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loving-kindness to men and animals, to be hopeful of humanitymore hopeful than it warrants—and to inculcate faith, forbearance, mercy, and tolerance, then is Charles Reade "cheerful;” and to be more cheerful than this would argue, in a grown man, either ignorance of the woes of the world or insensibility to them."
In this article it is further asserted that he has never depicted persons in the lower middle-class of English life. It has always appeared to me that his characters invariably belong to the middleclass : Dodd, a merchant-skipper, and a score of others, belong to the lower middle-class ; Hardy, the banker, and Vizard, the squire, to the upper middle class; mechanics, farmers, clergymen, doctors, lawyers, sailors, the whole of the middle-class in fact, constitute all his dramatis persone. And here I approach what has always seemed to me the greatest lacuna in Charles Reade's works : as he never by any chance draws a man of the world, so does he never by any chance draw a gentlewoman. The femme du monde is to him an unknown creature. His most charming women behave on occasions like kitchenmaids. Of all that is implied in the old adage noblesse oblige he seems to have no comprehension.
Take for instance Zoe Vizard, who is described as of good birth and breeding: she speaks and acts like a barmaid, giggles and cries “ La !” Julia Dodd (whose mother, we are told, is of great culture and refinement) does the same. So does Grace Carden; also Helen in "Foul Play." Christie Johnstone and Peg Woffington are admirable, because they are quite true to their respective stations ; but when he draws what he calls a lady (of which odious word he is very fond) he fails entirely, and her manners are those of a third-rate schoolgirl. Even Katherine Gaunt, the best of his female characters, too often offends in this vulgar fashion, and when she goes to sleep on the same bed with Mercy (Gaunt's other wife) becomes something more than of coarse fibre. His only idea of woman is the middleclass woman, and not the best specimen of that. The woman of the people he can draw (though he does not draw even her in her nobler phases), but the gentlewoman he cannot, or will not, or at all events does not; and of the femme du monde he is utterly ignorant.
Of the woman who is essentially of our time, the woman of high culture, of artistic taste, of profound knowledge of men and manners, of delicate cynicism, of unconscious extravagance, who is always dans le mouvement, always difficult to interest, often a little sad at heart when most surrounded and most flattered,—of this woman he has never had even the faintest imagination. Nor has he had any either of a less complete type, which, less of and in the world, is yet highbred, and, being so, is incapable of the “ bridling,” the "giggling,” the "palpitating," the “fuming," and all the various forms of effusion which he distributes so liberally between all his heroines, and which disfigure even so fine a creature as Jael Dence in one of the finest of his romances, “ Put Yourself in his Place"
--a story so picturesque and vigorous that it merited a better title. Indeed, the crackjaw and interminable titles which Charles Reade has often selected may have had something to do with his failure in obtaining the universal fame which he undoubtedly deserves. They do not remain on the public year, and do not do justice to the work they name. Another cause for that lack of universal popularity which the article I herein comment on regrets, is probably to be found in the habit Charles Reade has grown into of using both hideous and ludicrous names for his characters, and unusual and ugly words (such as “poll” and “nape,” to express the head and the back of the neck), which lamentably disfigure his text. They are terms correct enough, no doubt ; but they and many similar ones constantly recur, and are jarring and tiresome, and too often spoil his finest passages. They “showed napes” is his expression in “A Woman-Hater" to signify that two people turned their backs upon each other in a fit of temper!
In the language of passion also he is deficient. No English writer ever seems to know it except Mr. Swinburne and Mr. Browning. The language and the feeling of art also are absent from these works : into that enchanted land Charles Reade seems never to have wandered. Humanity, and not the highest humanity, seems alone to have power to attract his interest. It may be said that he is happiest in animated movement, in the recital of perilous and heart-stirring incident. There is an heroic grandeur in his treatment of these themes, and one feels that he ought to have been a great and adventurous soldier, or singer of war. He is also, when he chooses, a master of pathos, and has, perhaps, not given way often enough to his instincts of tenderness. The scene in “Never too late to Mend” where the exiles listen to the English lark is unsurpassable in exquisite beauty, in simple and natural feeling beautifully rendered. This union of grace and force is very rare in any writer, and it is, to my thinking, deeply to be regretted that these rare powers are often marred by the use of a jarring or an ignoble word, such as I have alluded to, sadly breaking the melody of his mellow and manly English.
In conclusion, I must lament that the article I here refer to goes out of its path to attack “Romola.” Now, no one can see the defect of “Romola" better than I can do, because its sole defect is that it is not in the very least Italian. From the Florentine citizen who is made to love mutton (a meat abhorred by all Tuscans) to Romola herself, who is a purely northern character, and even Tito, who as a Greek or an Italian lover would never have troubled his head about Tessa after a fortnight of her, the whole book is purely northern ; it has not a breath of Italian air in it. But, setting this apart, “Romola” is a fine work by reason of the intellectual power and harmonious cohesion which were the especial attributes of George Eliot: and the dragging of “Romola” into an essay on Charles Reade is so precisely a specimen of one of the many radical defects of English criticism, that I must be allowed to condemn it. No French critic would so err as to drag into a review of Alexander Dumas a sneering censure of a work of Octave Feuillet No French critic would say in writing of Victorien Sardou that he did not resemble Émile Gaborian, as this article, oddly enough, says that Charles Reade does not resemble Anthony Trollope! Why should he resemble Trollope? If he be a great author, he will resemble no one of his contemporaries. And this, indeed, is the power and charm of the creator of "Christie Johnstone"-he is entirely and delightfully original; if he had not waited those fifteen years or more between being called to the bar and allowing himself to write, he might perhaps have been yet more delightful and yet more original than he is. Also, there can be no doubt that he would have been a finer artist in fiction had he considered and dealt with his work as a work of art alone, and not overweighted each with some social question as cumbersome to incorporate as it is ephemeral in interest.
SCIENCE NOTES. .
Mechanic," and I still have some copies of odd numbers. In that for March 11th, 1837, is a curiously absurd engraving of a machine for perpetual motion. A helical spring is connected with a crank on one side of a fly-wheel, and on the other side is another crank similarly attached to another spring, but in opposite action, so that when one spring goes down the other is pulled up as the wheel turns round.
The inventor states that when thus started the recoil of one spring will communicate its force to the wheel, which in turning will pull up the other ; this will then recoil and turn the wheel in like manner, and therefore again lift the first spring, and so on for ever till the machine is worn out. The inventor modestly states that, “although the machine is not so powerful as one moved by steam, nor do I say it would supply the use of steam, yet, for a little power it might be useful.” In reply to a correspondent who demonstrated the absurdity of the scheme, the inventor coolly replied that he had made a model which worked successfully.
This is only a fair sample of the infatuation of perpetual-motioners generally. A man who cannot intuitively perceive that a continuous resistance like that of friction must eventually put an end to any sort of motion not continuously renewed by some additional force, is beyond the reach of mechanical reasoning expressed in mere words.
If, however, a inachine be so constructed as to receive some continually and spontaneously renewed impulse, a practically perpetual motion, lasting as long as the machine, may be obtained; nor is the problem at all difficult, seeing that so many natural forces are constantly operating around us.
About twelve months ago, a "perpetual” clock was started in Brussels. An up-draught is obtained in a tube or shaft by exposing it to the sun; this draught turns a fan, which winds up the weight of the clock until it reaches the top, when it actuates a brake that stops the fan, which is free to start again when the weight has gone down a little. It was keeping good time in June, after nine months of such perpetual motion.
The perpetual motion of the Niagara and other river falls is maintained by the same agent-solar heat, which lifts the water as vapour, then condensation and gravitation bring it back again. We have only to imitate such machinery to produce a multitude of similar perpetual motions, actuated by this inexhaustible source of power.
ELECTRICITY FROM CARRIAGE WHEELS.
from the speech of the Chairman of the Metropolitan Railway, at the half-yearly meeting held on July 21 last. He said, “I don't see why, with a few more experiments and a little patience, we should not make the revolving wheels and axles of our passenger trains the motive power to make the whole of our trains as light as day by some form of electric illumination."
This is very much like the much older suggestion, the “ brilliant thought,” of making the wheels of a carriage of gigantic diameter in order that their "leverage " should accelerate its motion, and push the horse forward.
Sir E. W. Watkin could scarcely have meant what his words actually state, but judging by the reported “applause," some of his audience may have accepted it literally, for the idea is about on a level with some of the electric schemes that are "floated," and are extracting money froin so many much-believing and nothing-understanding victims.
No power is exerted by carriage wheels; they are merely passive anti-friction rollers, though the motive power of the engine might certainly be applied indirectly through them to a dynamo machine ; but this would act upon the wheels as a brake sufficiently resistant to stop any ordinary train before the rival of daylight could be obtained.
N a communication to “Knowledge" (reprinted in “Science in
tion of the lank and shrivelled aspect of the typical Yankee by describing him as a " desiccated Englishman," the desiccation being produced by the dryness of the continental climate of America, exaggerated in winter-time by their stove arrangements. In a note to this, Mr. R. A. Proctor added that in cach of his