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11. CHAPTER XI - "THE CLAVERINGS," THE "PALL MALL GAZETTE," "NINA BALATKA," AND "LINDA TRESSEL"
The Claverings, which came out in 1866 and 1867, was the last novel which I wrote for the Cornhill; and it was for this that I received the highest rate of pay that was ever accorded to me. It was the same length as Framley Parsonage, and the price was œ2800. Whether much or little, it was offered by the proprietor of the magazine, and was paid in a single cheque.
In The Claverings I did not follow the habit which had now become very common to me, of introducing personages whose names are already known to the readers of novels, and whose characters were familiar to myself. If I remember rightly, no one appears here who had appeared before or who has been allowed to appear since. I consider the story as a whole to be good, though I am not aware that the public has ever corroborated that verdict. The chief character is that of a young woman who has married manifestly for money and rank,--so manifestly that she does not herself pretend, even while she is making the marriage, that she has any other reason. The man is old, disreputable, and a wornout debauchee. Then comes the punishment natural to the offence. When she is free, the man whom she had loved, and who had loved her, is engaged to another woman. He vacillates and is weak,--in which weakness is the fault of the book, as he plays the part of hero. But she is strong--strong in her purpose, strong in her desires, and strong in her consciousness that the punishment which comes upon her has been deserved.
But the chief merit of The Clarverings is in the genuine fun of some of the scenes. Humour has not been my forte, but I am inclined to think that the characters of Captain Boodle, Archie Clavering, and Sophie Gordeloup are humorous. Count Pateroff, the brother of Sophie, is also good, and disposes of the young hero's interference in a somewhat masterly manner. In The Claverings, too, there is a wife whose husband is a brute to her, who loses an only child--his heir--and who is rebuked by her lord because the boy dies. Her sorrow is, I think, pathetic. From beginning to end the story is well told. But I doubt now whether any one reads The Claverings. When I remember how many novels I have written, I have no right to expect that above a few of them shall endure even to the second year beyond publication. This story closed my connection with the Cornhill Magazine;--but not with its owner, Mr. George Smith, who subsequently brought out a further novel of mine in a separate form, and who about this time established the Pall Mall Gazette, to which paper I was for some years a contributor.
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