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appointment of the affections we alluded to; he gradually withdraws himself from what is called the world, while living and toiling unceasingly among the needy and miserable. His own various and sad experiences have taught him sympathy with the sins and sorrows of others. And as his nature is finer and more reflective, so his religious opinions are broader and more decidedly his own than those of his prototypes in former works. Goodwill to all men is the doctrine he indefatigably labours to expound and illustrate by his actions. But so far his path lies parallel to that of Alec Forbes. He has been taught in the same way and sent to the same college. He is quite as full of boisterous fun in his juvenile days, though the boy's unusual honesty and independence is well brought out in his respectful opposition to what he feels to be the puritanical tyranny of his old Calvinistic grandmother. The fight he makes for his beloved fiddle-a Cry moany, or a Straddle Vawrious at least-Cremona or Straduarius, as an enthusiastic cobbler amateur describes it-the fiddle whose strains awaken the latent music in his soul, is admirably told. But the man in Falconer matures much more quickly than in Forbes, although, while he is putting off youthful things, and sobering down his buoyant spirits, his feelings lose little of their freshness. His Christianity is muscular as well as charitable, and the fact that he is of stalwart build and notoriously clever with his fists, goes far to facilitate his missionary labours in the rougher districts of poverty-stricken London.

The formation of his character, and the shaping of his career, are worked out with a good deal of quiet sensation. The quick and earnest boy grows up in a gloomy atmosphere. He cannot help thinking. His father has been a scapegrace, who fills the whole thought of his grim old grandmother. Her dominating idea is, that should her prodigal son be still in the flesh, he may yet be snatched like a brand from the burning; and it becomes the fixed intention of young Robert to seek out this lost parent and reclaim him. Then comes Miss St. John to inspire him with a love which soon begins to play its part in his painful education. His high character, too, involves him in heavy responsibilities, which, however, he accepts with submission, as they extend his opportunities of doing good. He is left a large fortune that he may administer it as trustee for benevolent purposes; he leads something of the life of a pious Monte Christo, or of Rudolph in the Mysteries of 'Paris,' acting the Providence to other people, held in consideration by roughs and criminals, and in the most confidential relations with the Metropolitan Police. Robert Falconer, in

VOL. CXLIII. NO. CCXCII.

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short, is a really sublime character, and yet he is thoroughly lifelike throughout, though somewhat fanciful in his speech and most decidedly original in his opinions.

As yet we have not quoted any of George Mac Donald's pictures of scenery, as they are shown to us through the transparent medium of his peculiar mysticism, and yet deeply steeped in local colour. Falconer and a school-fellow have started on a walk to a farm, near the little town where they live:

'They crossed a small river and entered on a region of little hills, some covered to the top with trees chiefly larch, others uncultivated, and some bearing only heather, now nursing in secret its purple flame for the outburst of the autumn. The road wound between, now swampy and worn into deep ruts, now sandy and broken with large stones. Down to its edge would come the dwarfed oak, or the mountain ash, or the silver birch, single and small, but lovely and fresh; and now green fields, fenced with walls of earth as green as themselves, or of stones overgrown with moss, would stretch away on both sides, sprinkled with busily-feeding cattle. Now they would pass through a farm-steading perfumed with the breath of cows, and the odour of burning peat so fragrant! though not yet so grateful to the inner sense as it would be when encountered in after years and in foreign lands. For the smell of burning and the smell of earth are the deepest underlying sensuous bonds of the earth's unity, and the common brotherhood of them that dwell therein. Now the scent of the larches would steel from the hill, or the wind would waft the odour of the white clover. Then they clomb a high ridge, on the top of which spread a moorland, dreary and desolate, brightened by nothing save the "canna's hoary beard" waving in the wind, and making it look even more desolate from the sympathy they felt with the forsaken grass. This crossed, they descended between young plantations of firs and rowan trees and birches, till they reached a farm-house on the side of the slope.'

Then, by way of comparison, we may sketch a city scene -in Seven Dials, in place of Aberdeenshire:

'Here and there stood two or three brutal-looking men, and now and then a squalid woman with a starveling baby in her arms, in the light of the gin-shops. The babies were the saddest to see-nursery plants already in training for the places these men and women now held, then to fill a pauper's grave, or perhaps a perpetual cell-say rather for the awful spaces of silence, where the railway director can no longer be guilty of a worse sin than housebreaking, and his miserable brother will have no need of the shelter of which he deprived him. Now and then a flaunting woman wavered past-a night-shade as an old dramatist would have called her. I could hardly keep down an evil disgust that would have conquered pity, when a scanty white dress vould stop beneath a lamp, and the gay, dirty bonnet turning round

reveal a painted face, from which shone little more than an animal intelligence, not heightened by the gin she had been drinking.

The noisome vapours seemed fit for any of Swedenborg's hells. There were few sounds, but the very quiet seemed infernal. A skinned cat, possibly still alive, fell on the street before me. Under one of the gaslamps lay something long; it was a tress of dark hair torn perhaps from some woman's head-she had beautiful hair at least. Once I heard the cry of murder.'

The one description is as true and pleasing as the other is true and painful. It is the merit of Mr. Mac Donald that he can throw himself with a perfect self-abandonment into all that he has seen or thought: that he has assimilated his own observations and experiences till he has them instinctively at command for the purposes of his art. Imagination comes to the help of memory, although occasionally it will break away out of guiding strings to run riot in the shadowy regions of dreamland.

6

In Malcolm' imagination is in the ascendant, although in the way in which actual localities are introduced there is a realism that reminds a Scotchman of De Foe. The names of towns are so transparently transposed as to be unmistakable to those who are acquainted with the north-eastern counties. Some of the noblemen's and gentlemen's seats-Huntley Lodge, Frendraught, &c.-are introduced with no disguise. Even where the titles of the noblemen are fictitious, those who are familiar with the local recollections of the last generation or two can have no difficulty in identifying such individuals as the Marquis of Lossie. But Malcolm himself is neither an Alec Forbes nor a Robert Falconer-nor a George Mac 'Donald-except in certain of the stronger touches that go to 'a very noble and manly nature. His upbringing has been 'different from theirs ;' there is much in his mysterious story that is romantic in the extreme. Natural he may be, and we trust for the credit of human aspirations that he is decidedly possible; but although he is leading the life of a rough fisher-lad when we make his acquaintance, he is made of no ordinary clay, and has been cast in the most muscular yet delicate moulds. It is little to say of him in the common phrase, that he is one of Nature's gentlemen. For involved in a complication of most embarrassing situations; kept stedfastly by circumstances in what seems a false position; constantly brought face to face with ingeniously devised emergencies, the promptings of his head and heart come to him like infallible inspirations. His is one of those hero-natures that neither know fear, irresolution, nor selfishness. He is animated by the very

spirit of self-sacrifice; the simple dignity of his thought and bearing dwarfs men and women of the world of the highest station and no ordinary capacity. In his consciousness of strength he can control himself under the undeserved insults, which his first fiery impulse is indignantly to resent.

Decidedly more natural than Malcolm is the Lady Florimel, who in the advances she makes in her inborn caprice and coquettishness, has so much to do with forming and refining him. Mr. Mac Donald need hardly take such pains to remind us that her nature is an inferior one to his, for his, as we have said, is altogether exceptional. Lady Florimel, moreover, has been a spoiled and petted child, and her father's somewhat turbulent blood flows in her veins; in all innocence, and the consciousness of belonging to a different order of beings, she makes a plaything of the handsome and intelligent young fisherman. She is so irresistibly bewitching with it all, that from the first his strong sense makes him distrust her intoxicating influence. Gradually, however, he yields more and more to the spells and beauty of the syren. Gleams of fantastical hope will occasionally flash across his mind; and she on her side acknowledging her master in the man who is so entirely her social inferior, scems sometimes to be bridging the gulf that divides them, and giving him reasonable pretext for his foolish day-dreams. How it all ended we leave our readers to find out; for the novel being comparatively a recent one, many of them may be in ignorance of a dénouement we should be sorry to spoil. If Lady Florimel was half-tempted to stoop from her high estate, there was the better reason for it, that this incomparable Malcolm had established an almost equal ascendency over her father. The Marquis of Lossie was a veteran courtier and a wary man of the world, yet his respect for Malcolm was only increased when he had persuaded the fisherman to enter his service; and though he had the high courage of his long-descended race, he admired and esteemed the young man the more, when he had borne with spirited meekness the blow he dealt him on one occasion.

Best of the inferior characters is the venerable piper, who, as it comes out in the end, is only the father of Malcolm by adoption. With the fiery soul of an ancient senachie, his is a pride in no way inferior to that of the noble Marquis; and in spite of the fierce animosities of race that have grown into a monomania with time, he is as full of tenderness as of lofty chivalry. The Gaelic element in his poetically broken English is brought out in wonderful contrast with the Scottish dialect that is spoken by his neighbours. Malcolm,' indeed, is a rare

masterpiece of popular philological discrimination-if we may indulge in long words in defining what reads so simply natural; and the story is so excellent in its execution as far as it has gone, that we are glad its author has imitated for once the objectionable practice of the fashionable French novelists of the day, and under the form of what professes to be a complete work, published an interrupted tale which leaves us anxiously expectant of the promised sequel. In Malcolm,' as in the rest of Mr. Mac Donald's novels, the tone is as elevated as the ethics are sound, though the theology is decidedly more free than orthodox, and it is high praise to say of his works that it is impossible to read them without being benefited.

It is difficult to deal with a subject so comprehensive as Scotch novels within anything like reasonable compass. We had meant to say something in commendation of Mr. Gibbon, author of Auld Robin Gray,' &c., and are reluctantly obliged to give up the intention. But we could not reconcile it to our conscience to close our article without a reference to Mr. William Black. Fortunately, we may be very brief, for this reason, that his novels have been lately in everybody's hands. The latest of Mrs. Oliphant's, with the exception of 'Valentine: and his Brother,' date from a good many years back. It pleases Mr. Mac Donald to pitch his works on a key which is above the appreciation and intelligence of many of the devourers of fiction, and he dresses them besides in a national garb which is foreign to English ideas of fashion. But Mr. Black's writings recommend themselves to everyone, and we may say unhesitatingly that he is the most popular of the three. Nor is it any slur on him to say so. He shows himself an accomplished master of the higher branches of his art; he has the gift of powerfully affecting the sympathies, and an instinctive perception of dramatic possibilities. But at the same time he has a very serviceable knack of keeping a finger on the pulse of the public. He makes large allowance for the unsuspected intelligence and susceptibilities that lie latent in tnose who seem most frivolous and unimpressionable. Yet he neither condescends to write down to them, nor does he try their patience too far. He glides insensibly from mood to mood: even when his thought is grave his touch is light; he treats the theme of love at once with playfulness and tenderness; he writes of field-sports, yachting, and sea-fishing with the pen and knowledge of a devotee; while his soul is always catching fire at the beauties of nature, until his persistent adoration of them becomes almost tedious. There is no doubt as to his manner of treatment. Like Mrs. Oliphant, he seeks out the

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