As to the heaviest of these troubles, I will say a word in vindication of myself and of the way I handled it in my work. In the pages of Can You Forgive Her? the girl’s first love is introduced — beautiful, well-born, and utterly worthless. To save a girl from wasting airjordan5 herself, and an heiress from wasting her property on such a scamp, was certainly the duty of the girl’s friends. But it must ever be wrong to force a girl into a marriage with a man she does not love — and certainly the more so when there is another whom she does love. In my endeavour to teach this lesson I subjected the young wife to the terrible danger of overtures from the man to whom her heart had been given. I was walking no doubt on ticklish ground, leaving for a while a doubt on the question whether the lover might or might not succeed. Then there came to me a letter from a distinguished dignitary of our Church, a man whom all men honoured, treating me with severity for what I was doing. It had been one of the innocent joys of his life, said the clergyman, to have my novels read to him by his daughters. But now I was writing a book which caused him to bid them close it! Must I also turn away to vicious sensation such as this? airjordan2 Did I think that a wife contemplating adultery was a character fit for my pages? I asked him in return, whether from his pulpit, or at any rate from his communion-table, he did not denounce adultery to his audience; and if so, why should it not be open to me to preach the same doctrine to mine. I made known nothing which the purest girl could not but have learned, and ought not to have learned, elsewhere, and I certainly lent no attraction to the sin which I indicated. His rejoinder was full of grace, and enabled him to avoid the annoyance of argumentation without abandoning his cause. He said that the subject was so much too long for letters; that he hoped I would go and stay a week with him in the country — so that we might have it out. That opportunity, however, has never yet arrived. Lady Glencora overcomes that trouble, and is brought, partly by her own sense of right and wrong, and partly by the genuine nobility of her husband’s conduct, to attach herself to him after a certain fashion. The romance of her life is gone, but there remains a rich reality of which she is fully able to taste the flavour. She loves her rank and becomes ambitious, first of social, and then of political ascendancy. He is thoroughly true to her, after his thorough nature, and she, after her less perfect nature, is imperfectly true to him. In conducting these characters from one story to another I realised the necessity, not only of consistency — which, had it been maintained by a hard exactitude, would have been untrue to nature — but also of those changes which time always produces. There, are, perhaps, but few of us who, after the lapse of ten years, will be found to have changed our chief characteristics. The selfish man will still be selfish, and the false man false. But our manner of showing or of hiding these characteristics will be changed — as also our power of adding to or diminishing their intensity. It was my study that these people, as they grew in years, should encounter the changes which come upon us all; and I think that I have succeeded. The Duchess of Omnium, when she is playing the part of Prime Minister’s wife, is the same woman as that Lady Glencora who almost longs to go off with Burgo Fitzgerald, but yet knows that she will never do so; and the Prime Minister Duke, with his wounded pride and sore spirit, is he who, airjordanuk for his wife’s sake, left power and place when they were first offered to him — but they have undergone the changes which a life so stirring as theirs would naturally produce. To do all this thoroughly was in my heart from first to last; but I do not know that the game has been worth the candle. To carry out my scheme I have had to spread my picture over so wide a canvas that I cannot expect that any lover of such art should trouble himself to look at it as a whole. Who will read Can You Forgive Her? Phineas Finn, Phineas Redux, and The Prime Minister consecutively, in order that they may understand the characters of the Duke of Omnium, of Plantagenet Palliser, and of Lady Glencora? Who will ever know that they should be so read? But in the performance of the work I had much gratification, and was enabled from time to time to have in this way that fling at the political doings of the day which every man likes to take, if not in one fashion then in another. I look upon this string of characters — carried sometimes into other novels than those just named — as the best work of my life. Taking him altogether, I think that Plantagenet Palliser stands more firmly on the ground than any other personage I have created. On Christmas day, 1863, we were startled by the news of Thackeray’s death. He had then for many months given up the editorship of the Cornhill Magazine — a position for which he was hardly fitted either by his habits or temperament — but was still employed in writing for its pages. I had known him only for four years, but had grown into much intimacy with him and his family. I regard him as one of the most tender-hearted human beings I ever knew, who, with an exaggerated contempt for the foibles of the world at large, would entertain an almost equally exaggerated sympathy with the joys and troubles of individuals around him. He had been unfortunate in early life — unfortunate in regard to money — unfortunate with an afflicted wife — unfortunate in having his home broken up before his children were fit to be his companions. This threw him too much upon clubs, and taught him to dislike general society. But it never affected his heart, or clouded his imagination. He could still revel in the pangs and joys of fictitious life, and could still feel — as he did to the very last — the duty of showing to his readers the evil consequences of evil conduct. It was perhaps his chief fault as a writer that he could never abstain from that dash of satire which he felt to be demanded by the weaknesses which he saw around him. The satirist who writes nothing but satire should write but little — or it will seem that his satire springs rather from his own caustic nature than from the sins of the world in which he lives. I myself regard Esmond as the greatest novel in the English language, basing that judgment upon the excellence of its language, on the clear individuality of the characters, on the truth of its delineations in regard to the tine selected, and on its great pathos. There are also in it a few scenes so told that even Scott has never equalled the telling. Let any one who doubts this read the passage in which Lady Castlewood induces the Duke of Hamilton to think that his nuptials with Beatrice will be honoured if Colonel Esmond will give away the bride. When he went from us he left behind living novelists with great names; but I think that they who best understood the matter felt that the greatest master of fiction of this age had gone. Rachel Ray underwent a fate which no airjordanshoes other novel of mine has encountered. Some years before this a periodical called Good Words had been established under the editorship of my friend Dr. Norman Macleod, a well-known Presbyterian pastor in Glasgow. In 1863 he asked me to write a novel for his magazine, explaining to me that his principles did not teach him to confine his matter to religious subjects, and paying me the compliment of saying that he would feel himself quite safe in my hands. In reply I told him I thought he was wrong in his choice; that though he might wish to give a novel to the readers of Good Words, a novel from me would hardly be what he wanted, and that I could not undertake to write either with any specially religious tendency, or in any fashion different from that which was usual to me. As worldly and — if any one thought me wicked — as wicked as I had heretofore been, I must still be, should I write for Good Words. He persisted in his request, and I came to terms as to a story for the periodical. I wrote it and sent it to him, and shortly afterwards received it back — a considerable portion having been printed — with an  
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