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who suffer it. The gaudy dirt, the squalid plenty, the contumely
of familiarity, the absence of all good words and all good things,
the banishment from honest labour, the being compassed round with
lies, the flaunting glare of fictitious revelry, the weary pavement,
the horrid slavery to some horrid tyrant, - and then the quick
depreciation of that one ware of beauty, the substituted paint,
garments bright without but foul within like painted sepulchres,
hunger, thirst, and strong drink, life without a hope, without the
certainty even of a morrow's breakfast, utterly friendless, disease,
starvation, and a quivering fear of that coming hell which still can
hardly be worse than all that is suffered here! This is the life to
which we doom our erring daughters, when because of their error we
close our door upon them! But for our erring sons we find pardon
easily enough.

Of course there are houses of refuge, from which it has been
thought expedient to banish everything pleasant, as though the only
repentance to which we can afford to give a place must necessarily
be one of sackcloth and ashes. It is hardly thus that we can hope to
recall those to decency who, if they are to be recalled at all, must
be induced to obey the summons before they have reached the last
stage of that misery which I have attempted to describe. To me the
mistake which we too often make seems to be this, - that the girl who
has gone astray is put out of sight, out of mind if possible, at any
rate out of speech, as though she had never existed, and that this
ferocity comes not only from hatred of the sin, but in part also from
a dread of the taint which the sin brings with it. Very low as is the
degradation to which a girl is brought when she falls through love
or vanity, or perhaps from a longing for luxurious ease, still much
lower is that to which she must descend perforce when, through the
hardness of the world around her, she converts that sin into a trade.
Mothers and sisters, when the misfortune comes upon them of a fallen
female from among their number, should remember this, and not fear
contamination so strongly as did Carry Brattle's married sister and
sister-in-law.

In 1870 I brought out three books, - or rather of the latter of the
three I must say that it was brought out by others, for I had nothing
to do with it except to write it. These were _Sir Harry Hotspur of
Humblethwaite_, _An Editors Tales_, and a little volume on Julius
Cæsar. _Sir Harry Hotspur_ was written on the same plan as _Nina
Balatka_ and _Linda Tressel_, and had for its object the telling
of some pathetic incident in life rather than the portraiture of a
number of human beings. _Nina_ and _Linda Tressel_ and _The Golden
Lion_ had been placed in foreign countries, and this was an English
story. In other respects it is of the same nature, and was not, I
think, by any means a failure. There is much of pathos in the love
of the girl, and of paternal dignity and affection in the father.

It was published first in _Macmillan's Magazine_, by the intelligent
proprietor of which I have since been told that it did not make
either his fortune or that of his magazine. I am sorry that it should
have been so; but I fear that the same thing may be said of a good
many of my novels. When it had passed through the magazine, the
subsequent use of it was sold to other publishers by Mr. Macmillan,
and then I learned that it was to be brought out by them as a novel
in two volumes. Now it had been sold by me as a novel in one volume,
and hence there arose a correspondence.

I found it very hard to make the purchasers understand that I had
reasonable ground for objection to the process. What was it to me?
How could it injure me if they stretched my pages by means of lead
and margin into double the number I had intended. I have heard the
same argument on other occasions. When I have pointed out that in
this way the public would have to suffer, seeing that they would
have to pay Mudie for the use of two volumes in reading that which
ought to have been given to them in one, I have been assured that the
public are pleased with literary short measure, that it is the object
of novel-readers to get through novels as fast as they can, and that
the shorter each volume is the better! Even this, however, did not
overcome me, and I stood to my guns. _Sir Harry_ was published in
one volume, containing something over the normal 300 pages, with
an average of 220 words to a page, - which I had settled with my
conscience to be the proper length of a novel volume. I may here
mention that on one occasion, and on one occasion only, a publisher
got the better of me in a matter of volumes. He had a two-volume
novel of mine running through a certain magazine, and had it printed
complete in three volumes before I knew where I was, - before I had
seen a sheet of the letterpress. I stormed for a while, but I had not
the heart to make him break up the type.

The _Editor's Tales_ was a volume republished from the _St. Paul's
Magazine_, and professed to give an editor's experience of his
dealings with contributors. I do not think that there is a single
incident in the book which could bring back to any one concerned the
memory of a past event. And yet there is not an incident in it the
outline of which was not presented to my mind by the remembrance of
some fact: - how an ingenious gentleman got into conversation with me,
I not knowing that he knew me to be an editor, and pressed his little
article on my notice; how I was addressed by a lady with a becoming
pseudonym and with much equally becoming audacity; how I was appealed
to by the dearest of little women whom here I have called Mary
Gresley; how in my own early days there was a struggle over an
abortive periodical which was intended to be the best thing ever
done; how terrible was the tragedy of a poor drunkard, who with
infinite learning at his command made one sad final effort to reclaim
himself, and perished while he was making it; and lastly how a poor
weak editor was driven nearly to madness by threatened litigation
from a rejected contributor. Of these stories _The Spotted Dog_,
with the struggles of the drunkard scholar, is the best. I know now,
however, that when the things were good they came out too quick one
upon another to gain much attention; - and so also, luckily, when they
were bad.

The _Cæsar_ was a thing of itself. My friend John Blackwood had
set on foot a series of small volumes called _Ancient Classics for
English Readers_, and had placed the editing of them, and the
compiling of many of them, in the hands of William Lucas Collins,
a clergyman who, from my connection with the series, became a most
intimate friend. The _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ had already come out
when I was at Edinburgh with John Blackwood, and, on my expressing
my very strong admiration for those two little volumes, - which I
here recommend to all young ladies as the most charming tales they
can read, - he asked me whether I would not undertake one myself.
_Herodotus_ was in the press, but, if I could get it ready, mine
should be next. Whereupon I offered to say what might be said to the
readers of English on _The Commentaries of Julius Cæsar_.

I at once went to work, and in three months from that day the little
book had been written. I began by reading through the Commentaries
twice, which I did without any assistance either by translation or
English notes. Latin was not so familiar to me then as it has since
become, - for from that date I have almost daily spent an hour with
some Latin author, and on many days many hours. After the reading
what my author had left behind him, I fell into the reading of what
others had written about him, in Latin, in English, and even in
French, - for I went through much of that most futile book by the late
Emperor of the French. I do not know that for a short period I ever
worked harder. The amount I had to write was nothing. Three weeks
would have done it easily. But I was most anxious, in this soaring
out of my own peculiar line, not to disgrace myself. I do not think
that I did disgrace myself. Perhaps I was anxious for something more.
If so, I was disappointed.

The book I think to be a good little book. It is readable by
all, old and young, and it gives, I believe accurately, both an
account of Cæsar's Commentaries, - which of course was the primary
intention, - and the chief circumstances of the great Roman's life.
A well-educated girl who had read it and remembered it would perhaps
know as much about Cæsar and his writings as she need know. Beyond
the consolation of thinking as I do about it, I got very little
gratification from the work. Nobody praised it. One very old and very
learned friend to whom I sent it thanked me for my "comic Cæsar," but
said no more. I do not suppose that he intended to run a dagger into
me. Of any suffering from such wounds, I think, while living, I never
showed a sign; but still I have suffered occasionally. There was,
however, probably present to my friend's mind, and to that of others,
a feeling that a man who had spent his life in writing English novels
could not be fit to write about Cæsar. It was as when an amateur
gets a picture hung on the walls of the Academy. What business had
I there? _Ne sutor ultra crepidam_. In the press it was most faintly
damned by most faint praise. Nevertheless, having read the book again
within the last month or two, I make bold to say that it is a good
book. The series, I believe, has done very well. I am sure that it
ought to do well in years to come, for, putting aside Cæsar, the work
has been done with infinite scholarship, and very generally with a
light hand. With the leave of my sententious and sonorous friend,
who had not endured that subjects which had been grave to him should
be treated irreverently, I will say that such a work, unless it be
light, cannot answer the purpose for which it is intended. It was not
exactly a school-book that was wanted, but something that would carry
the purposes of the school-room even into the leisure hours of adult
pupils. Nothing was ever better suited for such a purpose than the
_Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_, as done by Mr. Collins. The _Virgil_, also
done by him, is very good; and so is the _Aristophanes_ by the same
hand.




CHAPTER XIX.

_RALPH THE HEIR_ - _THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS_ - _LADY ANNA_ - _AUSTRALIA_.


In the spring of 1871 we, - I and my wife, - had decided that we would
go to Australia to visit our shepherd son. Of course before doing so
I made a contract with a publisher for a book about the Colonies. For
such a work as this I had always been aware that I could not fairly
demand more than half the price that would be given for the same
amount of fiction; and as such books have an indomitable tendency
to stretch themselves, so that more is given than what is sold,
and as the cost of travelling is heavy, the writing of them is not
remunerative. This tendency to stretch comes not, I think, generally
from the ambition of the writer, but from his inability to comprise
the different parts in their allotted spaces. If you have to deal
with a country, a colony, a city, a trade, or a political opinion,
it is so much easier to deal with it in twenty than in twelve pages!
I also made an engagement with the editor of a London daily paper to
supply him with a series of articles, - which were duly written, duly
published, and duly paid for. But with all this, travelling with the
object of writing is not a good trade. If the travelling author can
pay his bills, he must be a good manager on the road.

Before starting there came upon us the terrible necessity of coming
to some resolution about our house at Waltham. It had been first
hired, and then bought, primarily because it suited my Post Office
avocations. To this reason had been added other attractions, - in the
shape of hunting, gardening, and suburban hospitalities. Altogether
the house had been a success, and the scene of much happiness. But
there arose questions as to expense. Would not a house in London be
cheaper? There could be no doubt that my income would decrease, and
was decreasing. I had thrown the Post Office, as it were, away, and
the writing of novels could not go on for ever. Some of my friends
told me already that at fifty-five I ought to give up the fabrication
of love-stories. The hunting, I thought, must soon go, and I would
not therefore allow that to keep me in the country. And then, why
should I live at Waltham Cross now, seeing that I had fixed on that
place in reference to the Post Office? It was therefore determined
that we would flit, and as we were to be away for eighteen months,
we determined also to sell our furniture. So there was a packing up,
with many tears, and consultations as to what should be saved out of
the things we loved.

As must take place on such an occasion, there was some heart-felt
grief. But the thing was done, and orders were given for the letting
or sale of the house. I may as well say here that it never was let,
and that it remained unoccupied for two years before it was sold. I
lost by the transaction about £800. As I continually hear that other
men make money by buying and selling houses, I presume I am not well
adapted for transactions of that sort. I have never made money by
selling anything except a manuscript. In matters of horseflesh I am
so inefficient that I have generally given away horses that I have
not wanted.

When we started from Liverpool, in May 1871, _Ralph the Heir_ was
running through the _St. Paul's_. This was the novel of which Charles
Reade afterwards took the plot and made on it a play. I have always
thought it to be one of the worst novels I have written, and almost
to have justified that dictum that a novelist after fifty should not
write love-stories. It was in part a political novel; and that part
which appertains to politics, and which recounts the electioneering
experiences of the candidates at Percycross, is well enough.
Percycross and Beverley were, of course, one and the same place.
Neefit, the breeches-maker, and his daughter, are also good in their
way, - and Moggs, the daughter's lover, who was not only lover, but
also one of the candidates at Percycross as well. But the main thread
of the story, - that which tells of the doings of the young gentlemen
and young ladies, - the heroes and the heroines, - is not good. Ralph
the heir has not much life about him; while Ralph who is not the
heir, but is intended to be the real hero, has none. The same may be
said of the young ladies, - of whom one, she who was meant to be the
chief, has passed utterly out of my mind, without leaving a trace of
remembrance behind.

I also left in the hands of the editor of _The Fortnightly_, ready
for production on the 1st of July following, a story called _The
Eustace Diamonds_. In that I think that my friend's dictum was
disproved. There is not much love in it; but what there is, is good.
The character of Lucy Morris is pretty; and her love is as genuine
and as well told as that of Lucy Robarts or Lily Dale.

But _The Eustace Diamonds_ achieved the success which it certainly
did attain, not as a love-story, but as a record of a cunning little
woman of pseudo-fashion, to whom, in her cunning, there came a series
of adventures, unpleasant enough in themselves, but pleasant to the
reader. As I wrote the book, the idea constantly presented itself to
me that Lizzie Eustace was but a second Becky Sharpe; but in planning
the character I had not thought of this, and I believe that Lizzie
would have been just as she is though Becky Sharpe had never been
described. The plot of the diamond necklace is, I think, well
arranged, though it produced itself without any forethought. I had no
idea of setting thieves after the bauble till I had got my heroine to
bed in the inn at Carlisle; nor of the disappointment of the thieves,
till Lizzie had been wakened in the morning with the news that her
door had been broken open. All these things, and many more, Wilkie
Collins would have arranged before with infinite labour, preparing
things present so that they should fit in with things to come. I
have gone on the very much easier plan of making everything as it
comes fit in with what has gone before. At any rate, the book was
a success, and did much to repair the injury which I felt had come
to my reputation in the novel-market by the works of the last few
years. I doubt whether I had written anything so successful as _The
Eustace Diamonds_ since _The Small House at Allington_. I had written
what was much better, - as, for instance, _Phineas Finn_ and _Nina
Balatka_; but that is by no means the same thing.

I also left behind, in a strong box, the manuscript of _Phineas
Redux_, a novel of which I have already spoken, and which I
subsequently sold to the proprietors of the _Graphic_ newspaper. The
editor of that paper greatly disliked the title, assuring me that
the public would take Redux for the gentleman's surname, - and was
dissatisfied with me when I replied that I had no objection to them
doing so. The introduction of a Latin word, or of a word from any
other language, into the title of an English novel is undoubtedly in
bad taste; but after turning the matter much over in my own mind, I
could find no other suitable name.

I also left behind me, in the same strong box, another novel, called
_An Eye for an Eye_, which then had been some time written, and of
which, as it has not even yet been published, I will not further
speak. It will probably be published some day, though, looking
forward, I can see no room for it, at any rate, for the next two
years.

If therefore the Great Britain, in which we sailed for Melbourne,
had gone to the bottom, I had so provided that there would be new
novels ready to come out under my name for some years to come. This
consideration, however, did not keep me idle while I was at sea. When
making long journeys, I have always succeeded in getting a desk put
up in my cabin, and this was done ready for me in the Great Britain,
so that I could go to work the day after we left Liverpool. This I
did; and before I reached Melbourne I had finished a story called
_Lady Anna_. Every word of this was written at sea, during the two
months required for our voyage, and was done day by day - with the
intermission of one day's illness - for eight weeks, at the rate of 66
pages of manuscript in each week, every page of manuscript containing
250 words. Every word was counted. I have seen work come back to an
author from the press with terrible deficiencies as to the amount
supplied. Thirty-two pages have perhaps been wanted for a number,
and the printers with all their art could not stretch the matter to
more than twenty-eight or -nine! The work of filling up must be very
dreadful. I have sometimes been ridiculed for the methodical details
of my business. But by these contrivances I have been preserved
from many troubles; and I have saved others with whom I have
worked - editors, publishers, and printers - from much trouble also.

A month or two after my return home, _Lady Anna_ appeared in _The
Fortnightly_, following _The Eustace Diamonds_. In it a young girl,
who is really a lady of high rank and great wealth, though in her
youth she enjoyed none of the privileges of wealth or rank, marries
a tailor who had been good to her, and whom she had loved when she
was poor and neglected. A fine young noble lover is provided for her,
and all the charms of sweet living with nice people are thrown in her
way, in order that she may be made to give up the tailor. And the
charms are very powerful with her. But the feeling that she is bound
by her troth to the man who had always been true to her overcomes
everything, - and she marries the tailor. It was my wish of course to
justify her in doing so, and to carry my readers along with me in my
sympathy with her. But everybody found fault with me for marrying her
to the tailor. What would they have said if I had allowed her to jilt
the tailor and marry the good-looking young lord? How much louder,
then, would have been the censure! The book was read, and I was
satisfied. If I had not told my story well, there would have been no
feeling in favour of the young lord. The horror which was expressed
to me at the evil thing I had done, in giving the girl to the tailor,
was the strongest testimony I could receive of the merits of the
story.

I went to Australia chiefly in order that I might see my son among
his sheep. I did see him among his sheep, and remained with him for
four or five very happy weeks. He was not making money, nor has he
made money since. I grieve to say that several thousands of pounds
which I had squeezed out of the pockets of perhaps too liberal
publishers have been lost on the venture. But I rejoice to say that
this has been in no way due to any fault of his. I never knew a man
work with more persistent honesty at his trade than he has done.

I had, however, the further intentions of writing a book about the
entire group of Australasian Colonies; and in order that I might be
enabled to do that with sufficient information, I visited them all.
Making my head-quarters at Melbourne, I went to Queensland, New South
Wales, Tasmania, then to the very little known territory of Western
Australia, and then, last of all, to New Zealand. I was absent in all
eighteen months, and think that I did succeed in learning much of the
political, social, and material condition of these countries. I wrote
my book as I was travelling, and brought it back with me to England
all but completed in December, 1872.

It was a better book than that which I had written eleven years
before on the American States, but not so good as that on the West
Indies in 1859. As regards the information given, there was much more
to be said about Australia than the West Indies. Very much more is
said, - and very much more may be learned from the latter than from
the former book. I am sure that any one who will take the trouble to
read the book on Australia, will learn much from it. But the West
Indian volume was readable. I am not sure that either of the other
works are, in the proper sense of that word. When I go back to them
I find that the pages drag with me; - and if so with me, how must it
be with others who have none of that love which a father feels even
for his ill-favoured offspring. Of all the needs a book has the chief
need is that it be readable.

Feeling that these volumes on Australia were dull and long, I was
surprised to find that they had an extensive sale. There were, I
think, 2000 copies circulated of the first expensive edition; and
then the book was divided into four little volumes, which were
published separately, and which again had a considerable circulation.
That some facts were stated inaccurately, I do not doubt; that many
opinions were crude, I am quite sure; that I had failed to understand
much which I attempted to explain, is possible. But with all these
faults the book was a thoroughly honest book, and was the result of
unflagging labour for a period of fifteen months. I spared myself
no trouble in inquiry, no trouble in seeing, and no trouble in
listening. I thoroughly imbued my mind with the subject, and wrote
with the simple intention of giving trustworthy information on
the state of the Colonies. Though there be inaccuracies, - those
inaccuracies to which work quickly done must always be subject, - I
think I did give much valuable information.

I came home across America from San Francisco to New York, visiting
Utah and Brigham Young on the way. I did not achieve great intimacy
with the great polygamist of the Salt Lake City. I called upon
him, sending to him my card, apologising for doing so without an
introduction, and excusing myself by saying that I did not like to
pass through the territory without seeing a man of whom I had heard
so much. He received me in his doorway, not asking me to enter, and
inquired whether I were not a miner. When I told him that I was not
a miner, he asked me whether I earned my bread. I told him I did.
"I guess you're a miner," said he. I again assured him that I was
not. "Then how do you earn your bread?" I told him that I did so by
writing books. "I'm sure you're a miner," said he. Then he turned
upon his heel, went back into the house, and closed the door. I was
properly punished, as I was vain enough to conceive that he would
have heard my name.

I got home in December, 1872, and in spite of any resolution made to
the contrary, my mind was full of hunting as I came back. No real


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