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illustrious owing to the rapturous greeting which was accorded by two Continents to “It is Never Too Late to Mend.” Moreover, the golden stream, which sprang so gloriously from a clear and sparkling fountain. flowed in more than one channel. Mr. Charles Reade, the brilliant Oxford Fellow, became associated with Mr. Tom Taylor, a Cambridge Fellow, worthy of so congenial a literary partner, and more than one drama of theirs took the town by storm. It is indeed an open secret that, successful as our author has proved himself, both as regards style, plot, dialogue, and incident, in the domain of dramatic narration, an assertion easily verifiable by reference, not only to the works above named, but equally to his artistic master-pieces, " The Cloister and the Hearth,” “Put Yourself in his Place,” “White Lies,” “Griffith Gaunt," and the “Woman Hater,” his passion has been the stage. It will be for posterity to decide whether he shines with rarer effulgence as a novelist, as a play-wright, or as an essayist. For the purpose of this memoir it will perhaps be sufficient to express our conviction that in all three domains of literary effort, Labor (plus genius) omnia vincit. It was sheer hard toil which collected the data which did for the British prisoner all that Mrs. Beecher Stowe effected for the plantation slave, but in either instance fact would have been barren without the fertilising properties of supreme brain-power united with singular perception and an exuberant imagination. The coalescence, too, of industry and originality could alone cause that extraordinary terseness and compactness, that epigrammatic vigour and almost angular quaintness, which places Mr. Charles Reade on a pinnacle of his own. Plagiarists have parodied Macaulay and copied Carlyle, yet even the cleverest of burlesque writers failed to reproduce in exaggerated outlines the author of "Hard Cash.” Scotch elegance or Scotch crudity may be travestied, since both are merely a matter of style, whereas Mr. Charles Reade is gifted with something more than a mellifluous or cacophonous mannerism, viz. : with a lens which photographs human nature in a pose which all must recognise to be true, yet none have remarked in real life until their attention was first rivetted upon it by the fascination of art. To put the difference logically: You may reproduce at will the accidents of writers who depend for effect upon accidents, but you cannot, unless indeed you are yourself of the same genus, as well as genius, reproduce the essence of an art, which owes all to essence, little to accident. The Spiritualist impostors who have pretended to finish “Edwin Drood” have egregiously failed. They could not summon the potent spirits.
And in like fashion, if it be a fact that no living man, with hand guided by one of the humbugs of the outskirts of Hades, could wield the weapon of Charles Dickens, it is a parallel truth that the other Charles is inimitable. Not that the subject of our memoir preserves always an even level of excellence, save and except when he adheres indissolubly to his keen sense of dramatic verity. When, for instance, as in "Love Me Little, Love Me Long," he chances to dash off at a tangent on a financial disquisition, he descends absolutely and becomes as pragmatical as common clay. When, however, as in “Peg Woffington," his first, yet by no means his least magnum opus, the several chapters are scenes in a play, and your ears hear the dialogue as you read, and your eyes gloat on Lady Betty Modish and the starving Triplet family, the illusion is perfect. You are at the play, not reading a book, and if you do not clap with the gallery, you laugh or cry with the pit, and are morally convinced when the volume closes that the curtain has dropped, and the lights are being extinguished.
Few Englishmen, and yet fewer Americans, are aware that Mr. Charles Reade is a limb of the law as well as of letters. He is so, and a member of Lincoln's Inn-owing to the exigencies of his Fellowship, which afforded him the alternatives of Divinity, Physic, or Law. From his pronounced partiality for doctors—in the realm of fiction—it might be pre-supposed that he had dabbled in medical science or sciolism, whilst one of his best characters, the chaplain in “It is Never Too Late to Mend,” and one of his most repulsive, the parson in “A Terrible Temptation,” argue some acquaintance with concrete theology. The law, however, was the pis aller Mr. Reade selected, and memorable occasion when he was at loggerheads with Mr. Bentley, the elder, he actually donned a barrister's wig and pleaded triumphantly his own cause before the House of Lords, thereby practically refuting the trite paradox that he who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client. Assuredly his sledge-hammer letters on the Penge case, which loosened the prison bars and relaxed the hempen cord, went far towards demonstrating that in gaining an imaginative author we may have lost a consummate jurist. Be that as it may, the fact remains that in any other country dignified by the designation civilised, the master of social science who produced such an immortal poem in prose as “It is Never Too Late to Mend,” would have received half a hundred offers to represent constituencies. Our national political sense must indeed be dull or depraved to have thus ignored a man of unique earnestness and outspoken power, whose grand passion through life has been to gibbet
baseness and right, injustice, to enforce, in a word, one of the mottoes of that “ ancient, learned and most charitable House” whereof he is the chiefest living ornament, “ Jus suum cuique.”
Mr. Charles Reade, as all the world knows, resides mostly at his town residence, which on the reverse overlooks the Park west of Albert Gate ; but he has also a suite of rooms in Magdalen College, and occasionally may be noticed prowling about the Bodleian Library, or with an armful of books in the College cloisters. Personally, he is tall, erect, with a commanding presence, a full, expressive brown eye. and a noble brow. His manner is singularly dignified, without being starchy, and as a conversationalist he shines especially in the company of clever women. Place him by the side of an appreciative and cultured lady, and you would be gratified, if not surprised, by his profound acquaintance with the literature of France and England. It may be named that he has written in the French language as well as in English. Verbosity in conversation is very much the reverse of his foible; indeed, if an egotist intrudes too long on his capacity for attention, it gradually relaxes and his lecturer will predicate to ears abstractedly deaf. This latter trait of character may be in a measure, perhaps, attributable to the onus of popularity. Mr. Reade is honoured, not only by a budget from every quarter of the globe. but also by callers, garrulous people who come to him with such conundrums as “which is my right, which my left hand ?" His temper will be readily understood when we say it is of the order that is not indisposed to a quarrel, but generous enough, when the time comes, to be the first to make it up.
The account of the mirror-multiplied and grotto-bedecked surroundings of the sanctum of Mr. Rolfe, the writer, as given in the second volume of “A Terrible Temptation," contains a good deal of truth as to Charles Reade's own entourage, and the manner of work there described is an approximation to the fact.
But these faney depictions must not be taken in the spirit of an inventory.
We have enlarged upon the influence of rural associations on Mr. Charles Reade, and with reason, since to his acquaintance with the charms of the natural, as well as of the artificial phase of existence, must be set down much of his freshness and sweetness. It was the old Oxfordshire Manor House, not the green-room, which gave us the best -albeit, by no means all of the best-of Charles Reade. He was wont to declare of his mother-a curious amalgam the old lady was of worldliness and religion--that she was truly femirine in being
consistent in her inconsistency, a paradox which will serve as the keynote of nine-tenths of his female characters. Even in his selection of nomenclature he perhaps almost unconsciously gravitated homewards. Thus, for example, the lordling of “Christie Johnstone” is Viscount Ipsden, the farmer in “It is Never Too Late to Mend,” and the heroine of “Hard Cash ” are both “Dodd,” the name of one of his father's tenants, whilst the chaplain is curate of Littlestoke, another of the paternal farms. “Compton" again, a perennial and historical old family prænomen, born by a gallant boy of nineteen who defended his father's house against the cannon of Fairfax, occurs in “ Hard Cash" and also in "A Terrible Temptation ;" and the “Bassett" family, who play so prominent a part in the latter novel, have their designation derived from the largest wood on the Ipsden Estate. We might multiply examples of this evidence of attachment to the old acres and the brave scenes of a robust youth. We might further endeavour to shew that the writer who made his mark as a reformer, and has never yet compromised with corruption, is in respect of bias very much the reverse of a Radical (using the word in its conventional rather than its truest meaning), with something more than a lurking sense of the birthright of a gentleman. Analysis, however, must stop short of indefinite dichotomy, and in fact we should prefer to regard Mr. Charles Reade rather as being one of the most sterling literary ornaments of the Victorian era than as a complex problem in psychology. It is, we will grant, rare to discover the practical and the poetical, the dramatic and the didactic, so thoroughly fused in one brain, yet the development is none the less interesting on that account. Whatever else he may be, Charles Reade in intellectual stature stands many inches higher than the ruck of contemporary celebrities, while as regards pure originality in the graphic and creative arts, he has but few rivals, and certainly not one exact parallel in the Republic of Letters.
IN THIS WORLD :
By MABEL COLLINS, Author of "An Innocent Sinner," &c.
Continued from page 572
sore trouble to her own mind,
was that any reason to throw the MARRIED AND DONE FOR.
trouble upon Dr. Doldy, unless she ERNESTINE sat alone until the knew that it would be both necesdinner bell rang, trying to under- sary and right to do so ? stand the unpleasant mystery Continually she argued herself connected with Laura, and her into quietude thus : and then, enigmatical speeches about the after a momentary mental pause, man who was so soon to be in- a horror would come over her extricably united with herself. She and she would
would begin again. went down, obedient to the sum- What depths of deceit might she mons, and mechanically took part not become a party to by retaining in the dinner; but her mind was the miserable secret she held ? fixed upon this unexpected revela- Again and again she pondered tion. In spite of her own deter- over the various circumstances mined attempts to probe the matter of which she had knowledge. She to the bottom, Laura had left her so wondered why Laura should have completely in the dark that she come into that very hospital, under felt baffled and alarmed. Several her very care! That was, of times she took refuge in the course, accident, and she thought of going that very evening guessed easily enough, when she to Dr. Doldy with the story; and seriously thought it out, that for a few moments found immense Laura's manifest character would relief in the idea. But immediately lead her to have the best care Laura's words would recur to her, taken of herself, and to run no "an unnecessary and very great risks with her health through distress," "secret of vital import- ignorance. Although Ernestine ance," “risks,”. “ruin.”
She shuddered at the thought of the suspected Laura of exaggerating
tissue of lies which were necessary with the purpose of extorting si- to convert Laura Doldy temporarily lence, but at the same time her com- into Mrs. Aylmer, yet she could mon sense told her that while she just understand that such a woman was so absolutely ignorant of the would willingly take them all upon real facts she might produce mis- her soul in order to secure safety chief by any impulsive action. Be- for her body. And as it was easy sides, she considered that after all to ascertain the names of the she had no right to interfere with physicians at the hospital, and as Laura; and because the thing was the entire privacy of each patient