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But is there no one, Mr North, among the moderns who deserves to be praised?
There are many, my dear Timothy-to be praised gently and quietly. And one great fact, at least, is a light in the semiobscurity of letters to-day. Speaking entirely without prejudice to you, who will listen with an equal absence of it, I merely mention to you the fact that Maga still flourishes.
Verra true. An' huz, wha helped to guide her airly days, can weel afford to gie their due to the men 'at cam' efter. But gin we're to recapeetulate the doings o' Maga's heroes, we maunna forget w'er noble sel's to start wi'.
Not much likelihood of that, my dear Shepherd. will remember too with reverent and affectionate feelings John Lockhart perhaps a greater than any in this room, not excepting Mr De Quincey and yourself. But is it not singular how there has never been wanting a race of men to serve Maga? We had our day-we, Maginn, Galt, Delta, and the rest; a brave and merry one it was. But when we vanished from the scene, others came on to fill our places. Uno avulso non deficit alter.
O man, man, can ye no' keep clear o' the Lait'n? But, for a' that, it's a clear case, as ye hae said, Mr North. There was George Cheape, an' Lytton, an' Aytoun, wha wis a verra tower o' strength
And George Moir, and Laurence Oliphant, and Neaves
Ay, sir, his Lordship wis a fell chiel at the versifeein'.
And Gleig, the Hamleys, Chesney, and Laurence Lockhart, "the nephew of his uncle," and Mrs Oliphant.
Mistress Oliphant! Ah, sirs, yon wis a gran' wumman, a fine writer, an' a stench freen' o' the hoose o' Blackwood. Her awnnals o' the firm's a fair maisterpiece. No' that I wis a'thegither satisfeed wi' her accoont o' James Hogg. But death clears a' scores, an' sin' we forgathered on this side o' the Styx, mony a pleesant hoor hae I passed in her company, an' mony's the time I hae thocht hoo muckle better oor Scots writers o' novelles an' romances micht dae gin they wad condeshend to tak' a gude few leaves oot o' her byuck. I canna thole their deealec'. Whaur wull ye fin' vulgawrity to pawrallel theirs? Their tongue's no' the gude auld Scots, but the tongue o' wabsters, an' tinklers, an' ither gang-there-out bodies, contawminated by contac' wi' ivery specie o' trash. Hae ye seen
Maister Henderson's volumm on Scottish Vernacular Leeterature, sir?
I have, James, and a more admirable work it would be difficult to imagine. Such a happy combination of taste and learning is not too common nowadays. There are plenty of pedants on the one hand, like Mr Furnivall, and plenty of dilettanti on the other, like Mr Gosse; but not many who possess both learning and discrimination.
Is yon the Maister Gosse or Guse wha ance preshoomed to speak o' "Mary Ferrier"? Haw! haw! haw!
Yes; and he has committed a thousand other gross blunders for which a schoolboy would be scourged. But though the second generation of Blackwoodians has all but passed away, there has arisen a not wholly unworthy third. There are
Haud yer haun', Mr North. We'se no win hame till the morn's morn gin ye rin through the roll o' Maga's leevin' contreebutors. What says the knock? Surely it maun be time for a bit chack o' supper.
[The clock strikes eleven. Enter on the very stroke Mr AMBROSE, with the Board, Mons. CADET, King PEPIN, Sir DAVID GAM, TAPPYTOORY, and the PECH, with all the delicacies of the season.
Mr Awmrose, ye're a sicht for sair e'en. Noo for the eisters! Man, but they're fine an' sappy.
[There is comparative silence in the Blue Parlour for threequarters of an hour, while NORTH, SHEPHERD, and TICKLER devote themselves to the business of the evening. The ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER toys absent-mindedly with a rizzared haddie.
What say you, James, to another caulker?
Wi' a' my he'rt an' sowl, sir. That Glenlivet's as gude an' mellow as iver touched a wizen. But, bless me, Mr De Quinshy, hoo's this? Ye mak' nae supper; ye're no' eatin' yer meat. Hae a piece turkey, sir? It's deleecious. Or a wee bit guse? Nae guse? Then alloo me to recommend a drap aipple-sass. It's extr'ord'nar' fine flevvoured.
THE ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER.
I think, Mr Hogg, I should uncommonly like to try an oyster. 'Tis a delicacy which the ancients prized very highly.
Man, it's a peety but what ye didna mak' yer mind up shuner, for they're a' clean gane. I feenished the last twa dizzen mysel'. Ay; ance show baudrons the road to the kirn an' ye may
whustle for the cream. But tak' a dram, Mr De Quinshy, a' the same. I see fine by the blink o's e'e that Mr North has a toast to gie's. Pit awa' thae peels, an' sook the whuskey doon. Mr Tickler an' me'll oxter ye hame gif needs be.
Mr De Quincey, the Shepherd is right.
I have a toast in my
mind to which I earnestly crave the attention of the whole company. The night goes on apace, and it will soon be time for us to separate.
Ay, Mr Tickler's unco pittin' his haun' ower the blatter o' words.
sleepry, an' Mr De Quinshy's aye moo' that poors oot sic a wunnerfu'
We must not disperse, gentlemen, without drinking the toast of Maga. Her history is a glorious one. Long may she flourish, and may she ever be true to her old traditions!
To Maga! Maga for ever! No heeltaps! Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!
[All drink a bumper. GURNEY steals out from the ear of Dionysius, surreptitiously drinks the toast, and slips back again. Cheers from behind the door, where PICARDY and his tail are dutifully assembled.
least we can dae is Ebony's oe. Gude But he'll surely no'
Aweel, a' gude things maun hae an end. We hae had a glorious crack, gentlemen, an' I think the to send this Noctes to the Yeditor, auld send he disna pit it intil the Balaam-box! daur hanle the likes o' huz wi' sae muckle inciveelity. Gude nicht to ye, Mr North. Ye'll be for Moray Place? Gude nicht, Mr Tickler; gude nicht, Mr De Quinshy.
Good night! good night! gude nicht!
[Exeunt omnes, and sic transeunt Noctes.
THE HEART OF
BY JOSEPH CONRAD.
THE "Nellie," a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and being bound down the river, the only thing for us was to come to and wait for the turn of the tide.
The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished sprits. A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness. The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town earth.
there in the luminous estuary, but behind him, within the brooding gloom.
Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns - and even convictions. The Lawyer - the best of old fellows had, because of his many years and many virtues, the only cushion on deck, and was lying on the only rug. The Accountant had brought out already a box of dominoes, and was toying architecturally with the bones. Marlow sat cross-legged right aft, leaning against the mizzenmast. He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands outwards, resembled an idol. The Director, satisfied the anchor had good hold, made his way aft and sat down amongst us. We exchanged a few words lazily. Afterwards there was silence on board the yacht. For some reason or other we did not begin that game of dominoes. We felt meditative, and fit for nothing but placid staring. The day was was ending in a serenity that had a still and exquisite brilliance. The water
seaman is trustworthiness personified. It was difficult to realise his work was not out
1 Copyright, 1899, by S. S. M'Clure Co., in the United States of America.
The Director of Companies was our captain and our host. We four affectionately watched his back as he stood in the bows looking to seaward. On the whole river there was nothing that looked half so nautical. He resembled a pilot, which to
shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light; the very mist on the Essex marshes was like a gauzy and radiant fabric, hung from the wooded rises inland, and draping the low shores in diaphanous folds. Only the gloom to the west, brooding over the upper reaches, became more sombre every minute, as if angered by the approach of the sun.
And at last, in its curved and imperceptible fall, the sun sank low, and from glowing white changed to a dull red without rays and without heat, as if about to go out suddenly, stricken to death by the touch of that gloom brooding over a crowd of men.
Forthwith a change came over the waters, and the serenity became less brilliant but more profound. The old river in its broad reach rested unruffled at the decline of day, after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its banks, spread out in the tranquil dignity of a waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth. We looked at the venerable stream not in the vivid flush of a short day that comes and departs for ever, but in the pacific yet august light of abiding memories. And in deed nothing is easier for a man who has, as the phrase goes, "followed the sea with reverence and affection, than to evoke the great spirit of the past upon the lower reaches of the Thames. The tidal current runs to and fro in its unceasing service, crowded with memories of men and ships it had borne to the rest of home or to the
battles of the sea. It had known and served all the men of whom the nation is proud, from Sir Francis Drake to Sir John Franklin, knights all, titled and untitled-the great knights - errant of the sea. It had borne all the ships whose names are like jewels flashing in the night of time, from the "Golden Hind" returning with her round flanks full of treasure, to be visited by the Queen's Highness and thus pass out of the gigantic tale, to the "Erebus" and "Terror," bound on other conquests-and that never returned. It had known the ships and the men. They sailed from Deptford, from Greenwich, from Erith, the adventurers and the settlers; kings' ships and the ships of men on 'Change; captains, admirals, the dark "interlopers" of the Eastern trade, and the commissioned "generals" of East India fleets. Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth?-the dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires.
The sun set; the dusk fell on the stream, and lights began to appear along the shore. The Chapman lighthouse, a threelegged thing erect on a mudflat, shone strongly. Lights of ships moved in the fairway-a great stir of lights going up and going down. And farther west on the upper reaches the place