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success, and then said : “But, Mr. Collins, the great failure of your book is your villain. Your Count Fosco is a very poor one, and when next you want a character
hat description, I trust that you will not disdain to come to me. I know a villain, and have one in my eye at this moment that would far eclipse anything that I have read in your books. Don't think that I am drawing upon my imagination. The man is alive and constantly under my gaze. In fact, he is my own husband." The lady was the wife of Bulwer-Lytton. -Sewance Review. Fielding.– While the
very particularly pure custodians of various public libraries are busily engaged in throwing Fieiding's “ Tom Jones " into the garbage can it is worth noting that the story was originally accepted for publication upon the advice of
Andrew Millar the publisher, and after reading the manuscript he handed it to his wife for her opinion, as was the worthy man's invariable custom with the lighter forms of literature. Mrs. Millar praised it highly and advised her husband upon no account to neglect such an opportunity. Mainly on the strength of this advice Millar offered Fielding $3,000 for the manuscript, a large
prices then went, but he actually made $90,000 profit from the sale, and out of the goodness of his heart he paid the author an additional $10,000 over and above the original price. The Argonaut.
Parker. Interesting information about Sir Gilbert Parker's methods of literary work is given in the several prefaces that he has written for the Imperial edition of his works.
"Most of the novels and most of the short stories,” he says, “were suggested by incidents characters which I had known, had heard of intimately, or, as in the case of the historical novels, had read of in the works of historians. In no are the main characters drawn absolutely from life ; they are not portraits ; and the proof oi that is that no one has ever been able to identily absolutely any single character in my books. . . . As will be noticed
in the introductions and original notes to several of my books, I have declared that they possess anachronisms ; that they are pot portraits of people living or dead and that they only pretend to be in harmony with the spirit of men and times and things. Perhaps in the first few pages of 'The Right of Way' I came nearer to portraiture than in any other of my books, but it was only the nucleus, if I may say, of a larger development, which the original Charley Steele never attained. In the novel he grew to represent infinitely more than the original ever represented in his short life.
“So far as my literary work is concerned, * Pierre and His People’ may be likened to
new city built upon the ashes of an old which a fire had destroyed. Let me explain : While I was in Australia I began a series of short stories and sketches of life in Canada which I called Pike Pole Sketches on the Madawaska.' A very few of them were published in Australia in the Sydney Mail, and I brought with England in 1889 about twenty of them to make into volume. I told Archibald Forbes, the great war correspondent, of my wish for publication and asked him if he would mind reading the sketches and stories before I approached a publisher. His verdict was : 'Those stories, Parker — you have the best collection of titles I have ever known.' He paused. I got to my feet. I understood. To his mind the tales did not live up to their titles. He hastily added :
But I am going to give you a letter of introduction to Macmillan. I may be wrong.' My reply was : "You need not give me a letter to Macmillan unless I write and ask you for it.'"
Sir Gilbert then goes on to tell how he put the manuscripts in the fire one by one and watched them burn. The next day he stood before a theatrical second-hand shop in Covent Garden. “In the window there was the uniform of an officer of the time of Wellington, and beside it - the leather coat and fur cap of a trapper of the Hudson's Bay Company! At that window I commenced to build again upon the ashes of last night's fire. Pretty Pierre, the French halfbreed, or rather the original of him as I
knew him when a child, looked out of the window at me. So I went home, and sitting in front of the fire which had received my beloved manuscript the night before, with a pad upon my knee, I began to write the story which opens · Pierre and His People,' called “The Patrol of the Cypress Hills.''
The idea for the historical novel, “The Seats of the Mighty," came, Sir Gilbert says, from a little volume of memoirs :
It was in the winter of 1892, when on a visit to French Canada, that I made up my mind I would write the volume which the public knows as 'The Seats of the Mighty,' but I did not begin the composition until early in 1894. It was finished by the beginning of February, 1895, and began to appear in the Atlantic Monthly in March of that year. It was not my first attempt at historical fiction, because I had written “The Trail of the Sword' in the year 1893, but it was the first effort on an ambitious scale, and the writing of it was attended with as much searching of heart as enthusiasm. I had long been saturated by the early history of French Canada, as perhaps ‘The Trail oi the Sword' bore witness, and particularly of the period of the Conquest, and I longed for a subject which would in effect compel me to write, for I have strong views upon this business of compulsion in the mind of the writer. Unless a thing has seized a man, has obsessed him, and he feels that it excludes all other temptations to his talent or his genius his book will not convince. Before all else he must himself be overpowered by the insistence of his subject, then intoxicated with his idea, and being still possessed become master of his material while remaining the slave of his subject. I believe that every book which has taken hold of the public has represented a kind of self-hypnotism on the part of the writer. I am further convinced that the ok which absorbs tlie author, which possesses him as he writes it, has the effect of isolating him into an atmosphere which is not sleep and which is not absolute wakeiulness but a place between the two where the working world is indistinct and the mind is swept along flood submerging the self-conscious but not
drowning into unconsciousness. Such, at any rate, is my own experience. I am convinced that the books of mine which have had so many friends as this book, "The Seats of the Mighty,' has had in the English-speaking world were written in just such conditions of temperamental isolation or absorption. First the subject, which must of itself have driving power, then the main character, which becomes a law working out its own destiny, and the subject in my own work has always been translatable into a phrase. Nearly every one of my books has always been reducible to its title.
For years I had wished to write a his. torical novel of the conquest of Canada or the settlement of the United Empire loyalists and the subsequent war of 1812, but the central idea and the central character had not come to me ; and without both and the driving power of a big idea and of a big character, a book did not seem to me possible. The human thing with the grip of real life was necessary.
At last, as pointed out in the prefatory note of the first edition, published in the spring of 1896, I ran across a tiny little volume in the library of George M. Fairchild, Jr., of Quebec, called “The Memoirs of Major Robert Stobo. It was published by John S. Davidson of Market street, Pittsburg, with an introduction by an editor who signed himself ‘N. B. C.'
· The Memoirs' proper contained about 17,000 words, the remaining 3,000 words being made up of abstracts and appendices collected by the editor. The narrative was written in a very ornate and grandiloquent style, but the hero of the memoirs was so evidently a of remarkable character, enterprise, and adventure that I saw in the few scattered bones of the story which he unfolded the skeleton of an ample historicai romance. There
to offset this buoyant and courageous Scotsman, adventurous and experienced, a character of the race which captured him and held him in leash till just before the taking of Quebec. I therefore found in the character of Dol. taire - which was the character of Vol. taire spelled with a big D - purely a creature of the imagination, one who, as the
son of a peasant woman and Louis XV., cabined, cribbed, and confined in one field ; should be effective offset to Major that I should not, as some other men have Stobo. There was no hint of Doltaire in done, wind in upon myself, until
at last the Memoirs.' There could not be, nor of each succeeding book would be but a variathe plot on which the story was based, be- tion of some previous book, and I should
it all imagination. Likewise, end by imitating myself, become the sacrithere was no mention of Alixe Duvarney in fice to the god of the pinhole. the ‘Memoirs,' nor of Bigot and Mme. “I was warned not to break away from Cournal and all the others. They, too, Canada ; but all my life I had been warned, when not characters of the imagination, and all my life I had followed my own conwere listed out of the history of the time ; victions. I would rather not have written but the first germ of the story came from another word than be corralled, bitted, sad• The Memoirs of Robert Stobo,' and when dled, and ridden by that heartless broncho 'The Seats of the Mighty' was first pub- buster the public, which wants a man who lished in the Atlantic Monthly the sub- has once pleased it to do the same thing title contained these words : ' Being the under the fret of whip and spur forever. Memoirs of Captain Robert Stobo, some- When I went to the Island of Jersey in time an officer in the Virginia Regiment, 1897 it was to shake myself free of what and afterward of Amherst's Regiment.' might become
obsession. ... “The title of the book was for long a Whatever may be thought of 'The Battle of trouble to me. Months went by before I the Strong, I have not yet met a Jerseyman could find what I wanted. Scores of titles who denies to it the atmosphere of the occurred to me, but each was rejected. At place. It could hardly have lacked it, for last, one day when I was being visited by there were twenty people, deeply intelligent, Grant Richards, since then a London pub- immensely interested in my design, and they lisher but at that time a writer who had were of Jersey families which had been there come to interview me for Great Thoughts, I for centuries. They helped me, they fed me told him of my difficulties regarding the with dialect, with local details, with memo. title. I was saying that I felt the title ries, with old letters, with diaries of their should be, as it were, the kernel of a book. forebears until if I had gone wrong it would I said : “You see, it is a struggle of one have been through lack of skill in handling simple girl against principalities and powers; my material. I do not think I went wrong, it is the final conquest of the good over the though I believe that I could construct the great. In other words, the book will be an book more effectively if I had to do it again. illustration of the text : He has put down Yet there is something in looseness of conthe mighty from their seats, and has ex: struction which gives an air of naturalness ; alted the humble and meek.”' Then, like a and it may be that this very looseness which fash, the title came — 'The Seats of the I notice in ‘The Battle of the Strong' has Mighty.'”
had something to do with giving it such a The Battle of the Strong" was written, great circle of readers, though this may apSir Gilbert says, as a protest and a deliver- pear paradoxical.”
He says of “ The Weavers":
“ When I · For seven years I had written continu
over the hundreds of pages of this ously of Canada, though some short stories book I have a feeling that I am looking of South Sea life, and the novel 'Mrs. upon something for which I have no parFalchion' had during that time issued from ticular responsibility, though it has a strange my pen. It looked as though I should be contour of familiarity. That distance bewriting of the far north all my liie. Edi- tween himself and his work which immetors had begun to take that view ; but from diately begins to grow as soon as a book the start it had never been my view. Even leaves the author's hands for those of the when writing ‘Pierre and His People' I public is a thing which I suppose must come
determined that I should be to one who produces a thing of the imagi
nation. It is no doubt due to the fact that every work of art which has individuality and real likeness to the scenes and character it is intended to depict is done in a kind of trance. The author, in effect, self-hypnotizes himself, has created an atmosphere which is separate and apart from that of his daily surroundings, but by virtue of his imagination becomes absorbed in that atmosphere. When the book is finished and it goes forth, when the imagination is relaxed and the concentration of the mind is withdrawn the atmosphere disappears, and so one experiences what I feel when I take up 'The Weavers, and in a sense wonder how it was done.
* Critics and readers have endeavored to identify the main characteristics of The Weavers' with figures in Anglo-Egyptian and official public life. David Claridge, was, however, a creature of the imagination. It has been said that he was drawn from General Gordon. I am not conscious of having taken Gordon for David's prototype, though as I was saturated with all that had been written about Gordon there is doubt that something of that great man may have found its way into the character of David Claridge. The true origin of David Claridge, however, may be found in a short story called 'All the World's Mad,' in • Donovan Pasha,' which was originally published by Lady Kandolph Churchill ambitious defunct magazine called the Anglo-Saxon Review. The truth is that David Claridge had his origin in a fairly close understanding of and interest in Quaker life. I had Quaker relatives through the marriage of a connection of my mother, and the original Ben Claridge, the uncle of David, is still alive, a very old man, but who appealed to me in my boyhood days, and who wore the broad brim and the straight preacher-like
of the old-fashioned Quaker. The grandmother of my wife was also a Quaker, and used the 'thee' and *thou' until the day of her death."
“When Valmond Came to Pontiac stands alone, says the author, being like nothing else he ever wrote, an historical fantasy. * The manus
nuscript of the book was
plete within four weeks. It possessed me. I wrote night and day. There were times when I went to bed and, unable to sleep, I would get up at two o'clock or three o'clock in the morning and write till breakfast time. A couple of hours' walk after breakfast and I would write again until nearly two o'clock, then luncheon ; a couple of hours in the open air and I would again write till eight o'clock in the evening. The world was shut out. I moved in a dream. The book was begun at Hot Springs. in. Virginia, in the annex to the old Hot Springs Hotel. I could not write in the hotel itself, so I went to the annex and in the big building - in the early springtime – I worked night and day. There was no one else in the place except the old negro caretaker and his wife. Four-fifths of the book was written in three weeks there. Then I went to New York and at the Lotos Club, where I had a room, I finished it — but no, not quite. There were a few pages of the book to do when I went for my walk in Fiith avenue one afternoon. I could not shake the thing off, the last pages demanded to be written. The sermon which the old
was preaching on Valmond's death was running in my head. I could not continue my walk. Then and there I stepped. into the Windsor Hotel, which I was passing, and asked if there was a stenographer liberty. There
In the stenographer's office of the Windsor Hotel, 'with the liie of a caravansery buzzing around nie, I dictated the last few pages of 'When Valmond Came to Pontiac.' It was practically my only experience of dictation of fiction. I had never been able to do it and have not been able to do it since, and I am glad that it is so, for I should have a fear of being. led into rhetoric and fatai Auency. It did not, however, seem to matter with this book. It wrote itseli anywhere. The proois of the first quarter of the book were in my hands before I had finished writing the last quarter.
“ It took me a long time to recover from the terrific effort of that five weeks, but I never regretted those consuming fires which burned up sleep and energy and ravaged the vitality of my imagination. The
book was founded on the incident described in the first pages of the book, which was practically as I experienced it when I was a little child."
“ This at least can be said of all my books, that not a page of them lias ever been written to order, and there is not a story published in all the pages bearing my name which does not represent two
or three stories rejected by myself.”
CURRENT LITERARY TOPICS.
Readiog Inspiration for Writing. Writers of the hour are sometimes heard to say that they refrain from reading overmuch lest they lose their own style or originality. But the overwhelming weight of testimony is on the side of wide reading as the strongest incentive to original writing. Every great book has looked back to literature preceding it. The Bible itself is a chain of great books, one growing naturally out of those before it. From this great example down, every great utterance on earth has been the normal outgrowth of that which was before it, pointing to the unity of all true thinking and the steady progress of human understanding in all the different lines of its activity. We find Dante giving all honor to Virgil, who is his guide through those remarkable passages that explain the intimate relation of sin and its punishment, and that were to the great poet not literalism, but a vivid symbolism. Shakspere used many plays and stories that preceded him for his plots and characters, and critics sometimes are heard to deny him the merit of originality on this account. The great “Ring” of Wagner is his interpretation of the famous German epic of the Nibelungs. Tennyson and Browning are full of old literature. Glancing again at the classics we see Virgil writing out of the tales of Homer, and all the great Greek dramatists looking to Homer for their heroes and heroines. Homer's poems were of course the gathering together of old folk-lore, and the songs of the rhapsodists who were before him
It is doubtless true that to do nothing but read destroys originality of thought.
Dramatic Action. “ One of the weaknesses of most people who write and talk about dramatic subjects,” says Augustus Thomas, “is that they fail to appreciate that action may be mental as well as physical. They seem to consider that the only real action is to be found when the players are excitedly rushing about the stage. But the mental revelation, the mental shock, of the man confronted with a vital problem may constitute action stronger and deeper than any mere physical activity.” – New York Times.
The Slavery of Rhymes. – Some mispronunciations of to-day once enjoyed the highest standing; we must not think that Shakspere was sinning when he rhymed groin, swine. Indeed, oi, like long i (as in ice), survived regularly through the eighteenth century.
When a country-woman of our time watches the kettle bile or jines the church, she has behind her Cowley's join. vino; Gray's shine, join; Pope's join, divine; Dryden's join, design; Addison's find, joined; Coleridge's joined, mind; Wordsworth's, joined, kind, and Byron's aisles, toils. Indeed, so late a writer as Bulwer gives us mind, enjoined, which sounds as dialectical as Gray's toil, smile. It is no wonder that Joel Barlow, the author of our own great typographical epic, “ The Columbiad," jined join and divine. - Yale Review.