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Recalls the treasures of his narrow life,
She is remembered now, however, by her minor poems and songs, such as “Love Not,” “I Dream't But 'Twas a Dream,” “The Fairy Bells,” “Bingen on the Rhine,” “We Have Been Friends Together,” and “The Arab's Farewell to His Horse.”
The heroine of George Meredith's brilliant novel, “Diana of the Crossways,” has generally been supposed to have been drawn from Mrs. Norton. One of the principal incidents in that story is the betrayal of a cabinet secret to a newspaper. This was a charge once made against Lady Caroline, who, it was said, obtained a political secret from one of her admirers, who was a member of the ministry of Sir Robert Peel, and disclosed it to the editor of the Times.
Henry Reeve in his memoirs fully exculpates Lady Caroline from this accusation, and it is now well settled that the so-called secret was obtained by the Times through a different channel. Meredith has also disclaimed that Lady Caroline was the prototype of his heroine, but there are undoubted resemblances.
“I should be very sorry,” writes John Ruskin in the appendix to the third volume of “Modern Painters,” “if I had not been continually taught and influenced by the writers whom I love ; and am quite unable to say to what extent my thoughts have been guided by Wordsworth, Carlyle and Helps, to whom (with Dante and George Herbert in olden time) I owe more than to any other writers.” And again he says: “There are things which I hope are said more clearly and simply than before, owing to the influence upon me of the beautiful, quiet English of Helps.”
Praise from such a quarter is praise indeed, and makes it well worth any reader's time to study for himself the works of him whom so great a writer as Ruskin calls one of his masters.
Arthur Helps was born in England in the year 1819 and died in 1875. His life was uneventful. Literature was not his profession, but his leisure
was spent among books, and he had intense delight in writing. After holding various stations he became clerk of the Privy Council, and his official duties brought him near the Queen and gave him intimate relations with the great men of all parties. He acquired consequently a large knowledge of public affairs, and had he entered upon parliamentary life would have reached great eminence as a Statesman. He chose to be a philanthropist and all his writings have a purpose. His heart was full of love for man, and he desired to make him better. Next to his love of man was his love of books. His writings are numerous and comprise a history, many volumes of essays—most of them interspersed with dialogue—three or four dramas, as many fictions and a biography. During his life he had many readers in England and at the time of his death his popularity was rapidly growing in this country. In recent years he has gone somewhat out of fashion, but no one can read the most insignificant of his writings without being fascinated with the beauty of his style and impressed by the weight of his thought. The works by which he is best known are “Friends in Council,” “Companions of My Solitude,” and “Realmah.” These peculiarly
exhibit his originality of style and thought. His diction is idiomatic, rhythmic, graceful, aphoristic —full of sharp and fascinating turns of imagery —with gleams of humor and quiet irony. His choice of words and epithets is exquisite, and his felicities of expression endless. The praise that Johnson gave to Addison is not too great for these writings, and might well be amended to read : Whoever wishes to attain an English style familiar, but not coarse, and elegant, but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Arthur Helps. “Friends in Council " purports to be edited by an old clergyman named Dunsford, who meets to pass summer evenings with two old college pupils, Ellesmere, a lawyer, and Milverton, a writer and politician. There is a page or two of introduction, informing the reader of what is necessary to know concerning these “Friends,” and then Milverton reads an essay. This is followed by a discussion of the subject and merits of the essay. These conversations form a very agreeable portion of the work and show a fine mastery of the art of dialogue. They are exactly like the discourse of intelligent and educated men and exhibit the characteristics of the individual speakers ; the robust and vigorous intellect of Ellesmere ; the benevolence and