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Aspects and Impressions   By: (1849-1928)

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Aspects and Impressions

By

Edmund Gosse, C.B.

D.Litt. of Cambridge University; LL.D. of St. Andrews

Cassell and Company, Ltd

London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne

1922

To My Friend JOHN C. SQUIRE Poet, Editor, and Critic

These Essays are mainly reprinted from The Edinburgh Review , The London Mercury , The Modern Languages Review , and The Fortnightly Review . "Malherbe and the Classical Reaction" was the Taylorian Lecture at Oxford for 1920, and is included here by the courtesy of the authorities of the University.

Contents

PAGE

GEORGE ELIOT 1

HENRY JAMES 17

SAMUEL BUTLER 55

A NOTE ON CONGREVE 77

THE FIRST DRAFT OF SWINBURNE'S "ANACTORIA" 87

THE HÔTEL DE RAMBOUILLET 97

MALHERBE AND THE CLASSICAL REACTION 123

THE FOUNDATION OF THE FRENCH ACADEMY 145

ROUSSEAU IN ENGLAND IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 169

THE CENTENARY OF LECONTE DE LISLE 193

TWO FRENCH CRITICS: EMILE FAGUET REMY DE GOURMONT 203

THE WRITINGS OF M. CLEMENCEAU 225

A VISIT TO THE FRIENDS OF IBSEN 247

FAIRYLAND AND A BELGIAN ARIOSTO 261

SOME RECOLLECTIONS OF LORD WOLSELEY 273

INDEX 291

Aspects and Impressions

GEORGE ELIOT

In and after 1876, when I was in the habit of walking from the north west of London towards Whitehall, I met several times, driven slowly homewards, a victoria which contained a strange pair in whose appearance I took a violent interest. The man, prematurely ageing, was hirsute, rugged, satyr like, gazing vivaciously to left and right; this was George Henry Lewes. His companion was a large, thickset sybil, dreamy and immobile, whose massive features, somewhat grim when seen in profile, were incongruously bordered by a hat, always in the height of the Paris fashion, which in those days commonly included an immense ostrich feather; this was George Eliot. The contrast between the solemnity of the face and the frivolity of the headgear had something pathetic and provincial about it.

All this I mention, for what trifling value it may have, as a purely external impression, since I never had the honour of speaking to the lady or to Lewes. We had, my wife and I, common friends in the gifted family of Simcox Edith Simcox (who wrote ingeniously and learnedly under the pen name of H. Lawrenny) being an intimate in the household at the Priory. Thither, indeed, I was vaguely invited, by word of mouth, to make my appearance one Sunday, George Eliot having read some pages of mine with indulgence. But I was shy, and yet should probably have obeyed the summons but for an event which nobody foresaw. On the 18th of December, 1880, I was present at a concert given, I think, in the Langham Hall, where I sat just behind Mrs. Cross, as she had then become. It was chilly in the concert room, and I watched George Eliot, in manifest discomfort, drawing up and tightening round her shoulders a white wool shawl. Four days later she was dead, and I was sorry that I had never made my bow to her.

Her death caused a great sensation, for she had ruled the wide and flourishing province of English prose fiction for ten years, since the death of Dickens. Though she had a vast company of competitors, she did not suffer through that period from the rivalry of one writer of her own class. If the Brontës had lived, or Mrs. Gaskell, the case might have been different, for George Eliot had neither the passion of Jane Eyre nor the perfection of Cranford , but they were gone before we lost Dickens, and so was Thackeray, who died while Romola was appearing... Continue reading book >>




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