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Guide to George Meredith

Updated on August 20, 2013

George Meredith

George Meredith (1828-1909) was a Victorian novelist and poet and, while overshadowed by Dickens, Bronte, Doyle, and Thackeray to name a few, he is often considered the most sophisticated of them all.


If you have read (or drank) all of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, perhaps you are ready to try a stiffer brew.

George Meredith:

"Cynicism is intellectual dandyism."

News & Notes

Either all my other lenses have fallen in relation to this lens or this lens about George Meredith has snuck up the list in stealth. This is now my fourth most popular lens and it is now getting slow but steady traffic. Will wonders never cease?

portrait by William Strang

Diana of the Crossways

Diana of the Crossways
Diana of the Crossways

at age 69

at age 69
at age 69

The Egoist

The Egoist
The Egoist

with J. M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan)

with J. M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan)
with J. M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan)

at age 35

at age 35
at age 35

Notable Characters

Notable Characters

Sir Willoughby Patterne - The epitome of vanity and self-centeredness, tries to dominate all around him.

Everard Romfrey - The Honourable Everard Romfrey came of a race of fighting earls, toughest of men.

Diana Merion Warwick - A witty, charming, and beautiful woman. She is a person who makes mistakes because she does not believe that the conventional thing is always the right thing.

Clara Middleton – Mrs. Mountstuart Jenkinson’s description is “A dainty rogue in porcelain.” Meredith describes her as with the mouth that smiles in repose, the eyelids lifted slightly at the outer corners, the equable shut mouth and her walking as insufferably fair, in a dress cunning to embrace the shape and flutter loose about it like the spirit of a summer's day, trailing her garlands and moving as if she were driving the clouds before her, a sight to set the woodland dancing.

Laetitia Dale - An intelligent young woman: “Here she comes with a romantic tale on her eyelashes.”

Cecilia Halkett – “a girl like Cecilia Halkett — one can't call her a girl, and it won't do to say goddess, and queen and charmer are out of the question, though she's both, and angel into the bargain; but, by George! what a woman to call wife, you say; and a man attached to a woman like that never can let himself look small”

Renée de Croisnel - decidedly the most feminine and interesting female character in one Meredith novel

The Fiction

The Fiction

The Shaving of Shagpat - Arabian Nights tale

Sandra Belloni - woods in England at evening

Vittoria - complex plot, multiplicity of characters, the sequel to Sandra Belloni

Harry Richmond - extravagant novel featuring the characters Richmond Roy and Squire Beltham

The Amazing Marriage - one character is modeled on Robert Louis Stevenson

Evan Harrington - about snobbery

Rhoda Fleming - published in 1865

One of Our Conquerors - mentioned elsewhere in this lens

The Tragic Comedians - the least comic of all Meredith's novels

The Egoist - Meredith's masterpiece

Beauchamp's Career - Meredith's own favorite of his novels

Diana of the Crossways - the most popular of Meredith's novels

The Case of General Ople and Lady Camper - a little gem

Farina: a Legend of Cologne - Oddly enough, this is NOT about Farina, the Little Rascals / Our Gang character nor is it about perfume. Shocking! For these two reasons, this is Meredith's most hated novel.

Lord Ormont and His Aminta - about the relationship of the individual and social events

Lord Ormont and His Aminta

Lord Ormont and His Aminta
Lord Ormont and His Aminta

Sandra Belloni

Sandra Belloni
Sandra Belloni

The Ordeal of Richard Feverel

The Ordeal of Richard Feverel
The Ordeal of Richard Feverel

The Ordeal of Richard Feveral by George Meredith (Excerpt)

Music: Dance 8 from "Dance pieces" by Philip Glass

Painting: "The Wanderer" by Caspar David Friedrich


This passage (read by ArethusaArose) is from George Mereith's earliest works of fiction and not at all his best works, but it does hint at the lyrical beauty that he went on to produce in his later works. This particular scene passage is referenced in E.M. Forster's novel "Howards End" and pays a quietly crucial part in our understanding of one of the key characters in the film; one Mr. Leonard Bast. The book, "The Ordeal of Richard Feverel" was produced as a TV movie in 1964.

The Shaving of Shagpat

The Shaving of Shagpat
The Shaving of Shagpat

The Tragic Comedians

The Tragic Comedians
The Tragic Comedians



George Meredith:

"Each one of an affectionate couple may be willing, as we say, to die for the other, yet unwilling to utter the agreeable word at the right moment."

George Meredith adaptations

Here's a thought. We Meredith fans ought to lobby the fellow who does all the adaptations of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens for PBS, BBC and A&E into doing adaptations of Meredith novels. Now that he has practiced on them, he is ready for some really hard work.

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality - Vote in our poll

I want to see film adaptations of George Meredith's works

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How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

Take a Meredith novel and adapt it into a high school play or community theater play or little theater play or college play or summer stock. This exposure will give people the idea to stage off-Broadway and eventually Broadway productions. Hollywood often gets ideas for movies from successful Broadway plays.

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

Write a screenplay based on a Meredith novel and pitch it to studios and productions companies.

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

Write a shooting script and produce it yourself.

Please forgive the visual joke.

[ It could have been worse, could have referenced "The Producers" with Zero Mostel. ]

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

Assuming the reactionaries don't succeed in killing PBS, keep prodding Masterpiece Theater to produce a mini-series based on a Meredith novel.

They've done Austen, Dickens, Eliot, Thackeray, two Bronte sisters, Mrs. Gaskell, Stevenson, Hardy, Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, James, Galsworthy, Twain (Clemens), and many others. Why overlook George Meredith?

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

Merchant Ivory productions and director David Lean are gone but there are other auteurs alive who insist upon high production values. If you know an auteur, conveniently leave a copy of a Meredith novel where they can't ignore it: Like on their desk the first thing in the morning or on their pillow before they go to bed.

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

If you are rich, find a director up to the challenge and a studio that will not hassle the director. Then cut a check.

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

Prod BBC to do Meredith. He is British after all.

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

Prod A&E to do Meredith.

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

If you are an actor or actress, keep asking your agent to find you a Meredith project. Wear them down until, in exasperation, the agency puts together a package of cast, script, director, production company and distributor.

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

When a TV or radio program puts together a list of top fictional characters, call or write or email or text a plug for your favorite Meredith character.

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

If your are in college and major in Literature, do a paper on Meredith. Send us a copy of your masters thesis or doctoral dissertation on Meredith.

How to Make Meredith Adaptations a Reality

Have your drama department stage a Meredith play and get the film or video department to film or video it. Upload to YouTube and let us know and we'll feature it at this lens.

George Meredith:

"Always imitate the behavior of the winners when you lose."

"Lucifer in Starlight" by George Meredith

"Love in the Valley" by George Meredith (poetry reading)

from Modern Love - George Meredith

The Lark Ascending: George Meredith & Ralph Vaughan Williams

Mona Golabek reads words of Meredith--the Lark Ascending Part 1 of 2

Angelic love by George Meredith

warning: This is modern music and modern images and might be jarring or even upsetting for people who come to Meredith to find a more elegant era.

drawing #73 & 74 High Street, Old Portsmouth

photograph #73 & 74 High Street, Portsmouth


In the 1860 Old Portsmouth Project, two buildings have been photographed and drawn repeatedly down the years. The reason for this is quite simply that both buildings are associated with renowned men of Portsmouth. No. 73 was the birthplace of the author George Meredith and No. 74 was sometime the home of Admiral Anson. 


George Meredith was born at Number 73 High Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire UK on 12th February 1828. His father and grandfather were naval outfitters. His mother died when he was five. His father Augustus Meredith was also a tailor but probably not much of a businessman since in 1837 he was forced to declare himself bankrupt whereupon he moved to London to seek work. George was sent to live with relatives in the country and never lived in Portsmouth again, indeed he frequently denied having any connection to the town. Thus, by the time that Charpentier had commissioned his Strangers Guide, the Meredith family were no longer in town and by 1860 would hardly have been remembered. It is only the fact that Meredith later achieved fame as a writer that No. 73 became a landmark in Portsmouth.

George Meredith was educated in local schools and later at the age of fourteen he went to the Moravian School at Neuwied, Germany on the Rhine River near Coblenz. Afterward, young George was articled to a London solicitor.

He soon gave this up, however, in favor of journalism and writing, working for the Ipswich Journal and as a reader for a publishing company. Meredith wrote articles in The Fortnightly.

Though small, Meredith did have an inheritance. In 1841, partly to protect George's small inheritance, Augustus made him a ward in Chancery.

In 1849 he married Mary Ellen Nicholls, the widowed daughter of Thomas Love Peacock, but she left him for the painter Henry Wallis.

His first marriage was marred by miscarriages and money (the lack of it) but she left him when she found out that his father had been a tailor. Back then, tailors were considered lower than genocidal mass murderers and slave owners. She ran off with a painter. One has to wonder if John Galsworthy lifted this out of Meredith's life for The Forsyte Saga when he wrote of Soames being abandoned by Irene for a second-rate architect whose only talent seems to be chastising Soames for not being happy about his wife's adultery and the architect's fornication and hypocrisy. Happily, the fictional architect dies ignobly and in real life, Meredith remarried happily.

There is another view of that first marriage: Meredith was NOT ashamed of being the son of a tailor and incompetent businessman. George Meredith was the grandson of a prosperous naval tailor. George's father, Augustus Meredith, brought up as a gentleman, had inherited a failing business and heavy debts from his own father, but with the help of his wife's small fortune he was able to maintain genteel pretensions and indulged his son sufficiently to set him apart from other tradesmen's children. But in 1833 his father went bankrupt and moved to London to earn a living, where half a year later he married his housekeeper. This episode no doubt contributed to Meredith's remarkable lifelong secretiveness about his social origins. Even today, legally, sexual harassment is presumed when a boss gets involved with a subordinate. Meredith's father married a servant. Perhaps Meredith was ashamed that his father had married a servant.

He lodged for a time with Swinburne and Rossetti in Chelsea and following the death of his (first) wife, he married Marie Vulliamy on September 20, 1864. In 1866 he acted as a war correspondent in Italy. In 1868, they moved to a place which was to become their permanent home: Flint Cottage, Box Hill, Surrey near Dorking. This second marriage may be reflected in his next to last novel The Amazing Marriage (1895).

He died on 18th of May 1909 .

Mary Meredith

sorry, no image of Marie Vulliamy yet

The Sitting Room, Flint Cottage-May 18th 1909

excerpt from THE TRAGIC COMEDIANS: a study in a well-known story

by George Meredith (1892)



She ran out to the shade of the garden walls to be by herself and in the

air, and she read; and instantly her own letter to the baroness crashed

sentence upon sentence, in retort, springing up with the combative

instinct of a beast, to make discord of the stuff she read, and deride

it. Twice she went over the lines with this defensive accompaniment;

then they laid octopus-limbs on her. The writing struck chill as a

glacier cave. Oh, what an answer to that letter of fervid

respectfulness, of innocent supplication for maternal affection,

for some degree of benignant friendship!

The baroness coldly stated, that she had arrived in the city to do her

best in assisting to arrange matters which had come to a most unfortunate

and impracticable pass. She alluded to her established friendship for

Alvan, but it was chiefly in the interests of Clotilde that the latter

was requested to perceive the necessity for bringing her relations with

Dr. Alvan to an end in the discreetest manner now possible to the

circumstances. This, the baroness pursued, could only be done by her

intervention, and her friendship for Dr. Alvan had caused her to

undertake the little agreeable office. For which purpose, promising her

an exemption from anything in the nature of tragedy scenes, the baroness

desired Clotilde to call on her the following day between certain

specified hours of the afternoon.

That was all.

The girl in her letter to the baroness had constrained herself to write,

and therefore to think, in so beautiful a spirit of ignorant innocence,

that the vileness of an answer thus brutally throwing off the mask of

personal disinterestedness appeared to her both an abominable piece of

cynicism on the part of a scandalous old woman, and an insulting

rejection of the cover of decency proposed to the creature by a daisy-

minded maiden.

She scribbled a single line in receipt of the letter and signed her


'The woman is hateful!' she said to her father; she was ready to agree

with him about the woman and Alvan. She was ashamed to have hoped

anything of the woman, and stamped down her disappointment under a

vehement indignation, that disfigured the man as well. He had put the

matter into the hands of this most detestable of women, to settle it as

she might think best! He and she!--the miserable old thing with her

ancient arts and cajoleries had lured him back! She had him fast again,

in spite of--for who could tell? perhaps by reason of her dirty habits:

she smoked dragoon cigars! All day she was emitting tobacco-smoke; it

was notorious, Clotilde had not to learn it from her father; but now she

saw the filthy rag that standard of female independence was--that

petticoated Unfeminine, fouler than masculine! Alvan preferred the

lichen-draped tree to the sunny flower, it was evident, for never a

letter from Alvan had come to her. She thought in wrath, nothing but the

thoughts of wrath, and ran her wits through every reasonable reflection

like a lighted brand that flings its colour, if not fire, upon

surrounding images. Contempt of the square-jawed withered woman was

too great for Clotilde to have a sensation of her driving jealousy until

painful glimpses of the man made jealousy so sharp that she flew for

refuge to contempt of the pair. That beldam had him back: she had him

fast. Oh! let her keep him! Was he to be regretted who could make that


Her father did not let the occasion slip to speak insistingly as the

world opined of Alvan and his baroness. He forced her to swallow the

calumny, and draw away with her family against herself through strong


Out of a state of fire Clotilde passed into solid frigidity. She had

neither a throb nor a passion. Wishing seemed to her senseless as life

was. She could hear without a thrill of her frame that Alvan was in the

city, without a question whether it was true. He had not written, and he

had handed her over to the baroness! She did not ask herself how it was

that she had no letter from him, being afraid to think about it, because,

if a letter had been withheld by her father, it was a part of her

whipping; if none had been written, there was nothing to hope for. Her

recent humiliation condemned him by the voice of her sufferings for his

failure to be giant, eagle, angel, or any of the prodigious things he had

taught her to expect; and as he had thus deceived her, the glorious lover

she had imaged in her mind was put aside with some of the angry disdain

she bestowed upon the woman by whom she had been wounded. He ceased to

be a visioned Alvan, and became an obscurity; her principal sentiment in

relation to him was, that he threatened her peace. But for him she would

never have been taught to hate her parents; she would have enjoyed the

quiet domestic evenings with her people, when Marko sang, and her sisters

knitted, and the betrothed sister wore a look very enviable in the

abstract; she would be seeing a future instead of a black iron gate! But

for him she certainly would never have had, that letter from the


On the morning after the information of Alvan's return, her father, who

deserved credit as a tactician, came to her to say that Alvan had sent to

demand his letters and presents. The demand was unlike what her stunned

heart recollected of Alvan; but a hint that the baroness was behind it,

and that a refusal would bring the baroness down on her with another

piece of insolence, was effective. She dealt out the letters, arranged

the presents, made up the books, pamphlets, trinkets, amulet coins, lock

of black hair, and worn post-marked paper addressed in his hand to

Clotilde von Rudiger, carefully; and half as souvenir, half with the

forlorn yearning of the look of lovers when they break asunder--or of one

of them--she signed inside the packet not 'Clotilde,' but the gentlest

title he had bestowed on her, trusting to the pathos of the word 'child'

to tell him that she was enforced and still true, if he should be

interested in knowing it. Weak souls are much moved by having the pathos

on their side. They are consoled too.

Time passed, whole days: the tender reminder had no effect on him! It

had been her last appeal: she reflected that she had really felt when he

had not been feeling at all: and this marks a division.

She was next requested to write a letter to Alvan, signifying his release

by the notification of her engagement to Prince Marko. She was

personally to deliver it to a gentleman who was of neither party, and who

would give her a letter from Alvan in exchange, which, while assuring the

gentleman she was acting with perfect freedom, she was to be under her

oath not to read, and dutifully to hand to Marko, her betrothed. Her

father assumed the fact of her renewed engagement to the prince, as her

whole family did; strangely, she thought: it struck her as a fatality.

He said that Alvan was working him great mischief, doing him deadly

injury in his position, and for no just reason, inasmuch as he--a bold,

bad man striving to ruin the family on a point of pride--had declared

that he simply considered himself bound in honour to her, only a little

doubtful of her independent action at present; and a release of him,

accompanied by her plain statement of her being under no compulsion,

voluntarily the betrothed of another, would solve the difficulty. A

certain old woman, it seemed, was anxious to have him formally released.

With the usual dose for such a patient, of cajoleries and threats, the

General begged her to comply, pulling the hands he squeezed in a way to

strongly emphasize his affectionate entreaty.

She went straight to Marko, consenting that he should have Alvan's letter

unopened (she cared not to read it, she said), on his promise to give it

up to her within a stated period. There was a kind of prohibited

pleasure, sweet acid, catching discord, in the idea of this lover's

keeping the forbidden thing she could ask for when she was curious about

the other, which at present she was not; dead rather; anxious to please

her parents, and determined to be no rival of the baroness. Marko

promised it readily, adding: 'Only let the storm roll over, that we may

have more liberty, and I myself, when we two are free, will lead you to

Alvan, and leave it to you to choose between us. Your happiness,

beloved, is my sole thought. Submit for the moment.' He spoke sweetly,

with his dearest look, touching her luxurious nature with a belief that

she could love him; untroubled by another, she could love and be true to

him: her maternal inner nature yearned to the frailbodied youth.

She made a comparison in her mind of Alvan's love and Marko's, and of the

lives of the two men. There was no grisly baroness attached to the

prince's life.

She wrote the letter to Alvan, feeling in the words that said she was

plighted to Prince Marko, that she said, and clearly said, the baroness

is now relieved of a rival, and may take you! She felt it so acutely as

to feel that she said nothing else.

Severances are accomplished within the heart stroke by stroke; within the

craven's heart each new step resulting from a blow is temporarily an

absolute severance. Her letter to Alvan written, she thought not

tenderly of him but of the prince, who had always loved a young woman,

and was unhampered by an old one. The composition of the letter, and the

sense that the thing was done, made her stony to Alvan.

On the introduction of Colonel von Tresten, whose name she knew, but was

dull to it, she delivered him her letter with unaffected composure,

received from him Alvan's in exchange, left the room as if to read it,

and after giving it unopened to Marko, composedly reappeared before the

colonel to state, that the letter could make no difference, and all was

to be as she had written it.

The colonel bowed stiffly.

excerpt continued

The colonel bowed stiffly.

It would have comforted her to have been allowed to say: 'I cease to be

the rival of that execrable harridan!'

The delivery of so formidable a cat-screech not being possible, she stood

in an attitude of mild resignation, revolving thoughts of her father's

praises of his noble daughter, her mother's kiss, the caresses of her

sisters, and the dark bright eyes of Marko, the peace of the domestic

circle. This was her happiness! And still there was time, still hope

for Alvan to descend and cut the knot. She conceived it slowly, with

some flush of the brain like a remainder of fever, but no throbs of her

pulses. She had been swayed to act against him by tales which in her

heart she did not credit exactly, therefore did not take within herself,

though she let them influence her by the goad of her fears and angers;

and these she could conjure up at will for the defence of her conduct,

aware of their shallowness, and all the while trusting him to come in the

end and hear her reproaches for his delay. He seemed to her now to have

the character of a storm outside a household wrapped in comfortable

monotony. Her natural spiritedness detested the monotony, her craven

soul fawned for the comfort. After her many recent whippings the comfort

was immensely desireable, but a glance at the monotony gave it the look

of a burial, and standing in her attitude of resignation under Colonel

von Tresten's hard military stare she could have shrieked for Alvan to

come, knowing that she would have cowered and trembled at the scene

following his appearance. Yet she would have gone to him; without any

doubt his presence and the sense of his greater power declared by his

coming would have lifted her over to him. The part of her nature adoring

storminess wanted only a present champion to outweigh the other part

which cuddled security. Colonel von Tresten, however, was very far from

offering himself in such a shape to a girl that had jilted the friend he

loved, insulted the woman he esteemed; and he stood there like a figure

of soldierly complacency in marble. Her pencilled acknowledgement of the

baroness's letter, and her reply to it almost as much, was construed as

an intended insult to that lady, whose champion Tresten was. He had

departed before Clotilde heard a step.

Immediately thereupon it came: to her mind that Tresten was one of

Alvan's bosom friends. How, then, could he be of neither party? And her

father spoke of him as an upright rational man, who, although, strangely

enough, he entertained, as it appeared, something like a profound

reverence for the baroness, could see and confess the downright

impossibility of the marriage Alvan proposed. Tresten, her father said,

talked of his friend Alvan as wild and eccentric, but now becoming

convinced that such a family as hers could never tolerate him--

considering his age, his birth, his blood, his habits, his politics,

his private entanglements and moral reputation, it was partly hinted.

She shuddered at this false Tresten. He and the professor might be

strung together for examples of perfidy! His reverence of the baroness

gave his cold blue eyes the iciness of her loathed letter. Alvan, she

remembered, used to exalt him among the gallantest of the warriors

dedicating their swords to freedom. The dedication of the sword, she

felt sure, was an accident: he was a man of blood. And naturally, she

must be hated by the man reverencing the baroness. If ever man had

executioner stamped on his face, it was he! Like the professor, nay,

like Alvan himself, he would not see that she was the victim of tyranny:

none of her signs would they see. They judged of her by her inanimate

frame in the hands of her torturers breaking her on the wheel. She

called to mind a fancy that she had looked at Tresten out of her deadness

earnestly for just one instant: more than an instant she could not,

beneath her father's vigilant watch and into those repellant cold blue

butcher eyes. Tresten might clearly have understood the fleeting look.

What were her words! what her deeds!

The look was the truth revealed-her soul. It begged for life like an

infant; and the man's face was an iron rock in reply! No wonder--he

worshipped the baroness! So great was Clotilde's hatred of him that it

overflooded the image of Alvan, who called him friend, and deputed him to

act as friend. Such blindness, weakness, folly, on the part of one of

Alvan's pretensions, incurred a shade of her contempt. She had not ever

thought of him coldly: hitherto it would have seemed a sacrilege; but now

she said definitely, the friend of Tresten cannot be the man I supposed

him! and she ascribed her capacity for saying it, and for perceiving and

adding up Alvan's faults of character, to the freezing she had taken from

that most antipathetic person. She confessed to sensations of spite

which would cause her to reject and spurn even his pleadings for Alvan,

if they were imaginable as actual. Their not being imaginable allowed

her to indulge her naughtiness harmlessly, for the gratification of the

idea of wounding some one, though it were her lover, connected with this


The letter of the baroness and the visit of the woman's admirer had

vitiated Clotilde's blood. She was not only not mistress of her

thoughts, she was undirected either in thinking or wishing by any

desires, except that the people about her should caress and warm her,

until, with no gaze backward, she could say good-bye to them, full of

meaning as a good-bye to the covered grave, as unreluctantly as the

swallow quits her eaves-nest in autumn: and they were to learn that they

were chargeable with the sequel of the history. There would be a sequel,

she was sure, if it came only to punish them for the cruelty which

thwarted her timid anticipation of it by pressing on her natural instinct

at all costs to bargain for an escape from pain, and making her simulate

contentment to cheat her muffled wound and them.


His love meantime was the mission and the burden of Alvan, and he was not

ashamed to speak of it and plead for it; and the pleading was not done

troubadourishly, in soft flute-notes, as for easement of tuneful emotions

beseeching sympathy. He was liker to a sturdy beggar demanding his

crust, to support life, of corporations that can be talked into admitting

the rights of man; and he vollied close logical argumentation, on the

basis of the laws, in defence of his most natural hunger, thunder in his

breast and bright new heavenly morning alternating or clashing while the

electric wires and post smote him with evil tidings of Clotilde, and the

success of his efforts caught her back to him. Daily many times he

reached to her and lost her, had her in his arms and his arms withered

with emptiness. The ground he won quaked under him. All the evidence

opposed it, but he was in action, and his reason swore that he had her

fast. He had seen and felt his power over her; his reason told him by

what had been that it must be. Could he doubt? He battled for his

reason. Doubt was an extinguishing wave, and he clung to his book of the

Law, besieging Church and State with it, pointing to texts of the law

which proved her free to choose her lord and husband for herself,

expressing his passionate love by his precise interpretation of the law:

and still with the cold sentience gaining on him, against the current of

his tumultuous blood and his hurried intelligence, of her being actually

what he had named her in moments of playful vision--slippery, a serpent,

a winding hare; with the fear that she might slip from him, betray, deny

him, deliver him to ridicule, after he had won his way to her over every

barrier. During his proudest exaltations in success, when his eyes were

sparkling, there was a wry twitch inward upon his heart of hearts.

But if she was a hare, he was a hunter, little inclining to the chase now

for mere physical recreation. She had roused the sportsman's passion as

well as the man's; he meant to hunt her down, and was not more scrupulous

than our ancient hunters, who hunted for a meal and hunted to kill, with

none of the later hesitations as to circumventing, trapping, snaring by

devices, and the preservation of the animal's coat spotless. Let her

be lured from her home, or plucked from her home, and if reluctant,

disgraced, that she may be dependent utterly on the man stooping to

pick her up! He was equal to the projecting of a scheme socially

infamous, with such fanatical intensity did the thought of his losing

the woman harass him, and the torrent of his passion burst restraint

to get to her to enfold her--this in the same hour of the original wild

monster's persistent and sober exposition of the texts of the law with

the voice of a cultivated modern gentleman; and, let it be said, with a

modern gentleman's design to wed a wife in honour. All means were to be

tried. His eye burned on his prize, mindless of what she was dragged

through, if there was resistance, or whether by the hair of her head or

her skirts, or how she was obtained. His interpretation of the law was

for the powers of earth, and other plans were to propitiate the powers

under the earth, and certain distempered groanings wrenched from him at

intervals he addressed (after they were out of him, reflectively) to the

powers above, so that nothing of him should be lost which might get aid

of anything mundane, infernal, or celestial.

Thus it is when Venus bites a veritable ancient male. She puts her venom

in a magnificent beast, not a pathetic Phaedra. She does it rarely, for

though to be loved by a bitten giant is one of the dreams of woman, the

considerate Mother of Love knows how needful it is to protect the

sentiment of the passion and save them from an exhibition of the fires of

that dragon's breath. Do they not fly shrieking when they behold it?

Barely are they able to read of it. Men, too, accustomed to minor doses

of the goddess, which moderate, soften, counteract, in

for further research

including bibliography

George Meredith:

"I expect that woman will be the last thing civilized by man."

from The Egoist:

"You are cold, my love? you shivered."

"I am not cold," said Clara. "Some one, I suppose, was walking over my grave."

The gulf of a caress hove in view like an enormous billow hollowing under the curled ridge. She stooped to a buttercup; the monster swept by.


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