Page images

that I was a little excited myself by those dreams and stuff; but nothing could be more improbable than that she should recognise you and me. Bah! it is absurd to be talking of her in this ridiculous way, as if we had the slightest reason to suppose it was her. Any little movement might make a sick lady cry out; and, as for recognising a voice at such a distance of time !-All this makes me feel like a fool,” said Colin. “I am more disposed to go back than to go on. I wish you would dismiss that nonsense from your thoughts.”

"If I was to do that same, do you think you could join me?” said Lauderdale. “ There's voices I would ken after thirty years instead of after three; and I'm no likely to forget the bit English tone of it. I'm a wee slow about some things, and I'll no pretend to fathom your meaning ; but, whether its daft-like or no, this I'm sure of, that if you make up to that carriage that's away out of our sight at this moment, you'll find Alice Meredith there."

“I don't believe anything of the kind. Your imagination has deceived you," said Colin, and they went on for a long time in silence; but at the bottom of his heart Colin felt that his own imagination had not deceived him. The only thing that had deceived him was that foolish feeling of liberty, that sense that he had escaped fate, and that the rash engagements of his youth were to have no consequences, into which he had deluded himself for some time past Even while he professed his utter disbelief in this encounter, he was asking himself how in his changed circumstances he could bear the old bridle, the rein upon his proud neck ? If it had been a curb upon his freedom, even at the moment when he had formed it if it had become a painful bondage after wards while still the impression of Alice's gentle tenderness had not quite worn off his mind-what would it be now when he had emancipated himself from those soft prejudices of recollection, and when he had acknowledged so fully to himself that his heart never had been really touched? He marched on by Lauderdale's

No. 65.-VOL. XI.

side, and paid no attention to what his friend said to him; and nothing could be more difficult to describe than the state of Colin's mind during this walk. Perhaps the only right thing, the only sensible thing, he could have done in the circumstances would have been to turn back and decline altogether this reawakening of the past. But then at six-and-twenty the mind is still so adverse to turning back, and has so much confidence in its own power of surmounting difficulty, and in its good star, and in the favour and assistance of all powers and influences in heaven and earth; and then his pride was up in arms against such a mode of extricating himself from the apparent difficulty, and all the delicacy of his nature revolted from the idea of thus throwing the wrong and humiliation upon the woman, upon Alice, a creature who had loved him and trusted him, and whom he had never owned he did not love. Underneath all these complications there was, to be sure, a faint, sustaining hope that an encounter of this kind was incredible, and that it might turn out not to be Alice at all, and that all these fears and embarrassments might come to nothing. With all this in his mind he marched on, feeling the sweet air and fresh winds and sunshine to be all so many spectators accompanying him perhaps to the turning-point of his life, where, for all he knew, things might go against him, and his wings be clipped and his future limited for ever and ever. Perhaps some of Colin's friends may think that he exhibited great weakness of mind on this occasion, as, indeed, it is certain that there are many people who believe with some reason that it is next thing to a sin to put honour in the place of love, or to give to constancy the rights of passion. But then, whatever a man's principles may be, it is his character in most cases that carries the day. Every man must act according to his own nature, as says the Arabian sage. Sir Bayard, even, thinking it all over, might not approve of himself, and might see a great deal of folly in what he was doing ; but, as for a man's


opinion of himself, that counts for very little ; and he could only go on and follow out his career in his own way.

Lauderdale, on his side, had less comprehension of his friend at this point of his character than at any other. He had discouraged as far as he was able the earlier steps of the engagement between Colin and Alice; but when things “had gone so far” the philosopher understood no compromise. He hastened on through the dust, for his part, with a tender anxiety in his heart, concerned for the girl who had approached him more nearly than any woman had done since the days of his youth; who had been to him that mingled type of sister, daughter, de pendant, and ruler, which a very young, very innocent, woman sometimes is to a man too old to fall in love with her, or even to think of such a weakness. Such love as had been possible to Lauderdale had been given early in his life-given once and done with ; and Colin had filled up all the place in his heart which might have been left vacant as a prey to vagrant affections. At present he was occupied with the thought that Alice was ill, and that the little cry she had uttered had a tone of appeal in it, and was in reality a cry for help to those who had succoured her in her loneliness, and been more to her for one little period of her life than father or family, And Colin's friend and guardian pursued his way with great strides, going to the rescue of the tender little suffering creature, the mournful, yet dutiful, little woman who had borne her grief so courageously at Frascati, where they two were all the protectors, all the comforters she had. Thus the friends went on with their different sentiments, saying little to each other, and not a word upon this particular subject. They had meant to pause at a village which was on their way to Windermere to rest during the heat of the day and refresh themselves; and it was here, according to all likelihood, that the carriage which had passed with the invalid would also stop, to repose the sick lady if she was a stranger—to await the approach of the

two pedestrians if it was Alice, and if she was free to take such a step. Lauderdale had no doubt either of the one or the other of these facts; and, to tell the truth, Colin, regarding the matter under an altogether different aspect, had little doubt on his part that the moment of fate had arrived.

Nevertheless, when he saw the first straggling houses of the hamlet-rude little Westmoreland houses, grey and simple with a moorland air, and no grand Seigneur near at hand to trim them into model cottages , It is 50 hard to believe what goes against one's wishes. After all, perhaps, the end would be a laugh, an exclamation of surprise, a blessed sense of relief; and no dreadful apparition of old ties and old vows to bind the freed-man over again in cold blood and without any illusion. Such feverish hopes came into Colin's mind against his will, as they drew nearer. The road was as dusty as ever, but he did not see the broad mark of the carriage wheels; and with a great throb of relief found when they came in sight of the little inn that there was no carriage, nothing but a farmer's gig before the door. He began to breathe again, throwing off his burden. “It might be one of my farmers for anything one could tell to the contrary," said Colin, with a short laugh and a sense of relief past describing. “You see now what fools we were to suppose- "

At that moment, however, the young man stopped short in the midst of his sentence. A man was coming to meet them who might have been, for anything, as Colin said, that one could say to the contrary, the farmer to whom the gig belonged. He was at present but a black figure against the sunshine, with his face shaded by his hat; but notwithstanding Colin stopped short when he came in sight of him, and his heart stopped beating —or at least he thought so. He had seen this man once in his life before,—but once, and no more. But there are some circumstances which sharpen and intensify the senses. Colin recognised him the moment his eyes rested on him. He stopped short, because what he was saying was proved to be folly, and worse than folly. It was a denial of the certainty which had suddenly appeared before his eyes. He stopped without explaining why he stopped, and made a step onwards in a confused and bewildered way. Henceforward Lauderdale had nothing to do with it. It was Colin himself as the principal and contracting party who was concerned.

And the stranger, for his part, who had also seen the young man but once in his life, recognised Colin. It had only been for a moment, and it was nearly four years ago, but still Mr. Meredith knew, when he saw him, the young man whom he had bidden to begone for a fortunehunter ; who had closed his son's eyes, and laid Arthur in his grave; and given to Alice in her desolation the tenderest guardianship. He did not know Lauderdale, who had his share in all but the last act of that sad little domestic drama; but he recognised Colin by intuition. He came forward to him with the courtesy of a man whom necessity compels to change all his tactics. “Mr. Campbell, I think ?” he said. “I feel that I cannot be mistaken. Alice was sure she saw you on the road. I came back after I had taken her home, to try whether I could meet you. Will you do me the favour to introduce me to your friend. I believe I am almost as much indebted to him as to you."

“There is no debt on one side or the other," said Lauderdale, interposing, for Colin found it difficult to speak. “Tell us how she is, which is far more important. We heard her give a cry, and since then we've been hurrying on to see.”

“She is not at all well,” said Mr. Meredith. “I hope you will consent to gratify my daughter by going back to dine with me. My house is close by here, and I came on purpose. Mr. Campbell, you may think you have a just grievance against me. I hope you will overlook it at present, and hear my explanation afterwards. We can never be sufficiently grateful for all you have done for my son, both before his death

and after. It was a terrible dispensation of Providence; but I cannot be thankful enough that my poor boy lived to produce a work which has been of value to so many; and but for you it never could have been successfully published. My dear sir, I hope you will not suffer any personal feeling to meI beg you to believe that what I said was said in ignorance-I mean, I trust that you will not refuse to gratify Alice. She is almost all I have left," Mr. Meredith said, with a faltering voice. “I have had great losses in my family. She has not been so much interested about anything for a long time. You will come with me, will you not, for Arthur's and for my daughter's sake?

If any man could have said No to that appeal, Colin was not the man. He made little answer except by a bow, and Mr. Meredith turned with them, and they all got into the country vehicle at the door of the little inn, and drove off silent enough to the house where Alice was awaiting them. Colin had scarcely a word to say as he drove along by her father's side. The gaiety, and freedom, and happy thoughts with which he had set out on his journey seemed to detach themselves from his mind, and abandon him one by one. His fate had encountered him where he had least expectation of meeting it. And yet at the same time a compunction awoke in his heart to think that it was in this way, like a captive brought back to her presence, that the man whom Alice loved was going to her. He could have felt aggrieved and angry for her sake, if the claim of his own reluctance and dread had not been nearer, and gained upon the more generous feeling. And yet withal he had a longing to see her, a kind of inclination to carry her off from this man, who had but a secondary claim upon her, and heal and cherish the wounded dove. It was this singular chance which changed the course of the excursion which the two friends had planned into the lake country, and made that holiday expedition of so much importance in the history of Colin's life. To be continued.


Under the silent trees,

Leaves are green, and the blue Here in the noontide glow,

Is soft as a wing overhead ; Watching the winding Line

Shoots, like a beam, the trout Threading the valley below;

O'er the gold of the river's bed. Waiting for one who is coming

How have I longed for to-day, Hitherward, early to-day

With an aching void at my heartFair as a lily in moonlight,

Can I believe she is coming, Sweeter than milk-white may.

Never again to depart? Near me the river flows

Grant it, O thou bright Heaven! Silently on, like Love:

For life without her at best Yonder the kingfisher dips,

Is a weary, aimless dream,
Dragon-flies glisten above.

Dreamed in a night of unrest.
Yonder the quick white steam-
Oh! should she not be there!
Peace, wild heart, for I see
The gleam of her golden hair!


whole. They have, for the most part, III. OF TRUE PERSPECTIVE IN ART

either the fly's eye, which sees individual AND LIFE.

parts, and parts only, or the eagle's, It has been said that the incidents of which takes in a hemisphere, but with the homeliest and least eventful life, if all its details blurred and confused. It they were only set down faithfully and was only a few days back that I was honestly, would be read with interest looking at a work of fiction which lay and instruction by the world. And, of on the drawing-room table, which procourse, this dictum has some measure of fessed to give the fortunes of a family of truth in it. The main hopes and fears young folk growing up around their of all men are similar. Human lives father, a widower, who lived in a small are dramas in which the actors are the country town, and, being a man of same, the stage is the same; it is only business, left them to shift very much the scenery and dresses which are dif- for themselves. The interest of the ferent.

book, of course, lay in the developBut, when it is said that a narration ment of character in the children under of the homely details of common life such circumstances. But the dialogue would be of interest to us all, I think -and the book was mainly dialogueit must be understood that these details through which this was to be worked shall be rendered in their true perspec- out was in some places out of all perspective. And it is in this art that the tive. I will give an instance of what ordinary run of narratives, whether fact I mean from memory. Scene-the or fiction, is so deficient. The writers breakfast-table; elder sister cutting bread of them have not, as a rule, that seeing and butter. Elder brother speaks :eye which can take in a whole, as well “Emily, why will you cut the bread as its minutest parts, in their true rela " and butter so thick! if it fell down on tionship to each other and to that "the children's toes I am sure it would

“ break them.” Emily goes on cutting bread and butter. “ Pray, John, get “ up and stir the fire, and make yourself “ useful ; we all know you are ornamen" tal enough. By the way, did the " Joneses call yesterday, when I was "out ?—do any of you know ? Amelia " said something about it when I saw “ her last week. But the Tomkinsons " are with them, and that might have," &c. &c. Now, no doubt this sort of talk goes on, more or less, at every breakfast-table in the United Kingdom. But it has no business to be written down in a work of fiction. A novel is the epitome of events which run over many years, perhaps a whole life-time; and to give in a novel the daily twaddle which is talked by all civilized beings is to write out of all perspective. Man, indeed, can no more live upon concentrated talk than he can upon concentrated meat. The essence of meat must be taken with a bulk of other food to be nourishing; and in every life strong thought expressed in words must be diluted with a certain amount of twaddle about the weather, about the crops, about friends. But with this sort of talk the novelist has no business, unless, indeed, he wishes to present us with the character of a silly person, who never says a wise thing; but then, at least, he should make the talk of that person absurd and grotesque, and so ainusing A novel, as I have said, is generally the epitome of a life-time, the events of years to be concentrated into the reading of an hour or two ; and the first rule of a good epitome should be that, whilst every event is given on a smaller scale, it shall still preserve its relative position with regard to every other event, and so he whole picture be set before us in its true perspective. To see and describe the true relationship between events and persons is the characteristic of genius.

In painting the same rule holds good The learner's colouring is feeble because he forgets that he has to concentrate, on a few square inches of paper, the colour which in nature was diffused over whole miles of landscape.

And, indeed, I was led into this train of thought by a sketch which my little boy (ætat. four) showed me just now upon his slate-the portrait of a dog, and a very fat dog too, which is his constant companion and devoted slave. This portrait he had given, and not unskilfully, I think, with two strokes of his pencil, an inner circle and an outer, which stood for the dog's head and body. And it seemed to me that he gave the idea of a fat and lazy dog very happily, considering the means which he employed. At any rate, his perspective was true and right.

We are told that rules for teaching perspective are not of much practical use to the artist. Such rules are to be found, I believe, in most drawing-books. But I fancy that all which students of art in general care to know about perspective is supplied by that common-sense rule which teaches that the farther an object is removed from the spectator the smaller it becomes. And, teste Mr. Ruskin, the painters and architects of the day have no larger acquaintance with perspective than this. He declares that, with the exception of Mr. Roberts’s pictures (alas, that we must say Fuit!), he has scarcely ever seen an architectural picture or drawing on the walls of the Academy which was in true perspective, and that he has never met but with two men in his life who knew enough of perspective to draw a Gothic arch in a retiring plane, so that its lateral dimensions and curvatures could be calculated to scale from the drawing.

But I beg to observe that this is a moral essay, and not a treatise upon the fine arts. And, from a moral standpoint, a true perspective, whether in art or life, is a matter of no little consequence. Now, to obtain a true perspective in life seems to me to call into play that faculty of the seeing eyealas, how rare a faculty it is !—which looks upon things and facts as they really are, and notes the relationship which exists between them. And a true perspective in art seems to be the work of a faculty, no less rare, which enables men to describe things as they

« PreviousContinue »