Imágenes de páginas

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 been 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 commonplace book But it puts him in the very first rank of the second.

(such as, after Southey's death, was 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 abstracts, summaries, comments, teresting subject of Southey's prose. etc., of and on 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 pomposity 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 ioned, and not of those things which his own uushaken conviction of the

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

—an in

lasting quality of his work, seems to long rather than the short, and dishave made Southey fall in love with, tinctly longer than 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, ΟΙ "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, 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, nection, 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 delightful books in English." Essays," which he reprinted in two Macaulay, who, politics apart, cannot be called an unfair critic of Southey, is unduly hard on his humor; but the temper of Macaulay's mind was always intolerant of nonsense, wherein Southey took a specially English delight.

very pretty little volumes at the most unfortunate time and with the least fortunate result, he displays one of the very best prose styles of the century, perhaps the very best of the quiet and regular kind, unless Lockhart's, which is more technically faulty, be ranked with it.

The characteristics of this wide and neglected champaign of letters, a 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 more a may seem flat. He scornfully repu- good writer because he was a good diated, 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, he 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,

there is a certain reluctance to grant Passing through the kitchen and up this. There is plausibility in asking the stairs to Tarpow's bedroom, Magnot 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 regerous 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 maudlin; 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 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-think 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 almost every form of work. literature, no literature possesses save English, and English is very unlikely ever to possess again.

[blocks in formation]


An hour before midday Tarpow returned to dinner. The meal was laid in the dingy parlor, on the side of the lobby opposite the kitchen. The farmer faced the weather at the head of the table; Julia, at the foot, nearer the door, waited upon him. She had waited upon him all her days.

In the middle of his broth he mumbled into his spoon :

[blocks in formation]

[ocr errors]


"Auld tatties ?" he said.
"Yes. The east field."

"Ay. east'ards

Just so.

Braw land to the at Broomielaws. Broomielaws is coming the nicht."

"Can ye not put him down at the toll-house?" said Julia, with a heat that was new to her, and caused her father's yellow eyes to sparkle up nastily under his brows.

"Can I eat my meat?" he replied, sharpening his speech on hers. "Then why don't ye do it? What needs he come bothering us?" "I've told ye how to keep him from "Draw

Tarpow land was thin,-it girned a' simmer and grat a' winter, as Leddy Pillyal said of Gutterstone, and Tarpow's farmer had grown old and sour in his fight with it. Yet all around his own, the fields grew fat and heavy crops. "Nature," said Tarpow, alluded to her in an unmentionable term, "Nature, the thrawn stood on Tarpow and cuist her favors round it." Broomielaws especially had been blessed in the dispensation. Already, in this forward spring, its fields had flushed a gentle green. You could crop them to the very edges. In sowing and reaping and stacking and Tarpow at nights," he said. threshing, Broomielaws was 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 takin' his other men's sheep, as well as its own wife's faither hame 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 poor-spirited Broomielaws should have stood in his shoes. That was years ago. Looking out upon his neighbor's fields now, -himself more firmly set in his own shoes, - his only thought was to share their bounty in some measure by making Julia their mistress. Worldly and selfish and little sensitive as he was, however, it stuck 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 him for months, that this well-grown toom 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 backward? Perhaps Julia, with her "Yes, father," and no more, was wiser than he wot of.

She carried out his plate and her own, the one within the other, and returned with a dish of boiled beef and some potatoes with coarse salt still sticking to their jackets.



"I thought ye had known mine," he threw it back. "Upsettin' baggage. Is it that laddie Leslie that has put notions in your head about being aboon marrying Broomielaws? Where's the speerits? You're very narrow wi' the speerits getting."

"You don't need spirits when you're going to market. Besides, there's none in the house."

"Will I tell Aleck to yoke the beast ?" said Julia quietly, who generally saved herself in the blast of her father's wrath by bending in it slightly.

"You'll just yoke your tongue, Jooley, till I'm done wi' ye. Woman, ye dinna ken your guid fortune. Here's 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 little 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 her 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, as 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. rie 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 sunlight flooding of Leslie's landing there was one determining consideration only. She wished the walk, more of the air, the fresh breeze from the sea, more movement - anything to soothe this disquiet within her.

the windows, the tender green of the trees beyond, the lazy cattle under them, the breeze skipping in through the porch, and the fragrance and flavors it brought with it, all these things unnerved her. New and indescribable humors welled up within her. An ineffable sadness, derived from all things about her, it seemed, filled her with pleasure and alarm. She went out to look at some linen drying on a hedge. What a day it was! How freshly the air smelled; how blue like turquoise-lay the sea beyond the dip o' the fields! On the blue there hung a white speck; she knew it the sail of Leslie's yacht running straight for Torrie Town. It was not of Leslie she was thinking; yet the sail struck a note within her, and note

[ocr errors]

The main road past Tarpow leads straight to Torrie harbor. Torrie Town lies on the east side of the basin, and creeps across and up the hill behind it. The harbor is scooped out of the sheer brown rock, which throws back the grey and gold and blue of the Baltic craft, and the black water in it reflects all that color steadily. Mrs. Pratt's in stands on the pier-head, beyond the saw-mill; so Julia came down by the harbor instead of skirting the hill above and descending by the High Gait. As she stepped on to the pier, the reflection of her in her light

« AnteriorContinuar »