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Scott said of Richardson: “In his survey of the heart he left neither head, bay, nor inlet behind him until he had traced its soundings, and laid it down in his chart with all its minute sinuosities, its depths and its shallows.” This is too much to say of Richardson, but it is not too much to say of George Eliot.
She was associate editor of The Westminster Review from 1851 to 1853.
“She could not reconcile the anxieties of a spiritual life involving eternal consequences with a keen interest in gimp and artificial protrusions of drapery,” but Celia “had that common-sense which is able to accept momentous doctrines without any eccentric agitation.” Both were examples of “reversion.” Then, as an instance of heredity working itself out in character “in Mr.
Brooke, the hereditary strain of Puritan energy was clearly in abeyance, but in his niece Dorothea it glowed alike through faults and virtues.” Could anything be more natural than for a woman with this passion for, and skill in, “unravelling certain human lots,” to lay herself out upon the human lot of woman, with all her “passionate patience of genius? And, for a delineation of what that lot of woman really is, as made for her, there is nothing in all literature equal to what we find in “Middlemarch,” “Romola,” “Daniel Deronda,” and “Janet’s Repentance.” “She was a woman, and could not make her own lot.” Never before, indeed, was so much got out of the word “lot.” Never was that little word so hard worked, or well worked.
Here comes the human creature, says George Eliot, now let us see why he behaves.
“Suppose,” she says, “suppose we turn from outside estimates of a man, to wonder with keener interest what is the report of his own consciousness about his doings, with what hindrances he is carrying on his daily labors, and with what spirit he wrestles against universal pressure, which may one day be too heavy for him and bring his heart to a final pause.” The outside estimate is the work of Dickens and Thackeray, the inside estimate is the work of George Eliot.