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out that, notwithstanding this noble person's word and honour, he is found obsequiously communicating to his other Majesty in Rome the secret of his son's proceedings. This consists with our opinion that one plot leads to another, since there was nothing to hope for from James. Mr Lang indeed gives us to understand that Pickle was never paid at all, no more from London than from Rome-which it gives us pleasure to hear.
This is enough of Pickle. It is not the Spy but the unfortunate figure of the Young Chevalier, the noble youth, the broken man, victim of his birth, of his circumstances, of all that went before him, which is the chief and most interesting thing in this book. The picture is at once spirited and pathetic. The curious episode of his life so often passed over, between the great romance of the '45 and the squalid tragedy of the end; his wanderings on the Continent, seen here and there in alarmed glimpses by his friends, pursued blindly everywhere by his enemies of the English and other Governments, struggling against the inhospitality of one country after another which refused to receive him, and preferring to lead the most precarious roving life rather than be driven to the dull and spy-haunted refuge at Rome, is put before us with great vividness and originality, no one, we think, having done it be fore. Mr Lang has but little of the natural foible of a Scotsman for poor Prince Charlie, and is not a partial witness, feeling no doubt that even the vagaries of a man so doomed can but increase the tragic interest of his story. That
long fight against fate which this narrative shows, is full of all the elements of pity and terror. Charles would not yield till every hope had forsaken him. From one refuge and one assumed name to another he battled on, occasionally disappearing under the waves, but always raising his head again, till nature could no more, and, exhausted, discouraged, hopeless, he could resist his fate no longer. There is much that is affecting in the picture, as well as much that is painful, and it is new to us at least. Even Miss Walkinshaw is made excusable by Mr Lang's story. We feel that it is a thousand pities there was not some one among that party of gentlemen who gave the Royal Wanderer so poor a reception at Father Crackenthorpe's on Solway-side, when even the devotion of Redgauntlet could not save him-to say it was Pickle and not Miss Walkinshaw who betrayed the movements of her Prince. And did Sir Walter know and hold his peace not to betray Glengarry? But he might have said it was Pickle all the same.
Here is a book1 of again the most immediate matters of to-day, which comes blazing into our records,-blazing, but yet groaning and spitting like a damp torch in an excess of wrath beyond knowledge, or rather beyond power of expressing it. Yet it is strange to attribute to Mrs Olive Schreiner any want of power to express what she means. It is her distinction that she has known so well how to describe at least what she sees or imagines she sees, that she has managed to make almost into a classic a work as full of absurdity
1 Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland. Fisher Unwin.
By Olive Schreiner.
and hysterical passion as ever was taken for a great work by the amazed public before, and that is saying a great deal. The present work is a political pamphlet of great bitterness, linked on to the very smallest thread of story that ever carried red-hot opinions and personal abuse of the fiercest kind into the world. So far as this little thread of story goes, Trooper Peter Halket is a remarkable study, and probably gives as clear an idea of one of the wild soldiers on the borders of savagery, without principle or moral guidance or any kind of education, except a determination to grow rich, as fiction could convey. Yet we cannot but doubt whether intelligence so rudimentary could grasp the idea of floating Gold Mines Companies, and gaining money by fabricating shares and then selling them, after the process which he describes, and declares to have been followed by Messrs Barnato, Beit, and Rhodes. He is himself the son of a pious washerwoman, and remembers her with great affection and kindness; but he sees all kinds of atrocities go on without any compunction, though he allows that to see niggers flogged or hanged does not please him. "Some fellows think it the best fun out to see the niggers kick; but it turns my stomach," he says; "if it's shooting or fighting I'm there. I've potted as many niggers as any man in our troop, I bet." But we should scarcely have expected this savage youth to run on, as he sat on the lonely veldt under the stars, all alone in the desert, in peril of his life, with thoughts like the following:
"All men made money when they came to South Africa: they all made money out of the country-eight millions, twelve millions, twenty-six mil
lions, forty millions-why should not he? Peter Halket started suddenly and listened. But it was only the great wheezy beast creeping upwards; wind coming up the koppje, like a and he looked back into the fire.
"He considered his business prospects. When he had served his time as volunteer he would have a large piece of land given him, and the Mashonas and Matebele would have in time, and the Chartered Company all their land taken away from them would pass a law that they had to work for the white men, and he, Peter Halket, would make them work for him. He would make money. Then he reflected on what he should do with the land if it were no good and he could not make anything out of it.
He should have to start a Syndicate, called the Peter Halket Iron - mining, or some such name, Syndicate. Peter Halket was not very clear as to how it ought to be started, but he felt certain that he
take shares. They would not have to pay for them. And then they would get some big man in London to take shares. He need not pay for them; they would give them to him, and then the company would be floated. No one would have to pay anything; it was just the name, "The Peter Halket Gold-mining Company, Limited." It would float in London; and people there who didn't know the country would buy shares. They would have to give ready money for them, of course-perhaps fifteen pounds a-share when they were up. Peter Halket's blinked as he
and some other men would have to
looked into the fire. And then when the market was up he, Peter Halket, would sell out all his shares. If he gave himself only six thousand, and sold them each for ten pounds, then he, Peter Halket, would have sixty thousand pounds! And then he would start another company and another. Peter Halket struck his knee softly with his hand. That was the great thing, Always sell out at the right time."
While this African Alnaschar was thus gloating over his basket
of eggs, he suddenly hears in the great stillness of the veldt a sound -the sound of footsteps ascending:
"The hair on Trooper Peter Halket's head slowly stiffened itself. He had no thought of escaping; he was paralysed with dread. He took up his gun.
A deadly coldness crept from his feet to his head. He had worked a Maxim gun in a fight when some hundred natives fell, and only one white man had been wounded, and he had never known fear; but to-night his fingers were stiff on the lock of his gun. He knelt low, tending a little to one side of the fire, with his gun ready."
He is relieved, however, by the sight of a man with bare feet, wearing a linen tunic, and without arms, who answers the trooper's challenge in English. And then there ensues a long conversation, held over the fire. The story of Peter has taken up forty pages (very small ones); the talk over the fire occupies a hundred and fortysix. It goes over a great many subjects the question between the Armenians and the Turks; the question What is a Christian? to which naturally the trooper is unprepared with an answer; the question of Cecil Rhodes, and the right of England to give or take in Africa. Then the stranger gives Peter a very long report of the sermon of a little (his size is very specially noted) clergyman which offended his churchwardens, of the remonstrances of his wife afterwards, of a second sermon, and of how he walked up the street in a drizzling rain and all his people crossed to the other side. After this the stranger claims to be one of a large company known by a sign, which is the New Testament precept to love one another; and he tells how this great company began, apparently in these
same savage wilds, "when these hills were young, and these lichens had hardly shown their stains upon the rocks," &c., by the action of a woman who suddenly bethought herself, "as she picked the flesh from a human skull," that she did not like the taste of man-flesh: "Men are too like me; I cannot eat them," she cried and she immediately let loose a captive who was intended for the next meal, and got killed herself in consequence. This was the origin, the traveller tells Peter, of the great company to which he belongs. He has old wounds in his hands and feet. He is indeed no less a personage than-Jesus Christ.
It is wonderful to imagine how it is that so many writers in the present day have taken upon them to introduce into their not very sublime histories this extraordinary Interlocutor. To put their own diffuse and wandering words into such a mouth is bad enough; to express their own hot and hasty opinions through the supposed interposition of Him, whom this very introduction of Him proves some dim apprehension of, as at least the first and greatest of men if no more, is little less than blasphemy. Rash would be the man who would introduce Shakespeare into his scene, and make the great poet talk like any common man. How much greater is the offence not only to every feeling of reverence, but, from the merest human point of view, to every rule of art, and every sentiment of nature. Curiously enough it has been done chiefly by women, and it is one of the greatest evidences we know of that almost criminal recklessness, and disregard of consequences, of which women generally are accused. Great authority would we all get, no doubt, for our own
sentiments, could we convince even all the noble army of fools that we had the sanction of the Saviour of mankind. Therefore, quick! let us put His figure on our canvas, let us put our babble in His lips, and the thing is done! Mrs Lynn Linton gave us His fictitious human story. Miss Phelps (who ought to have known better) introduced Him as an actor in a novel. Miss Corelli (oh, bathos!) gave Him the honours of her facile pen. Are these ladies God that they can divine and express what would be the words of our Lord on any subject, or His opinion? The daring, the presumption, the folly, are too obvious for words. It is not given to mortals to express thoughts and feelings which are above the level of their own intellect and power of grasping. A poet may create a being purer and more noble than himself, but cannot go further in wisdom, in insight, or in love than is within his own possibilities at least; and what man can venture to think that he is himself on the mental or the moral level of Him who spoke upon the mount, who considered the lilies as they grew, and of whom even His enemies reported that never man spake like this man. Alas! many men of indifferent authority enough, preachers, platform orators, and others, have spoken quite as well as the stranger who talked with Peter Halket over the fire-who, indeed, speaks very much as Miss Schreiner speaks, only not half so well and forcibly as she does when she is on her own ground and knows what she is about.
This terrible mistake comes to a climax at the end of the address, when the stranger wishes to intrust Peter Halket-whose capacities in every way that honest trooper has very naïvely exhibited, so that even
without special insight no man in his senses could have thought him a suitable messenger-with a message to England, in which Government, Queen, women, working men, &c., are all specially addressed; then with a message to the Dutch in Africa; and then, which is the point of the whole, to Mr Rhodes. Peter has a great deal more sense than his mysterious visitor. He declines all these high missions, and is finally left with a commission to "Love his enemies," which precept he is made to carry out tragically shortly after, in a manner which, if supported by evidence, would do more to enlighten the reader on South African methods than any amount of impassioned sermonising; for the second part of the story introduces us to a camp in the wilderness, where a number of troopers are assembled, Peter Halket in the background marching up and down as sentinel, for punishment, in the heat of the day. The other men are grumbling over their cooking. are we," they say, "with our halfteaspoonful of Dop [bad brandy] given us at night, while he [the captain] has ten empty champagne bottles lying behind his tent. We have to live on the mealies we're convoying for the horses, while he has pati and beef, and lives like a lord!" It appears from their talk that this captain is one of those "who are sent out from England to boss it over us," yet not "a real English officer," though likely to "be a colonel or general before we're done with him."
Now we should like explanations about this-still more about the incident which brings the story to a close. A poor negro has been found in a hole in the bank of the river, wounded, with two bullet wounds in the thigh,
who evidently had lain in his cave painfully mending of his wounds till he could walk a little. evident he was just waiting till we are gone to clear off after his people," says one of the troopers; "he'd got that beastly scurvy look a nigger gets when he hasn't had anything to eat for a long time." This poor wretch is fastened up to a tree with leather thongs, by the legs, waist, and neck, waiting the possibility of a superior officer and party joining the camp to decide what is to be done with him. If this does not happen, the man is to be shot next morning. Needless to say Peter Halket cuts his bonds during the night: he is thereafter shot dead by the captain under the tree.
Now, of course, any horrible single accident may happen in war -but this is not given as an isolated instance. The writer of a book like this, who has already a large audience secured and may do infinite mischief, ought not to be let off with the remarks of a critic. Is this the kind of thing which the troopers in South Africa do? Do they torture wounded and helpless prisoners? Do they consider every wandering negro trying "to clear off to his own people" as an active belligerent? Is their whole aim and object nothing but murder and robbery? Are our young men who go there, in troops, from English houses full of the love of God and pity for suffering men, so callous to such proceedings as to look on, thinking it fun? Every family Every family which has a son in South Africa has an interest in knowing whether this is a horrible truth, or a still more horrible and vicious invention. The captain, with his ten bottles of champagne and his handy revolver, is like an apparition out of the fifteenth century—
though neither his wine nor his weapon existed then. Is all this true? We decline to believe it, except on evidence. Stray utterances, even isolated facts worked up in the white-heat of a woman's passion, we might painfully understand; but this, as the rule of the campaign, quite an ordinary and everyday matter, we refuse to give credit to, unless supported by undeniable proof, which the author should be compelled to produce. We have already seen what vague pretence at evidence sometimes satisfies а literary operator. What has Mrs Schreiner to produce in support of her horrible assertion? Without evidence we refuse to believe.
Mr Rhodes, however, is the chief subject of the attack. He no doubt might bring half-a-dozen actions if he chose against his daring assailant- who probably, however, is very well aware that he is not at all likely to do so. Mr Rhodes is not our affair. is abundantly well able to take care of himself. But if our sons are trained in South Africa to be like that, we are bound to know it-and by proof that cannot be disputed. A writer of fiction has great licence-but not such licence as this. The ravings against an individual, which she has the extraordinary rashness and folly to put into the lips of Christ, are bad enough. They are, besides, so violent and unmeasured as to defeat any possible object she could have had in uttering them, and give us good hope that the rest, too, is but venomous spume and foam. But it ought not to stop here.
We feel as Coleridge must have done, when out of his ghastly ship and all its weird crew he passed