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and lonesome, and yet at times not ten by a professional man who knows without a strange beauty of their own. the district well, and records other litThough in winter little grows on them erary matters connected therewith; but but long pale reeds and a little herbage of Blackmore and his novel he utters with long patches of bright yellowish- never a syllable. An article on Porthgreen moss, and here and there a pur- cawl, written by one of ourselves, was plish spurge, later on wild pansies help recently published in a magazine much to clothe their nakedness, and there are esteemed in Wales; it mentioned all hollows that are the home of innumer- other points that tend to our glory and able white violets; and in summer they honor, but was silent about “The Maid are bright with the purplish blue of the of Sker." I used once to marvel at this viper's bugloss, and the gray-green policy of silence, but I do so now no leaves of the yellow poppy, and the longer; it must be acknowledged that lovely burnet roses. Eastward they rise as a rule we mildly resent the book. higher, like South African kopjes, and “Yes, I have read Blackmore," said there is a wilderness of sand, to cross one of us, the other day, “but I don't which on a hot summer's day is to gain think much of him. There is a lot of some idea of the heat of the tropics. bosh in "The Maid of Sker,' making out And ever near are the waters of the as if we were all a set of poachers here. Bristol Channel, beyond which stand 'Lorna Doone' is better; but for charforth the bright hills of Somerset and acters give me Dickens." I am afraid Devon. It would have been strange that the general verdict of such portion indeed if so striking a scene had not of the parish as has read the book impressed a man so sensitive to Na- would endorse this statement that it ture's various aspects as was Black- contains a “lot of bosh;" but it is probmore; nor is it wonderful that he should ably considered more patriotic not to have given the first place in his esteem read it at all; I have certainly never to a work portraying so skilfully the seen it in any other house than my own rare scenes and characters of a neigh- and I should be inclined to estimate borhood that otherwise, from different the total number of copies in the whole causes, must have held a high place in parish, which contains some eighteen his affections.
hundred inhabitants, as less
than a It cannot be said that “The Maid of dozen. Fòr we do not consider Davy Sker" is popular in the parish of New- Llewellyn a credit to so ancient and ton Nottage. There are two small historic a parish as ours; his poaching circulating libraries at Porthcawl, but and his weakness for selling gamesome neither of them contains it, though fish stick in our throats, and there are “Lorna Doone" and "Alice Lorraine" also remarks in the novel, such as that are there, and we boast our acquaint respecting a Welsh hurrah (“as good ance with the novels of popular au- as the screech of a wild-cat trapped"), thors, which it is fashionable to read. which are held to be dishonoring to Occasionally, indeed, a copy of “The
Wales. Some over-curious persons, too, Maid of Sker” may be seen in a shop
have asked whether one or two charwindow, but this is rather a concession acters, even less respectable than Davy to the needs of visitors than the re- Llewellyn, had their originals in our sponse to a demand from Porthcawl parish, a question which we deem itself, and it is a rare event. Visitors grossly impertinent. We acknowledge learn nothing of the book from the Davy Llewellyn and Sandy Macraw, guide to Porthcawl, although this is a but we confess to no more. When rash creditable production of its class, writ- intruding folk question us closely on
various points, we say that the inci- only in the Mabinogion, and some lyrdents of the book are so familiar to us ics of the Welsh poets, that one can that we have never troubled to read it find literary expression of the beauty through, and we change the conversa- of the ideal Welshman of perfect stattion.
Giraldus Cambrensis knew Our attitude in Newton Nottage is Wales well, and he never uttered any. reflected in Wales generally. It is an thing truer than his judgment that axiom with some Welshmen that no when a Welshman was good he was Englishman can really understand better than the good men of other Welsh life and character, and Davy races, and when he was bad he was Llewellyn, lovable as he is despite all worst of all. Even in the drab exist. his trickiness, is not a type which such ence of the present day there are spots readily admit to be accurate. Daniel of brilliant color in Welsh life, though Owen's realistic sketches of Calvinistic perhaps the background of the historic life in North Wales, clear, true and un- novel would suit best the pictures of poetical as photographs, and Allen the ideal hero of Wales. Raine's tender and graceful idylls of Of Blackmore himself I can say but Cardiganshire villages are read and little. Newton Nottage
never knew appreciated; but “The Maid of Sker" him; it thinks nothing of him now, and is ignored by Welsh opinion. Yet, as knows not and recks not what the a Welsh lady has told me that she has world outside thinks. In Nottage failed to read the book through because Court, however, his memory is beloved. it contains too much of Davy Llewellyn It is quite true that he ranked high his and she knows too many Davy Llew- later work, "Springhaven." He told ellyns already and heartily dislikes one of his cousins that he considered them, the reason for the low esteem it the best of his books, a judgment of “The Maid of Sker" in Wales may which is not necessarily opposed to the be not necessarily lack of appreciation, general report that “The Maid of Sker" but an appreciation that is too vivid. was his favorite. But he rarely talked It is a kindly picture, after all, that of his writings, even to his relations. Blackmore has drawn; Daniel Owen He had a keen sense of the ludicrous has drawn a much harsher one of a and incongruous, and he detested fussy tricky Welshman. But Wales yet pretentious people, and if forced to see awaits her novelist; for she has nobler them, was glum, taciturn, and misertypes than any novelist has yet at- able in their company, though aftertempted. Shakespeare alone has been wards he would laugh over his experiable to give us not merely Sir Hugh ence. Evans, who is common “Welsh flannel," At Nottage Court there is a photobut Fluellen, the valorous gentleman, graph taken of him in his later years, and Glendower, the mystic seer, who that appears to me very characteristic. could call spirits from the vasty deep. He is seated under a canopy of vines Blackmore knew the Welsh gentleman, laden with magnificent grapes, and as and the hand that sketched good Col- he is but a small figure in the corner of onel Lougher might have done more the photograph, while the greater space than it did; amid heroic circumstances is occupied by the vinery and the Colonel Lougher would have been he- vines, it is a little difficult at first to roic; but Blackmore would have stopped decide to which it is designed to direct short of investing a Welsh hero with the attention, to the cultivator or to his Celtic glamor and mystery, for his gen- crops. But it is the figure on which ius had its limitations. It is, perhaps, one settles at last, with its expression
of quietude and satisfaction, sitting in our age could be substituted for that solitude in the great vinery. It is the tranquil figure without grotesqueness. husbandman rejoicing in the labor of Even its pose is not that which we are his hands, sitting much as the old He- accustomed to see in illustrated interbrew sat under his own vine and under views. His was the hidden life, still his own fig-tree. The picture is sym- and dignified in the midst of a vulgar, bolic of the shy and reserved Black- self-advertising generation. But the more, who lived apart from men and goodness that pervaded and animated cities, who would direct attention to it cannot be hid; it lives forever in his his works rather than to himself, but writings, and makes them as bracing who must yet be recognized in his and wholesome as the breezes that aloofness to be even greater than his blow, even now as I write, straight works. As it is, the picture is har- from the Atlantic Ocean around the monious; but few other literary men of lonely grange of Sker.
E. J. Newell. Macmillao's Magazine.
IN PRAISE OF BOOKS.
Speaking to me once of the catalogue of books of a departed friend which were about to be sold by auction, the late Dr. Percy, the famous author of “Metallurgy," himself an indefatigable collector of books and prints, expressed surprise, not unmingled with disapprobation, at the number of editions of the same work with which the deceased had burdened his shelves. The utterance of one whom I regarded as a sage gave me pause. His remarks had a personal application of which he was unaware. I was myself, and am still, an offender, if offence there be, in the same direction. I like several editions of the same book, if it is a good one, and I venture to ask the book-lov. ers among my readers—and for their own sakes I hope they are all booklovers—whether I am wrong. To those who, having read or skimmed a book, throw it away, as I have somewhere read was the custom of the first Napoleon, I have nothing to say. I cannot even get near the mind of the man who, except through poverty, obtains from a circulating library any books except novels or works too costly or extensive
for private shelves. I am for once addressing those to whom books are friends, who would have a library if they could afford space and money, and who would no sooner think of returning to the circulating library Lamb's Letters or Keats's Poems than they would of boarding out their chil. dren or of sending their best friend, when he visited their village or town, to stay at the public-house, while they had a room vacant.
If some of the observations I make seem extravagant or futile to a portion of my readers, I am sorry. To me the gossip of certain men concerning books is the quintessence of delight; and though I cannot claim to edify or to charm like a Russell Lowell or an Austin Dobson, I hope that there are readers who, when they have not the pick of companionship, will not despise a chat concerning matters of interest with a man of average intelligence. To me books in every shape and of almost every kind appeal. With Charles in "The Elder Brother” of Fletcher I would say:
Give me leave To enjoy myself; the place that does
contain My books, the best companions, is to
A glorious court, where hourly I con
verse With the old sages and philosophers.
i I wish I dare quote more from this fine play. An eloquent and a profoundly interesting book might indeed be made from the praises of books that have been said or sung by our great ones. I am not sure that something the kind has not been done and that I have not the work somewhere, if I could lay hands upon it, on my own overburdened shelves. My theory concerning books is that every work worth reading and studying-mind, I don't say skimming-is worth possessing. Did any real student of literature, except one so poor as to be compelled, like Erasmus, to read by moonlight in order to save the expense of a candle, ever read Shakespeare in a borrowed volume? How many people have perused "Atalanta in Calydon" or "Poems and Ballads" in a library copy? I accept, of course, the poor; and my sympathies go out to one compelled to read a work of the class in the British Museum, or even it may be-such things have been known-to peruse it by instalments, surreptitiously and affrightedly, at a book-stall.
I will admit the reasonableness of those—and they include some of the greatest minds-who, so long as they have a book at all, don't care for the edition. Such are readers, but scarcely book-lovers. There are, moreover, book-lovers who are not readers; collectors who, with Sir Benjamin Backbite, love "a beautiful quarto page, where a neat rivulet of text shall meander through a meadow of margin." Coxcomb though he be, Sir Benjamin is justified in his preferences. In
fact the argument is reasonable enough that, so long as you have in a fairly convenient shape, and with clear and legible print, all that a man has written, you may well be content. Still beauty goes for much, and sentiment for something. The sense of possession even is in its way respectable. Who would not feel some enjoyment in reading, say, Herrick's "Hesperides” in an original edition which the poet's own eyes may have contemplated? At any rate I may own my strength or my weakness; I have all the first Miltons on which I have been able to lay my hands, and I would not willingly part with one of them. There they are, the first, second and third "Paradise Lost;" the 1673 “Poems, Etc.”-the second edition-I have not the first, which is beyond my reach; the first “Paradise Regained" and "Samson Agonistes.” Of course, I do not habitually read in these precious volumes; for that I have Mr. Beeching's delightful reprint;' just as if I had a fine First Folio Shakespeare-which I have not-I should turn as now I do on my "whirligig" book-shelves to Booth's facsimile reprint, which is ever at my hand, and every whit as trustworthy as the original.
While prizing, for various reasons, a first edition of any work of extreme interest, beauty or value-and few of such are without some important read. ings excluded from subsequent texts; while admitting the claims of the best and most richly annotated edition; and while not being without a sort of tenderness for the superbly-illustrated editions-I come back to the cheap onevolume edition, and am willing to concede that it is, for some purposes, the best. Chief of all it is such for purpose
immediate reference, and next, for convenience of carriage. I have just for instance,
1 Oxford, Clarendon Press.
come into possession of volume edition of Molière, issued from the Clarendon Press. It is a most legi. bly printed work, with the best and most authoritative of texts. Look at the advantage of such a book when, as Sir Peter Teazle says, "you want to find anything in a hurry." A long time is taken in going through a dozen volumes of Molière in search of, say, “Don Juan ou le Festin de Pierre," when to find it in the one-volume edition is the work of an instant. As regards the ad. vantage of portability, let me suppose a man going on a journey and unable to burden himself with more than one book. The work in question can be slipped into handbag, knapsack, or even a tolerably large coat-pocket, and carried with very slight addition to weight, and the bearer is provided, if he knows French-as who now does not?—with a month's perpetual amusement or solace. Whether his holiday consists of a walking tour through Welsh hills, a trip by steamer and cariole to Norwegian fiords, or an exploration of the cataracts of the Nile, dull hours will certainly arrive-hours when the rain renders the earth sodden and the crag inaccessible, and when the best company, if such be accessible, palls—when the tobacco-pouch is haply empty and delight itself is scarcely delightsome. For such an occasion the one-volume edition is a preservative-a stream in the desert which will not soon run dry.
I have spoken of Molière's works as an ideal companion for a journey. so doing I am not awarding them an unjust preference over other works. A volume of Shakespeare contains naturally many times the amount of nutriment. But whereas we, all of us, are more or less familiar with the plots, characters and even the very language of Shakespeare, there are few of us who are equally well-read in Molière. I read recently that not more than a
score passages in Molière had become proverbially accepted, and of these one at least belongs to Cyrano de Bergerac. I wonder, however, how many of my readers could, without reference, tell me at once who was Chrysale, who Béralde and who Eriphile. To ninetynine Englishmen out of a hundred, accordingly, most of Molière's plays would come with a freshness such as is not to be expected in the case of Shakespeare. All of them, moreover, bristle with observation, with wit and with satire, and there are some of them which are permeated by “the still sad music of humanity." Anything but a mere jester is Molière. Few of us have had a keener experience of sorrow and suffering; and when the great actor and dramatist died all but on the stage, there is little doubt that rest came to a sufficiently "perturbed spirit." Great man as he is, however, Molière, like his prototype Rabelais, was more inclined to laugh and sneer at human infirmities than to feel the divine pity which is the attribute of the greatest men.
It repays the reader who is fond of such enjoyments to contrast the female characters of Shakespeare, with those of Molière. The task is at once pleasant and edifying, and I am sorry that I have not space to attempt it. I can only indicate where I should wish to prove. The charge that has been occasionally brought against Shakespeare is that some of his sweetest characters are less beings of flesh and blood than abstractions, types of all the virtues. Mind, I am myself bringing no such arraignment. It would, however, be difficult, I suppose, in the real world to find innocence such as is depicted in Miranda, meekness and long-suffering such as we find in Desdemona, or filial love such as is illustrated in Cordella. Beatrice, on the other hand, and Juliet are essentially human, and Shakespeare has given us besides Lady Macbeth,