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heathy, sandy ground was thickly strewn with chips and fragments of spoilt missiles. The strange thing is, that not a flint exists naturally anywhere near this ancient flint factory. Once I came suddenly upon an arrow-head or elf-shot lying on the edge of a turnipfield near a plantation of ilex-oak. It was curiously fashioned, like the pointed leaf of an ilex, and hardly distinguishable from the brown ilex leaves around it. These elf-shots, when one has the luck to find them, are sure to have just been shot; they never lie long, or such is the universal belief among the country-folk. A tale is told of a lady and gentleman on horseback quietly riding along a country road, when the lady's hand unwittingly closed on an elf-shot that instant lodged in the folds of her habit. In Scotland any weird may be believed; nothing there is too strange to be true. It is the land of mystery.

The "sculptured stones exist still in great numbers. Too mystic and awe-inspiring for love, they are venerated by all who know. Two of these have remained unheeded age after age, within the low-walled graveyard of a roofless church some distance south of Elrick woods. After crossing "the crooked Don," and climbing a steep rough bank on the other side, the ruined church is reached. It was, but a few years since, the parish church. The ancient font, long cast out, still lies half smothered in rough grass and weeds among the graves. If one climbed on to an old "table" tombstone under a window, one

might peer through the small greenish pane and mark how a long green ivy streamer had pushed through the roof and waved just over the pulpit, and how cobwebs hung round the decayed unpainted

pews. One glance would be enough at such a ghostly uncanny-looking place! The old roof has fallen in, and nettle-beds fill up where pews and pulpit stood, and a brand-new kirk, with solid roof and no ivy, has arisen near. The two sculptured stones of the graveyard wall have, however, been promoted to outside the blocked west doorway. From the recess loom the wellknown enigmatic figures,—strange outlines, sharp and distinct as if graven yesterday. There are the harpoons and spectacles, and the great Beast with trunk curled over his back. It appears over and over again on these stones, and is by common consent an elephant. They say the figure might have been evolved from descriptions of the elephant learned from travellers who returned from the far East. It is the same as found on carven stones at this day in India. Many are the speculations of the learned. As one of the un-learned, I too have my theory, which shall not be spoken.

The lost key to all these hieroglyphs has been discovered by none. And all the time, with slow sure pace, farther and farther away, the centuries travel on; and ever more and more remote, more faint and small, shines apart the old old Past. year the hundredth part of a few grains of surface may be weatherbitten from the stone, so slow yet certain is the ultimate effacement of these undeciphered signs. The Maiden Stone of Bennachie (beyond the limits of a walk from St Machar) bears sculptured signs, some of which are the very same in character as those in the ruined doorway. Ten feet tall, gaunt and grey, stands the Maiden in the field upon the fell-dike, close to the public road that passes on round by the foot of Bennachie. Ages

Even as year by

of storm and tempest has she endured-alone, unshaken. Generations of men, in long and vast procession, have been born, and lived, and perished, while she has stood there, where first they set her, on the dreary muirland. Infinite toil must it have cost to cut the enormous monolith out of the quarry and bring it down the mountainside; infinite care and skilled art in that rude age to work, in such bold yet finished relief, the hard uncompromising granite--it is coarse. red-toned granite of Bennachieand make it tell the story that all the coming races of the earth were to understand and know. The granite and its sculptured story were to last for ever. And now, poor stone! all outworn and crumbling, only when the sun shines full upon you an hour after noonday, late in summer, can your carved images be made out at all with clearness, and then only by the transparent lilac shadows of them. The elephant is there, and the harpoon or scales; there is a mirror and a comb, and over them the ass-centaur is represented with action true to nature and full of spirit. What avails the labour and the skill, since now the whole is empty of meaning? A large notch in the upper part remains in proof of the legend which tells how the Fiend pursued the Maid of Drumdurno farm as she fled towards Pittodrie woods, and clutched her shoulder, when on the instant she was turned to stone. Men of science travel long distances to see the strange thing. Tourists hire carriages and come out from Aberdeen and picnic under its shadow. The dike has to be scaled; and while they walk round and scrutinise, and are none the wiser, the driver, a little way on, nods asleep on his box. And then they sit

down and eat their sandwiches, and the young colts in the field come round and sniff and have to be scared away. One or two may pluck a tiny heart's-ease from a bevy of them growing there, and then the carriage-load drives off. They have seen the sight, they have lunched, and are content. Twenty or more years ago the moss had not been ploughed up, nor the new road made, and the stone was still knee deep in heather. Yet even now, alone in a field hemmed in with common life-stared at, desecratedthe impression made by a first sight of that great melancholy stone is one not to be forgotten. A hundred wheels might rattle past, noisy crowds might surround it, but the Maiden Stone of Bennachie would seem to stand for ever as it now is standing— rooted in solitude, wrapt round with silence.

Far, far have we wandered from the sweet home-walks of Elrick! and in memory alone their charm may be retraced. Could I but answer when the spirit calls, how would its flowery lanes and footpaths bear again the print of eager feet! how would the dreams once more thicken amongst the green beech leaves and amid the darkness of the firs, or glow within the fire of sunset clouds! how would the ear hear with delight the low song of the ousel,-half outsung by the bubbling burn around him,—or hearken the harsh cry of some grey sea-gull overhead gravely winging to the sea! Recalling in the fogs of London lost joys of sun-bright summers, one forgets that winter reigns supreme, and that the Field of the Fairies lies flowerless and drear, hid beneath the soft white winter snow-sheet.

E. V. B


WHEN the historian comes to write of England in the last ten years of this century, not the least splendid of his themes will be the sentiment of Empire which budded and flowered in them. The years of the decade that have still to run may hold in store for his pen most momentous events, peoples and dynasties trembling in the balance of war, or, it may be, the re-partition of continents accomplished: but still we may be sure this Imperialism will stand out among them all, conspicuous in his eyes. Even we who, living in the whirl of them, are least able to distinguish clearly the signs of the times, cannot doubt to what they point here. The offer of Australia to aid us with troops at a pinch, and the fiscal action of ever- loyal Canada, are purple incidents upon the significance of which, indeed, it would be possible to lay too much stress. More expressive are the motions towards Federation among the colonies themselves, and the quickened interest of the rulers at home in the Greater Britain across the seas: an interest, it is true, that is no more than becoming, yet, because of previous indifference, not to be overlooked as a sign. Most significant of all, possibly, is the new awakening of all England's sons to see that the seas which separate them do but bind them closer, and that their concern must ever be for the ships that sail them-"swift shuttles of our Empire's loom that weave us, main to main." And there are not wanting evidences of how close and intimate is this sentiment with the body of the people. There is, for example, the tendency of popular journalism.

That is a test which, perhaps, before our day was not available. It would be wrong to say that hitherto public opinion has followed where the journalists have led; but certainly there is a mass of journalism to-day which throws its weight at the bidding of the public in a manner undreamed of twenty years ago, and the shrewdest conductors of this popular journalism have been striking the Imperial note very loudly of late. Evidences of the sentiment, indeed, are everywhere, in the talk of the man in the street, in the bus, in the office, in the club, and most of us, no doubt, are conscious of it chiefly in some uplifting of spirit within ourselves.

There are many explanations given for this renascence. It is accounted a reaction from the Commercialism which marked the middle of this century, as the spirit of war marked the close of the previous. With more reason, others see in it, not a reaction from that Commercialism, but, its evolution,—the natural instinct of commercial England, hard pressed by Continental and Transatlantic rivals, to turn in the direction where her future superiority must lie. Others, again, are content to trace it to more acute and immediate causes the blustering of a cock-a-hoop section in America, the notorious telegram of the German Emperor-quick-matches, at least, to fire the train. And we may believe that the writings of Mr Rudyard Kipling are not the expression merely of the Imperial spirit, but partly its inspiration also. All these immediate causes and special manifestations the historian will marshal in the order

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"If Mr Rudyard Kipling should remain the chief poet of his race in his time, his primacy would be the most interesting witness of the imperial potentialities of that race in literature. He was not born English, if that means born in England, but the keynote of his latest volume is a patriotism intense beyond anything expressed by other English poets. He is so intense in the English loyalty which always mystifies us poor Americans, that one has a little difficulty in taking him at his word in it. But he is most serious, and in the presence of the fact one cannot help wondering how far the ties of affection, the sentiment of a merely inherited allegiance, can stretch. If we had not snapped them so summarily a century ago, should we be glowing and thrilling at the name of England, which now awakens only a cold disgust in us, or at the notion of an anthropomorphic majesty, which only makes us smile? One cannot read A Song of the English' in Mr Kipling's new book without thinking we might, though as it is we read it without a responsive heart-throb, or any feeling but wonder for its beauty and sincerity.

"Its patriotism is not love of the little England,

Encompassed by the inviolate seas,'

on the west coast of Europe, but of the great England whose far-strewn empire feels its mystical unity in every latitude and longitude of the globe. It has its sublimity, that


emotion, and its reason, though we cannot share it and it is only in asking ourselves why a man of any nation, any race, should so glory in its greatness or even its goodness, when he has the greatness, the goodness of all humanity to glory in, that we are sensible of the limitations of this out-born Englishman. Possibly when we broke with England we broke more irreparably with tradition than we imagined, and liberated ourselves to a patriotism not less large than humanity."


Here a man of culture and imagination, an American, too,-one of ourselves we should have said a century ago,-is brought face to face with this English loyalty, and it is easy to see that he is puzzled and distressed by it. it were merely Jingoism, he could understand it: that is a product of all countries, not least of his own. But Mr Howells is too keen and too honest to miss that it is more than that. Coincident with it at the present moment no doubt are certain incidents, certain displays of national passion arising out of these incidents-Jingoism, if any one likes; but large sections of the public and the press have already condemned these. other hand, this Imperialism"this feeling of mystical unity," Mr Howells aptly calls it is welcomed with a wonderful unanim

On the

ity; even the Little Englanders, their creed, pay it tribute. And Greater Englanders in spite of Mr Howells says that they in America cannot understand it or appreciate it. It seems so certain to him that it must be a limitation

in us, that this emotion, so intense, must swamp all other emotions, and that this tradition as he calls it must blind us, not only to the larger patriotism of humanity which he speaks of as the single charge of America, but to reasonableness even, and to a humorous

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consideration of our own position and tolerance of that of others. But we know that it is not so. If we were asked to single out a living writer, the intensity of whose patriotism drives it into a channel deeper and narrower, perhaps, than most of us would care to see our own running in, it would be Mr Blackmore. Yet in his story of 'Dariel,' running through 'Maga' now, Sûr Imar gibes the young Englishman pleasantly. "In going round the globe so much," he says, "you never care about any race that is beginning to get better. Your own, for instance, is nothing to you. You can hope for the best about them; and believe that the Lord, who governs the earth for the benefit of the British race, will make it all right for the worst of you. Upon that point you have no misgivings, any more than you have about any others, when you feel yourself summoned to improve the world." Of course the novelist here is putting the appropriate thoughts and gibes into the mind and mouth of his character; but it is easy to see, too, that he has a kind of proud relish in being able to acquiesce in the criticism of an attitude which nevertheless he would maintain with an equally proud intensity. It is this that Mr Howells, and a great many more than Mr Howells, do not understand that the race to whom this intense emotion has been be

queathed is not blind to its limitations, but, while conscious of them, not with tongue in cheek, but out of an instinctive wisdom, treasures it as a folly-one of the great follies from which all that is good and wise proceeds.

It is by a happy chance that this sentiment of Empire-loyalty comes to full bloom in this par

ticular year, and by a happier still that in this year, four centuries ago, the same sentiment, though all unconsciously, first came into its own. Four hundred years ago, almost to a day, on the 22d of June, when her Majesty will go to St Paul's to give thanks for her long reign and the triumphs of it, an expedition sailing from the port of Bristol sighted the continent of North America, planted the flag of England on the new found land, and thus set the first stake of the enlarged borders of the empire whose singular and perfervid loyalty will find expression on that day. That is a coincidence which gives the Cabot anniversary a wonderful hold upon the imagination. But there is more. For nearly four centuries the Cabot expedition was wrapped in mystery: even now few rays shine upon that voyage across the "Sea of Darkness." Within recent years, however, our knowledge of it has become immensely richer through the patient labour and research of Mr Henry Harrisse, and many others, the results of which, with not a little original comment and suggestion, Weare has admirably summed up in the volume1 which he has published on the eve of the anniversary. And this is the chief of them. Hitherto the hero of the expedition has been Sebastian, the



Now he is the hero no longer, and John Cabot, the father, is re-established in the honour awarded him by his contemporaries, and filched from him by his son.

The documents which establish the resuscitated title of John Cabot to the discovery of the continent of North America are singularly meagre. Those on

1 Cabot's Discovery of North America. By G. E. Weare.

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