Miss Bretherton eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 213 pages of information about Miss Bretherton.

Miss Bretherton eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 213 pages of information about Miss Bretherton.

Title:  Miss Bretherton

Author:  Mrs. Humphry Ward

Release Date:  September 11, 2004 [EBook #13432]

Language:  English

Character set encoding:  ASCII

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By Mrs. Humphry ward



It ought to be stated that the account of the play Elvira, given in Chapter VII. of the present story, is based upon an existing play, the work of a little known writer of the Romantic time, whose short, brilliant life came to a tragical end in 1836.

M. A. W.


So many criticisms, not of a literary but of a personal kind, have been made on this little book since its appearance, that I may perhaps be allowed a few words of answer to them in the shape of a short preface to this new edition.  It has been supposed that because the book describes a London world, which is a central and conspicuous world with interests and activities of a public and prominent kind, therefore all the characters in it are drawn from real persons who may be identified if the seeker is only clever enough.  This charge of portraiture is constantly brought against the novelist, and it is always a difficult one to meet; but one may begin by pointing out that, in general, it implies a radical misconception of the story-teller’s methods of procedure.  An idea, a situation, is suggested to him by real life, he takes traits and peculiarities from this or that person whom he has known or seen, but this is all.  When he comes to write—­unless, of course, it is a case of malice and bad faith—­the mere necessities of an imaginative effort oblige him to cut himself adrift from reality.  His characters become to him the creatures of a dream, as vivid often as his waking life, but still a dream.  And the only portraits he is drawing are portraits of phantoms, of which the germs were present in reality, but to which he himself has given voice, garb, and action.

So the present little sketch was suggested by real life; the first hint for it was taken from one of the lines of criticism—­not that of the author—­adopted towards the earliest performances of an actress who, coming among us as a stranger a year and a half ago, has won the respect and admiration of us all.  The share in dramatic success which, in this country at any rate, belongs to physical gift and personal charm; the effect of the public sensitiveness to both, upon the artist and upon art; the difference between French and English dramatic ideals; these were

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