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offspring of a secret amour between a gay officer and the sister of Miss Barbary, afterwards the great Lady Dedlock. When this sad though secret stain was cast on the character of the family, Miss Barbary, tearing herself from an ardent attachment, and sacrificing the happiness of her life, retired into obscurity, taking under her charge her sister's hapless child, whom she brought up in concealment, leading her sister to believe that she was dead. Miss Barbary was a “good, good woman-she went to church three times every Sunday, and to morning prayers on Wednesdays and Fridays, and to lectures whenever there were lectures, and never missed.” This good, good woman is represented as the most austere, cold, forbidding being possible; she never smiled; never tried to make the young child happy; turned her birthday into the most gloomy and miserable day of the year; treated her as one who, being born in no common sinfulness and wrath, seemed called by divine appointment to a life of misery, and destined, in her own sufferings, to expiate the offence of her mother. Kindness to such a child would have been a sin. For such a child to be brought up in joyfulness would have been an outrage on all proper feeling. Her maid, Mrs Rachael, “ another good woman,' displayed her goodness by similar coldness and austerity.
Next comes Mrs Jellyby, a name which has already become almost a household word. Mrs Jellyby figures rather as a philanthropist than a religious character. She is the mainspring of the great scheme for cultivating coffee, and educating the natives of Borrioboola-Gha, on the left bank of the Niger. To this scheme she devotes her unwearied energies, by day and by night. Engaged in an endless correspondence, with her miserable first-born daughter for her amanuensis,-ever despatching circulars and receiving letters,—directing the proceedings of ladies' auxiliaries, and answering the inquiries of all and sundry persons interested in the cultivation of coffee and natives,—she really is, as she expresses it, devoted to the cause. Her domestic establishment is left, accordingly, to take care of itself; and everything, animate and inanimate, bears the most deplorable traces of neglect. Fortunate is Mr Jellyby when, at breakfast-time, or what should be breakfasttime, he is able to secure a morsel of bread and a mouthful of milk; and happy he well may be if dinner be ready within an hour of the proper time. Drunken servants and dirty apartments, -grates without fires, and candles without snuffers,— ragged and dirty children, without education, who may tumble down stairs, or go amissing, or get their heads stuck fast in the railings, without exciting the attention, far less disturbing the equanimity, of the great philanthropist, their mother,-such are the prominent features of her establishment. A charity so
expansive as hers cannot settle on her own home—she can see nothing nearer than Africa.
Mrs Pardiggle is the friend of Mrs Jellyby, but directs her chief efforts to the regeneration of the home population. This personage seems intended as a representative of those ladies who visit among the poor, and make use of religious tracts, among other things, as an agency of good. She is a bold, knock-down sort of woman, with spectacles, loud voice, and prominent nose. Her five boys hate her, of course, with a hearty hatred, the more especially that, after tantalising them with the show or semblance of pocket-money, she forces it back from them, and informs the world how“Egbert, my eldest (twelve), is the boy who sent out his pocket-money, to the amount of five-andthreepence, to the Tockahoopo Indians; Oswald, my second (ten-and-a-half), is the child who contributed two-and-ninepence to the Great National Smithers Testimonial; Francis, my third (nine), one-and-sixpence-halfpenny; Felix, my fourth (seven), eightpence to the superannuated widows; Alfred, my youngest (five), has voluntarily enrolled himself in the Infant Bonds of Joy, and is pledged never, through life, to use tobacco in any form.” These unhappy boys are her constant attendants; unlike Mrs Jellyby, whose family do as they please, Mrs Pardiggle is most careful to train her sons to usefulness. Avoiding play and all that is frivolous, she takes them with her to matins at half-past six o'clock in the morning, all the year round; and as she is a school lady, a visiting lady, a reading lady, a distributing lady,—as she is on the local Linen Box Committee, and on many general committees, and the boys go with her every where, they do not want for exercise. To make us acquainted with her visiting operations, we have the privilege of accompanying her to a bricklayer's cottage. The bricklayer lies on the dirty floor, his wife has a blue eye, and the infant in her arms is dying. Rough, boisterous, and irritating in her tone and manner, Mrs Pardiggle rouses the insolent rage of the bricklayer, and fails, by any kind word or deed, to get near the heart of the unfortunate mother. To make the case look as badly as possible for the pious lady, two young ladies, who have accompanied Mrs Pardiggle, and who make no pretensions to evangelical religion, remain behind to comfort the mother; and by their kind sympathy and aid entirely win her heart, and even soften that of the ruffian bricklayer.
Then we have Mrs Snagsby—the little wife of Snagsby, the law-stationer, the mistress of " Guster," the girl from the poor-house who takes fits, and the admiring worshipper of the Rev. Mr Chadband, whose expositions and discourses are in her eyes the very perfection of talent, eloquence, and piety. In the words of her meek, hen-pecked husband, Mrs Snagsby likes
" to take her religion sharp,”—a sentiment in which the unfortunate Guster would be very sure to coincide. She is not in general partial to strangers, “ particular when they want any thing;“ nor is she at all disposed to countenance any of Mr Snagsby's acts of charity, who, literally, in giving his alms, must not let his right hand know what his left hand doeth. Mrs Snagsby“ has recently taken a passage upwards by the vessel Chadband;" and the style and temper of the religion she has acquired may be sufficiently gathered from her angry reply to Mr Snagsby, when he ventures to remark that Mr Chadband is behind his time, “ What's time,” says Mrs Snagsby, “ to eternity ?”
But in every coarse and hateful feature-physical, mental, and moral -- all the other “religious characters” of Bleak House are fairly outdone by the Rev. Mr Chadband. For our own part, we were quite prepared for this; for it seems to be quite a standing rule with writers of fiction, when a popular minister is to sit for his portrait, to exhaust every odious and disgusting colour in delineating it. First of all, a name of the most uncouth description is coined for him, like the Gabriel Kettledrummles or Habakkuk Mucklewraths of "O!d Mortality;"* to increase the feeling against him, his personal appearance is described as most ungainly and repulsive; coarse and vulgar personal habits are ascribed to him ; ne is made to speak, or rather to snivel, in illiterate and pharisaical cant; and, as to his moral qualities, they are almost invariably a combination of meanness, avarice, greed, cowardice, cruelty, and pride. The Rev. Mr Chadband is exactly such a character. He is a “large, yellow man, with a fat smile, and a general appearance of having a good deal of train-oil in his system. He moves softly and cumbrously, very much like a bear who has been taught to walk. He is very much embarrassed about the arms, as if they were inconvenient to him, and he wanted to grovel; is very much in a perspiration about the head; and never speaks without first putting up his great hand, as delivering a token to his hearers that he is going to edify them." He is introduced in the act of attempting to cheat a cabman, and his two great accomplishments are eating and exhorting. Whatever may be thought of his gifts in the latter department, there can be but one opinion of his powers in the former. He is described as a sort of oil-mill for the conversion of nutriment of all sorts into train-oil, and as such he does such a powerful stroke of business, that, when the works cease, the warehouse appears to be quite full. His exhortations are the quintessence of silliness and absurdity. He is an empty, conceited, disgusting fool.
* Among many other instances of the violation of historical truth in “Old Mortality," Dr M'Crie points out the fact that scriptural names, like Gabriel, Habakkuk, Silas, &c., were not in common use among the Scotch Covenanters, as Sir Walter Scott would insinuate. Sir Walter's description of the personal appearance of Graham of Claverhouse, to whom he attributes every winning grace and almost feminine beauty, is greatly exagerated, and is obviously introduced with the view of interesting the reader in that atrocious character, and forniing a striking contrast with the Covenanters, who are represented, both in appearance and in disposition, as utter savages. Sir Walter has frequent ailusions to the English Prayer Book, although no liturgy was used, even by the curates in Scotland, during the prevalence of Prelacy under Charles II. and James II.
Leaving the religious characters of Mr Dickens, let us examine a similar portrait by another artist. The Rev. Mr Chadband bears so close a family resemblance to the Missionary from New Zealand in “ Alton Locke,” and thereby affords 80 clear a proof of our remark as to the coarseness of ministerial portraits in works of fiction, that we shall transcribe the passage in which that gentleman is described by the “ Tailor and Poet." *
“My heart was in my mouth as I opened the door, and sunk back again to the very lowest depths of my inner man, when my eyes fell on the face and figure of the missionary,—a squat, red-faced, pigeyed, low-browed man, with great, soft lips that opened back to his very ears; sensuality, conceit, and cunning marked on every feature an innate vulgarity, from which the artizan and the child recoil with an instinct as true, perhaps truer, than that of the courtier, showing itself in every tone and motion. I shrunk into a corner, so crestfallen that I could not even exert myself to hand round the bread and butter, for which I got duly scolded afterwards. Oh that man ! how he bawled and contradicted, and laid down the law, and spoke to my mother in a fondling, patronising way, which made me, I know not why, boil over with jealousy and indignation. How he filled his teacup half full of the white sugar, to buy which my mother had curtailed her yesterday's dinner,-how he drained the few remaining drops of the three-pennyworth of cream, with which Susan was stealing off to keep it as an unexpected treat for my mother at breakfast the next morning,-how he talked of the natives, not as St Paul might of his converts, but as a planter might of his slaves, overlaying all his unintentional confessions of his own greed and prosperity with cant, flimsy enough for even a boy to see through, while his eyes were not blinded with the superstition that a man must be pious who sufficiently interlards his speech with a jumble of old English picked out of our translation of the New Testament. Such was the man I saw. I don't deny that all are not like him. I believe there are noble men of all denominations doing their best, according to their light, all over the world; but such was the man I saw, and the men who are sent home to plead the missionary cause, whatever the men may be like who stay be
* Though the spirit of “ Alton Locke" bears a painfully close resemblance to that of " Bleak House and « The Newcomes." as to evangelical religion. we have not placed ir, along with these, at the head of our article, because the peculiar views fought to be developed there, render some of our remarks not strictly appropriate to it. It would be easy to enumerate many other popular works, characterised by the same spirit, both among the higher and the lower productions of the press,
hind and work, are, from my small experience, too often such. It appears to me to be ihe rule, that many of those who go abroad as missionaries, go simply because they are men of such inferior powers and attainments, that if they stayed in England they would starve.” *
We can believe that our readers are as tired of this portrait-gallery as we are ; yet before leaving it we must glance at the productions, in the same line, of another writer, who divides with Mr Dickens the renown and popularity of our most successful writers of fiction—we mean Mr Thackeray. The Newcomes, as we have said, is Mr Thackeray's latest work; and we do not need to go beyond its first number for proof that the hatred of true godliness, apparent in his earlier books, suffers no abatement with the lapse of time. We regard it as an indirect, though pretty decisive evidence, that evangelical truth is making progress in the upper ranks of society in England, that nearly the whole of the intelligible part of that number (for a portion of it is in the form of an allegory which no one can comprehend) is occupied with a caricature of evangelical religion. There is more openness in the attacks of this writer on religion than in those of Mr Dickens. Mr Thackeray almost scorns to conceal his purpose to hold up Exeter Hall to universal ridicule, with its frequenters and adherents of every name and denomination. Mrs Sophia Alethea Hobson or Newcome was a wealthy and eminent Christian lady, christened by Mr Whitefield himself, and whose magnificent mansion at Clapham was ever the resort of the most eloquent expounders, the most gifted missionaries, and the most interesting converts. For reasons that may be guessed, Mr Thomas Newcome, first a clerk, and then a partner in her uncle's house, begins to attend her meeting, becomes an “awakened" man, and wins the great City prize, with a fortune of a quarter of a million. “To attend to the interests of the enslaved negro; to awaken the benighted Hottentot to a sense of the truth; to convert Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Papists; to arouse the indifferent and often blasphemous mariner ; to guide the washerwoman in the right way; to head all the public charities of her sect, and do a thousand of secret kindnesses that none knew of; to answer myriads of letters; pension endless ministers, and supply their teeming wives with continuous baby-linen ; to hear preachers daily bawling for hours, and listen untired on her knees, after a long day's labour, while florid rhapsodists belaboured cushions above her with wearisome benedictions:"—such were the employments of this great pillar of the truth, and patronsaint of Exeter Hall. Her reverend satellites are drawn in
* Alton Locke, vol. i., pp. 16-18.