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That scene is the chief ganglion of the tale; story of a love-chase. If he had heard and the discharge of energy from Rawdon's a letter from Clarissa, would he have been fist is the reward and consolation of the fired with the same chivalrous ardour? reader. The end of Esmond is a yet I wonder. Yet Clarissa has every quality wider excursion from the author's custom- that can be shown in prose, one alone ary fields; the scene at Castlewood is excepted – pictorial or picture-making pure Dumas; the great and wily English romance. While Robinson depends, for borrower has here borrowed from the the most part and with the overwhelming great unblushing French thief; as usual majority of its readers, on the charm of he has borrowed admirably well, and the circumstance. breaking of the sword rounds off the best In the highest achievements of the art of all his books with a manly, martial of words, the dramatic and the pictorial, note. But perhaps nothing can more the moral and romantic interest, rise strongly illustrate the necessity for mark- and fall together by a common and organic ing incident than to compare the living law. Situation is animated with passion, fame of Robinson Crusoe with the dis- passion clothed upon with situation. credit of Clarissa Harlowe. Clarissa is Neither exists for itself, but each inheres a book of a far more startling import, indissolubly with the other. This is worked out, on a great canvas, with in- high art; and not only the highest art imitable courage and unflagging art. It possible in words, but the highest art of contains wit, character, passion, plot, con- all, since it combines the greatest mass versations full of spirit and insight, letters and diversity of the elements of truth sparkling with unstrained humanity; and and pleasure. Such are epics, and the if the death of the heroine be some- few prose tales that have the epic weight. what frigid and artificial, the last days But as from a school of works, aping the of the hero strike the only note of what creative, incident and romance are ruthwe now call Byronism, between the Eliza- lessly discarded, so may character and bethans and Byron himself. And yet drama be omitted or subordinated to a little story of a shipwrecked sailor, with romance. There is one book, for example, not a tenth part of the style nor a thou- more generally loved than Shakespeare, sandth part of the wisdom, exploring none that captivates in childhood, and still of the arcana of humanity and deprived delights in age - I mean the Arabian of the perennial interest of love, goes on Nights - where you shall look in vain for from edition to edition, while Clarissa moral or for intellectual interest. No lies upon the shelves unread. A friend human face or voice greets us among that of mine, a Welsh blacksmith, was twenty- wooden crowd of kings and genies, sorfive years
old and could neither read cerers and beggarmen. Adventure, in nor write, when he heard a chapter of the most naked terms, furnishes forth Robinson read aloud in a farm kitchen. the entertainment, and is found enough. Up to that moment he had sat content, Dumas approaches perhaps nearest of huddled in his ignorance, but he left that any modern to these Arabian authors, farm another man. There were day- in the purely material charm of some of dreams, it appeared, divine day-dreams, his romances. The early part of Monte written and printed and bound, and to be Cristo, down to the finding of the treasure, bought for money and enjoyed at pleasure. is a piece of perfect story-telling; the Down he sat that day, painfully learned man never breathed who shared these to read Welsh, and returned to borrow moving incidents without a tremour; and the book. It had been lost, nor could yet Faria is a thing of packthread and he find another copy but one that was in Dantès little more than a name. The English. Down he sat once more, learned sequel is one long-drawn error, gloomy, English, and at length, and with entire bloody, unnatural and dull; but as for delight, read Robinson. It is like the these early chapters, I do not believe
there is another volume extant where pirates, war and murder, is to conjure you can breathe the same unmingled with great names, and, in the event of atmosphere of romance. It is very thin failure, to double the disgrace. The and light, to be sure, as on a high moun- arrival of Haydn and Consuelo at the tain; but it is brisk and clear and sunny Canon's villa is a very trifling incident; in proportion. I saw the other day, with yet we may read a dozen boisterous stories envy, an old and very clever lady setting from beginning to end, and not receive forth on a second third voyage
into so fresh and stirring an impression of Monte Cristo. Here are stories which adventure. It was the scene of Crusoe powerfully affect the reader, which can at the wreck, if I remember rightly, that be reperused at any age, and where the so bewitched my blacksmith. Nor is characters are more than puppets. the fact surprising. Every single artiThe bony fist of the showman visibly pro- cle the castaway recovers from the hulk pels them; their springs are an open is “a joy for ever” to the man who reads of secret; their faces are of wood; their them. They are the things that should bellies filled with bran; and yet we thrill- be found, and bare enumeration stirs the ingly partake of their adventures. And blood. I found a glimmer of the same the point may be illustrated still further. interest the other day in a new book, The last interview between Lucy and The Sailor's Sweetheart, by Mr. Clark Richard Feveril is pure drama; more Russell. The whole business of the brig than that, it is the strongest scene, since Morning Star is very rightly felt and spiritShakespeare, in the English tongue.
tongue. edly written; but the clothes, the books, Their first meeting by the river, on the and the money satisfy the reader's mind other hand, is pure romance; it has noth- like things to eat. We are dealing here ing to do with character; it might happen with the old cut-and-dry, legitimate into any other boy and maiden, and be terest of treasure trove. But even treasnone the less delightful for the change. ure trove can be made dull. There are And yet I think he would be a bold man few people who have not groaned under who should choose between these
passages. the plethora of goods that fell to the lot Thus in the same book we may have two of the Swiss Family Robinson, that dreary scenes, each capital in its order : in the family. They found article after article, one, human passion, deep calling unto deep, from milk kine to pieces of ordnance, shall utter its genuine voice; in the second, a whole consignment; but no informing according circumstances, like instruments taste had presided over the selection, – in tune, shall build up a trivial but de- there was no smack or relish in the invoice, sirable incident, such as we love to pre- and these riches left the fancy cold. The figure for ourselves; and in the end, in box of goods in Verne's Mysterious Island spite of the critics, we may hesitate to is another case in point: there was no give the preference to either. The one gusto and no glamour about that; it may ask more genius - I do not say it might have come from a shop. But the does; but at least the other dwells as two hundred and seventy-eight Australian clearly in the memory.
sovereigns on board the Morning Star fell True romantic art, again, makes a ro- upon me like a surprise that I had exmance of all things. It reaches into the pected; whole vistas of secondary stories, highest abstraction of the ideal; it does besides the one in hand, radiated forth not refuse the most pedestrian realism. from that discovery, as they radiate from Robinson Crusoe is as realistic as it is ro- a striking particular in life; and I was mantic; both qualities are pushed to an made for the moment as happy as a reader extreme, and neither suffers. Nor does has a right to be. romance depend upon the material im- To come at all at the nature of this qualportance of the incidents. To deal with ity of romance, we must bear in mind the strong and deadly elements, banditti,
1 In George Sand's Consuelo.
peculiarity of our attitude to any art. that he can join in it with all his heart, No art produces illusion; in the theatre when it pleases him at every turn, when we never forget that we are in the theatre; he loves to recall it and dwells upon its and while we read a story, we sit waver- recollection with entire delight, fiction ing between two minds, now merely clap- is called romance. ping our hands at the merit of the performance, now condescending to take an active part in fancy with the characters. This last is the triumph of romantic story
A SONG OF THE ROAD telling: when the reader consciously plays at being the hero, the scene is a good
THE gauger walked with willing foot, scene. Now in character studies the
And aye the gauger played the flute;
And what would Master Gauger play pleasure that we take is critical; we watch,
But Over the hills and far away? we approve, we smile at incongruities, we are moved to sudden heats of sympathy
Whene'er I buckle on my pack for courage, suffering, or virtue. But the characters are still themselves, they are
And foot it gaily in the track not us; the more clearly they are depicted,
O pleasant gauger, long since dead, the more widely do they stand away from
I hear you fluting on ahead. us, the more imperiously do they thrust us back into our place as a spectator. I
with me the self-same way
The self-same air for me you play; cannot identify myself with Rawdon
For I do think and so do you Crawley or with Eugène de Rastignac, for I have scarce a hope or fear in common
It is the tune to travel to. with them. It is not character but incident that woos us out of our reserve.
For who would gravely set his face Something happens as we desire to have
To go to this or t'other place? it happen to ourselves; some situation,
There's nothing under heav'n so blue
That's fairly worth the travelling to. that we have long dallied with in fancy, is realized in the story with enticing and appropriate details. Then we forget the
On every hand the roads begin, characters; then we push the hero aside;
And people walk with zeal therein;
But wheresoe'er the highways tend, then we plunge into the tale in our own person and bathe in fresh experience;
Be sure there's nothing at the end. and then, and then only, do we say we have been reading a romance. It is not
Then follow you wherever hie only pleasurable things that we imagine
The travelling mountains of the sky,
Or let the streams of civil mode in our day-dreams; there are lights in which we are willing to contemplate even
Direct your choice upon the road; the idea of our own death, which it seems as if it would amuse us
For one and all, or high or low, to be cheated, wounded, or calumniated.
Will lead you where you wish to go; It is thus possible to construct a story,
And one and all go night and day
Over the hills and far away! even of tragic import, in which every incident, detail, and trick of circumstance shall be welcome to the reader's thoughts. Fiction is to the grown man what play
A LAD THAT IS GONE is to the child; it is there that he changes the atmosphere and tenor of his life; and SING me a song of a lad that is gone when the game so chimes with his fancy Say, could that lad be I? 1 Crawley in Thackeray's Vanity Fair; Ras
Merry of soul he sailed on a day tignac in Balzac's Pire Goriot and other tales.
Over the sea to Skye.
All day we tack'd and tack'd between
the South Head and the North ; All day we hauld the frozen sheets, and
got no further forth; 1 2 Two small islands in the Hebrides.
And well I knew the talk they had, the
talk that was of me, Of the shadow on the household and the
son that went to sea; And O the wicked fool I seem'd, in
every kind of way, To be here and hauling frozen ropes on
blessèd Christmas Day.
THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL
They lit the high sea-light, and the dark
began to fall. “All hands to loose topgallant sails !"
I heard the captain call.
first mate Jackson cried.
A naked house, a naked moor,
She stagger'd to her bearings, but the
Yet shall your ragged moor receive sails were new and good,
The incomparable pomp of eve, And the ship smelt up to windward just And the cold glories of the dawn as though she understood.
Behind your shivering trees be drawn; As the winter's day was ending, in the And when the wind from place to place entry of the night,
Doth the unmoored cloud-galleons chase, We clear'd the weary headland, and Your garden gloom and gleam again, passed below the light.
With leaping sun, with glancing rain.
Here shall the wizard moon ascend And they heaved a mighty breath, every The heavens, in the crimson end soul on board but me,
Of day's declining splendour; here As they saw her nose again pointing hand- The
of the stars appear. some out to sea ;
The neighbour hollows dry or wet, But all that I could think of, in the dark- Spring shall with tender flowers beset; ness and the cold,
And oft the morning muser see Was just that I was leaving home and Larks rising from the broomy lea, my folks were growing old.
And every fairy wheel and thread
Of cobweb dew-bediamonded.
When daisies go, shall winter time
Silver the simple grass with rime; Blows the wind to-day, and the sun and Autumnal frosts enchant the pool the rain are flying,
And make the cart-ruts beautiful; Blows the wind on the moors to-day And when snow-bright the moor ex
pands, Where about the graves of the martyrs How shall your children clap their hands! the whaups are crying,
To make this earth our hermitage, My heart remembers how !
A cheerful and a changeful page,
God's bright and intricate device Grey recumbent tombs of the dead in
Of days and seasons doth suffice. desert places, Standing stones on the vacant wine-red moor,
THE CELESTIAL SURGEON Hills of sheep, and the homes of the silent vanished races,
IF I have faltered more or less And winds, austere and pure:
In my great task of happiness;
If I have moved among my race Be it granted me to behold you again in And shown no glorious morning face; dying,
If beams from happy human eyes Hills of home! and to hear again the Have moved me not; if morning skies, call;
Books, and my food, and summer rain Hear about the graves of the martyrs the Knocked on my sullen heart in vain : peewees crying,
Lord, thy most pointed pleasure take And hear no more at all.
And stab my spirit broad awake;