Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Lay Morals by Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

unfinished these few desultory remarks--slender contributions
towards a subject which has fallen sadly backward, and which, we
grieve to say, was better understood by the king of Siam in 1686
than by all the philosophers of to-day. If, however, we have
awakened in any rational mind an interest in the symbolism of
umbrellas--in any generous heart a more complete sympathy with the
dumb companion of his daily walk--or in any grasping spirit a pure
notion of respectability strong enough to make him expend his six-
and-twenty shillings--we shall have deserved well of the world, to
say nothing of the many industrious persons employed in the
manufacture of the article.


'How many Caesars and Pompeys, by mere inspirations of the names,
have been rendered worthy of them? And how many are there, who
might have done exceeding well in the world, had not their
characters and spirits been totally depressed and Nicodemus'd into
nothing?'--Tristram Shandy, vol. I. chap xix.

Such were the views of the late Walter Shandy, Esq., Turkey
merchant. To the best of my belief, Mr. Shandy is the first who
fairly pointed out the incalculable influence of nomenclature upon
the whole life--who seems first to have recognised the one child,
happy in an heroic appellation, soaring upwards on the wings of
fortune, and the other, like the dead sailor in his shotted
hammock, haled down by sheer weight of name into the abysses of
social failure. Solomon possibly had his eye on some such theory
when he said that 'a good name is better than precious ointment';
and perhaps we may trace a similar spirit in the compilers of the
English Catechism, and the affectionate interest with which they
linger round the catechumen's name at the very threshold of their
work. But, be these as they may, I think no one can censure me for
appending, in pursuance of the expressed wish of his son, the
Turkey merchant's name to his system, and pronouncing, without
further preface, a short epitome of the 'Shandean Philosophy of

To begin, then: the influence of our name makes itself felt from
the very cradle. As a schoolboy I remember the pride with which I
hailed Robin Hood, Robert Bruce, and Robert le Diable as my name-
fellows; and the feeling of sore disappointment that fell on my
heart when I found a freebooter or a general who did not share with
me a single one of my numerous praenomina. Look at the delight
with which two children find they have the same name. They are
friends from that moment forth; they have a bond of union stronger
than exchange of nuts and sweetmeats. This feeling, I own, wears
off in later life. Our names lose their freshness and interest,
become trite and indifferent. But this, dear reader, is merely one
of the sad effects of those 'shades of the prison-house' which come
gradually betwixt us and nature with advancing years; it affords no
weapon against the philosophy of names.

In after life, although we fail to trace its working, that name
which careless godfathers lightly applied to your unconscious
infancy will have been moulding your character, and influencing
with irresistible power the whole course of your earthly fortunes.
But the last name, overlooked by Mr. Shandy, is no whit less
important as a condition of success. Family names, we must
recollect, are but inherited nicknames; and if the sobriquet were
applicable to the ancestor, it is most likely applicable to the
descendant also. You would not expect to find Mr. M'Phun acting as
a mute, or Mr. M'Lumpha excelling as a professor of dancing.
Therefore, in what follows, we shall consider names, independent of
whether they are first or last. And to begin with, look what a
pull Cromwell had over Pym--the one name full of a resonant
imperialism, the other, mean, pettifogging, and unheroic to a
degree. Who would expect eloquence from Pym--who would read poems
by Pym--who would bow to the opinion of Pym? He might have been a
dentist, but he should never have aspired to be a statesman. I can
only wonder that he succeeded as he did. Pym and Habakkuk stand
first upon the roll of men who have triumphed, by sheer force of
genius, over the most unfavourable appellations. But even these
have suffered; and, had they been more fitly named, the one might
have been Lord Protector, and the other have shared the laurels
with Isaiah. In this matter we must not forget that all our great
poets have borne great names. Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare,
Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, Shelley--what a constellation of lordly
words! Not a single common-place name among them--not a Brown, not
a Jones, not a Robinson; they are all names that one would stop and
look at on a door-plate. Now, imagine if Pepys had tried to
clamber somehow into the enclosure of poetry, what a blot would
that word have made upon the list! The thing was impossible. In
the first place a certain natural consciousness that men would have
held him down to the level of his name, would have prevented him
from rising above the Pepsine standard, and so haply withheld him
altogether from attempting verse. Next, the booksellers would
refuse to publish, and the world to read them, on the mere evidence
of the fatal appellation. And now, before I close this section, I
must say one word as to PUNNABLE names, names that stand alone,
that have a significance and life apart from him that bears them.
These are the bitterest of all. One friend of mine goes bowed and
humbled through life under the weight of this misfortune; for it is
an awful thing when a man's name is a joke, when he cannot be
mentioned without exciting merriment, and when even the intimation
of his death bids fair to carry laughter into many a home.

So much for people who are badly named. Now for people who are TOO
well named, who go top-heavy from the font, who are baptized into a
false position, and find themselves beginning life eclipsed under
the fame of some of the great ones of the past. A man, for
instance, called William Shakespeare could never dare to write
plays. He is thrown into too humbling an apposition with the
author of Hamlet. Its own name coming after is such an anti-
climax. 'The plays of William Shakespeare'? says the reader--'O
no! The plays of William Shakespeare Cockerill,' and he throws the
book aside. In wise pursuance of such views, Mr. John Milton
Hengler, who not long since delighted us in this favoured town, has
never attempted to write an epic, but has chosen a new path, and
has excelled upon the tight-rope. A marked example of triumph over
this is the case of Mr. Dante Gabriel Rossetti. On the face of the
matter, I should have advised him to imitate the pleasing modesty
of the last-named gentleman, and confine his ambition to the
sawdust. But Mr. Rossetti has triumphed. He has even dared to
translate from his mighty name-father; and the voice of fame
supports him in his boldness.

Dear readers, one might write a year upon this matter. A lifetime
of comparison and research could scarce suffice for its
elucidation. So here, if it please you, we shall let it rest.
Slight as these notes have been, I would that the great founder of
the system had been alive to see them. How he had warmed and
brightened, how his persuasive eloquence would have fallen on the
ears of Toby; and what a letter of praise and sympathy would not
the editor have received before the month was out! Alas, the thing
was not to be. Walter Shandy died and was duly buried, while yet
his theory lay forgotten and neglected by his fellow-countrymen.
But, reader, the day will come, I hope, when a paternal government
will stamp out, as seeds of national weakness, all depressing
patronymics, and when godfathers and godmothers will soberly and
earnestly debate the interest of the nameless one, and not rush
blindfold to the christening. In these days there shall be written
a 'Godfather's Assistant,' in shape of a dictionary of names, with
their concomitant virtues and vices; and this book shall be
scattered broadcast through the land, and shall be on the table of
every one eligible for godfathership, until such a thing as a
vicious or untoward appellation shall have ceased from off the face
of the earth.



It seems as if Lord Lytton, in this new book of his, had found the
form most natural to his talent. In some ways, indeed, it may be
held inferior to Chronicles and Characters; we look in vain for
anything like the terrible intensity of the night-scene in Irene,
or for any such passages of massive and memorable writing as
appeared, here and there, in the earlier work, and made it not
altogether unworthy of its model, Hugo's Legend of the Ages. But
it becomes evident, on the most hasty retrospect, that this earlier
work was a step on the way towards the later. It seems as if the
author had been feeling about for his definite medium, and was
already, in the language of the child's game, growing hot. There
are many pieces in Chronicles and Characters that might be detached
from their original setting, and embodied, as they stand, among the
Fables in Song.

For the term Fable is not very easy to define rigorously. In the
most typical form some moral precept is set forth by means of a
conception purely fantastic, and usually somewhat trivial into the
bargain; there is something playful about it, that will not support
a very exacting criticism, and the lesson must be apprehended by
the fancy at half a hint. Such is the great mass of the old
stories of wise animals or foolish men that have amused our
childhood. But we should expect the fable, in company with other
and more important literary forms, to be more and more loosely, or
at least largely, comprehended as time went on, and so to
degenerate in conception from this original type. That depended
for much of its piquancy on the very fact that it was fantastic:
the point of the thing lay in a sort of humorous inappropriateness;
and it is natural enough that pleasantry of this description should
become less common, as men learn to suspect some serious analogy
underneath. Thus a comical story of an ape touches us quite
differently after the proposition of Mr. Darwin's theory.
Moreover, there lay, perhaps, at the bottom of this primitive sort
of fable, a humanity, a tenderness of rough truths; so that at the
end of some story, in which vice or folly had met with its destined
punishment, the fabulist might be able to assure his auditors, as
we have often to assure tearful children on the like occasions,
that they may dry their eyes, for none of it was true.

But this benefit of fiction becomes lost with more sophisticated
hearers and authors: a man is no longer the dupe of his own
artifice, and cannot deal playfully with truths that are a matter
of bitter concern to him in his life. And hence, in the
progressive centralisation of modern thought, we should expect the
old form of fable to fall gradually into desuetude, and be
gradually succeeded by another, which is a fable in all points
except that it is not altogether fabulous. And this new form, such
as we should expect, and such as we do indeed find, still presents
the essential character of brevity; as in any other fable also,
there is, underlying and animating the brief action, a moral idea;
and as in any other fable, the object is to bring this home to the
reader through the intellect rather than through the feelings; so
that, without being very deeply moved or interested by the
characters of the piece, we should recognise vividly the hinges on
which the little plot revolves. But the fabulist now seeks
analogies where before he merely sought humorous situations. There
will be now a logical nexus between the moral expressed and the
machinery employed to express it. The machinery, in fact, as this
change is developed, becomes less and less fabulous. We find
ourselves in presence of quite a serious, if quite a miniature
division of creative literature; and sometimes we have the lesson
embodied in a sober, everyday narration, as in the parables of the
New Testament, and sometimes merely the statement or, at most, the
collocation of significant facts in life, the reader being left to
resolve for himself the vague, troublesome, and not yet definitely
moral sentiment which has been thus created. And step by step with
the development of this change, yet another is developed: the
moral tends to become more indeterminate and large. It ceases to
be possible to append it, in a tag, to the bottom of the piece, as
one might write the name below a caricature; and the fable begins
to take rank with all other forms of creative literature, as
something too ambitious, in spite of its miniature dimensions, to
be resumed in any succinct formula without the loss of all that is
deepest and most suggestive in it.

Now it is in this widest sense that Lord Lytton understands the
term; there are examples in his two pleasant volumes of all the
forms already mentioned, and even of another which can only be
admitted among fables by the utmost possible leniency of
construction. 'Composure,' 'Et Caetera,' and several more, are
merely similes poetically elaborated. So, too, is the pathetic
story of the grandfather and grandchild: the child, having
treasured away an icicle and forgotten it for ten minutes, comes
back to find it already nearly melted, and no longer beautiful: at
the same time, the grandfather has just remembered and taken out a
bundle of love-letters, which he too had stored away in years gone
by, and then long neglected; and, behold! the letters are as faded
and sorrowfully disappointing as the icicle. This is merely a
simile poetically worked out; and yet it is in such as these, and
some others, to be mentioned further on, that the author seems at
his best. Wherever he has really written after the old model,
there is something to be deprecated: in spite of all the spirit
and freshness, in spite of his happy assumption of that cheerful
acceptation of things as they are, which, rightly or wrongly, we
come to attribute to the ideal fabulist, there is ever a sense as
of something a little out of place. A form of literature so very
innocent and primitive looks a little over-written in Lord Lytton's
conscious and highly-coloured style. It may be bad taste, but
sometimes we should prefer a few sentences of plain prose
narration, and a little Bewick by way of tail-piece. So that it is
not among those fables that conform most nearly to the old model,
but one had nearly said among those that most widely differ from
it, that we find the most satisfactory examples of the author's

In the mere matter of ingenuity, the metaphysical fables are the
most remarkable; such as that of the windmill who imagined that it
was he who raised the wind; or that of the grocer's balance
('Cogito ergo sum') who considered himself endowed with free-will,
reason, and an infallible practical judgment; until, one fine day,
the police made a descent upon the shop, and find the weights false
and the scales unequal; and the whole thing is broken up for old
iron. Capital fables, also, in the same ironical spirit, are
'Prometheus Unbound,' the tale of the vainglorying of a champagne-
cork, and 'Teleology,' where a nettle justifies the ways of God to
nettles while all goes well with it, and, upon a change of luck,
promptly changes its divinity.

In all these there is still plenty of the fabulous if you will,
although, even here, there may be two opinions possible; but there
is another group, of an order of merit perhaps still higher, where
we look in vain for any such playful liberties with Nature. Thus
we have 'Conservation of Force'; where a musician, thinking of a
certain picture, improvises in the twilight; a poet, hearing the
music, goes home inspired, and writes a poem; and then a painter,
under the influence of this poem, paints another picture, thus
lineally descended from the first. This is fiction, but not what
we have been used to call fable. We miss the incredible element,
the point of audacity with which the fabulist was wont to mock at
his readers. And still more so is this the case with others. 'The
Horse and the Fly' states one of the unanswerable problems of life
in quite a realistic and straightforward way. A fly startles a
cab-horse, the coach is overset; a newly-married pair within and
the driver, a man with a wife and family, are all killed. The
horse continues to gallop off in the loose traces, and ends the
tragedy by running over an only child; and there is some little
pathetic detail here introduced in the telling, that makes the
reader's indignation very white-hot against some one. It remains
to be seen who that some one is to be: the fly? Nay, but on
closer inspection, it appears that the fly, actuated by maternal
instinct, was only seeking a place for her eggs: is maternal
instinct, then, 'sole author of these mischiefs all'? 'Who's in
the Right?' one of the best fables in the book, is somewhat in the
same vein. After a battle has been won, a group of officers
assemble inside a battery, and debate together who should have the
honour of the success; the Prince, the general staff, the cavalry,
the engineer who posted the battery in which they then stand
talking, are successively named: the sergeant, who pointed the
guns, sneers to himself at the mention of the engineer; and, close
by, the gunner, who had applied the match, passes away with a smile
of triumph, since it was through his hand that the victorious blow
had been dealt. Meanwhile, the cannon claims the honour over the
gunner; the cannon-ball, who actually goes forth on the dread
mission, claims it over the cannon, who remains idly behind; the
powder reminds the cannon-ball that, but for him, it would still be
lying on the arsenal floor; and the match caps the discussion;
powder, cannon-ball, and cannon would be all equally vain and
ineffectual without fire. Just then there comes on a shower of
rain, which wets the powder and puts out the match, and completes
this lesson of dependence, by indicating the negative conditions
which are as necessary for any effect, in their absence, as is the
presence of this great fraternity of positive conditions, not any
one of which can claim priority over any other. But the fable does
not end here, as perhaps, in all logical strictness, it should. It
wanders off into a discussion as to which is the truer greatness,
that of the vanquished fire or that of the victorious rain. And
the speech of the rain is charming:

'Lo, with my little drops I bless again
And beautify the fields which thou didst blast!
Rend, wither, waste, and ruin, what thou wilt,
But call not Greatness what the Gods call Guilt.
Blossoms and grass from blood in battle spilt,
And poppied corn, I bring.
'Mid mouldering Babels, to oblivion built,
My violets spring.
Little by little my small drops have strength
To deck with green delights the grateful earth.'

And so forth, not quite germane (it seems to me) to the matter in
hand, but welcome for its own sake.

Best of all are the fables that deal more immediately with the
emotions. There is, for instance, that of 'The Two Travellers,'
which is profoundly moving in conception, although by no means as
well written as some others. In this, one of the two, fearfully
frost-bitten, saves his life out of the snow at the cost of all
that was comely in his body; just as, long before, the other, who
has now quietly resigned himself to death, had violently freed
himself from Love at the cost of all that was finest and fairest in
his character. Very graceful and sweet is the fable (if so it
should be called) in which the author sings the praises of that
'kindly perspective,' which lets a wheat-stalk near the eye cover
twenty leagues of distant country, and makes the humble circle
about a man's hearth more to him than all the possibilities of the
external world. The companion fable to this is also excellent. It
tells us of a man who had, all his life through, entertained a
passion for certain blue hills on the far horizon, and had promised
himself to travel thither ere he died, and become familiar with
these distant friends. At last, in some political trouble, he is
banished to the very place of his dreams. He arrives there
overnight, and, when he rises and goes forth in the morning, there
sure enough are the blue hills, only now they have changed places
with him, and smile across to him, distant as ever, from the old
home whence he has come. Such a story might have been very
cynically treated; but it is not so done, the whole tone is kindly
and consolatory, and the disenchanted man submissively takes the
lesson, and understands that things far away are to be loved for
their own sake, and that the unattainable is not truly
unattainable, when we can make the beauty of it our own. Indeed,
throughout all these two volumes, though there is much practical
scepticism, and much irony on abstract questions, this kindly and
consolatory spirit is never absent. There is much that is cheerful
and, after a sedate, fireside fashion, hopeful. No one will be
discouraged by reading the book; but the ground of all this
hopefulness and cheerfulness remains to the end somewhat vague. It
does not seem to arise from any practical belief in the future
either of the individual or the race, but rather from the profound
personal contentment of the writer. This is, I suppose, all we
must look for in the case. It is as much as we can expect, if the
fabulist shall prove a shrewd and cheerful fellow-wayfarer, one
with whom the world does not seem to have gone much amiss, but who
has yet laughingly learned something of its evil. It will depend
much, of course, upon our own character and circumstances, whether
the encounter will be agreeable and bracing to the spirits, or
offend us as an ill-timed mockery. But where, as here, there is a
little tincture of bitterness along with the good-nature, where it
is plainly not the humour of a man cheerfully ignorant, but of one
who looks on, tolerant and superior and smilingly attentive, upon
the good and bad of our existence, it will go hardly if we do not
catch some reflection of the same spirit to help us on our way.
There is here no impertinent and lying proclamation of peace--none
of the cheap optimism of the well-to-do; what we find here is a
view of life that would be even grievous, were it not enlivened
with this abiding cheerfulness, and ever and anon redeemed by a
stroke of pathos.

It is natural enough, I suppose, that we should find wanting in
this book some of the intenser qualities of the author's work; and
their absence is made up for by much happy description after a
quieter fashion. The burst of jubilation over the departure of the
snow, which forms the prelude to 'The Thistle,' is full of spirit
and of pleasant images. The speech of the forest in 'Sans Souci'
is inspired by a beautiful sentiment for nature of the modern sort,
and pleases us more, I think, as poetry should please us, than
anything in Chronicles and Characters. There are some admirable
felicities of expression here and there; as that of the hill, whose

'Did print
The azure air with pines.'

Moreover, I do not recollect in the author's former work any
symptom of that sympathetic treatment of still life, which is
noticeable now and again in the fables; and perhaps most
noticeably, when he sketches the burned letters as they hover along
the gusty flue, 'Thin, sable veils, wherein a restless spark Yet
trembled.' But the description is at its best when the subjects
are unpleasant, or even grisly. There are a few capital lines in
this key on the last spasm of the battle before alluded to. Surely
nothing could be better, in its own way, than the fish in 'The Last
Cruise of the Arrogant,' 'the shadowy, side-faced, silent things,'
that come butting and staring with lidless eyes at the sunken
steam-engine. And although, in yet another, we are told,
pleasantly enough, how the water went down into the valleys, where
it set itself gaily to saw wood, and on into the plains, where it
would soberly carry grain to town; yet the real strength of the
fable is when it dealt with the shut pool in which certain
unfortunate raindrops are imprisoned among slugs and snails, and in
the company of an old toad. The sodden contentment of the fallen
acorn is strangely significant; and it is astonishing how
unpleasantly we are startled by the appearance of her horrible
lover, the maggot.

And now for a last word, about the style. This is not easy to
criticise. It is impossible to deny to it rapidity, spirit, and a
full sound; the lines are never lame, and the sense is carried
forward with an uninterrupted, impetuous rush. But it is not
equal. After passages of really admirable versification, the
author falls back upon a sort of loose, cavalry manner, not unlike
the style of some of Mr. Browning's minor pieces, and almost
inseparable from wordiness, and an easy acceptation of somewhat
cheap finish. There is nothing here of that compression which is
the note of a really sovereign style. It is unfair, perhaps, to
set a not remarkable passage from Lord Lytton side by side with one
of the signal masterpieces of another, and a very perfect poet; and
yet it is interesting, when we see how the portraiture of a dog,
detailed through thirty odd lines, is frittered down and finally
almost lost in the mere laxity of the style, to compare it with the
clear, simple, vigorous delineation that Burns, in four couplets,
has given us of the ploughman's collie. It is interesting, at
first, and then it becomes a little irritating; for when we think
of other passages so much more finished and adroit, we cannot help
feeling, that with a little more ardour after perfection of form,
criticism would have found nothing left for her to censure. A
similar mark of precipitate work is the number of adjectives
tumultuously heaped together, sometimes to help out the sense, and
sometimes (as one cannot but suspect) to help out the sound of the
verses. I do not believe, for instance, that Lord Lytton himself
would defend the lines in which we are told how Laocoon 'Revealed
to Roman crowds, now Christian grown, That Pagan anguish which, in
Parian stone, The Rhodian artist,' and so on. It is not only that
this is bad in itself; but that it is unworthy of the company in
which it is found; that such verses should not have appeared with
the name of a good versifier like Lord Lytton. We must take
exception, also, in conclusion, to the excess of alliteration.
Alliteration is so liable to be abused that we can scarcely be too
sparing of it; and yet it is a trick that seems to grow upon the
author with years. It is a pity to see fine verses, such as some
in 'Demos,' absolutely spoiled by the recurrence of one wearisome


Salvini closed his short visit to Edinburgh by a performance of
Macbeth. It was, perhaps, from a sentiment of local colour that he
chose to play the Scottish usurper for the first time before
Scotsmen; and the audience were not insensible of the privilege.
Few things, indeed, can move a stronger interest than to see a
great creation taking shape for the first time. If it is not
purely artistic, the sentiment is surely human. And the thought
that you are before all the world, and have the start of so many
others as eager as yourself, at least keeps you in a more
unbearable suspense before the curtain rises, if it does not
enhance the delight with which you follow the performance and see
the actor 'bend up each corporal agent' to realise a masterpiece of
a few hours' duration. With a player so variable as Salvini, who
trusts to the feelings of the moment for so much detail, and who,
night after night, does the same thing differently but always well,
it can never be safe to pass judgment after a single hearing. And
this is more particularly true of last week's Macbeth; for the
whole third act was marred by a grievously humorous misadventure.
Several minutes too soon the ghost of Banquo joined the party, and
after having sat helpless a while at a table, was ignominiously
withdrawn. Twice was this ghostly Jack-in-the-box obtruded on the
stage before his time; twice removed again; and yet he showed so
little hurry when he was really wanted, that, after an awkward
pause, Macbeth had to begin his apostrophe to empty air. The
arrival of the belated spectre in the middle, with a jerk that made
him nod all over, was the last accident in the chapter, and
worthily topped the whole. It may be imagined how lamely matters
went throughout these cross purposes.

In spite of this, and some other hitches, Salvini's Macbeth had an
emphatic success. The creation is worthy of a place beside the
same artist's Othello and Hamlet. It is the simplest and most
unsympathetic of the three; but the absence of the finer lineaments
of Hamlet is redeemed by gusto, breadth, and a headlong unity.
Salvini sees nothing great in Macbeth beyond the royalty of muscle,
and that courage which comes of strong and copious circulation.
The moral smallness of the man is insisted on from the first, in
the shudder of uncontrollable jealousy with which he sees Duncan
embracing Banquo. He may have some northern poetry of speech, but
he has not much logical understanding. In his dealings with the
supernatural powers he is like a savage with his fetich, trusting
them beyond bounds while all goes well, and whenever he is crossed,
casting his belief aside and calling 'fate into the list.' For his
wife, he is little more than an agent, a frame of bone and sinew
for her fiery spirit to command. The nature of his feeling towards
her is rendered with a most precise and delicate touch. He always
yields to the woman's fascination; and yet his caresses (and we
know how much meaning Salvini can give to a caress) are singularly
hard and unloving. Sometimes he lays his hand on her as he might
take hold of any one who happened to be nearest to him at a moment
of excitement. Love has fallen out of this marriage by the way,
and left a curious friendship. Only once--at the very moment when
she is showing herself so little a woman and so much a high-
spirited man--only once is he very deeply stirred towards her; and
that finds expression in the strange and horrible transport of
admiration, doubly strange and horrible on Salvini's lips--'Bring
forth men-children only!'

The murder scene, as was to be expected, pleased the audience best.
Macbeth's voice, in the talk with his wife, was a thing not to be
forgotten; and when he spoke of his hangman's hands he seemed to
have blood in his utterance. Never for a moment, even in the very
article of the murder, does he possess his own soul. He is a man
on wires. From first to last it is an exhibition of hideous
cowardice. For, after all, it is not here, but in broad daylight,
with the exhilaration of conflict, where he can assure himself at
every blow he has the longest sword and the heaviest hand, that
this man's physical bravery can keep him up; he is an unwieldy
ship, and needs plenty of way on before he will steer.

In the banquet scene, while the first murderer gives account of
what he has done, there comes a flash of truculent joy at the
'twenty trenched gashes' on Banquo's head. Thus Macbeth makes
welcome to his imagination those very details of physical horror
which are so soon to turn sour in him. As he runs out to embrace
these cruel circumstances, as he seeks to realise to his mind's eye
the reassuring spectacle of his dead enemy, he is dressing out the
phantom to terrify himself; and his imagination, playing the part
of justice, is to 'commend to his own lips the ingredients of his
poisoned chalice.' With the recollection of Hamlet and his
father's spirit still fresh upon him, and the holy awe with which
that good man encountered things not dreamt of in his philosophy,
it was not possible to avoid looking for resemblances between the
two apparitions and the two men haunted. But there are none to be
found. Macbeth has a purely physical dislike for Banquo's spirit
and the 'twenty trenched gashes.' He is afraid of he knows not
what. He is abject, and again blustering. In the end he so far
forgets himself, his terror, and the nature of what is before him,
that he rushes upon it as he would upon a man. When his wife tells
him he needs repose, there is something really childish in the way
he looks about the room, and, seeing nothing, with an expression of
almost sensual relief, plucks up heart enough to go to bed. And
what is the upshot of the visitation? It is written in
Shakespeare, but should be read with the commentary of Salvini's
voice and expression:- 'O! siam nell' opra ancor fanciulli'-- 'We
are yet but young in deed.' Circle below circle. He is looking
with horrible satisfaction into the mouth of hell. There may still
be a prick to-day; but to-morrow conscience will be dead, and he
may move untroubled in this element of blood.

In the fifth act we see this lowest circle reached; and it is
Salvini's finest moment throughout the play. From the first he was
admirably made up, and looked Macbeth to the full as perfectly as
ever he looked Othello. From the first moment he steps upon the
stage you can see this character is a creation to the fullest
meaning of the phrase; for the man before you is a type you know
well already. He arrives with Banquo on the heath, fair and red-
bearded, sparing of gesture, full of pride and the sense of animal
wellbeing, and satisfied after the battle like a beast who has
eaten his fill. But in the fifth act there is a change. This is
still the big, burly, fleshly, handsome-looking Thane; here is
still the same face which in the earlier acts could be
superficially good-humoured and sometimes royally courteous. But
now the atmosphere of blood, which pervades the whole tragedy, has
entered into the man and subdued him to its own nature; and an
indescribable degradation, a slackness and puffiness, has overtaken
his features. He has breathed the air of carnage, and supped full
of horrors. Lady Macbeth complains of the smell of blood on her
hand: Macbeth makes no complaint--he has ceased to notice it now;
but the same smell is in his nostrils. A contained fury and
disgust possesses him. He taunts the messenger and the doctor as
people would taunt their mortal enemies. And, indeed, as he knows
right well, every one is his enemy now, except his wife. About her
he questions the doctor with something like a last human anxiety;
and, in tones of grisly mystery, asks him if he can 'minister to a
mind diseased.' When the news of her death is brought him, he is
staggered and falls into a seat; but somehow it is not anything we
can call grief that he displays. There had been two of them
against God and man; and now, when there is only one, it makes
perhaps less difference than he had expected. And so her death is
not only an affliction, but one more disillusion; and he redoubles
in bitterness. The speech that follows, given with tragic cynicism
in every word, is a dirge, not so much for her as for himself.
From that time forth there is nothing human left in him, only 'the
fiend of Scotland,' Macduff's 'hell-hound,' whom, with a stern
glee, we see baited like a bear and hunted down like a wolf. He is
inspired and set above fate by a demoniacal energy, a lust of
wounds and slaughter. Even after he meets Macduff his courage does
not fail; but when he hears the Thane was not born of woman, all
virtue goes out of him; and though he speaks sounding words of
defiance, the last combat is little better than a suicide.

The whole performance is, as I said, so full of gusto and a
headlong unity; the personality of Macbeth is so sharp and
powerful; and within these somewhat narrow limits there is so much
play and saliency that, so far as concerns Salvini himself, a third
great success seems indubitable. Unfortunately, however, a great
actor cannot fill more than a very small fraction of the boards;
and though Banquo's ghost will probably be more seasonable in his
future apparitions, there are some more inherent difficulties in
the piece. The company at large did not distinguish themselves.
Macduff, to the huge delight of the gallery, out-Macduff'd the
average ranter. The lady who filled the principal female part has
done better on other occasions, but I fear she has not metal for
what she tried last week. Not to succeed in the sleep-walking
scene is to make a memorable failure. As it was given, it
succeeded in being wrong in art without being true to nature.

And there is yet another difficulty, happily easy to reform, which
somewhat interfered with the success of the performance. At the
end of the incantation scene the Italian translator has made
Macbeth fall insensible upon the stage. This is a change of
questionable propriety from a psychological point of view; while in
point of view of effect it leaves the stage for some moments empty
of all business. To remedy this, a bevy of green ballet-girls came
forth and pointed their toes about the prostrate king. A dance of
High Church curates, or a hornpipe by Mr. T. P. Cooke, would not be
more out of the key; though the gravity of a Scots audience was not
to be overcome, and they merely expressed their disapprobation by a
round of moderate hisses, a similar irruption of Christmas fairies
would most likely convulse a London theatre from pit to gallery
with inextinguishable laughter. It is, I am told, the Italian
tradition; but it is one more honoured in the breach than the
observance. With the total disappearance of these damsels, with a
stronger Lady Macbeth, and, if possible, with some compression of
those scenes in which Salvini does not appear, and the spectator is
left at the mercy of Macduffs and Duncans, the play would go twice
as well, and we should be better able to follow and enjoy an
admirable work of dramatic art.


I have here before me an edition of the Pilgrim's Progress, bound
in green, without a date, and described as 'illustrated by nearly
three hundred engravings, and memoir of Bunyan.' On the outside it
is lettered 'Bagster's Illustrated Edition,' and after the author's
apology, facing the first page of the tale, a folding pictorial
'Plan of the Road' is marked as 'drawn by the late Mr. T. Conder,'
and engraved by J. Basire. No further information is anywhere
vouchsafed; perhaps the publishers had judged the work too
unimportant; and we are still left ignorant whether or not we owe
the woodcuts in the body of the volume to the same hand that drew
the plan. It seems, however, more than probable. The literal
particularity of mind which, in the map, laid down the flower-plots
in the devil's garden, and carefully introduced the court-house in
the town of Vanity, is closely paralleled in many of the cuts; and
in both, the architecture of the buildings and the disposition of
the gardens have a kindred and entirely English air. Whoever he
was, the author of these wonderful little pictures may lay claim to
be the best illustrator of Bunyan. They are not only good
illustrations, like so many others; but they are like so few, good
illustrations of Bunyan. Their spirit, in defect and quality, is
still the same as his own. The designer also has lain down and
dreamed a dream, as literal, as quaint, and almost as apposite as
Bunyan's; and text and pictures make but the two sides of the same
homespun yet impassioned story. To do justice to the designs, it
will be necessary to say, for the hundredth time, a word or two
about the masterpiece which they adorn.

All allegories have a tendency to escape from the purpose of their
creators; and as the characters and incidents become more and more
interesting in themselves, the moral, which these were to show
forth, falls more and more into neglect. An architect may command
a wreath of vine-leaves round the cornice of a monument; but if, as
each leaf came from the chisel, it took proper life and fluttered
freely on the wall, and if the vine grew, and the building were
hidden over with foliage and fruit, the architect would stand in
much the same situation as the writer of allegories. The Faery
Queen was an allegory, I am willing to believe; but it survives as
an imaginative tale in incomparable verse. The case of Bunyan is
widely different; and yet in this also Allegory, poor nymph,
although never quite forgotten, is sometimes rudely thrust against
the wall. Bunyan was fervently in earnest; with 'his fingers in
his ears, he ran on,' straight for his mark. He tells us himself,
in the conclusion to the first part, that he did not fear to raise
a laugh; indeed, he feared nothing, and said anything; and he was
greatly served in this by a certain rustic privilege of his style,
which, like the talk of strong uneducated men, when it does not
impress by its force, still charms by its simplicity. The mere
story and the allegorical design enjoyed perhaps his equal favour.
He believed in both with an energy of faith that was capable of
moving mountains. And we have to remark in him, not the parts
where inspiration fails and is supplied by cold and merely
decorative invention, but the parts where faith has grown to be
credulity, and his characters become so real to him that he forgets
the end of their creation. We can follow him step by step into the
trap which he lays for himself by his own entire good faith and
triumphant literality of vision, till the trap closes and shuts him
in an inconsistency. The allegories of the Interpreter and of the
Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains are all actually performed,
like stage-plays, before the pilgrims. The son of Mr. Great-grace
visibly 'tumbles hills about with his words.' Adam the First has
his condemnation written visibly on his forehead, so that Faithful
reads it. At the very instant the net closes round the pilgrims,
'the white robe falls from the black man's body.' Despair 'getteth
him a grievous crab-tree cudgel'; it was in 'sunshiny weather' that
he had his fits; and the birds in the grove about the House
Beautiful, 'our country birds,' only sing their little pious verses
'at the spring, when the flowers appear and the sun shines warm.'
'I often,' says Piety, 'go out to hear them; we also ofttimes keep
them tame on our house.' The post between Beulah and the Celestial
City sounds his horn, as you may yet hear in country places. Madam
Bubble, that 'tall, comely dame, something of a swarthy complexion,
in very pleasant attire, but old,' 'gives you a smile at the end of
each sentence'--a real woman she; we all know her. Christiana
dying 'gave Mr. Stand-fast a ring,' for no possible reason in the
allegory, merely because the touch was human and affecting. Look
at Great-heart, with his soldierly ways, garrison ways, as I had
almost called them; with his taste in weapons; his delight in any
that 'he found to be a man of his hands'; his chivalrous point of
honour, letting Giant Maul get up again when he was down, a thing
fairly flying in the teeth of the moral; above all, with his
language in the inimitable tale of Mr. Fearing: 'I thought I
should have lost my man'--'chicken-hearted'--'at last he came in,
and I will say that for my lord, he carried it wonderful lovingly
to him.' This is no Independent minister; this is a stout, honest,
big-busted ancient, adjusting his shoulder-belts, twirling his long
moustaches as he speaks. Last and most remarkable, 'My sword,'
says the dying Valiant-for-Truth, he in whom Great-heart delighted,
'my sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, AND
boast, more arrogantly unorthodox than was ever dreamed of by the
rejected Ignorance, we are told that 'all the trumpets sounded for
him on the other side.'

In every page the book is stamped with the same energy of vision
and the same energy of belief. The quality is equally and
indifferently displayed in the spirit of the fighting, the
tenderness of the pathos, the startling vigour and strangeness of
the incidents, the natural strain of the conversations, and the
humanity and charm of the characters. Trivial talk over a meal,
the dying words of heroes, the delights of Beulah or the Celestial
City, Apollyon and my Lord Hate-good, Great-heart, and Mr. Worldly-
Wiseman, all have been imagined with the same clearness, all
written of with equal gusto and precision, all created in the same
mixed element, of simplicity that is almost comical, and art that,
for its purpose, is faultless.

It was in much the same spirit that our artist sat down to his
drawings. He is by nature a Bunyan of the pencil. He, too, will
draw anything, from a butcher at work on a dead sheep, up to the
courts of Heaven. 'A Lamb for Supper' is the name of one of his
designs, 'Their Glorious Entry' of another. He has the same
disregard for the ridiculous, and enjoys somewhat of the same
privilege of style, so that we are pleased even when we laugh the
most. He is literal to the verge of folly. If dust is to be
raised from the unswept parlour, you may be sure it will 'fly
abundantly' in the picture. If Faithful is to lie 'as dead' before
Moses, dead he shall lie with a warrant--dead and stiff like
granite; nay (and here the artist must enhance upon the symbolism
of the author), it is with the identical stone tables of the law
that Moses fells the sinner. Good and bad people, whom we at once
distinguish in the text by their names, Hopeful, Honest, and
Valiant-for-Truth, on the one hand, as against By-ends, Sir Having
Greedy, and the Lord Old-man on the other, are in these drawings as
simply distinguished by their costume. Good people, when not armed
cap-a-pie, wear a speckled tunic girt about the waist, and low
hats, apparently of straw. Bad people swagger in tail-coats and
chimney-pots, a few with knee-breeches, but the large majority in
trousers, and for all the world like guests at a garden-party.
Worldly-Wiseman alone, by some inexplicable quirk, stands before
Christian in laced hat, embroidered waistcoat, and trunk-hose. But
above all examples of this artist's intrepidity, commend me to the
print entitled 'Christian Finds it Deep.' 'A great darkness and
horror,' says the text, have fallen on the pilgrim; it is the
comfortless deathbed with which Bunyan so strikingly concludes the
sorrows and conflicts of his hero. How to represent this worthily
the artist knew not; and yet he was determined to represent it
somehow. This was how he did: Hopeful is still shown to his neck
above the water of death; but Christian has bodily disappeared, and
a blot of solid blackness indicates his place.

As you continue to look at these pictures, about an inch square for
the most part, sometimes printed three or more to the page, and
each having a printed legend of its own, however trivial the event
recorded, you will soon become aware of two things: first, that
the man can draw, and, second, that he possesses the gift of an
imagination. 'Obstinate reviles,' says the legend; and you should
see Obstinate reviling. 'He warily retraces his steps'; and there
is Christian, posting through the plain, terror and speed in every
muscle. 'Mercy yearns to go' shows you a plain interior with
packing going forward, and, right in the middle, Mercy yearning to
go--every line of the girl's figure yearning. In 'The Chamber
called Peace' we see a simple English room, bed with white
curtains, window valance and door, as may be found in many thousand
unpretentious houses; but far off, through the open window, we
behold the sun uprising out of a great plain, and Christian hails
it with his hand:

'Where am I now! is this the love and care
Of Jesus, for the men that pilgrims are!
Thus to provide! That I should be forgiven!
And dwell already the next door to heaven!'

A page or two further, from the top of the House Beautiful, the
damsels point his gaze toward the Delectable Mountains: 'The
Prospect,' so the cut is ticketed--and I shall be surprised, if on
less than a square inch of paper you can show me one so wide and
fair. Down a cross road on an English plain, a cathedral city
outlined on the horizon, a hazel shaw upon the left, comes Madam
Wanton dancing with her fair enchanted cup, and Faithful, book in
hand, half pauses. The cut is perfect as a symbol; the giddy
movement of the sorceress, the uncertain poise of the man struck to
the heart by a temptation, the contrast of that even plain of life
whereon he journeys with the bold, ideal bearing of the wanton--the
artist who invented and portrayed this had not merely read Bunyan,
he had also thoughtfully lived. The Delectable Mountains--I
continue skimming the first part--are not on the whole happily
rendered. Once, and once only, the note is struck, when Christian
and Hopeful are seen coming, shoulder-high, through a thicket of
green shrubs--box, perhaps, or perfumed nutmeg; while behind them,
domed or pointed, the hills stand ranged against the sky. A little
further, and we come to that masterpiece of Bunyan's insight into
life, the Enchanted Ground; where, in a few traits, he has set down
the latter end of such a number of the would-be good; where his
allegory goes so deep that, to people looking seriously on life, it
cuts like satire. The true significance of this invention lies, of
course, far out of the way of drawing; only one feature, the great
tedium of the land, the growing weariness in well-doing, may be
somewhat represented in a symbol. The pilgrims are near the end:
'Two Miles Yet,' says the legend. The road goes ploughing up and
down over a rolling heath; the wayfarers, with outstretched arms,
are already sunk to the knees over the brow of the nearest hill;
they have just passed a milestone with the cipher two; from
overhead a great, piled, summer cumulus, as of a slumberous summer
afternoon, beshadows them: two miles! it might be hundreds. In
dealing with the Land of Beulah the artist lags, in both parts,
miserably behind the text, but in the distant prospect of the
Celestial City more than regains his own. You will remember when
Christian and Hopeful 'with desire fell sick.' 'Effect of the
Sunbeams' is the artist's title. Against the sky, upon a cliffy
mountain, the radiant temple beams upon them over deep, subjacent
woods; they, behind a mound, as if seeking shelter from the
splendour--one prostrate on his face, one kneeling, and with hands
ecstatically lifted--yearn with passion after that immortal city.
Turn the page, and we behold them walking by the very shores of
death; Heaven, from this nigher view, has risen half-way to the
zenith, and sheds a wider glory; and the two pilgrims, dark against
that brightness, walk and sing out of the fulness of their hearts.
No cut more thoroughly illustrates at once the merit and the
weakness of the artist. Each pilgrim sings with a book in his
grasp--a family Bible at the least for bigness; tomes so recklessly
enormous that our second, impulse is to laughter. And yet that is
not the first thought, nor perhaps the last. Something in the
attitude of the manikins--faces they have none, they are too small
for that--something in the way they swing these monstrous volumes
to their singing, something perhaps borrowed from the text, some
subtle differentiation from the cut that went before and the cut
that follows after--something, at least, speaks clearly of a
fearful joy, of Heaven seen from the deathbed, of the horror of the
last passage no less than of the glorious coming home. There is
that in the action of one of them which always reminds me, with a
difference, of that haunting last glimpse of Thomas Idle,
travelling to Tyburn in the cart. Next come the Shining Ones,
wooden and trivial enough; the pilgrims pass into the river; the
blot already mentioned settles over and obliterates Christian. In
two more cuts we behold them drawing nearer to the other shore; and
then, between two radiant angels, one of whom points upward, we see
them mounting in new weeds, their former lendings left behind them
on the inky river. More angels meet them; Heaven is displayed, and
if no better, certainly no worse, than it has been shown by others-
-a place, at least, infinitely populous and glorious with light--a
place that haunts solemnly the hearts of children. And then this
symbolic draughtsman once more strikes into his proper vein. Three
cuts conclude the first part. In the first the gates close, black
against the glory struggling from within. The second shows us
Ignorance--alas! poor Arminian!--hailing, in a sad twilight, the
ferryman Vain-Hope; and in the third we behold him, bound hand and
foot, and black already with the hue of his eternal fate, carried
high over the mountain-tops of the world by two angels of the anger
of the Lord. 'Carried to Another Place,' the artist enigmatically
names his plate--a terrible design.

Wherever he touches on the black side of the supernatural his
pencil grows more daring and incisive. He has many true inventions
in the perilous and diabolic; he has many startling nightmares
realised. It is not easy to select the best; some may like one and
some another; the nude, depilated devil bounding and casting darts
against the Wicket Gate; the scroll of flying horrors that hang
over Christian by the Mouth of Hell; the horned shade that comes
behind him whispering blasphemies; the daylight breaking through
that rent cave-mouth of the mountains and falling chill adown the
haunted tunnel; Christian's further progress along the causeway,
between the two black pools, where, at every yard or two, a gin, a
pitfall, or a snare awaits the passer-by--loathsome white devilkins
harbouring close under the bank to work the springes, Christian
himself pausing and pricking with his sword's point at the nearest
noose, and pale discomfortable mountains rising on the farther
side; or yet again, the two ill-favoured ones that beset the first
of Christian's journey, with the frog-like structure of the skull,
the frog-like limberness of limbs--crafty, slippery, lustful-
looking devils, drawn always in outline as though possessed of a
dim, infernal luminosity. Horrid fellows are they, one and all;
horrid fellows and horrific scenes. In another spirit that Good-
Conscience 'to whom Mr. Honest had spoken in his lifetime,' a
cowled, grey, awful figure, one hand pointing to the heavenly
shore, realises, I will not say all, but some at least of the
strange impressiveness of Bunyan's words. It is no easy nor
pleasant thing to speak in one's lifetime with Good-Conscience; he
is an austere, unearthly friend, whom maybe Torquemada knew; and
the folds of his raiment are not merely claustral, but have
something of the horror of the pall. Be not afraid, however; with
the hand of that appearance Mr. Honest will get safe across.

Yet perhaps it is in sequences that this artist best displays
himself. He loves to look at either side of a thing: as, for
instance, when he shows us both sides of the wall--'Grace
Inextinguishable' on the one side, with the devil vainly pouring
buckets on the flame, and 'The Oil of Grace' on the other, where
the Holy Spirit, vessel in hand, still secretly supplies the fire.
He loves, also, to show us the same event twice over, and to repeat
his instantaneous photographs at the interval of but a moment. So
we have, first, the whole troop of pilgrims coming up to Valiant,
and Great-heart to the front, spear in hand and parleying; and
next, the same cross-roads, from a more distant view, the convoy
now scattered and looking safely and curiously on, and Valiant
handing over for inspection his 'right Jerusalem blade.' It is
true that this designer has no great care after consistency:
Apollyon's spear is laid by, his quiver of darts will disappear,
whenever they might hinder the designer's freedom; and the fiend's
tail is blobbed or forked at his good pleasure. But this is not
unsuitable to the illustration of the fervent Bunyan, breathing
hurry and momentary inspiration. He, with his hot purpose, hunting
sinners with a lasso, shall himself forget the things that he has
written yesterday. He shall first slay Heedless in the Valley of
the Shadow, and then take leave of him talking in his sleep, as if
nothing had happened, in an arbour on the Enchanted Ground. And
again, in his rhymed prologue, he shall assign some of the glory of
the siege of Doubting Castle to his favourite Valiant-for-the-
Truth, who did not meet with the besiegers till long after, at that
dangerous corner by Deadman's Lane. And, with all inconsistencies
and freedoms, there is a power shown in these sequences of cuts: a
power of joining on one action or one humour to another; a power of
following out the moods, even of the dismal subterhuman fiends
engendered by the artist's fancy; a power of sustained continuous
realisation, step by step, in nature's order, that can tell a
story, in all its ins and outs, its pauses and surprises, fully and
figuratively, like the art of words.

One such sequence is the fight of Christian and Apollyon--six cuts,
weird and fiery, like the text. The pilgrim is throughout a pale
and stockish figure; but the devil covers a multitude of defects.
There is no better devil of the conventional order than our
artist's Apollyon, with his mane, his wings, his bestial legs, his
changing and terrifying expression, his infernal energy to slay.
In cut the first you see him afar off, still obscure in form, but
already formidable in suggestion. Cut the second, 'The Fiend in
Discourse,' represents him, not reasoning, railing rather, shaking
his spear at the pilgrim, his shoulder advanced, his tail writhing
in the air, his foot ready for a spring, while Christian stands
back a little, timidly defensive. The third illustrates these
magnificent words: 'Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole
breadth of the way, and said, I am void of fear in this matter:
prepare thyself to die; for I swear by my infernal den that thou
shalt go no farther: here will I spill thy soul! And with that he
threw a flaming dart at his breast.' In the cut he throws a dart
with either hand, belching pointed flames out of his mouth,
spreading his broad vans, and straddling the while across the path,
as only a fiend can straddle who has just sworn by his infernal
den. The defence will not be long against such vice, such flames,
such red-hot nether energy. And in the fourth cut, to be sure, he
has leaped bodily upon his victim, sped by foot and pinion, and
roaring as he leaps. The fifth shows the climacteric of the
battle; Christian has reached nimbly out and got his sword, and
dealt that deadly home-thrust, the fiend still stretched upon him,
but 'giving back, as one that had received his mortal wound.' The
raised head, the bellowing mouth, the paw clapped upon the sword,
the one wing relaxed in agony, all realise vividly these words of
the text. In the sixth and last, the trivial armed figure of the
pilgrim is seen kneeling with clasped hands on the betrodden scene
of contest and among the shivers of the darts; while just at the
margin the hinder quarters and the tail of Apollyon are whisking
off, indignant and discounted.

In one point only do these pictures seem to be unworthy of the
text, and that point is one rather of the difference of arts than
the difference of artists. Throughout his best and worst, in his
highest and most divine imaginations as in the narrowest sallies of
his sectarianism, the human-hearted piety of Bunyan touches and
ennobles, convinces, accuses the reader. Through no art beside the
art of words can the kindness of a man's affections be expressed.
In the cuts you shall find faithfully parodied the quaintness and
the power, the triviality and the surprising freshness of the
author's fancy; there you shall find him out-stripped in ready
symbolism and the art of bringing things essentially invisible
before the eyes: but to feel the contact of essential goodness, to
be made in love with piety, the book must be read and not the
prints examined.

Farewell should not be taken with a grudge; nor can I dismiss in
any other words than those of gratitude a series of pictures which
have, to one at least, been the visible embodiment of Bunyan from
childhood up, and shown him, through all his years, Great-heart
lungeing at Giant Maul, and Apollyon breathing fire at Christian,
and every turn and town along the road to the Celestial City, and
that bright place itself, seen as to a stave of music, shining afar
off upon the hill-top, the candle of the world.



My companion enjoyed a cheap reputation for wit and insight. He
was by habit and repute a satirist. If he did occasionally condemn
anything or anybody who richly deserved it, and whose demerits had
hitherto escaped, it was simply because he condemned everything and
everybody. While I was with him he disposed of St. Paul with an
epigram, shook my reverence for Shakespeare in a neat antithesis,
and fell foul of the Almighty Himself, on the score of one or two
out of the ten commandments. Nothing escaped his blighting
censure. At every sentence he overthrew an idol, or lowered my
estimation of a friend. I saw everything with new eyes, and could
only marvel at my former blindness. How was it possible that I had
not before observed A's false hair, B's selfishness, or C's boorish
manners? I and my companion, methought, walked the streets like a
couple of gods among a swarm of vermin; for every one we saw seemed
to bear openly upon his brow the mark of the apocalyptic beast. I
half expected that these miserable beings, like the people of
Lystra, would recognise their betters and force us to the altar; in
which case, warned by the late of Paul and Barnabas, I do not know
that my modesty would have prevailed upon me to decline. But there
was no need for such churlish virtue. More blinded than the
Lycaonians, the people saw no divinity in our gait; and as our
temporary godhead lay more in the way of observing than healing
their infirmities, we were content to pass them by in scorn.

I could not leave my companion, not from regard or even from
interest, but from a very natural feeling, inseparable from the
case. To understand it, let us take a simile. Suppose yourself
walking down the street with a man who continues to sprinkle the
crowd out of a flask of vitriol. You would be much diverted with
the grimaces and contortions of his victims; and at the same time
you would fear to leave his arm until his bottle was empty, knowing
that, when once among the crowd, you would run a good chance
yourself of baptism with his biting liquor. Now my companion's
vitriol was inexhaustible.

It was perhaps the consciousness of this, the knowledge that I was
being anointed already out of the vials of his wrath, that made me
fall to criticising the critic, whenever we had parted.

After all, I thought, our satirist has just gone far enough into
his neighbours to find that the outside is false, without caring to
go farther and discover what is really true. He is content to find
that things are not what they seem, and broadly generalises from it
that they do not exist at all. He sees our virtues are not what
they pretend they are; and, on the strength of that, he denies us
the possession of virtue altogether. He has learnt the first
lesson, that no man is wholly good; but he has not even suspected
that there is another equally true, to wit, that no man is wholly
bad. Like the inmate of a coloured star, he has eyes for one
colour alone. He has a keen scent after evil, but his nostrils are
plugged against all good, as people plugged their nostrils before
going about the streets of the plague-struck city.

Why does he do this? It is most unreasonable to flee the knowledge
of good like the infection of a horrible disease, and batten and
grow fat in the real atmosphere of a lazar-house. This was my
first thought; but my second was not like unto it, and I saw that
our satirist was wise, wise in his generation, like the unjust
steward. He does not want light, because the darkness is more
pleasant. He does not wish to see the good, because he is happier
without it. I recollect that when I walked with him, I was in a
state of divine exaltation, such as Adam and Eve must have enjoyed
when the savour of the fruit was still unfaded between their lips;
and I recognise that this must be the man's habitual state. He has
the forbidden fruit in his waist-coat pocket, and can make himself
a god as often and as long as he likes. He has raised himself upon
a glorious pedestal above his fellows; he has touched the summit of
ambition; and he envies neither King nor Kaiser, Prophet nor
Priest, content in an elevation as high as theirs, and much more
easily attained. Yes, certes, much more easily attained. He has
not risen by climbing himself, but by pushing others down. He has
grown great in his own estimation, not by blowing himself out, and
risking the fate of AEsop's frog, but simply by the habitual use of
a diminishing glass on everybody else. And I think altogether that
his is a better, a safer, and a surer recipe than most others.

After all, however, looking back on what I have written, I detect a
spirit suspiciously like his own. All through, I have been
comparing myself with our satirist, and all through, I have had the
best of the comparison. Well, well, contagion is as often mental
as physical; and I do not think my readers, who have all been under
his lash, will blame me very much for giving the headsman a
mouthful of his own sawdust.


If any one should know the pleasure and pain of a sleepless night,
it should be I. I remember, so long ago, the sickly child that
woke from his few hours' slumber with the sweat of a nightmare on
his brow, to lie awake and listen and long for the first signs of
life among the silent streets. These nights of pain and weariness
are graven on my mind; and so when the same thing happened to me
again, everything that I heard or saw was rather a recollection
than a discovery.

Weighed upon by the opaque and almost sensible darkness, I listened
eagerly for anything to break the sepulchral quiet. But nothing
came, save, perhaps, an emphatic crack from the old cabinet that
was made by Deacon Brodie, or the dry rustle of the coals on the
extinguished fire. It was a calm; or I know that I should have
heard in the roar and clatter of the storm, as I have not heard it
for so many years, the wild career of a horseman, always scouring
up from the distance and passing swiftly below the window; yet
always returning again from the place whence first he came, as
though, baffled by some higher power, he had retraced his steps to
gain impetus for another and another attempt.

As I lay there, there arose out of the utter stillness the rumbling
of a carriage a very great way off, that drew near, and passed
within a few streets of the house, and died away as gradually as it
had arisen. This, too, was as a reminiscence.

I rose and lifted a corner of the blind. Over the black belt of
the garden I saw the long line of Queen Street, with here and there
a lighted window. How often before had my nurse lifted me out of
bed and pointed them out to me, while we wondered together if,
there also, there were children that could not sleep, and if these
lighted oblongs were signs of those that waited like us for the

I went out into the lobby, and looked down into the great deep well
of the staircase. For what cause I know not, just as it used to be
in the old days that the feverish child might be the better served,
a peep of gas illuminated a narrow circle far below me. But where
I was, all was darkness and silence, save the dry monotonous
ticking of the clock that came ceaselessly up to my ear.

The final crown of it all, however, the last touch of reproduction
on the pictures of my memory, was the arrival of that time for
which, all night through, I waited and longed of old. It was my
custom, as the hours dragged on, to repeat the question, 'When will
the carts come in?' and repeat it again and again until at last
those sounds arose in the street that I have heard once more this
morning. The road before our house is a great thoroughfare for
early carts. I know not, and I never have known, what they carry,
whence they come, or whither they go. But I know that, long ere
dawn, and for hours together, they stream continuously past, with
the same rolling and jerking of wheels and the same clink of
horses' feet. It was not for nothing that they made the burthen of
my wishes all night through. They are really the first throbbings
of life, the harbingers of day; and it pleases you as much to hear
them as it must please a shipwrecked seaman once again to grasp a
hand of flesh and blood after years of miserable solitude. They
have the freshness of the daylight life about them. You can hear
the carters cracking their whips and crying hoarsely to their
horses or to one another; and sometimes even a peal of healthy,
harsh horse-laughter comes up to you through the darkness. There
is now an end of mystery and fear. Like the knocking at the door
in Macbeth, {8} or the cry of the watchman in the Tour de Nesle,
they show that the horrible caesura is over and the nightmares have
fled away, because the day is breaking and the ordinary life of men
is beginning to bestir itself among the streets.

In the middle of it all I fell asleep, to be wakened by the
officious knocking at my door, and I find myself twelve years older
than I had dreamed myself all night.


It is all very well to talk of death as 'a pleasant potion of
immortality', but the most of us, I suspect, are of 'queasy
stomachs,' and find it none of the sweetest. {9a} The graveyard
may be cloak-room to Heaven; but we must admit that it is a very
ugly and offensive vestibule in itself, however fair may be the
life to which it leads. And though Enoch and Elias went into the
temple through a gate which certainly may be called Beautiful, the
rest of us have to find our way to it through Ezekiel's low-bowed
door and the vault full of creeping things and all manner of
abominable beasts. Nevertheless, there is a certain frame of mind
to which a cemetery is, if not an antidote, at least an
alleviation. If you are in a fit of the blues, go nowhere else.
It was in obedience to this wise regulation that the other morning
found me lighting my pipe at the entrance to Old Greyfriars',
thoroughly sick of the town, the country, and myself.

Two of the men were talking at the gate, one of them carrying a
spade in hands still crusted with the soil of graves. Their very
aspect was delightful to me; and I crept nearer to them, thinking
to pick up some snatch of sexton gossip, some 'talk fit for a
charnel,' {9b} something, in fine, worthy of that fastidious
logician, that adept in coroner's law, who has come down to us as
the patron of Yaughan's liquor, and the very prince of
gravediggers. Scots people in general are so much wrapped up in
their profession that I had a good chance of overhearing such
conversation: the talk of fish-mongers running usually on
stockfish and haddocks; while of the Scots sexton I could repeat
stories and speeches that positively smell of the graveyard. But
on this occasion I was doomed to disappointment. My two friends
were far into the region of generalities. Their profession was
forgotten in their electorship. Politics had engulfed the narrower
economy of grave-digging. 'Na, na,' said the one, 'ye're a'
wrang.' 'The English and Irish Churches,' answered the other, in a
tone as if he had made the remark before, and it had been called in
question--'The English and Irish Churches have IMPOVERISHED the

'Such are the results of education,' thought I as I passed beside
them and came fairly among the tombs. Here, at least, there were
no commonplace politics, no diluted this-morning's leader, to
distract or offend me. The old shabby church showed, as usual, its
quaint extent of roofage and the relievo skeleton on one gable,
still blackened with the fire of thirty years ago. A chill dank
mist lay over all. The Old Greyfriars' churchyard was in
perfection that morning, and one could go round and reckon up the
associations with no fear of vulgar interruption. On this stone
the Covenant was signed. In that vault, as the story goes, John
Knox took hiding in some Reformation broil. From that window Burke
the murderer looked out many a time across the tombs, and perhaps
o' nights let himself down over the sill to rob some new-made
grave. Certainly he would have a selection here. The very walks
have been carried over forgotten resting-places; and the whole
ground is uneven, because (as I was once quaintly told) 'when the
wood rots it stands to reason the soil should fall in,' which, from
the law of gravitation, is certainly beyond denial. But it is
round the boundary that there are the finest tombs. The whole
irregular space is, as it were, fringed with quaint old monuments,
rich in death's-heads and scythes and hour-glasses, and doubly rich
in pious epitaphs and Latin mottoes--rich in them to such an extent
that their proper space has run over, and they have crawled end-
long up the shafts of columns and ensconced themselves in all sorts
of odd corners among the sculpture. These tombs raise their backs
against the rabble of squalid dwelling-houses, and every here and
there a clothes-pole projects between two monuments its fluttering
trophy of white and yellow and red. With a grim irony they recall
the banners in the Invalides, banners as appropriate perhaps over
the sepulchres of tailors and weavers as these others above the
dust of armies. Why they put things out to dry on that particular
morning it was hard to imagine. The grass was grey with drops of
rain, the headstones black with moisture. Yet, in despite of
weather and common sense, there they hung between the tombs; and
beyond them I could see through open windows into miserable rooms
where whole families were born and fed, and slept and died. At one
a girl sat singing merrily with her back to the graveyard; and from
another came the shrill tones of a scolding woman. Every here and
there was a town garden full of sickly flowers, or a pile of
crockery inside upon the window-seat. But you do not grasp the
full connection between these houses of the dead and the living,
the unnatural marriage of stately sepulchres and squalid houses,
till, lower down, where the road has sunk far below the surface of
the cemetery, and the very roofs are scarcely on a level with its
wall, you observe that a proprietor has taken advantage of a tall
monument and trained a chimney-stack against its back. It startles
you to see the red, modern pots peering over the shoulder of the

A man was at work on a grave, his spade clinking away the drift of
bones that permeates the thin brown soil; but my first
disappointment had taught me to expect little from Greyfriars'
sextons, and I passed him by in silence. A slater on the slope of
a neighbouring roof eyed me curiously. A lean black cat, looking
as if it had battened on strange meats, slipped past me. A little
boy at a window put his finger to his nose in so offensive a manner
that I was put upon my dignity, and turned grandly off to read old
epitaphs and peer through the gratings into the shadow of vaults.

Just then I saw two women coming down a path, one of them old, and
the other younger, with a child in her arms. Both had faces eaten
with famine and hardened with sin, and both had reached that stage
of degradation, much lower in a woman than a man, when all care for
dress is lost. As they came down they neared a grave, where some
pious friend or relative had laid a wreath of immortelles, and put
a bell glass over it, as is the custom. The effect of that ring of
dull yellow among so many blackened and dusty sculptures was more
pleasant than it is in modern cemeteries, where every second mound
can boast a similar coronal; and here, where it was the exception
and not the rule, I could even fancy the drops of moisture that
dimmed the covering were the tears of those who laid it where it
was. As the two women came up to it, one of them kneeled down on
the wet grass and looked long and silently through the clouded
shade, while the second stood above her, gently oscillating to and
fro to lull the muling baby. I was struck a great way off with
something religious in the attitude of these two unkempt and
haggard women; and I drew near faster, but still cautiously, to
hear what they were saying. Surely on them the spirit of death and
decay had descended; I had no education to dread here: should I
not have a chance of seeing nature? Alas! a pawnbroker could not
have been more practical and commonplace, for this was what the
kneeling woman said to the woman upright--this and nothing more:
'Eh, what extravagance!'

O nineteenth century, wonderful art thou indeed--wonderful, but
wearisome in thy stale and deadly uniformity. Thy men are more
like numerals than men. They must bear their idiosyncrasies or
their professions written on a placard about their neck, like the
scenery in Shakespeare's theatre. Thy precepts of economy have
pierced into the lowest ranks of life; and there is now a decorum
in vice, a respectability among the disreputable, a pure spirit of
Philistinism among the waifs and strays of thy Bohemia. For lo!
thy very gravediggers talk politics; and thy castaways kneel upon
new graves, to discuss the cost of the monument and grumble at the
improvidence of love.

Such was the elegant apostrophe that I made as I went out of the
gates again, happily satisfied in myself, and feeling that I alone
of all whom I had seen was able to profit by the silent poem of
these green mounds and blackened headstones.


I knew one once, and the room where, lonely and old, she waited for
death. It was pleasant enough, high up above the lane, and looking
forth upon a hill-side, covered all day with sheets and yellow
blankets, and with long lines of underclothing fluttering between
the battered posts. There were any number of cheap prints, and a
drawing by one of 'her children,' and there were flowers in the
window, and a sickly canary withered into consumption in an
ornamental cage. The bed, with its checked coverlid, was in a
closet. A great Bible lay on the table; and her drawers were full
of 'scones,' which it was her pleasure to give to young visitors
such as I was then.

You may not think this a melancholy picture; but the canary, and
the cat, and the white mouse that she had for a while, and that
died, were all indications of the want that ate into her heart. I
think I know a little of what that old woman felt; and I am as sure
as if I had seen her, that she sat many an hour in silent tears,
with the big Bible open before her clouded eyes.

If you could look back upon her life, and feel the great chain that
had linked her to one child after another, sometimes to be wrenched
suddenly through, and sometimes, which is infinitely worse, to be
torn gradually off through years of growing neglect, or perhaps
growing dislike! She had, like the mother, overcome that natural
repugnance--repugnance which no man can conquer--towards the infirm
and helpless mass of putty of the earlier stage. She had spent her
best and happiest years in tending, watching, and learning to love
like a mother this child, with which she has no connection and to
which she has no tie. Perhaps she refused some sweetheart (such
things have been), or put him off and off, until he lost heart and
turned to some one else, all for fear of leaving this creature that
had wound itself about her heart. And the end of it all--her
month's warning, and a present perhaps, and the rest of the life to
vain regret. Or, worse still, to see the child gradually
forgetting and forsaking her, fostered in disrespect and neglect on
the plea of growing manliness, and at last beginning to treat her
as a servant whom he had treated a few years before as a mother.
She sees the Bible or the Psalm-book, which with gladness and love
unutterable in her heart she had bought for him years ago out of
her slender savings, neglected for some newer gift of his father,
lying in dust in the lumber-room or given away to a poor child, and
the act applauded for its unfeeling charity. Little wonder if she
becomes hurt and angry, and attempts to tyrannise and to grasp her
old power back again. We are not all patient Grizzels, by good
fortune, but the most of us human beings with feelings and tempers
of our own.

And so, in the end, behold her in the room that I described. Very
likely and very naturally, in some fling of feverish misery or
recoil of thwarted love, she has quarrelled with her old employers
and the children are forbidden to see her or to speak to her; or at
best she gets her rent paid and a little to herself, and now and
then her late charges are sent up (with another nurse, perhaps) to
pay her a short visit. How bright these visits seem as she looks
forward to them on her lonely bed! How unsatisfactory their
realisation, when the forgetful child, half wondering, checks with
every word and action the outpouring of her maternal love! How
bitter and restless the memories that they leave behind! And for
the rest, what else has she?--to watch them with eager eyes as they
go to school, to sit in church where she can see them every Sunday,
to be passed some day unnoticed in the street, or deliberately cut
because the great man or the great woman are with friends before
whom they are ashamed to recognise the old woman that loved them.

When she goes home that night, how lonely will the room appear to
her! Perhaps the neighbours may hear her sobbing to herself in the
dark, with the fire burnt out for want of fuel, and the candle
still unlit upon the table.

And it is for this that they live, these quasi-mothers--mothers in
everything but the travail and the thanks. It is for this that
they have remained virtuous in youth, living the dull life of a
household servant. It is for this that they refused the old
sweetheart, and have no fireside or offspring of their own.

I believe in a better state of things, that there will be no more
nurses, and that every mother will nurse her own offspring; for
what can be more hardening and demoralising than to call forth the
tenderest feelings of a woman's heart and cherish them yourself as
long as you need them, as long as your children require a nurse to
love them, and then to blight and thwart and destroy them, whenever
your own use for them is at an end. This may be Utopian; but it is
always a little thing if one mother or two mothers can be brought
to feel more tenderly to those who share their toil and have no
part in their reward.


The man has a red, bloated face, and his figure is short and squat.
So far there is nothing in him to notice, but when you see his
eyes, you can read in these hard and shallow orbs a depravity
beyond measure depraved, a thirst after wickedness, the pure,
disinterested love of Hell for its own sake. The other night, in
the street, I was watching an omnibus passing with lit-up windows,
when I heard some one coughing at my side as though he would cough
his soul out; and turning round, I saw him stopping under a lamp,
with a brown greatcoat buttoned round him and his whole face
convulsed. It seemed as if he could not live long; and so the
sight set my mind upon a train of thought, as I finished my cigar
up and down the lighted streets.

He is old, but all these years have not yet quenched his thirst for
evil, and his eyes still delight themselves in wickedness. He is
dumb; but he will not let that hinder his foul trade, or perhaps I
should say, his yet fouler amusement, and he has pressed a slate
into the service of corruption. Look at him, and he will sign to
you with his bloated head, and when you go to him in answer to the
sign, thinking perhaps that the poor dumb man has lost his way, you
will see what he writes upon his slate. He haunts the doors of
schools, and shows such inscriptions as these to the innocent
children that come out. He hangs about picture-galleries, and
makes the noblest pictures the text for some silent homily of vice.
His industry is a lesson to ourselves. Is it not wonderful how he
can triumph over his infirmities and do such an amount of harm
without a tongue? Wonderful industry--strange, fruitless,
pleasureless toil? Must not the very devil feel a soft emotion to
see his disinterested and laborious service? Ah, but the devil
knows better than this: he knows that this man is penetrated with
the love of evil and that all his pleasure is shut up in
wickedness: he recognises him, perhaps, as a fit type for mankind
of his satanic self, and watches over his effigy as we might watch
over a favourite likeness. As the business man comes to love the
toil, which he only looked upon at first as a ladder towards other
desires and less unnatural gratifications, so the dumb man has felt
the charm of his trade and fallen captivated before the eyes of
sin. It is a mistake when preachers tell us that vice is hideous
and loathsome; for even vice has her Horsel and her devotees, who
love her for her own sake.



Nance Holdaway was on her knees before the fire blowing the green
wood that voluminously smoked upon the dogs, and only now and then
shot forth a smothered flame; her knees already ached and her eyes
smarted, for she had been some while at this ungrateful task, but
her mind was gone far away to meet the coming stranger. Now she
met him in the wood, now at the castle gate, now in the kitchen by
candle-light; each fresh presentment eclipsed the one before; a
form so elegant, manners so sedate, a countenance so brave and
comely, a voice so winning and resolute--sure such a man was never
seen! The thick-coming fancies poured and brightened in her head
like the smoke and flames upon the hearth.

Presently the heavy foot of her uncle Jonathan was heard upon the
stair, and as he entered the room she bent the closer to her work.
He glanced at the green fagots with a sneer, and looked askance at
the bed and the white sheets, at the strip of carpet laid, like an
island, on the great expanse of the stone floor, and at the broken
glazing of the casement clumsily repaired with paper.

'Leave that fire a-be,' he cried. 'What, have I toiled all my life
to turn innkeeper at the hind end? Leave it a-be, I say.'

'La, uncle, it doesn't burn a bit; it only smokes,' said Nance,
looking up from her position.

'You are come of decent people on both sides,' returned the old
man. 'Who are you to blow the coals for any Robin-run-agate? Get
up, get on your hood, make yourself useful, and be off to the
"Green Dragon."'

'I thought you was to go yourself,' Nance faltered.

'So did I,' quoth Jonathan; 'but it appears I was mistook.'

The very excess of her eagerness alarmed her, and she began to hang
back. 'I think I would rather not, dear uncle,' she said. 'Night
is at hand, and I think, dear, I would rather not.'

'Now you look here,' replied Jonathan, 'I have my lord's orders,
have I not? Little he gives me, but it's all my livelihood. And
do you fancy, if I disobey my lord, I'm likely to turn round for a
lass like you? No, I've that hell-fire of pain in my old knee, I
wouldn't walk a mile, not for King George upon his bended knees.'
And he walked to the window and looked down the steep scarp to
where the river foamed in the bottom of the dell.

Nance stayed for no more bidding. In her own room, by the glimmer
of the twilight, she washed her hands and pulled on her Sunday
mittens; adjusted her black hood, and tied a dozen times its cherry
ribbons; and in less than ten minutes, with a fluttering heart and
excellently bright eyes, she passed forth under the arch and over
the bridge, into the thickening shadows of the groves. A well-
marked wheel-track conducted her. The wood, which upon both sides
of the river dell was a mere scrambling thicket of hazel, hawthorn,
and holly, boasted on the level of more considerable timber.
Beeches came to a good growth, with here and there an oak; and the
track now passed under a high arcade of branches, and now ran under
the open sky in glades. As the girl proceeded these glades became
more frequent, the trees began again to decline in size, and the
wood to degenerate into furzy coverts. Last of all there was a
fringe of elders; and beyond that the track came forth upon an
open, rolling moorland, dotted with wind-bowed and scanty bushes,
and all golden brown with the winter, like a grouse. Right over
against the girl the last red embers of the sunset burned under
horizontal clouds; the night fell clear and still and frosty, and
the track in low and marshy passages began to crackle under foot
with ice.

Some half a mile beyond the borders of the wood the lights of the
'Green Dragon' hove in sight, and running close beside them, very
faint in the dying dusk, the pale ribbon of the Great North Road.
It was the back of the post-house that was presented to Nance
Holdaway; and as she continued to draw near and the night to fall
more completely, she became aware of an unusual brightness and
bustle. A post-chaise stood in the yard, its lamps already
lighted: light shone hospitably in the windows and from the open
door; moving lights and shadows testified to the activity of
servants bearing lanterns. The clank of pails, the stamping of
hoofs on the firm causeway, the jingle of harness, and, last of
all, the energetic hissing of a groom, began to fall upon her ear.
By the stir you would have thought the mail was at the door, but it
was still too early in the night. The down mail was not due at the
'Green Dragon' for hard upon an hour; the up mail from Scotland not
before two in the black morning.

Nance entered the yard somewhat dazzled. Sam, the tall ostler, was
polishing a curb-chain wit sand; the lantern at his feet letting up
spouts of candle-light through the holes with which its conical
roof was peppered.

'Hey, miss,' said he jocularly, 'you won't look at me any more, now
you have gentry at the castle.'

Her cheeks burned with anger.

'That's my lord's chay,' the man continued, nodding at the chaise,
'Lord Windermoor's. Came all in a fluster--dinner, bowl of punch,
and put the horses to. For all the world like a runaway match, my
dear--bar the bride. He brought Mr. Archer in the chay with him.'

'Is that Holdaway?' cried the landlord from the lighted entry,
where he stood shading his eyes.

'Only me, sir,' answered Nance.

'O, you, Miss Nance,' he said. 'Well, come in quick, my pretty.
My lord is waiting for your uncle.'

And he ushered Nance into a room cased with yellow wainscot and
lighted by tall candles, where two gentlemen sat at a table
finishing a bowl of punch. One of these was stout, elderly, and
irascible, with a face like a full moon, well dyed with liquor,
thick tremulous lips, a short, purple hand, in which he brandished
a long pipe, and an abrupt and gobbling utterance. This was my
Lord Windermoor. In his companion Nance beheld a younger man,
tall, quiet, grave, demurely dressed, and wearing his own hair.
Her glance but lighted on him, and she flushed, for in that second
she made sure that she had twice betrayed herself--betrayed by the
involuntary flash of her black eyes her secret impatience to behold
this new companion, and, what was far worse, betrayed her
disappointment in the realisation of her dreams. He, meanwhile, as
if unconscious, continued to regard her with unmoved decorum.

'O, a man of wood,' thought Nance.

'What--what?' said his lordship. 'Who is this?'

'If you please, my lord, I am Holdaway's niece,' replied Nance,
with a curtsey.

'Should have been here himself,' observed his lordship. 'Well, you
tell Holdaway that I'm aground, not a stiver--not a stiver. I'm
running from the beagles--going abroad, tell Holdaway. And he need
look for no more wages: glad of 'em myself, if I could get 'em.
He can live in the castle if he likes, or go to the devil. O, and
here is Mr. Archer; and I recommend him to take him in--a friend of
mine--and Mr. Archer will pay, as I wrote. And I regard that in
the light of a precious good thing for Holdaway, let me tell you,
and a set-off against the wages.'

'But O, my lord!' cried Nance, 'we live upon the wages, and what
are we to do without?'

'What am I to do?--what am I to do?' replied Lord Windermoor with
some exasperation. 'I have no wages. And there is Mr. Archer.
And if Holdaway doesn't like it, he can go to the devil, and you
with him!--and you with him!'

'And yet, my lord,' said Mr. Archer, 'these good people will have
as keen a sense of loss as you or I; keener, perhaps, since they
have done nothing to deserve it.'

'Deserve it?' cried the peer. 'What? What? If a rascally
highwayman comes up to me with a confounded pistol, do you say that
I've deserved it? How often am I to tell you, sir, that I was
cheated--that I was cheated?'

'You are happy in the belief,' returned Mr. Archer gravely.

'Archer, you would be the death of me!' exclaimed his lordship.
'You know you're drunk; you know it, sir; and yet you can't get up
a spark of animation.'

'I have drunk fair, my lord,' replied the younger man; 'but I own I
am conscious of no exhilaration.'

'If you had as black a look-out as me, sir,' cried the peer, 'you
would be very glad of a little innocent exhilaration, let me tell
you. I am glad of it--glad of it, and I only wish I was drunker.
For let me tell you it's a cruel hard thing upon a man of my time
of life and my position, to be brought down to beggary because the
world is full of thieves and rascals--thieves and rascals. What?
For all I know, you may be a thief and a rascal yourself; and I
would fight you for a pinch of snuff--a pinch of snuff,' exclaimed
his lordship.

Here Mr. Archer turned to Nance Holdaway with a pleasant smile, so
full of sweetness, kindness, and composure that, at one bound, her
dreams returned to her. 'My good Miss Holdaway,' said he, 'if you
are willing to show me the road, I am even eager to be gone. As
for his lordship and myself, compose yourself; there is no fear;
this is his lordship's way.'

'What? what?' cried his lordship. 'My way? Ish no such a thing,
my way.'

'Come, my lord,' cried Archer; 'you and I very thoroughly
understand each other; and let me suggest, it is time that both of
us were gone. The mail will soon be due. Here, then, my lord, I
take my leave of you, with the most earnest assurance of my
gratitude for the past, and a sincere offer of any services I may
be able to render in the future.'

'Archer,' exclaimed Lord Windermoor, 'I love you like a son. Le'
's have another bowl.'

'My lord, for both our sakes, you will excuse me,' replied Mr.
Archer. 'We both require caution; we must both, for some while at
least, avoid the chance of a pursuit.'

'Archer,' quoth his lordship, 'this is a rank ingratishood. What?
I'm to go firing away in the dark in the cold po'chaise, and not so
much as a game of ecarte possible, unless I stop and play with the
postillion, the postillion; and the whole country swarming with
thieves and rascals and highwaymen.'

'I beg your lordship's pardon,' put in the landlord, who now
appeared in the doorway to announce the chaise, 'but this part of
the North Road is known for safety. There has not been a robbery,
to call a robbery, this five years' time. Further south, of
course, it's nearer London, and another story,' he added.

'Well, then, if that's so,' concluded my lord, 'le' 's have t'other
bowl and a pack of cards.'

'My lord, you forget,' said Archer, 'I might still gain; but it is
hardly possible for me to lose.'

'Think I'm a sharper?' inquired the peer. 'Gen'leman's parole's
all I ask.'

But Mr. Archer was proof against these blandishments, and said
farewell gravely enough to Lord Windermoor, shaking his hand and at
the same time bowing very low. 'You will never know,' says he,
'the service you have done me.' And with that, and before my lord
had finally taken up his meaning, he had slipped about the table,
touched Nance lightly but imperiously on the arm, and left the
room. In face of the outbreak of his lordship's lamentations she
made haste to follow the truant.


The chaise had been driven round to the front door; the courtyard
lay all deserted, and only lit by a lantern set upon a window-sill.
Through this Nance rapidly led the way, and began to ascend the
swellings of the moor with a heart that somewhat fluttered in her
bosom. She was not afraid, but in the course of these last
passages with Lord Windermoor Mr. Archer had ascended to that
pedestal on which her fancy waited to instal him. The reality, she
felt, excelled her dreams, and this cold night walk was the first
romantic incident in her experience.

It was the rule in these days to see gentlemen unsteady after
dinner, yet Nance was both surprised and amused when her companion,
who had spoken so soberly, began to stumble and waver by her side
with the most airy divagations. Sometimes he would get so close to
her that she must edge away; and at others lurch clear out of the
track and plough among deep heather. His courtesy and gravity
meanwhile remained unaltered. He asked her how far they had to go;
whether the way lay all upon the moorland, and when he learned they
had to pass a wood expressed his pleasure. 'For,' said he, 'I am
passionately fond of trees. Trees and fair lawns, if you consider
of it rightly, are the ornaments of nature, as palaces and fine
approaches--' And here he stumbled into a patch of slough and
nearly fell. The girl had hard work not to laugh, but at heart she
was lost in admiration for one who talked so elegantly.

They had got to about a quarter of a mile from the 'Green Dragon,'
and were near the summit of the rise, when a sudden rush of wheels
arrested them. Turning and looking back, they saw the post-house,
now much declined in brightness; and speeding away northward the
two tremulous bright dots of my Lord Windermoor's chaise-lamps.
Mr. Archer followed these yellow and unsteady stars until they
dwindled into points and disappeared.

'There goes my only friend,' he said. 'Death has cut off those
that loved me, and change of fortune estranged my flatterers; and
but for you, poor bankrupt, my life is as lonely as this moor.'

The tone of his voice affected both of them. They stood there on
the side of the moor, and became thrillingly conscious of the void
waste of the night, without a feature for the eye, and except for
the fainting whisper of the carriage-wheels without a murmur for
the ear. And instantly, like a mockery, there broke out, very far
away, but clear and jolly, the note of the mail-guard's horn.
'Over the hills' was his air. It rose to the two watchers on the
moor with the most cheerful sentiment of human company and travel,
and at the same time in and around the 'Green Dragon' it woke up a
great bustle of lights running to and fro and clattering hoofs.
Presently after, out of the darkness to southward, the mail grew
near with a growing rumble. Its lamps were very large and bright,
and threw their radiance forward in overlapping cones; the four
cantering horses swarmed and steamed; the body of the coach
followed like a great shadow; and this lit picture slid with a sort
of ineffectual swiftness over the black field of night, and was
eclipsed by the buildings of the 'Green Dragon.'

Mr. Archer turned abruptly and resumed his former walk; only that
he was now more steady, kept better alongside his young conductor,
and had fallen into a silence broken by sighs. Nance waxed very
pitiful over his fate, contrasting an imaginary past of courts and
great society, and perhaps the King himself, with the tumbledown
ruin in a wood to which she was now conducting him.

'You must try, sir, to keep your spirits up,' said she. 'To be
sure this is a great change for one like you; but who knows the

Mr. Archer turned towards her in the darkness, and she could
clearly perceive that he smiled upon her very kindly. 'There spoke
a sweet nature,' said he, 'and I must thank you for these words.
But I would not have you fancy that I regret the past for any
happiness found in it, or that I fear the simplicity and hardship
of the country. I am a man that has been much tossed about in
life; now up, now down; and do you think that I shall not be able
to support what you support--you who are kind, and therefore know
how to feel pain; who are beautiful, and therefore hope; who are
young, and therefore (or am I the more mistaken?) discontented?'

'Nay, sir, not that, at least,' said Nance; 'not discontented. If
I were to be discontented, how should I look those that have real
sorrows in the face? I have faults enough, but not that fault; and
I have my merits too, for I have a good opinion of myself. But for
beauty, I am not so simple but that I can tell a banter from a

'Nay, nay,' said Mr. Archer, 'I had half forgotten; grief is
selfish, and I was thinking of myself and not of you, or I had
never blurted out so bold a piece of praise. 'Tis the best proof
of my sincerity. But come, now, I would lay a wager you are no

'Indeed, sir, I am not more afraid than another,' said Nance.
'None of my blood are given to fear.'

'And you are honest?' he returned.

'I will answer for that,' said she.

'Well, then, to be brave, to be honest, to be kind, and to be
contented, since you say you are so--is not that to fill up a great
part of virtue?'

'I fear you are but a flatterer,' said Nance, but she did not say
it clearly, for what with bewilderment and satisfaction, her heart
was quite oppressed.

There could be no harm, certainly, in these grave compliments; but
yet they charmed and frightened her, and to find favour, for
reasons however obscure, in the eyes of this elegant, serious, and
most unfortunate young gentleman, was a giddy elevation, was almost
an apotheosis, for a country maid.

But she was to be no more exercised; for Mr. Archer, disclaiming
any thought of flattery, turned off to other subjects, and held her
all through the wood in conversation, addressing her with an air of
perfect sincerity, and listening to her answers with every mark of
interest. Had open flattery continued, Nance would have soon found
refuge in good sense; but the more subtle lure she could not
suspect, much less avoid. It was the first time she had ever taken
part in a conversation illuminated by any ideas. All was then true
that she had heard and dreamed of gentlemen; they were a race
apart, like deities knowing good and evil. And then there burst
upon her soul a divine thought, hope's glorious sunrise: since she
could understand, since it seemed that she too, even she, could
interest this sorrowful Apollo, might she not learn? or was she not
learning? Would not her soul awake and put forth wings? Was she
not, in fact, an enchanted princess, waiting but a touch to become
royal? She saw herself transformed, radiantly attired, but in the
most exquisite taste: her face grown longer and more refined; her
tint etherealised; and she heard herself with delighted wonder
talking like a book.

Meanwhile they had arrived at where the track comes out above the
river dell, and saw in front of them the castle, faintly shadowed
on the night, covering with its broken battlements a bold
projection of the bank, and showing at the extreme end, where were
the habitable tower and wing, some crevices of candle-light. Hence
she called loudly upon her uncle, and he was seen to issue, lantern
in hand, from the tower door, and, where the ruins did not
intervene, to pick his way over the swarded courtyard, avoiding
treacherous cellars and winding among blocks of fallen masonry.
The arch of the great gate was still entire, flanked by two
tottering bastions, and it was here that Jonathan met them,
standing at the edge of the bridge, bent somewhat forward, and
blinking at them through the glow of his own lantern. Mr. Archer
greeted him with civility; but the old man was in no humour of
compliance. He guided the newcomer across the court-yard, looking
sharply and quickly in his face, and grumbling all the time about
the cold, and the discomfort and dilapidation of the castle. He
was sure he hoped that Mr. Archer would like it; but in truth he
could not think what brought him there. Doubtless he had a good
reason--this with a look of cunning scrutiny--but, indeed, the
place was quite unfit for any person of repute; he himself was
eaten up with the rheumatics. It was the most rheumaticky place in
England, and some fine day the whole habitable part (to call it
habitable) would fetch away bodily and go down the slope into the
river. He had seen the cracks widening; there was a plaguy issue
in the bank below; he thought a spring was mining it; it might be
to-morrow, it might be next day; but they were all sure of a come-
down sooner or later. 'And that is a poor death,' said he, 'for
any one, let alone a gentleman, to have a whole old ruin dumped
upon his belly. Have a care to your left there; these cellar
vaults have all broke down, and the grass and hemlock hide 'em.
Well, sir, here is welcome to you, such as it is, and wishing you
well away.'

And with that Jonathan ushered his guest through the tower door,
and down three steps on the left hand into the kitchen or common
room of the castle. It was a huge, low room, as large as a meadow,
occupying the whole width of the habitable wing, with six barred
windows looking on the court, and two into the river valley. A
dresser, a table, and a few chairs stood dotted here and there upon
the uneven flags. Under the great chimney a good fire burned in an
iron fire-basket; a high old settee, rudely carved with figures and
Gothic lettering, flanked it on either side; there was a hinge
table and a stone bench in the chimney corner, and above the arch
hung guns, axes, lanterns, and great sheaves of rusty keys.

Jonathan looked about him, holding up the lantern, and shrugged his
shoulders, with a pitying grimace. 'Here it is,' he said. 'See
the damp on the floor, look at the moss; where there's moss you may
be sure that it's rheumaticky. Try and get near that fire for to
warm yourself; it'll blow the coat off your back. And with a young
gentleman with a face like yours, as pale as a tallow-candle, I'd
be afeard of a churchyard cough and a galloping decline,' says
Jonathan, naming the maladies with gloomy gusto, 'or the cold might
strike and turn your blood,' he added.

Mr. Archer fairly laughed. 'My good Mr. Holdaway,' said he, 'I was
born with that same tallow-candle face, and the only fear that you
inspire me with is the fear that I intrude unwelcomely upon your
private hours. But I think I can promise you that I am very little
troublesome, and I am inclined to hope that the terms which I can
offer may still pay you the derangement.'

'Yes, the terms,' said Jonathan, 'I was thinking of that. As you
say, they are very small,' and he shook his head.

'Unhappily, I can afford no more,' said Mr. Archer. 'But this we
have arranged already,' he added with a certain stiffness; 'and as
I am aware that Miss Holdaway has matter to communicate, I will, if
you permit, retire at once. To-night I must bivouac; to-morrow my
trunk is to follow from the "Dragon." So if you will show me to my
room I shall wish you a good slumber and a better awakening.'

Jonathan silently gave the lantern to Nance, and she, turning and
curtseying in the doorway, proceeded to conduct their guest up the
broad winding staircase of the tower. He followed with a very
brooding face.

'Alas!' cried Nance, as she entered the room, 'your fire black
out,' and, setting down the lantern, she clapped upon her knees
before the chimney and began to rearrange the charred and still
smouldering remains. Mr. Archer looked about the gaunt apartment
with a sort of shudder. The great height, the bare stone, the
shattered windows, the aspect of the uncurtained bed, with one of
its four fluted columns broken short, all struck a chill upon his
fancy. From this dismal survey his eyes returned to Nance
crouching before the fire, the candle in one hand and artfully
puffing at the embers; the flames as they broke forth played upon
the soft outline of her cheek--she was alive and young, coloured
with the bright hues of life, and a woman. He looked upon her,
softening; and then sat down and continued to admire the picture.

'There, sir,' said she, getting upon her feet, 'your fire is doing
bravely now. Good-night.'

He rose and held out his hand. 'Come,' said he, 'you are my only
friend in these parts, and you must shake hands.'

She brushed her hand upon her skirt and offered it, blushing.

'God bless you, my dear,' said he.

And then, when he was alone, he opened one of the windows, and
stared down into the dark valley. A gentle wimpling of the river
among stones ascended to his ear; the trees upon the other bank
stood very black against the sky; farther away an owl was hooting.
It was dreary and cold, and as he turned back to the hearth and the
fine glow of fire, 'Heavens!' said he to himself, 'what an
unfortunate destiny is mine!'

He went to bed, but sleep only visited his pillow in uneasy
snatches. Outbreaks of loud speech came up the staircase; he heard
the old stones of the castle crack in the frosty night with sharp
reverberations, and the bed complained under his tossings. Lastly,
far on into the morning, he awakened from a doze to hear, very far
off, in the extreme and breathless quiet, a wailing flourish on the
horn. The down mail was drawing near to the 'Green Dragon.' He
sat up in bed; the sound was tragical by distance, and the
modulation appealed to his ear like human speech. It seemed to
call upon him with a dreary insistence--to call him far away, to
address him personally, and to have a meaning that he failed to
seize. It was thus, at least, in this nodding castle, in a cold,
miry woodland, and so far from men and society, that the traffic on
the Great North Road spoke to him in the intervals of slumber.


Nance descended the tower stair, pausing at every step. She was in
no hurry to confront her uncle with bad news, and she must dwell a
little longer on the rich note of Mr. Archer's voice, the charm of

Book of the day: