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future Premier. He is a sceptic governed career, without a soul enormously interested in to stop it or guide it; kicking ligion, an aristocrat enormous- violently over the traces from ly interested in liberty. "To the very first; rushing in six have the reputation of an idler years, from eighteen to twentyand to be in truth a plodding four, to absolute destruction, and unwearied student,- this worn out in mind and body at any rate pleased him." For by incessant and insane excitethe rest, he is careless, good- ment. Tolstoy makes one of tempered, without a touch of his characters say that "all sæva indignatio, whatever the the variety, all the charm, all circumstances; ready to let the the beauty of life, is made up whole reins of management, as of light and shadow." In this far as home life or even the book there is a complete abinfluence of his home on his sence of light and shade, and public career is concerned, slip only the fuliginous lampblack from his fingers. He is of less of the shilling dreadful. Yet account than the lady's-maid, the heroine interests and abwho can at any time adminis- sorbs the attention, a result ter the sedative of a month's which is a striking tribute to notice. He accordingly fulfils Mrs Ward's talents as a novelMrs Ward's idea of masculine ist, but does not in our judgdignity. It is an impossible ment render the book either character. He has married a wholesome or agreeable. She self-willed child, scarcely more was a wild cat at school, she than half his age, out of a said; do you know why? "Bewretched home, given her cause some of the other girls wealth and high social posi- were more important than I— tion, and surrounded her with much more important — and everything, including his own richer and more beautiful, and love, that she most values. people paid them more attention. Yet he is represented as a And that seemed to burn the mere log of wood in regard heart in me." She described to her, and is sedulously de- to the hero, before his infatuprived of all control, or even ated love-making, that her one influence, over the successive aim was "to be envied, pointed situations which arise, in a at, obeyed when I lift my manner which one feels instinc- finger, and then to come to tively does not correspond with some great, glorious, tragic real life or with any possible end," and obligingly added that matrimonial relations. she would "never look at a man who did not think it the glory of his life to win me." The accommodating hero is so absorbed in watching the flashing of her face and eyes, the play of the wind in her hair, and the springing grace with which she moved, that his one

The heroine is far and away the best drawn character in the book. In real life, for her own good and for the peace and quiet of all concerned, she would have been placed under severe restraint. In fiction she pursues an unmanageable, un

idea of the future is, Poor child! what is to be done with her? The poor child settled that for herself. She married him, led him a life of torment to which he tamely submitted without loss of affection, finally went off, as was quite appropriate in the circumstances, with another man, and died in misery and comparative want. In one of the constantly recurring crises of her short matrimonial career-for even in a novel you can't stand more than six years of this sort of thing, in real life probably much less-she had the satisfaction of reminding her husband that she had warned him. "I remember saying to you that sometimes my brain was on fire. I seem to be always in a hurry—in a desperate, desperate hurry! to know or feel something while there is still time-before one dies. There is always a passion, always an effort. More life, more life, even if it lead to pain and agony and tears."

The novelist can easily dispense with any effort to remove in a reasonable manner the difficulties in the way of a wholly ill-assorted and improbable engagement. Credit the man with infatuated philandering propensities and a desire to protect, and the problem is solved. In this case, however, the obstacles are overwhelming. Mr Ashe, the hero, held an unassailable position-wealthy, of high rank, the heir to a peerage, an assured ascendancy in public. The heroine, Lady Kitty Bristol, comes of a thoroughly bad stock, with


mother whose career has been all that it should not be, and who has to be pensioned by the enthusiastic husband. But the hero is so satisfied with his position, wealth, and family, that he concludes that "society must accept his wife; and Kitty, once mellowed by happiness and praise, might live, laugh, and rattle as she pleased." The provoking cause of the disastrous engagement, made by a mature statesman of thirty-two with a girl of eighteen, was that whilst in a "very ecstasy of resolve" at his window in the dead of the night, a flower, weighted by a stone tied into a fold of ribbon, fell beside him, thrown from outside. He stole down the staircase, made for an ilex avenue, caught the young lady, and was then and there engaged, meeting all warnings with the sage remark, "I should be bored with the domestic dove. want the hawk, Kitty, with its quick wings and its daring, bright eyes." He got more than he wanted. The hawk had its own destructive way from first to last; and Lady Caroline Lamb herself is at last eclipsed.


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allowed to sample, and an excellent candidate for the gallows, balked of his legitimate end by the retributive hand of a paid assassin, is early introduced on the scene. It is not a very well-drawn character, for from first to last it is difficult to understand the source of his magnetic influence. The authoress refers it to his poems, which excited in Kitty a 'passion of the imagination. He had passed through, she says, a wealth of tragic circumstance, and had been face to face with his own soul in the wilds of the earth-sible on the face of it. No one


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whatever that may mean. The poems must have been remarkable productions, since in spite of having outraged the Nonconformist conscience to an extent which cost him an election, he exercised, possibly with their aid, as much fascination over the orthodox young lady of the piece, Mary Lyster, as over the heroine herself. Miss Lyster does not receive fair play at the hands of the authoress. She plays a distinguished part in the plot, and is a social success, estimable in all her relations. But she offers sincere homage to the respectabilities, and is accordingly pursued with rancour all through the book. She is introduced on page 1 as devoted to a fine piece of church embroidery, designed for her by Burne-Jones; was marked out first as Mr Ashe's intended wife, only to be triumphantly displaced by Lady Kitty; and second as Mr Cliffe's intended wife, again to be displaced by the superior attrac

tions of the heroine, this time brought to bear upon her intended and intending husband out of sheer malignity. At the end of the book this eminently respectable young lady, regardless of her church embroidery, is credited with an act of diabolical wickednessa treacherous betrayal of Lady Kitty into Cliffe's power at the very moment when, with a returning sense of right, she is endeavouring to escape from his influence back to her lawful husband. This incident, however sensational, is impos

could possibly descend to such a depth of infamy unless the whole previous life had led up to it, and had been consistently base.

Cliffe's eventual triumph over Lady Kitty's virtue is not entirely due to his poems. Here we come upon another ghastly incident. Cliffe had been abroad for some years, and his relations with the heroine had subsided, and instead a friendship or attachment had grown up with Mary Lyster. No sooner had our heroine observed this, than "Could she carry him off?" occurred to her. "Her vanity insisted that Mary could not prevent it." The deterrent reflection followed, "I am a little beast; why shouldn't she be happy?" but overhearing some disparaging remarks made upon her by the young lady, she determined on vengeance, and forthwith began a wild flirtation which, after some engrossing vicissitudes, ended in her ruin and

Cliffe's assassination. No one can dispute the ability with which the character of the heroine is drawn. There is the love for her husband combined with incessant acts of unrestrained vanity, necessarily blighting his political career, so far as it was intertwined with, or dependent upon, his social or matrimonial life. There are occasional gleams of right feeling for both husband and child, continually darkened by morbid promptings and impulses which no one interferes to check. The scandal of her proceedings only leads her to reflect, "I began this to punish Mary, and now when I don't see Geoffrey, everything is odious and dreary. I can't care for anything." But the result is that Cliffe knows that she has designedly broken off his marriage with Mary Lyster, that he had vainly endeavoured to resist her spell, "a fatal fusion of their two natures" had come about, and retreat was impossible. His reflection was, "They still had the last justifying cards in their hands: passion, and the courage to go where passion leads. When these were played, they might look each other and the world in the face. Till then they were but triflers, mean souls, fit neither for heaven nor hell." Can anything be more unwholesome and unpleasant? The sequel eventually involves a twofold breach of the decalogue, very inartistic, and with none of the alleviations which might vindicate Burke's oversanguine estimate that vice

loses half its evil by losing all its grossness. One impatiently recalls Mrs Sarah Grand's expedient of tilting her characters into a river, in the new light of a stroke of genius. It would be less commonplace, it would afford equal scope for courage to the parties concerned, and it would be admirably adapted to assuage their justifying passions. But to our authoress aliter visum. Meanwhile the husband, his mother, and family are represented as standing idly by, each urging the other to do something, each perfectly helpless, until the scandal has reached such dimensions that Lady Kitty's withdrawal to the country becomes imperative.

We need not follow up the incidents of this sequestered life. Cliffe is abroad, and the Prime Minister is royally entertained, with Lady Kitty as hostess. His white eyelashes were an object of intense dislike to her, and his refusal to be drawn in regard to political secrets roused the latent insanity in her, and scenes ensued which the husband must have regarded as disastrous, though the effect of them on the mind of an old statesman and man of the world, who knew well the sort of person he was dealing with, seems to us grievously exaggerated. However, all those incidents, as well as the visit to Venice, where the redoubtable villain of the piece, the fascinating Cliffe, again appears on the scene, must be read in the book. The sequestered life ends with a mad

outburst before a room full of guests, in which she drops heavily unconscious into her husband's s arms. During her fit, and to increase the sensational effect, her child dies in convulsions, and the interesting couple, with Lady Kitty now a complete wreck, withdraw to Venice, her friends doubtful whether she would ever recover the sudden and tragic death of her only child.

tirely of her own making. It appears that during her sequestration she had indulged her spite and animosity against many of his friends, including the Prime Minister and his wife, by writing an "atrocious " book, in which she glorified her husband, made caricatures of all the political friends of his whom she hated, describing the Prime Minister, Lord Parham, her recent guest, "with all sorts of details of the most intimate and offensive kind, mocking his speech, his manners, his little personal ways, charging him with being the corrupt tool of Lady Parham, disloyal to his colleagues, a man not to be trusted, &c., &c." To make the episode still more outrageous, she had been counselled and assisted in the publication by a former friend of her husband's while staying under his roof, a Mr Darrell, whose endeavours to extract an appointment from Ashe after he had attained to Cabinet rank, and their failure, are duly chronicled. The spite thus induced was wreaked on the unfortunate man through his demented wife; and Ashe, at last stung to resistance, displays for the first time, somewhat late in the day, a little of that sæva indignatio which he was represented as being entirely wanting in. He resolved at once to leave her, go to England, and resign; and, in spite of passionate appeals from his wife, he carried his resolution into effect.

The poor mad creature was

But Lady Kitty is, notwithstanding her frail body and stormy temperament, endowed with as many lives as a cat. She disregards a nervous collapse, pointing back to a long preceding period of overstrain and excitement, with suspicions of tubercular mischief, and is very soon in a fresh vortex of excitement, with her disreputable mother and cortége appearing on the scene, followed soon by Geoffrey Cliffe on the one hand and Mary Lyster and her father on the other. In spite of nervous collapse, complicated with impending tubercular mischief, she is projected again into the midst of all the storm and stress of emotion and passion with which those names were connected in her recent history. And over and above being enveloped in all the old entanglements, to escape from which she had presumably been withdrawn to Venice, at great inconvenience to her husband, who was still a Cabinet Minister, there was & new tragedy in her domestic rerelations with him ready to burst over her head, and en

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