Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

was

all nervous, sensitive people, our au- but impressive. When I happened to call, thor cherishes a distinct preference for she was nearly always seated in the the cheerful daylight mind; he owns chimney corner on a low chair, and she the ability of Rossetti's extraordinary bent forward when she spoke. Her and morbid work, but the morbidness

sentences unwound themselves

very repels' him more than the ability at- neatly and completely, giving the imprestracts. Dickens at their first meeting sion of past reflection and present readistruck him as possessing “the most ani

ness; she spoke exceedingly well, but not

with the simplicity and verve, the happy mated countenance he had ever seen."

abandon of certain practised women of He gives a delightful picture of An

the world. I have been told she was most thony Trollope, "hirsute and taurine

agreeable en tête-à-tête; that when surof aspect, glaring at you from behind

rounded by admirers she was apt to fierce spectacles," with his tremendous become oratorical—a different woman. voice, his bluff, abrupt, but cordial She did not strike me as witty or ways, his generous and unselfish na- markedly humorous, she was too much in ture. There is a bright vignette of

earnest; she spoke with a sense of reLeigh Hunt in his old age, discursive sponsibility, and one cannot be exactly and amiable, fantastically arrayed in captivating when one is doing that. a sacerdotal-looking garment with a

I am sure that she was very sensitive,

and must have had many a painful halfbright-eyed, untidy little daughter, re

hour as the helpmate of Mr. Lewes. By joicing in the name of “Jacintha,” to

accepting the position she had placed pour out tea for him.

The chronicler herself in opposition to the moral inregrets Hunt's “incapacity for dealing stincts of most of those whom she held with the ordinary affairs of existence, dear. Though intellectually self-consuch as arithmetic and matrimony.” tained, I believe she was singularly deHe has some interesting recollections pendent on the emotional side of her of Carlyle; and his daughter Eleanor, nature. Though her conduct now Mrs. Augustine Birrell, was pres- socially indefensible, it would have been ent when the Sage of Chelsea was pre

cruel, it would have been stupid, to judge

her exactly as one would judge an ordisented to her Majesty, and forthwith,

nary offender. What a genius she must to the astonishment of all the seasoned

have had to be able to draw so many highcourtiers present, drew himself a chair minded people to her! I have an impreswith the remark, “I am an old man,

sion that she felt her position acutely and and, with your Majesty's leave, I will

was unhappy. ... She was much to be sit down." His notices of George Eliot pitied. I think she knew that I felt for illustrate in a delightful manner the her and would have been glad to do her a sympathetic fibre in his pature that at- good turn; for more than once, when I tracted to him people so different as was taking leave, she said, “Come and Lord Houghton and Erskine of Lin- see me soon, Mr. Locker, don't lose sight lathen, Gibbs, the eccentric print-seller of us.” And this to an outsider, a noin Newport street, Leicester Square, body, and not in her set. and a grande dame like Lady William One of the most delightful of the Russell.

many delightful sketches in this vol

ume is that of Dean Stanley. The Nature had disguised George Eliot's ap- small, alert figure, the sensitive, reparently stoical, yet really vehement and sensitive spirit, and her soaring genius, fined face, the “eager sweetness” of ad

dress-all these traits bear out the iniin a homely and insignificant form. Her countenance was equine-she was rather pression of singular attractiveness that like a horse—and her head had been in- Stanley made on his contemporaries. tended for a much longer body. She wore Mr. Locker gives a humorous account her hair in not pleasing out-of-fashion of an expedition to Fairlight, near loops, coming down on either side of her Hastings, in company with the dean face, so hiding her ears; and her garments and Lord Arthur Russell. concealed her outline-they gave her a waist like a milestone. :. She had a Augusta [he says] used always to keep measured way of conversing, constrained her husband very neat and trim, his black

one

suit and boots being always carefully There is much literary criticism, unbrushed. . .. That day at Fairlight it pretentious but admirable for delicacy happened to be particularly wet and slip- and discrimination, scattered through pery. We had not got far before poor these pages. Mr. Locker was, Arthur slid gently down on the fat of his need bardly say, a great admirer of back. Not long afterwards he again Jane Austen, and recommends his chilslipped and fell, this time face foremost. Then his goloshes got unfastened, and full

dren to read the story of Anne Elliott, of clay and water, and, as he was rather in “Persuasion,” if they wish to realize helpless, we aided in taking them off. the perfection of her art. “Lycidas," All these misfortunes did not in the least with its surpassing melody and unapimpair Arthur Stanley's serenity, and proachable distinction, he considers as hardly interrupted the flow of his de- in some respects the finest poem in the lightful conversation. However, the language, though he somewhat defigure he cat was indescribably funny. murs to the "Pilot of the Galilean

He was a bright brown from the Lake.” “Cowper,” he says, summing crown of his head to the soles of his feet, but it did not discompose him at all. He ments in the poet's nature, "writes so

up in a phrase one of the essential elewalked complacently between Russell

He is “enand myself, each of us carrying a golosh, very like a gentleman.” which, with its mud, was à considerable thralled by Wordsworth’s rapture, weight.

spiritual passion, sane imagination and Lady Augusta's emotions on welcom- infinite into every-day life.” But, as be

serenity, and his power of bringing the ing her dean home again in this dis.

comes a “society poet,” he gives Pope guise may be conceived. Lady Charlotte Locker died in 1872, ciates Browning's “intellectual momen

a very high place.

He greatly appreand about two years afterwards Mr.

tum” and subtle and spiritual energy; Locker married the daughter of Sir he is hopeful and makes others hope, Curtis Lampson and assumed the name

but "he makes too great a demand on of Lampson in addition to his patro- the intellectual vigor of the reader.” nymic. At Rowlant, his wife's home Locker had much in common with and afterwards his own, he collected round him a charming and varied cir- Thackeray, and speaks of him with

peculiar sympathy:cle of friends, and was free to indulge the elegant hobby of book-collecting. Thackeray [he reminds us] was a good His celebrated little volume of “Lon- man. He had a strong sense of religion; don Lyrics,” published in 1857, had he recognizes that the human soul regiven him the entrée to the best maga- quires such a sanctuary and would starve zines, such as Macmillan's and the

without it. It was Thackeray who spoke Cornhill, but only the spur of necessity sorrowfully of his little Ethel Newcome

as going prayerless to bed. could ever have made him a prolific writer. He died at Rowfant in the Many people will have been led spring of 1895. “Children, love one an- through these delightful reminiscences other,” he wrote, “that will be your to revive their recollections of Mr. best remembrance of me." The rec

Locker's poetry. It belongs essenommendation is characteristic. Ur- tially to the genus of the “Lyra Eleganbanity and a certain pensive grace tiarum,” to the class represented by characterize these memoirs, as they do Suckling and Herrick, by Prior and everything else that he wrote. One Gay, by Praed and Thackeray, and feels that had he been a man of ro- Austin Dobson. This class includes buster fibre, he might have made a the fanciful gallantry of more decided mark upon his age, but

When as in silks my Julia goes, bis work would have lost its peculinr cachet of delicacy and thoughtful

no less than the chivalrous appeal of charm, the mood-half smiling, half Lovelace, serious-of a looker on at the game of I could not love thee, dear, so much life.

Loved I not honor more.

seem

Swift in his savage, and Pope in his compliment or social satire.

The great venomed, moods are outside the range humorists—and this is the secret of of it; but when the terrible dean allows their power-have this of the poet in his mood to soften into the delightful, them, that they are dominated by a playful tenderness of his birthday odes sense of the contrasts of life; its trivialto Stella, he vindicates his right to a ities and its mysteries, its absurdity place in the band as truly as Pope in and pathos, lie very close together in the famous stanza:

their minds. They are beset with the

thought of man's fragility in the grip Happy the man whose wish and care

of tbe awful unknown powers which A few paternal acres bound,

shape his destiny; his efforts, which Content to breathe his native air

so futile; his schemes, woven In his own ground.

with patient care, only to be brushed It admits the rollicking fun of Can

away, like a spider's web, by the terning's Song from the Anti-Jacobin, rible silent irony of events; his desires, and the rather more subdued satire of

so blindly placed; his labor for that Praed's “Sleep, Mr. Speaker, sleep which satisfieth not-all these elements while you may," or "The Letter of Ad

in the human tragi-comedy win them to vice,” surely one of the most perfect the smile that is sadder than tears. So things of its kind ever written:

Thackeray, before his bowl of bouillaMiss Lane, at her Temple of Fashion,

baisse, in "The New Street of the Little Taught us both how to sing and to Fields," sees at the board about him speak,

the ghosts of his old companions, picAnd we loved one another with passion, tures in the seat at his side the form

Before we had been there a week; of the one taken from him by affliction You gave me a ring for a token,

worse than death, leaving him to his I wear it wherever I go;

widowed hearth, and the cup that I gave you a chain-is it broken?

henceforth there is none to share. My own Araminta, say no. This is not much in the vein of the

We bow to Heaven that willed it so. modern débutante; and still less the It is well, we know, for those who catalogue of desiderata that follows:- can say those words in sincerity-and

yet the wonder and the pity of it! If he speaks of a tax or a duty

If he does not look grand on his knees; Why do our joys depart
If he's blind to a landscape of beauty,

For cares to seize the heart?
Hills, valleys, rocks, waters, and trees; I know not, Nature says,
If he dotes not on desolate towers,

Obey; and man obeys.
If he likes not to hear the blast blow;

I see, and know not why If he knows not the language of flowers,

Thorns live and roses die. My own Araminta, say no.

This is the characteristic note of the The heroines of "Sense and Sensibil- poetry that we are particularly conity," or "Northanger Abbey" might sidering; this quick and delicate sense have discussed the "not impossible he" of the outward; this brilliant reflecmuch in these terms. Still, in spite of tion of the movement and tone of social the change in taste, one cannot but ad. life; and yet, as a constant undertone, mire the delicate light touch of the "the sense of tears in mortal things," poet, and the certainty and grace of reminding one of the poignant sadness his handling.

underlying the airy capricious harBut the most exquisite work done in monies of Chopin's waltz music. It is this genre does not depend for its effect the outcome of a nature, constitutionon buoyancy and brilliancy alone. All ally sensitive, prone to melancholy; tried poetry worthy of the name must stir by domestic reverses, by bereavement, a keener emotion than the surface or else by that natural deficiency of ani. sense of the ridiculous, must strike a mal spirits, that inborn lack of joy, deeper note than that of conventional which is the heritage of anæmic and ner

.

а.

us.

vous natures. The first was Thack. The wits of Nelly Gwyn or Dr. Watts, eray's case, the latter is more like the Two noted bards, two philanthropic case of Frederick Locker. As a child,

sirens; he was a creature of strange, morbid

and the demure air with which he inmoods; and though he seems to have outgrown his tendency to hypochon- There is another poem of his in which

troduces each to its ill-assorted partner. dria, yet his nerves were always too

he narrates how much "on the surface" for his own comfort; and, like the fairy prince who As I walked to the club and was deep in could hear the grass grow, the inevi- a strophe, table miseries of life pressed on him Which turned upon all that's delightful in all through what most people would

Sophy, have called fortunate existence.

he was accosted by a mendicant, and The gentle gaiety which charms one as

then follows an amusing picture of the well in his poems as in these reminis

most tender-hearted of bards emitting cences, gleams on an "arrière fond” of the severe, if salutary, sentiments of a pensive reflection.

member of the Charity Organization The sum of work which he has left Society, and winding up with the reflecto the judgment of posterity is not con

tion that siderable, and it is hardly possible yet to decide how much even of that small Always one's heart to be hardening thus, amount will live. But the writers of If wholesome for beggars, is harmful for delicate and fanciful "society verse" in English are not so many that the reader

But perhaps after all the pieces in can ever, we think, afford quite to for

which he appears to the greatest adget him.

Mr. Austin Dobson himself vantage are those in which the graver would find it difficult to surpass the

tone predominates over the gay-in airy grace of pieces like “Geraldine and such a one, for instance, as the little I," or the charming stanzas on “Gerty's poem called “It might have been.” Glove." The dainty sportiveness of these trifles is slightly tinged with a

Again I read your letter through, delicate pensiveness, not sufficiently “How wonderful is fate's decree, profound to spoil the “Dresden china"

How sweet is all your life to you, effect—with a touch of tender senti- And oh, how sad is mine to me." ment like the scent of pot-pourri in an old-fashioned drawing-room, where I know your wail: who knows it not? spindle-legged tables encumber your He gave: He taketh that He gave. progress, and the sampler-worked shep- Yours is the lot: the common lot, herdess of a hundred years ago smiles

To go down weeping to the grave. down at you with the roses scarcely

Witty faded on her worsted cheeks.

Dear bird, blithe bird, that singst in frost,

Forgive my friend if he is sad; to any marked degree, our poet is not;

He mourns what he has only lost, but he abounds in a humor that re

I weep what I have never had. minds one of Thackeray's, only that it is less piercing and poignant, moro One might almost assert on the bare allied to the sentiment and less to the authority of those two last lines that tragedy of life. You can see the twin- Locker had the gifts of insight and exkle in his eye, as in his “Lines on a pression that make the poet. But the Skull” he couples the whimsically dis

volume that we have just laid down cordant names of this audacious shows us that he had more than that. stanza:

It is no small power to have been able to attach to yourself a character so pure

as Arthur Stanley's, or personalities so It may have held—to shoot some random

marked in diverse ways as those of shots, Thy brains, Eliza Fry or Baron Byron's, Marian Evans, Robert Browning, Al

596 LIVING AGE.

VOL. XII.

on

fred Tennyson.

That he had the vir- toms, blowing of horns, shrieks and tue and the charm to do this was his cries, all in honor of the first day of gain while he lived; it is our gain now the Moharram, the day on which all that he is gone. Surely we owe a debt true believers (Shiahs, bien entendu, not of no small gratitude to this charming those dogs of Sunnis) commemorate the writer and kindly-spirited gentleman, tragic death of their greatest saint, for that before he passed forever from Husain, son of the Khalifa All and the stage of this life, he left this legacy grandson to the Prophet himself. of pleasant and helpful memories for Office duties over, I made my way to his descendants and for us.

the scene of action. The play takes place in the open air and there is no stage, but carpets are spread and a species of throne erected, whereon sits

the cruel tyrant Yezid, surrounded by From Belgravia.

his court. Exactly opposite are the A PERSIAN MIRACLE PLAY.

best seats, reserved for the Persian gov. Mahomed Abdullah, my moonshee,

ernor and his suite, and into one of

these I am shown. The rest of the sat waiting in the verandab telling his beads and stroking his long beard,

spectators sit huddled together

either side, the women in a corner by which, newly dyed with hennah that

themselves. The audience is great, as morning, glowed a brilliant orange and

from far and near everyone who is gave him a decidedly startling appearance. As I came out of my room he able to walk, crawl, or be carried, has salaamed, he had a favor to ask-would

come to see the death of their beloved

Husain. the sahib graciously grant it him?

The Sunnis, who form the larger por"To-morrow, as the sahib knows, is to be acted the tragedy of the blessed tion of Mahomedans, like Gallio, care martyrs Hassan and Husain.

for none of these things. Like the

The things are all prepared-actors, dresses, Shiahs they keep the tenth day of the and camels having come from a long Moharram sacred, as a solemn fast, distance, but one thing lacks-a horse but only because on that day Allah for the blessed saint to ride upon. The created Adam. The history of the play

runs thus:sahib knows there are no horses in the

On his death-bed the prophet Mavillage except the one belonging to the sahib. Will the sahib lend it for the homed was asked to appoint a suc

cessor, and he replied it should be the three days' acting and confer an eternal favor on his servant?"

person nearest him. One party (the

Shiahs) took this to mean his cousin and I am graciously pleased to lend my

husband of his daughter Fatimeh, Ali, small, weedy Persian pony, which, as Mahomed remarks, is the only specimen his nearest of kin. The other faction of his kind within a radius of several (Sunnis), however, interpreted this as miles. It would indeed be deplorable if meaning the person nearest him at the the sainted martyr could find no better time of his death, Alm Bakr. mount than the ordinary village camel. From this the strife began which

With profuse thanks the old man split Islam into two hostile factions and bowed himself out, but stopped when exists till the present day, and never he reached the steps. "Perhaps also did Catholic and Protestant hate each the protector of the poor would lend the other more bitterly in the Middle Ages light of his presence to the play and than do Shiah and Sunni.

The Shiahs made Ali khalifa, but the deign to observe the acting of his moonshee, who is to take the part of opposing faction refused to acknowl. Zeinat, sister to the blessed martyr.” edge him and elected Alm Bakr and And this favor was granted too.

after him Oman and Osman. The next morning the village was A plot formed to murder All, and made hideous by the beating of tom- being successful, his son Ali Hassan, a

« VorigeDoorgaan »