Saturday, May 26, 2007

George Eliot Editor Incognito

To J. Chapman
24 July 1852.

Dear Friend,

Don't suggest 'Fashion' as a subject to any one else--I should like to keep it. I have noticed the advertisement of the British Q[uarterly] this morning. Its list of subjects is excellent. I wish you could contrive to let me see the number when it comes out. They have one subject of which I am jealous--''Pre-Raphaelism in Painting and Literature.' We have no good writer on such subjects on our staff. Ought we not, too, to try and enlist David Masson, who is one of the Br[itish] Q[uarterly] set? He wrote that article in the Leader on the Patagonian Missionaries, which I thought very beautiful. Seeing 'Margaret Fuller' among their subjects makes me rather regret having missed the first moment for writing an article on her life myself, but I think she still may come in as one of a triad or quaternion.

I feel that I am a wretched helpmate to you, almost out of the world and incog. so far as I am in it. When you can afford to pay an Editor, if that time will ever come, you must get one. If you believe in Free Will, in the Theism that looks on manhood as a type of the godhead and on Jesus as the ideal Man, get one belonging to the Martineau 'School of thought,' and he will drill you a regiment of writers who will produce a Prospective on a large scale, and so the Westminster may come to have 'dignity' in the eyes of Liverpool.
If not -- if you believe, as I do, that the thought which is to mould the future has for its root a belief in necessity, that a nobler presentation of humanity has yet to be given in resignation to individual nothingness, than could ever be shewn of a being who believes in the phantasmagoria of hope unsustained by reason -- why then get a man of another calibre and let him write a fresh Prospectus, and if Liverpool theology and ethics are to be admitted, let them be put in the 'dangerous ward,' alias, the Independent Section.
The only third course is the present one, that of Editorial compromise. J. S. Mill and so on can write more openly in the Westminster than anywhere else -- It is good for the world that they should have every facility for speaking out. Each can't have a periodical to himself. The grand mistake is to make the Editors responsible for everything. . . .
I congratulate you on your ability to keep cheerful.
Yours etc

-from The Inmost Heart: 800 Years of Women's Letters edited by Olga Kenyon; Foreword by P. D. James (New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1992.) p. 176-77.

No comments: