y the close of Fenwick's Career, the artist and his wife have reconciled and the narrator implies that he painting will again flourish, in large part because he's left London, at least for the moment, and once again experienced the beauties of the Westmoreland landscape. But Ward does not chose her novel at this point but adds a one-page epiloque that rather strangely diminishes Eugénie, who has not only served as Fenwick's inspiration, confidant, and advocate with her wealthy father, the art patron Lord Findon, but also brought husband and wife together again — prompted, it is true, by her rather bizarre and quite unnecessary sense of guilt. Here is the complete epilogue:
Of Eugénie, still a few words remain to say. About a year after Fenwick's return she lost her father. A little later Elsie Welby died. To the end of her life she had never willingly accepted Eugénie's service, and the memory of this, alack, is for Eugénie among the pains that endure. What influence it may have had upon her later course can hardly be discussed here. She continued to live in Westminster, and to be the friend of many. One friend was tacitly accepted by all who loved her as possessing a special place and special privileges. Encouraged and inspired by her, Arthur Welby outlived the cold and academic manner of his later youth, and in the joy of richer powers, and the rewards of an unstained and pure affection, he recovered much that life seemed once to have denied him. Eugénie never married him. In friendship, in ideas, in books, she found the pleasures of her way. Part of her life she spent—with yearning and humility—among the poor. But with them she never accomplished much. She was timid in their presence, and often unwise; neither side understood the other. Her real sphere lay in what a great Oxford preacher once enforced at St. Mary's, as — 'our duty to our equals' — the hardest of all. Her influence, her mission, were with her own class; with the young girls just 'out,' who instinctively loved and clung to her; with the tired or troubled women of the world, who felt her presence as the passage of something pure and kindling which evoked their better selves; and with those men, in whom the intellectual life wages its difficult war with temperament and circumstance, for whom beauty and truth are realities, and yet—great also is Diana of the Ephesians! Thus in her soft, glancing, woman's way, she stood with 'the helpers and friends of mankind.' But she never knew it. In her own opinion, few persons were so unprofitable as she; and but for her mystical belief, the years would have brought her melancholy. They left her smile, however, undimmed. For the mystic carries within a little flame of joy, very hard to quench. The wind of Death itself does but stir and strengthen it. [366-67]
Ward neither tells us about Fenwick's later career nor mentions that Eugénie ever sees Phoebe or him again. Her future is one largely of loss. We do learn that she loses her father and then Elsie Welby, and although everything in the novel has suggested that she and Arthur Welby belong together, they do not marry when they can do so at last. Instead we learn that he became “tacitly accepted by all who loved her as possessing a special place and special privileges,” whatever they might be. It seems to me that Ward goes out of her way to leave Eugénie very much alone. Nonetheless, her extreme modesty (or is it lack of healthy self-confidence?) lets her believe herself such an “unprofitable” person that were it not for “her mystical belief” she would have ended her years feeling as sad and melancholy as readers feel when learning about her sad, diminished end.
And what is this “mystical belief” about which we learn only near the end of Fenwick's Career? After their conversation in Versailles when John Fenwick explains that his wife deserted him when she mistakenly thought that he and Eugénie were lovers, she concludes that they can never renew their close friendship and she must do something to find his wife, after whch the narrator explains, “Eugénie's only comfort indeed, at this time, was the comfort of religion. Her soul, sorely troubled and very stern with itself, wandered in mystical, ascetic paths out of human ken.”
Several chapters later when her Evangelical mother criticizes her for attending High Church “Ritualist” services, she assures her father, “Some day we shall all be tired, shan't we? — of creeds, and sermons, but never of ‘This
This woman whom the novelist has repeatedly depicted as a rare example of kindness, grace, and intelligence turns out to have been a failure when she tries, like Catherine Elsmere in Ward's most famous novel, to help the poor. “Part of her life she spent — with yearning and humility — among the poor. But with them she never accomplished much. She was timid in their presence, and often unwise; neither side understood the other.” From what has come before, one does not expect that “unwise.” She does serve as a great help to men and women of her own class whom she helps become “their better selves” (a phrase that certainly reminds us of her uncle Matthew Arnold).
A final question: what does Ward's reference to Acts 19:24-41 mean? Immediately after praising Eugénie for helping “those men [like Fenwick], in whom the intellectual life wages its difficult war with temperament and circumstance, for whom beauty and truth are realities, and yet” she adds “—great also is Diana of the Ephesians!” Diana of the Ephesians, who represents “the generative and nutritive powers of nature, and so was represented with many breasts” (Bible Gateway). This site explains, “This heathen goddess is not merely referred to as ‘great’ because of the praise and admiration she received. The same was a standing epithet, a proper name, distinguishing her from other inferior deities bearing the same name of Diana or Artemis.” St. Paul mentions her in Acts because his preaching in “Ephesus, the capital of Asia,” which was a center of her worship, destroyed the business of those silversmiths who created silver idols of her, and in Acts these angry artisans captured Paul's companions. Is Ward presenting her as analogous to St. Paul whose words destroyed idol worship?
“Diana of the Ephesians (Acts 19:24-41).” Bible Gateway [Zondervan site]. Web. 2 August 2014.
Ward, Mrs, Humphry. Fenwick's Career. New York and London: Harper Brothers, 1906.
Ward, Mrs. Humphry. Fenwick's Career. [No publisher listed] Project Gutenberg E-text prepared by Andrew Templeton, Juliet Sutherland, Bill Hershey, and Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders. Last Updated: May 21, 2004 [eBook #12403]. Web. 20 July 2014.
Last modified 30 July 2014