decorated initial 'I' mmediately after John Ridd has described the social superiority and delicacy of his beloved to his sisters, he mentions that he told this to Eliza "once, when I wanted to vex her for something very spiteful that she had said; and I never succeeded so well before, for the girl was quite outrageous [outraged?], having her own perception of it, which made my observation ten times as bitter to her. And I am not sure but what she ceased to like poor Lorna from that day; and if so, I was quite paid out, as I well deserved, for my bit of satire" (390).

From this he draws the lesson

that of all human dealings, satire is the very lowest, and most mean and common. It is the equivalent in words of what bullying is in deeds; and no more bespeaks a clever man, than the other does a brave one. These two wretched tricks exalt a fool in his own low esteem, but never in his neighbour's; for the deep common sense of our nature tells that no man of a genial heart, or of any spread of mind, can take pride in either. And though a good man may commit the one fault or the other, now and then, by way of outlet, he is sure to have compunctions soon, and to scorn himself more than the sufferer. [390]

This passage works both to show both that John is not an absolutely perfect human being — he occasionally says mean things to his siblings — and that feels remorse when he does so.

The passage also raises some interesting issues: do remarks of the sort that John made to Eliza (we never learn his exact wording) qualify as satire? Is satire essentially "bullying," and, if so, why did Blackmore himself write a satiric novel, The Remarkable History of Sir Thomas Upmore?

References

Blackmore, R. D. Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor. New York: Clarke, Given and Hooper, 1890. [e-text of this edition at Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.


Victorian Overview Genre History

Last updated 9 May 2006

Last modified 8 June 2007