indifferent poet, and destitute of that philosophic turn which is necessary to the best criticism a popular critic "with a lamentable shallowness, which is seen when we have read Locke, Hume, Helvetius, etc." Pindar ("not Peter ") he holds to be 'very unequal, often very tiresome, very obscure, and, to us moderns,, very uninteresting."


have a public funeral, because it would cost a little more, "a few pounds to the prebendaries, and about ninety pairs of gloves to the choir, etc.; " and "because Dr. Johnson had no music in him." He attacks Johnson for “seeing no promise in Milton's juvenile poems, and feeling no beauties in Mr. Gray's odes." For Gray he has a Cambridge man's enthusiasm, and "cannot understand how any one not Enough has been said to enable us to utterly bovine and prejudiced should scout form a tolerable idea of the Fordham and Gray's Bard,' and yet pronounce Dry- Colchester life, with the quiet domesticity, den's Ode on the Death of Anne Killi- the musical parties, and the eager, if pargrew to be the noblest in our language." tial, interest in the great outside world. Pope's Homer," he is sure, Johnson People sneer at the "deadness" of the overrrates; yet Cowper's "Homer" he Georgian age; and certainly there are in pronounces "sometimes flat, queer, and these volumes very few signs of spiritualdry. Pope has risen with me since I be-ity. But what the Bishop of Southwell gan to compare the two." One is glad to find him praising Milton's prose. Of the passage on liberty in the "Areopagitica,' ," he says: "Read this whole tirade aloud, it is something beyond writing. I had it once by heart, and I remember spouting it abroad in Twickenham Park to my father and Sir J. Hawkins." Lord Chesterfield he duly detests: "What pages of trite trifling stuff for now and then a little wit! And his immoral advice one may dislike, not as homme de Dieu, but as homme


[ocr errors]

Among the very few hints of his religious feeling, is his agreeing with Bishop Butler, that "prayer is a dutiful direction of the mind to God as present." Of his relations to his flock, there is next to nothing. Here is the account of a tithe dinner: "I rode to Notley to dine with some four-and-twenty farmers, for which I made them pay me 100. It was fairly worth the money. We have already noticed his superficiality; to this must be added a want of insight. He advises his brother (in August, 1786) to see the Bastille, without a suspicion of the fate which was in store for that building; neither has the brother, at Pau or elsewhere, any inkling how near at hand is the break-up of the society which so disgusted him; yet he has a John Bull's desire to see the French fleet well thrashed. The same feeling which drew his mind towards mountain scenery, led him to admire Percy's "Reliques; Balow, my babe," he sets far above Simonides's "Danae." And it also made him certain that Chatterton did not wholly invent the Rowley poems, but "found some old fragments which gave him ideas. . . . I find them full of genius, with touches here and there that Mr. Gray would not have been ashamed of." Addison, on the other hand, he holds to be an

[ocr errors]

said not long ago about the disadvantages, moral and intellectual, of a man set down for life in a small country parish, was far truer in that age of slow communication and restriction in intercourse. It is greatly to Thomas Twining's credit to have kept at such a comparatively high level. We may even wish that all country parsons nowadays, even all ex-fellows of colleges, showed as keen and intelligent an interest in anything as our author did in music and travel. Sydney Smith once complained that he was becoming a holy vegetable. It was a strange complaint, whichever word we think of, for Sydney Smith to make. To a good many in these times one fears that the substantive alone is applicable; one may vegetate, and yet be wholly worldly. Mr. Twining was as reticent about his work and his calling as he was about his affections. Nor would we wish it otherwise, for in this worldly age, it is well to be reminded that a man may be spiritual without always having spiritual phrases in his mouth.

From Good Words.





THE more Gilbert thought of it the more he became convinced that he had been guilty of a lamentable error in judg ment in proposing to Kitty Greenwood. It is not with impunity that a man who has taken cold reason for his guide through life allows himself to be swayed by a gust of feeling, and even if Miss Huntley had


never crossed his path again the day would full surely have arrived when Gilbert would have repented him of his rashness. But Miss Huntley had come, armed in all the suggestive panoply of wealth, beauty, and worldly wisdom, and this had caused lame Nemesis to put her best foot forehad, perhaps, as Gilbert now told himself without any circumlocution, rendered it possible for him to escape Nemesis even at the eleventh hour. The means by which she had accomplished this end have already been indicated, and it is neither necessary or agreeable to dwell further upon them. She had an apt disciple and an easy task.

By no means so easy was that which, before the month of October was out, Gilbert had determined to undertake. It is no light matter to be a traitor to love, honor, and duty, to desert the girl of your heart without the shadow of a plausible excuse for so doing, and to brave the scorn of your friends and neighbors. Yet doubtless the thing may be done, if only all scruples be resolutely cast to the winds, and this latter feat was more within Gilbert's capacity than it had once been. He did, indeed, repeat to himself certain glib and conventional phrases, as, for example, that a mistake ought always to be corrected, no matter how, while correction remains practicable; that in Kitty's interest as well as his own it would be wise and right to terminate an engagement which had been entered into without sufficient consideration, and so forth; but these things he said rather for form's sake and because he disliked a raw style of argumentation than to quiet an uneasy conscience. Besides, it is a waste of time to seek out reasons for doing what you have already made up your mind to do. The really difficult question was how to do it. Now a lady who has thrown over her betrothed sometimes has hard things said of her; but everybody must concede that her position is preferable to that of a lady who has been thrown over. Clearly, then, every facility should be afforded to Kitty for taking the initiative in this delicate affair. Nor would there have been much trouble about the rendering of this service to her if she had been a little less wilfully blind. She either did not see, or did not choose to show that she saw, what any other girl must have seen in her place; her lover's evident preference for Miss Huntley's society did not, apparently, shake her faith in him for a moment; her cheerfulness, good-humor, and insensibility to neglect were as admirable as they

were exasperating. The only thing that could be said for such conduct was that it made Gilbert's path a little smoother for him, by causing him to doubt seriously whether he ever could have been really in love with so stupid a woman. Yet he could not bring himself to tell her in so many words that he no longer considered her to be a suitable wife for him. To do that would have been to incur an amount of public obloquy which he dared not face, and which he could hardly expect to live down under a year or two, backed though he might probably be by all the power of Miss Huntley's riches and social influence. No! by hook or by crook, Kitty must be forced to give him his dismissal. It will be observed that he had made progress since the time when it cost him a sleepless night and much expenditure of casuistry to resolve upon cheating his brother. Then he had been sincerely desirous of effecting some sort of a modus vivendi with his conscience; now his sole anxiety was to save appearances.

Miss Greenwood may be acquitted of the accusation of stupidity brought against her. That she did not suspect the man whom she loved of a baseness which, if proved, would have made it impossible for her to love him any longer, is the less surprising because the evidences thereof had not been brought very directly under her notice; but she was perfectly aware that a change had come over him, that he had ceased to take pleasure in the kind of conversation which, however silly it may be in itself, is generally found pleasant by lovers, and that her total ignorance of politics, which, during the summer-time, he had been wont to laugh at and treat as a joke, had now become a vexation to him. She was not a clever girl, but she was a modest and a sensible one; so instead of upbraiding him, she set to work to correct the shortcoming which she judged to be the cause of his displeasure, and began to read the daily papers diligently, with a view to rendering herself more fit to become the wife of an earnest politician. As the admiral took in the Times and the Daily News, while Mrs. Greenwood (who was a Conservative at heart) took the Morning Post, this method of study did not tend to free her from bewilderment; and when, after carefully weighing all that she had read about the state of Ireland, she took upon herself to propound a truly ingenious scheme for the pacification of that luckless island, she was properly rebuked for her temerity.

Gilbert gave her one look of profound

been ludicrously apparent to one of the disputants, but which Kitty's patience prevented from ever degenerating into a quarrel. Gilbert could be ironical, bitter, and even covertly insolent, but he could not be brutal; and it seemed as if nothing short of downright brutality would serve his purpose.

astonishment and then said quietly: "My | which the inconsequence must often have dear Kitty, do you happen by any chance to know what a contradiction in terms is? You can illustrate it, at all events, if you can't define it. I grant you that it is sometimes employed effectively by public speakers; but then they don't usually make it quite as plain as a pikestaff. If you are ambitious of excelling in that line, you had better take a few lessons from your friend Monckton, who is past master in the art of humbugging his audiences." This was only a random shot, but it went home. Kitty did not mind being snubbed, because she thought that very likely she deserved it; but not even from Gilbert would she listen to a word against her beloved vicar.

Help reached him at length from a quarter in which help was assuredly no expression of good-will. The time was approaching for the first representation of Brian's opera, and Miss Huntley, to whom the date had been duly notified, was determined that Kingscliff should be well represented in the audience. However, Admiral and Mrs. Greenwood, after prom

"Mr. Monckton never humbugged any-ising to be present, begged off. They body in his life," she declared vehemently, "and what is more, I don't believe you

think it of him."

Then she jumped up and left the room, lest she should be compelled to hear more than she could bear.

Perhaps this little scene may have shown Gilbert where to look for the weapon of which he was in search. At any rate, from that day forth he never missed an opportunity of sneering at St. Michael's, its elaborate services, its guilds, its heterogeneous congregation, and the doctrines which he assumed to be promulgated from its pulpit. In this way he certainly managed to give Kitty a good deal of pain; but he might have known better than to imagine that such a device would cause her to shrink away from him. She was something of a zealot; like most women, she was intolerant of any form of faith save her own, but disposed to be indulgent towards indifference, especially towards the indifference of men. Gilbert's attitude had hitherto been indifferent, but not hostile, and she had secretly hoped that when he should be all her own she would be able to bring a beneficial influence to bear upon him; but if, as he now gave her to understand, he rejected not only Mr. Monckton's views, but Christianity itself, it clearly behoved her to put off no longer the work which seemed to be especially marked out for her. She felt herself on firmer ground here than on the quicksands of politics, and did not fear ultimate failure, because she was sure that Gilbert was noble, virtuous, and conscientious, and that his scepticism only arose from that lack of humility which was but natural in one of his vast intellectual capacity.

Thus began a theological contest of

hated leaving home; the admiral had caught a cold in his head, and his wife could not trust him to take care of himself if he were left alone; so they gladly accepted Miss Huntley's offer of a bedroom in Park Lane for Kitty. Kitty herself was delighted at the prospect of this outing until she discovered that, for some reason or other, Gilbert was opposed to her taking part in it. He suggested that it might be disagreeable for her to stay in the house of a lady with whom she was not acquainted, and who was not always polite to strangers; he alleged that nothing but a sense of fraternal duty induced him to undertake what was sure to be a tiring and tedious expedition. The truth was that he objected, partly because he had of late taken to objecting to everything that Kitty wished to do, and partly because he dreaded the conclusions which Brian might draw from watching him and Beatrice and Kitty together. And yet, Heaven knows that Brian's eyes were not over quick at discovering infamy.

The upshot of it was, that when Miss Joy incidentally asked Kitty whether the matter was settled, the girl replied that she had not quite made up her mind, adding innocently, "I don't think Gilbert much wants me to go.'

[ocr errors]

Now Miss Joy was neither a reticent nor a prudent woman, and for some weeks past she had been bottling up her emotions until she was like to explode with the effervescence of them. Nothing more than this comparative trifle was needed to set her free from the restraint of her better judgment.

"Want you to go! I should think not!" she cried, a fine accession of color coming into her cheeks. "And that is just why you ought to go, and stick to him like a

leech the whole time! If I were you I wouldn't leave him alone for one moment, either here or in London, or anywhere else."

Well, the moment that the words were out she regretted them, and then, of course, she had to explain, and equally, of course, her explanation did not mend matters. There was no real harm done yet, she declared; all would come right; she had spoken too hastily. Beatrice, without perhaps quite intending it, had a way of taking men up and monopolizing them, and if the man happened to be conceited or easily flattered- as almost all men are - trouble was apt to ensue. Kitty did not say much, but the revelation was far more of a shock to her than her informant would have believed possible. Not once had it crossed her mind that Beatrice could be guilty of the conduct ascribed to her, still less had she supposed that Gilbert's recent coldness could be due to such a cause. Even now she did not believe the assertion which Miss Joy had carefully left unuttered. It was inconceivable to her that Gilbert could be false; it must be Beatrice, and Beatrice alone, who was to blame. That one who professed to be her friend should be trying to do her a deadly injury (for, simple though Kitty was, she saw through Miss Joy's euphemisms) was bad enough; nor was it without great difficulty that she forced herself to greet the traitress as smilingly as usual on the following day.

ployed than in the acquisition of evidence bearing upon that point. Gilbert, who was driving, only threw an occasional remark over his shoulder to the three ladies behind him, and they for their parts were intimate enough to be absolved from the wearisome obligation of racking their brains for subjects to talk about. Their way lay along a rather rough road, which sometimes skirted the sea and sometimes took an abrupt turn inland, passing through sleepy little villages of whitewashed houses, overgrown for the most part with climbing fuchsias, dipping into deep lanes, where glossy hart's-tongue ferns clothed the red soil, and crossing hills, as west-country roads commonly do, by the simple old Roman expedient of going straight up one side and straight down the other. During the summer season Halcombe and its caverns are visited daily by herds of those holiday-makers from whom Kingscliff will never again be free, and probably does not wish to be free. All along the road you meet or pass them-four or five of them generally, packed into an open one-horse fly. Not unfrequently they sing as they go. Every now and then they pause, leap out of their vehicle with one consent, and make a furious onslaught upon the ferns, which they tear up by the roots and afterwards throw away. The course of their passage is marked by broken victuals, empty gingerbeer bottles, and fluttering scraps of greasy paper. It may be hoped that they enjoy themselves, though it cannot be said that they contribute to the enjoyment of their neighbors. But on this still, soft November day the quiet country had regained possession of itself; the last of the tourists had long since gone back to na"We have come to carry you off for tive London or Bristol, and the equinocthe day, Kitty," she announced; "so if tial gales and rains had made a clean you have any parochial duties on hand you sweep of their traces. Soon in a day or will please to neglect them. Old women two perhaps - winter would set in, the and schoolchildren can be attended to in yellow leaves would fall in showers, and all weathers, but Halcombe caves are only the sun would retire behind a grey veil to open to the public when there is a light show himself no more, save by faint and breeze from the north-west, and we can't feeble gleams, until the return of spring. expect to have many days like this in No-But for the moment the air was as mild as vember."

Beatrice appeared as early as eleven o'clock in the morning, she and Miss Joy having been driven over in a wagonette by Gilbert, and whatever may have been her sins they did not, apparently, weigh heavily upon her conscience.

Kitty did not attempt to excuse herself. She was not precisely in the mood to enjoy a party of pleasure; but escape seemed hardly practicable, added to which she was anxious to have the testimony of her own senses as to whether Beatrice was or was not the false friend that she had been represented to be.

[ocr errors]

if it had been midsummer, the sky overhead was of an Italian blue, and Kitty, whose spirits, like those of ninety-nine mortals out of a hundred, depended to a great extent upon the weather, could not for the life of her help hoping that the worthy Miss Joy had discovered a mare'snest. Miss Joy was a dear old thing, but nobody would ever think of calling her a Her senses, during the eight-mile drive very acute observer; and really the whole to Halcombe, were more pleasantly em-story was utterly improbable. It was not

in the least like Beatrice Huntley to play so ignoble a part, nor was Gilbert at all the sort of man to let his head be turned by a little attention or flattery.

And so, when they reached the small fishing-hamlet of Halcombe, where Gilbert put up his horses and where they embarked in a roomy rowing-boat, she was ready to dismiss all her fears and was somewhat ashamed of having entertained them.

The Halcombe caves are hardly to be compared with the blue grotto of Capri; still their natural picturesqueness, their reputed vast extent, and the difficulty of visiting them (for they can only be entered at low water, and not then unless the wind be off shore), have earned for them a certain local celebrity, enhanced by the usual legends which have smugglers and the crews of revenue cutters for their heroes. It was easy for Beatrice Huntley, who had the knack of ingratiating herself with all sorts and conditions of men, to draw deliberate narratives of this description from one of the stalwart rowers; and if, in his polite anxiety to interest his hearers, he made some startling assertions, these were accepted without a symptom of incredulity; for Halcombe is included in the Kingscliff division, and there are voters who dislike to be accused of mendacity, notwithstanding the direct encouragement thereto afforded by the Ballot Act and advocated by some of the admirers of that measure.

The water at the mouth of the caves being still too high to admit of the entrance of a boat, it was agreed to disembark, spread out the luncheon upon a broad, sunny rock, and wait for the ebb. Many years ago there appeared in Punch the representation of a picnic at which one of John Leech's large-eyed, crinolined young ladies was made to tell her Edwin reproachfully that he could not truly love her, since he had helped somebody else to the liver-wing of a chicken and had handed her the leg. Kitty Greenwood was neither greedy nor exacting; yet she could not help observing that some such marks of attention as this were paid by Gilbert to Beatrice at her expense; she noticed, too, what was more significant, that his voice in addressing Beatrice was soft and low, whereas it took a distinctly harder intonation when he spoke to herself. These were trifles; but in spite of her determination to be reasonable, she was disquieted by them, and before the repast was over it seemed to her that the sun no longer shone so brightly.

At the end of an hour they all got into the boat again, and, stooping low to save their heads, passed into the twilight of the echoing cavern. It was not very far, however, that the boat could take them, and as they were bent upon penetrating some little distance into the unknown depths, they stepped out upon a strip of shingle and lighted the candles which they had brought with them.

Now, what is a single man to do when he has to look after three ladies, all of whom require to be assisted over boulders slippery with seaweed? Having but two hands, it is evident that he can only be of use to one of his charges, and perhaps a very good and impartial man would feel bound to select the one most stricken in years; but Gilbert, instead of placing his services at the disposition of Miss Joy, attached himself resolutely to Beatrice, and Kitty, who was a little in advance, had the mortification of hearing her say, "Oh, never mind me; go and help Kitty." To which there was a muttered rejoinder too indistinct for her to catch. Naturally, she plunged forwards at once and floun dered on at some little risk to her limbs - for the surface of the rocks was really treacherous—until she was stopped by a chasm over which not even a very angry lady could leap without aid. Gilbert, when he caught her up and perceived her dilemma, jumped across and, taking her hand, pulled her after him-with unnecessary roughness, she thought. At any rate, her foot slipped on landing, and she came down on her knees, extinguishing her candle and receiving some slight abrasions.

"Mind what you are about! he exclaimed sharply; "you'll be spraining your ankle or something presently."


[ocr errors]

There are limits to everybody's patience. Help me back again, please, said Kitty; "I shall not go any farther. You and Beatrice had better go on by yourselves."

Beatrice, who had managed to negotiate, unassisted, the obstacle which had puz zled her predecessor, entered a formal protest; but Gilbert said nothing, and Kitty, whose suggestion was adopted after a brief parley, sat down in much bitterness of spirit to await the return of her more adventurous companions. She did not care to join Miss Joy, who had already beaten a retreat to the boat, but chose rather to crouch down in a most uncomfortable attitude, grasping her candle and listening to the voices of Gilbert and Beatrice, who appeared to find scrambling

« ElőzőTovább »