Old and New Masters eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 226 pages of information about Old and New Masters.
easily forget Admiral Baldwin.  I never saw quite so wretched an example of what a sea-faring life can do; but to a degree, I know, it is the same with them all; they are all knocked about, and exposed to every climate and every weather, till they are not fit to be seen.  It is a pity they are not knocked on the head at once, before they reach Admiral Baldwin’s age.

That, I think, is an excellent example of Miss Austen’s genius for making her characters talk.  Luckily, conversation was still formal in her day, and it was as possible for her as for Congreve to make middling men and women talk first-rate prose.  She did more than this, however.  She was the first English novelist before Meredith to portray charming women with free personalities.  Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse have an independence (rare in English fiction) of the accident of being fallen in love with.  Elizabeth is a delightful prose counterpart of Beatrice.

Miss Austen has another point of resemblance to Meredith besides that which I have mentioned.  She loves to portray men puffed up with self-approval.  She, too, is a satirist of the male egoist.  Her books are the most finished social satires in English fiction.  They are so perfect in the delicacy of their raillery as to be charming.  One is conscious in them, indeed, of the presence of a sparkling spirit.  Miss Austen comes as near being a star as it is possible to come in eighteenth-century conversational prose.  She used to say that, if ever she should marry, she would fancy being Mrs. Crabbe.  She had much of Crabbe’s realism, indeed; but what a dance she led realism with the mocking light of her wit!

III

MR. G.K.  CHESTERTON AND MR. HILAIRE BELLOC

1.  THE HEAVENLY TWINS

It was Mr. Shaw who, in the course of a memorable controversy, invented a fantastic pantomime animal, which he called the “Chester-Belloc.”  Some such invention was necessary as a symbol of the literary comradeship of Mr. Hilaire Belloc and Mr. Gilbert Chesterton.  For Mr. Belloc and Mr. Chesterton, whatever may be the dissimilarities in the form and spirit of their work, cannot be thought of apart from each other.  They are as inseparable as the red and green lights of a ship:  the one illumines this side and the other that, but they are both equally concerned with announcing the path of the good ship “Mediaevalism” through the dangerous currents of our times.  Fifty years ago, when philology was one of the imaginative arts, it would have been easy enough to gain credit for the theory that they are veritable reincarnations of the Heavenly Twins going about the earth with corrupted names.  Chesterton is merely English for Castor, and Belloc is Pollux transmuted into French.  Certainly, if the philologist had also been an evangelical Protestant, he would have felt a double confidence in identifying the two authors with Castor and Pollux as the

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Old and New Masters from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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