« AnteriorContinuar »
TALBOYS. At eight?
NORTH. Seven. Archy, follow him-In that state of excitement he will be walking with his spectacles on over some precipice. Keep your eye on him, Archy
ARCHY. I can pretend to be carrying the landing-net, sir.
NORTH. There's a specimen of a Scottish Lawyer, gentlemen. What do you think of him?
BULLER. That he is without exception the most agreeable fellow, at first sight, I ever met in my life.
NORTH. And so you would continue to think him, were you to see him twice a week for twenty years. But he is far more than that -though, as the world goes, that is much: his mind is steel to the back-bone-his heart is sound as his lungs his talents great-in literature, had he liked it, he might have excelled; but he has wisely chosen a better Profession-and his character now stands high as a Lawyer and Judge. Yonder he goes! As fresh as a kitten after a score and three quarter miles at the least.
BULLER. Seward-let's after him. Billy -the minnows.
BILLY. Here's the Can, sirs.
NORTH. Seward, face Buller. Talboys, face North. Fall to, gentlemen; to-day we dispense with regular service. Each man has his own distinct dinner before him, or in the immediate vicinity-soup, fish, flesh, fowl and with all necessary accompaniments and sequences. How do you like the arrangement of the table, Talboys?
TALBOYS The principle shows a profound knowledge of human nature, sir. In theory, self-love and social are the same-but in practice, self-love looks to your own plate social to your neighbors. By this felicitous multiplication of dinners-this One in Four -this Four in One-the harmony of the moral system is preserved-and all works together for the general good. Looked at artistically, we have here what the Germans and others say is essential to the beautiful and the sublime-Unity.
NORTH. I believe the Four Dinners-if weighed separately-would be found not to differ by a pound. This man's fish might prove in the scale a few ounces heavier than
that man's-but in such case, his fowl would be found just so many ounces lighter. And so on. The Puddings are cast in the same mould-and the things equal to the same thing, are equal to one another.
TALBOYS. The weight of each repast? NORTH. Calculated at twenty-five pounds. TALBOYS. Grand total, one hundred. The golden mean.
NORTH. From these general views, to descend to particulars. Soup (turtle) two pounds-Hotch, ditto-Fish (Trout) two pounds-Flesh (Jigot-black face five year old,) six pounds-Fowl (Howtowdie boiled) five pounds-Duck (wild) three poundsTart (gooseberry) one pound-Pud (Variorum Edition) two pounds.
BULLER. That is but twenty-three, sir! I have taken down the gentleman's words.
NORTH. Polite and grateful. But you have omitted sauces and creams, breads and cheeses. Did you ever know me incorrect in my figures, in any affirmation or denial, private or public?
BULLER. Never. Beg pardon.
NORTH. Now that the soups and fishes seem disposed of, I boldly ask you, one and all, gentlemen, if you ever beheld Four more tempting Jigots?
TALBOYS. I am still at my fish. No fish so sweet as of one's own catching—so I have the advantage of all. This one hereyou the one I am eating at this blessed moment -I killed in what the man with the Landingnet called the Birk Pool. I know him by his peculiar physiognomy-an odd cast in his eye-which has not left him on the gridiron. That Trout of my killing on your plate, Mr. Seward, made the fatal plunge at the tail of the stream so overhung with Alders that you can take it successfully only by the tail-and I know him by his color, almost as silvery as a whitling. Yours Mr. Buller, was the third I killed-just where the river-for a river he is to-day, whatever he may be to-morrow-goes whirling into the Loch-and I can swear to him from his leopard spots. Illustrious sir, of him whom you have now disposed of-the finest of the Four-I remember saying inwardly, as with difficulty I encreeled him-for his shoulders were like a hog's-this for the King.
NORTH. Your perfect Pounder, Talboys, is the beau-ideal of a Scottish Trout. How he cuts up! If much heavier-you are frustrated in your attempts to eat him thoroughly-have to search-probably in vain-for what in a perfect Pounder lies patent to the day he is to back-bone comeatable
-from gill to fork. ist. Good creel? SEWARD. I gave Mr. Talboys the first of the water, and followed him-a mere caprice -with the Archimedean Minnow. I had a run-but just as the monster opened his jaws to absorb he suddenly eschewed the scentless phenomenon, and with a sullen plunge, sunk into the deep.
Seward, you are an art
BULLER. I tried the natural minnow after Seward but I wished Archimedes at Syracuse for the Screw had spread a panicand in a panic the scaly people lose all power of discrimination, and fear to touch a minnow, lest it turn up a bit of tin or some other precious metal.
NORTH. I have often been lost in conjecturing how you always manage to fill your creel, Talboys; for the truth is-and it must be spoken-you are no angler.
TALBOYS. I can afford to smile! I was no angler, sir, ten years ago-now I am. But how did I become one? By attending you, sir-for seven seasons-along the Tweed and the Yarrow, the Clyde and the Daer, the Tay and the Tummel, the Don and the Dee -and treasuring up lessons from the Great Master of the Art.
NORTH. You surprise me! Why, you never put a single question to me about the art-always declined taking rod in handseemed reading some book or other, held close to your eyes-or lying on banks a-dose or poetizing-or facetious with the Old Man -or with the Old Man serious-and sometimes more than serious, as, sauntering along our winding way, we conversed of man, of nature, and of human life.
TALBOYS. I never lost a single word you said, sir, during those days, breathing in every sense "vernal delight and joy," yet all the while I was taking lessons in the art. The flexure of your shoulder-the sweep of your arm-the twist of your wrist-your Delivery, and your Recover-that union of grace and power-the utmost delicacy, with the most perfect precision-All these qualities of a Heaven-born Angler, by which you might be known from all other men on the banks of the Whittadder on a Fastday
NORTH. I never angled on a Fast-day. TALBOYS. A lapsus linguæ-From a hundred anglers on the Daer, on the Queen's Birth-day
NORTH. My dear Friend, you exTALBOYS. All those qualities of a Heavenborn Angler I learned first to admire-then to understand-and then to imitate. VOL. XVIIL NO. L
three years I practised on the carpet-for three years I essayed on a pond-for three I strove by the running waters-and still the Image of Christopher North was before me till emboldened by conscious acquisition. and constant success, I came forth and took my place among the anglers of my country. BULLER. To-day I saw you fast in a tree. TALBOYS. You mean my Fly.
BULLER. First your Fly, and then, I think, yourself.
TALBOYS. I have seen Il Maestro himself in Timber, and in brushwood too. From him I learned to disentangle knots, intricate and perplexed far beyond the Gordian— "with frizzled hair implicit"-round twig, branch, or bole. Not more than half-a-dozen times of the forty that I may have been fast aloft-I speak mainly of my novitiate-have I had to effect liberation by sacrifice.
SEWARD. Pardon me, Mr. Talboys, for hinting that you smacked off your tail-fly today-I knew it by the sound.
TALBOYS. The sound! No trusting to an uncertain sound, Mr. Seward. Oh! I did so once but intentionally-the hook had lost the barb-not a fish would it hold-so I whipped it off, and on with a Professor.
BULLER. You lost one good fish in rather an awkward manner, Mr. Talboys.
TALBOYS. I did that metal minnow of yours came with a splash within an inch of his nose and no wonder he broke me-nay, I believe it was the minnow that broke meand yet you can speak of my losing a good fish in rather an awkward manner!
NORTH. It is melancholy to think that I have taught Young Scotland to excel myself in all the Arts that adorn and dignify life. Till I rose, Scotland was a barbarous country—
TALBOYS. Do say, my dear sir, semi-civil
NORTH. Now it heads the Nations—and I may set.
TALBOYS. And why should that be a melancholy thought, sir?
NORTH. Oh, Talboys-National Ingratitude! They are fast forgetting the man who made them what they are-in a few fleeting centuries the name of Christopher North will be in oblivion! Would you believe it possible, gentlemen, that even now, there are Scotsmen who never heard of the Fly that bears the name of me, its Inventor-Killing Kit!
BULLER. In Cornwall it is a household
SEWARD. And in all the Devons.
BULLER. Men in Scotland who never heard the name of North!
| our not ancient friendship-for I feel that a
NORTH. Christopher North-who is he?
TALBOYS. And you have it, sir-enjoy it and be thankful.
NORTH. But it may be too still. TALBOYS. My dear sir, what would you have?
NORTH. I taught you, Talboys, to play Chess-and now you trumpet Staunton.
TALBOYS. Chess-where's the board? Let us have a game.
NORTH. Drafts-and you quote Anderson and the Shepherd Laddie.
TALBOYS. Mr. North, why so querulous? NORTH. Where was the Art of Criticism? Where Prose? Young Scotland owes all her Composition to me-buries me in the earth and then claims inspiration from Heaven. "How sharper than a Serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless Child." Peter -Peterkin-Pym-Stretch-where are your lazinesses-clear decks.
"Away with Melancholy-
BULLER. What a sweet pipe! A single snatch of an old song from you, sir
NORTH. Why are you glowering at me, Talboys?
TALBOYS. It has come into my head, I know not how, to ask you a question.
NORTH. Let it be an easy one-for I am languid.
TALBOYS. Pray, sir, what is the precise signification of the word "Classical ?"
NORTH. My dear Talboys, you seem to think that I have the power of answering, off-hand, any and every question a first-rate fellow chooses to ask me. Classical-classical! Why, I should say, in the first placeOne and one other Mighty People-Those, the Kings of Thought-These, the Kings of the Earth.
TALBOYS. The Greeks-and Romans.
TALBOYS. Attend-do attend, gentlemen. And I hope I am not too much presuming on
TALBOYS. Thank you, sir. Fitness and Beauty. Anything more?
NORTH. Much more. We think of the Greeks and Romans, sir, as those in whom the Human Mind reached Superhuman Power.
NORTH. We think so-comparing ourselves with them, we cannot help it. In the Hellenic Wit, we suppose Genius and Taste met at their height the Inspiration Omnipotent
-the Instinct unerring! The creations of Greek Poetry!-IIomos-a Making! There the soul seems to be free from its chainshappily self-lawed. "The Earth we pace" is there peopled with divine forms. Sculpture was the human Form glorified-deified. And as in marble, so in Song. Something common-terrestrial-adheres to our being, and weighs us down. They-the Hellenesappear to us to have really walked as we walk in our visions of exaltation-as if the Graces and the Muses held sway over daily and hourly existence, and not alone over work of Art and solemn occasion. No moral
stain or imperfection can hinder them from appearing to us as the Light of human kind. Singular, that in Greece we reconcile ourselves to Heathenism.
TALBOYS. It may be that we are all Heathens at heart.
NORTH. The enthusiast adores Greecenot knowing that Greece monarchizes over him, only because it is a miraculous mirror that resplendently and more beautifully reflects--himself
the valvules of these your shrines, in which | way and wise, apart from human mortals! you stand around me, niched side by side, in Ye! tall, thick Volumes, that are each a visible presence, in this cathedral-like library! treasure-house of austere or blazing thoughts, I read Historian, Poet, Orator, Voyager--a which of you shall I touch with sensitive life that slid silently away in shades, or that fingers, of which violate the calmy austere bounded like a bark over the billows. I lift repose? I dread what I desire. You may up the curtain of all ages--I stand under all disturb you may destroy me! Knowledge skies on the Capitol-on the Acropolis. pulsates in me, as I receive it, communing Like that magician whose spirit, with a magi- with myself on my unquiet or tearful pillow cal word, could leave his own bosom to in- -or as it visits me, brought on the streaming habit another, I take upon myself every mode moonlight, or from the fields afire with noonof existence. I read Thucydides, and I would splendor, or looking at me from human eyes, be a Historian-Demosthenes, and I would and stirring round and around me in the tube an orator-Homer, and I dread to believe mult of men-Your knowledge comes in a myself called to be, in some shape or other, holy stillness and chillness, as if spelt off a servant of the Muse. Heroes and Hermits tombstones. of Thought--Seers of the Invisible-Prophets of the Ineffable--Hierophants of profitable mysteries-Oracles of the Nations--Luminaries of that spiritual Heaven! I bid ye hail!
BULLER. The fit is on him-he has not the slightest idea that he is in Deeside.
SEWARD. Magdalen College Library, I do believe. Mr. North-Mr. North--awakeawake-here we are all in Deeside.
NORTH. Ay-ay--you say well, Seward. "Look at the studies of the Great Scholar, and see from how many quarters of the mind impulses may mingle to compose the motives that bear him on with indefatigable strength in his laborious career."
SEWARD. These were not my very words, sir
NORTH. Ay, Seward, you say well. From how many indeed! First among the prime, that peculiar aptitude and faculty, which may be called-a taste and Genius forWords.
BULLER. I rather failed there in the Schools.
NORTH. Ay-from the beginning a part of the race have separated themselves from the dusty, and the dust-devoured, turmoil of Action to Contemplation. Have thoughtknown-worshipped! And such knowledge Books keep. Books now crumbling like Towers and Pyramids now outlasting them! Books that from age to age, and all the sections of mankind helping, build up the pile of Knowledge-a trophied Citadel. He who can read books as they should be read, peruses the operation of the Creator in his conscious, and in his unconscious Works, which yet we call upon to join, as if conscious, in our worship. Yet why-oh! why all this pains to attain that, through the labor of ages, which in the dewy, sunny prime of morn, one thrill of transport gives to me and to the Lark alike, summoning, lifting both heavenwards? Ah! perchance because the dewy, sunny prime does not last through the day! Because light poured into the eyes, and sweet breath inhaled, are not the whole of man's life here below-and because there" is an Hereafter!
SEWARD. I know where he is, Buller. He called it well a Cathedral-like Library.
NORTH. The breath of departed years floats here for my respiration. The pure air of heaven flows round about, but enters not. The sunbeams glide in, bedimmed as if in some haunt half-separated from Life, yet on our side of Death. Recess, hardly accessible-profound-of which I, the sole inmate, held under an uncomprehended restraint, breathe, move, and follow my own
NORTH. Yet you were in the First Class. There is implied in it, Seward, a readiness of logical discrimination in the Understanding, which apprehends the propriety of Words. BULLER. I got up my Logic passably and a little more.
NORTH. For, Seward, the Thoughts, the Notions themselves-must be distinctly dissevered in the mind, which shall exactly apply to each Thought-Notion-its appropriate sign, its own Word.
BULLER. You might as well have said Buller"-for I beat Seward in my Logic. NORTH. But even to this task, Seward, of rightly distinguishing the meaning of Words, more than a mere precision of thinkingmore than a clearness and strictness of the intellectual action is requisite.
BULLER. And in Classics we were equal.
NORTH. You will be convinced of this, Buller, if you recollect what Words express. The mind itself. For all its affections and sensibilities, Talboys, furnish a whole host of meanings, which must have names in Language. For mankind do not rest from en
riching and refining their languages, until they have made them capable of giving the representation of their whole Spirit.
TALBOYS. The pupil of language, therefore, sir-pardon my presumption-before he can recognize the appropriation of the Sign, must recognize the thing signified?
NORTH. And if the thing signified, Talboys, by the Word, be some profound, solemn, and moral affection--or if it be some wild, fanciful impression-or if it be some delicate shade or tinge of a tender sensibility -can anything be more evident than that the Scholar must have experienced in himself the solemn, or the wild, or the tenderly delicate feeling, before he is in the condition of affixing the right and true sense to the Word that expresses it?
TALBOYS. I should think so, sir.
SEWARD. The Words of Man paint the spirit of Man. The Words of a People depicture the Spirit of a people.
NORTH. Well said, Seward. And, therefore, the Understanding that is to possess the Words of a language, in the Spirit in which they were or are spoken and written, must, by self-experience and sympathy, be able to converse, and have conversed, with the Spirit of the People, now and of old.
BULLER. And yet what coarse fellows hold up their dunderheads as Scholars, forsooth, in these our days!
NORTH. Hence it is an impossibility that a low and hard moral nature should furnish a high and fine Scholar. The intellectual endowments must be supported and made available by the concurrence of the sensitive nature--of the moral and the imaginative sensibilities.
BULLER. What moral and imaginative sensibilities have they--the blear-eyed-the purblind-the pompous and the pedantic! But we have some true scholars--for example
NORTH. No names, Buller. Yes, Seward, the knowledge of Words is the Gate of Scholarship. Therefore I lay down upon the threshold of the Scholar's Studies this first condition of his high and worthy success, that he will not pluck the loftiest palm by means of acute, quick, clear, penetrating, sagacious, intellectual faculties alone-let him not hope it: that he requires to the highest renown also a capacious, profound, and tender soul.
SEWARD. Ay, sir, and I say so in all humility, this at the gateway, and upon the threshold. How much more when he reads.
NORTH. Ay, Seward, you laid the emphasis well there--reads.
SEWARD. When the written Volumes of Mind from different and distant ages of the world, from its distant and different climates, are successively unrolled before his insatiable sight and his insatiable soul!
BULLER. Take all things in moderation. NORTH. No--not the sacred hunger and thirst of the soul.
NORTH. From what unknown recesses, from what unlocked fountains in the depth of his own being, shall he bring into the light of day the thoughts by means of which he shall understand Homer, Pindar, Eschylus, Demosthenes, Plato, Aristotle-DISCOURSING! Shall understand them, as the younger did the elder-the contemporaries did the contemporaries-as each sublime spirit understood-himself!
BULLER. Did each sublime spirit always understand himself?
TALBOYS. Urge that, Mr. Buller. NORTH. So-and so only--to read, is to be a Scholar.
BULLER. Then I am none.
NORTH. I did not say you were.
BULLER. Thank you. What do you think of that, Mr. Talboys? Address Seward, sir. NORTH. I address you all three. Is the student smitten with the sacred love of Song? Is he sensible to the profound allurement of philosophic truth? Does he yearn to acquaint himself with the fates and fortunes of his kind? All these several desires are so many several inducements of learned study. BULLER. I understand that. TALBOYS. Ditto.
NORTH. And another inducement to such study is an ear sensible to the Beauty of the Music of Words--and the metaphysical faculty of unravelling the casual process which the human mind followed in imparting to a Word, originally the sign of one Thought only, the power to signify a cognate second Thought, which shall displace the first possessor and exponent, usurp the throne, and rule forever over an extended empire in the minds, or the hearts, or the souls of men.
BULLER. Let him have his swing, Mr. Talboys.
TALBOYS. He has it in that chair.
NORTH. A Taste and a Genius for Words! An ear for the beautiful music of Words! A happy justness in the perception of their strict proprieties! A fine skill in apprehending the secret relations of Thought with Thought-relations along which the mind moves with creative power, to find out for its own use, and for the use of all minds to