At thirty-five or thereabouts Mr George Gissing, the author ofDemos, The Nether World, New Grub Street, and half-a-dozen more or less known, more or less liked, and more or less abused, books, has managed by dint of steady perseverance in the paths of comparatively unpopular fiction to make himself a name which has nothing so ephemeral as the smell ofblood about it. For ifthe tricks ofthe average wily novelist are various, the most facile way unto a throne of cheap and tinsel notoriety lies through the slaughter ofhis sawdusty puppets and all the probabilities. But Mr Gissing is not given to bloodshed. It is true that his characters are not notoriously immortal; they indeed die, but if they do their hearts are affected, or they get pneumonia, or pernicious anaemia from unhealthy surroundings into which no sun of hope brings a single ray ofjoy. But he is not particularly tQnd of despatching the miserable. He is, on the contrary, rather given to ,howing how much wretched mortals can endure and yet live. His heroes are apt to doggedly suffer what would make any ordinary hero cut his own throat or some one else's. For dying is not their forte, and they rarely kill anyone. I cannot recollect a single murder or manslaughter

by hero or heroine in the long list ofhis books. Moreover, the part of the villain is only played as a secondary cause by any human being, for the great original villain, the primary scoundrel of all his dramas, is called Circumstance, or, by a periphrasis, the native malignity of matter. The entire universe being callous and the starlight cold, in the night of pessimism the sun goes out; there is a glacial epoch of indifference among us, and we die slowly, being unregarded by those who see their own death near at hand. For destiny is neither sudden of release nor apt at poetical justice.