Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

other shelter before nightfall being prob- the place from which we originally startlematical to a degree. A more unfre- ed. quented and a more unbefriended region Two more remarks before I end. First is perhaps hardly to be found in her Maj- as to the question of popularity, or rather esty's doininions than that same stretch lack of popularity. It is undeniable that of country between Cashla and Round: few regions equally come-at-able, and stone Bay. Life there is indeed reduced equally admittedly striking and picturto the very elements. A few villages ex. esque, find so few admirers, not to say ist, thinly scattered over its surface, but lovers, as Connemara. People come and hardly any roads connecting them - none go, drive along its roads, fish in its lakes, certainly over which vehicles with springs and even praise it after a fashion, but could travel. Everywhere, too, the land grudgingly; they break into no raptures, is invaded by long arins of sea, still fur- as for instance over Killarney, and, what ther increasing the difficulties of commu- is still more significant, they seldom show nication. For instance, as the crow flies, any particular desire to return to it again. the distance between this point and Now this probably may be set down to a Roundstone is barely twenty miles; combination of causes. Its hotels, for whereas, if the coast-line were followed, it one thing, are not (with one or two excepwould probably be found to extend to fully tions) by any means equal to the demands five times that length. The variety of of modern sophistication; and this, deny seaboard, too, is extraordinary; many of it who will, is a very important factor in the islands being separated from the the matter. When a man's cogitations mainland by the merest streak of sea, the are secretly turning upon the badness of promontories, on the other hand, being in his breakfast, and the yet more doubtful several instances connected by strips of prospect which awaits him at dinner, he is land so low that a depression of a few seldom, it must be owned, in the mood feet would result in the setting free of a sor very warmly appreciating scenery: fresh crop of islands. The best, indeed especially when that scenery is admittedly the only, way of exploring this, the wild- somewhat of the bleak and hungry kind. est bit of all lar-Connaught, is to take Then, again, there is another and a very boat, and to sail from headland to head. serious matter — the weather! Without land, and in and out of the archipela. going into the vexed and oft-disputed goes of islands, which choke up every question as to whether this part of Ireland bay, and lie scattered in a thick fringe or the west of Scotland is the worst and along the coast. There are several land- the wettest, it may be admitted at once, ing-places, but the most convenient prob- and without further question, that it is ably will be found to be Roundstone, bad - very bad indeed. Even while in where the harbor is good, and a pier, built the very act of abusing it, however, it is when dreams of an Atlantic packet station only fair to add that to this very badness, were in the air, stands ready for us to fractiousness, what you will, of the climoor up our yacht or hooker. Here, too, mate the scenery owes a share, and to my is an hotel, and here, if the traveller is a mind a by no means inconsiderable share, naturalist, he can hardly do better than of its charm. The actual landscape spend a few days, for not only is the shore doubtless is fine, but the actual landitself unusually rich in zoology, but in the scape is nothing, literally nothing, until bay below he will find perhaps the best you have seen it under a dozen different dredging-ground to be met with along the moods: now grey and sullen; now fierce entire line of coast. From Roundstone and passionate ; now, when you least exthe road lies direct to Clifden, which pect it, flashing out smile after smile, as claims, and fairly claims I suppose, to only an Irish landscape can smile when be the capital of our mountain region. the sun suddenly catches it after a spell Thence, turning northward, we bowl along of rain. At all events I can personally the wide coaching road, through the re- vouch for the fact of long.continued dry freshing!y clean little village of Letter. weather being anything, but becoming to frack; through the valley of Kylemore, the scenery. Wanting the moisture which where the towering crest of the Diamond lends them atmosphere and distance, the stands a glittering sentry over our heads; mountains lose their aërial tints, become under steep wooded banks; past more dull and grey, oppressed as it were with lakes and glens, and across a valley their own nakedness. I remember (the floored with bog, until we suddenly find statement, by the way, is not perhaps a that we have come full circle, and are particularly credible one) — nevertheless back again at the foot of the Twelve Pins, I as a matter of fact I do remember a summer in the west of Ireland, when for consciously or unconsciously, carry about weeks together not a shower fell. The with us, two scenes at this moment start loughs sank low in their beds of rock; into my meinory, and both, as will be the bogs, seamed with cracks, showed as seen, owe the fact of their being rememdry as so many high-roads; the grass bered at all not certainly to anything in turned brown; the flowers withered; the the actual scenery, but wholly and solely mountains, hard as iron, stood out with to the disposition of the lights and atmoevery muscle in their stony anatomy sphere. brought into the strongest possible re- The first was an effect of early morning lief; now and then a wind got up, but no seen from a window overlooking a wide rain sell; every atom of moisture seemed tract of comparatively low-lying land, sodto bave vanished out of the atmosphere, den with recent rain, where small pools and from morning till night the sun shone caught the eye, leading on to a large down with the same broad, unwinking fresh - water "lough which lay beyond. persistency. It was exactly what every- Across this tract lay the arch of a rainbody had always been wishing and sigh- bow, stretching from the grey of the ing for, but somehow when it came no water to the pale green of the hillsides one appeared particularly gratified, and I above. Not a rainbow which came and can recall no very genuine expression of vanished, but a rainbow which hovered regret when at last one morning we got and lingered; now fading unt it was all up to find that the sky had lost its brazen but invisible, now unexpectedly flaring look, and that the greys had once more into sudden splendor again. And behind, resumed their dominion. Nowhere, per- the nearest hills were vague and dim with haps, in the world are there such greys as mist, while the distant ones were wholly bere pale greys, dark greys, greys hidden under a vast and capacious cloudtinted with blue, and with green, and with canopy, through which a pale sun shone rose-color ; greys merging and melting upon the lough, so that it gleamed like a into one another, and into every other tarnished shield. All the greens and tint imaginable. Yet nowhere, on the blues had vanished out of the landscape, other hand, is the coloring more gorgeous but the yellows seemed brighter than when now and then the sky does take a ever; the highest note of all being struck coloring fit. See it at the coming on of where the foam, driven in a long, sinuous rain! A minute, perhaps, ayo sky and line across the lough, was washed in a sea were cloudless; suddenly as you look broad, palpitating drift against the yellow again the clouds have gathered, struck sand. against the cold sides of the mountains, The second - an effect of a very differand begun to descend in rain, which goes ent kind - occurred at the end of one of sweeping like a pall along the whole those utterly hopeless days when the length of the valley, brushing against the weather, after holding out some slight flanks of the mountains, and passing away promise in the morning, settles down to eastward, to be followed by a rapid burst rain with a dull and dogged self-satisfacof sunshine, bringing out the colors of the tion, as if it never had rained before. For wet grass and smoking rocks; in its turn an hour or more we had been tramping passing on, reappearing for an instant in homeward, knee-deep in drenching heathfantastic patches of light upon the distanter, and had just reached the crest of a slopes, and then again being swallowed ridge, overlooking the bay and the dull up in the wide-spreading darkness of grey flanks of the opposite hills; already another sudden storm. The brilliancy the sun had set behind fourfold walls of and swift chromatic changes of these al- cloud without showing itself, and withternate sun-bursts and rain-squalls are in-out a moment's intermission of the pelting describable, and, when seen from a height rain. Suddenly, when we least expected where they can be followed across a wide it, an arrow of red light was seen to shoot stretch of mountain and sea, they consti. across the leaden-colored sky. Another tute a never-failing panorama a drama and another followed. Layer after layer the incidents of which are perpetually of clouds caught the glow, until the whole varying. One is in fact tempted to dwell | heavily laden floor of heaven was burning far too much upon these transitory effects, with an intense and terrible conflagration, because in a cliinate so capricious it is out of the very midst of which bars of they rather than the permanent features molten metal appeared to rise, writhing which create the most vivid and lasting and melting as in a furnace. Across all impressions. Looking back into that this swept a few lighter clouds, driven by private picture.gallery which most of us, I the wind, each tipped with an edge of

at.

nearer.

light, too intensely luminous to be looked | ception that the necessary work cannot be

A rush of color, caught from the sky, overtaken. A despotic sovereign ought spread itself over the dull face of the to be overworked, for he ought to be bay, the very stream at our feet being prime minister, first judge, commandertinged with the pale, opal-colored tints. in-chief, and sovereign, all in one; and Nor was this all; for the clouds, which the mere business of those many offices, had been rolling over-head, began sud- if properly done, would crush any single denly to descend; not in wisps and scrolls, person. We do not find, however, and nor in a thin, impalpable veil, but alto- we have read many memoirs, that except gether, in a vast and apparently solid in very rare cases, the most remarkable body; rolling, pouring, gathering on the being that of Frederick the Great, the tops of the hills, and streaming down sovereign is so overwhelmed. Frederick through the passes. It was a regular tried to be rid of sleep, and to the end cloud avalanche; and, despite our knowl. could only read a haphazard selection of edge that we were too near home to run the letters he had ordered to be written in any risk by being enveloped in its folds, his own name. Men do not like labor, as there was something curiously alarming a rule, and kings have this immense adin the sight of these huge summits rolling vantage, or disadvantage, over other men, down-bill, and approaching momently that as their labor is the exercise of power,

On and on they came, until sud. those around them are only too delighted denly, just as they were within about a to take it off their hands. The less the hundred yards of us, their course was king worries about a department, the arrested by a fresh conflicting current of more the minister is pleased; and as this air. Here, then, the vanguard stood still, is true down to the sinallest secretary, the and began slowlymelting, passing away king who desires to shift off actual work in thin shreds and rags of vapor; but the can always do it. We fancy that he rearguard still continued to pour in fresh usually does do it, and that a sovereign reinforcements from behind; which, ac- usually finds nearly as much leisure for cumulating faster than they could be dis-reading, music, the theatre, conversation, sipated, reared themselves up in vast, and eating, as any one of the wealthy dome-like masses, towering thousands of classes not professionally idle. His sig. feet in air, and gradually slipping down. nature must, no doubt, be a burden to wards until they had enveloped not only him. Sovereigns in all countries must us, but the whole valley in their folds. An have endless masses of papers to sign, hour later the overcharged atmosphere commissions, orders, and above all, letters relieved itself by a couple of violent which cannot be operative without their thunder-claps following one another in autographs or initials. They retain much quick succession; after which the night of their power by the use of this check, grew calm and clear, and the next morn- just as the head of a great firm does when ing was glorious; but, alas ! before the be keeps the bank-book; and even in day ended the dull, persistent, pitiless constitutional countries, the burden is drizzle had again set in.

E. L. sometimes severe. Our own queen either

is or was much tried in this way; and in England the number of commissions is insignificant, compared with that in many

Continental countries. Reviews, too,

From The Spectator. take up time, and cannot be exactly deTHE “BURDEN OF SOVEREIGNTY.

lightful; while ceremonials of all sorts The necessity which sovereigns plead never end, and must be, if the sovereign for recreation is not unreal, though it is is constructed like other human beings, not often produced by the causes which utterly detestable. Imagine “receiving the public suppose. We very inuch doubt for nearly seven hours, as the king of if any sovereign in Europe is “over- Prussia sometimes does in the White worked," as ordinary professionals, or Hall, according to the rules of an etiquette even ministers, are over-worked; if any which varies with each person who adking or queen labors steadily for eight vances. The president of the United hours a day, during six days a week; or States is pitied on reception days, but at hurries his or her meals, or goes without least every person who approaches him, regular exercise, or even falls into that not being minister of a foreign power, condition of Auster which with most men expects to be treated in the same way, and all women follows upon a clear per- and cannot be dishonored by an accidental

even

[ocr errors]

was

mistake. Still, signatures, reviews, and every kind of event must make a distinct ceremonials notwithstanding, the kings impact on a real sovereign, and affect usually find time for amusement, for con- a constitutional one. The latter versation or cards, the theatre or music, ought not to feel responsible, but the not to mention feasting, and in a large tradition of a mystical relation between majority of cases, a very considerable the king and the country is very strong amount of firtation and gossip. The even our queen, for example, in her very burden on them is not exactly work, motherly and kindly letter to her people, which is got rid of at stated times, and thanking them for their recent display of through trusted delegates, but is a kind loyalty, writes as if she felt thai their of mental pressure, to which hardly any honor and glory depended in a great deother man with a profession can be ex- gree on her individual effort — and no posed.

sovereign probably is quite clear that the Hardly any one, except a chief minister, right to take advice is distinct from the can be so incessantly affected in mind by right to command, when it is given. The all that occurs as a decent king, whó, sovereign must feel everything in some whether actually or in theory, guides the way, must move through' an atmosphere administration. Events occur every day, heavy with that consciousness of a naevery event affects the central power tionál self which the late Mr. Sanford, in more or less, and after every event a his account of the English kings, said working king inust either feel responsible, differentiated hereditary rulers from other or consider what responsibility is likely men; and if genuinely good, must feel to arise. He may have done nothing in hourly the kind of sympathy or anger selt the matter, yet be instantly aware of much by a philanthropist when anything, good that will arise compelling him to act. An or bad, happens to the object of his care. earthquake in Agram is to the Austrian Clarkson not responsible for all military secretary only an earthquake, a slaves, nor is Mr. Colam for all animals ; calamity, that is, possibly a great calamity, but Clarkson felt every new slave law as but still a calamity allowed by God, or if he were a slave, and Mr. Colam, we evoked by some internal convulsion of dare say, feels as keenly when a prosecu. natural forces. To the emperor, it is all tion he has ordered breaks down, because that, and this more, that people in the law does not cover its particular obwhom it is his duty to be interested are ject. That universality of interest, that suffering, that he must act or see that thinness, so to speak, of mental skin, others do, must send messages, must must be an equivalent in mental fatigue sympathize, must, if it be possible, help for actual work, and it is increased by anto encourage, to soothe, and to repair. other peculiarity of the position. The The earthquake, from the moment it och sovereign's profession is for life. Most curred, is part of his business, he must, other men — all other professional men, at the very least, know all about it. It is, except bishops — look forward to a period in some sort, a disaster to himself, some of ease, when they shall have done with thing which comes home to him in pain, their daily labors, and may, as they think, as it can hardly come to any other person enjoy themselves, or at least be rid of the not personally involved in the ruin. A sense of responsibility for the weather. personal concern in disasters of any mag. The king has no such hope, except in nitude is always expressed by a Conii

. death, which he does not look forward to nental ruler, and is often, we imagine, any more pleasurably or exultantly than very keenly felt. The emperor Nicholas other people. On the contrary, he has thought himself bound to be present at been taught through his whole life to all great fires; the emperor Napoleon III. think, with Tennyson's Northern Farmer, held that floods, like revolutions, “in how immense his loss will be to other volved his honor,” and once, at least, per people. • There are those 'cows to sonally ordered the repairs; and only calve,' say the Hungarian deficit to be three months ago, the emperor of Austria filled up, and • Thornaby waäste to plow,' was so moved by the burning of the Ring Bosnia to be reduced to civilization, as I Theatre, that he made his personal dis- comprehend it." What the king is doing pleasure felt in the most unmistakable this year he must do in all years to come, way, censuring this great man, dismissing without cessation or respite, while life and that, and ordering the very severe prose. strength shall last, regencies being, even cutions now going on. We have selected to men of great age, like the German emdisasters, because they are so visible; but peror, or to weary men, like Alexander Ib., practical impossibilities, if only because

From The Spectator. all the men and women whom he has

MIDNIGHT TEA. worked with, and who have helped or MIDNIGHT tea is not tea taken on the consoled him, want him to be king, and very stroke of twelve, - it is tea taken in not that other. Abdications are so few, the dead waste and middle of the night, that they stand out landmarks in history: that is to say, our modern night; someand if we read the narratives aright, where early in the small hours. And we neither Diocletian nor Charles V. felt speak of an institution, not of a solitary rest. Diocletian asked for his sceptre instance, much less of a rival to fiveback at least once, and Charles V. drove o'clock tea. An inquiring mind may ask, couriers and his son distracted by inces.“ Why should I drink tea at the hour sant letters of advice and demands for when hot-blood suggested itself to Ham. information. The regal work lasts for: let? ”and it is a reasonable question. Of ever, and that idea of itself carries with it course, the scholar might do it to keep the possibility of fatigue. At seventy, as himself awake over his books, but the stuat thirty, there may be next week a minis- dent is usually thinking of shutting up terial crisis, an invasion, or a grand cer- when the small hours have dropped down emony to be performed, the latter being the chimney once or twice, and the toper the worst. The lady who told George is seldom far behind him. Midnight tea III. she had seen everything but a coro. is neither a labor, nor a vulgar indulnation, and now wanted to see that, has gence, nor a fashionable institution, nor a lived in anecdotal history as the exemplar sheer necessity. It is a genial outgrowth of uncourtly naïveté; but we have never or development from ungenial circumfelt quite sure that George III., who stances, in the midst of which there is a loved mutton, did not chuckle to himself root of geniality. over the thought that he, at least, could There are maladies, there are lists of never be wearied with that ceremonial maladies, there are groups of maladies, again.

forms of illness which keep each other So far from wondering that a queen company, whose pride and joy it is to should wander abroad, our wonder is that. make the small hours hideous, and eat the kings are not always gadding. It must sweet kernel out of sleep. Two, three, be such a luxury to be rid for a few mo- four in the morning, which is really night, ments of that responsible relation to the is the time when these dolorous companvery soil, even if it be wholly imaginary ions hold high-jinks around the bed or the to be among things and people which “ Judy” chair of the sufferer. No device have no closer relation to yourself than to cheats them; they know the time like a any other spectator. The traveller may chronometer, and their forbearance is as have been a fool who, when warned that incalculable as their severities. But, after the ship was on fire, replied, “I am only a a time — where the patient is not lonely passenger," but was certainly a philoso-|(which God forbid, as a rule), and where pher, who understood the true sources of the case to be dealt with is not (we will mental ease. A king outside his own say) that of the wildest paroxysms of hereditary dominions must feel very like gout, or anything so red-hot of immediate him, must fancy the air lighter, and read torture - after a time, the periodical acthe local news with a much deeper feeling, cessions of these not “jolly hours” may if not of content, at least of placidity. very well tend, and do, in fact, tend, to Nowhere except abroad can the atmo start a new rhythm in the life of, say, two sphere of responsibility be lifted, in his friends, or a man and wife, or a mother own imagination, from his brain; nowhere and daughter, who pass the night toelse can he feel that most recuperative of gether, in order that one of the two who feelings, the sense which Tennyson de suffers may receive unfailing help, such scribed as the sense of afternoon, and as only one hand can give. Here there somebody else, Theodore Hook, we be- is an opening for much sentiment, but this lieve, as “after - dinnerishness,” when we will neglect. What happens is some"you have nothing to do, and be hanged thing like this, perhaps. There is a pause if you'll do it." There is no reason to in the immediate suffering of the hour. grudye sovereigns their holidays, or the “Come, that is good. He is over for the restfulness that should seem to them em: night, and let us hope we shall see neither bodied, not in “ being abroad ” as other of his friends nor allies.” Then springs professionals put it, but in the infinite up a sudden thought, out of the very and reinvigorating luxury of not being at bosom of domestic peace, * Let's have home.

a cup of tea!” It can be managed there

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »