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This etext was prepared by David Price, email [email protected]
from the 1890 Longmans, Green, and Co. edition.


OLD FRIENDS


PREFACE


The studies in this volume originally appeared in the "St. James's
Gazette." Two, from a friendly hand, have been omitted here by the
author of the rest, as non sua poma. One was by Mr. RICHARD
SWIVELLER to a boon companion and brother in the lyric Apollo; the
other, though purporting to have been addressed by Messrs. DOMBEY &
SON to Mr. TOOTS, is believed, on internal evidence, to have been
composed by the patron of the CHICKEN himself. A few prefatory
notes, an introductory essay, and two letters have been added.

The portrait in the frontispiece, copied by Mr. T. Hodge from an
old painting in the Club at St. Andrews, is believed to represent
the Baron Bradwardine addressing himself to his ball.

A. L.


FRIENDS IN FICTION


Every fancy which dwells much with the unborn and immortal
characters of Fiction must ask itself, Did the persons in
contemporary novels never meet? In so little a world their paths
must often have crossed, their orbits must have intersected, though
we hear nothing about the adventure from the accredited narrators.
In historical fiction authors make their people meet real men and
women of history - Louis XI., Lazarus, Mary Queen of Scots, General
Webbe, Moses, the Man in the Iron Mask, Marie Antoinette; the list
is endless. But novelists, in spite of Mr. Thackeray's advice to
Alexandre Dumas, and of his own example in "Rebecca and Rowena,"
have not introduced each other's characters. Dumas never pursued
the fortunes of the Master of Ravenswood after he was picked up by
that coasting vessel in the Kelpie's Flow. Sometimes a meeting
between characters in novels by different hands looked all but
unavoidable. "Pendennis" and "David Copperfield" came out
simultaneously in numbers, yet Pen never encountered Steerforth at
the University, nor did Warrington, in his life of journalism,
jostle against a reporter named David Copperfield. One fears that
the Major would have called Steerforth a tiger, that Pen would have
been very loftily condescending to the nephew of Betsy Trotwood.
But Captain Costigan would scarcely have refused to take a sip of
Mr. Micawber's punch, and I doubt, not that Litimer would have
conspired darkly with Morgan, the Major's sinister man. Most of
those delightful sets of old friends, the Dickens and Thackeray
people, might well have met, though they belonged to very different
worlds. In older novels, too, it might easily have chanced that
Mr. Edward Waverley of Waverley Honour, came into contact with
Lieutenant Booth, or, after the Forty-five, with Thomas Jones, or,
in Scotland, Balmawhapple might have foregathered with Lieutenant
Lismahagow. Might not even Jeanie Deans have crossed the path of
Major Lambert of the "Virginians," and been helped on her way by
that good man? Assuredly Dugald Dalgetty in his wanderings in
search of fights and fortune may have crushed a cup or rattled a
dicebox with four gallant gentlemen of the King's Mousquetaires.
It is agreeable to wonder what all these very real people would
have thought of their companions in the region of Romance, and to
guess how their natures would have acted and reacted on each other.

This was the idea which suggested the following little essays in
parody. In making them the writer, though an assiduous and veteran
novel reader, had to recognise that after all he knew, on really
intimate and friendly terms, comparatively few people in the
Paradise of Fiction. Setting aside the dramatic poets and their
creations, the children of Moliere and Shakspeare, the reader of
novels will find, may be, that his airy friends are scarce so many
as he deemed. We all know Sancho and the Don, by repute at least;
we have all our memories of Gil Blas; Manon Lescaut does not fade
from the heart, nor her lover, the Chevalier des Grieux, from the
remembrance. Our mental picture of Anna Karenine is fresh enough
and fair enough, but how few can most of us recall out of the
myriad progeny of George Sand! Indiana, Valentine, Lelia, do you
quite believe in them, would you know them if you met them in the
Paradise of Fiction? Noun one might recognise, but there is a
haziness about La Petite Fadette. Consuelo, let it be admitted, is
not evanescent, oblivion scatters no poppy over her; but Madame
Sand's later ladies, still more her men, are easily lost in the
forests of fancy. Even their names with difficulty return to us,
and if we read the roll-call, would Horace and Jacques cry Adsum
like the good Colonel? There are living critics who have all Mr.
George Meredith's heroines and heroes and oddities at their finger
ends, and yet forget that musical name, like the close of a rich
hexameter, Clare Doria Forey. But this is a digression; it is
perhaps admitted that George Sand, so great a novelist, gave the
world few characters who live in and are dear to memory. We can
just fancy one of her dignified later heroines, all self-
renunciation and rural sentiment, preaching in vain to that real
woman, Emma Bovary. HER we know, her we remember, as we remember
few, comparatively, of Balzac's thronging faces, from La Cousine
Bette to Seraphitus Seraphita. Many of those are certain to live
and keep their hold, but it is by dint of long and elaborate
preparation, description, analysis. A stranger intermeddleth not
with them, though we can fancy Lucien de Rubempre let loose in a
country neighbourhood of George Sand's, and making sonnets and love
to some rural chatelaine, while Vautrin might stray among the
ruffians of Gaboriau, a giant of crime. Among M. Zola's people,
however it may fare with others, I find myself remembering few:
the guilty Hippolytus of "La Curee," the poor girl in "La Fortune
des Rougon," the Abbe Mouret, the artist in "L'Oeuvre," and the
half idiotic girl of the farm house, and Helene in "Un Page
d'Amour." They are not amongst M. Zola's most prominent creations,
and it must be some accident that makes them most memorable and
recognisable to one of his readers.

Probably we all notice that the characters of fiction who remain
our intimates, whose words come to our lips often, whose conduct in
this or that situation we could easily forecast, are the characters
whom we met when we were young. We may be wrong in thinking them
the best, the most true and living of the unborn; perhaps they only
seem so real because they came fresh to fresh hearts and unworn
memories. This at least we must allow for, when we are tempted to
say about novelists, "The old are better." It was we who, long
ago, were young and better, better fitted to enjoy and retain the
pleasure of making new visionary acquaintances. If this be so,
what an argument it is in favour of reading the best books first
and earliest in youth! Do the ladies who now find Scott slow, and
Miss Austen dull, and Dickens vulgar, and Thackeray prosy, and
Fielding and Richardson impossible, come to this belief because
they began early with the volumes of the circulating library? Are
their memories happily stored with the words and deeds of modern
fictitious romps, and passionate governesses, and tremendous
guardsmen with huge cigars? Are the people of - well, why mention
names of living authors? - of whom you will - are those as much to
the young readers of 1890 as Quentin Durward, and Colonel Newcome,
and Sam Weller, and Becky Sharp, and Anne Elliot, and Elizabeth
Bennett, and Jane Eyre were to young readers of 1860? It may very
well be so, and we seniors will not regret our choice, and the
young men and maids will be pleased enough with theirs. Yet it is
not impossible that the old really are better, and do not gain all
their life and permanent charm merely from the unjaded memories and
affections with which we came to them long ago.

We shall never be certain, for even if we tried the experiment of
comparing, we are no longer good judges, our hearts are with our
old friends, whom we think deathless; their birth is far enough off
in time, but they will serve us for ours.

These friends, it has been said, are not such a very numerous
company after all. Most of them are children of our own soil,
their spirits were made in England, or at least in Great Britain,
or, perhaps, came of English stock across the seas, like our dear
old Leather Stocking and Madam Hester Prynne. Probably most of us
are insular enough to confess this limitation; even if we be so
unpatriotic to read far more new French than new English novels.
One may study M. Daudet, and not remember his Sidonie as we
remember Becky, nor his Petit Chose or his Jack as we remember
David Copperfield. In the Paradise of Fiction are folk of all
nations and tongues; but the English (as Swedenborg saw them doing
in his vision of Heaven) keep very much to themselves. The
American visitors, or some of them, disdain our old acquaintances,
and associate with Russian, Spanish, Lithuanian, Armenian heroes
and heroines, conversing, probably, in some sort of French. Few of
us "poor islanders" are so cosmopolitan; we read foreign novels,
and yet among all the brilliant persons met there we remember but a
few. Most of my own foreign friends in fiction wear love-locks and
large boots, have rapiers at their side which they are very ready
to draw, are great trenchermen, mighty fine drinkers, and somewhat
gallant in their conduct to the sex. There is also a citizen or
two from Furetiere's "Roman Bourgeois," there is Manon, aforesaid,
and a company of picaroons, and an archbishop, and a lady styled
Marianne, and a newly ennobled Count of mysterious wealth, and two
grisettes, named Mimi and Musette, with their student-lovers. M.
Balzac has introduced us to mystics, and murderers, and old maids,
and doctors, and adventurers, and poets, and a girl with golden
eyes, and malefactors, and bankrupts, and mad old collectors,
peasants, cures, critics, dreamers, debauchees; but all these are
somewhat distant acquaintances, many of them undesirable
acquaintances. In the great "Comedie Humaine" have you a single
real friend? Some of Charles de Bernard's folk are more akin to
us, such as "La Femme de Quarante Ans," and the owner of the hound
Justinian, and that drunken artist in "Gerfaut." But an Englishman
is rather friendless, rather an alien and an outcast, in the
society of French fiction. Monsieur de Camors is not of our monde,
nor is the Enfant du Siecle; indeed, perhaps good Monsieur
Sylvestre Bonnard is as sympathetic as anyone in that populous
country of modern French romance. Or do you know Fifi Vollard?

Something must be allowed for strange manners, for exotic ideas,
and ways not our own. More perhaps is due to what, as Englishmen
think, is the lack of HUMOUR in the most brilliant and witty of
races. We have friends many in Moliere, in Dumas, in Rabelais; but
it is far more difficult to be familiar, at ease, and happy in the
circles to which Madame Sand, M. Daudet, M. Flaubert, or M. Paul
Bourget introduce us. M. Bourget's old professor, in "Le
Disciple," we understand, but he does not interest himself much in
us, and to us he is rather a curiosity, a "character," than an
intimate. We are driven to the belief that humour, with its loving
and smiling observation, is necessary to the author who would make
his persons real and congenial, and, above all, friendly. Now
humour is the quality which Dumas, Moliere, and Rabelais possess
conspicuously among Frenchmen. Montaigne has it too, and makes
himself dear to us, as the humorous novelists make their fancied
people dear. Without humour an author may draw characters distinct
and clear, and entertaining, and even real; but they want
atmosphere, and with them we are never intimate. Mr. Alfred Austin
says that "we know the hero or the heroine in prose romance far
more familiarly than we know the hero or heroine in the poem or the
drama." "Which of the serious characters in Shakspeare's plays are
not indefinite and shadowy compared with Harry Esmond or Maggie
Tulliver?" The SERIOUS characters - they are seldom very familiar
or definite to us in any kind of literature. One might say, to be
sure, that he knows Hotspur a good deal more intimately than he
knows Mr. Henry Esmond, and that he has a pretty definite idea of
Iago, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, as definite as he has (to follow
Mr. Austin) of Tito Melema. But we cannot reckon Othello, or
Macbeth, or King Lear as FRIENDS; nay, we would rather drink with
the honest ancient. All heroes and the heroines are usually too
august, and also too young, to be friendly with us; to be handled
humorously by their creators. We know Cuddie Headrigg a great deal
better than Henry Morton, and Le Balafre better than Quentin
Durward, and Dugald Dalgetty better than anybody. Humour it is
that gives flesh and blood to the persons of romance; makes Mr.
Lenville real, while Nicholas Nickleby is only a "walking
gentleman." You cannot know Oliver Twist as you know the Dodger
and Charlie Bates. If you met Edward Waverley you could scarce
tell him from another young officer of his time; but there would be
no chance of mistake about the Dugald creature, or Bailie Nicol
Jarvie, or the Baron Bradwardine, or Balmawhapple.

These ideas might be pushed too far; it might be said that only the
persons in "character parts" - more or less caricatures - are really
vivid in the recollection. But Colonel Newcome is as real as
Captain Costigan, and George Warrington as the Chevalier Strong.
The hero is commonly too much of a beau tenebreux to be actual;
Scott knew it well, and in one of his unpublished letters frankly
admits that his heroes are wooden, and no favourites of his own.
He had to make them, as most authors make their heroes, romantic,
amorous, and serious; few of them have the life of Roland Graeme,
or even of Quentin Durward. Ivanhoe might put on the cloak of the
Master of Ravenswood, the Master might wear the armour of the
Disinherited Knight, and the disguise would deceive the keenest.
Nay, Mr. Henry Esmond might pass for either, if arrayed in
appropriate costume.

To treat a hero with humour is difficult in romance, all but
impossible. Hence the heroes are rarely our friends, except in
Fielding, or, now and then, in Thackeray. No book is so full of
friends as the novel that has no hero, but has Rawdon Crawley,
Becky, Lady Jane, Mr. Jim Crawley, MacMurdo, Mrs. Major O'Dowd, and
the rest. Even Dobbin is too much the hero to be admitted among
our most kindly acquaintances. So unlucky are heroes that we know
Squire Western and the Philosopher Square and Parson Adams far
better than even that unheroic hero, Tom Jones, or Joseph Andrews.
The humour of Fielding and his tenderness make Amelia and Sophia
far more sure of our hearts than, let us say, Rowena, or the Fair
Maid of Perth, or Flora MacIvor, or Rose Bradwardine. It is humour
that makes Mr. Collins immortal, and Mrs. Bennett, and Emma; while
a multitude of nice girls in fiction, good girls too, are as dead
as Queen Tiah.

Perhaps, after all, this theory explains why it is so very hard to
recall with vividness the persons of our later fiction. Humour is
not the strong point of novelists to-day. There may be amateurs
who know Mr. Howells's characters as their elders know Sophia and
Amelia and Catherine Seyton - there may be. To the old reader of
romance, however earnestly he keeps up with modern fiction, the
salt of life seems often lacking in its puppets or its persons.
Among the creations of living men and women I, for one, feel that I
have two friends at least across the sea, Master Thomas Sawyer and
his companion, Huckleberry Finn. If these are not real boys, then
Dr. Farrar's Eric IS a real boy; I cannot put it stronger. There
is a lady on those distant shores (for she never died of Roman
fever) who I may venture to believe is not unfriendly - Miss Annie
P. Miller - and there is a daughter of Mr. Silas Lapham whom one
cannot readily forget, and there is a beery journalist in a "Modern
Instance," an acquaintance, a distant professional acquaintance,
not a friend. The rest of the fictitious white population of the
States are shadowy to myself; I have often followed their fortunes
with interest, but the details slip my aging memory, which recalls
Topsy and Uncle Remus.

To speak of new friends at home is a more delicate matter. A man
may have an undue partiality for the airy children of his friends'
fancy. Mr. Meredith has introduced me to an amiable Countess, to a
strange country girl named Rhoda, to a wonderful old AEschylean
nurse, to some genuine boys, to a wise Youth, - but that society
grows as numerous as brilliant. Mr. Besant has made us friends
with twins of literary and artistic genius, with a very highly-
cultured Fellow of Lothian, with a Son of Vulcan, with a bevy of
fair but rather indistinguishable damsels, like a group of
agreeable-looking girls at a dance. But they are too busy with
their partners to be friendly. We admire them, but they are
unconcerned with us. In Mr. Black's large family the Whaup seems
most congenial to some strangers; the name of one of Mr. Payn's
friendly lads is Legion, and Miss Broughton's dogs, with THEIR
friend Sara, and Mrs. Moberley, welcome the casual visitor with
hospitable care. Among the kindly children of a later generation
one may number a sailor man with a wooden leg; a Highland
gentleman, who, though landless, bears a king's name; an Irish
chevalier who was out in the '45; a Zulu chief who plied the axe
well; a private named Mulvaney in Her Majesty's Indian army; an
elderly sportsman of agile imagination or unparalleled experience
in remote adventure. {1} All these a person who had once
encountered them would recognise, perhaps, when he was fortunate
enough to find himself in their company.

There are children, too, of a dead author, an author seldom lauded
by critics, who, possibly, have as many living friends as any
modern characters can claim. A very large company of Christian
people are fond of Lord Welter, Charles Ravenshoe, Flora and Gus,
Lady Ascot, the boy who played fives with a brass button, and a
dozen others of Henry Kingsley's men, women, and children, whom we
have laughed with often, and very nearly cried with. For Henry
Kingsley had humour, and his children are dear to us; while which
of Charles Kingsley's far more famous offspring would be welcome -
unless it were Salvation Yeo - if we met them all in the Paradise of
Fiction?

It is not very safe, in literature as in life, to speak well of our
friends or of their families. Other readers, other people, have
theirs, whom we may not care much for, whom we may even chance
never to have met. In the following Letters from Old Friends
(mainly reprinted from the "St. James's Gazette"), a few of the
writers may, to some who glance at the sketches, be unfamiliar.
When Dugald Dalgetty's epistle on his duel with Aramis was written,
a man of letters proposed to write a reply from Aramis in a certain
journal. But his Editor had never heard of any of the gentlemen
concerned in that affair of honour; had never heard of Dugald, of
Athos, Porthos, Aramis, nor D'Artagnan. He had not been introduced
to them. This little book will be fortunate far beyond its deserts
if it tempts a few readers to extend the circle of their visionary
acquaintances, of friends who, like Brahma, know not birth, nor
decay, "sleep, waking, nor trance."

A theme more delicate and intimate than that of our Friends in
fiction awaits a more passionate writer than the present parodist.
Our LOVES in fiction are probably numerous, and our choice depends
on age and temperament. In romance, if not in life, we can be in
love with a number of ladies at once. It is probable that Beatrix
Esmond has not fewer knights than Marie Antoinette or Mary Stuart.
These ladies have been the marks of scandal. Unkind things are
said of all three, but our hearts do not believe the evil reports.
Sir Walter Scott refused to write a life of Mary Stuart because his
opinion was not on the popular side, nor on the side of his
feelings. The reasoning and judicial faculties may be convinced
that Beatrix was "other than a guid ane," but reason does not touch
the affections; we see her with the eyes of Harry Esmond, and, like
him, "remember a paragon." With similar lack of logic we believe
that Mrs. Wenham really had one of her headaches, and that Becky
was guiltless on a notorious occasion. Bad or not so bad, what
lady would we so gladly meet as Mrs. Rawdon Crawley, whose kindness
was so great that she even condescended to be amusing to her own
husband? For a more serious and life-long affection there are few
heroines so satisfactory as Sophia Western and Amelia Booth (nee
Harris). Never before nor since did a man's ideal put on flesh and
blood - out of poetry, that is, - and apart from the ladies of
Shakspeare. Fielding's women have a manly honour, tolerance,
greatness, in addition to their tenderness and kindness.
Literature has not their peers, and life has never had many to
compare with them. They are not "superior" like Romola, nor
flighty and destitute of taste like Maggie Tulliver; among
Fielding's crowd of fribbles and sots and oafs they carry that pure
moly of the Lady in "Comus." It is curious, indeed, that men have
drawn women more true and charming than women themselves have
invented, and the heroines of George Eliot, of George Sand (except
Consuelo), and even of Miss Austen, do not subdue us like Di
Vernon, nor win our sympathies like Rebecca of York. They may
please and charm for their hour, but they have not the immortality
of the first heroines of all - of Helen, or of that Alcmena who
makes even comedy grave when she enters, and even Plautus
chivalrous. Poetry, rather than prose fiction, is the proper home
of our spiritual mistresses; they dwell where Rosalind and Imogen
are, with women perhaps as unreal or as ideal as themselves, men's
lost loves and unforgotten, in a Paradise apart.


LETTER: From Mr. Clive Newcome to Mr. Arthur Pendennis.


Mr. Newcome, a married man and an exile at Boulogne, sends Mr.
Arthur Pendennis a poem on his undying affection for his cousin,
Miss Ethel Newcome. He desires that it may be published in a
journal with which Mr. Pendennis is connected. He adds a few
remarks on his pictures for the Academy.

Boulogne, March 28.

Dear Pen, - I have finished Belisarius, and he has gone to face the
Academicians. There is another little thing I sent - "Blondel" I
call it - a troubadour playing under a castle wall. They have not
much chance; but there is always the little print-shop in Long
Acre. My sketches of mail-coaches continue to please the public;
they have raised the price to a guinea.

Here we are not happier than when you visited us. My poor wife is
no better. It is something to have put my father out of hearing of
her mother's tongue: that cannot cross the Channel. Perhaps I am
as well here as in town. There I always hope, I always fear to
meet HER . . . my cousin, you know. I think I see her face under
every bonnet. God knows I don't go where she is likely to be met.
Oh, Pen, haeret lethalis arundo; it is always right - the Latin
Delectus! Everything I see is full of her, everything I do is done
for her. "Perhaps she'll see it and know the hand, and remember,"
I think, even when I do the mail-coaches and the milestones. I
used to draw for her at Brighton when she was a child. My
sketches, my pictures, are always making that silent piteous appeal
to her, WON'T YOU LOOK AT US? WON'T YOU REMEMBER? I dare say she
has quite forgotten. Here I send you a little set of rhymes; my
picture of Blondel and this old story brought them into my mind.
They are gazes, as the drunk painter says in "Gerfaut;" they are
veiled, a mystery. I know she's not in a castle or a tower or a
cloistered cell anywhere; she is in Park Lane. Don't I read it in
the "Morning Post?" But I can't, I won't, go and sing at the area-
gate, you know. Try if F. B. will put the rhymes into the paper.
Do they take it in in Park Lane? See whether you can get me a
guinea for these tears of mine: "Mes Larmes," Pen, do you
remember? - Yours ever, C. N.

The verses are enclosed.

THE NEW BLONDEL.

O ma Reine!

Although the Minstrel's lost you long,
Although for bread the Minstrel sings,
Ah, still for you he pipes the song,
And thrums upon the crazy strings!

As Blondel sang by cot and hall,
Through town and stream and forest passed,
And found, at length, the dungeon wall,


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