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Robert Falconer by George MacDonald

Part 12 out of 13

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to which he listened with great delight. At times of depression,
which of course were frequent, the Flowers of the Forest made the
old man weep. Falconer put yet more soul into the sounds than he
had ever put into them before. He tried to make the old man talk of
his childhood, asking him about the place of his birth, the kind of
country, how he had been brought up, his family, and many questions
of the sort. His answers were vague, and often contradictory.
Indeed, the moment the subject was approached, he looked suspicious
and cunning. He said his name was John Mackinnon, and Robert,
although his belief was strengthened by a hundred little
circumstances, had as yet received no proof that he was Andrew
Falconer. Remembering the pawn-ticket, and finding that he could
play on the flute, he brought him a beautiful instrument--in fact a
silver one--the sight of which made the old man's eyes sparkle. He
put it to his lips with trembling hands, blew a note or two, burst
into the tears of weakness, and laid it down. But he soon took it
up again, and evidently found both pleasure in the tones and sadness
in the memories they awakened. At length Robert brought a tailor,
and had him dressed like a gentleman--a change which pleased him
much. The next step was to take him out every day for a drive, upon
which his health began to improve more rapidly. He ate better, grew
more lively, and began to tell tales of his adventures, of the truth
of which Robert was not always certain, but never showed any doubt.
He knew only too well that the use of opium is especially
destructive to the conscience. Some of his stories he believed more
readily than others, from the fact that he suddenly stopped in them,
as if they were leading him into regions of confession which must be
avoided, resuming with matter that did not well connect itself with
what had gone before. At length he took him out walking, and he
comported himself with perfect propriety.

But one day as they were going along a quiet street, Robert met an
acquaintance, and stopped to speak with him. After a few moments'
chat he turned, and found that his father, whom he had supposed to
be standing beside him, had vanished. A glance at the other side of
the street showed the probable refuge--a public-house. Filled but
not overwhelmed with dismay, although he knew that months might be
lost in this one moment, Robert darted in. He was there, with a
glass of whisky in his hand, trembling now more from eagerness than
weakness. He struck it from his hold. But he had already swallowed
one glass, and he turned in a rage. He was a tall and naturally
powerful man--almost as strongly built as his son, with long arms
like his, which were dangerous even yet in such a moment of
factitious strength and real excitement. Robert could not lift his
arm even to defend himself from his father, although, had he judged
it necessary, I believe he would not, in the cause of his
redemption, have hesitated to knock him down, as he had often served
others whom he would rather a thousand times have borne on his
shoulders. He received his father's blow on the cheek. For one
moment it made him dizzy, for it was well delivered. But when the
bar-keeper jumped across the counter and approached with his fist
doubled, that was another matter. He measured his length on the
floor, and Falconer seized his father, who was making for the
street, and notwithstanding his struggles and fierce efforts to
strike again, held him secure and himself scathless, and bore him
out of the house.

A crowd gathers in a moment in London, speeding to a fray as the
vultures to carrion. On the heels of the population of the
neighbouring mews came two policemen, and at the same moment out
came the barman to the assistance of Andrew. But Falconer was as
well known to the police as if he had a ticket-of-leave, and a good
deal better.

'Call a four-wheel cab,' he said to one of them. 'I'm all right.'

The man started at once. Falconer turned to the other.

'Tell that man in the apron,' he said, 'that I'll make him all due
reparation. But he oughtn't to be in such a hurry to meddle. He
gave me no time but to strike hard.'

'Yes, sir,' answered the policeman obediently. The crowd thought he
must be a great man amongst the detectives; but the bar-keeper vowed
he would 'summons' him for the assault.

'You may, if you like,' said Falconer. 'When I think of it, you
shall do so. You know where I live?' he said, turning to the

'No, sir, I don't. I only know you well enough.'

'Put your hand in my coat-pocket, then, and you'll find a card-case.
The other. There! Help yourself.'

He said this with his arms round Andrew's, who had ceased to cry out
when he saw the police.

'Do you want to give this gentleman in charge, sir?'

'No. It is a little private affair of my own, this.'

'Hadn't you better let him go, sir, and we'll find him for you when
you want him?'

'No. He may give me in charge if he likes. Or if you should want
him, you will find him at my house.'

Then pinioning his prisoner still more tightly in his arms, he
leaned forward, and whispered in his ear,

'Will you go home quietly, or give me in charge? There is no other
way, Andrew Falconer.'

He ceased struggling. Through all the flush of the contest his face
grew pale. His arms dropped by his side. Robert let him go, and he
stood there without offering to move. The cab came up; the
policeman got out; Andrew stepped in of his own accord, and Robert

'You see it's all right,' he said. 'Here, give the barman a
sovereign. If he wants more, let me know. He deserved all he got,
but I was wrong. John Street.'

His father did not speak a word, or ask a question all the way home.
Evidently he thought it safer to be silent. But the drink he had
taken, though not enough to intoxicate him, was more than enough to
bring back the old longing with redoubled force. He paced about the
room the rest of the day like a wild beast in a cage, and in the
middle of the night, got up and dressed, and would have crept
through the room in which Robert lay, in the hope of getting out.
But Robert slept too anxiously for that. The captive did not make
the slightest noise, but his very presence was enough to wake his
son. He started at a bound from his couch, and his father retreated
in dismay to his chamber.



At length the time arrived when Robert would make a further attempt,
although with a fear and trembling to quiet which he had to seek the
higher aid. His father had recovered his attempt to rush anew upon
destruction. He was gentler and more thoughtful, and would again
sit for an hour at a time gazing into the fire. From the expression
of his countenance upon such occasions, Robert hoped that his
visions were not of the evil days, but of those of his innocence.

One evening when he was in one of these moods--he had just had his
tea, the gas was lighted, and he was sitting as I have
described--Robert began to play in the next room, hoping that the
music would sink into his heart, and do something to prepare the way
for what was to follow. Just as he had played over the Flowers of
the Forest for the third time, his housekeeper entered the room, and
receiving permission from her master, went through into Andrew's
chamber, and presented a packet, which she said, and said truly, for
she was not in the secret, had been left for him. He received it
with evident surprise, mingled with some consternation, looked at
the address, looked at the seal, laid it on the table, and gazed
again with troubled looks into the fire. He had had no
correspondence for many years. Falconer had peeped in when the
woman entered, but the moment she retired he could watch him no
longer. He went on playing a slow, lingering voluntary, such as the
wind plays, of an amber autumn evening, on the olian harp of its
pines. He played so gently that he must hear if his father should

For what seemed hours, though it was but half-an-hour, he went on
playing. At length he heard a stifled sob. He rose, and peeped
again into the room. The gray head was bowed between the hands, and
the gaunt frame was shaken with sobs. On the table lay the
portraits of himself and his wife; and the faded brown letter, so
many years folded in silence and darkness, lay open beside them. He
had known the seal, with the bush of rushes and the Gaelic motto.
He had gently torn the paper from around it, and had read the
letter from the grave--no, from the land beyond, the land of light,
where human love is glorified. Not then did Falconer read the
sacred words of his mother; but afterwards his father put them into
his hands. I will give them as nearly as I can remember them, for
the letter is not in my possession.

'My beloved Andrew, I can hardly write, for I am at the point of
death. I love you still--love you as dearly as before you left me.
Will you ever see this? I will try to send it to you. I will
leave it behind me, that it may come into your hands when and how it
may please God. You may be an old man before you read these words,
and may have almost forgotten your young wife. Oh! if I could take
your head on my bosom where it used to lie, and without saying a
word, think all that I am thinking into your heart. Oh! my love, my
love! will you have had enough of the world and its ways by the time
this reaches you? Or will you be dead, like me, when this is found,
and the eyes of your son only, my darling little Robert, read the
words? Oh, Andrew, Andrew! my heart is bleeding, not altogether for
myself, not altogether for you, but both for you and for me. Shall
I never, never be able to let out the sea of my love that swells
till my heart is like to break with its longing after you, my own
Andrew? Shall I never, never see you again? That is the terrible
thought--the only thought almost that makes me shrink from dying.
If I should go to sleep, as some think, and not even dream about
you, as I dream and weep every night now! If I should only wake in
the crowd of the resurrection, and not know where to find you! Oh,
Andrew, I feel as if I should lose my reason when I think that you
may be on the left hand of the Judge, and I can no longer say my
love, because you do not, cannot any more love God. I will tell you
the dream I had about you last night, which I think was what makes
me write this letter. I was standing in a great crowd of people,
and I saw the empty graves about us on every side. We were waiting
for the great white throne to appear in the clouds. And as soon as
I knew that, I cried, "Andrew, Andrew!" for I could not help it.
And the people did not heed me; and I cried out and ran about
everywhere, looking for you. At last I came to a great gulf. When
I looked down into it, I could see nothing but a blue deep, like the
blue of the sky, under my feet. It was not so wide but that I could
see across it, but it was oh! so terribly deep. All at once, as I
stood trembling on the very edge, I saw you on the other side,
looking towards me, and stretching out your arms as if you wanted
me. You were old and much changed, but I knew you at once, and I
gave a cry that I thought all the universe must have heard. You
heard me. I could see that. And I was in a terrible agony to get
to you. But there was no way, for if I fell into the gulf I should
go down for ever, it was so deep. Something made me look away, and
I saw a man coming quietly along the same side of the gulf, on the
edge, towards me. And when he came nearer to me, I saw that he was
dressed in a gown down to his feet, and that his feet were bare and
had a hole in each of them. So I knew who it was, Andrew. And I
fell down and kissed his feet, and lifted up my hands, and looked
into his face--oh, such a face! And I tried to pray. But all I
could say was, "O Lord, Andrew, Andrew!" Then he smiled, and said,
"Daughter, be of good cheer. Do you want to go to him?" And I
said, "Yes, Lord." Then he said, "And so do I. Come." And he took my
hand and led me over the edge of the precipice; and I was not
afraid, and I did not sink, but walked upon the air to go to you.
But when I got to you, it was too much to bear; and when I thought
I had you in my arms at last, I awoke, crying as I never cried
before, not even when I found that you had left me to die without
you. Oh, Andrew, what if the dream should come true! But if it
should not come true! I dare not think of that, Andrew. I couldn't
be happy in heaven without you. It may be very wicked, but I do not
feel as if it were, and I can't help it if it is. But, dear
husband, come to me again. Come back, like the prodigal in the New
Testament. God will forgive you everything. Don't touch drink
again, my dear love. I know it was the drink that made you do as
you did. You could never have done it. It was the drink that drove
you to do it. You didn't know what you were doing. And then you
were ashamed, and thought I would be angry, and could not bear to
come back to me. Ah, if you were to come in at the door, as I
write, you would see whether or not I was proud to have my Andrew
again. But I would not be nice for you to look at now. You used to
think me pretty--you said beautiful--so long ago. But I am so thin
now, and my face so white, that I almost frighten myself when I look
in the glass. And before you get this I shall be all gone to dust,
either knowing nothing about you, or trying to praise God, and
always forgetting where I am in my psalm, longing so for you to
come. I am afraid I love you too much to be fit to go to heaven.
Then, perhaps, God will send me to the other place, all for love of
you, Andrew. And I do believe I should like that better. But I
don't think he will, if he is anything like the man I saw in my
dream. But I am growing so faint that I can hardly write. I never
felt like this before. But that dream has given me strength to die,
because I hope you will come too. Oh, my dear Andrew, do, do repent
and turn to God, and he will forgive you. Believe in Jesus, and he
will save you, and bring me to you across the deep place. But I
must make haste. I can hardly see. And I must not leave this
letter open for anybody but you to read after I am dead. Good-bye,
Andrew. I love you all the same. I am, my dearest Husband, your
affectionate Wife,


Then followed the date. It was within a week of her death. The
letter was feebly written, every stroke seeming more feeble by the
contrasted strength of the words. When Falconer read it afterwards,
in the midst of the emotions it aroused--the strange lovely feelings
of such a bond between him and a beautiful ghost, far away somewhere
in God's universe, who had carried him in her lost body, and nursed
him at her breasts--in the midst of it all, he could not help
wondering, he told me, to find the forms and words so like what he
would have written himself. It seemed so long ago when that faded,
discoloured paper, with the gilt edges, and the pale brown ink, and
folded in the large sheet, and sealed with the curious wax, must
have been written; and here were its words so fresh, so new! not
withered like the rose-leaves that scented the paper from the
work-box where he had found it, but as fresh as if just shaken from
the rose-trees of the heart's garden. It was no wonder that Andrew
Falconer should be sitting with his head in his hands when Robert
looked in on him, for he had read this letter.

When Robert saw how he sat, he withdrew, and took his violin again,
and played all the tunes of the old country he could think of,
recalling Dooble Sandy's workshop, that he might recall the music he
had learnt there.

No one who understands the bit and bridle of the association of
ideas, as it is called in the skeleton language of mental
philosophy, wherewith the Father-God holds fast the souls of his
children--to the very last that we see of them, at least, and
doubtless to endless ages beyond--will sneer at Falconer's notion of
making God's violin a ministering spirit in the process of
conversion. There is a well-authenticated story of a convict's
having been greatly reformed for a time, by going, in one of the
colonies, into a church, where the matting along the aisle was of
the same pattern as that in the church to which he had gone when a
boy--with his mother, I suppose. It was not the matting that so far
converted him: it was not to the music of his violin that Falconer
looked for aid, but to the memories of childhood, the mysteries of
the kingdom of innocence which that could recall--those memories

Are yet the fountain light of all our day,
Are yet a master light of all our seeing.

For an hour he did not venture to go near him. When he entered the
room he found him sitting in the same place, no longer weeping, but
gazing into the fire with a sad countenance, the expression of which
showed Falconer at once that the soul had come out of its cave of
obscuration, and drawn nearer to the surface of life. He had not
seen him look so much like one 'clothed, and in his right mind,'
before. He knew well that nothing could be built upon this; that
this very emotion did but expose him the more to the besetting sin;
that in this mood he would drink, even if he knew that he would in
consequence be in danger of murdering the wife whose letter had made
him weep. But it was progress, notwithstanding. He looked up at
Robert as he entered, and then dropped his eyes again. He regarded
him perhaps as a presence doubtful whether of angel or devil, even
as the demoniacs regarded the Lord of Life who had come to set them
free. Bewildered he must have been to find himself, towards the
close of a long life of debauchery, wickedness, and the growing
pains of hell, caught in a net of old times, old feelings, old

Now Robert had carefully avoided every indication that might
disclose him to be a Scotchman even, nor was there the least sign of
suspicion in Andrew's manner. The only solution of the mystery that
could have presented itself to him was, that his friends were at the
root of it--probably his son, of whom he knew absolutely nothing.
His mother could not be alive still. Of his wife's relatives there
had never been one who would have taken any trouble about him after
her death, hardly even before it. John Lammie was the only person,
except Dr. Anderson, whose friendship he could suppose capable of
this development. The latter was the more likely person. But he
would be too much for him yet; he was not going to be treated like a
child, he said to himself, as often as the devil got uppermost.

My reader must understand that Andrew had never been a man of
resolution. He had been wilful and headstrong; and these qualities,
in children especially, are often mistaken for resolution, and
generally go under the name of strength of will. There never was a
greater mistake. The mistake, indeed, is only excusable from the
fact that extremes meet, and that this disposition is so opposite to
the other, that it looks to the careless eye most like it. He never
resisted his own impulses, or the enticements of evil companions.
Kept within certain bounds at home, after he had begun to go wrong,
by the weight of opinion, he rushed into all excesses when abroad
upon business, till at length the vessel of his fortune went to
pieces, and he was a waif on the waters of the world. But in
feeling he had never been vulgar, however much so in action. There
was a feeble good in him that had in part been protected by its very
feebleness. He could not sin so much against it as if it had been
strong. For many years he had fits of shame, and of grief without
repentance; for repentance is the active, the divine part--the
turning again; but taking more steadily both to strong drink and
opium, he was at the time when De Fleuri found him only the dull
ghost of Andrew Falconer walking in a dream of its lost carcass.



Once more Falconer retired, but not to take his violin. He could
play no more. Hope and love were swelling within him. He could not
rest. Was it a sign from heaven that the hour for speech had
arrived? He paced up and down the room. He kneeled and prayed for
guidance and help. Something within urged him to try the rusted
lock of his father's heart. Without any formed resolution, without
any conscious volition, he found himself again in his room. There
the old man still sat, with his back to the door, and his gaze fixed
on the fire, which had sunk low in the grate. Robert went round in
front of him, kneeled on the rug before him, and said the one word,


Andrew started violently, raised his hand, which trembled as with a
palsy, to his head, and stared wildly at Robert. But he did not
speak. Robert repeated the one great word. Then Andrew spoke, and
said in a trembling, hardly audible voice,

'Are you my son?--my boy Robert, sir?'

'I am. I am. Oh, father, I have longed for you by day, and dreamed
about you by night, ever since I saw that other boys had fathers,
and I had none. Years and years of my life--I hardly know how
many--have been spent in searching for you. And now I have found

The great tall man, in the prime of life and strength, laid his big
head down on the old man's knee, as if he had been a little child.
His father said nothing, but laid his hand on the head. For some
moments the two remained thus, motionless and silent. Andrew was
the first to speak. And his words were the voice of the spirit that
striveth with man.

'What am I to do, Robert?'

No other words, not even those of passionate sorrow, or overflowing
affection, could have been half so precious in the ears of Robert.
When a man once asks what he is to do, there is hope for him.
Robert answered instantly,

'You must come home to your mother.'

'My mother!' Andrew exclaimed. 'You don't mean to say she's alive?'

'I heard from her yesterday--in her own hand, too,' said Robert.

'I daren't. I daren't,' murmured Andrew.

'You must, father,' returned Robert. 'It is a long way, but I will
make the journey easy for you. She knows I have found you. She is
waiting and longing for you. She has hardly thought of anything but
you ever since she lost you. She is only waiting to see you, and
then she will go home, she says. I wrote to her and said, "Grannie,
I have found your Andrew." And she wrote back to me and said, "God
be praised. I shall die in peace."'

A silence followed.

'Will she forgive me?' said Andrew.

'She loves you more than her own soul,' answered Robert. 'She loves
you as much as I do. She loves you as God loves you.'

'God can't love me,' said Andrews, feebly. 'He would never have left
me if he had loved me.'

'He has never left you from the very first. You would not take his
way, father, and he just let you try your own. But long before that
he had begun to get me ready to go after you. He put such love to
you in my heart, and gave me such teaching and such training, that I
have found you at last. And now I have found you, I will hold you.
You cannot escape--you will not want to escape any more, father?'

Andrew made no reply to this appeal. It sounded like imprisonment
for life, I suppose. But thought was moving in him. After a long
pause, during which the son's heart was hungering for a word whereon
to hang a further hope, the old man spoke again, muttering as if he
were only speaking his thoughts unconsciously.

'Where's the use? There's no forgiveness for me. My mother is
going to heaven. I must go to hell. No. It's no good. Better
leave it as it is. I daren't see her. It would kill me to see

'It will kill her not to see you; and that will be one sin more on
your conscience, father.'

Andrew got up and walked about the room. And Robert only then arose
from his knees.

'And there's my mother,' he said.

Andrew did not reply; but Robert saw when he turned next towards the
light, that the sweat was standing in beads on his forehead.

'Father,' he said, going up to him.

The old man stopped in his walk, turned, and faced his son.

'Father,' repeated Robert, 'you've go to repent; and God won't let
you off; and you needn't think it. You'll have to repent some day.'

'In hell, Robert,' said Andrew, looking him full in the eyes, as he
had never looked at him before. It seemed as if even so much
acknowledgment of the truth had already made him bolder and

'Yes. Either on earth or in hell. Would it not be better on earth?'

'But it will be no use in hell,' he murmured.

In those few words lay the germ of the preference for hell of poor
souls, enfeebled by wickedness. They will not have to do anything
there--only to moan and cry and suffer for ever, they think. It is
effort, the out-going of the living will that they dread. The
sorrow, the remorse of repentance, they do not so much regard: it is
the action it involves; it is the having to turn, be different, and
do differently, that they shrink from; and they have been taught to
believe that this will not be required of them there--in that awful
refuge of the will-less. I do not say they think thus: I only say
their dim, vague, feeble feelings are such as, if they grew into
thought, would take this form. But tell them that the fire of God
without and within them will compel them to bethink themselves; that
the vision of an open door beyond the smoke and the flames will ever
urge them to call up the ice-bound will, that it may obey; that the
torturing spirit of God in them will keep their consciences awake,
not to remind them of what they ought to have done, but to tell them
what they must do now, and hell will no longer fascinate them. Tell
them that there is no refuge from the compelling Love of God, save
that Love itself--that He is in hell too, and that if they make
their bed in hell they shall not escape him, and then, perhaps, they
will have some true presentiment of the worm that dieth not and the
fire that is not quenched.

'Father, it will be of use in hell,' said Robert. 'God will give you
no rest even there. You will have to repent some day, I do
believe--if not now under the sunshine of heaven, then in the
torture of the awful world where there is no light but that of the
conscience. Would it not be better and easier to repent now, with
your wife waiting for you in heaven, and your mother waiting for you
on earth?'

Will it be credible to my reader, that Andrew interrupted his son
with the words,

'Robert, it is dreadful to hear you talk like that. Why, you don't
believe in the Bible!'

His words will be startling to one who has never heard the lips of a
hoary old sinner drivel out religion. To me they are not so
startling as the words of Christian women and bishops of the Church
of England, when they say that the doctrine of the everlasting
happiness of the righteous stands or falls with the doctrine of the
hopeless damnation of the wicked. Can it be that to such the word
is everything, the spirit nothing? No. It is only that the devil is
playing a very wicked prank, not with them, but in them: they are
pluming themselves on being selfish after a godly sort.

'I do believe the Bible, father,' returned Robert, 'and have ordered
my life by it. If I had not believed the Bible, I fear I should
never have looked for you. But I won't dispute about it. I only
say I believe that you will be compelled to repent some day, and
that now is the best time. Then, you will not only have to repent,
but to repent that you did not repent now. And I tell you, father,
that you shall go to my grandmother.'



But various reasons combined to induce Falconer to postpone yet for
a period their journey to the North. Not merely did his father
require an unremitting watchfulness, which it would be difficult to
keep up in his native place amongst old friends and acquaintances,
but his health was more broken than he had at first supposed, and
change of air and scene without excitement was most desirable. He
was anxious too that the change his mother must see in him should be
as little as possible attributable to other causes than those that
years bring with them. To this was added that his own health had
begun to suffer from the watching and anxiety he had gone through,
and for his father's sake, as well as for the labour which yet lay
before him, he would keep that as sound as he might. He wrote to
his grandmother and explained the matter. She begged him to do as
he thought best, for she was so happy that she did not care if she
should never see Andrew in this world: it was enough to die in the
hope of meeting him in the other. But she had no reason to fear
that death was at hand; for, although much more frail, she felt as
well as ever.

By this time Falconer had introduced me to his father. I found him
in some things very like his son; in others, very different. His
manners were more polished; his pleasure in pleasing much greater:
his humanity had blossomed too easily, and then run to seed. Alas,
to no seed that could bear fruit! There was a weak expression about
his mouth--a wavering interrogation: it was so different from the
firmly-closed portals whence issued the golden speech of his son!
He had a sly, sidelong look at times, whether of doubt or cunning,
I could not always determine. His eyes, unlike his son's, were of a
light blue, and hazy both in texture and expression. His hands were
long-fingered and tremulous. He gave your hand a sharp squeeze, and
the same instant abandoned it with indifference. I soon began to
discover in him a tendency to patronize any one who showed him a
particle of respect as distinguished from common-place civility.
But under all outward appearances it seemed to me that there was a
change going on: at least being very willing to believe it, I found
nothing to render belief impossible.

He was very fond of the flute his son had given him, and on that
sweetest and most expressionless of instruments he played

One evening when I called to see them, Falconer said,

'We are going out of town for a few weeks, Gordon: will you go with

'I am afraid I can't.'

'Why? You have no teaching at present, and your writing you can do
as well in the country as in town.'

'That is true; but still I don't see how I can. I am too poor for
one thing.'

'Between you and me that is nonsense.'

'Well, I withdraw that,' I said. 'But there is so much to be done,
specially as you will be away, and Miss St John is at the Lakes.'

'That is all very true; but you need a change. I have seen for some
weeks that you are failing. Mind, it is our best work that He
wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I hope you are not of the
mind of our friend Mr. Watts, the curate of St. Gregory's.'

'I thought you had a high opinion of Mr. Watts,' I returned.

'So I have. I hope it is not necessary to agree with a man in
everything before we can have a high opinion of him.'

'Of course not. But what is it you hope I am not of his opinion

'He seems ambitious of killing himself with work--of wearing himself
out in the service of his master--and as quickly as possible. A
good deal of that kind of thing is a mere holding of the axe to the
grindstone, not a lifting of it up against thick trees. Only he
won't be convinced till it comes to the helve. I met him the other
day; he was looking as white as his surplice. I took upon me to
read him a lecture on the holiness of holidays. "I can't leave my
poor," he said. "Do you think God can't do without you?" I asked.
"Is he so weak that he cannot spare the help of a weary man? But I
think he must prefer quality to quantity, and for healthy work you
must be healthy yourself. How can you be the visible sign of the
Christ-present amongst men, if you inhabit an exhausted, irritable
brain? Go to God's infirmary and rest a while. Bring back health
from the country to those that cannot go to it. If on the way it be
transmuted into spiritual forms, so much the better. A little more
of God will make up for a good deal less of you.'

'What did he say to that?'

'He said our Lord died doing the will of his Father. I told
him--"Yes, when his time was come, not sooner. Besides, he often
avoided both speech and action." "Yes," he answered, "but he could
tell when, and we cannot." "Therefore," I rejoined, "you ought to
accept your exhaustion as a token that your absence will be the best
thing for your people. If there were no God, then perhaps you ought
to work till you drop down dead--I don't know."'

'Is he gone yet?'

'No. He won't go. I couldn't persuade him.'

'When do you go?'


'I shall be ready, if you really mean it.'

'That's an if worthy only of a courtier. There may be much virtue
in an if, as Touchstone says, for the taking up of a quarrel; but
that if is bad enough to breed one,' said Falconer, laughing. 'Be at
the Paddington Station at noon to-morrow. To tell the whole truth,
I want you to help me with my father.'

This last was said at the door as he showed me out.

In the afternoon we were nearing Bristol. It was a lovely day in
October. Andrew had been enjoying himself; but it was evidently
rather the pleasure of travelling in a first-class carriage like a
gentleman than any delight in the beauty of heaven and earth. The
country was in the rich sombre dress of decay.

'Is it not remarkable,' said my friend to me, 'that the older I
grow, I find autumn affecting me the more like spring?'

'I am thankful to say,' interposed Andrew, with a smile in which was
mingled a shade of superiority, 'that no change of the seasons ever
affects me.'

'Are you sure you are right in being thankful for that, father?'
asked his son.

His father gazed at him for a moment, seemed to bethink himself
after some feeble fashion or other, and rejoined,

'Well, I must confess I did feel a touch of the rheumatism this

How I pitied Falconer! Would he ever see of the travail of his soul
in this man? But he only smiled a deep sweet smile, and seemed to
be thinking divine things in that great head of his.

At Bristol we went on board a small steamer, and at night were
landed at a little village on the coast of North Devon. The hotel
to which we went was on the steep bank of a tumultuous little river,
which tumbled past its foundation of rock, like a troop of watery
horses galloping by with ever-dissolving limbs. The elder Falconer
retired almost as soon as we had had supper. My friend and I
lighted our pipes, and sat by the open window, for although the
autumn was so far advanced, the air here was very mild. For some
time we only listened to the sound of the waters.

'There are three things,' said Falconer at last, taking his pipe out
of his mouth with a smile, 'that give a peculiarly perfect feeling
of abandonment: the laughter of a child; a snake lying across a
fallen branch; and the rush of a stream like this beneath us, whose
only thought is to get to the sea.'

We did not talk much that night, however, but went soon to bed.
None of us slept well. We agreed in the morning that the noise of
the stream had been too much for us all, and that the place felt
close and torpid. Andrew complained that the ceaseless sound
wearied him, and Robert that he felt the aimless endlessness of it
more than was good for him. I confess it irritated me like an
anodyne unable to soothe. We were clearly all in want of something
different. The air between the hills clung to them, hot and
moveless. We would climb those hills, and breathe the air that
flitted about over their craggy tops.

As soon as we had breakfasted, we set out. It was soon evident that
Andrew could not ascend the steep road. We returned and got a
carriage. When we reached the top, it was like a resurrection, like
a dawning of hope out of despair. The cool friendly wind blew on
our faces, and breathed strength into our frames. Before us lay the
ocean, the visible type of the invisible, and the vessels with their
white sails moved about over it like the thoughts of men feebly
searching the unknown. Even Andrew Falconer spread out his arms to
the wind, and breathed deep, filling his great chest full.

'I feel like a boy again,' he said.

His son strode to his side, and laid his arm over his shoulders.

'So do I, father,' he returned; 'but it is because I have got you.'

The old man turned and looked at him with a tenderness I had never
seen on his face before. As soon as I saw that, I no longer doubted
that he could be saved.

We found rooms in a farm-house on the topmost height.

'These are poor little hills, Falconer,' I said. 'Yet they help one
like mountains.'

'The whole question is,' he returned, 'whether they are high enough
to lift you out of the dirt. Here we are in the airs of
heaven--that is all we need.'

'They make me think how often, amongst the country people of
Scotland, I have wondered at the clay-feet upon which a golden head
of wisdom stood! What poor needs, what humble aims, what a narrow
basement generally, was sufficient to support the statues of
pure-eyed Faith and white-handed Hope,'

'Yes,' said Falconer: 'he who is faithful over a few things is a
lord of cities. It does not matter whether you preach in
Westminster Abbey, or teach a ragged class, so you be faithful. The
faithfulness is all.'

After an early dinner we went out for a walk, but we did not go far
before we sat down upon the grass. Falconer laid himself at full
length and gazed upwards.

'When I look like this into the blue sky,' he said, after a moment's
silence, 'it seems so deep, so peaceful, so full of a mysterious
tenderness, that I could lie for centuries, and wait for the dawning
of the face of God out of the awful loving-kindness.'

I had never heard Falconer talk of his own present feelings in this
manner; but glancing at the face of his father with a sense of his
unfitness to hear such a lofty utterance, I saw at once that it was
for his sake that he had thus spoken. The old man had thrown
himself back too, and was gazing into the sky, puzzling himself, I
could see, to comprehend what his son could mean. I fear he
concluded, for the time, that Robert was not gifted with the amount
of common-sense belonging of right to the Falconer family, and that
much religion had made him a dreamer. Still, I thought I could see
a kind of awe pass like a spiritual shadow across his face as he
gazed into the blue gulfs over him. No one can detect the first
beginnings of any life, and those of spiritual emotion must more
than any lie beyond our ken: there is infinite room for hope.
Falconer said no more. We betook ourselves early within doors, and
he read King Lear to us, expounding the spiritual history of the
poor old king after a fashion I had never conceived--showing us how
the said history was all compressed, as far as human eye could see
of it, into the few months that elapsed between his abdication and
his death; how in that short time he had to learn everything that he
ought to have been learning all his life; and how, because he had
put it off so long, the lessons that had then to be given him were
awfully severe.

I thought what a change it was for the old man to lift his head into
the air of thought and life, out of the sloughs of misery in which
he had been wallowing for years.



The next morning Falconer, who knew the country, took us out for a
drive. We passed through lanes and gates out upon all open moor,
where he stopped the carriage, and led us a few yards on one side.
Suddenly, hundreds of feet below us, down what seemed an almost
precipitous descent, we saw the wood-embosomed, stream-trodden
valley we had left the day before. Enough had been cleft and
scooped seawards out of the lofty table-land to give room for a few
little conical hills with curious peaks of bare rock. At the bases
of these hills flowed noisily two or three streams, which joined in
one, and trotted out to sea over rocks and stones. The hills and
the sides of the great cleft were half of them green with grass, and
half of them robed in the autumnal foliage of thick woods. By the
streams and in the woods nestled pretty houses; and away at the
mouth of the valley and the stream lay the village. All around, on
our level, stretched farm and moorland.

When Andrew Falconer stood so unexpectedly on the verge of the steep
descent, he trembled and started back with fright. His son made him
sit down a little way off, where yet we could see into the valley.
The sun was hot, the air clear and mild, and the sea broke its blue
floor into innumerable sparkles of radiance. We sat for a while in

'Are you sure,' I said, in the hope of setting my friend talking,
'that there is no horrid pool down there? no half-trampled thicket,
with broken pottery and shreds of tin lying about? no dead carcass,
or dirty cottage, with miserable wife and greedy children? When I
was a child, I knew a lovely place that I could not half enjoy,
because, although hidden from my view, an ugly stagnation, half mud,
half water, lay in a certain spot below me. When I had to pass it,
I used to creep by with a kind of dull terror, mingled with hopeless
disgust, and I have never got over the feeling.'

'You remind me much of a friend of mine of whom I have spoken to you
before,' said Falconer, 'Eric Ericson. I have shown you many of his
verses, but I don't think I ever showed you one little poem
containing an expression of the same feeling. I think I can repeat

'Some men there are who cannot spare
A single tear until they feel
The last cold pressure, and the heel
Is stamped upon the outmost layer.

And, waking, some will sigh to think
The clouds have borrowed winter's wing--
Sad winter when the grasses spring
No more about the fountain's brink.

And some would call me coward-fool:
I lay a claim to better blood;
But yet a heap of idle mud
Hath power to make me sorrowful.

I sat thinking over the verses, for I found the feeling a little
difficult to follow, although the last stanza was plain enough.
Falconer resumed.

'I think this is as likely as any place,' he said, 'to be free of
such physical blots. For the moral I cannot say. But I have
learned, I hope, not to be too fastidious--I mean so as to be unjust
to the whole because of the part. The impression made by a whole is
just as true as the result of an analysis, and is greater and more
valuable in every respect. If we rejoice in the beauty of the
whole, the other is sufficiently forgotten. For moral ugliness, it
ceases to distress in proportion as we labour to remove it, and
regard it in its true relations to all that surrounds it. There is
an old legend which I dare say you know. The Saviour and his
disciples were walking along the way, when they came upon a dead
dog. The disciples did not conceal their disgust. The Saviour
said: "How white its teeth are!"'

'That is very beautiful,' I rejoined. 'Thank God for that. It is
true, whether invented or not. But,' I added, 'it does not quite
answer to the question about which we have been talking. The Lord
got rid of the pain of the ugliness by finding the beautiful in it.'

'It does correspond, however, I think, in principle,' returned
Falconer; 'only it goes much farther, making the exceptional beauty
hallow the general ugliness--which is the true way, for beauty is
life, and therefore infinitely deeper and more powerful than
ugliness which is death. "A dram of sweet," says Spenser, 'is worth
a pound of sour."'

It was so delightful to hear him talk--for what he said was not only
far finer than my record of it, but the whole man spoke as well as
his mouth--that I sought to start him again.

'I wish,' I said, 'that I could see things as you do--in great
masses of harmonious unity. I am only able to see a truth sparkling
here and there, and to try to lay hold of it. When I aim at more, I
am like Noah's dove, without a place to rest the sole of my foot.'

'That is the only way to begin. Leave the large vision to itself,
and look well after your sparkles. You will find them grow and
gather and unite, until you are afloat on a sea of radiance--with
cloud shadows no doubt.'

'And yet,' I resumed, 'I never seem to have room.'

'That is just why.'

'But I feel that I cannot find it. I know that if I fly to that
bounding cape on the far horizon there, I shall only find a place--a
place to want another in. There is no fortunate island out on that

'I fancy,' said Falconer, 'that until a man loves space, he will
never be at peace in a place. At least so I have found it. I am
content if you but give me room. All space to me throbs with being
and life; and the loveliest spot on the earth seems but the
compression of space till the meaning shines out of it, as the fire
flies out of the air when you drive it close together. To seek
place after place for freedom, is a constant effort to flee from
space, and a vain one, for you are ever haunted by the need of it,
and therefore when you seek most to escape it, fancy that you love
it and want it.'

'You are getting too mystical for me now,' I said. 'I am not able to
follow you.'

'I fear I was on the point of losing myself. At all events I can go
no further now. And indeed I fear I have been but skirting the
Limbo of Vanities.'

He rose, for we could both see that this talk was not in the least
interesting to our companion. We got again into the carriage,
which, by Falconer's orders, was turned and driven in the opposite
direction, still at no great distance from the lofty edge of the
heights that rose above the shore.

We came at length to a lane bounded with stone walls, every stone of
which had its moss and every chink its fern. The lane grew more and
more grassy; the walls vanished; and the track faded away into a
narrow winding valley, formed by the many meeting curves of opposing
hills. They were green to the top with sheep-grass, and spotted
here and there with patches of fern, great stones, and tall withered
foxgloves. The air was sweet and healthful, and Andrew evidently
enjoyed it because it reminded him again of his boyhood. The only
sound we heard was the tinkle of a few tender sheep-bells, and now
and then the tremulous bleating of a sheep. With a gentle winding,
the valley led us into a more open portion of itself, where the old
man paused with a look of astonished pleasure.

Before us, seaward, rose a rampart against the sky, like the
turreted and embattled wall of a huge eastern city, built of loose
stones piled high, and divided by great peaky rocks. In the centre
rose above them all one solitary curiously-shaped mass, one of the
oddest peaks of the Himmalays in miniature. From its top on the
further side was a sheer descent to the waters far below the level
of the valley from which it immediately rose. It was altogether a
strange freaky fantastic place, not without its grandeur. It looked
like the remains of a frolic of the Titans, or rather as if reared
by the boys and girls, while their fathers and mothers 'lay
stretched out huge in length,' and in breadth too, upon the slopes
around, and laughed thunderously at the sportive invention of their
sons and daughters. Falconer helped his father up to the edge of
the rampart that he might look over. Again he started back, 'afraid
of that which was high,' for the lowly valley was yet at a great
height above the diminished waves. On the outside of the rampart
ran a narrow path whence the green hill-side went down steep to the
sea. The gulls were screaming far below us; we could see the little
flying streaks of white. Beyond was the great ocean. A murmurous
sound came up from its shore.

We descended and seated ourselves on the short springy grass of a
little mound at the foot of one of the hills, where it sank slowly,
like the dying gush of a wave, into the hollowest centre of the
little vale.

'Everything tends to the cone-shape here,' said Falconer,--'the
oddest and at the same time most wonderful of mathematical figures.'

'Is it not strange,' I said, 'that oddity and wonder should come so

'They often do in the human world as well,' returned he. 'Therefore
it is not strange that Shelley should have been so fond of this
place. It is told of him that repeated sketches of the spot were
found on the covers of his letters. I know nothing more like
Shelley's poetry than this valley--wildly fantastic and yet
beautiful--as if a huge genius were playing at grandeur, and
producing little models of great things. But there is one grand
thing I want to show you a little further on.'

We rose, and walked out of the valley on the other side, along the
lofty coast. When we reached a certain point, Falconer stood and
requested us to look as far as we could, along the cliffs to the
face of the last of them.

'What do you see?' he asked.

'A perpendicular rock, going right down into the blue waters,' I

'Look at it: what is the outline of it like? Whose face is it?'

'Shakspere's, by all that is grand!' I cried.

'So it is,' said Andrew.

'Right. Now I'll tell you what I would do. If I were very rich,
and there were no poor people in the country, I would give a
commission to some great sculptor to attack that rock and work out
its suggestion. Then, it I had any money left, we should find one
for Bacon, and one for Chaucer, and one for Milton; and, as we are
about it, we may fancy as many more as we like; so that from the
bounding rocks of our island, the memorial faces of our great
brothers should look abroad over the seas into the infinite sky

'Well, now,' said the elder, 'I think it is grander as it is.'

'You are quite right, father,' said Robert. 'And so with many of our
fancies for perfecting God's mighty sketches, which he only can

Again we seated ourselves and looked out over the waves.

'I have never yet heard,' I said, 'how you managed with that poor
girl that wanted to drown herself--on Westminster Bridge, I
mean--that night, you remember.'

'Miss St. John has got her in her own house at present. She has
given her those two children we picked up at the door of the
public-house to take care of. Poor little darlings! they are
bringing back the life in her heart already. There is actually a
little colour in her cheek--the dawn, I trust, of the eternal life.
That is Miss St. John's way. As often as she gets hold of a poor
hopeless woman, she gives her a motherless child. It is wonderful
what the childless woman and motherless child do for each other.'

'I was much amused the other day with the lecture one of the police
magistrates gave a poor creature who was brought before him for
attempting to drown herself. He did give her a sovereign out of the
poor box, though.'

'Well, that might just tide her over the shoal of self-destruction,'
said Falconer. 'But I cannot help doubting whether any one has a
right to prevent a suicide from carrying out his purpose, who is not
prepared to do a good deal more for him than that. What would you
think of the man who snatched the loaf from a hungry thief, threw it
back into the baker's cart, and walked away to his club-dinner?
Harsh words of rebuke, and the threat of severe punishment upon a
second attempt--what are they to the wretch weary of life? To some
of them the kindest punishment would be to hang them for it. It is
something else than punishment that they need. If the comfortable
alderman had but "a feeling of their afflictions," felt in himself
for a moment how miserable he must be, what a waste of despair must
be in his heart, before he would do it himself, before the awful
river would appear to him a refuge from the upper air, he would
change his tone. I fear he regards suicide chiefly as a burglarious
entrance into the premises of the respectable firm of Vension, Port,
& Co.'

'But you mustn't be too hard upon him, Falconer; for if his God is
his belly, how can he regard suicide as other than the most awful

'Of course not. His well-fed divinity gives him one great
commandment: "Thou shalt love thyself with all thy heart. The great
breach is to hurt thyself--worst of all to send thyself away from
the land of luncheons and dinners, to the country of thought and
vision." But, alas! he does not reflect on the fact that the god
Belial does not feed all his votaries; that he has his elect; that
the altar of his inner-temple too often smokes with no sacrifice of
which his poor meagre priests may partake. They must uphold the
Divinity which has been good to them, and not suffer his worship to
fall into disrepute.'

'Really, Robert,' said his father, 'I am afraid to think what you
will come to. You will end in denying there is a God at all. You
don't believe in hell, and now you justify suicide. Really--I must
say--to say the least of it--I have not been accustomed to hear such

The poor old man looked feebly righteous at his wicked son. I
verily believe he was concerned for his eternal fate. Falconer gave
a pleased glance at me, and for a moment said nothing. Then he
began, with a kind of logical composure:

'In the first place, father, I do not believe in such a God as some
people say they believe in. Their God is but an idol of the
heathen, modified with a few Christian qualities. For hell, I don't
believe there is any escape from it but by leaving hellish things
behind. For suicide, I do not believe it is wicked because it hurts
yourself, but I do believe it is very wicked. I only want to put it
on its own right footing.'

'And pray what do you consider its right footing?'

'My dear father, I recognize no duty as owing to a man's self.
There is and can be no such thing. I am and can be under no
obligation to myself. The whole thing is a fiction, and of evil
invention. It comes from the upper circles of the hell of
selfishness. Or, perhaps, it may with some be merely a form of
metaphysical mistake; but an untruth it is. Then for the duty we do
owe to other people: how can we expect the men or women who have
found life to end, as it seems to them, in a dunghill of misery--how
can we expect such to understand any obligation to live for the sake
of the general others, to no individual of whom, possibly, do they
bear an endurable relation? What remains?--The grandest, noblest
duty from which all other duty springs: the duty to the possible
God. Mind, I say possible God, for I judge it the first of my duties
towards my neighbour to regard his duty from his position, not from

'But,' said I, 'how would you bring that duty to bear on the mind of
a suicide?'

'I think some of the tempted could understand it, though I fear not
one of those could who judge them hardly, and talk sententiously of
the wrong done to a society which has done next to nothing for her,
by the poor, starved, refused, husband-tortured wretch perhaps, who
hurries at last to the might of the filthy flowing river which, the
one thread of hope in the web of despair, crawls through the city of
death. What should I say to him? I should say: "God liveth: thou
art not thine own but his. Bear thy hunger, thy horror in his name.
I in his name will help thee out of them, as I may. To go before
he calleth thee, is to say 'Thou forgettest,' unto him who numbereth
the hairs of thy head. Stand out in the cold and the sleet and the
hail of this world, O son of man, till thy Father open the door and
call thee. Yea, even if thou knowest him not, stand and wait, lest
there should be, after all, such a loving and tender one, who, for
the sake of a good with which thou wilt be all-content, and without
which thou never couldst be content, permits thee there to
stand--for a time--long to his sympathizing as well as to thy
suffering heart."'

Here Falconer paused, and when he spoke again it was from the
ordinary level of conversation. Indeed I fancied that he was a
little uncomfortable at the excitement into which his feelings had
borne him.

'Not many of them could understand this, I dare say: but I think
most of them could feel it without understanding it. Certainly the
"belly with good capon lined" will neither understand nor feel it.
Suicide is a sin against God, I repeat, not a crime over which
human laws have any hold. In regard to such, man has a duty
alone--that, namely, of making it possible for every man to live.
And where the dread of death is not sufficient to deter, what can
the threat of punishment do? Or what great thing is gained if it
should succeed? What agonies a man must have gone through in whom
neither the horror of falling into such a river, nor of the knife in
the flesh instinct with life, can extinguish the vague longing to
wrap up his weariness in an endless sleep!'

'But,' I remarked, 'you would, I fear, encourage the trade in
suicide. Your kindness would be terribly abused. What would you do
with the pretended suicides?'

'Whip them, for trifling with and trading upon the feelings of their

'Then you would drive them to suicide in earnest.'

'Then they might be worth something, which they were not before.'

'We are a great deal too humane for that now-a-days, I fear. We
don't like hurting people.'

'No. We are infested with a philanthropy which is the offspring of
our mammon-worship. But surely our tender mercies are cruel. We
don't like to hang people, however unfit they may be to live amongst
their fellows. A weakling pity will petition for the life of the
worst murderer--but for what? To keep him alive in a confinement as
like their notion of hell as they dare to make it--namely, a place
whence all the sweet visitings of the grace of God are withdrawn,
and the man has not a chance, so to speak, of growing better. In
this hell of theirs they will even pamper his beastly body.'

'They have the chaplain to visit them.'

'I pity the chaplain, cut off in his labours from all the aids which
God's world alone can give for the teaching of these men. Human
beings have not the right to inflict such cruel punishment upon
their fellow-man. It springs from a cowardly shrinking from
responsibility, and from mistrust of the mercy of God;--perhaps
first of all from an over-valuing of the mere life of the body.
Hanging is tenderness itself to such a punishment.'

'I think you are hardly fair, though, Falconer. It is the fear of
sending them to hell that prevents them from hanging them.'

'Yes. You are right, I dare say. They are not of David's mind, who
would rather fall into the hands of God than of men. They think
their hell is not so hard as his, and may be better for them. But I
must not, as you say, forget that they do believe their everlasting
fate hangs upon their hands, for if God once gets his hold of them
by death, they are lost for ever.'

'But the chaplain may awake them to a sense of their sins.'

'I do not think it is likely that talk will do what the discipline
of life has not done. It seems to me, on the contrary, that the
clergyman has no commission to rouse people to a sense of their
sins. That is not his work. He is far more likely to harden them
by any attempt in that direction. Every man does feel his sins,
though he often does not know it. To turn his attention away from
what he does feel by trying to rouse in him feelings which are
impossible to him in his present condition, is to do him a great
wrong. The clergyman has the message of salvation, not of sin, to
give. Whatever oppression is on a man, whatever trouble, whatever
conscious something that comes between him and the blessedness of
life, is his sin; for whatever is not of faith is sin; and from all
this He came to save us. Salvation alone can rouse in us a sense of
our sinfulness. One must have got on a good way before he can be
sorry for his sins. There is no condition of sorrow laid down as
necessary to forgiveness. Repentance does not mean sorrow: it means
turning away from the sins. Every man can do that, more or less.
And that every man must do. The sorrow will come afterwards, all
in good time. Jesus offers to take us out of our own hands into
his, if we will only obey him.'

The eyes of the old man were fixed on his son as he spoke, He did
seem to be thinking. I could almost fancy that a glimmer of
something like hope shone in his eyes.

It was time to go home, and we were nearly silent all the way.

The next morning was so wet that we could not go out, and had to
amuse ourselves as we best might in-doors. But Falconer's resources
never failed. He gave us this day story after story about the poor
people he had known. I could see that his object was often to get
some truth into his father's mind without exposing it to rejection
by addressing it directly to himself; and few subjects could be more
fitted for affording such opportunity than his experiences among the

The afternoon was still rainy and misty. In the evening I sought to
lead the conversation towards the gospel-story; and then Falconer
talked as I never heard him talk before. No little circumstance in
the narratives appeared to have escaped him. He had thought about
everything, as it seemed to me. He had looked under the surface
everywhere, and found truth--mines of it--under all the upper soil
of the story. The deeper he dug the richer seemed the ore. This
was combined with the most pictorial apprehension of every outward
event, which he treated as if it had been described to him by the
lips of an eye-witness. The whole thing lived in his words and

'When anything looks strange, you must look the deeper,' he would

At the close of one of our fits of talk, he rose and went to the

'Come here,' he said, after looking for a moment.

All day a dropping cloud had filled the space below, so that the
hills on the opposite side of the valley were hidden, and the whole
of the sea, near as it was. But when we went to the window we found
that a great change had silently taken place. The mist continued to
veil the sky, and it clung to the tops of the hills; but, like the
rising curtain of a stage, it had rolled half-way up from their
bases, revealing a great part of the sea and shore, and half of a
cliff on the opposite side of the valley: this, in itself of a deep
red, was now smitten by the rays of the setting sun, and glowed over
the waters a splendour of carmine. As we gazed, the vaporous
curtain sank upon the shore, and the sun sank under the waves, and
the sad gray evening closed in the weeping night, and clouds and
darkness swathed the weary earth. For doubtless the earth needs its
night as well as the creatures that live thereon.

In the morning the rain had ceased, but the clouds remained. But
they were high in the heavens now, and, like a departing sorrow,
revealed the outline and form which had appeared before as an
enveloping vapour of universal and shapeless evil. The mist was now
far enough off to be seen and thought about. It was clouds now--no
longer mist and rain. And I thought how at length the evils of the
world would float away, and we should see what it was that made it
so hard for us to believe and be at peace.

In the afternoon the sky had partially cleared, but clouds hid the
sun as he sank towards the west. We walked out. A cold autumnal
wind blew, not only from the twilight of the dying day, but from the
twilight of the dying season. A sorrowful hopeless wind it seemed,
full of the odours of dead leaves--those memories of green woods,
and of damp earth--the bare graves of the flowers. Would the summer
ever come again?

We were pacing in silence along a terraced walk which overhung the
shore far below. More here than from the hilltop we seemed to look
immediately into space, not even a parapet intervening betwixt us
and the ocean. The sound of a mournful lyric, never yet sung, was
in my brain; it drew nearer to my mental grasp; but ere it alighted,
its wings were gone, and it fell dead on my consciousness. Its
meaning was this: 'Welcome, Requiem of Nature. Let me share in thy
Requiescat. Blow, wind of mournful memories. Let us moan together.
No one taketh from us the joy of our sorrow. We may mourn as we

But while I brooded thus, behold a wonder! The mass about the
sinking sun broke up, and drifted away in cloudy bergs, as if
scattered on the diverging currents of solar radiance that burst
from the gates of the west, and streamed east and north and south
over the heavens and over the sea. To the north, these masses built
a cloudy bridge across the sky from horizon to horizon, and beneath
it shone the rosy-sailed ships floating stately through their
triumphal arch up the channel to their home. Other clouds floated
stately too in the upper sea over our heads, with dense forms,
thinning into vaporous edges. Some were of a dull angry red; some
of as exquisite a primrose hue as ever the flower itself bore on its
bosom; and betwixt their edges beamed out the sweetest, purest, most
melting, most transparent blue, the heavenly blue which is the
symbol of the spirit as red is of the heart. I think I never saw a
blue to satisfy me before. Some of these clouds threw shadows of
many-shaded purple upon the green sea; and from one of the shadows,
so dark and so far out upon the glooming horizon that it looked like
an island, arose as from a pier, a wondrous structure of dim, fairy
colours, a multitude of rainbow-ends, side by side, that would have
spanned the heavens with a gorgeous arch, but failed from the very
grandeur of the idea, and grew up only a few degrees against the
clouded west. I stood rapt. The two Falconers were at some
distance before me, walking arm in arm. They stood and gazed
likewise. It was as if God had said to the heavens and the earth
and the chord of the seven colours, 'Comfort ye, comfort ye my
people.' And I said to my soul, 'Let the tempest rave in the world;
let sorrow wail like a sea-bird in the midst thereof; and let thy
heart respond to her shivering cry; but the vault of heaven encloses
the tempest and the shrieking bird and the echoing heart; and the
sun of God's countenance can with one glance from above change the
wildest winter day into a summer evening compact of poets' dreams.'

My companions were walking up over the hill. I could see that
Falconer was earnestly speaking in his father's ear. The old man's
head was bent towards the earth. I kept away. They made a turn
from home. I still followed at a distance. The evening began to
grow dark. The autumn wind met us again, colder, stronger, yet more
laden with the odours of death and the frosts of the coming winter.
But it no longer blew as from the charnel-house of the past; it
blew from the stars through the chinks of the unopened door on the
other side of the sepulchre. It was a wind of the worlds, not a
wind of the leaves. It told of the march of the spheres, and the
rest of the throne of God. We were going on into the universe--home
to the house of our Father. Mighty adventure! Sacred repose! And
as I followed the pair, one great star throbbed and radiated over my



The next week I went back to my work, leaving the father and son
alone together. Before I left, I could see plainly enough that the
bonds were being drawn closer between them. A whole month passed
before they returned to London. The winter then had set in with
unusual severity. But it seemed to bring only health to the two
men. When I saw Andrew next, there was certainly a marked change
upon him. Light had banished the haziness from his eye, and his
step was a good deal firmer. I can hardly speak of more than the
physical improvement, for I saw very little of him now. Still I did
think I could perceive more of judgment in his face, as if he
sometimes weighed things in his mind. But it was plain that Robert
continued very careful not to let him a moment out of his knowledge.
He busied him with the various sights of London, for Andrew,
although he knew all its miseries well, had never yet been inside
Westminster Abbey. If he could only trust him enough to get him
something to do! But what was he fit for? To try him, he proposed
once that he should write some account of what he had seen and
learned in his wanderings; but the evident distress with which he
shrunk from the proposal was grateful to the eyes and heart of his

It was almost the end of the year when a letter arrived from John
Lammie, informing Robert that his grandmother had caught a violent
cold, and that, although the special symptoms had disappeared, it
was evident her strength was sinking fast, and that she would not

He read the letter to his father.

'We must go and see her, Robert, my boy,' said Andrew.

It was the first time that he had shown the smallest desire to visit
her. Falconer rose with glad heart, and proceeded at once to make
arrangements for their journey.

It was a cold, powdery afternoon in January, with the snow thick on
the ground, save where the little winds had blown the crown of the
street bare before Mrs. Falconer's house. A post-chaise with four
horses swept wearily round the corner, and pulled up at her door.
Betty opened it, and revealed an old withered face very sorrowful,
and yet expectant. Falconer's feelings I dare not, Andrew's I
cannot attempt to describe, as they stepped from the chaise and
entered. Betty led the way without a word into the little parlour.
Robert went next, with long quiet strides, and Andrew followed with
gray, bowed head. Grannie was not in her chair. The doors which
during the day concealed the bed in which she slept, were open, and
there lay the aged woman with her eyes closed. The room was as it
had always been, only there seemed a filmy shadow in it that had not
been there before.

'She's deein', sir,' whispered Betty. 'Ay is she. Och hone!'

Robert took his father's hand, and led him towards the bed. They
drew nigh softly, and bent over the withered, but not even yet very
wrinkled face. The smooth, white, soft hands lay on the sheet,
which was folded back over her bosom. She was asleep, or rather,
she slumbered.

But the soul of the child began to grow in the withered heart of the
old man as he regarded his older mother, and as it grew it forced
the tears to his eyes, and the words to his lips.

'Mother!' he said, and her eyelids rose at once. He stooped to kiss
her, with the tears rolling down his face. The light of heaven
broke and flashed from her aged countenance. She lifted her weak
hands, took his head, and held it to her bosom.

'Eh! the bonnie gray heid!' she said, and burst into a passion of
weeping. She had kept some tears for the last. Now she would spend
all that her griefs had left her. But there came a pause in her
sobs, though not in her weeping, and then she spoke.

'I kent it a' the time, O Lord. I kent it a' the time. He's come
hame. My Anerew, my Anerew! I'm as happy 's a bairn. O Lord! O

And she burst again into sobs, and entered paradise in radiant

Her hands sank away from his head, and when her son gazed in her
face he saw that she was dead. She had never looked at Robert.

The two men turned towards each other. Robert put out his arms.
His father laid his head on his bosom, and went on weeping. Robert
held him to his heart.

When shall a man dare to say that God has done all he can?



The men laid their mother's body with those of the generations that
had gone before her, beneath the long grass in their country
churchyard near Rothieden--a dreary place, one accustomed to trim
cemeteries and sentimental wreaths would call it--to Falconer's mind
so friendly to the forsaken dust, because it lapt it in sweet

They returned to the dreary house, and after a simple meal such as
both had used to partake of in their boyhood, they sat by the fire,
Andrew in his mother's chair, Robert in the same chair in which he
had learned his Sallust and written his versions. Andrew sat for a
while gazing into the fire, and Robert sat watching his face, where
in the last few months a little feeble fatherhood had begun to dawn.

'It was there, father, that grannie used to sit, every day,
sometimes looking in the fire for hours, thinking about you, I
know,' Robert said at length.

Andrew stirred uneasily in his chair.

'How do you know that?' he asked.

'If there was one thing I could be sure of, it was when grannie was
thinking about you, father. Who wouldn't have known it, father,
when her lips were pressed together, as if she had some dreadful
pain to bear, and her eyes were looking away through the fire--so
far away! and I would speak to her three times before she would
answer? She lived only to think about God and you, father. God and
you came very close together in her mind. Since ever I can
remember, almost, the thought of you was just the one thing in this

Then Robert began at the beginning of his memory, and told his
father all that he could remember. When he came to speak about his
solitary musings in the garret, he said--and long before he reached
this part, he had relapsed into his mother tongue:

'Come and luik at the place, father. I want to see 't again,

He rose. His father yielded and followed him. Robert got a candle
in the kitchen, and the two big men climbed the little narrow stair
and stood in the little sky of the house, where their heads almost
touched the ceiling.

'I sat upo' the flure there,' said Robert, 'an' thoucht and thoucht
what I wad du to get ye, father, and what I wad du wi' ye whan I had
gotten ye. I wad greit whiles, 'cause ither laddies had a father
an' I had nane. An' there's whaur I fand mamma's box wi' the letter
in 't and her ain picter: grannie gae me that ane o' you. An'
there's whaur I used to kneel doon an' pray to God. An' he's heard
my prayers, and grannie's prayers, and here ye are wi' me at last.
Instead o' thinkin' aboot ye, I hae yer ain sel'. Come, father, I
want to say a word o' thanks to God, for hearin' my prayer.'

He took the old man's hand, led him to the bedside, and kneeled with
him there.

My reader can hardly avoid thinking it was a poor sad triumph that
Robert had after all. How the dreams of the boy had dwindled in
settling down into the reality! He had his father, it was true, but
what a father! And how little he had him!

But this was not the end; and Robert always believed that the end
must be the greater in proportion to the distance it was removed, to
give time for its true fulfilment. And when he prayed aloud beside
his father, I doubt not that his thanksgiving and his hope were

The prayer over, he took his father's hand and led him down again to
the little parlour, and they took their seats again by the fire; and
Robert began again and went on with his story, not omitting the
parts belonging to Mary St. John and Eric Ericson.

When he came to tell how he had encountered him in the deserted

'Luik here, father, here's the mark o' the cut,' he said, parting
the thick hair on the top of his head.

His father hid his face in his hands.

'It wasna muckle o' a blow that ye gied me, father,' he went on,
'but I fell against the grate, and that was what did it. And I
never tellt onybody, nae even Miss St. John, wha plaistered it up,
hoo I had gotten 't. And I didna mean to say onything aboot it; but
I wantit to tell ye a queer dream, sic a queer dream it garred me
dream the same nicht.'

As he told the dream, his father suddenly grew attentive, and before
he had finished, looked almost scared; but he said nothing. When he
came to relate his grandmother's behaviour after having discovered
that the papers relating to the factory were gone, he hid his face
in his hands once more. He told him how grannie had mourned and
wept over him, from the time when he heard her praying aloud as he
crept through her room at night to their last talk together after
Dr. Anderson's death. He set forth, as he could, in the simplest
language, the agony of her soul over her lost son. He told him then
about Ericson, and Dr. Anderson, and how good they had been to him,
and at last of Dr. Anderson's request that he would do something for
him in India.

'Will ye gang wi' me, father?' he asked.

'I'll never leave ye again, Robert, my boy,' he answered. 'I have
been a bad man, and a bad father, and now I gie mysel' up to you to
mak the best o' me ye can. I daurna leave ye, Robert.'

'Pray to God to tak care o' ye, father. He'll do a'thing for ye,
gin ye'll only lat him.'

'I will, Robert.'

'I was mysel' dreidfu' miserable for a while,' Robert resumed, 'for
I cudna see or hear God at a'; but God heard me, and loot me ken
that he was there an' that a' was richt. It was jist like whan a
bairnie waukens up an' cries oot, thinkin' it 's its lane, an'
through the mirk comes the word o' the mither o' 't, sayin', "I'm
here, cratur: dinna greit." And I cam to believe 'at he wad mak you
a good man at last. O father, it's been my dream waukin' an'
sleepin' to hae you back to me an' grannie, an' mamma, an' the
Father o' 's a', an' Jesus Christ that's done a'thing for 's. An'
noo ye maun pray to God, father. Ye will pray to God to haud a grip
o' ye--willna ye, father?'

'I will, I will, Robert. But I've been an awfu' sinner. I believe
I was the death o' yer mother, laddie.'

Some closet of memory was opened; a spring of old tenderness gushed
up in his heart; at some window of the past the face of his dead
wife looked out: the old man broke into a great cry, and sobbed and
wept bitterly. Robert said no more, but wept with him.

Henceforward the father clung to his son like a child. The heart of
Falconer turned to his Father in heaven with speechless
thanksgiving. The ideal of his dreams was beginning to dawn, and
his life was new-born.

For a few days Robert took Andrew about to see those of his old
friends who were left, and the kindness with which they all received
him, moved Andrew's heart not a little. Every one who saw him
seemed to feel that he or she had a share in the redeeming duty of
the son. Robert was in their eyes like a heavenly messenger, whom
they were bound to aid; for here was the possessed of demons clothed
and in his right mind. Therefore they overwhelmed both father and
son with kindness. Especially at John Lammie's was he received with
a perfection of hospitality; as if that had been the father's house
to which he had returned from his prodigal wanderings.

The good old farmer begged that they would stay with him for a few

'I hae sae mony wee things to luik efter at Rothieden, afore we
gang,' said Robert.

'Weel, lea' yer father here. We s' tak guid care o' 'im, I promise

'There's only ae difficulty. I believe ye are my father's frien',
Mr. Lammie, as ye hae been mine, and God bless ye; sae I'll jist
tell you the trowth, what for I canna lea' him. I'm no sure eneuch
yet that he could withstan' temptation. It's the drink ye ken.
It's months sin' he's tasted it; but--ye ken weel eneuch--the
temptation's awfu'. Sin' ever I got him back, I haena tasted ae
mou'fu' o' onything that cud be ca'd strong drink mysel', an' as
lang 's he lives, not ae drap shall cross my lips--no to save my

'Robert,' said Mr. Lammie, giving him his hand with solemnity, 'I
sweir by God that he shanna see, smell, taste, nor touch drink in
this hoose. There's but twa boatles o' whusky, i' the shape o'
drink, i' the hoose; an' gin ye say 'at he sall bide, I'll gang and
mak them an' the midden weel acquant.'

Andrew was pleased at the proposal. Robert too was pleased that his
father should be free of him for a while. It was arranged for three
days. Half-an-hour after, Robert came upon Mr. Lammie emptying the
two bottles of whisky into the dunghill in the farmyard.

He returned with glad heart to Rothieden. It did not take him long
to arrange his grandmother's little affairs. He had already made up
his mind about her house and furniture. He rang the bell one
morning for Betty.

'Hae ye ony siller laid up, Betty?'

'Ay. I hae feifteen poun' i' the savin's bank.'

'An' what do ye think o' doin'?'

'I'll get a bit roomy, an' tak in washin'.

'Weel, I'll tell ye what I wad like ye to do. Ye ken Mistress

'Fine that. An' a verra dacent body she is.'

'Weel, gin ye like, ye can haud this hoose, an' a' 'at's in't, jist
as it is, till the day o' yer deith. And ye'll aye keep it in
order, an' the ga'le-room ready for me at ony time I may happen to
come in upo' ye in want o' a nicht's quarters. But I wad like ye,
gin ye hae nae objections, to tak Mistress Elshender to bide wi' ye.
She's turnin' some frail noo, and I'm unner great obligation to her
Sandy, ye ken.'

'Ay, weel that. He learnt ye to fiddle, Robert--I hoombly beg your
pardon, sir, Mister Robert.'

'Nae offence, Betty, I assure ye. Ye hae been aye gude to me, and I
thank ye hertily.'

Betty could not stand this. Her apron went up to her eyes.

'Eh, sir,' she sobbed, 'ye was aye a gude lad.'

'Excep' whan I spak o' Muckledrum, Betty.'

She laughed and sobbed together.

'Weel, ye'll tak Mistress Elshender in, winna ye?'

'I'll do that, sir. And I'll try to do my best wi' her.'

'She can help ye, ye ken, wi' yer washin', an' sic like.'

'She's a hard-workin' wuman, sir. She wad do that weel.'

'And whan ye're in ony want o' siller, jist write to me. An' gin
onything suld happen to me, ye ken, write to Mr. Gordon, a frien' o'
mine. There's his address in Lonnon.'

'Eh, sir, but ye are kin'. God bless ye for a'.'

She could bear no more, and left the room crying.

Everything settled at Rothieden, he returned to Bodyfauld. The most
welcome greeting he had ever received in his life, lay in the shine
of his father's eyes when he entered the room where he sat with Miss
Lammie. The next day they left for London.



They came to see me the very evening of their arrival. As to
Andrew's progress there could be no longer any doubt. All that was
necessary for conviction on the point was to have seen him before
and to see him now. The very grasp of his hand was changed. But
not yet would Robert leave him alone.

It will naturally occur to my reader that his goodness was not much
yet. It was not. It may have been greater than we could be sure
of, though. But if any one object that such a conversion, even if
it were perfected, was poor, inasmuch as the man's free will was
intromitted with, I answer: 'The development of the free will was
the one object. Hitherto it was not free.' I ask the man who says
so: 'Where would your free will have been if at some period of your
life you could have had everything you wanted?' If he says it is
nobler in a man to do with less help, I answer, 'Andrew was not
noble: was he therefore to be forsaken? The prodigal was not left
without the help of the swine and their husks, at once to keep him
alive and disgust him with the life. Is the less help a man has
from God the better?' According to you, the grandest thing of all
would be for a man sunk in the absolute abysses of sensuality all at
once to resolve to be pure as the empyrean, and be so, without help
from God or man. But is the thing possible? As well might a hyena
say: I will be a man, and become one. That would be to create.
Andrew must be kept from the evil long enough to let him at least
see the good, before he was let alone. But when would we be let
alone? For a man to be fit to be let alone, is for a man not to
need God, but to be able to live without him. Our hearts cry out,
'To have God is to live. We want God. Without him no life of ours
is worth living. We are not then even human, for that is but the
lower form of the divine. We are immortal, eternal: fill us, O
Father, with thyself. Then only all is well.' More: I heartily
believe, though I cannot understand the boundaries of will and
inspiration, that what God will do for us at last is infinitely
beyond any greatness we could gain, even if we could will ourselves
from the lowest we could be, into the highest we can imagine. It is
essential divine life we want; and there is grand truth, however
incomplete or perverted, in the aspiration of the Brahmin. He is
wrong, but he wants something right. If the man had the power in
his pollution to will himself into the right without God, the fact
that he was in that pollution with such power, must damn him there
for ever. And if God must help ere a man can be saved, can the help
of man go too far towards the same end? Let God solve the
mystery--for he made it. One thing is sure: We are his, and he will
do his part, which is no part but the all in all. If man could do
what in his wildest self-worship he can imagine, the grand result
would be that he would be his own God, which is the Hell of Hells.

For some time I had to give Falconer what aid I could in being with
his father while he arranged matters in prospect of their voyage to
India. Sometimes he took him with him when he went amongst his
people, as he called the poor he visited. Sometimes, when he wanted
to go alone, I had to take him to Miss St. John, who would play and
sing as I had never heard any one play or sing before. Andrew on
such occasions carried his flute with him, and the result of the two
was something exquisite. How Miss St. John did lay herself out to
please the old man! And pleased he was. I think her kindness did
more than anything else to make him feel like a gentleman again.
And in his condition that was much.

At length Falconer would sometimes leave him with Miss St. John,
till he or I should go for him: he knew she could keep him safe. He
knew that she would keep him if necessary.

One evening when I went to see Falconer, I found him alone. It was
one of these occasions.

'I am very glad you have come, Gordon,' he said. 'I was wanting to
see you. I have got things nearly ready now. Next month, or at
latest, the one after, we shall sail; and I have some business with
you which had better be arranged at once. No one knows what is
going to happen. The man who believes the least in chance knows as
little as the man who believes in it the most. My will is in the
hands of Dobson. I have left you everything.'

I was dumb.

'Have you any objection?' he said, a little anxiously.

'Am I able to fulfil the conditions?' I faltered.

'I have burdened you with no conditions,' he returned. 'I don't
believe in conditions. I know your heart and mind now. I trust you

'I am unworthy of it.'

'That is for me to judge.'

'Will you have no trustees?'

'Not one.'

'What do you want me to do with your property?'

'You know well enough. Keep it going the right way.'

'I will always think what you would like.'

'No; do not. Think what is right; and where there is no right or
wrong plain in itself, then think what is best. You may see good
reason to change some of my plans. You may be wrong; but you must
do what you see right--not what I see or might see right.'

'But there is no need to talk so seriously about it,' I said. 'You
will manage it yourself for many years yet. Make me your steward,
if you like, during your absence: I will not object to that.'

'You do not object to the other, I hope?'


'Then so let it be. The other, of course. I have, being a lawyer
myself, taken good care not to trust myself only with the arranging
of these matters. I think you will find them all right.'

'But supposing you should not return--you have compelled me to make
the supposition--'

'Of course. Go on.'

'What am I to do with the money in the prospect of following you?'

'Ah! that is the one point on which I want a word, although I do not
think it is necessary. I want to entail the property.'


'By word of mouth,' he answered, laughing. 'You must look out for a
right man, as I have done, get him to know your ways and ideas, and
if you find him worthy--that is a grand wide word--our Lord gave it
to his disciples--leave it all to him in the same way I have left it
to you, trusting to the spirit of truth that is in him, the spirit
of God. You can copy my will--as far as it will apply, for you may
have, one way or another, lost the half of it by that time. But, by
word of mouth, you must make the same condition with him as I have
made with you--that is, with regard to his leaving it, and the
conditions on which he leaves it, adding the words, "that it may
descend thus in perpetuum." And he must do the same.'

He broke into a quiet laugh. I knew well enough what he meant. But
he added:

'That means, of course, for as long as there is any.'

'Are you sure you are doing right, Falconer?' I said.

'Quite. It is better to endow one man, who will work as the Father
works, than a hundred charities. But it is time I went to fetch my
father. Will you go with me?'

This was all that passed between us on the subject, save that, on
our way, he told me to move to his rooms, and occupy them until he

'My papers,' he added, 'I commit to your discretion.'

On our way back from Queen Square, he joked and talked merrily.
Andrew joined in. Robert showed himself delighted with every
attempt at gaiety or wit that Andrew made. When we reached the
house, something that had occurred on the way made him turn to
Martin Chuzzlewit, and he read Mrs. Gamp's best to our great

I went down with the two to Southampton, to see them on board the
steamer. I staid with them there until she sailed. It was a lovely
morning in the end of April, when at last I bade them farewell on
the quarter-deck. My heart was full. I took his hand and kissed
it. He put his arms round me, and laid his cheek to mine. I was
strong to bear the parting.

The great iron steamer went down in the middle of the Atlantic, and
I have not yet seen my friend again.



I had left my lodging and gone to occupy Falconer's till his return.
There, on a side-table among other papers, I found the following
verses. The manuscript was much scored and interlined, but more
than decipherable, for he always wrote plainly. I copied them out
fair, and here they are for the reader that loves him.

Twilight is near, and the day grows old;
The spiders of care are weaving their net;
All night 'twill be blowing and rainy and cold;
I cower at his door from the wind and wet.

He sent me out the world to see,
Drest for the road in a garment new;
It is clotted with clay, and worn beggarly--
The porter will hardly let me through!

I bring in my hand a few dusty ears--
Once I thought them a tribute meet!
I bring in my heart a few unshed tears:
Which is my harvest--the pain or the wheat?

A broken man, at the door of his hall
I listen, and hear it go merry within;
The sounds are of birthday-festival!
Hark to the trumpet! the violin!

I know the bench where the shadowed folk
Sit 'neath the music-loft--there none upbraids!
They will make me room who bear the same yoke,
Dear publicans, sinners, and foolish maids!

An ear has been hearing my heart forlorn!
A step comes soft through the dancing-din!
Oh Love eternal! oh woman-born!
Son of my Father to take me in!

One moment, low at our Father's feet
Loving I lie in a self-lost trance;
Then walk away to the sinners' seat,
With them, at midnight, to rise and dance!



1 In Scotch the ch and gh are almost always guttural. The gh
according to Mr. Alexander Ellis, the sole authority in the past
pronunciation of the country, was guttural in England in the time of

2 An exclamation of pitiful sympathy, inexplicable to the
understanding. Thus the author covers his philological ignorance of
the cross-breeding of the phrase.

3 Extra--over all--ower a'--orra--one more than is wanted.

4 Tennyson's Morte d'Arthur.
Atque animum nunc huc celerem, nunc dividit illuc.
neid: IV. 285

5 This line is one of many instances in which my reader will see
both the carelessness of Ericson and my religion towards his

6 Why should Sir Walter Scott, who felt the death of Camp, his
bullterrier, so much that he declined a dinner engagement in
consequence, say on the death of his next favourite, a grayhound
bitch--'Rest her body, since I dare not say soul!'? Where did he
get that dare not? Is it well that the daring of genius should be
circumscribed by an unbelief so common-place as to be capable only
of subscription?

7 Amongst Ericson's papers I find the following sonnets, which
belong to the mood here embodied:

Oft, as I rest in quiet peace, am I
Thrust out at sudden doors, and madly driven
Through desert solitudes, and thunder-riven
Black passages which have not any sky.
The scourge is on me now, with all the cry
Of ancient life that hath with murder striven.
How many an anguish hath gone up to heaven!
How many a hand in prayer been lifted high
When the black fate came onward with the rush
Of whirlwind, avalanche, or fiery spume!
Even at my feet is cleft a shivering tomb
Beneath the waves; or else with solemn hush
The graveyard opens, and I feel a crush
As if we were all huddled in one doom.

Comes there, O Earth, no breathing time for thee?
No pause upon thy many-chequered lands?
Now resting on my bed with listless hands,
I mourn thee resting not. Continually
Hear I the plashing borders of the sea
Answer each other from the rocks and sands.
Troop all the rivers seawards; nothing stands,
But with strange noises hasteth terribly.
Loam-eared hyenas go a moaning by.
Howls to each other all the bloody crew
Of Afric's tigers. But, O men, from you
Comes this perpetual sound more loud and high
Than aught that vexes air. I hear the cry
Of infant generations rising too.

8 This sonnet and the preceding are both one line deficient.

9 To these two sonnets Falconer had appended this note.

'Something I wrote to Ericson concerning these, during my first
college vacation, produced a reply of which the following is a
passage: "On writing the first I was not aware that James and John
were the Sons of Thunder. For a time it did indeed grieve me to
think of the spiritual-minded John as otherwise than a still and
passionless lover of Christ."'

Note from John Bechard, creator of this Electronic text.

The following is a list of Scottish words which are found in George
MacDonald's "Robert Falconer". I have compiled this list myself and
worked out the definitions from context with the help of Margaret
West, from Leven in Fife, Scotland, and also by referring to a word
list found in a collection of poems by Robert Burns, "Chamber's
Scots Dialect Dictionary from the 17th century to the Present" c.
1911 and "Scots-English English-Scots Dictionary" Lomond Books c.
1998. I have tried to be as thorough as possible given the limited
resources and welcome any feedback on this list which may be wrong
(my e-mail address is JaBBechard@aol.com). This was never meant to
be a comprehensive list of the National Scottish Language, but
rather an aid to understanding some of the conversations and
references in this text in the Broad Scots. I do apologise for any
mistakes or omissions. I aimed for my list to be very
comprehensive, and it often repeats the same word in a plural or

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