Mr George Gissing ought to be publicly thanked for introducing to the world a form of literary life which has long been known to all who have penetrated into the by-ways and slums of this many-sided calling. He presents to us several well defined and by no means uncommon types. There is the young man of literary aspirations who rashly attempts to make of letters his livelihood, encouraged by the success of a single first novel. He has no education to speak of; he has no knowledge of society; he has no personal experiences; he has no travel. In fact, he is absolutely devoid of any equipment except a true feeling for Art, and a burning desire to succeed. He cannot succeed. It is not possible for such a man to succeed. He fails dismally, and he dies. In real life such a man would not die. He would sink lower-Iower-
until he became the wretched drudge and hack of a penny novelette publisher, which is Malebolge itsel£ Next, there is the young man who looks about him, sees what will pay, and how men get on in the literary profession. He enters upon his work with the intention of succeeding, and he does succeed. In real life such a man might succeed in the way indicated, but not quite so easily. He becomes an Editor. Now, one of the chief requisites in a modem Editor is that he should know many men, and belong to certain social circles. This young man, with no social position, would certainly not be made an Editor quite so easily. On the other hand, his career illustrates the advantages to be derived from accepting the existing conditions, and trading upon them. But the truest, saddest figure in the book is that of the old litterateur, a critic of the former school, who hangs on to letters, getting more and more soured every day, having a paper accepted now and then, doing a stroke of work here and another there, living a life of absolute dependence upon publishers and Editors, whose work nobody wants, whose whole history has been one of humiliations, disgusts and disappointments, who waits humbly on publishers and hopes for their 'generosity.' Truly, as his daughter says, his is a loathsome profession. It is the utter degradation of letters; it is Grub Street with us still. But he degrades his profession still more for he meditates constantly upon the pride ofbeing the Editor ofa literary journal, and his only thought, in that capacity, is how he will tear and rend his brother writers. 'I will show them,' he says, 'I will show them how to scarify.' Yes, that is still the thought ofcertain authors. As it was in the days ofChurchill, so it is now. Because a man follows the calling of letters, he must, by other followers of that profession, be slated, scarified, tom to pieces. Every other profession has its unwritten laws of decency and politeness. That of literature, none. I do not suppose that Mr Gissing's book can become popular, but from my own knowledge I can testify to its truth. I know them all, personally,-two or three ofeach-Mr YuleJasper-Edwin-and the fidelity of Mr Gissing's portraits makes me shudder.