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“with praise
Which men give women when they judge a book,
Not as mere work, but as mere woman's work,
Expressing the comparative respect
Which means the absolute scorn.”

One of the striking characteristics of Miss Bronté's mind is her clear judgment, and the conciseness with which she uttered it. This is remarkable in the opinions expressed in her letters upon the books she read. More than one person among the readers of this Life finds that Miss Bronté shared his or her opinion upon certain books. Is it possible that so many have found so many points of agreement in anything as varying as the judgment upon the books of the day? It is more possible that Miss Bronté's way of expressing herself carries with it a subtile power of convincing. It is something of this power in another that perhaps Miss Bronté herself was conscious of when she wrote to Mrs. Gaskell: “But why are you and I to think (perhaps I should rather say to feel) so exactly alike on some points, that there can be no discussion between us? Your words on this paper express my thoughts.” However this may be, the expressed opinions of Charlotte Bronté are invaluable, and exceedingly interesting. We wish constantly that there were more of these expressions, that the mutual circle of our acquaintance to be discussed were larger. Her judgments, too, are always kindly, showing that they spring from a broad humanity. The kindliness with which she speaks of Miss Martineau is an example worthy to be followed, even in this particular case. She writes of her: “Without being able to share all her opinions, philosophical, political, or religious, - without adopting her theories, - I yet find a worth and greatness in herself, and a consistency, benevolence, perseverance in her practice, such as wins the sincerest esteem and affection. She is not a person to be judged by her writings alone, but rather by her own deeds and life, than which nothing can be more exemplary or nobler.” This combination of charitableness of judgment with clearness is unusual. The clear-sighted are apt to be critical. There is a pride that accompanies this pure vision, that desires to make it known, which often gets the better of generosity. But those who have a high stand can look over the mountains of error and defect, and see the blooming valleys between. Those who have struggled themselves can best know what is resisted.”

We find here a grand compensation in the struggles of genius, that they seemed to bring with them their consolation. The sensibility and suffering that made the lonely life in the midst of the moors, with its closely following tragedies, so hard to endure, gave the wondrous human touch that woke so many chords of sympathy. Because she had deeply suffered, she made all the world her friends; and a few of those friends, the few whom she could know, were able to repay their debt in

From the earliest days of her life, the power of “making out” filled up the solitary, the unchildish moments. Imagination could lend what was wanting in reality. Afterwards, her “making out" was the solace of a world of readers. It lightened their dark days, it

some measure.

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sustained their hearts in despondency. She never knew how far this light went, into how many hearts it found its way; but some of the light was reflected back to her, and shone upon the monotony of her own life. It is pleasant to think that a gleam of real happiness came to her at the end of her days. Of the joy of life she seems never to have tasted. It is touching, too, to see how much she is moved at the sight of happiness. She says in one of her letters :

“I was struck, too, by the almost unbroken happiness of his [Dr. Arnold's] life; a happiness resulting chiefly, no doubt, from the right use to which he put that health and strength which God had given him, but also owing partly to a singular exemption from those deep and bitter griefs which most human beings are called on to endure.

His wife was what he wished; his children were healthy and promising ; his own health was excellent; his undertakings were crowned with success; even death was kind, — for however sharp the pains of his last hour, they were but brief. God's blessing seems to have accompanied him from the cradle to the grave. One feels thankful to know that it has been permitted to any man to live such a life.”

To Mrs. Gaskell she said herself, “in her own composed manner, as if she had accepted the theory as a fact, that she believed some were appointed beforehand to sorrow and much disappointment; that it did not fall to the lot of all, -- as Scripture told us, to have their lines fall in pleasant places; that it was well for those who had rougher paths to perceive that such was God's will concerning them, and try to moderate their expectations, leaving hope to those of a different doom, and seeking patience and resignation as the virtues they were to cultivate. I took a different view. I thought that human lots were more equal than she imagined ; that to some, happiness and sorrow came in strong patches of light and shadow (so to speak), while in the lives of others they were pretty equally blended throughout. She smiled, and shook her head, and said she was trying to school herself against ever anticipating any pleasure; that it was better to be brave and submit faithfully; there was some good reason, which we should know in time, why sorrow and disappointment were to be the lot of some on earth. It was better to acknowledge this, and face out the truth in a religious faith.”

Those who have not read this book may fancy that our few words in praise of the character of Miss Bronté are too highly colored. But who are the few that have not read it? Those who do read it will acknowledge that they are impressed by a character of wondrous force. It is the life of a heroine, the closer, domestic details of which one can venture to study. The days are past

, when a hero may dread lest he is no longer a hero to his valet. The great acts of the heroes of the last century are pompous to us of this age. Grandisonian magnanimities have become wearisome. Now-a-days, when a truly great deed is performed, we grow eager to know if it corresponds with the rest of the life; if it is a great aloe with its one blossom in its century, ;

- and its great life counted by its centuries, or if it is constant in its flowering, refreshing in its quiet verdure. We recognize the heroine in the quiet



patience under suffering, and cheerfulness in trial. Perhaps we are too critical in this. We demand that a life should be completely rounded to satisfy our desires, that all its little duties should be serenely fulfilled before we acknowledge the heroine of the present day. And such a heroine rises up in the true life of Charlotte Bronté. Placed in a desolate country, with disheartening surroundings, obliged to struggle for her own livelihood, pressed upon by heavy domestic calamities, she fights her own fight, bravely and well; and when she writes from her own experience, does not write in morbid sentimentality, never as if among the conquered, but in victory, as one who has overcome. There is this consolation in looking at the picture of the dreariness of her life, that she knew how to gather strength from it, that she could “face the truth in a religious faith.”

It is hardly necessary to say, that this Life of Miss Bronté is well done. For we have been speaking of it as if we had been witnesses of the life itself. The picture gives us this semblance of reality. And it is a pleasure to think of it as a “Life” rather than a Biography.” For the long word has a studied sound in it. It gives the idea of a statistical, an elaborated writing. There may be labor in the simplicity with which such a Life as this is written, but there is not elaboration. There are so many biographies which seem only written to show off the style of the writer, which never succeed in representing the character of the subject! We come near some very fine writing, perhaps, but never nearer the life we are trying to approach. If we can recall one glimpse of the face of one of whom such a biography has been written, it is of more worth to us than all the words and volumes that are written about the life. We can form for ourselves a more satisfactory “ Life,” from that single glimpse, than from filling our heads with the dates of a birth or a marriage, or a change of residence. It is like the memory of a dear friend, which rises up freshly, in spite of the painted, would-be likeness, that hangs framed against the wall.

It is, perhaps, her friendship for Miss Bronté that has helped Mrs. Gaskell to form this lifelike picture. She has told simply all that she knew. She was able herself to create an imaginative heroine, as she has done before now, and might have found it easier to do so, but she was willing to present the truth simply. She has used her power of painting in representing the home of Charlotte Bronté, and showing it in a lifelike coloring, or, rather, want of color.

And she shows especially her friendship for Charlotte Bronté in the last chapter, upon the happier moments of her married life. would gladly go to see that desolate home lighted up by an unwonted happiness. We would like to ask more inquisitively of him who could be thought worthy to be a husband of Charlotte Bronté. The story is sufficiently romantic for us, to wish to know more fully its denouement. There are many questions we have no right to ask, that we would gladly offer. But Mrs. Gaskell has known where it was right to be silent. She could respect the retiring modesty of her friend, while she was no longer living. This is not the least grace of the book, that it tells all that we may fairly know, and does not unkindly tear open the



more concealed feelings of one so reserved, so delicate in her nature, as Miss Bronté.

Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette have acquired a new interest since we have read this life. We have now a fresh point of view from which to look upon them. We can appreciate more fully the struggles through which they were written; we have a fellow-feeling with the hitherto unknown author. We know a little of the country in which they were laid ; some day we may make a pilgrimage there. Among the moving characters we are to greet some old friends. A new book is also promised, that should have been the precursor of Jane Eyre. In reading it, we may feel almost as if Charlotte Bronté were still living.

Can we be too enthusiastic in speaking of one who created by her genius such an effect upon so many minds, all unheralded, unknown ? Had her life been less noble than it was, had it been disturbed by fitfulness of temper, inconstancy in friendship, in her own character, we should have found room to forgive all, in the comparison with the wonderful gifts that made the name of Charlotte Bronté worthy of a history. First came her fame, and we acknowledged that, we submitted to her power, and recognized her genius; let us be grateful that her heart was as warm as her genius was brilliant, that it was possible for her to be true as an artist and true as a woman, that we may now love her as before we admired her.


JOURNALS AND REVIEWS. Since its resuscitation a few years ago by the present publisher, the “Westminster” has continued one of the most able, as well as the most liberal, of English periodicals. It always comes to us rich with the best thought on the most important topics. Its synopsis of “ Contemporary Literature” is the most valuable summary of recent publications that meets our eye. We depend upon it for punctual advice and sound criticism of foreign productions. The April number is inferior to none of its predecessors in literary and scientific interest. The article on the "Present State of Theology in Germany," apropos to the recent publication of Karl Schwarz, though liable to controversy in some of its details, for example, in the statement that Bleek “establishesthe Johannean origin of the fourth Gospel, is on the whole an able discussion of the subject treated, and will furnish much welcome information to those who derive their knowledge of German theology through the medium of the English language. "The Hindú Drama"

“ is a timely survey of a field but little explored as yet, but one which is beginning to attract the attention of literary men at home and abroad. Hindú life as well as Hindú literature is discussed by the writer. “ Progress, its Law and Cause,” is a very elaborate illustration, comprising every grade of being from a nebula to human life, of the rather obvious truth, that all progress

is a passage

“ from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous.” « Literature and Society," to us the most entertaining article in this number, is a spirited sketch of the relations subsisting in different periods between men of genius and men of rank. “ China and the Chinese” presents in a readable form some valuable


information drawn from the latest authorities on that interesting quarter of the world.

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By some oversight, the “ National Review”* received no welcome at its appearing, from the press this side the water. We wish now to assert for it a place among the first, if not at the very head, of the noble company of British Quarterlies. Able and thorough in scholar. ship, of singular literary felicity and skill, and of the most refined, wholesome, and earnest type of intellectual faith, its corps of writers have rendered, as we think, eminent service to the world of letters. It is sufficient only to name the names of James Martineau, J. J. Taylor, W. R. Greg, and J. A. Froude, of those understood to be associated with it, together (if we mistake not) with some of the finest and ablest minds of the Church of England. The National Review, as we learn, originated (in part) in the distrust and dissatisfaction felt a few years ago by a portion of the writers the “ Westminster,” at the materialistic and positivist” direction in which that fearless and able organ of liberal thought seemed to be tending; and at its refusal to pledge itself to a clearly announced body of principles touching the fundamental truths of religion. We do not judge the quarrel, and we did regret it. But while the Westminster still claims to be the organ of the liberal mind of all England, uncommitted to anything save intellectual freedom and honesty of aim, we can scarce lament the secession which has provided this mouthpiece for what is rarest and finest in recent English culture. A generous tone of nationality, freedom, and directness in dealing with questions of public policy, and with administrative problems, (as in this number the treatment of Crime,) sufficiently justify its title; while its purely literary articles are, to our thought, the raciest and finest of the last two years. But the great and sterling value of the Review is, and will continue to be, as a representative of religious opinion, at once thoroughly emancipated from sectarian bigotry, guided by nice and generous scholarship, and chastened by an earnest and positive Christian faith. To those who can afford the literary luxury of one foreign journal, we cordially commend this; for the sake of those who cannot, we wish it might be included in the republication of the “great British Quarterlies.” In the present number, the titles “ Aurora Leigh,” “ Phasis of Force,” and “The Mutual Relation of History and Religion,” will be most likely to attract the reader's attention.

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* The National Review, No. VIII. April, 1857. London : Chapman and Hall. (Boston: Crosby, Nichols, & Co.)

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