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TO

GEORGE ELIOT

IN RECOGNITION OF

A GENIUS AS ORIGINAL AS IT IS PROFOUND

AND

A MORALITY AS PURE AS IT IS

IMPASSIONED

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This is not the place in which to attempt to give an exposition of George Eliot's genius, or an analysis of any of her works. But it may be allowed me to say, that I think I only express the ripest fruit of sound critical inquiry when I affirm, that what Shakespeare did for the Drama, George Eliot has been, and still is, doing for the Novel. By those who know her works really well, this branch of literature can never again be regarded as mere 'story-telling, and the reading of it as only a pastime. George Eliot has magnified her office and made it honourable ; she has for ever sanctified the Novel by making it the vehicle of the grandest and most uncompromising moral truth. In employing such language as this, I would not be supposed to

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undervalue the writings of other novelists, even as regards high moral teaching ; yet I use it advisedly, as indicating my own decided preference and the reason of it. Nor is it only as a novelist that George Eliot has claims upon our closest attention and our deepest regard; it is not in this field alone that she has acquitted herself with such mastery. The Legend of Jubal,' 'Armgart,' and 'The Spanish Gypsy, so massive in structure, so lofty in tone, so rich in thought, fairly entitle their author to a foremost place in the ranks of British poets. Viewed either as an artist or as a teacher, or as both, and whether' speaking through poetry or through prosc, it seems to be admitted on all hands that George Eliot's position among modern authors is equally distinguished and

But, in addition to those grand central truths which her works, taken as a whole, can alone be said to embody, I had long observed in common, I trust, with thousands of others) that there is to be found, on almost every page of her writings, some wise thought finely expressed, some beautiful sentiment tenderly clothed, some pointed

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