Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

planted their fires, and found they had wants a vigorous effort to thrust shut off one half of the herd, with the them into it, and that effort is result that twenty-five of the enemy about to be made. We take a escaped scot-free and were seen do tempting position up a patriarchal more! However there were known tree that commands both the jungleto be at least twenty elephants still prison and the kraal-mouth. It is in the toils : everything was ready for curious how extremely brave you feel the fray, and we were

soon in the

at a kraal when you are safely astride thick of it. Words could not describe of a firm branch ; how you criticise the hideous din of the onslaught : the the operations of the beaters and shrieks and the yells, the taunts and musket-men, and courageously chaff the invectives, the discord of horns your friends below whose want of and rattles; and in front the dull activity bas deprived them of a similar crasbing of the huge beasts through excuse for bravery. But there is a the jungle, varied by occasional vol terrible obstacle in the way of final leys of musketry, as some great success, in the shape of what is fondly laggard in the rear turned for a called “the bigh road,” though it is moment to face his opponents. Then merely a sandy track, remarkable for there would be curious moments of the undetermined depth of its ruts. simultaneous silence, and it was pos This lies right across the line of sible, by a little creeping and maneuv march : : can the elephants be got over ring, to get close up to the quarry it in broad daylight? For we have had as they stood listening suspiciously in enough of night-attacks and torchlight some thick thorn-brake, doubting in failures. The struggle is soon raging which direction to seek escape, until beneath us; and for a good hour we a sudden panic started the unwieldy can trace the evolutions of the “heady ranks into a heavy tr

and the trees fight,"and the movements of the enemy and creepers parted to right and left, and their pursuers, in the swaying of beyond reach of eye and ear, and we the tree-tops and the crashing of the waited anxiously for the first tell-tale jungle, and the shrill trumpetings of shot, announcing that the foe had fear and

rage,

and the shouts and arrived at, and been repulsed from, shots of the dusky army. Closer and the further limit.

closer it comes, up to the very verge And so we hunted the great beasts of the road, but nothing will persuade well into the noon, oblivious of the the giants to break through the fringe heat and regardless of the thorns. of trees : again and again they break Excitement is a marvellous antidote back, facing fire and smoke rather to bunger and fatigue, nor was there than publicity; only to be driven forany thought of either until a halt was ward again, by volley upon volley of called. The lines took up their posi- blank cartridge and an ever increastion with amazing rapidity: fires were ing array of beaters; until at last a lit and muskets re-loaded ; and we great head, with sensitive trunk outthrew ourselves down under a mighty stretched, comes peering out of the banyan tree, and sent rapid messengers thick bushes, and a tentative foot to the rear for sandwiches and soda

paws the sandy rut. The prospect is water.

plainly not encouraging, for the mon

strous body is on the point of turning It is the last day of the hunt. The round again; but luckily the beaters elephants have been driven bit by bit guess, or are told of, the state of into a patch of jungle not a quarter affairs. Pandemonium let loose could of a mile from the yawning entrance not have excelled the outburst of to the kraal, which has every right triumphant hubbub: the die is cast, to be inscribed with the motto over and the crossing of the Rubicon comDante's famous portal.

It only

The enemy are led by an

mences.

enormous bull, who scorns to hurry, corresponding to the one at the furand proudly marches, as though with ther end, is run up and lined with the honours of war, from the evacuated guns, and the prisoners have begun fortress: then follows a female, per

their captivity. The scene at the haps the queen of bis harem, much summit of the amphitheatre (if one occupied with the protection of her may apply such a term to an oblong) two tiny calves; and it is touching to is picturesque in the extreme. Specsee how carefully she guides and tators from every village in the neighguards one with her trunk, while the bourhood have been pouring in all the other holds on lustily with his trunk morning, and the fairer (or shall we to her stumpy apology for a tail. The say gentler ?) sex is at last allowed to rest of the herd are less interesting appear now that the danger is over. and less dignified : there is no attempt Brilliant and dazzling are the colours to defend the rear, which is seized scattered over the black volcanic rock with the sentiment of sauve qui that rises from a sea of jungle : wild peut : ,helter-skelter they rush over and terror-stricken are the rushes of the blinding sand, and are lost to the huge captives in the toils : most view in the thick trees that guard audible is the buzz of contented conand conceal the fatal entrance. They versation above, most pitiable the are given but a short repose in this trumpetings of impotent rage below. last shelter ; just long enough for the But the wild herd is weary at last attacking army to eat the midday of tearing up and down the narrow rice, but sufficient for one more de arena, for the heat is very great, and spairing effort on the part of the the low jungle is trampled down sufbesieged. We have left our coign of ficiently to admit of successful operavantage and are standing on the road, tions. The stockade at the entrance chatting to a hungry musketeer and is opened, and the four tame elephants rejoicing with him over the success of march stealthily in. Each carries two the morning's efforts, when suddenly mahouts and plentiful store of strong there is heard the rush of a heavy rope, while by the side, or rather body through the trees close to us, under the cover, of each walk two and out bursts the great bull into the men armed with sharp spears and two open, his trunk curled up tight for

The leader of the tame gang striking, his tail in air, and a look of is a mighty tusker, on whose courage desperate wickedness in his rolling and coolness everything depends, for eye. But the besiegers are ready for the other three are but novices, and him, even at rice-time : guns are five to one is long odds in a mammoth seized in an instant, and a fierce volley battle. The object to be gained is to greets and stops him ere he has time approach the captives so quietly as to pass the watch-fires : he hesitates, not to startle them into a series of and the elephant, like the man, who wild gallops, to cut off one of their does so, is lost. Two bold sentries step number by a well-timed flank moveforward and pepper his feet and trunk ment, and to hem him in. Then will with small-shot : the line closes on him, the clever nooser do his work, and firing as it closes : a great shout runs slip a deft loop over the hind foot down the length of it, and the cham- directly it is lifted, while his comrade pion, finding the better part of valour fasteps the other end to a neighbourin discretion, retires with uncurled ing tree, and-actum est de elephanto. trunk and drooping tail.

But there is many a slip between the The battle is practically over.

The lasso and the elephantine foot. All entrance to the kraal is rendered more goes smoothly at first. The decoys and more inevitable by gradually steal knowingly along the side of the closing lines : the herd wanders into rock-wall to within ten yards of the it almost unconsciously: a stockade, herd, stopping or advancing according

Dooses.

roar.

to each sign of apprehension or con gave him such a wrench as he will fidence, when suddenly the wild ones hardly forget in a week, and the man seent danger, and, escape being im is saved. possible, determine on resistance. The It takes some time to bring up the huge champion of the herd challenges tame elephants to the attack again, the tusker, in knightly fashion, to for the first defeat was demoralizing single combat, and advances on him in the extreme, and it is not until a with stooping head and a reverberating plentiful feed, numerous incantations,

You can almost hear the great and the arrival of a fifth ally have skulls crash together, so near do they restored their courage that the perilapproach, when out step the spearmen ous game recommences. But the wild in the nick of time, and strike their ones aro by this time exhausted with keen spears into the soft flesh of the their very wildness, and gather into trunk, and the charge is averted. detached, weary knots: their charges But the champion's followers are bent are mere feints, and at last a straggler on mischief in spite of his discom is hemmed into a likely corner.

One fiture : charge follows charge with moment of suspense as the nooser furious frequency: one of the tame creeps noiselessly up to him: a wild, ones is in full flight for the rear, and abortive struggle with the unyielding the tusker and his satellites have all tree, and the first fruits of the hunt they can do to save the retreat from are securely reaped. The remainder turning into a fatal rout. An exciting of the work is comparatively easy. incident happens just below us. A Success breeds success, and one after spearman has delivered his thrust at the other the victims fall to the wiles a charging foe, but the spear breaks

of their pursuers.

The moon rises short off near the head, and remains over the strange scene as we leave it sticking in the elephant's trunk. He for the camp: the rocks are alive with retires, disarmed, to the shelter of the little fires that form the centres of tusker, trips over a root, and falls chattering, hungry groups : the sea prode. His enemy is upon him in an of jungle is very calm and pale: the instant, bending his head to crush grim prisoners below are straining him. It is a sickening moment. One hopelessly at their fetters, and sniffcannot breathe. Suddenly the beast ing sullenly at the food thrown to starts back with a shriek of pain and them; and a glorious week's sport has rushes up the arena. The spearhead reached a happy end. in his trunk caught in the ground as he was delivering the fatal blow, and

S. M. BURROWS.

190

DR. JOHNSON'S STYLE.

The critic who examines the varia the year 1760. The publication of tions in Dr. Johnson's style labours The Idler, which began in the spring under the disadvantages of one who of 1758, lasted two years all but ten deals with a subject probably un days. Murphy traces " the pomp of familiar to most of his readers. Of his diction" which was for the first time prose works scarcely anything is now assumed in The Rambler, to the inread except a few of the Lives of the fluence that the preparation of the Poets : Rasselas indeed is not for Dictionary had on Johnson's mind. gotten, yet the chances are that an As he grew familiar with technical allusion to it is not understood even and scholastic words, he thought that among people of some reading. The the bulk of his readers were equally Rambler and The Idler have even learned ; or at least would admire the passed beyond the affectation of those splendour and dignity of his style." who are unwilling to be thought igno- Both these critics, in the judgment at rant of the great monuments of lite which they have arrived, have, I berature. No one is tempted to pretend lieve, examined merely Johnson's style that he has read them, for no reputa as an essayist. They have not looked tion would be gained thereby. They at his miscellaneous writings that have, to use Johnson's own words, belong to the same period. In them been “swept away by time, and now I fail to discover any unusual “pomp lie “among the refuse of fame." It of diction," or anything harder or is idle to ask whether this neglect is more laboured than is met with in the deserved. Johnson himself, when compositions of his earlier or later speaking of the judgment which had manhood. The Preface to the Dicbeen slowly formed of Addison's Cato, tionary, the Life of Sir Thomas maintained that “about things on Browne, the Review of Jonas Hanwhich the public thinks long. it com way's Journal, and of Soame Jenyns's monly attains to think right." In Nature and Origin of Evil, which were another passage he remarks that written about the middle of this period “what is good only because it pleases of ten years, are free from any excess cannot be pronounced good till it tas of mannerisms. In fact Boswell himbeen found to please.” The Rambler self, though he says that Johnson's and The Idler did not greatly please style “was considerably easier in the even the generation for which they Lives of the Poets than in The Ramwere written.

bler,” yet in the numerous papers It has been asserted that in John that his friend wrote for The Literary son's writings three periods can be Magazine in 1756 can find one intraced. In his earlier works and in his stance only “in which he had indulged later he is, it is maintained, much his Brownism," meaning thereby that simpler and easier than in those of Anglo-Latian diction in which Sir his middle age

“ Between the years Thomas Browne delighted. What can 1750 and 1758 his style was, I think,” be simpler than the following lines in writes Malone, “in its hardest and which we are told of Browne's birth most laboured state.” If Malone, as and education ? They might be taken I have no doubt, meant to include the as a model of simplicity by all bioperiod in which were published The graphers. Rambler, The Adventurer, and The

“Sir Thomas Browne was born at London Idler, he should have closed it with in the parish of St. Michael in Cheapside on

the 19th of October, 1605. His father was a

wear the

gown of the preacher, or of merchant, of an ancient family at Upton, in the doctor in some ancient university, Cheshire. Of the name or family of his mother I find no account. of his childhood or youth

at all events he clothed his lessons in there is little known, except that he lost his a style which, to borrow his own father very early; that he was, according to words, would “have given dignity to a the common fate of orphans, defraudled by one

bishop." In his last Rambler he tells of his guardians; and that he was placed for his education at the school of Winchester.”

his readers that "it has been his

principal design to inculcate wisdom What, to quote an instance from an or piety.” It will be found, if I am other kind of writing, can be freer not mistaken, that when he is didactic, from "pomp of diction” than the when he is "pointing a moral," he following sarcastic attack on Soame labours the most. To him who preaches Jenyns?

and to him who teaches, amplification "I am told that this pamphlet is not the

and repetition come almost naturally. effort of hunger ; what can it be then but the

Each truth, as it is enunciated, is first product of vanity? And yet how can vanity set forth with a certain simplicity of be gratified by plagiarism or transcription ? language, and is then decked in all When this speculatist finds himself prompted to another performance, let him consider

the pomp that words can lend. It whether he is about to disburden his mind or

should not be forgotten that Johnson, employ his fingers ; and if I might venture in the midst of all his big words, is to offer him a subject I should wish that he entirely free from one fault which is would solve this question: Why he that

common to some of the greatest and has nothing to write should desire to be a writer?”

the most contemptible of writers. If

he forces foreign words into the lanThe difference in style which Malone

guage he never forces foreign idioms. and Murphy insist on, which Boswell

He protests, both by words and by to some extent allows, and for which example, against "the license of transLord Macaulay, as I shall presently lators, whose idleness and ignorance, show, has an explanation of his own, if it be suffered to proceed, will reduce must, I readily admit, strike any one us to babble a dialect of France." He who, after some familiarity with John- charges Milton with“ forming his style son's biographical writings, takes up by a perverse and pedantic principle. for the first time his essays.

The

He was desirous to use English words Ramblers undoubtedly differ in style with a foreign idiom.” from Johnson's earlier writings. In The explanation that I have just his previous compositions scattered given of the change in Johnson's style, passages can be readily found which

though it accounts for much, yet it are cast in the same mould, but the does not account for all the amplivery first Rambler is all of one piece, fications that weary the reader in The woven of one texture, of more gor liambler and The Adventurer. geous threads, of a more elaborate both these papers he was writing pattern, and in a more stately loom. under conditions which are the greatFor this “pomp of diction,” this

est temptation to diffuseness. He had exuberance of language, a simpler and not only to express his thoughts, but a more natural explanation may be to make them in each number cover a found than that which Murphy gives. certain space.

If they in themselves Johnson came before the world in a would not go far enough, the gaps new character--a character which, as had to be filled up with words. Vith it commonly seeks a peculiar and a his wonderful command of language it dignified dress, so still more commonly was the easiest of tasks to support adopts a certain stateliness of lan each substantive with three adjectives, guage. In his Rambler he appeared where two or even one would have as "a majestic teacher of moral and sufficed ; and in a second swelling senreligious wisdom." If he did not tence to tell over again in fresh and

In

« VorigeDoorgaan »