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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 560 pages of information about Famous Reviews.
geologise, and take ether with our fellow Christians for a twelvemonth, as we might sit cross-legged and smoke the pipe of fraternity with a Turk for the same period—­and know at the end of the time as little of the real feelings of the one as we should about the domestic relations of the other.  But there are ways and means for lifting the veil which equally favour our national idiosyncrasy; and a new and remarkable novel is one of them—­especially the nearer it comes to real life.  We invite our neighbour to a walk with the deliberate and malicious object of getting thoroughly acquainted with him.  We ask no impertinent questions—­ we proffer no indiscreet confidences—­we do not even sound him, ever so delicately, as to his opinion of a common friend, for he would be sure not to say, lest we should go and tell; but we simply discuss Becky Sharp, or Jane Eyre, and our object is answered at once.

There is something about these two new and noticeable characters which especially compels everybody to speak out.  They are not to be dismissed with a few commonplace moralities and sentimentalities.  They do not fit any ready-made criticism.  They give the most stupid something to think of, and the most reserved something to say; the most charitable too are betrayed into home comparisons which they usually condemn, and the most ingenious stumble into paradoxes which they can hardly defend.  Becky and Jane also stand well side by side both in their analogies and their contrasts.  Both the ladies are governesses, and both make the same move in society; the one, in Jane Eyre phraseology, marrying her “master,” and the other her master’s son.  Neither starts in life with more than a moderate capital of good looks—­Jane Eyre with hardly that—­for it is the fashion now-a-days with novelists to give no encouragement to the insolence of mere beauty, but rather to prove to all whom it may concern how little a sensible woman requires to get on with in the world.  Both have also an elfish kind of nature, with which they divine the secrets of other hearts, and conceal those of their own; and both rejoice in that peculiarity of feature which Mademoiselle de Luzy has not contributed to render popular, viz., green eyes.  Beyond this, however, there is no similarity either in the minds, manners, or fortunes of the two heroines.  They think and act upon diametrically opposite principles—­ at least so the author of “Jane Eyre” intends us to believe—­and each, were they to meet, which we should of all things enjoy to see them do, would cordially despise and abominate the other.  Which of the two, however, would most successfully dupe the other is a different question, and one not so easy to decide; though we have our own ideas upon the subject.

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