to the highest good which life shall place before her.

We would fain linger for a little over the scenes which follow between
her and Don Silva; portraying as they do a love so intense in its virgin
tenderness, and so spiritually pure and high.  It is the same "child of
light" that comes before us here; the same tremulous living in the light
and joy of her love, but also the same impossibility of living even in
its light and joy apart from those of her beloved.  And not from his
only: that passion which in more ordinary natures so almost inevitably
contracts the sphere of the sympathies, in Fedalma expands and enlarges
it.  Amid all the intoxicating sweetness of her bright young joys, the
loving heart turns again and again to the thought of human sorrow and
wrong; and among all the hopes that gladden her future, one is never
absent from her thoughts--"Oh! I shall have much power as well as joy;"
power to redress the wrong and to assuage the suffering.  Half playfully,
half seriously, she asks the question--

   "But is it _what_ we love, or _how_ we love,
   That makes true good?"

Most seriously and solemnly is the question answered through her after-
life.  To love less wholly, purely, unselfishly--yet still holding the
outward claims of that love subordinate to a possible still higher and
more imperative claim--to such a nature as hers is no love and no true
good at all.  And this thirst for the highest alike in love and life
includes her lover as well as herself.  The darkest terror that overtakes
her in all those after-scenes comes when he is about to abjure country,
honour, and God on her account.  To her, the Gypsy, without a country,
without a faith save faithfulness to the highest right, without a God
such as the Spaniards' God, this might be a small thing.  But for him,
Spanish noble and Christian knight, she knows it to be abnegation of
nobleness, treason to duty, dishonour and shame.  She is jealous for his
truth, but the more that its breach might seem to secure her own
happiness.

The first and decisive scene with her Gypsy father is so true in
conception, and so full of poetic force and grandeur throughout, that no
analysis, nothing short of extracting the whole, can do justice to it.
Seldom before has art in any guise placed the grand, heroic,
self-devoting purpose of a grand, heroic, self-devoting nature more
impressively before us than in the Gypsy chief.  It is easy to think and
speak of such an enterprise as Quixotic and impossible.  There is a stage
in every great enterprise humanity has ever undertaken when it might be
so characterised: and the greatest of all enterprises, when an obscure
Jew stood forth to become light and life, not to a tribe or a race, but
to humanity, was to the judgers according to appearance of His day, the
most Quixotic and impossible of all.

It has been felt and urged as an objection to this scene, and
consequently to the whole scheme of the drama, that such influence, so
immediately exerted over Fedalma by a father whom till then she had never
known, is unnatural if not impossible.  If it were only as father and
daughter they thus stand face to face, there might be force in the
objection.  But this very partially and inadequately expresses the
relation between these two.  It is the father possessed with a lofty,
self-devoting purpose, who calls to share in, and to aid it, the daughter
whose nature is strung to the same lofty, self-devoting pitch.  It is the
saviour of an oppressed, degraded, outcast race, who calls to share his
mission her who could feel the brightness of her joy of love brightened
still more by the hope of assuaging sorrow and redressing evil.  It is
the appeal through the father of that which is highest and noblest in
humanity to that which is most deeply inwrought into the daughter's soul.
To a narrower and meaner nature the appeal would have been addressed by
any father in vain: for a narrower and meaner end, the appeal even by
such a father would have been addressed to Fedalma in vain.  With her it
cannot but prevail, unless she is content to forego--not merely her
father's love and trust, but--her own deepest and truest life.

The "child of light," the embodied "joy and love and triumph" of the
Placa, is called on to forego all outward and possible hope on behalf of
that love which is for her the concentration of all light and joy and
triumph.  Very touching are those heart-wrung pleadings by which she
strives to avert the sacrifice; and we are oppressed almost as by the
presence of the calm, loveless, hateless Fate of the old Greek tragedy,
as Zarca's inexorable logic puts them one by one aside, and leaves her as
sole alternatives the offering up every hope, every present and possible
joy of the love which is entwined with her life, or the turning away from
that highest course to which he calls her.  As her own young hopes die
out under the pressure of that deepest energy of her nature to which he
appeals, it can hardly be but that all hope should grow dull and cold
within--hope even with regard to the issue of that mission to which she
is called; and it is thus that she accepts the call:--

   "Yes, say that we shall fail.  I will not count
   On aught but being faithful. . . .
   I will seek nothing but to shun base joy.
   The saints were cowards who stood by to see
   Christ crucified.  They should have thrown themselves
   Upon the Roman spears, and died in vain.
   The grandest death, to die in vain, for love
   Greater than rules the courses of the world.
   Such death shall be my bridegroom. . . .
   Oh love! you were my crown.  No other crown
   Is aught but thorns on this poor woman's brow."

In this spirit she goes forth to meet her doom, faithfulness thenceforth
the one aim and struggle of her life--faithfulness to be maintained under
the pressure of such anguish of blighted love and stricken hope as only
natures so pure, tender, and deep can know--faithfulness clung to with
but the calmer steadfastness when the last glimmer of mere hope is gone.

The successive scenes in the Gypsy camp with Juan, with her father, and
with the Gypsy girl Hinda, bring before us at once the intensity of her
suffering and the depth of her steadfastness.  Trembling beneath the
burden laid upon her,--laid on her by no will of another, but by the
earnestness of her own humanity,--we see her seeking through Juan
whatever of possible comfort can come through tidings of him she has
left; in the strong and noble nature of her father, the consolation of at
least hoping that her sacrifice shall not be all in vain; and in Hinda's
untutored, instinctive faithfulness to her name and race, support to her
own resolve.  But no pressure of her suffering, no despondency as to the
result of all, no thought of the lonely life before her, filled evermore
with those yearnings toward the past and the vanished, can turn her back
from her chosen path.

         "Father, my soul is weak,
   . . . . . . . .
   But if I cannot plant resolve on hope,
   It will stand firm on certainty of woe.
   . . . Hopes have precarious life;
   But faithfulness can feed on suffering,
   And knows no disappointment.  Trust in me.
   If it were needed, this poor trembling hand
   Should grasp the torch--strive not to let it fall,
   Though it were burning down close to my flesh.
   No beacon lighted yet.  I still should hear
   Through the damp dark the cry of gasping swimmers.
   Father, I will be true."

The scenes which follow, first with her lover, then with her lover and
her father together, present the culmination at once of her trial and of
her steadfastness.  Hitherto she has made her choice, as it were, in the
bodily absence of that love, the abnegation of whose every hope gives its
sharpness to her crown of thorns.  Now the light and the darkness, the
joy and the sorrow, the love whose earthly life she is slaying, and the
life of lonely, ceaseless, lingering pain before her, stand, as it were,
visibly and tangibly side by side.  On the one hand her father, with his
noble presence, his calm unquestioning self-devotion, his fervid
eloquence, and his withering scorn of everything false and base,
represents that deepest in humanity--and in her--which impels to seek and
to cling to the highest good.  On the other her lover, associated with
all the deeply-cherished life, joy, and hope of her past, pleads with his
earnest, impassioned, almost despairing eloquence, for her return to
_happiness_.  More nobly beautiful by far in her sad steadfastness than
when she glowed before us as the "child of light" upon the Placa,--

         "Her choice was made.
   . . . . . . .
   Slowly she moved to choose sublimer pain,
   Yearning, yet shrinking: . . .
   . . . firm to slay her joy,
   That cut her heart with smiles beneath the knife,
   Like a sweet babe foredoomed by prophecy."

To all the despairing pleadings and appeals of her lover she has but one
answer:--

   "You must forgive Fedalma all her debt.
   She is quite beggared.  If she gave herself,
   'Twould be a self corrupt with stifled thoughts
   Of a forsaken better. . . .
   Oh, all my bliss was in our love, but now
   I may not taste it; some deep energy
   Compels me to choose hunger."

What that energy is, we surely do not need to ask.  It is that deep
principle of all true life which represents the affinity--latent,
oppressed by circumstances, repressed by sin, but always there--between
our human nature and the Divine, and through subjection to which we
reassume our birthright as "the sons of God"; conscience to see and will
to choose--not what shall please ourselves, but--the highest and purest
aim that life presents to us.

It is the same "deep energy," the same inexorable necessity of her
nature, that she should put away from her all beneath the best and
purest, which originates the sudden terror that smiles upon her when Don
Silva, for her sake, breaks loose from country and faith, from honour and
God.  There is no triumph in the greatness of the love thus displayed; no
rejoicing in prospect of the outward fulfilment of the love thus made
possible; no room for any emotion but the dark chill foreboding of a
separation thus begun, wider than all distance, and more profound and
hopeless than death.  The separation of aims no longer single, of souls
no longer one; of his life falling, though for her sake, from its best
and highest, and therefore ceasing, inevitably and hopelessly, fully to
respond to hers.

      "What the Zincala may not quit for you,
   I cannot joy that you should quit for her."

The last temptation has now been met and conquered.  Henceforth we see
Fedalma only in her calm, sad, unwavering steadfastness, bearing, without
moan or outward sign, the burden of her cross.  Not even her father's
dying charge is needed to confirm her purpose, to fix her life in a self-
devotedness already fixed beyond all relaxing and all change.  With his
death, indeed, the last faint hope fades utterly away that his great
purpose shall be achieved; and she thenceforth is

         "But as the funeral urn that bears
   The ashes of a leader."

But necessity lies only the more upon her--that most imperious of all
necessities which originates in her own innate nobleness--that she should
be _true_.  When first she accepted this burden of her nobleness and her
sorrow, she had said--

         "I will not count
   On aught but being faithful;"

and faithfulness without hope--truthfulness without prospect, almost
without possibility, of tangible fulfilment--is all that lies before her
now.  She accepts it in a mournful stillness, not of despair, and not of
resignation, but simply as the only true accomplishment of her life that
now remains.

The last interview with Don Silva almost oppresses us with its deep
severe solemnity.  No bitterness of separation broods over it: the true
bitterness of separation fell upon her when her lover became false to
himself in the vain imagination that, so doing, he could by any
possibility be fully true to her.  "Our marriage rite"--thus she
addresses the repentant and returning renegade--

            "Our marriage rite
   Is our resolve that we will each be true
   To high allegiance, higher than our love;"

and it is thus she answers for herself, and teaches him to answer, that
question asked in the fullest and fairest flush of her love's joys and
hopes--

   "But is it what we love, or how we love,
   That makes true good?"

The tremulous sensitiveness of her former life has now passed beyond all
outward manifestation, lost in absorbing self-devotedness and absorbing
sorrow; and every thought, feeling, and word is characterised by an
ineffable depth of calm.

Those closing lines, whose still, deep, melancholy cadence lingers upon
ear and heart as do the concluding lines of 'Paradise Lost'--

   "Straining he gazed, and knew not if he gazed
   On aught but blackness overhung with stars"--

tell us how Fedalma passes away from the sight, the life, and all but the
heart of Don Silva.  Not thus does she pass away from our gaze.  One star
overhanging the blackness, clear and calm beyond all material brightness
of earth and firmament, for us marks out her course: the star of
unwavering faith, unfaltering truth, self-devotion to the highest and
holiest that knows no change for ever.

   "A man of high-wrought strain, fastidious
   In his acceptance, dreading all delight
   That speedy dies and turns to carrion.
   . . . . . .
   A nature half-transformed, with qualities
   That oft bewrayed each other, elements
   Not blent but struggling, breeding strange effects.
   . . . . . A spirit framed
   Too proudly special for obedience,
   Too subtly pondering for mastery:
   Born of a goddess with a mortal sire;
   Heir of flesh-fettered weak divinity.
   . . . A nature quiveringly poised
   In reach of storms, whose qualities may turn
   To murdered virtues that still walk as ghosts
   Within the shuddering soul and shriek remorse."

Such is Duke Silva: and in this portraiture is up-folded the dark and
awful story of his life.  Noble, generous, chivalrous; strong alike by
mind and by heart to cast off the hard and cruel superstition of his age
and country; capable of a love pure, deep, trustful, and to all
appearance self-forgetting, beyond what men are usually capable of;
trenching in every quality close on the true heroic: he yet falls as
absolutely short of it as a man can do who has not, like Tito Melema, by
his own will coalescing with the unchangeable laws of right, foreordained
himself to utter and hopeless spiritual death.  It was, perhaps, needful
he should be portrayed as thus nearly approaching true nobility;
otherwise such perfect love from such a nature as Fedalma's were
inexplicable, almost impossible.  But this was still more needful toward
the fulfilment of the author's purpose: the showing how the one deadly
plague-spot shall weaken the strongest and vitiate the purest life.  Every
element of the heroic is there except that one element without which the
truly heroic is impossible: he cannot "deny himself."  Superficially,
indeed, it might seem that self was not the object of his regard, but
Fedalma: and by much of the distorted, distorting, and radically immoral
fiction of the day, his sacrifice of everything for her love's sake would
have been held up to us as the crowning glory of his heroism, and the
consummation of his claims upon our sympathy and admiration.  George
Eliot has seen with a different and a clearer eye: and in Duke Silva's
placing--not his love, but--the earthly fulfilment of his love above
honour and faith, she finds at the root the same vital corruption of self-
pleasing which conducts Tito Melema through baseness on baseness, and
treason after treason, to the lowest deep of perdition.

Throughout the first wonderful love-scene with Fedalma, the vital
difference, the essential antagonism between these two natures, is
revealed to us through a hundred subtle and delicate touches, and we are
made to feel that there is a depth in hers beyond the power of his to
reach.  Chivalrous, absorbing, tyrannising over his whole being, even
pure as his love is, it far fails of the deeper and holier purity of
hers.  It shudders at the possibility of even outward soil upon her
loveliness; but it does so primarily because such soil would react upon
his self-love:--

   "Have _I_ not made your place and dignity
   The very height of my ambition?"

Her nobler nature recoils with chill foreboding terror from his first
breach of trust, _because_ it is a fall from his truest and highest
right.  His answer to her question already quoted, reveals a love which
the world's judgment may rank as the best and noblest, but reveals a
principle which, applied to aught beneath the only and supremest good,
makes love only a more insidious and deeply corrupting form of
self-pleasing: "'Tis what I love determines how I love."  Love is his
"highest allegiance"; and it becomes ere long an allegiance before which
truth, faith, and honour give way, and guidance and control of conscience
are swept before the fierce storm of self-willed passion that brooks no
interposition between itself and its aim.

We are not attempting a formal review of this work; and as we have passed
without notice the powerful embodiment in Father Isidor of whatever was
true and earnest in the Inquisition, we must also pass very slightly over
the interview with a still more remarkable creation--the Hebrew physician
and astrologer Sephardo--except as we have in this interview further
illustration of the character of Don Silva, and of the direction in which
the self-love of passion is impelling him.  We see conscience seeking
from Sephardo--and seeking in vain--confirmation of the purpose already
determined in his own heart; striving toward self-justification by every
sophistry the passion-blinded intellect can suggest; struggling to
transfer to another the wrong, if not the shame, of his own contemplated
breach of trust; endeavouring to take refuge in stellar and fatalistic
agencies from his own "nature quiveringly poised" between good and evil;
and at last, merging all sophistries and all influences in the fierce
resolve of the self-love which has made Fedalma the one aim, glory, and
crown of his life.  Throughout all the apparent struggle and uncertainty,
we never doubt how all shall end.  Amid all the appearances of
vacillation, all the seeking external aid and furtherance, we see that
the resolve is fixed, that the eager passionate self which identifies
Fedalma as its inalienable right and property will prevail--prevail even
to set aside every obstacle of duty and right which shall seem to
interpose between it and realisation.

Equally and profoundly characteristic is the position he mentally takes
up with regard to the Gypsy chief, as well as Fedalma herself.  Not
simply or primarily from mere arrogance of rank does he assume it as a
certainty that he has but to find Fedalma to win her back to his side;
that he has but to lay before Zarca the offer of his rank, wealth, and
influence on behalf of the outcast race, to win him to forego his purpose
and to surrender the daughter whom he has called to the same lofty aim.
It is because of the impossibility, swayed and tossed by the self-will of
passion as he is, of his rising to the height of their nobleness; the
impossibility of his realising natures so possessed by a great, heroic,
self-devoting thought, that hope, joy, happiness become of little or no
account in the scale, and even what is called success dwindles into
insignificance, or fades away altogether from regard.

The first betrayal of his trust, the first fall from truth and honour,
has been accomplished.  Conscience has begun to succumb to self--self
under the guise of Fedalma and the overmastering self-will which refuses
to resign his claim upon her.  He has secretly deserted his post,
transferring to another's hands the trust which was his, and only his.  A
slight offence it may appear--a mere error of judgment swayed by devoted
love--to leave for a day or two when no danger seems specially impending,
and to leave in the hands of the trusted and loving friend the charge
committed to him.  A slight offence, but it has been done in direct
violation of conscience, and so in practical abnegation of God.  Therefore
the flood-gate is opened, and all sweeps swiftly, resistlessly,
remedilessly on towards catastrophe.

The tender beauty of the brief scene with Fedalma is for her overcast,
and hope, the highest hope, dies out within her, when she knows that her
lover, in apparent faithfulness to her, has been false to himself.  From
that hour for her,

   "Our joy is dead, and only smiles on us,
   A loving shade from out the place of tombs."

Then comes the interposition of the Gypsy chief, Fedalma's sweet sad
steadfastness to her "high allegiance, higher than our love;" the brief
moment of suspense, when

   "His will was prisoner to the double grasp
   Of rage and hesitancy;"--

and then before the stormful revulsion of baffled and despairing passion
all else is swept away, and there only survives in the self-clouded mind
and soul the fixed resolve to secure that which for him has come to
overmaster all allegiance.  Strange and sad beyond all description are
the sophistries under which the sinner strives to veil his sin,--by which
to silence that still small voice which will not be hushed amid all that
inward moil.  Fedalma's earnest pleadings with his better self, Zarca's
calm, pitying, almost sorrowful scorn--

            "_Our_ poor faith
   Allows not rightful choice save of the right
   Our birth has made for us"--

fall unheeded amid that fierce tempest of aroused self-will; and the
Spanish knight and noble of that very age when

            "Castilian gentlemen
   Choose not their task--they choose to do it well,"

becomes the renegade, abjuring and forswearing country, honour, and God.

We have hitherto abstained from quotation, except where necessary to
illustrate our remarks.  But we cannot forbear extracting from this scene
the most exquisite of the many beautiful lyrics scattered throughout the
poem, expressing, as it does, with a mystic power and depth beyond what
the most elaborate commentary could do, the all but hopelessness of
return from such a fall as Don Silva's:--

   "Push off the boat,
      Quit, quit the shore,
         The stars will guide us back:--
   O gathering cloud,
      O wide, wide sea,
         O waves that keep no track!

   On through the pines!
      The pillared woods,
         Where silence breathes sweet breath:--
   O labyrinth,
      O sunless gloom,
         The other side of death!"

In the scenes which follow among the Gypsy guard, both that with Juan and
the lonely night immediately preceding the march, the terrible reaction
has already begun to set in.  The "quivering" poise of Don Silva's nature
makes it impossible he should rest quiet in this utterness of moral and
spiritual fall.  Already we hear and see the "murdered virtues" begin

         "To walk as ghosts
   Within the shuddering soul and shriek remorse."

The past returns on him with tyrannous power,--early associations, the
taking up of his knightly vows with all its grand religious and heroic
accompaniments, the delegated and accepted trust which he has by
forsaking betrayed--

         "The life that made
   His full-formed self, as the impregnant sap
   Of years successive frames the full-branched tree"--

all come back with stern reproach and denunciation of the apostate who,
in hope of the outward realisation of a human love, has cast off and
forsworn them all.  Fiercely he fronts and strives to silence the
accusing throng.  Still the same plea--

         "My sin was made for me
   By men's perverseness:"

still the same impulses of mad, despairing self-assertion--

      "I have a _right_ to choose my good or ill,
   A right to damn myself!"--

still the same vain imagination that union is any longer possible between
Fedalma's high self-abnegating truth and his self-seeking abnegation of
all truth, coupled with the arrogant assumption that he, morally so weak
and fallen, can sustain her steadfast and heroic strength--"I with my
love will be her providence."

When with the fearful Gypsy chant and curse

         "The newer oath
   Thrusts its loud presence on him,"

we feel that any madness of act the wild conflict within may dictate has
become possible; and we follow to that presence of Fedalma which is now
the only goal life has left to him, prepared for such outbreak of despair
as shall be commensurate with a life called to such nobleness of deed and
fallen to such a depth of ruin.  We see the trust he has deserted in the
hands of the foe against whom he had accepted commission to guard it; his
friends slaughtered at the post he had forsaken; himself as the sworn
Zincalo in alliance with the enemy and slaughterer, and associated with
the havoc they have wrought.  The "right to damn" himself which he had
claimed is his in all its bitterness; and when he would charge the self
damnation upon the Gypsy chief, the reply of calm withering scorn can but
add keener pang to his awaking remorse: the self-damning

         "Deed was done
   Before you took your oath, or reached our camp,
   Done when you slipped in secret from the post
   'Twas yours to keep, and not to meditate
   If others might not fill it."

The climax of his revulsion, remorse, and despair is reached when the
Prior, the man whom he has impeached as the true author of all his sin,
is led forth to die.  Then all sophistries are swept away, and the full
import of his deed glares up before him, and its import as _his_, only
and wholly his.  Zarca, in his high self-possession of soul, almost
pitying while he cannot but despise, presents a fitting object on which
all the fierce conflicting passions of wrath, self-accusing remorse, and
despair, may vent themselves; and the sudden and treacherous deed, which

         "Strangles one
   Whom ages watch for vainly,"

gives also to Don Silva himself to carry

         "For ever with him what he fled--
   _Her_ murdered love--her love, a dear wronged ghost,
   Facing him, beauteous, 'mid the throngs of hell."

Few authors or artists but George Eliot could have won us again to look
on Don Silva except with revulsion or disgust; and it is characteristic
of more than all ordinary power that through the deep impressive
solemnity of the closing scene, he, the renegade and murderer, almost
divides our interest and sympathy with Fedalma herself; and this by no
condoning of his guilt, no extenuation of the depth of his fall, for
these are here, most of all, kept ever before our eyes.  But the better
and nobler elements of his nature, throughout all his degradation
revealed to us as never wholly overborne, as ever struggling to assert
themselves, have begun to prevail, and to put down from supremacy that
meaner self which has led him into such abysses of faithlessness,
apostasy, and sin.  The wild despair of remorse is giving way to the self-
renunciation of repentance; the storm of conflicting passions and
emotions is stilled; the fearful battle between good and evil through
which he has passed has left him exhausted of every hope and aim save to
die, repentant and absolved, for the country and faith he had abjured.
The self-assertion, too, of love is gone, and only its deep purity and
tenderness remain.  Without murmur or remonstrance, he acquiesces in the
doom of hopeless separation; accepting all that remains possible to him
of that "high allegiance higher than our love," which is thenceforth the
only bond of union between these two.  In that last sad interview with
her for whom he had so fearfully sinned, and so all but utterly fallen,
we can regard Don Silva with a fuller and truer sympathy than we dare
accord to him in all the height of his greatness, and all the wealth,
beauty, and joy of his yet unshadowed love.

* * * * *

In the next of this series of great works, and the one which to many of
her readers is and will remain the most fascinating--'Middlemarch'--George
Eliot has stretched a broader and more crowded canvas, on which, however,
every figure, to the least important that appears, is--not sketched or
outlined, but--filled in with an intense and lifelike vividness and
precision that makes each stand out as if it stood there alone.  Quote
but a few words from any one of the speakers, and we know in a moment who
that speaker is.  And each is the type or representative of a class; we
have no monsters or unnatural creations among them.  To a certain extent
all are idealised for good or for evil,--it cannot be otherwise in
fiction without its ceasing to be fiction; but the essential elements of
character and life in all are not peculiar to them, but broad and
universal as our humanity itself.  Dorothea and her sister, Mr Brooke and
Sir James Chettam, Rosamond Vincy and her brother, Mr Vincy and his wife,
Casaubon and Lydgate, Farebrother and Ladislaw, Mary Garth and her
parents, Bulstrode and Raffles, even Drs Sprague and Minchin, old
Featherstone and his kindred--all are but representative men and women,
with whose prototypes every reader, if gifted with the subtle power of
penetration and analysis of George Eliot, might claim personal
acquaintance.

This richly-crowded canvas presents to us such variety of illustration of
the two great antagonistic principles of human life--self-pleasing and
self-abnegation, love of pleasure and the love of God more or less
absolute and consummate--that it is no easy task to select from among
them.  But two figures stand out before us, each portrayed with such
finished yet unlaboured art--living, moving, talking before us--contrasted
with such exquisite yet unobtrusive delicacy, and so subtilely
illustrating the two great phases of human inspiration and life--that
which centres in self, and that which yearns and seeks to lose itself in
the infinite of truth, purity, and love--that instinctively and
irresistibly the mind fixes upon them.  These are Dorothea and Rosamond
Vincy.

To not a few of George Eliot's readers, we believe that Dorothea is and
will always be a fairer and more attractive form than Dinah Morris or
Romola di Bardi, Fedalma or Mirah Cohen.  In her sweet young enthusiasm,
often unguided or misguided by its very intensity, but always struggling
and tending on toward the highest good; in the touching maidenly
simplicity with which she at once identifies and accepts Mr Casaubon as
her guide and support toward a higher, less self-contained and
self-pleasing, more inclusive and all-embracing life; in the yearning
pain with which the first dread of possible disappointment dawns and
darkens over her, and the meek humility of her repentance on the one
faint betrayal--wrung from her by momentary anguish--of that
disappointment; in the tender wifely patience, reticence, forbearance,
with which she hides from all, the heart-gnawings of shattered and
expiring hope; the sense which she can no longer veil from her own
deepest consciousness that in Mr Casaubon there is no help or stay for
her and the unwearied though too soon unhoping earnestness with which she
labours to establish true relations between herself and her uncongenial
mate; in the patient yet crushing anguish of that long night's
heart-struggle which precedes the close--a struggle not against her own
higher self, but whether she dare bind down that higher self to a
lifelong, narrow, worthless task, and the aching consciousness of
what--almost against conscience and right--her answer must be;--there is
an inexpressible charm and loveliness in all this which no one, not
utterly dead to all that is fairest and best in womanhood, can fail to
recognise.

Not less wonderfully depicted is the guileless frankness which, from
first to last, characterises her whole relations to Ladislaw.  If there
is one flaw in this noble work, it is that Ladislaw on first examination
is scarcely equal to this exquisite creation.  Yet it might have been
nearly as difficult even for George Eliot to satisfy our instinctive
cravings in this particular with regard to Dorothea, as in respect to
Romola or Fedalma.  And when we study her portrait of Ladislaw more
carefully, there is a latent beauty and nobleness about him; an innate
and intense reverence for the highest and purest, and an unvarying aim
and struggle toward it; an utter scorn and loathing of everything mean
and base,--that almost makes us cancel the word flaw.  We recognise this
nobleness of nature almost on his first appearance, in the deep reverence
with which he regards Dorothea, the fulness with which he penetrates the
guileless candour of the relation she assumes to him, the entireness of
his trust in the spotless purity of her whole nature.  And in him we have
presented all those essential and fundamental elements of nature which
give assurance that, Dorothea by his side, he shall be no unfitting
helpmeet to her, no drag or hindrance on her higher life; that he shall
rise to the elevation and purity of her self-consecration, and shall
stand by her side sustaining, guiding, expanding that life of
ever-growing fulness and human helpfulness to which each is dedicated.

But the essence of all this moral and spiritual loveliness is its
unconsciousness.  Self has no place in it.  From the first the one
absorbing life aim and action is toward others--toward aiding the toils,
advancing the well-being, relieving the suffering, elevating the life, of
all around her.  And this in no spirit of self-satisfied and vainglorious
self-estimation, but in that utter unconsciousness which is
characteristic of her whole being.  Of the social reformer, the purposed
philanthropist, the benefactor of the poor, the wretched, and the fallen,
there is no trace in Dorothea Brooke.  Grant that, as she is first
presented to us, that aim is for the time apparently concentrated in
improved cottage accommodation for the poor; even here there is no
thought of displaying the skill of the design and contriver: there is
thought alone of the object she seeks--ameliorating the condition of
those she yearns to benefit.

In her very first interview with Casaubon, there is something
inexpressibly touching in the humility of childlike trust with which she
accepts him and his "great mind," and the innocent purity with which she
allows herself to indulge the vision of a life passed by his side; a life
which he, by his influence and guidance, is to make more full and free,
and delivered from those conventionalities of custom and fashion which
restrict it.  At last his cold, formal proposal of marriage is made.  She
sees nothing of its true character--that he is but seeking, not an
helpmeet for life and soul in all their higher requirements, but simply
and solely a kind of superior, blindly submissive dependant and drudge.
In the _impossibility_ of marriage presenting itself to her purity of
maiden innocence as a mere establishment in life, or in any of those
meaner aspects in which meaner natures regard it, she sees nothing of all
this--nothing save that the yearning of her heart is fulfilled, and that
henceforth her life shall pass under a higher guardianship, sustained by
a holier strength, animated by a more self-expansive fulness, guided
toward nobler and fuller aims.

Picturing to some extent, in degree as we are capable of entering into a
nature like hers, the anguish that such an awakening must be to her, it
is exquisitely painful to follow in imagination the slow sure process of
her awakening to what this man, who "has no good red blood in his body,"
really is--a cold, shallow pedant, whose entire existence is bound up in
researches, with regard to which he even shrinks from inquiry as to
whether all he has for years been vaguely attempting has not been
anticipated, and whose intense and absorbing egoism makes the remotest
hint of depreciation pierce like a dagger.  The first faint dawn of
discovery breaks on her almost immediately on their arrival at Rome.
Conscious of her want of mere aesthetic culture--neglected in the past as
a turning aside from life's highest aims--she has looked forward to his
guidance and support for the supply of this want as enlarging her whole
being; broadening and deepening, refining and elevating all its
sympathies.  For all shadow of aid or sympathy here, she finds herself as
utterly alone as if she were in a trackless and uninhabited desert.  Nay,
more: he who sits by her side is as cold and dead to all sensations or
emotions that art can enkindle, as the glorious marbles amid which they
wander.  Soon she finds herself relegated to the society and fellowship
of her maid; her husband is less to her, is incapable of being other than
less, amid those transcendant treasures of architecture, painting, and
sculpture, than a hired guide or cicerone would be.

Soon follows the scene where her timid offer of humble service is thrown
back with all the irritation of that absorbing egoism which is the very
essence and life-in-death of the man.  For the first and only time, a
faint cry of conscious irritation escapes her, followed by an anguish of
repentance so deep, so meekly, humbly self-accusing, it reveals to us
more of her truest and innermost life than pages of elaborate description
could do.  A single sentence descriptive of her mood even in that first
irritation brings before us her deepest soul, and the utter absence of
self isolation and self-insistence there:--"However just her indignation
might be, her ideal was not _to claim justice_, but _to give
tenderness_."

She meets Ladislaw; and he more than hints to her that the dim, vague
labours and accumulations of years which have constituted her husband's
nearest approach to life have been labour in vain; that the "great mind"
has been toiling, with feeble uncertain steps, in a path which has
already been trodden into firmness and completeness; toiling in wilful
and obdurate ignorance that other and abler natures have more than
anticipated all he has been painfully and abortively labouring to
accomplish.  Again a cry bursts from the wounded heart, seemingly of
anger against her informant, really of anguish--anguish, not for her own
sinking hopes, but for the burden of disappointment and failure which she
instinctively perceives must, sooner or later, fall on the husband who is
thus throwing away life in vain.

So it goes on, through all the ever-darkening problem of her married, yet
unmated, life.  Effort, always more earnest on the part of her yearning,
unselfish tenderness, to establish true relations between them; to find
in him something of that sweet support, that expansive and elevating
force, silently entering into her own innermost life, which her first
childlike trust inspired; to become to him, even if no more may be, that
to which her childlike humility at first alone aspired--eyes to his
weakness, and strength and freedom to his pen.  So it goes on;
ever-gnawing pain and anguish, as all her yearning love and pity is
thrown back, and that dulled insensate heart and all-absorbing egoism can
find only irritation in her timid attempts at sympathy, only dread of
detection of the half-conscious futility of all his labours, in her
humble proffers of even mechanical aid.  Not easily can even the most
fervid and penetrative imagination conceive what, to a nature like
Dorothea's, such a life must be, with its never-ceasing, ever-gathering
pain; its longing tenderness not even actively repelled, but simply
ignored or misinterpreted; its humblest, equally with its highest
yearnings, baffled and shattered against that triple mail of shallowest
self-includedness.  And all has to be borne in silence and alone.  No
word, no look, no sign, betrays to other eye the inward anguish, the
deepening disappointment, the slow dying away of hope.  Nay, for long, on
indeed to the bitter close, failure seems to her to be almost wholly on
her own side; and repentance and self-upbraiding leave no room for
resentment.

Ere long--indeed, very soon--another, and, if possible, a still deeper
humiliation comes upon her,--another, and, in some respects, a keener
pang, as showing more intensely how entirely she stands alone, is thrown
into her life,--in her husband's jealousy of Ladislaw.  Yet jealousy it
cannot be called.  Of any emotion so comparatively profound, any passion
so comparatively elevated, that self-absorbed, self-tormenting nature is
utterly incapable.  Jealousy, in some degree, presupposes love; love not
wholly absorbed in self, but capable to some extent of going forth from
our own mean and sordid self-inclusion in sympathetic relation,
dependence, and aid, towards another existence.  In Mr Casaubon there is
no capability, no possibility of this.  What in him wears the aspect of
jealousy is simply and solely self-love, callous irritation, that any one
should--not stand above, but--approach himself in importance with the
woman he has purchased as a kind of superior slave.  For long her
guileless innocence and purity, her utter inability to conceive such a
feeling, leaves her only in doubt and perplexity before it; long after it
has first betrayed itself, she reveals this incapability in the fullest
extent, and in the way most intensely irritating to her husband's self-
love--by her simple-hearted proposal that whatever of his property would
devolve on her should be shared with Ladislaw.  Then it is that Casaubon
is roused to inflict on her the last long and bitter anguish; to lay on
her for life--had not death intervened--the cold, soul-benumbing, life
contracting clutch of "the Dead Hand."  In the innocence of her entire
relations with Ladislaw, not the faintest dawning of thought connects
itself with him in her husband's cold, insistent demand on her blind
obedience to his will.  She thinks alone of his thus binding her to a
lifelong task, not only hard and ungenial, but one that shall absorb and
fetter all her energies, restrain all her faculties, impair and frustrate
all her higher and broader aims, make impossible all that better and
purer fulness of life for which she yearns.  Then follows the long and
painful struggle,--a struggle so agonising to such a nature, that only
one nearly akin to her own can adequately conceive or picture it.  For it
is a struggle not primarily to forego any certain or fancied mere
personal good.  On one side is ranged tenderest pitifulness over her
husband's wasted life and energies, even though she knows those energies
have been wasted--that life has been thrown away--on an object in which
there is no gain to humanity, no advancement of human well-being, no
profit even to himself, save, perchance, a barren and useless notoriety
at last; an object that has been already far more fully and ably
achieved.  On the other stands her clear undoubting _conscience_ of her
own truest and highest course,--the course to which every prompting of
the Divine within impels her,--that she shall not thus isolate herself
within this narrowest sphere, shut herself out from all social sympathies
and social outgoings, and sacrifice to the Dead Hand that holds her in
its cold remorseless clutch every interest that may be intrusted to her.
We instinctively shudder at the result; but we never doubt what the
answer will be.  We know that the tender, womanly, wifely pitifulness,
the causeless remorse, will be the nearest and most urgent conscience,
and will prevail.  The agonised assent is to be given; but it falls on
the ear of the dead.

It is scarcely necessary to follow Dorothea minutely through all the
details of her widowed relations to Mr Casaubon.  Enough that these are
all in touching and beautiful harmony with everything that has gone
before.  No resentment, no recalcitration against all the ever-gathering
perplexity, pain, and anguish he has caused her--nothing but the sweet
unfailing pitifulness, the uncalled-for repentance, almost remorse, over
her own assumed shortcomings and deficiencies--her failures to be to him
what in those first days of her childlike simplicity and innocence she
had hoped she might become.  Even on the discovery of the worse than
treachery, of the mean insulting malignity with which, trusting to her
confiding purity and truthfulness, he had sought to grasp her for life in
his "Dead Hand" with regard to Ladislaw, and she only escaped the
irrevocable bond her own blindly-given pledge would have fixed around her
by his death,--the momentary and violent shock of revulsion from her dead
husband, who had had hidden thoughts of her, perhaps perverting
everything she said or did, _terrified her as if it had been a sin_.

It is not alone, however, toward her husband that this simple,
unconscious self-devotion and self-abnegation of Dorothea Brooke displays
itself.  Toward every one with whom she comes in contact, it steals out
unobtrusively and silently, as the dew from heaven on the tender grass,
to each and all according to the kind and nearness of that relation.  Even
for her "pulpy" uncle she has no supercilious contempt--no sense of
isolation or separation; not even the consciousness of toleration toward
him.  Toward Celia, with her delicious commonplace of rather superficial
yet _naive_ worldly wisdom, her half-conscious selfishness, her
baby-worship, and her inimitable "staccato," she is more than tolerant.
She looks up to her as in many respects a superior, even though her own
far higher instincts and aims of life cannot accept her as an aid and
guidance toward the realisation of these.  Even at old Featherstone's
funeral, her one emotion is of pitiful sorrow over that loveless mockery
of all human pity and love; and for the "Frog-faced" there is no feeling
but sympathetic compassion for his apparent loneliness amongst strangers,
who all stand aloof and look askance on him.  Into all Lydgate's plans,
into the whole question of the hospital and all he hopes to achieve
through means of it, she throws herself with swift intelligence, with
active, eager sympathy, as a probable instrumentality by which at least
one phase of suffering may be redressed or allayed.  And in the hour of
his deep humiliation, when all others have fallen away from his side,
when the wife of his bosom forsakes him in callous and heartless
resentment of what was done for her sake alone; when he stands out the
mark of scorn and obloquy for all save Farebrother, and scans and all but
loathes himself--she, with her artless trust in the best of humanity, in
the strength of her instinctive recognition of the merest glimmering of
whatever is true and right and high in others, comes to his side, yields
him at once her fullest confidence, gives him with frank simplicity her
aid, and enables him, so far as determined prejudice and uncharity will
allow, to right himself before others.

Reference has already been made to her whole relations, from first to
last, with Ladislaw.  It is not easy to conceive anything more touchingly
beautiful than these, more perfectly in harmony with her whole nature.  Of
anything approaching either coquetry or prudery she is incapable.  The
utter absence of all self-consciousness, whether of external beauty or
inward loveliness; the ethereal purity, the childlike trustfulness, the
instinctive recognition of all that is true and earnest and high in
Ladislaw, through all the surface appearance of indecision, of vague
uncertain aim and purpose and limited object in life; no thought of what
is ordinarily called love toward him, of love on his part toward her--ever
dawns upon her guileless innocence.  Through all her yearning to do
justice to him as regards the property of her dead husband, which she
looks upon as fairly and justly his, or at least to be shared with him,
there arises before her the determination of her dead husband that it
should not be so; and her sweet regretful pitifulness over that meagre
wasted life prevails.  Anon, when at last through the will she is made
aware of the crowning act of that concentrated callousness of heart and
soul, and of the true nature of the benumbing grasp it had sought to lay
on her for life, and had so far succeeded in doing, then for the first
time her "tremulous" maiden purity and simplicity awakens, and for the
first time it enters her mind that Ladislaw could, under any
circumstances, become her lover; that another had thought of them in that
light, and that he himself had been conscious of such a possibility
arising.  The later scenes between them are characterised by a quiet
beauty, a suppressed power and pathos, compared to which most other love-
scenes in fiction appear dull and coarse.  The tremulous yearning of her
love, as it awakens more and more to distinct consciousness within; the
new-born shyness blent with the old, trustful, frank simplicity,--bring
before us a picture of love, in its purest and most beautiful aspect,
such as cannot easily be paralleled in fiction.

Toward her late husband's parishioners there is the same wise instinctive
insight as to their true needs, the same thoughtful and provident
consideration that characterises her in every relation into which she is
brought.  If she at once objects, on their behoof, to Mr Tyke's so-called
"apostolic" preaching, it is that she means by that, sermons about
"imputed righteousness and the prophecies in the Apocalypse.  I have
always been thinking of the different ways in which Christianity is
taught, and whenever I find one way that makes it a wider blessing than
any other, I cling to that as the truest--I mean that which takes in the
most good of all kinds, and brings in the most people as sharers in it."
And in her final selection of Mr Farebrother, she is guided not alone by
her sense of his general and essential fitness for the work assigned to
him, but also in some degree by her desire to make whist-playing for
money, and the comparatively inferior society into which it necessarily
draws him, no longer a need of his outer life.

Of all the less prominent relations into which Dorothea Brooke is
brought, there is not one more touchingly tender, or in which her whole
nature is drawn more beautifully out, than that to Rose Vincy.  Between
these two, at least on the side of the hard unpenetrable incarnation of
self-inclusion and self-pleasing, any approach to harmony or sympathy is
impossible.  There is not even any true ground of womanhood on which
Rosamond can meet Dorothea; for she is nearly as far removed from
womanhood as Tito Melema is from manliness or manhood.  Yet even here the
tender pitifulness of Dorothea overpasses a barrier that to any other
would be impassable.  In her sweet, instinctive, universal sympathy for
human sorrow and pain, she finds a common ground of union; and in no
fancied sense of superiority--solely from the sense of common human
need--she strives to console, to elevate, to lead back to hope and trust,
with a gentle yet steadfast simplicity all her own.

Such, as portrayed by unquestionably the greatest fictionist of the
time--is it too much to say, the greatest genius of our English
nineteenth century?--is the nineteenth century St Theresa.

The question may be raised by some of George Eliot's readers whether it
constitutes the best and completest ethical teaching that fiction can
attain, to bring before its readers such high ideals of the possibilities
of humanity--of the aim and purpose of life toward which it should ever
aspire.  Were the author's canvas occupied with such portraitures
alone--with Romolas and Fedalmas, Dinah Morrises and Dorothea Brookes,
Daniel Derondas and Adam Bedes, even Mr Tryans and Mr Gilfils--the
question might call for full discussion, and a contrast might be
unfavourably drawn between the author and him whose emphatic praise it is
that he "holds the mirror up to nature."  But the great artist for all
time brings before us not only an Iago and an Edmund, an Angelo and an
Iachimo, a Regan and a Goneril, but a Miranda and an Imogen, an Isabella
and a Viola, a Cordelia and a Desdemona, with every conceivable
intermediate shade of human character and life; and in George Eliot we
have the same clearly-defined contrasts and endless variety.  That a
Becky Sharp and a Beatrix Castlewood are drawn with the consummate skill
and force of the most perfect artist in his own special sphere our age
has produced, few will be disposed to deny: and that they have momentous
lessons to teach us all,--that they may by sheer antagonism rouse some
from dreams of selfish vanity and corruption, and awaken within some germ
of better and purer elements of life,--will scarcely be disputed.  But it
is not from these, or such as these, that the highest and noblest, the
purest and most penetrative, the most extended and enduring teaching and
elevation of the world has come.  That has come emphatically from Him
whose self-chosen name, "the Son of Man," designates Him the ideal of
humanity on earth; Him who is at once the "Lamb of God" and "the Lion of
the tribe of Judah," the "Good Shepherd," and the stern and fearless but
ever-righteous Judge--the concentration of all tender and holy love, and
of divinest scorn of, and revulsion from, everything mean and false in
humanity; Him who for the repentant sinner has no harsher word of rebuke
than "Go and sin no more," and who over the self-righteous, self-wrapt,
all-despising Pharisees thundered back, to His own ultimate destruction,
His terrible "Woe unto you _hypocrites_."  He too stands out, not
isolated or severed, but prominent, amid every conceivable phase and
gradation of human character, from a John to a Judas; touches each and
all at some point of living contact; meets them with tender sympathy,
with gentle patience, and pitying love, over their weaknesses and falls.
Can the true artist err in aiming, according to his nature or to the
purity and elevation of his genius, to approach in his portraitures such
ideals as this great typical exemplar of our humanity, whose influence
has for eighteen centuries been stealing down into the hearts and souls
of men to elevate and refine, and who is now, and who is more and more
becoming, the paramount factor in individual character, and in social and
political relations?  Or can such ideals, presented before us, fail to
arouse in some degree the better elements of our humanity, and to lead us
to strive toward the realisation of these?

In wonderfully drawn and finished yet never obtruded contrast to this
beautiful creation comes before us Rosamond Vincy.  Outwardly even more
characterised by every personal charm, save that one living and crowning
charm which outshines from the soul within; to the eye, therefore--such
eyes as can penetrate no deeper than the surface--prettier, more
graceful, more accomplished and fascinating, than Dorothea Brooke;--it is
difficult to conceive a more utterly unlovable example of womanhood,
whether as maiden or wife.  Hard and callous of heart and dead of soul,
incapable of one thought or emotion that rises above or extends beyond
self, insistent on her own petty claims and ambitions to the exclusion of
all others, ever aiming to achieve these, now by dogged sullen
persistence, now by mean concealments and frauds, no more repellent
portraiture of womanhood has ever been placed before us.  The fundamental
character of her entire home relations is, on her first appearance, drawn
by a single delicate touch--her objecting to her brother's red herring,
or rather to its presence after she enters the room, because its odour
jars on her sense of pseudo-refinement.  In her relation to her husband
there is not from first to last one shadow of anything that can be called
love, no approach to sympathy or harmony of life.  She looks on him
solely as a means for removing herself to what she considers a higher
social circle, securing to her greater ease, freedom, and luxury of daily
life, and ultimately withdrawing her to a wider sphere of petty and
selfish enjoyment.  Seeking these ends, she resorts to every mean device
of deceit and concealment.  Utterly callous and impenetrable to his
feelings, to every manlier instinct within him, as she is utterly
insensible of, and indeed incapable of, entering into his higher and
wider professional aims, she not only ignores these, but in her dull and
hard insensibility runs counter to, and tramples on them all.

Even toward Mary Garth there is nothing approaching true friendship or
affection; no power of recognising her honesty, unselfishness, and
earnestness of nature.  She is nothing to her but a tool and
_confidante_, the recipient of her own petty hopes and desires, worries
and cares.

All Dorothea's gentle, unobtrusive attempts to soothe, to win her back to
truer and better relations with her husband, and to awaken to active life
and exercise the true womanhood, which she in her sweet instinct believes
to be inherent in all her sex, are met by hard indifference or dull
resistance.  And in the one act of apparent friendliness or rather
explanation toward Dorothea, she is actuated far less by sympathy or
desire to clear away what has come between her and Ladislaw, than by
sullen resentment against the latter for his rejection of her unseemly
and unwifely advances to him.

In the position she at last takes up toward Ladislaw, there is no
approach to anything in the very least resembling love--even illicit and
overmastering passion.  Of that her very nature is incapable.  She is
influenced solely by resentment against her husband, and his failure to
fulfil her vain and self-absorbed dreams; by the hope that he will remove
her to a sphere which will give wider scope to her heartless selfishness,
and take her away from the social disappointments and humiliations into
which that selfishness has mainly plunged her.  In every relation of life
near or far, important or trivial, amid all environments, under all
impulsion toward anything purer and better, Rosamond Vincy is ever the
same; as consistent and unvarying in her hard unwomanliness and
impenetrable, insistent self-seeking, as is Dorothea in every opposite
characteristic.  And even while the picture in one way fascinates the
reader, it is the fascination of ever-increasing contempt and loathing
where the extremest charity can hardly even pity; and from it we ever
turn to that of St Theresa with the more intense refreshment alike of
mind and heart, and the deeper sense of its elevating and refining
influence.

Among the many clearly defined and vividly drawn portraits in this great
work, it would be easy, did space permit, to select others well worthy of
detailed examination, and illustrative of the salient aim and tendency of
all George Eliot's works.  The homely yet beautiful family groups of the
Garths, Celia and Sir James Chettam, the Bulstrodes, {97} even the
wretched old Featherstone, and the crowd of vultures "waiting for death
around him," all more or less illustrate the fundamental principle of the
highest ethics--that self-abnegation is life, elevation, purity,
uplifting our humanity toward the Divine; that self-seeking and
self-isolation tend surely toward moral and spiritual death.  Two,
however, stand out so delicately yet clearly defined and contrasting,
that they claim brief consideration before passing from this great
work--Lydgate and Farebrother.

The whole character and career of Lydgate are brought before us with the
skill of the consummate artist.  At first he appears as a man of massive
and energetic proportions, of high professional impulses and aims,
resolute to carry these through against all difficulty and amid all
indifference and opposition, and apparently seeking through these aims
the general good of humanity--the alleviation of suffering, and the
arrestment, it may be, of death.  But even then there are signs of
inherent weakness, and all but certain decline and fall.  There are
indications of arrogant self sufficiency and supercilious contempt for
others; of undue deference for Bulstrode, not from respect or esteem, but
as a tool to further his views; and a tendency to treat patients not as
human beings but as cases--objects to experiment on, and verify
hypotheses regarding pathology and disease, all which betray a nature not
attuned to the highest and noblest pitch, and that cannot be expected to
stand in the hour of trial.  His first direct lapse is when, against his
secret conviction, he supports Tyke as hospital chaplain in opposition to
Farebrother; but mainly in mere defiance and resentment of the general
style of his reception at the Board meeting, and the opposition he
encounters there.  Anon comes his marriage to Rosamond Vincy,--a marriage
prompted by no true affection, but solely by the fascination of her
prettiness, her external grace and accomplishments.  Led on mainly by his
own taste for luxury and external show, he plunges into extravagances of
every kind.  Debt inevitably follows, crippling his resources, cramping
his energies, fettering him as regards all his higher professional aims
and efforts.  To his wife he looks in vain for sympathy or aid.  She only
aggravates the difficulties and harassments of his life by her callous
selfishness, her dull obdurate insistance on all her own claims, her mean
deceits and concealments.  Embarrassments of every kind thicken around
him; and at last in the all but universal estimation of his fellows, and
nearly in his own, in the hope of temporary relief he becomes accessory
to murder.  His end is as sad a one for his character, and in his
circumstances, as can well be conceived: falling from all his high if
somewhat arrogant professional aims, his hopes of elevating the general
practitioner, and of raising medicine from an art to a science, into the
fashionable London lady's doctor.

Though Mr Farebrother occupies a somewhat less prominent place in the
narrative, he is delineated with not less consummate skill.  He comes
before us at first a man of genial kindly sympathies, frankly alive to,
and frankly acknowledging, his own deficiencies.  There is an utter
absence of pretence and affectation about him, a graceful and engaging
simplicity and frankness of whole nature, that can hardly fail to win the
heart.  All his home relations--toward mother and sisters--are singularly
touching.  Feeling all his defects as a clergyman, half laughing, half
apologetic over his devotion to his favourite Coleoptera, and admitting
that which is so far a necessity to him, not of choice, but of actual
external need in his narrow circumstances--admitting, too, the
comparatively inferior and uncongenial society into which he is drawn--the
full revelation of his nobler and higher nature begins.  His true and
deep appreciation of Mary Garth, and tender, devoted, and unselfish love
for her, more clearly reveal his innate manliness, self-denial, and
simplicity of character.  This revelation is still further unfolded
before us in his entire relations with Fred Vincy.  That firm persistent
interview in the billiard-room, is actuated by the one absorbing and self-
abnegating desire that he may still be saved from the moral and spiritual
decay impending over him: and when, in answer to Fred's appeal for his
intercession, we discover the blighting of his own hopes, the shattering
of his love, the tender heart stricken to the core should Fred prove, as
he suspects, his successful rival, we discern in him a nature of the
finest capabilities, and surely tending on and up toward the noblest
ends; and we part from him as from a dear and valued friend, whose
society has cheered and elevated us, whose pure simplicity of nature has
refuted our vain pretensions, and whose memory clings to us as a
fragrance and refreshment.

There now only remains the last yet published, and in the estimation of
many, the greatest, of George Eliot's works--'Daniel Deronda.'  In it the
author takes up--not a new scope, but extends one that has all along been
present, and that indeed was inevitably associated with her great ethical
principle,--the bringing of that principle definitely and directly to
bear upon not only every domestic but every social and political relation
of human life.  This tendency may be briefly expressed in the old and
profound words: "No man liveth to himself; no man dieth to himself."  As
we aim toward the true and good and pure, or surrender ourselves the
slaves of self and sense, we live or die to God or to the devil.

Before, however, proceeding to detailed examination of this remarkable
work, it seems necessary to draw attention to one objection which has
been urged against it--the prominent introduction of the Jewish element
into its scheme.  Such objection could scarcely have been put forward by
any one who considers what the Jew has been in the past--what an enormous
factor his past and present have been and are, in the development and
progress of our highest civilisation.  Historically, we first meet him
coming forth from the Arabian desert, a rude unlettered herdsman, in
intelligence, cultivation, and morality far below the tribes among whom
he is thrown.  A terrible weapon arms him--a theism stern, hard, and
pitiless, beyond, perhaps, all the world has ever seen.  To the bravest
and best of his race--a Moses and a Joshua, a Deborah and a Jephtha--this
presents ruthless massacre, the vilest treachery, offering up a sacrifice
the dearest and most loved, not as mere permissible acts, but as deeds of
religious homage solemnly enjoined by his Most High.  This theism has one
central thought in which it practically stands alone, and which it was
the aim of all its supposed heads and legislators to keep inviolate amid
all surrounding antagonisms--the intense assertion of the Divine unity.
"Hear, O Israel! the Lord thy God is _one_ Lord."  In these brief words
lies the very core of Judaism.  So long as he holds fast by this central
truth, the Jew is exhibited to us as practically omnipotent.  Seas and
floods divide before him; hosts numberless as the sands are scattered at
his appearance; cyclopean walls fall prone at his trumpet-blast.

And this thought of the Divine unity, thus intensely pervading the
national life, upfolds within capacity of indefinite development.  No
long time in the life of a nation elapses ere "The Lord thy God is a
jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children,"
became "As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that
fear Him."  "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not
have compassion on the son of her womb?  Yea, she _may_ forget; yet will
not _I_ forget thee."

In no sense of the word was the Jew a creature of imagination.  The stern
and hard realities of his life would seem to have crushed out every trace
of the aesthetic element within him.  Yet from among these people arose a
literature, especially a hymnology, which has never been approached
elsewhere; and it arose emphatically and distinctly out of the great
central and animating thought of the Divine unity.  To the Psalms
so-called of David, the glorious outbursts of sacred song in their
mythico-historical books, as in Isaiah {103} and some of the minor
prophets, the finest of the Vedic or Orphic hymns or the Homeric ballads
are cold and spiritless.  These address themselves to scholars alone, or
chiefly to a cultivated few, and address themselves to them eloquently
and gloriously.  The hymns of the Jews have so interpenetrated the very
heart of humanity, so identified themselves with the best longings, the
noblest aspirations, the purest hopes, and the deepest sorrows of man,
that still, after more than twenty centuries, that wonderful hymnology
breathes up day after day, week after week, from millions of households
and hearts.  They outbreathe its fervid aspirations toward a purer and
diviner life.  They give expression to its profound wailings over
degradation and fall.  They give utterance on all the inscrutable
mysteries of existence; and ever and anon as the clouds and darkness
break away from the Infinite Love,--they burst forth into the exultant
cry, "God reigneth, let the earth be glad. . . . Give thanks at
remembrance of His _holiness_."

But important as is this factor of Judaism, there is another generally
considered which has perhaps exercised a still more profound and
cumulative influence on the civilisation especially of the West.  This
lies in the intense indestructible nationality of the race.  Eighteen
centuries have passed since they became a people, "scattered and peeled,"
their "holy and beautiful house" a ruin, their capital a desolation,
their land proscribed to the exile's foot.  During these centuries deluge
after deluge of so-called barbarians has swept over Asia and Europe: Hun
and Tartar, Alan and Goth, Suev and Vandal,--we attach certain vague
meanings to the names, but can the most learned scholar identify one
individual of the true unmingled blood?  All have disappeared, merged in
the race they overran, in the kingdoms they conquered and devastated.  The
Jew alone, through these centuries, has remained the Jew: proscribed,
persecuted, hunted as never was tiger or wolf, he is as vividly defined,
as unchangeably national, as when he stood alone, everywhere without and
beyond the despised and hated Gentile.  And this intense and conservative
nationality springs essentially out of the central conception of Judaism,
"God is _one_."  Be He the incarnation of pitiless vengeance, hardening
Pharaoh's heart that He may execute sevenfold wrath on him and his
people; be He the Good Shepherd, who "gathers the lambs in His arms," and
for their sakes "tempers His rough wind in the day of His east wind;"--to
the Jew He has been and is, "I am the Lord; that is My name; and My glory
will I not give to another."

Through those long ages of darkness, devil-worship, and polytheism (in
its grossest forms all around), the Jew stood up in unfaltering protest
against all.  Persecutions, proscriptions, tortures in every form, were
of no avail.  On the gibbet, on the rack, amid the flames, his last words
embodied the central confession of Judaism, "O Israel, the Lord _thy_ God
is one Lord."  Christianity, the appointed custodier of the still more
central truth, "God is love," had to all appearance failed of its
mission; had not only merged its higher message in a theistic
presentation, dark and terroristic as that of Judaism at its dawn, but
had absorbed into its scheme, under other names, the gods many who swarm
all around it; till nowhere and never, save by some soul upborne by its
own fervour above these dense fogs and mists, could individual man meet
his God face to face, and realise that higher life of the soul which is
His free gift to all who seek it.  Between this heathenised Christianity
and Judaism, the contrast was the sharpest, the contest the most
embittered and unvarying.  Elsewhere we hear of times of toleration and
indulgence even for the hunted Monotheist,--in medieval Christendom,
never.  The Inquisition plied its rack for the Jews with a more fiendish
zeal than even for the hated Morisco.  The mob held him responsible for
plague and famine; and kings and nobles hounded the mob on to
indiscriminate massacre.  The Jew lived on through it all,--lived,
multiplied, and prospered, and became more and more emphatically the Jew.
Is it too much to say that in the West in particular, where this contrast
and contest were keenest, Judaism was, during these long ages of terror
and darkness, the great conservator of the vital truth of the Divine
unity, under whatever forms science or philosophy may now attempt to
define this; and in being so, became the conservator of that thought,
without the vivifying power of which, howsoever imperfectly apprehended,
all human advance is impossible?  Is it exaggerating the importance of
the Jew and his intense nationality, based on such a truth, to say that,
but for his presence, "scattered and peeled," among all nations, the
Europe we now know could not have been?  And this indestructible
nationality, for whose existence miracle has been called into account--has
it no significance in the future equal to what it has had in the past?
There seems an impression that the Jew is being absorbed by other races.
We hear much of relaxing Judaisms; of rituals and beliefs assimilating to
those around them; of peculiarities being laid aside, that have withstood
the wear and tear of centuries.  The inference is sought to be drawn that
the Jew is beginning to feel his isolation, and to sink his own national
life amid that among which he dwells.  We accept all the facts; but can
only see in them that, under the influence of the profound thought and
research of its great leaders, Judaism is shaking off the dust of ages,
and is more vividly awaking to its mission upon earth.  We believe it is
coming forth from all this superficial change, more intensely and
powerfully Judaical, more penetrated and vivified by that thought which
for untold centuries has been the life of its life.  What is to be its
specific future as a leader in the advancement and redemption of
humanity, none can foresee.  But it seems the reverse of strange that a
genius like George Eliot's should have been powerfully attracted by this
problem; and that, in one of her noblest works, she should have very
prominently addressed herself to at least a partial solution of it.  That
the solution she suggests is a noble one, few who carefully consider the
subject will, we think, deny.  The establishment of a Jewish polity, in
the true sense of the word a theocracy, where the Infinite Holiness is
supreme, and in its supremacy is included a reign of justice, purity, and
love;--the establishment of such a polity locally between the
materialistic proclivities of the West and the psychological subtleties
of the East, mediative between them, communicating from each to each of
those essentials to human life in which the other is deficient, is a
conception worthy of her genius.

Another minor and very trivial objection to the presence of this Jewish
element need be no more than adverted to.  It is the presence of such
different types as the mean-souled scoundrel Lapidoth; the shrewd self-
approving trader Cohen, with the inimitable picture of a home-life so
pleasant and kindly; the vague intense enthusiasm, the ardent aspirations
and fervent hopes of Mordecai; the absorbing Judaism of the Physician;
the fierce revulsion of his daughter against her race and name; the meek,
delicate, ethereal purity of Mirah; the innate Jewish yearnings and
aspirations of Deronda, expanded by all the breadth that could be given
by the highest Anglo-Saxon culture and training.  To those who take
exception to this, it is answer more than sufficient that, as an artist,
it was necessary to present every typical phase of Jewish character and
life; and we confess there are other passages in the work we could better
spare than these delicious pictures of a London-Jewish pawnbroker at
home.

Of all the characters portrayed in fiction, there is perhaps not one so
difficult to analyse and define as that which stands out so prominently
in this wonderful work, Gwendolen Harleth.  At once attractive and
repellent--fascinating in no ordinary degree, and yet, in the estimation
of all around her, hard, cold, and worldly-minded--bewitching, alike from
her beauty, grace, and accomplishments, yet a superficial and seemingly
heartless coquette,--she presents a combination of at once some of the
finest and some of the meanest qualities of woman.  Her hardness towards
her fond, doting mother, and her contempt for her sisters, are
conspicuous almost from her first appearance.  Her arrogant defiance of
Deronda in the gambling-house, and the fierce revulsion of pride with
which she received the return of her necklace, are entirely in keeping
with these characteristics.  And the news of the reduction of her family
to utter poverty awakens no emotion save on her own behalf alone.  Yet,
ever and anon, faint gleams of tenderness towards her gentle mother break
forth, though soon obscured by the bitter insistance with which her own
claims to station, wealth, and luxury assert themselves.  Her first
acceptance of Grandcourt represents this phase of her twofold nature; her
rejection of him and flight from him, after her interview with Mrs
Glasher, are equally characteristic of the second.  That rejection is
actuated much more by resentment against Mrs Glasher, that she should
have dared to anticipate her in anything resembling affection he had to
give, and against him, that he should have presumed to offer to her a
heart already sealed to anything resembling love, than by the faintest
approach to it in her own.  The leap, as it were, by which she ultimately
accepts him, is merely a quick, half-conscious instinct to secure her own
deliverance from poverty, and the attainment of those higher external
enjoyments of life for which she conceived herself formed; and if, in
addition, a thought of relieving the wants of her mother and sisters
obtrudes, it holds only a very secondary place in her mind.  Deeming
herself born for dominion over every male heart, in her utter childish
ignorance of human character, she deems that Grandcourt also shall be her
slave.

But through all her relations with that magnificent incarnation of self-
isolation and self-love, she is compelled to cower before him.  Again and
again she attempts to turn, only to be crushed under his heel as
ruthlessly as a worm.  During the yachting voyage it is the same; intense
inward revulsion on the one side--cold, inexorable despotism on the
other.

The drowning scene first begins to stir the better nature within her.  The
intensity of terror with which she regards the involuntary murderous
thought, and which prompted her leap into the water, the fervour of
remorse which followed, all begin to indicate a nature which may yet be
attuned to the highest qualities.  On the other hand, the sweet clinging
trust with which she hangs on Deronda, looks up to him, feels that for
her every possibility of good lies in association with him, are those of
a guileless, artless child.  She has been called a hard-hearted, callous
woman of the world: her worldliness is on the surface alone.  Her first
cry to Deronda is the piteous wail of a forsaken child; the letter with
which their relations close is the fond yearning of a child towards one
whom she looks up to as protector and saviour.

Grandcourt is portrayed before us in more massive and simple proportions
as a type of concentrated selfishness.  We dare not despise him, we
cannot loathe him--we stand bowed and awe-stricken before him.  He never
for a moment falls from that calm dignity of pride and
self-isolation--never for a moment softens into respect for anything
without himself.  Without a moment's exception he is ever consistent,
imperturbable in his self-containedness, ruthlessly crushing all things
from dog to wife, under his calm, cold, slighting contempt.  He stands up
before us, not so much indomitable as simply unassailable.  We cannot
conceive the boldest approaching or encroaching on him--all equally
shiver and quail before that embodiment of the devil as represented by
human self-love.

Fain would we linger over the Jewish girl, Mirah.  She has been spoken of
as characterless; to us it seems as if few characters of more exquisite
loveliness have ever been portrayed.  From her first appearance robed in
her meek despair, through all her subsequent relations with Deronda, her
brother, and Gwendolen, there is the same delicate purity, the same
tender meekness, the same full acceptance of the life of a Jewess as--in
harmony with the life of her race--one of "sufferance."  Even as her
spirits gladden in that sunny Meyrick home, with its delicious interiors,
and brighten under the noble-hearted musician Klesmer's encouragement,
the brightness refers to something entirely without herself.  In one
sense far more acquainted with the evil that is in the world than
Gwendolen with all her alleged worldliness, it is her shrinking from the
least approach to this that prompts her strange, apparently hopeless
flight in search of the mother she had loved so dearly.  Her sad, humble
complaints that she has not been a good Jewess, because she has been
inevitably cut off from the use of Jewish books, and restrained by her
scoundrel father from attendance at Jewish worship, find their answer in
her deep unfailing sense of her share in the national doom of suffering.
We feel with Mrs Meyrick "that she is a pearl, and the mud has only
washed her."  In her startling interview with Gwendolen, the sudden
indignant protest which the inquiry of the latter calls out is a protest
against even a hint of evil being directed towards that which has been
best and highest to her.  Her love for Deronda steals into the maiden
purity of her soul with an unconscious delicacy which cannot be
surpassed; and as she parts from us by his side, we feel that she is no
Judith or Esther, but the meek Mary of the annunciation, going forth on
her unknown mission of love with the words, "Behold the handmaid of the
Lord."

Beside the exquisitely meek child-figure, with the small delicate head
faintly drooping under the sorrow which is the heritage of her race,
stands up Deronda in his calm dignity.  As he lies on the grass, and the
first faint glimmering of the possible origin of his life breaks upon
him, even the first inevitable risings of resentment against Sir Hugo are
softened and toned down by the old yearning affection; and the longings
for the unknown mother, intense as they are, yet shrink from full
discovery of what she may have been or may still be.  He and he alone, in
unconscious dignity, stands up uncowering before Grandcourt.  His whole
relations to Mordecai are characterised by a deep suppressed enthusiasm,
that fully responds to the enthusiast's soul.  Towards Gwendolen every
word he speaks, every act he does, is marked by the fervour of his whole
nature; but it is beside the fair head drooping under its burden of
hereditary sorrow that Deronda passes from our sight, the fitting type of
him who shall yet, sooner or later, re-establish that great Jewish
theocracy so long dreamt of, and reaffirm that Judaism yet holds a great
place in human life and civilisation.

We have throughout had no intention of dealing with George Eliot merely
as the artist; but if we have succeeded in showing this unity of moral
purpose and aim as pervading all her works, as giving rise to their
variety by reason of the varieties and modifications it necessitates in
order to its full illustration, and as ministered to, directly or
indirectly, by all the accessory characters and incidents of these
creations,--the question naturally arises, whether this does not
constitute her an artist of the highest possible order.

But the true worth of George Eliot's works rests, we think, on higher
grounds than any mere perfection of artistic finish; on this ground,
specially, that among all our fictionists she stands out as the deepest,
broadest, and most catholic illustrator of the true ethics of
Christianity; the most earnest and persistent expositor of the true
doctrine of the Cross, that we are born and should live to something
higher than the love of happiness; the most subtle and profound
commentator on the solemn words, "He that loveth his soul shall lose it:
he that hateth his soul shall keep it unto life eternal."




Footnotes:


{15}  The translators of our English Bible, possibly perplexed by the
seeming paradox involved in these remarkable words, have taken an
unwarrantable freedom with the original, in rendering the Greek [Greek
text], invariably the synonym of the soul, the spiritual and undying
element in man, by "life"--the [Greek text] of all Greek literature so-
called, sacred and profane alike; the synonym of that life which is his
in common with the beast of the field and the tree of the forest.

{29}  Perhaps no finer and more subtle illustration of this "instinct of
the gentleman" can be found in literature than when, at the moment of
Harold Transome's deepest humiliation, where Jermyn claims him as his
son, good old Sir Marmaduke, not only his political opponent but
personally disliking him, for the first and only time in all their
intercourse addresses him by his Christian name, "Come, _Harold_."

{97}  In connection with Bulstrode occurs one of those delicate
indications of character, condensed into a few words, which others would
expand into pages, peculiar to George Eliot.  It occurs in the depth of
his humiliation, when his wife, hitherto comparatively characterless, in
full token of her acceptance of their fallen lot, "takes off all her
ornaments, and puts on a plain gown, and instead of wearing her much
adorned-cap and large bows of hair, brushes down her hair, and puts on a
plain bonnet-cap, which makes her look like an early Methodist."

{103}  Does all poetry ancient or modern, so-called sacred or profane,
contain an image more impressive and majestic than that in the "doom of
Babylon," as the great incarnation of pride and luxury descends to its
place: "Hades from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming:
it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth;
it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations."



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