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The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye he was unsuccessful. lior a while he never
As the perfumed tincture of the rose. got out of the last thousand of the ten or But when Titania speaks of “killing can- twelve thousand candidates who aspired kers in the musk-rose buds," or the poet
as he aspired. sings in the “Sonnets” that “ loathsome Time went on, however, and by the help canker lives in sweetest bud,” the refer- of the most untiring assiduity he began ence is to a parasitic worm.
towards the middle of his life to be reSince the days when Montgomery cham-garded as a promising student. If he pioned the cause of the lily, the ranks of continued to progress in the same ratio, that fair flower in our own country have there was yet some likelihood that ere been strengthened by a vast reinforcement he was fifty he might meet with his re from foreign climes. The giant lily (Lili-ward. um giganteum or cordifolium) is as hardy
Seng was the more stimulated to peras the hemlock, and soars to the height of severe inasmuch as he was not at ease in eight or ten feet under favorable circum. his home circie. His father was dead. stances; the Isabella lily (L. testaceum), of His mother was blind, and of an unamiable hybrid origin, almost equals it in stature, disposition. Indeed, she was more than and is distinguished from all others by its upamiable; by some aberration of heart delicate apricot hue; while of Lilium she began to scoff at her son, and upauratum, the gold-rayed lily of Japan, the braid him for his deficiency of intellect. most gorgeous plant that will endure our She also behaved very badly indeed to her trying climate, it is worth recording that daughter-in-law, the student's wife. the variety platyphyllum is by far the
Herein Seng appears to have shown finest and the most permanent, coming up
some indiscretion. He married a girl year after year in the same spot, whereas with enchanting teeth and eyes, but next the other varieties generally perish in the to no brains. This was a manifest consecond or third season.
travention of the natural law which impels Gardeners love to prose about their pur: intellectual man a mere doll of a girl for a
a duli man to seek a clever wife, and an suit; 'tis such a seductive hobby, and ambles along so easily that it were easy
helpmate. It would have mattered the strain the reader's patience; so only one
less - - even if it had not been a positive other point in the decoration of grounds convenience -- had not Madame Seng (as will be here alluded to. Statuary is sel- we will call the old lady, Seng's moiber) dom used in the decoration of gardens now,
become much incapacitated by her bliodyet of all places where it can be seen to
As it was, she desired a daughteradvantage it is there. It gives a feeling of in-law whom she could rely upon to do repose which is an indispensable quality everything connected with the house, in garden scenery, and in return receives from buying rice to dusting the domestic tranquil attention, which can seldom be effigies, as well as to be infinitely patient bestowed on it in public places. With and long-suffering under the abuse and trees, flowers, fair statues, greensward, even blows which she loved to bestow and song of birds, what pleasant resting- upon subordinates. places the pilgrims of life may make for
Seng's wife, however, was not such a themselves!
girl. She suited Seng, and Seng suited HERBERT MAXWELL.
her, because he was at all times fairly civil towards her. She took the greatest pos. sible care of her teeth, and daily washed her eyes with a celebrated perfumed water warranted to preserve their brightness.
For the rest, she was content so she From The Cornhill Magazine. could avoid her mother-in-law's voice and THE CANDIDATE.
the cane with which latterly, in her old SENG was forty-five years of age, and age, the blind woman was often wont to one of the most painstaking students of pursue her. Vain was it for Seng, in re. his time of life to be found in Peking. sponse to his mother's complaints, to dole
For the past thirty years he had regu- forth moral maxims for his wife's imlarly entered his name in the great civil provement. The copy-book phrases were service examinations which take place excellently spoken, but they fell on unferthroughout the empire. Hard indeed had tile soil. And, moreover, when Seng he striven to qualify himself for the honor perceived through his spectacles how of official employment. But he was, alas, snow-white were his spouse's pretty teeth, by nature rather dull, and year after year and with what an attractive lustre her eyes
sparkled towards him, even he was, more often than not, tempted to caress when he meant to scold.
This sort of thing exasperated the mother-in-law immeasurably. Latterly she became very bitter, and would run amuck about the house with the cane in her hand, beating this way and that, and calling her daughter-in-law many opprobrious names. The girl would stand in an alcove and watch the old woman's proceedings quite calmly, and without either the wish or the thought of taunting her. But when the swish of the cane approached in her direction, she would gently step through the window of the alcove, not forgetting even to bolt it from the outside lest an accident should happen. The old woman would continue her malevolent rushes to and fro until she was exhausted. Then Seng's wife would return, and, with soothing words, try to assuage the poor blind creature's animosity against her; and when she was more than commonly exhausted, she would take her upon her knee as if she were a baby, and rock her until her strength and indignation had recovered themselves.
Such scenes as these became very common in the house. They moved poor Seng to tears more than once, and he might have been heard muttering to himself a string of precepts enjoining the duty of filial love and forbearance under all circumstances. But there can be no doubt all this agitation at home affected his chances at the examinations. His depression was something terrible when the lists had appeared, and he realized that he had gained no ground-or as good as none- during the previous twelve months.
When Seng reached the ripe age of forty his mother died. This was a sad blow to the poor man. Not that he would have been inconsolable for his mother's loss in itself; for he had schooled himself into the assurance that she had long exhausted the pleasures of existence. But, as a matter of fact, with her vanished the means of the household support. It was an iniquitous thing. The old woman, from mere spite, had bequeathed such estate as she had to the heads of a certain pagoda on a hill over against her house. They were to build her a fine tomb, with a south aspect, on another neighboring hill, to keep her memory green for a period.
Never was there such a hard and extraordinary calamity. It was of a kind, too, that smote poor Seng in his tenderest part. His mother had insulted him for
ever and ever. She had not had confidence in him and his regard for the sacred law which enjoins a son to do all he can for his parents, dead or alive.
Moreover, how was he to know that the same unnatural feeling which had prompted this cruel diversion of the family estate would not perpetuate itself to his detriment in the spiritual world? In other words, the awful thought came to him that his mother's ghostly part would oppose him in his literary efforts, and also do its best to make him completely miserable in all the concerns of his life.
"And this evil," he moaned, "is to come upon one who never failed to kowtow night and morning at your venerable feet, O my mother!"
In the fervor of his grief the poor fellow actually forgot himself so far as to weep, with his head bent on his wife's shoulder, she tenderly stroking his brow the while, and whispering words of comfort about the forthcoming examination.
"You will become a high and mighty official," she said. "I wish to prophesy it."
Hearing this, Seng braced himself, and, with the light of heroic endeavor in his eyes-poor eyes, weakened by his incessant studies-he clasped his wife to his breast, and began an eloquent oration, in which much was said about the priceless value of unwearying application and the virtues that arise in the heart after twenty years of literary exercises.
"I will forget the past. I will be young forever until I succeed, and when these sad hours are gone, we shall look back upon them as salutary aids to that eternal contentment which shall abide with us as the result of a competence!"
Thus, urged by necessity and his own fading ambitions, Seng threw himself into the strife of the examinations with a consuming earnestness. He was never without slips in his hand, and even in his sleep he repeated his phrases without knowing it.
So enthralling grew his passion for print that if, in walking the streets, he saw upon the ground but a morsel of paper with the character upon it, he would fall into a noble passion. Having picked it up, and execrated the careless person who had cast it aside, he would then bear it reverently to the corner of the street, and, with an ejaculatory sentence from Confucius or one of the Five Ancient Classics, deposit it in the receptacle there prepared for such precious litter.
In spite of Seng's labors, however, year
after year went by, with failure ever in their | ods of profit and loss. At the time of the train. The thought of his mother, and great examination he backs candidates in the possibility that she was still working a series, even as the Italian with a spare mischief for him, often depressed him im- half-franc backs the numbers his superstimeasurably. But he struggled on bravely, tion and the latest popular dream-book and at length made really substantial urge him to favor with his suffrages. progress in the lists. A compassionate mandarin employed him in the mean time as a sort of fifth-rate clerk. The wage was ridiculous, but Seng and his wife made it suffice. They trusted to the future to recompense them.
This brings us to Seng's forty-sixth year, which found him in Peking, and a hot favorite for the honors of the examination that was impending. The mandarin in whose service he was had entrusted him with a commission of some delicacy. He was to bribe a superior as astutely as possible for a certain purpose. It was by no means a task to our friend's taste, but he sighed and fulfilled it, so skilfully indeed that he gained the regard of the sinner; and then he turned himself to his slips and moral exercises with the zeal and sprightliness of a boy.
"It shall be this year or never," he said to himself. He said it also to his tutor, who had great confidence in him, and who did not scruple, over innumerable cups of tea, to whisper it abroad that Piseng was as sure of a place this year as man could be.
And so it happened that, as the fame of Seng's indefatigable industry and more than usually strenuous efforts at his studies became noised abroad in the parlors of professors and the back streets of Peking, the public began to fancy him as a winning card.
Great, then, was the run upon the series in which the name of Piseng appeared.
Word of this was of course soon brought to our friend, who abode with his wife in a small house in a mean part of the city.
"They shall not be disappointed," said Seng, with ill-concealed elation. "There are virtues of different kinds, but of these the pre-eminent ones are as follows
All day long he gave himself over to his labors. His wife was as anxious as he was. For the time she thought less about her lovely, almond-shaped eyes and white teeth than about the issue of the dreaded examination. Indeed the result of this seemed to her almost of more consequence than the flat-browed little boy babe which she bore upon her lap, and which had signalized the past year by coming into the world to bless her.
It was absurd that they should starve as underlings in a mandarin's household when Seng had the ability at length to become, may be, a mandarin himself.
Now Piseng was our friend's full name, but for brevity's sake he was generally known by the ordinary name of Seng. In the schools, however, he was of course entered in full, and the prefix "Pi" gave People took to stopping Seng in the him a certain distinction which the multi-streets, and paying him wonderful complitude of other candidates with names as common as our Smith, Brown, Robinson, Jones, etc., by no means enjoyed.
As the time came on for the great examinations to begin, the influx of students into the imperial city made a perceptible difference in the population of the streets. It also caused proportionate excitement among the students themselves, their kindred, and the various proprietors of the lotteries, who were now to reap their annual harvest of cash and taels from the speculative inhabitants of the city. And this is one of the many odd features of life in the far East, as contrasted with life among ourselves.
In the south of Europe the lotteries are concerned with inanimate numbers. You invest your money on these in a series, and thus you lose it—much more often than not. With us horse-racing seems on a par with the lotteries. But the exalted Chinaman is not content with such meth
ments. They also implored him, of his infinite courtesy, to oblige them by succeeding as a candidate. They were interested in his success or failure to the extent of an indefinite number of taels.
This was of course exceedingly pleasant from one point of view. It was the kind of thing that could not fail to encourage a sanguine student. But, on the other hand, though at first Seng took it as a high honor, and would blush when his virtues and application were so elaborately extolled to his face, by and by he began to feel that there was a responsibility about his position which affected his nerves.
It is dreadful, my peacock eye," he said to his wife one day when he felt very tenderly towards her, "it is dreadful to understand that upon my own unaided achievements depends the happiness or the disappointment of so many of my fellow-creatures."
"But why need it be? Is it not their
own affair? You do not ask them to believe you so sure of a place," urged the girl.
"No, I do not. But you perceive it is the same thing, do you not? or you would if your intelligence were of the masculine order. And is it not written in the fifth section of the third chapter of the eightand-twentieth volume of the great master that-that; but upon the whole I need not perplex my mind with the memory of unnecessary learning. It is rare indeed that this part of the great master's collected writings are made use of in the schools."
"I cannot see that you are to blame in any way!"
"Nor are you asked to interest yourself so deeply in what is, perchance, beyond you. Behold the beginning and the end for which thou wast created!"
With these words Seng pointed to the child of which he was the father. There was no answering so forcible a rejoinder.
In his heart our friend was, however, in very much doubt after all as to his ability to win for his unknown friends the money they had invested upon him. He felt that his learning was of a halt and lame kind, and he knew only too well that unless the conditions were all in his favor he should not show at his best. With advancing years certain bodily distresses had come upon him. That leaden dragon, indiges tion, in particular, harassed him, and tied up the mouth of his wallet of memory only too often.
"I pray that I may succeed, but I cannot tell. I cannot tell. As a person of priceless wisdom said in the reign of in the reign of It was during the Ming dynasty, but I cannot recollect the vener able individual's name, nor his exact words, though I have a diamond-clear sense of their significance."
So the days crept on until it was the eve of the opening of the great competition. Peking palpitated with the sound of repeated phrases, and with the throbbing of the hearts of the thousands of expectant students.
Seng was washing his face preparatory to eating his frugal supper when a visitor of distinction was announced. Countless were the obeisances the visitor's servant offered to Seng, and Seng requited them to the visitor himself.
The latter then expressed his wish to see our friend by himself, and to say something for his private ear. It was easily arranged. And immediately, without preamble, the visitor stated that he had come
to do his utmost to induce Seng to withdraw from the examination.
"I am able, most learned sir, to propose to you the sum of ten thousand taels as a compensation for your obliging sacrifice." "Ten thousand taels!" exclaimed Seng, with natural surprise.
"It is true. I need not disguise it from a person of your perspicacity. The public have backed you-pardon the unscholarly phrase, I entreat have backed you to such an extent that rather than pay up your series, most respected Piseng, we will endow you with this stupendous sum. You do not surely think it too little, by the side of the beggarly five hundred taels of income which may be the reward of your intellect-breaking success."
"Oh no," said Seng. "It is indeed a great deal of money, but —
"And by no means a dishonest proposal, most virtuous sir, to whom all the injunctions of our most sapient and excellent ancestors are as familiar as your wife's face, if I may be pardoned for mentioning it for the sake of the simile."
"It is not very honest," demurred the perplexed Seng; "but still I have heard of more unpardonable deeds."
"Infinitely more unpardonable deeds are daily committed in the kingdom, and not so much as one house-fly says you are to blame' to the persons who are guilty of them. But how far removed from the borderland of guilt is the action I am empowered to suggest to you, oh long-suffering sir? You are to sacrifice yourself, Piseng, for the good of others. Instead of reaping honor and a certain position (much over-estimated though this assuredly is), you bow your head to some destitute youth who is your inferior in mind-power, and you say to him, with a heart over-crowded with generosity: 'Take, my brother, the reward that would have been mine. I give it freely to you, and retire into private life to enjoy the fruits of my life-long acquaintance with virtue and noble sentences.'
"The ten thousand taels will be in cash, I presume, not in land?" asked Seng hesitantly, and with a hurried look round about him.
In the most undoubted of papers, great sir. They shall be turned into silver, it so it please you. Then your self-renunciatory mind has decided?"
Seng thought earnestly for a minute. By accepting this proposal he would be saved anxiety for the rest of his life. Even as an official there would be no end, but death, to the harassments and future
examinations before him. Then there in regard to its treatment of his religious was his child, so pink and white, and views. On the one hand these attacks likely to have a large appetite.
seemed to call for a rejoinder, and on the I will receive the ten thousand taels,” other to forbid it. It was futile to reason said Seng, “and having them, I will quit with critics * who demanded of me an in. Pekiog at once. It shall suffice for me spired as well as circumstantial knowledge henceforward that I pursue the three hap- of the life I had been called upon to depict, pinesses of long life, wealth, and a family and were prepared to decline my unsupof sons. My constitution, though im-ported authority for any one of its facts; paired, may yet suffice for the first and who had framed for themselves a scheme last of these desirable ends. As for the of what that life must be, and measured wealth, your esteemed consideration and not only my competence but my sincerity my own self-sacrifice in the present matter as a biographer by the degree in which I may serve as a stepping-stone to it. I carried it out. I could only appeal from have said."
the unreason and the uncharitableness of " Most discreet Piseng," was the other's the one class of judges to the more symreply, and after a few more words he with pathetic justice of another; and the predrew, promising that the money should be dominating kindness with which my work sent that same night.
had been received rendered such an appeal In effect it was sent, and received, and superfluous. From the point of view of the following morning, instead of sitting my own interest it seemed best that I down to a tiresome desk, our friend, with should remain silent. his wife and child, and the money in port- But my critics were not the only class able form, set out for Canton, where he with which I was concerned. They had proposed to begin a new life devoted to awakened me to the probable existence of commerce instead of official honor. large groups of men and women whose
This desertion of literature for com- faith in Mr. Browning was bound up with merce was a sad drop in the world for our his supposed allegiance to the literal forms poor friend. As a student of the charac- of Christianity, and had been wounded by ter, and a disciple of the great Confucius my exposition of its error ; and I felt with and Mencius, he was an aristocrat of the deep regret that, in wounding that faith, I Flowery Land, though poor as a harbor had rendered myself responsible, not only coolie or a chair porter. But in taking to to those who held it, but to him whose trade he degraded himself below the un-memory it enshrined. It occurred to me lettered worker in the fields. The worst that the irritation which my statements of it was that he ascribed this perversion had aroused was due in part to their of his better nature, not to his own un brevity, in part also to their impersonal righteous and lazy instincts, but to his character; and that if I had made them at mother's untiring and discontented spirit. more length, and with more effort to ex
He proposed, however, to assuage the plain and justify them, they might have ghost's malignancy by paying a nice little carried more weight, and caused less pain sum to one of the most learned doctors of in the proceeding. It seemed still possiFeng-Shin (or ghost lore) in the country. ble to rectify the mistake, and at a great If it were necessary to move the old lady's sacrifice of personal inclination I deterbones, even that also should be done, mined to do so. I sketched out the conthough the cost might be great.
tents of an article which set forth in more It need hardly be added that the backers detail what I understood to be Mr. Brownof the Piseng series in the examinations ing's faith, the reason he had given me were exceedingly wroth with Seng. But for so understanding it, the positive and they had no redress.
negative evidence in my favor to be dis. covered in the works. But meanwhile these very conclusions had been in the main endorsed by two important represen
tatives of the Church press; and since From The Contemporary Review.
then a critique of the “ Life and Letters THE RELIGIOUS OPINIONS OF ROBERT in the London Quarterly Review has in. BROWNING
vested them with the authority of a very BY MRS. SUTHERLAND ORR.
important Protestant sect. The writer, it It has for some time been an anxious question with me whether or not I should * As the Contemporary Review is read in America make some answer to the attacks directed only allude in this paper to certain English reviewers
as well as in England, it may be well to specify that I against my memoir of Robert Browning, of my book.