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of those hourly sufferers, of whom Aunt Read and little Jane Eyre are the types. Doubtless, there is implanted in every unsophisticated soul of us an instinct towards true beauty—a nerve that naturally vibrates in the presence of the beautiful. Doubtless, a distortion of circumstances may pervert these instincts, and so constantly wring out the homage due to beauty for that which is not beautiful, that the function becomes permanently degraded. He who has but one window may learn—and for the love of light—to turn towards the east when the sun is in the west. To how many young nursery slaves, born with hearts which should have responded to angelic excellence, has some vulgar Bessie grown to be “the prettiest, best, and kindest being in the world ?” And, like the darkened plant, which has grown even downwards for sunshine, how many tendencies, which, in a more genial clime, would have aspired, have strengthened and fixed in compulsory prostration? How many tastes, which should have been excited and satisfied by balm from heaven, have become callous to all but the coarsest condiments of the earth? For appetites—and the appetite for beauty among them-accustomed to unnatural satisfactions, often return to their normal state no more. Think of this, you who leave the selfish and the ignorant to give those first ideas round which the thoughts of after years will crystallise, to stamp those first impressions in which the character of a life is to be cast. But we might multiply extracts as easily as turn the page. We have quoted these not for the reader, but the author; and though it be a labour of love-must quote no more.
We sat down to this paper with no intention of what is ordinarily expected in a review. We look upon it as a morning talk with that accomplished young writer, with whose name we have graced it. Literally a half-hour with a best author. We rise to take leave, strengthened in the conviction with which we entered that the authoress of “ Jane Eyre” is the novelist of the coming time. The great poet and the great novelist are members of the same intellectual group. They are both poetical creators, but they differ widely in their relationship to those above and below them. Both a little lower than the angels, and a little higher than men, the hand of the one links his glorious group to the superior, that of the other to the subordinate intelligence. The one being lifted up draws all men unto him. The other speaks among us, in the thick thoroughfares of our Lystras, till we cry the gods are come down to us, indeed, but it is in the likeness of men.
We raise our eyes to the one, we lean upon the other. The great poet gives us his work, saying, “That is high art. I set it there for you to wonder at, learn by, and work to.” The great novelist says, “ This is human life—a strange, misshapen thing, not to be spoken of in music, or drawn in the proportions of the Apollo—the concrete elements of the poet's abstract. I know that these you love, in these you work, for these you rejoice and weep. Hear my NOVELLI of the history of the world.” Phidias chisels out a perfect thought. Callicrates and Ictinus build a temple to enshrine such. The Athene is still wisdom; but the Parthenon was hewn in the fashion of an age, and for rites that have passed away. Nevertheless, it bore upon its front sculptures which, dispersed, are helping to civilise the world. So of the poem and the novel—the one for the worship, the other for the uses of men.
Whatsoever is for use must be accommodated, not only to the nature but the habits of the users. A being without parts or passions can seldom gain the ear of mankind. Hence our prophets and mediators. And even an ideal man can hardly claim the sympathies of the work-a-day world. To be received, he must come eating and drinking. It may be fortunate, therefore, for the novelist if he honestly share the failings, mistakes, and prejudices of his time. But these things will only make him popular, not great—the servant, not the master of his age. To rise to the height of his vocation, his affinities for the present must be equalled by his capacities for the future. Well for him, if he can claim the citizenship which shields him from stripes; but, under the toga of the Roman, there must beat the heart of the apostle.
It seems to us, that the authoress of " Jane Eyre” combines all the natural and accidental attributes of the novelist of her day. In the ecclesiastical tendencies of her education and habits—in the youthful ambiguity of her politics-in a certain old-world air, which hangs about her pictures, we see her passports into circles which otherwise she would never reach. Into them she is carrying, unperceived, the elements of infallible disruption and revolution. In the specialties of her religious belief, her own self-grown and glorious heterodoxies—in the keen satiric faculty she has shown—in the exuberant and multiform vigour of her idiosyncrasy—in her unmistakeable hatred of oppression, and determination to be free—in the onward tendencies of a genius so indisputably original, and in the reaction of a time on which, if she lives, she cannot fail to act strongly, we acknowledge the best pledges that that passport, already torn, will be one day scattered to the winds. The peculiarities of her local position-evidently Lancashire or Yorkshiregive her opportunity for investigating a class of character utterly out of the latitude of the London literateur—the manufacturing classes, high and low-the Pancrates of the future, into whose hands the ball of empire has now past; and in the strange combination of factory and moorland, the complexities of civilisation, and the simple majesty of nature, she has before her, at one glance, the highest materials for the philosopher and the poet--the most magnificent emblem of the inner heart of the time. One day, with freer hands, more practised eye, an ampler horizon, an enlarged experience, she must give us such revelations of that heart—of its joys, woes, hopes, beliefs, duties, and destinies—as shall make it leap like a dumb man healed. But, above all other circumstantial advantages, there is one element in her diagnosis, which, alas ! in these times, is full of an ominous and solemn interest—her faith in the Christian record is unshaken. If this were merely a passive faith, the ordinary accident of her youth and sex, we should look upon it, at best, with a mournful prescience, as one might see the white plumes and unspotted braveries of a host in full march for a field of blood. But in Currer Bell this faith is evidently positive and energic. Self-supporting, also; for it is united with a vigour of private judgment, without which there is nothing for it but famine in these days. He alone who wears these two talismans of faith and reason will bear a charmed life in the strife that is before us. Him alone we count upon as a standard-bearer in the spiritual conflict wherein all Europe is engaging, or engaged. All the old signs and quarterings will soon be in the dust. The proudest
banners of the earth are already tripping up their clansmen, or are bound in shreds round wounds they cannot stanch. Meantime, the great wild multitude heaves to and fro without leader or watchword, and suffocation does the work of the enemy. If God would send us some young brave spirits to spur bareheaded into the stifling tumult, with displayed on a fair white field! Ev TOUTW vixn might again subdue the world.
In bidding, for a while, farewell to an author towards whom we cannot feel too warmly, and of whom it is difficult, in the space of a review, to say enough, we would give one parting word of an advice which, for her, comprehends all others—WAIT. Having learned that you have the power to labour, let that tremendous knowledge beget in you an unconquerable patience; stand and grow under the weight of your responsibilities; get accustomed to the knowledge of your powers. As yet, like the Lacedemonian, “ every step will put you in mind of your glory.” Reconnoitre your age, and view, but be in no hurry to select, your enemies. The van may look like foes to those who are in the rear. And there be guerilla bands, that, in the perspective of life, seem mightier than those terrible hordes which, though they blacken the horizon, the rose-trees in your garden are high enough to hide, or those unearthly shapes of darkness, whereon we look in impotent amazement, because they are stretching up, like clouds, into the heaven. Go with your harp, if so it must be, into the camp of the Danes. But, better still (for there are giants in the camp, and you, who can scan the universe, cannot look over their heads), on some mount of attentive seclusion stand day by day, and note how " the main battles are forming fast.” In this great estimate_in the width and terrors of the field—in the grandeur of the approaching contest—in the awful aspect of the past—in the sublime uncertainties of the future—and in sight of the solemn truths, which, as the heavens above all lands, over-arch them, you will best forget the glitter of your own newly-drawn sword, and the acclamations which greeted the tournament displays of a weapon that was given you to shape the destinies of men. Be in no haste to draw blood. To let alone is sometimes, as Thorild says, a very divine art. VINCERE ET PATI, is the motto of every heroism. Remember, that with time, as the Persian tells us, even the pebble will be fragrant if it lie beside the rose. Ceres, to make Triptolemus immortal, fed him from the breasts of a divinity by day, and covered him all night with fire. Learn that for gods and men there is still but one way to immortality. What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. Do not try to give largesse out of an exhausted treasury, lest you exert your prerogative to depreciate the currency, and, being conscious of the will to do wonders, take, or gain, credit for the deed. Enrich your own soul, that the alms you give us shall not be of your penury but of your abundance. Be so long bareheaded under the dews of heaven that you shall need but to nod to seatter them on the earth. Send your heart long enough into the school of life, and its daily sayings shall be wisdom for us. Every tree has in its time dropped honey-dew; it is the happiness of genius that culture can make this manna a perpetual exhalation. There are few fruits which more or less perfectly cannot sustain the life of man; it is the prerogative of genius that its very leaves may be for the healing of the nations. There is a time in
the excellence of genius, when, like the spheres, to move is music. It will be well for the possessor of genius if he can keep silence till that time. These things we commend in love to the authoress of “Shirley."
The strength of Currer Bell lies in her power of developing the history, more or less amplified and varied by imagination, of her
own individual mind. In saying this, we are not depreciating, for we are giving her the characteristic attribute of a poet—which, nevertheless, in some senses, she is not and will not be. Before she writes another volume of that great history, in the shape of a new novel, she should live another era of that strong original well-endowed mind. She must go through the hopes and fears, passions and sympathies of her age; and, by virtue
of her high privilege of genius, she must take not only the colour of her time, but that complementary colour of the future which attends it; she must not only hear the voice of her day, but catch and repeat its echoes on the forward rock of ages; she must not only strike the chord which shall rouse us to the battle of the hour, but seize and embody that sympathetic note on the unseen strings of the “ To come” which it is the attribute of genius to recognise and to renew.
Then, with soft spells, he did bewitch her sleep,
And those strange lights and shades that came and went,
I knew that angels were about the bed.
I saw Death through the ether take his flight,
It might not be. The Lord had need of her,
Then saw I how the trouble wrung his heart-
J. J. N.