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Tragedians, and, while we only Ye bring with ye the forms of happier imperfectly appreciate their gran
days, deur, can wholly recognise and
And many dearest shadows rise to
view; regret our incapacity to give a
Like tones of old and half-remembered rendering of them in English at
lays, all worthy of the original.
Come early Love and Friendship tried Finally, even to our untutored
and true : ears, a speech of Pericles in Thu- Thought wanders back through Life's cydides, or a Philippic of Demos- bewildering maze.” thenes or of Cicero, seems to have about it a ring and a power which If such epithets as “dim” and a Burke or a Sheridan or a Magee "shadowy" can hardly be said to may have rivalled, but which con- apply to our recollections of the trasts very favourably with the books of the three great authors * Times'- reported oratory of the we have mentioned, it is because modern politician.
we have from time to time, we And yet with all our shortcom- might almost say from year to ings in respect to the Classics, we year, refreshed our memory. But may lay claim to having to a lim- much at anyrate of an old friend's ited extent inherited a fondness for apt rendering of Goethe's introbooks. But the volumes, we are
duction to Faust' seems to defain to confess, with which our scribe the feelings we cherish for own modest library is replete are
their works. As we look back the writings of the English nov- to the many pleasant hours spent elists of the earlier half of the in the company of Esmond, David century — Scott, Dickens, and Copperfield, —
Ivanhoe, Quentin Thackeray. These we loved dearly Durward, and other favourite in the past; as we gaze on the old heroes, we can readily understand familiar titles our thoughts wander that an enthusiast like Mrs Fenback over many happy hours spent wick Miller found in books a comin their society: our only griev- fort and an interest that have never ance against them in the present failed. Some of our best loved is that, as we take down one of our authors' works we naturally have favourites from its place in the shelf found more interesting than others, and open it at haphazard, we feel but a reperusal of many that we that we shall know exactly what have once hastily condemned has came on the preceding, and what not unfrequently brought about a will be told us in the next, page.
reversal of judgment, and though
we have criticised Bleak House' “ Ye come again ! Dim visions of the
as too long, ‘Pendennis' as dull in past !
parts, “St Ronan's Well’ as tame That charmed in life's young morn these weary eyes.
by comparison with Sir Walter's Shall I essay this time to hold ye fast ?
best work, we still feel that if we Still clings my heart to empty fan
were condemned to a week's solitasies?
tary confinement, we would choose Ye throng around ! Well ! Be your any one of the three to while away glamour cast
the hours in preference to Mudie's Upon me, as from shadowy mist ye box full of modern three-volume
rise ! Youth trembles through me, while I
novels. Every detail of Ivanhoe,' breathe again
and of many others of the WaverThe magic airs that whisper round your ley novels, we had at our fingers' train.
ends long before most boys leave
a preparatory school ; but while we of mothers and the corresponding can envy young and lucky people unreasonableness of schoolmasters, who still have these books to read and wondering whether by any for the first time, we console our- chance that “really good modern selves with the thought that they book” will be “Trilby' or The are there on the shelf ready at hand Sorrows of Satan.' for us to read again when we will. On another occasion we are stayBut we hear on all sides now that ing in a country-house, and our the time is out of joint with the hostess, who has noticed that we Waverley novels, and we have spend a good deal of our time in been told in these latter years that the library, informs us one night the Wizard of the North has no
are to take Miss longer the power to interest the down to dinner. “I am sure that rising generation, that his work is you will get on capitally with her; too dry and too old-fashioned, and she is so fond of books and so very that the young brain requires a well-read." more invigorating and more satisfy- Possibly our hostess gave our fair ing food, --that the children's teeth companion the cue, or was it out are set on edge by the sour grapes of deference to our grey hairs and which their forefathers were per- general fogeyism that she forbore force contented to devour. On to discourse on balls, matinees, one side a mother complains to us and other social subjects, and did of the hard measure meted out to not profess anxiety to know her boy of twelve on whom the whether we danced, or hunted, or penance of reading such a dull played golf, or were fond of music? book as 'Ivanhoe' has been im- No, our fair blue-stocking-for if posed as a holiday task. “So she did not look the part she very much beyond the
poor made a
audable attempt to play boy, and so very uninteresting it—inaugurated a conversation by and old-fashioned for a really a reference to the literature of clever child !” and then the good the day. lady goes on to inform us that “You are very fond of reading, schoolmasters as a class are really are you not ?” so extremely groovy (an opinion, “I read a little sometimes." by the way, which we cordially “Well, I read a very great deal. endorse) that they expect other I am devoted to books. I have people to be as narrow-minded as just finished ”—here she mentioned themselves. We assent to the one of our three-volume enemies. double proposition that school- “Is it not awfully clever ?” masters are impossible themselves Fortunately we had dived into and expect impossibilities from the book sufliciently to gather others. Fortified by our
that it dealt of matters beyond plaisance, and sure of our sym- our ken, and fortunately, too, our pathy, she continues: “Well, what very superficial knowledge of the I have done is just this. I have contents was good enough for the picked out a nice book myself for
But we were not sorry him to read, a really good modern when she showed an inclination book, and at the end of the holi- to carry the war into our own days I shall just write and say territory. that I am the best judge of his “Now, do tell me what you holiday reading.” And she leaves have been reading lately." us reflecting on the reasonableness "6" Woodstock.''
«« Woodstock !' I never heard and the names -initials and allof it. What a pretty name. Who of prominent cricketers, knew abis it by? Do tell me all about it.” solutely nothing of what went on
“ Well, it was written by one in the world beyond what came Walter Scott."
in the ordinary course of school"Oh, indeed! Is it one of teaching. He might almost be those—what funny name did he said to have had the capacity of call his books by ?”
locking up the door of his intellect, “ The Waverley Novels. Have and keeping it locked until the you never read any of them ?”
of duty required that it “Well, yes, I think I have should be opened. It was probably read some, or tried to read them. a sense of duty also which induced But I am afraid that I skipped him to adopt a hoarse whisper rather. They were so dreadfully- by way of a voice in school-hours, what shall I call it ?-prosy, and so and to reserve his natural intonaunlike anything one reads now.” tion, which the Boanerges might So unlike indeed !
have envied, for the play-ground And once again—we knew a boy or conversation with his schoolin the flesh not so many years fellows. Once the experiment ago, one of the most industrious, was tried-an experiment which honest, and healthy little fellows answers well in many cases—of we ever met in a fairly wide ex- setting him down to read a senperience of that ubiquitous article, sible book. Amenable as at all the British schoolboy. At the age times to discipline, but wearing of thirteen he had many virtues, at the same a ludicrously dejected but at the same time a most pro- look, he undertook to do his best. found antipathy for reading or any He was taken to the library and sedentary occupation whatever ex- asked what sort of story he would cepting that of biting his nails. like. But he was diffident of exWhether the antipathy to reading pressing an opinion and invited was innate or the result of de- suggestions, and it was difficult ficient home-training—whether, in to suggest when the only answers fact, he was the sinner or his to be arrived at, given of course parents-it would perhaps be im- in the hoarse whisper,
— pertinent to inquire. He was very "Pretty well," or "I don't know."
“ conscientious, good-tempered, and So at last we started him off obedient, and what we may call with 'Ivanhoe,' and he was grathe mechanical side of the intellect ciously pleased to volunteer his was fully developed. But he was opinion that it was a funny name. wholly devoid of any literary taste And for a whole month he devoted whatsoever. He would learn with himself for perhaps two hours a ease and repeat accurately whole week to 'Ivanhoe’; and such was columns of irregular verbs his conscientiousness that we fully nouns, could rattle off the names believe he never skipped a word, and dates of kings and queens, of and so great his sense of the injury battles and treaties, and work which the great intellectual effort through a page of examples in was inflicting on his leisure that arithmetic without making a single he never took a single word in. mistake. But he never opened a "Well, old fellow, how is ‘Ivanbook out of school - hours except hoe' getting on?”. under dire compulsion, and, save
“Pretty well, thank
you.” only the results of cricket-matches “How far have you got?”
VOL. CLX,—NO. DCCCCLXIX.
“Oh, I've nearly read”—and mankind there has been born into he consults the top of the page- the world, even among the so-called one hundred and twenty pages.” educated class, a certain proportion “And whom do you like best?" of boys to whom nothing verging A hasty glance at the page to
on the intellectual is in any way see what name came handiest. a recreation, who feel with the “Oh, Wamba!"
Preacher that “ he that increaseth He looks so extremely woe- knowledge increaseth sorrow.” begone over our cross-questioning Unfortunately the prominence that we make a feeble attempt at conferred in these latter days a joke.
on athleticism has a tendency to “A little fellow-feeling - eh, accentuate the mischief. Each my boy?”
year seems to add its quotum to
the number of boys who regard " You don't know what I mean, each hour of play-time not devoted I suppose ?”
to some active exercise as so much “No."
time misspent or wasted. So long Well, you know what Wamba as they are out of doors this is a
spirit to be encouraged. But we “ Yes," rather dubiously. draw the line strongly at the "Well, what?"
youth who in the house can pro“One of the chaps in the book.” vide himself with no more intel
A week later we made one more lectual occupation than talking attempt to find out whether the cricket shop or studying the pages story had in any way appealed to of
of an old Lillywhite's guide. him.
When the cakes and ale lose their you found
any old charm, when stiffened limbs and friends in Ivanhoe'?”
unpliant muscles forbid violent "No."
exercise, when custom, if not “Do you mean to say that you fatigue, compels a certain amount never heard of any of the people of sedentary leisure, what will be before ?"
the end of these boys and men ? "No."
Unless they mend their ways and “Well, you know King Rich- force themselves, or are forced by ard?"
others, to employ the talent which King Richard !”
they are now content to wrap up “ Yes, Richard the First.” in a napkin or to bury, they will
“Oh yes, he was king 1189 to become time-killers, club-loafers, 1199.”
unintellectual bores ; or, as nature Well, you came across him in abhors a vacuum, less kindly the Tournament.”
spirits than Calliope, Clio, or their " I didn't know it was the same sister Muses will possess their chap.”
minds, “an empty void though And he implied by this remark tenanted." To such as these old that any form of book-learning age will indeed be "pleasureless
' indulged in out of school-hours is decay." merely a work of supererogation, It is to this day a sort of comand not to be accounted as either forting reflection, as we look back profitable or edifying.
on our own boyhood through a long This last instance we have cited vista of years, that we were always is an extreme one doubtless, but by employed in one way or anotherno means unique. In all ages of in mischief often, in downright hard
work on rare occasions, in active for some less legitimate purpose. exercise on every possible oppor- In either case he is to be labelled tunity, in condoning the effects of as a suspicious character. As we past misdemeanours by writing bethink us of that other proverb, im positions not unfrequently, in “The devil finds work for idle quarrelling at times, in rat-hunt- hands to do,” we instinctively find ing or rabbit-ferreting or throw- ourselves sympathising with his ing stones at squirrels whenever satanic majesty as being a heavily kindly fortune sent such vermin in taxed individual, especially in a
And when at enforced populous and prosperous country intervals a somewhat over-restless in which boys are born at the rate nature was coerced into bodily in- of some thousands a day. But the activity, the brain was called into moral of the two proverbs is that play, and we simply devoured boys are not meant to live a vapid books, those books we have round and unintellectual existence, but us now, while the amount of castles should occasionally spend some that we built in the air, peopled by time, even out of school-hours, imaginary heroes, during the pro- in sensible reading. What better gress of a long sermon or lecture reading can be found for them was something prodigious. We than Walter Scott, what more by no means commend ourselves fascinating text-book than Ivanas an example for imitation except hoe'? Mrs De Winton, in her in so far that we were always occu- papers in Mothers in Council,' pied, for ours was by no means a mentions Scott as the author chosen model boyhood; but we do take to read aloud to her children, and some honest pride in the fact that, the 'Talisman' was a favourite of for good or bad, we lived and moved Charlotte Yonge's childhood. But as well as had our being in every on the whole we are inclined to waking minute, and were either give the preference to ‘Ivanhoe,' pursued by vivid dreams at night, partly no doubt for old associations' or, if we could, lay awake and sake, but chiefly because it seems thought to the music of other boys' to combine more, than any even of snoring
the Master's works, points of inIt is old proverb that “Little terest to a healthy-minded boy. boys should be seen and not heard,” There is abundance of incident, and it is, alas! many years since we not too much love-making or senheard it frequently applied to our timentality, and above all a goodly
a selves. It was invented, we can- coterie of characters of varied pernot help thinking, by some spinster sonality who each play a prominent aunt who, never having had any and distinctive part in the devellittle boys of her own, and not opment of the story. There is having had the luck to be a little a somebody and a something to boy herself, knew nothing what appeal to most minds, whether it ever of the feelings, character, be the hero himself or the wanor habits of the boy tribe. As we dering king, surly but faithful never ourselves had a spinster Gurth or quaint and loyal Wamba, aunt, our remark is without pre- the sturdy and independent Cedric judice. The boy, we hold, who or the bold outlaw, the greenwood does not on occasion make tree or the halls of Rotherwood. good row and chatter consumedly, Even the villains of the piece have is either unnatural being the merit of personal courage, and or is bottling up his energies are quite as ready to exchange hard