Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

in the best known of all his stately | are none the worse for being a little out phrases in verse, and from this to the of fashion ; but it is very pleasantly end there is no break. The scenes carried out, and I doubt whether there in Padalon more especially want read. is anywhere a more agreeable picture ing ; they are in no need of praise when of the country and its ways in the first they have once been read, and a right decade of the century. It is surprising melancholy thing it is to think how that it has not been reprinted. The few probably have read them now- “ Omniana" which was to have beeu adays. “The Curse of Kehama” may written by Southey and Coleridge tonot place Southey in the very highest gether, but to which the latter made class of poets, if we demand those only a very small contribution, is less special qualities in the poet which dis- original, being a rather questionable tinguish certain of the greatest names. cross between a commonplacebook But il puts him in the very first rank (such as, after Southey's death, was of the second.

actually issued in four huge volumes) I am aghast when I see how little and a “table-talk," or miscellany of room is left for the enormous and in- short abstracis, summaries, comments, teresting subject of Southey's prose. etc., of and ou curious passages in As has been said, there is no collected books. “The History of Brazil” foledition of it; and there could be none lowed, the chief and, with “ The Pewhich should be complete. There are, ninsular War,” the only one actually it is believed, no documents for identi- erected of what Southey used fondly fying his earlier contributions to news- to call “my pyramids” – pyramids, papers and magazines ; but he wrote alas ! not often visited now, though nearly a hundred articles in the Quar- still in existence, and solidly enough terly Review, many in other reviews, built and based. The latter suffered and the historical part (amounting to perhaps more than any other of something like a volume on each occa- Southey's books from the necessity sion) of the Edinburgh " Annual Reg- which their author's poverty imposed ister” for three years. He translated on him of constantly laying them aside or revised translations of Amadis, Pal- for the bread-winning work of the hour merin, and the Chronicle of the Cid.” as it offered itself. This delay gave He edited the “ Morte d'Arthur,” Cow- time for it to be caught up and passed per's poems, divers specimens and by Napier's history, which, if as prejuselections from English poets, and diced on the other side, is an inother things. And of solid indepen- comparably more brilliant and more dent books in prose he published, be- valuable performance. However, “The sides the three biographies of Nelson, Peninsular War” was one of the few Wesley, and Bunyan, nearly a dozen works of Southey's which brought him substantive works, some of them of a solid sum of money, - a thousand very great size. At the date of the pounds to wit. Neither “ The Book of first, the “ Letters from Spain and Por- the Church” nor its appendix, the tugal (1797), he had not outgrown“ Vindiciæ Anglicanæ," had any such (indeed he was only twenty-three) that satisfactory result, though both had a immature pomposily of style which fair sale, and though both aroused conhas been already referred to, and which siderable, if mainly angry, attention. is apparent both in his verse and in his In fact Southey seems to have been letters of all this time. The “ Letters singularly unlucky in his monetary from England,” by Don Manuel Es- transactions, for reasons partly indipriella, ten years later in date, are also cated by Scott in a passage given by at least ten years better in matter and Lockhart. The large comparative form. The scheme, that of enabling profits which Cottle's apparently venEnglishmen to see themselves as others turesome purchase of “ Joan of Arc” see them, was indeed rather old-fash- brought to the publisher, together with ioved, and not of those things which his own uushaken conviction of the

[ocr errors]

lasting quality of his work, seems to long rather than the short, and dishave made Southey fall in love with, tinctly longer thau the pattern which and obstinately cling to, the system of the gradually increasing love of antihalf-profits, which, in the case of not thetic balance had made popular in the very rapid sales, has a natural tendency eighteenth century. His most ornate to become one of no profits at all. For attempts will be found in the descriphis naval history, or “ Lives of the tive passages of “The Colloquies," a Admirals,” he was paid down, and book which, though Macaulay's stricvery fairly paid ; but I do not know tures are partly justified, is of extreme that he made anything out of “ The interest and beauty at its best, and is Doctor,” his last and one of his largest chiefly marred by the curiously unhappy works, a quaint miscellany of reading, selection of the interlocutor, an i11. reflection, and humor, like a magni- stance, with the plan of “ The Vision fied “Omniana" with a thread of con- of Judgment" and some other things, Dection, which is, I believe, little read of a gap or weakness in Southey's othnow, and which never was popular, but erwise excellent sense and taste. But which a few tastes (my own included) in all his prose writings, no matter what regard as, for desultory reading, one of they be, even in those unlucky political the most delighitful books in English.“ Essays,” which hic reprinted in two Macaulay, who, politics apart, cannot very pretty little volumes at the most be called an unfair critic of Southey, is unfortunate time and with the least unduly hard on his humor ; but the fortunate result, he displays one of the temper of Macaulay's mind was al- very best prose styles of the century, ways intolerant of nonsense, wherein perhaps the very best of the quiet and Southey took a specially English de- regular kind, unless Lockhari's, which

is more technically faulty, be ranked The characteristics of this wide and with it. neglected champaign of letters, In the case of no writer, however, is whole province of prose, as it may be it more necessary to look at him as a called, especially when we add the whole, to take his prose with his verse, huge body of published letters — pre- his writings with his history and his sent the widest diversity of subject, character, than in the case of Southey. and cannot fairly be said to suffer from Neither mere bulk nor mere variety any monotony of style. To some tastes can, of course, be taken as a voucher in the present day, indeed, Southey for greatness ; a man is no may seem fat.

He scorufully repu- good writer because he was a gool dinted, on more than one occasion, the man than because he was a bad one, slightest attempt at decoration, and which latter qualification seems to be ostensibly limited his efforts to the accepted by some; and even learning production of clear and limpid sen- and industry will not exempt. a man tences in the best classical English. from inclusion among the dulli canes, Not that he was by any means alarmed as Southey himself has it. But when at an appearance of neologism now and all these things are found together with then. His merely playful coinages in the addition of a rare excellence in oc** The Doctor" and the letters do not, casional passages of verse, with the of course, count ; but precisian as he composition of at least one long poem was, lie was not of those precisians who which goes near to, if it does not atwill not have a word, however abso- tain, absolute greatness, with an admilutely justified by analogy and principle, rable prose style and a curious blending unless there is some definite authority of good sense and good humor, then for it. On the contrary, he took the most assuredly the mass deserves at sounder course of actually rejecting least equal rank with excellences higher words with good authority but bad in- in partial reach, but far smaller in bulk trinsic titles. His sentences are of and range. medium length but inclining to the In the general judgment, perhaps,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

more a


[ocr errors]


there is a certain reluctance to graut Passing through the kitchen and up this. There is plausibility in asking the stairs to Tarpow's bedroom, Mag. not if a man can do many things well, nus found Tarpow himself wide awake but if he has done one thing su- and grumpy. He reported the weather premely; and unquestionably it is dan- and took his orders; and when he re

; gerous to multiply the tribe of literary entered the kitchen, the salt was being Jacks-of-all-trades. There is no fear, added to the porridge and the maid however, of an extensive multiplication had gone to the byre. Although you of Southeys ; happy were our state if could not have guessed it from his there were any chance of it. For the wife, the foreman had an eye for comeman knew enormously ; he could write liness, – the plainest wife that ever admirably ; it may be fairly contended was could not count against a man's that he only missed being a great poet taste, -and Magnus's eyes clung to by the constant collar-work which no his young mistress's face, and the great poet in the world has ever been dainty hand through which the salt was able to endure ; he had the truest sen- sifted to the pot. Never before had he sibility with the least touch of the seen cause for marvel at her beauty ; a mauillin ; the noblest seuse of duty new spring and bountifulness seemed with not more than a very slight touch to have come upon her. Still stirring of spiritual pride. If he thought a the porridge, and swinging round upon little too well of himself as a poet, he her heel, she detained him a minute to was completely free alike from the advise about Creamy, a dowie calf, morose arrogance of his friend Words- who, she thought, would be better with worth and from the exuberant arro- a bed by the fire here, and her care, gance of his friend Landor.

Only and milk from her own hands. Magnus those who have worked through the heard enough to send him to the enormous mass of his verse, his prose, calves' house with a vague sense — he and his letters can fully appreciate his was too dull-witted to have expressed merits ; nor is it easy to conceive any it — that the good things of earth were scheme of collection that would be pos- to be wasted on a silly calf. Tarpow sible, or of selection that would do him got into his red-brown, weather-spotted justice. But if no one of the Muses garments, and was down in the kitchen can claim him as her best beloved and as his daughter poured the porridge most accomplished son, all ought to and the maid came in with the milkaccord to him a preference never de- pails ; and at an hour when most of us served by any other of their innumer-ihink of awakening, all the hands at able family. For such a lover and such Tarpow had done half a day's good a practitioner of alniost every form of work. literature, no literature possesses save An hour before midday Tarpow reEnglishi, and English is very unlikely turned to dinner. The meal was laid ever to possess again.

in the dingy parlor, on the side of GEORGE SAINTSBURY. the lobby opposite the kitchen. The

farmer faced the weather at the head of the table ; Julia, at the foot, wearer

the door, waited upon him. She bad From Blackwood's Magazine. waited upon him all her days. THE TOUCH OF SPRING.

In the middle of his broth he mumThat morning everything at Tarpow bled into his spoon : held a familiar course. Magnus, the “ Broomielaws is coming the nicht." foreman, passing through the kitchen, Broomielaws came every other marwhere Julia Hay, Tarpow's daughter, ket night. It was not Julia's wish to was bent over the porridge-pot, said : acknowledge, if she detected it, any.

“ The maister's going to market the thing unusual in this visit; and she nicht?" and she answered him with a replied : smile as fresh as the break of day. “ Yes, father."

[ocr errors]


Tarpow land was thin, – it girned a' “ Auld latties ?” he said. simmer and grat a' winter, as Leddy 6. Yes. The east field." Pillyal said of Gutterstone, – and Tar- Ay. Just so. Braw land to the pow's farmer had grown old and sour east'ards — at Broomielaws. Broomiein his fight with it. Yet all around his laws is coming the nicht.” own, the fields grew fat and heavy “Can ye not put him down at the crops. “ Nature," said Tarpow,- he toll-house ? ” said Julia, with a heat alluded to her in an unmentionable that was new to her, and caused her term, “ Nature, the thrawn father's yellow eyes to sparkle up stood on Tarpow and cuist her favors pastily under his brows. round it.” Broomielaws especially had “ Can I eat my meat ?” he replied, been blessed in the dispensation. Al- sharpening his speech on hers. ready, in this forward spring, its fields " Then why don't ye do it? What had Aushed a gentle green. You could needs he come bothering us ?” crop them to the very edges. In sow- “I've told ye how to keep him from ing and reaping and stacking and Tarpow at nights,” he said. “ Draw threshing, Broomielaws

like a ben your chair at Broomielaws and great workshop that never ran on short he'll leave me at the toll-house quick time. But Tarpow -- back-lying Tar- enough. Fegs! He'll be for driving pow, with its mean land — worked up me from St. Brise market past every outside jobs, as it were, harboring public. • Broomielaws is lakin' his other men's sheep, as well as its own wife's faither bame sober.' He ! he ! eattle eating their heads off. Once That's what they'll be saying ; and there had been enough original virtue Tarpow'll ha'e to drink his whiskey left in Tarpow's farmer to be a plum- cauld — without his Jooley." met for the shallow thing that owned “I thought ye had known my mind Broomielaws. Looking from his stead-on that score," Julia said, breaking in ing upon his neighbor's fields, Hay on his laugh. felt that in a rightly constituted world “I thought ye had known mine," he poor-spirited Broomielaws should have threw it back. "Upsettin' baggage. stood in his shoes. That was years Is it that laddie Leslie that has put ago. Looking out upon his neighbor's votions in your head about being aboon fields now,— himself more firmly set marrying Broomielaws ? Where's the in his own shoes, – bis only thought speerits? You're very narrow wi' the was to share their bounty in some speerits getting.” measure by making Julia their mis- “ You don't need spirits when you're tress. Worldly and selfish and little going to market. Besides, there's none sensitive as he was, however, it stuck in the house." in his throat to speak more definitely “ Send Liz to Mrs. Pratt's for some on that matter. At the same time it this very day. Would you shame yourirritated him, and had been irritating sel and me afore Broomielaws wi' a hinn for months, that this well-grown loom bottle ! Your head's full o' they and capable daughter of his should not mincing ways - ever syne that 'tillery meet him half-ways and make explana- ball. You're owre nice for Broomietions easier. Her mother had courted laws, and owre guid for your ain and wedded him ere she was Julia's faither, it would seem.' age; why was the daughter so back- “ Will I tell Aleck to yoke the ward ? Perhaps Julia, with her “Yes, beast ? ” said Julia quietly, who genfather,” and no more, was wiser than erally saved herself in the blast of be wot of.

her father's wrath by bending in it She carried out his plate and her slightly. own, the one within the other, and " You'll just yoke your tongue, returned with a dish of boiled becf and Jooley, till I'm done wi’ ye. Woman, some potatoes with coarse salt still ye dinna ken your guid fortune. Here's sticking to their jackets.

a big, healthy man, wi' that graund



land at Broomielaws, – graund land, succeeded note in a strange, plaintive, five hunder acre o't, a thousand dissatisfied melody. It expressed forpound in the bank, if he has a penny, eign feelings that had been gathering and as fine a judge o' kye as is on this for weeks - ever since that Artillery side o' the Forth ; and ye turn up ball of which her father had spoken. your nose at him! Fie, ye ! Gie me She could not have pointed to anything my muffler, and tell Aleck to yoke the that had happened then, or since, to mare. And, mind ye, show me none account for the change in her. Her o' your perky ways wi’ Broomielaws !” meeting with Leslie could not. Only,

A shade of decision in her father's the angle of her vision had become voice, the reflection of a more fixed more obtuse ; she saw ever so litlle intention within him, alarmed Julia, wider; and that little taught her of and she stole to the kitchen door to immense possibilities. She was aware watch him drive off in his gig. She of no definite wish to see more, to pictured him picking up Broomielaws know or to feel more. Tarpow and at the end of his own road, where he Broomielaws and Torrie Town had had been hanging over the stile wait- been lier world, bounded by an infining, - middle-aged, pronounced, clad ity, for measuring which, somehow, St. in a blue coat of a cut of forty years Brise gave her a line. Now that her ago, from which emerged on the upper world had stretched to take in St. side a neck encased in a stock that cut Brise, the infinite beyond was driven his bare red cheeks, and below, long farther off and become immensely legs in tight breeches. She pictured greater. And this young Leslie, him without a touch of caricature ; saw young as herself, with whom she had him mount the gig, sitting high above danced, who sailed across the Firth to her father, and the two swaying and Torrie Town to meet her (he told her bumping over the ups and downs to so ; she thought of it as of a fact only) St. Brise market. She was not ner- - he, too, widened her world for her, vously observant, but she could see all and, in a dim, inexplicable way, the that; and it showed her to be out of bounds of the mystery beyond her

; her usual habit that she cast a thought horizon. after the pair ere she turned to her She, herself, would go down to Torafternoon's work.

ric Town this afternoon on her father's She turned to it with a sense of un- errand. To that decision the thought quiet. The spring sunliglit flooding of Leslie's landing there the windows, the tender green of the determining consideration only. She trees beyond, the lazy cattle under wished the walk, more of the air, the them, the breeze skipping in through fresh breeze from the sea, more move. the porch, and the fragrance and fla- ment — anything to soothe this disquiet vors it brought with it, - all ihese within her. things unnerved her. New and inde- The main road past Tarpow leads scribable humors welled up within her. straight to Torrie harbor. Torrie An ineffable sadness, derived from all Town lies on the east side of the basin, things about her, it seemed, filled her and creeps across and up the hill bewith pleasure and alarm. She went out bind it, The harbor is scooped out of to look at some linen drying on a the sheer brown rock, which throws hedge. What a day it was! How back the grey and gold and blue of the freshly the air smelled; how blue - Baltic craft, and the black water in it like turquoise --- lay the sea beyond the reflects all that color steadily. Mrs. dip o' the fields ! On the blue there Pratt's inn stands on the pier-head, hung a white speck ; she knew it - beyond the saw-mill; so Julia came the sail of Leslie's yacht running down by the harbor instead of skirting straight for Torrie Town. It was not the hill above and descending by the of Leslie she was thinking; yet the High Gait. As she stepped on to the sail struck a pote within her, and note 'pier, the reflection of her in her light



« AnteriorContinuar »