John Halifax, Gentleman

John Halifax, Gentleman

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John Halifax, Gentleman

John Halifax, Gentleman

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Excerpt

"But it happens that many who often hear the Gospel of Christ, are yet but little affected because they have not the Spirit of Christ.

"But whosoever would fully and feelingly understand the words of Christ, must endeavor to conform his life wholly to the life of Christ."

THOMAS Á KEMPIS, Imitation of Christ , Chapter 1st.

John Halifax is one of the most popular novels in the English language, and in America and the British Colonies it is even more appreciated than in the mother-country. Every summer a stream of pilgrims from beyond the seas wanders from the "Shakespeare country" of Stratford and Warwick to the "John Halifax country" of Tewkesbury and Stroud. The travelling American is first drawn to Tewkesbury, not because it was the scene of the most tragical of mediæval battles, nor because its Abbey church is a marvel of architecture, but because it forms the background of John Halifax , and this church is the shrine that holds the memorial of the author.

To the ordinary critic this enthusiasm is simply incomprehensible. To him John Halifax appears as a good, wholesome novel, but one that neither for its interest nor its artistic merit can be ranked with the greatest novels of the period; and doubtless the works of Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontës, George Eliot, and Stevenson possess qualities of far surpassing interest for their age and generation. But if we draw back so as to take a wider view of the connection of literature with the permanent interests of mankind, we shall see that the pilgrims to Tewkesbury are led by a true instinct, after all; that in John Halifax a note is struck to which even the author herself never again reverted--a note seldom, if ever, essayed by any other novelist, yet one which, whenever truly touched, finds a faithful echo in the hearts of men.

John Halifax is a striking expression of feelings and interests that are natural to men in all ages, that are from time to time called into special activity by the study of the New Testament,

Copyright, 1897, by HARPER & BROTHERS

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