Part 2 out of 2
from the example of our subject India. We may deem it native; perhaps
of its origin Aryan, but we have made it our own. Some have been so
venturesome as to trace the lordliness of Bull to the protecting
smiles of the good Neptune, whose arms are about him to encourage the
development of a wanton eccentricity. Certain weeds of the human bosom
are prompt to flourish where safeness would seem to be guaranteed. Men,
for instance, of stoutly independent incomes are prone to the same sort
of wilfulness as Bull's, the salve abject submission to it which we
behold in his tidal bodies of supporters. Neptune has done something.
One thinks he has done much, at a rumour of his inefficiency to do the
utmost. Spy you insecurity?--a possibility of invasion? Then indeed the
colossal creature, inaccessible to every argument, is open to any
suggestion: the oak-like is a reed, the bull a deer. But as there is no
attack on his shores, there is no proof that they are invulnerable.
Neptune is appealed to and replies by mouth of the latest passenger
across the Channel on a windy night:--Take heart, son John! They will
have poor stomachs for blows who intrude upon you. The testification to
the Sea-God's watchfulness restores his darling who is immediately as
horny to argument as before. Neptune shall have his share of the
Ideal of his country Bull has none--he hates the word; it smells of
heresy, opposition to his image. It is an exercise of imagination to
accept an ideal, and his digestive organs reject it, after the manner of
the most beautiful likeness of him conjurable to the mind--that flowering
stomach, the sea-anemone, which opens to anything and speedily casts out
what it cannot consume. He is a positive shape, a practical corporation,
and the best he can see is the mirror held up to him by his bards of the
Press and his jester Frank Guffaw. There, begirt by laughing ocean-
waves, manifestly blest, he glorifies his handsome roundness, like that
other Foam-Born, whom the decorative Graces robed in vestments not so
wonderful as printed sheets. Rounder at each inspection, he preaches to
mankind from the text of a finger curved upon the pattern spectacles.
Your Frenchmen are revolutionising, wagering on tentative politics; your
Germans ploughing in philosophy, thumbing classics, composing music of a
novel order: both are marching, evolutionising, learning how to kill.
Ridiculous Germans! capricious Frenchmen! We want nothing new in
musical composition and abstract speculation of an indecent mythology,
or political contrivances and schemes of Government, and we do not want
war. Peace is the Goddess we court for the hand of her daughter Plenty,
and we have won that jolly girl, and you are welcome to the marriage-
feast; but avaunt new-fangled theories and howlings: old tunes, tried
systems, for us, my worthy friends.
Roundness admiring the growth of its globe may address majestic
invitation to the leaner kine. It can exhibit to the world that Peace is
a most desirable mother-in-law; and it is tempted to dream of capping the
pinnacle of wisdom when it squats on a fundamental truth. Bull's perusal
of the Horatian carpe diem is acute as that of the cattle in fat meads;
he walks like lusty Autumn carrying his garner to drum on, for a sign of
his diligent wisdom in seizing the day. He can read the page fronting
him; and let it be of dining, drinking, toasting, he will vociferously
confute the wiseacre bookworms who would have us believe there is no such
thing as a present hour for man.
In sad fact, the member for England is often intoxicate. Often do we
have him whirling his rotundity like a Mussulman dervish inflated by the
spirit to agitate the shanks, until pangs of a commercial crisis awaken
him to perceive an infructuous past and an unsown future, without one bit
of tracery on its black breast other than that which his apprehensions
project. As for a present hour, it swims, it vanishes, thinner than the
phantom banquets of recollection. What has he done for the growth of his
globe of brains?--the lesser, but in our rightful posture the upper, and
justly the directing globe, through whose directions we do, by feeding on
the past to sow the future, create a sensible present composed of both--
the present of the good using of our powers. What can he show in the
Arts? What in Arms? His bards--O faithless! but they are men--his
bards accuse him of sheer cattle-contentedness in the mead, of sterility
of brain, drowsihood, mid-noddyism, downright carcase-dulness. They
question him to deafen him of our defences, our intellectual eminence,
our material achievements, our poetry, our science; they sneer at his
trust in Neptune, doubt the scaly invulnerability of the God. They
point over to the foreigner, the clean-stepping, braced, self-confident
foreigner, good at arms, good at the arts, and eclipsing us in
industriousness manual and mental, and some dare to say, in splendour
of verse=-our supreme accomplishment.
Then with one big fellow, the collapse of pursiness, he abandons his
pedestal of universal critic; prostrate he falls to the foreigner; he is
down, he is roaring; he is washing his hands of English performances,
lends ear to foreign airs, patronises foreign actors, browses on reports
from camps of foreign armies. He drops his head like a smitten ox to all
great foreign names, moaning 'Shakespeare!' internally for a sustaining
apostrophe. He well-nigh loves his poets, can almost understand what
poetry means. If it does not pay, it brings him fame, respectfulness in
times of reverse. Brains, he is reduced to apprehend, brains are the
generators of the conquering energies. He is now for brains at all
costs, he has gained a conception of them. He is ready to knock
knighthood on the heads of men of brains--even literary brains. They
shall be knights, an ornamental body. To make them peers, and a
legislative, has not struck him, for he has not yet imagined them a
stable body. They require petting, to persuade them to flourish and
bring him esteem.
This is Mr. Bull, our image before the world, whose pranks are passed as
though the vivid display of them had no bad effect on the nation.
Doubtless the perpetual mirror, the slavish mirror, is to blame, but his
nakedness does not shrink from the mirror, he likes it and he is proud of
it. Beneath these exhibitions the sober strong spirit of the country,
unfortunately not a prescient one, nor an attractively loveable, albeit
of a righteous benevolence, labours on, doing the hourly duties for the
sake of conscience, little for prospective security, little to win
affection. Behold it as the donkey of a tipsy costermonger, obedient to
go without the gift of expression. Its behaviour is honourable under a
discerning heaven, and there is ever something pathetic in a toilful
speechlessness; but it is of dogged attitude in the face of men. Salt is
in it to keep our fleshly grass from putrefaction; poets might proclaim
its virtues. They will not; they are averse. The only voice it has is
the Puritan bray, upon which one must philosophise asinically to unveil
the charm. So the world is pleased to let it be obscured by the paunch
of Bull. We have, however, isolated groups, individuals in all classes,
by no means delighting in his representation of them. When such is felt
to be the case among a sufficient number, his bards blow him away as a
vapour; we hear that he is a piece of our English humour--we enjoy
grotesques and never should agree to paint ourselves handsome: our subtle
conceit insists on the reverse. Nevertheless, no sooner are the hours
auspicious to fatness than Bull is back on us; he is our family goat,
ancestral ghost, the genius of our comfortable sluggishness. And he is
at times a mad Bull: a foaming, lashing, trampling, horn-driving,
excessive, very parlous Bull. It is in his history that frenzies catch
him, when to be yoked to him is to suffer frightful shakings, not to
mention a shattering of our timbers. It is but in days of the rousing of
the under-spirit of the country, days of storm imprudent to pray the
advent of, that we are well rid of him for a while. In the interim he
does mischief, serious mischief; he does worse than when, a juvenile, he
paid the Dannegelt for peace. Englishmen of feeling do not relish him.
For men with Irish and Cambrian blood in their veins the rubicund
grotesque, with his unimpressionable front and his noisy benevolence of
the pocket, his fits of horned ferocity and lapses of hardheartedness, is
a shame and a loathing. You attach small importance to images and
symbols; yet if they seem representative, and they sicken numbers of us,
they are important. The hat we wear, though it is not a part of the
head, stamps the character of our appearance and has a positive influence
on our bearing. Symbolical decorations will stimulate the vacant-minded
to act up to them, they encircle and solidify the mass; they are a sword
of division between Celts and Saxons if they are abhorrent to one
section. And the Celtic brotherhood are not invariably fools in their
sensitiveness. They serve you on the field of Mars, and on other fields
to which the world has given glory. These execrate him as the full-grown
Golden Calf of heathenish worship. And they are so restive because they
are so patriotic. Think a little upon the ideas of unpatriotic Celts
regarding him. You have heard them. You tell us they are you:
accurately, they affirm, succinctly they see you in his crescent
outlines, tame bulk, spasms of alarm and foot on the weaker; his
imperviousness to whatsoever does not confront the sensual eye of
him with a cake or a fist, his religious veneration of his habitual
indulgences, his peculiar forms of nightmare. They swear to his
perfect personification of your moods, your Saxon moods, which their
inconsiderate spleen would have us take for unmixedly Saxon. They are
unjust, but many of them speak with a sense of the foot on their necks,
and they are of a blood demanding a worshipworthy idea. And they dislike
Bull's bellow of disrespect for their religion, much bruited in the
meadows during his periods of Arcadia. They dislike it, cannot forget
the sound: it hangs on the afflicted drum of the ear when they are in
another land, perhaps when the old devotion to their priest has expired.
For this, as well as for material reasons, they hug the hatred they
packed up among their bundles of necessaries and relics, in the flight
from home, and they instruct their children to keep it burning. They
transmit the sentiment of the loathing of Bull, as assuredly they would
be incapable of doing, even with the will, were a splendid fire-eyed
motherly Britannia the figure sitting in the minds of men for our image
--a palpitating figure, alive to change, penetrable to thought, and not a
stolid concrete of our traditional old yeoman characteristic. Verily he
lives for the present, all for the present, will be taught in sorrow that
there is no life for him but of past and future: his delusion of the
existence of a present hour for man will not outlast the season of his
eating and drinking abundantly in security. He will perceive that it was
no more than the spark shot out from the clash of those two meeting
forces; and penitently will he gaze back on that misleading spark-the
spectral planet it bids wink to his unreceptive stars--acknowledging him
the bare machine for those two to drive, no instrument of enjoyment. He
lives by reading rearward and seeing vanward. He has no actual life save
in power of imagination. He has to learn this fact, the great lesson of
all men. Furthermore there may be a future closed to him if he has
thrown too extreme a task of repairing on that bare machine of his. The
sight of a broken-down plough is mournful, but the one thing to do with
it is to remove it from the field.
Among the patriotic of stout English substance, who blew in the trumpet
of the country, and were not bards of Bull to celebrate his firmness and
vindicate his shiftings, Richard Rockney takes front rank. A journalist
altogether given up to his craft, considering the audience he had gained,
he was a man of forethought besides being a trenchant writer, and he
was profoundly, not less than eminently, the lover of Great Britain.
He had a manner of utterance quite in the tone of the familiar of the
antechamber for proof of his knowing himself to be this person. He did
not so much write articles upon the health of his mistress as deliver
Orphic sentences. He was in one her physician, her spiritual director,
her man-at-arms. Public allusions to her were greeted with his emphatic
assent in a measured pitch of the voice, or an instantaneous flourish of
the rapier; and the flourish was no vain show. He meant hard steel to
defend the pill he had prescribed for her constitutional state, and
the monition for her soul's welfare. Nor did he pretend to special
privileges in assuming his militant stand, but simply that he had studied
her case, was intimate with her resources, and loved her hotly, not to
say inspiredly. Love her as well, you had his cordial hand; as wisely,
then all his weapons to back you. There were occasions when
distinguished officials and Parliamentary speakers received the impetus
of Rockney's approval and not hesitatingly he stepped behind them to
bestow it. The act, in whatever fashion it may have been esteemed by the
objects propelled, was a sign of his willingness to let the shadow of any
man adopting his course obscure him, and of the simplicity of his
attachment. If a bitter experience showed that frequently, indeed
generally, they travelled scarce a tottering stagger farther than they
were precipitated, the wretched consolation afforded by a side glance at
a more enlightened passion, solitary in its depth, was Rockney's. Others
perchance might equal his love, none the wisdom of it; actually none the
vigilant circumspection, the shaping forethought. That clear knowledge
of the right thing for the country was grasped but by fits by others.
Enough to profit them this way and yonder as one best can! You know the
newspaper Press is a mighty engine. Still he had no delight in shuffling
a puppetry; he would have preferred automatic figures. His calls for
them resounded through the wilderness of the wooden.
Any solid conviction of a capable head of a certainty impressed upon the
world, and thus his changes of view were not attributed to a fluctuating
devotion; they passed out of the range of criticism upon inconsistency,
notwithstanding that the commencement of his journalistic career smelt
of sources entirely opposed to the conclusions upon which it broadened.
One secret of the belief in his love of his country was the readiness of
Rockney's pen to support our nobler patriotic impulses, his relish of the
bluff besides. His eye was on our commerce, on our courts of Law, on our
streets and alleys, our army and navy, our colonies, the vaster than the
island England, and still he would be busy picking up needles and threads
in the island. Deeds of valour were noted by him, lapses of cowardice:
how one man stood against a host for law or humanity, how crowds looked
on at the beating of a woman, how a good fight was maintained in some sly
ring between two of equal brawn: and manufacturers were warned of the
consequences of their iniquities, Government was lashed for sleeping upon
shaky ordinances, colonists were gibbeted for the maltreating of natives:
the ring and fervour of the notes on daily events told of Rockney's hand
upon the national heart--with a faint, an enforced, reluctant indication
of our not being the men we were.
But after all, the main secret was his art of writing round English,
instead of laborious Latinised periods: and the secret of the art was his
meaning what he said. It was the personal throb. The fire of a mind was
translucent in Press columns where our public had been accustomed to the
rhetoric of primed scribes. He did away with the Biscay billow of the
leading article--Bull's favourite prose--bardic construction of sentences
that roll to the antithetical climax, whose foamy top is offered and
gulped as equivalent to an idea. Writing of such a kind as Rockney's was
new to a land where the political opinions of Joint Stock Companies had
rattled Jovian thunders obedient to the nod of Bull. Though not alone in
working the change, he was the foremost. And he was not devoid of style.
Fervidness is the core of style. He was a tough opponent for his betters
in education, struck forcibly, dexterously, was always alert for debate.
An encounter between Swift and Johnson, were it imaginable, would present
us probably the most prodigious Gigantomachy in literary polemics. It is
not imaginable among comparative pygmies. But Rockney's combat with his
fellow-politicians of the Press partook of the Swiftian against the
Johnsonian in form. He was a steam ram that drove straight at the bulky
broadside of the enemy.
Premiers of parties might be Captains of the State for Rockney: Rockney
was the premier's pilot, or woe to him. Woe to the country as well,
if Rockney's directions for steering were unheeded. He was a man of
forethought, the lover of Great Britain: he shouted his directions in
the voice of the lover of his mistress, urged to rebuke, sometimes to
command, the captain by the prophetic intimations of a holier alliance,
a more illumined prescience. Reefs here, shallows there, yonder a foul
course: this is the way for you! The refusal of the captain to go this
way caused Rockney sincerely to discredit the sobriety of his intellect.
It was a drunken captain. Or how if a traitorous? We point out the
danger to him, and if he will run the country on to it, we proclaim him
guilty either of inebriety or of treason--the alternatives are named:
one or the other has him. Simple unfitness can scarcely be conceived
of a captain having our common senses and a warranted pilot at his elbow.
Had not Rockney been given to a high expression of opinion, plain in
fervour, he would often have been exposed bare to hostile shafts. Style
cast her aegis over him. He wore an armour in which he could walk, run
and leap-a natural style. The ardour of his temperament suffused the
directness of his intelligence to produce it, and the two qualities made
his weakness and strength. Feeling the nerve of strength, the weakness
was masked to him, while his opponents were equally insensible to the
weakness under the force of his blows. Thus there was nothing to teach
him, or reveal him, except Time, whose trick is to turn corners of
unanticipated sharpness, and leave the directly seeing and ardent to dash
How rigidly should the man of forethought govern himself, question
himself! how constantly wrestle with himself! And if he be a writer
ebullient by the hour, how snappishly suspect himself, that he may feel
in conscience worthy of a hearing and have perpetually a conscience in
his charge! For on what is his forethought founded? Does he try the
ring of it with our changed conditions? Bus a man of forethought who has
to be one of our geysers ebullient by the hour must live days of fever.
His apprehensions distemper his blood; the scrawl of them on the dark of
the undeveloped dazzles his brain. He sees in time little else; his very
sincereness twists him awry. Such a man has the stuff of the born
journalist, and journalism is the food of the age. Ask him, however,
midway in his running, what he thinks of quick breathing: he will answer
that to be a shepherd on the downs is to be more a man. As to the
gobbling age, it really thinks better of him than he of it.
After a term of prolonged preachification he is compelled to lash that he
may less despise the age. He has to do it for his own sake. O gobbling
age! swallowing all, digesting nought, us too you have swallowed,
O insensate mechanism! and we will let you know you have a stomach.
Furiously we disagree with you. We are in you to lead you or work you
Rockney could not be a mild sermoniser commenting on events. Rather no
journalism at all for him! He thought the office of the ordinary daily
preacher cowlike. His gadfly stung him to warn, dictate, prognosticate;
he was the oracle and martyr of superior vision: and as in affairs of
business and the weighing of men he was of singularly cool sagacity, hard
on the downright, open to the humours of the distinct discrimination of
things in their roughness, the knowledge of the firmly-based materialism
of his nature caused him. thoroughly to trust to his voice when he
delivered it in ardour--circumstance coming to be of daily recurrence.
Great love creates forethoughtfulness, without-which incessant journalism
is a gabble. He was sure of his love, but who gave ear to his
prescience? Few: the echo of the country now and then, the Government
not often. And, dear me! those jog-trot sermonisers, mere commentators
upon events, manage somehow to keep up the sale of their journals:
advertisements do not flow and ebb with them as under the influence of a
capricious moon. Ah, what a public! Serve it honourably, you are in
peril of collapsing: show it nothing but the likeness of its dull animal
face, you are steadily inflated. These reflections within us! Might not
one almost say that the retreat for the prophet is the wilderness, far
from the hustled editor's desk; and annual should be the uplifting of his
voice instead of diurnal, if only to spare his blood the distemper?
A fund of gout was in Rockney's, and he had begun to churn it. Between
gouty blood and luminous brain the strife had set in which does not
conduce to unwavering sobriety of mind, though ideas remain closely
consecutive and the utterance resonant.
Never had he been an adulator of Bull. His defects as well as his
advantages as a politician preserved to him this virtue. Insisting on a
future, he could not do homage to the belying simulacrum of the present.
In the season of prosperity Rockney lashed the old fellow with the crisis
he was breeding for us; and when prostration ensued no English tongue was
loftier in preaching dignity and the means of recovery. Our monumental
image of the Misuse of Peace he pointed out unceasingly as at a despot
constructed by freemen out of the meanest in their natures to mock the
gift of liberty. His articles of foregone years were an extraordinary
record of events or conditions foreseen: seductive in the review of them
by a writer who has to be still foreseeing: nevertheless, that none of
them were bardic of Bull, and that our sound man would have acted wisely
in heeding some of the prescriptions, constituted their essential merit,
consolatory to think of, though painful. The country has gone the wrong
road, but it may yet cross over to the right one, when it perceives that
we were prophetic.
Compared with the bolts discharged at Bull by Rockney's artillery,
Captain Con O'Donnell's were popgun-pellets. Only Rockney fired to
chasten, Con O'Donnell for a diversion, to appease an animus. The
revolutionist in English journalism was too devoutly patriotic to
belabour even a pantomime mask that was taken as representative of us for
the disdainful fun of it. Behind the plethoric lamp, now blown with the
fleshpots, now gasping puffs of panic, he saw the well-minded valorous
people, issue of glorious grandsires; a nation under a monstrous
defacement, stupefied by the contemplation of the mask: his vision
was of the great of old, the possibly great in the graver strife ahead,
respecters of life, despisers of death, the real English whereas an
alienated Celtic satirist, through his vivid fancy and his disesteem,
saw the country incarnate in Bull, at most a roguish screw-kneed clown to
be whipped out of him. Celt and Saxon are much inmixed with us, but the
prevalence of Saxon blood is evinced by the public disregard of any
Celtic conception of the honourable and the loveable; so that the Celt
anxious to admire is rebutted, and the hatred of a Celt, quick as he is
to catch at images, has a figure of hugeous animalism supplied to his
malign contempt. Rockney's historic England, and the living heroic
England to slip from that dull hide in a time of trial, whether of war or
social suffering, he cannot see, nor a people hardening to Spartan
lineaments in the fire, iron men to meet disaster, worshippers of a
discerned God of Laws, and just men too, thinking to do justice; he has
Bull on the eye, the alternately braggart and poltroon, sweating in
labour that he may gorge the fruits, graceless to a scoffer. And this is
the creature to whose tail he is tied! Hereditary hatred is approved by
critical disgust. Some spirited brilliancy, some persistent generosity
(other than the guzzle's flash of it), might soften him; something
sweeter than the slow animal well-meaningness his placable brethren point
his attention to. It is not seen, and though he can understand the
perils of a severance, he prefers to rub the rawness of his wound and be
ready to pitch his cap in the air for it, out of sheer bloodloathing of
a connection that offers him nothing to admire, nothing to hug to his
heart. Both below and above the blind mass of discontent in his island,
the repressed sentiment of admiration-or passion of fealty and thirst to
give himself to a visible brighter--is an element of the division:
meditative young Patrick O'Donnell early in his reflections had noted
that:--and it is partly a result of our daily habit of tossing the straw
to the monetary world and doting on ourselves in the mirror, until our
habitual doings are viewed in a bemused complacency by us, and the scum-
surface of the country is flashed about as its vital being. A man of
forethought using the Press to spur Parliament to fitly represent the
people, and writing on his daily topics with strenuous original vigour,
even though, like Rockney, he sets the teeth of the Celt gnashing at him,
goes a step nearer to the bourne of pacification than Press and
Parliament reflecting the popular opinion that law must be passed to
temper Ireland's eruptiveness; for that man can be admired, and the Celt,
in combating him, will like an able and gallant enemy better than a
grudgingly just, lumbersome, dull, politic friend. The material points
in a division are always the stronger, but the sentimental are here very
strong. Pass the laws; they may put an extinguisher on the Irish
Vesuvian; yet to be loved you must be a little perceptibly admirable.
You may be so self-satisfied as to dispense with an ideal: your yoke-
fellow is not; it is his particular form of strength to require one for
his proper blooming, and he does bloom beautifully in the rays he courts.
Ah then, seek to be loved, and banish Bull. Believe in a future and
banish that gross obscuration of you. Decline to let that old-yeoman-
turned alderman stand any longer for the national man. Speaking to the
brain of the country, one is sure of the power of a resolute sign from it
to dismiss the brainless. Banish him your revels and your debatings,
prohibit him your Christmas, lend no ear either to his panics or his
testiness, especially none to his rages; do not report him at all,
and he will soon subside into his domestic, varied by pothouse, privacy.
The brain should lead, if there be a brain. Once free of him, you will
know that for half a century you have appeared bottom upward to mankind.
And you have wondered at the absence of love for you under so astounding
a presentation. Even in a Bull, beneficent as he can dream of being,
when his notions are in a similar state of inversion, should be sheepish
in hope for love.
He too, whom you call the Welshman, and deride for his delight in songful
gatherings, harps to wild Wales, his Cambrian highlands, and not to
England. You have not yet, though he is orderly and serviceable, allured
his imagination to the idea of England. Despite the passion for his
mountains and the boon of your raising of the interdict (within a hundred
years) upon his pastors to harangue him in his native tongue, he gladly
ships himself across the waters traversed by his Prince Madoc of
tradition, and becomes contentedly a transatlantic citizen, a member of
strange sects--he so inveterate in faithfulness to the hoar and the
legendary!--Anything rather than Anglican. The Cymry bear you no hatred;
their affection likewise is undefined. But there is reason to think that
America has caught the imagination of the Cambrian Celt: names of
Welshmen are numerous in the small army of the States of the Union; and
where men take soldier-service they are usually fixed, they and their
children. Here is one, not very deeply injured within a century, of
ardent temperament, given to be songful and loving; he leaves you and
forgets you. Be certain that the material grounds of division are not
all. To pronounce it his childishness provokes the retort upon your
presented shape. He cannot admire it. Gaelic Scots wind the same note
And your poets are in a like predicament. Your poets are the most
persuasive of springs to a lively general patriotism. They are in the
Celtic dilemma of standing at variance with Bull; they return him his
hearty antipathy, are unable to be epical or lyrical of him, are
condemned to expend their genius upon the abstract, the quaint, the
picturesque. Nature they read spiritually or sensually, always
shrinkingly apart from him. They swell to a resemblance of their patron
if they stoop to woo his purse. He has, on hearing how that poets bring
praise to nations, as in fact he can now understand his Shakespeare to
have done, been seen to thump the midriff and rally them for their
shyness of it, telling them he doubts them true poets while they abstain
from singing him to the world-him, and the things refreshing the centre
of him. Ineffectual is that encouragement. Were he in the fire, melting
to the iron man, the backbone of him, it would be different. At his
pleasures he is anti-hymnic, repellent to song. He has perceived the
virtues of Peace, without the brother eye for the need of virtuousness to
make good use of them and inspire the poet. His own enrolled
unrhythmical bardic troops (humorous mercenaries when Celts) do his
trumpeting best, and offend not the Pierides.
This interlude, or rather inter-drone, repulsive to write, can hardly be
excluded from a theme dramatising Celtic views, and treating of a blood,
to which the idea of country must shine resplendently if we would have it
running at full tide through the arteries. Preserve your worship, if the
object fills your optics. Better worship that than nothing, as it is
better for flames to be blown out than not to ascend, otherwise it will
wreak circular mischief instead of illumining. You are requested simply
to recollect that there is another beside you who sees the object
obliquely, and then you will not be surprised by his irreverence. What
if, in the end, you were conducted to a like point of view? Self-worship,
it has been said, is preferable to no trimming of the faculty, but
worship does not necessarily cease with the extinction of this of
the voraciously carnal. An ideal of country, of Great Britain, is
conceivable that will be to the taste of Celt and Saxon in common, to
wave as a standard over their fraternal marching. Let Bull boo his
drumliest at such talk: it is, I protest, the thing we want and can have.
He is the obstruction, not the country; and against him, not against the
country, the shots are aimed which seem so malignant. Him the gay
manipulators propitiate who look at him through Literature and the Press,
and across the pulpit-cushions, like airy Macheath at Society, as carrion
to batten on. May plumpness be their portion, and they never hanged for
it! But the flattering, tickling, pleasantly pinching of Bull is one of
those offices which the simple starveling piper regards with afresh
access of appetite for the well-picked bone of his virtue. That ghastly
apparition of the fleshly present is revealed to him as a dead whale,
having the harpoon of the inevitable slayer of the merely fleshly in his
oils. To humour him, and be his piper for his gifts, is to descend to a
carnival deep underneath. While he reigns, thinks this poor starveling,
Rome burns, or the explosive powders are being secretly laid. He and his
thousand Macheaths are dancing the country the giddy pace, and there
will, the wretch dreads, be many a crater of scoria in the island, before
he stretches his inanimate length, his parasites upon him. The theme is
chosen and must be treated as a piper involved in his virtue conceives
it: that is, realistically; not with Bull's notion of the realism of the
butcher's shop and the pendent legs of mutton and blocks of beef painted
raw and glaring in their streaks, but with the realism of the active
brain and heart conjoined. The reasons for the division of Celt and
Saxon, what they think and say of one another, often without knowing that
they are divided, and the wherefore of our abusing of ourselves, brave
England, our England of the ancient fortitude and the future incarnation,
can afford to hear. Why not in a tale? It is he, your all for animal
pleasure in the holiday he devours and cannot enjoy, whose example
teaches you to shun the plaguey tale that carries fright: and so you find
him sour at business and sick of his relaxings, hating both because he
harnesses himself in turn bestially to each, growling at the smallest
admixture of them, when, if he would but chirp a little over his work,
and allow his pleasures to inspire a dose of thoughtfulness, he would be
happier, and--who knows?-become a brighter fellow, one to be rescued from
Now the rain is over, your carriage is at the door, the country smiles
and the wet highway waves a beckoning hand. We have worn through a cloud
with cloudy discourses, but we are in a land of shifting weathers,
'coelum crebris imbribus ac nebulis foedum,' not every chapter can be
CROSSING THE RUBICON
Rough weather on the Irish sea discharged a pallid file of passengers
from the boat at Holyhead just as the morning sun struck wave and
mountain with one of the sudden sparkling changes which our South-welters
have in their folds to tell us after a tumultuous night that we have only
been worried by Puck. The scene of frayed waters all rosy-golden, and
golden-banded heathery height, with the tinted sand, breaking to flights
of blue, was resplendent for those of our recent sea-farers who could
lift an eye to enjoy it. Freshness, illumination, then salt air, vivid
distances, were a bath for every sense of life. You could believe the
breast of the mountain to be heaving, the billows to be kissing fingers
to him, the rollers shattered up the cliff to have run to extinction to
scale him. He seemed in his clear-edged mass King of this brave new
boundless world built in a minute out of the wreck of the old.
An hour back the vessel was labouring through rueful chasms under
darkness, and then did the tricksy Southwest administer grisly slaps to
right and left, whizzing spray across the starboard beam, and drenching
the locks of a young lady who sat cloaked and hooded in frieze to teach
her wilfulness a lesson, because she would keep her place on deck from
beginning to end of the voyage. Her faith in the capacity of Irish
frieze to turn a deluge of the deeps driven by an Atlantic gale was
shaken by the time she sighted harbour, especially when she shed showers
by flapping a batlike wing of the cloak, and had a slight shudder to find
herself trickling within.
'Dear! and I'm wet to the skin,' she confided the fact to herself
'You would not be advised,' a gentleman beside her said after a delicate
pause to let her impulsive naturalism of utterance fly by unwounded.
'And aren't you the same and worse? And not liking it either, I fear,
Sir!' she replied, for despite a manful smile his complexion was tell-
tale. 'But there 's no harm in salt. But you should have gone down to
the cabin with Father Boyle and you would have been sure of not catching
cold. But, Oh! the beautiful . . . look at it! And it's my first
view of England. Well, then, I'll say it's a beautiful country.'
Her companion looked up at the lighted sky, and down at the pools in
tarpaulin at his feet. He repressed a disposition to shudder, and with
the anticipated ecstasy of soon jumping out of wet clothes into dry, he
said: 'I should like to be on the top of that hill now.'
The young lady's eyes flew to the top.
'They say he looks on Ireland; I love him; and his name is Caer Gybi; and
it was one of our Saints gave him the name, I 've read in books. I'll be
there before noon.'
'You want to have a last gaze over to Erin?'
'No, it's to walk and feel the breeze. But I do, though.'
'Won't you require a little rest?'
'Sure and I've had it sitting here all night!' said she.
He laughed: the reason for the variation of exercise was conclusive.
Father Boyle came climbing up the ladder, uncertain of his legs; he
rolled and snatched and tottered on his way to them, and accepted the
gentleman's help of an arm, saying: 'Thank ye, thank ye, and good
morning, Mr. Colesworth. And my poor child! what sort of a night has
it been above, Kathleen?'
He said it rather twinkling, and she retorted:
'What sort of a night has it been below, Father Boyle?' Her twinkle was
livelier than his, compassionate in archness.
'Purgatory past is good for contemplation, my dear. 'Tis past, and
there's the comfort! You did well to be out of that herring-barrel,
Mr. Colesworth. I hadn't the courage, or I would have burst from it to
take a ducking with felicity. I haven't thrown up my soul; that's the
most I can say. I thought myself nigh on it once or twice. And an
amazing kind steward it was, or I'd have counted the man for some one
else. Surely 'tis a glorious morning?'
Mr. Colesworth responded heartily in praise of the morning. He was
beginning to fancy that he felt the warmth of spring sunshine on his
back. He flung up his head and sniffed the air, and was very like a
horse fretful for the canter; so like as to give Miss Kathleen an idea of
the comparison. She could have rallied him; her laughing eyes showed the
readiness, but she forbore, she drank the scene. Her face, with the
threaded locks about forehead and cheeks, and the dark, the blue, the
rosy red of her lips, her eyes, her hair, was just such a south-western
sky as April drove above her, the same in colour and quickness; and much
of her spirit was the same, enough to stand for a resemblance. But who
describes the spirit? No one at the gates of the field of youth. When
Time goes reaping he will gather us a sheaf, out of which the picture
'There's our last lurch, glory to the breakwater!' exclaimed Father
Boyle, as the boat pitched finally outside the harbour fence, where a
soft calm swell received them with the greeting of civilised sea-nymphs.
'The captain'll have a quieter passage across. You may spy him on the
pier. We'll be meeting him on the landing.'
'If he's not in bed, from watching the stars all night,' said Miss
'He must have had a fifty-lynx power of sight for that, my dear.'
'They did appear, though, and wonderfully bright,' she said. 'I saw them
come out and go in. It's not all cloud when the high wind blows.'
'You talk like a song, Kathleen.'
'Couldn't I rattle a throat if I were at home, Father!'
'Ah! we're in the enemy's country now.'
Miss Kathleen said she would go below to get the handbags from the
Mr. Colesworth's brows had a little darkened over the Rev. Gentleman's
last remark. He took two or three impatient steps up and down with his
head bent. 'Pardon me; I hoped we had come to a better understanding,'
he said. 'Is it quite fair to the country and to Miss O'Donnell to
impress on her before she knows us that England is the enemy?'
'Habit, Mr. Colesworth, habit! we've got accustomed to the perspective
and speak accordingly. There's a breach visible.'
'I thought you agreed with me that good efforts are being made on our
side to mend the breach.'
'Sir, you have a noble minority at work, no doubt; and I take you for one
of the noblest, as not objecting to stand next to alone.'
'I really thought, judging from our conversation at Mrs. O'Donnell's that
evening, that you were going to hold out a hand and lead your flock to
the right sort of fellowship with us.'
'To submission to the laws, Mr. Colesworth; 'tis my duty to do it as
pastor and citizen.'
'No, to more than that, sir. You spoke with friendly warmth.'
'The atmosphere was genial, if you remember the whisky and the fumes of
our tobacco at one o'clock!'
'I shall recollect the evening with the utmost pleasure. You were kind
enough to instruct me in a good many things I shall be sure to profit by.
I wish I could have spent more time in Ireland. As it is, I like
Irishmen so well that if the whole land were in revolt I should never
call it the enemy's country.'
'Excellently spoken, Mr. Colesworth,' said the priest. 'We 'll hope your
writings may do service to mend the breach. For there is one, as you
know, and more 's the pity; there's one, and it's wide and deep. As my
friend Captain Con O'Donnell says, it's plain to the naked eye as a pair
of particularly fat laundry drawers hung out to dry and ballooned in
extension--if mayhap you've ever seen the sight of them in that state:--
just held together by a narrow neck of thread or button, and stretching
away like a corpulent frog in the act of swimming on the wind. His
comparison touches the sentiment of disunion, sir.'
Mr. Colesworth had not ever seen such a pair of laundry drawers inflated
to symbolise the breach between Ireland and England; nor probably, if he
had, would the sentiment of national disunion have struck his mind: it
was difficult to him in the description. He considered his Rev. friend
to be something of a slippery fish, while Father Boyle's opinion of him
likewise referred him to an elemental substance, of slow movement-earth,
in short: for he continued to look argumentative after all had been said.
Or perhaps he threw a coveting eye on sweet Miss Kathleen and had his own
idea of mending a stitch of the breach in a quite domestic way. If so,
the Holy Father would have a word to say, let alone Kathleen. The maids
of his Church do not espouse her foes. For the men it is another matter:
that is as the case may be. Temporarily we are in cordial intercourse,
Miss Kathleen returned to deck carrying her bags. The gentleman had to
descend, and subsequently an amiable dissension arose on the part of the
young lady and Mr. Colesworth. She, however, yielded one of her bags,
and he, though doubly laden, was happy. All very transparent to pastoral
observation, but why should they not be left to their chirruping
youthfulness? The captain was not in view, and Father Boyle wanted to
go to bed for refreshment, and Kathleen was an airy gossamer, with a boy
running after it, not by any means likely to catch it, or to keep it if
he did. Proceed and trip along, you young ones!
At the hotel they heard that Captain Con O'Donnell was a snug sleeper
upstairs. This, the captain himself very soon informed them, had not
been the kernel of the truth. He had fancied they would not cross the
Channel on so rattlesome a night, or Kathleen would have had an Irish
kiss to greet her landing in England. But the cousinly salute was little
delayed, news of the family in Ireland and England was exchanged, and
then Mr. Colesworth and the captain bowed to an introduction; and the
captain, at mention of his name, immediately cried out that Mr.
Colesworth might perchance be a relative of the highly intelligent
admirable lady who had undertaken the secretaryship, and by her vast
ability got the entire management, of Miss Mattock's benevolent
institution, and was conducting it with such success that it was fast
becoming a grief to the generous heart of the foundress of the same to
find it not only self-paying, but on the road to a fortune, inasmuch as
it was already an article in the decrees of fashion among the nobility
and gentry of both sexes in the metropolis to have their linen and laces
washed at the Mattock laundry.
Mr. Colesworth said he was the brother of the lady in question, he had
also the pleasure of an acquaintance with Miss Mattock. He was
vehemently congratulated on the relationship, which bore witness, the
captain armed, to a certain hereditary share of brains greatly to be
envied: brother of Miss Colesworth, a title of distinction in itself!
He was congratulated not less cordially for his being so fortunate as to
know Miss Mattock, one of a million.
Captain Con retained the hand of Father Boyle and squeezed it during his
eulogies, at the same time dispensing nods and winks and sunny sparkles
upon Kathleen. Mr. Colesworth went upstairs to his room not unflattered.
The flattery enveloped him in the pleasant sense of a somehow now
established companionship for the day with a pleasant person from
whom he did not wish to separate.
'You made the gentleman's acquaintance, my dear . . . ?' said Con.
Kathleen answered: 'He made friends with our Patrick on the Continent,
I think it was in Germany, and came to us to study the old country,
bearing a letter from Patrick. He means to be one of their writers on
the newspapers. He studies everything; he has written books. He called
on us coming and called on us going and we came over together,' said Miss
Kathleen. 'But tell me: our Philip?'
'Books!' Con exclaimed. 'It's hard to discover a man in these days who
hasn't written books. Oh! Philip! Ease your heart about Philip.
They're nursing him, round. He was invalided at the right moment for
him, no fear. I gave him his chance of the last vacant seat up to the
last hour, and now the die is cast and this time I 'm off to it. Poor
Philip--yes, yes! we 're sorry to see him flat all his length, we love
him; he's a gallant soldier; alive to his duty; and that bludgeon sun of
India knocked him down, and that fall from his horse finished the
business, and there he lies. But he'll get up, and he might have
accepted the seat and spared me my probation: he's not married, I am,
I have a wife, and Master Philip divides me against my domestic self,
he does. But let that be: I serve duty too. Not a word to our friend up
yonder. It's a secret with a time-fuse warranted to explode safe enough
when the minutes are up, and make a powerful row when it does. It is all
right over there, Father Boyle, I suppose?'
'A walk over! a pure ceremonial,' said the priest, and he yawned
'You're for a nap to recompose you, my dear friend,' remarked the
'But you haven't confided anything of it to Mrs. Adister?'
'Not a syllable; no. That's to come. There's my contest! I had urgent
business in Ireland, and she 's a good woman, always willing to let me
go. I count on her kindness, there 's no mightier compliment to one's
wife. She'll know it when it's history. She's fond of history. Ay, she
hates fiction, and so I'm proud to tell her I offer her none. She likes
a trifling surprise too, and there she has it. Oh! we can whip up the
business to a nice little bowl of froth-flummery. But it's when the
Parliamentary voting is on comes the connubial pull. She's a good woman,
a dear good soul, but she's a savage patriot; and Philip might have saved
his kinsman if he had liked. He had only to say the word: I could have
done all the business for him, and no contest to follow by my fireside.
He's on his couch--Mars convalescent: a more dreadful attraction to the
ladies than in his crimson plumes! If the fellow doesn't let slip his
opportunity! with his points of honour and being an Irish Bayard. Why
Bayard in the nineteenth century's a Bedlamite, Irish or no. So I tell
him. There he is; you'll see him, Kathleen: and one of them as big an
heiress as any in England. Philip's no fool, you'll find.'
'Then he's coming all right, is he?' said Kathleen.
'He 's a soldier, and a good one, but he 's nothing more, and as for
patriotic inflammation, doesn't know the sensation.'
'Oh! but he's coming round, and you'll go and stroke down mother with
that,' Kathleen cried. 'Her heart's been heavy, with Patrick wandering
and Philip on his back. I'll soon be dressed for breakfast.'
Away she went.
'She's got an appetite, and looks like a strapped bit of steel after the
night's tumbling,' said the captain, seeing her trip aloft. 'I'm young
as that too, or not far off it. Stay, I'll order breakfast for four in a
quiet corner where we can converse--which, by the way, won't be possible
in the presence of that gaping oyster of a fellow, who looks as if he
were waiting the return of the tide.'
Father Boyle interposed his hand.
'Not for . . .' he tried to add 'four.' The attempt at a formation of
the word produced a cavernous yawn a volume of the distressful deep to
'Of course,' Captain Con assented. He proposed bed and a sedative
therein, declaring that his experience overnight could pronounce it good,
and that it should be hot. So he led his tired old friend to the
bedroom, asked dozens of questions, flurried a withdrawal of them,
suggested the answers, talked of his Rubicon, praised his wife, delivered
a moan on her behalf, and after assisting to half disrobe the scarce
animate figure, which lent itself like an artist's lay-model to the
operation, departed on his mission of the sedative.
At the breakfast for three he was able to tell Kathleen that the worthy
Father was warm, and on his way to complete restoration.
'Full fathom five the Father lies, in the ocean of sleep, by this time,'
said Con. 'And 'tis a curious fact that every man in that condition
seems enviable to men on their legs. And similarly with death; we'd
rather not, because of a qualm, but the picture of the finish of the leap
across is a taking one. These chops are done as if Nature had mellowed
'They are so nice,' Kathleen said.
'You deserve them, if ever girl in this world!'
'I sat on deck all night, and Mr. Colesworth would keep me company.'
'He could hardly do less, having the chance. But that notwithstanding,
I'm under an obligation to your cavalier. And how did you find Ireland,
sir? You've made acquaintance with my cousin, young Mr. Patrick
O'Donnell, I rejoice to hear.'
'Yes, through his hearing or seeing my name and suspecting I had a
sister,' said Mr. Colesworth, who was no longer in the resemblance of a
gaping oyster on the borders of the ebb. 'The country is not disturbed.'
'So the doctor thinks his patient is doing favourably! And you cottoned
to Patrick? And I don't wonder. Where was it?'
'We met in Trieste. He was about to start by one of the Austrian boats
for the East.'
'Not disturbed! no! with a rotten potato inside it paralysing
digestion!' exclaimed Con. 'Now Patrick had been having a peep at
Vienna, hadn't he?'
'He had; he was fresh from Vienna when I met him. As to Ireland, the
harvest was only middling good last year.'
'And that's the bit of luck we depend on. A cloud too much, and it's
drowned! Had he seen, do you know, anybody in Vienna?--you were not long
together at Trieste?'
Mr. Colesworth had sufficient quickness to perceive that the two
questions could be answered as one, and saying: 'He was disappointed,'
revealed that he and Patrick had been long enough together to come to
terms of intimacy.
'To be sure, he gave you a letter of introduction to his family!' said
Con. 'And permit me to add, that Patrick's choice of a friend is mine
on trust. The lady he was for seeing, Mr. Colesworth, was just then
embarking on an adventure of a romantic character, particularly well
suited to her nature, and the end of it was a trifle sanguinary, and
she suffered a disappointment also, though not perhaps on that account.'
'I heard of it in England last year,' said Mr. Colesworth. 'Did she come
through it safely?'
'Without any personal disfigurement: and is in England now, under her
father's roof, meditating fresh adventures.'
Kathleen cried: 'Ye 're talking of the lady who was Miss Adister--I can
guess--Ah!' She humped her shoulders and sent a shudder up her neck.
'But she's a grand creature, Mr. Colesworth, and you ought to know her,'
said Con. 'That is, if you'd like to have an idea of a young Catherine
or a Semiramisminus an army and a country. There's nothing she's not
capable of aiming at. And there's pretty well nothing and nobody she
wouldn't make use of. She has great notions of the power of the British
Press and the British purse--each in turn as a key to the other. Now for
an egg, Kathleen.'
'I think I'll eat an egg,' Kathleen replied.
'Bless the honey heart of the girl! Life's in you, my dear, and calls
for fuel. I'm glad to see that Mr. Colesworth too can take a sight at
the Sea-God after a night of him. It augurs magnificently for a future
career. And let me tell you that the Pen demands it of us. The first of
the requisites is a stout stomach--before a furnished head! I'd not pass
a man to be anything of a writer who couldn't step ashore from a tempest
and consume his Titan breakfast.'
'We are qualifying for the literary craft, Miss O'Donnell,' said Mr.
'It's for a walk in the wind up Caer Gybi, and along the coast I mean to
go,' said Kathleen.
'This morning?' the captain asked her.
She saw his dilemma in his doubtful look.
'When I've done. While you're discussing matters with Father Boyle.
I--know you're burning to. Sure it's yourself knows as well as anybody,
Captain Con, that I can walk a day long and take care of my steps. I've
walked the better half of Donegal alone, and this morning I'll have a
Captain Con eyed the protector, approved of him, disapproved of himself,
thought of Kathleen as a daughter of Erin--a privileged and inviolate
order of woman in the minds of his countrymen--and wriggling internally
over a remainder scruple said: 'Mr. Colesworth mayhap has to write a bit
in the morning.'
'I'm unattached at present,' the latter said. 'I am neither a
correspondent nor a reporter, and if I were, the event would be wanting.'
'That remark, sir, shows you to be eminently a stranger to the official
duties,' observed the captain. 'Journalism is a maw, and the journalist
has to cram it, and like anything else which perpetually distends for
matter, it must be filled, for you can't leave it gaping, so when nature
and circumstance won't combine to produce the stuff, we have recourse to
the creative arts. 'Tis the necessity of the profession.'
'The profession will not impose that necessity upon me,' remarked the
'Outside the wheels of the machine, sir, we indulge our hallucination of
immunity. I've been one in the whirr of them, relating what I hadn't
quite heard, and capitulating what I didn't think at all, in spite of the
cry of my conscience--a poor infant below the waters, casting up
ejaculatory bubbles of protestation. And if it is my reproach that I
left it to the perils of drowning, it's my pride that I continued to
transmit air enough to carry on the struggle. Not every journalist can
say as much. The Press is the voice of the mass, and our private opinion
is detected as a discord by the mighty beast, and won't be endured by
'It's better not to think of him quite as a beast,' said Mr. Colesworth.
'Infinitely better: and I like your "guile," sir: But wait and tell me
what you think of him after tossing him his meat for a certain number of
years. There's Rockney. Do you know Rockney? He's the biggest single
gun they've got, and he's mad for this country, but ask him about the
public, you'll hear the menagerie-keeper's opinion of the brute that
mauled his loins.'
'Rockney,' said Mr. Colesworth, 'has the tone of a man disappointed of
'Then you do know Rockney!' shouted Captain Con. 'That's the man in a
neat bit of drawing. He's a grand piece of ordnance. But wait for him
too, and tell me by and by. If it isn't a woman, you'll find, that
primes him, ay, and points him, and what's more, discharges him, I'm not
Irish born. Poor fellow! I pity him. He had a sweet Irish lady for his
wife, and lost her last year, and has been raging astray politically ever
since. I suppose it's hardly the poor creature's fault. None the less,
you know, we have to fight him. And now he 's nibbling at a bait--it 's
fun: the lady I mentioned, with a turn for adventure and enterprise: it's
rare fun: he 's nibbling, he'll be hooked. You must make her
acquaintance, Mr. Colesworth, and hold your own against her, if you can.
She's a niece of my wife's and I'll introduce you. I shall find her in
London, or at our lodgings at a Surrey farm we've taken to nurse my
cousin Captain Philip O'Donnell invalided from Indian awful climate!--
on my return, when I hope to renew the acquaintance. She has beauty,
she has brains. Resist her, and you 'll make a decent stand against
Lucifer. And supposing she rolls you up and pitches you over, her
noticing you is a pretty compliment to your pen. That 'll be consoling.'
Mr. Colesworth fancied, he said, that he was proof against feminine
blandishments in the direction of his writings.
He spoke as one indicating a thread to suggest a cable. The captain
applauded the fancy as a pleasing delusion of the young sprigs of
Upon this, Mr. Colesworth, with all respect for French intelligence,
denied the conclusiveness of French generalisations, which ascribed to
women universal occult dominion, and traced all great affairs to small
The captain's eyes twinkled on him, thinking how readily he would back
smart Miss Kathleen to do the trick, if need were.
He said to her before she started: 'Don't forget he may be a clever
fellow with that pen of his, and useful to our party.'
'I'll not forget,' said she.
For the good of his party, then, Captain Con permitted her to take the
walk up Caer Gybi alone with Mr. Colesworth: a memorable walk in the
recollections of the scribe, because of the wonderful likeness of the
young lady to the breezy weather and the sparkles over the deep, the
cloud that frowned, the cloud that glowed, the green of the earth
greening out from under wings of shadow, the mountain ranges holding
hands about an immensity of space. It was one of our giant days to his
emotions, and particularly memorable to him through the circumstance that
it insisted on a record in verse, and he was unused to the fetters of
metre: and although the verse was never seen by man, his attempt at it
confused his ideas of his expressive powers. Oddly too, while scourging
the lines with criticism, he had a fondness for them: they stamped a
radiant day in his mind, beyond the resources of rhetoric to have done it
This was the day of Captain Con's crossing the Rubicon between the secret
of his happiness and a Parliamentary career.
CAPTAIN CON'S LETTER
Women may be able to tell you why the nursing of a military invalid
awakens tenderer anxieties in their bosoms than those called forth by
the drab civilian. If we are under sentence of death we are all of us
pathetic of course; but stretched upon the debateable couch of sickness
we are not so touching as the coloured coat: it has the distinction
belonging to colour. It smites a deeper nerve, or more than one; and
this, too, where there is no imaginary subjection to the charms of
military glory, in minds to which the game of war is lurid as the plumes
of the arch-slayer.
Jane Mattock assisting Mrs. Adister O'Donnell to restore Captain Philip
was very singularly affected, like a person shut off on a sudden from her
former theories and feelings. Theoretically she despised the soldier's
work as much as she shrank abhorrently from bloodshed. She regarded him
and his trappings as an ensign of our old barbarism, and could peruse
platitudes upon that theme with enthusiasm. The soldier personally, she
was accustomed to consider an inferior intelligence: a sort of schoolboy
when young, and schoolmaster when mature a visibly limited creature, not
a member of our broader world. Without dismissing any of these views
she found them put aside for the reception of others of an opposite
character; and in her soul she would have ascribed it to her cares of
nursing that she had become thoughtful, doubtful, hopeful, even
prayerful, surcharged with zeal, to help to save a good sword for the
country. If in a world still barbarous we must have soldiers, here was
one whom it would be grievous to lose. He had fallen for the country;
and there was a moving story of how he had fallen. She inclined to think
more highly of him for having courted exposure on a miserable frontier
war where but a poor sheaf of glory could be gathered. And he seemed to
estimate his professional duties apart from an aim at the laurels. A
conception of the possibility of a man's being both a soldier and morally
a hero edged its way into her understanding. It stood edgeways within,
desirous of avoiding a challenge to show every feature.
The cares of nursing were Jane's almost undividedly, except for the aid
she had from her friend Grace Barrow and from Miss Colesworth. Mrs.
Adister O'Donnell was a nurse in name only. 'She'll be seen by Philip
like as if she were a nightmare apparition of his undertaker's wraith,'
Captain Con said to Jane, when recommending his cousin to her charitable
nature, after he had taken lodgings at a farmhouse near Mrs. Lackstraw's
model farm Woodside on the hills. 'Barring the dress,' as he added, some
such impression of her frigid mournfulness might have struck a recumbent
invalid. Jane acknowledged it, and at first induced her aunt to join her
in the daily walk of half a mile to sit with him. Mrs. Lackstraw was a
very busy lady at her farm; she was often summoned to London by her
intuition of John's wish to have her presiding at table for the
entertainment of his numerous guests; she confessed that she supervised
the art of nursing better than she practised it, and supervision can be
done at a distance if the subordinate is properly attentive to the rules
we lay down, as Jane appeared to be. So Jane was left to him. She loved
the country; Springtide in the country set her singing; her walk to her
patient at Lappett's farm and homeward was an aethereal rapture for a
heart rocking easy in fulness. There was nothing to trouble it, no hint
of wild winds and heavy seas, not even the familiar insinuation from the
vigilant monitress, her aunt, to bid her be on her guard, beware of what
it is that great heiresses are courted for, steel her heart against
serpent speeches, see well to have the woman's precious word No at the
sentinel's post, and alert there. Mrs. Lackstraw, the most vigilant and
plain-spoken of her sex, had forborne to utter the usual warnings which
were to preserve Miss Mattock for her future Earl or Duke and the reason
why she forbore was a double one; a soldier and Papist could never be
thought perilous to a young woman scorning the sons of Mars and slaves
of sacerdotalism. The picture of Jane bestowing her hand on a Roman
Catholic in military uniform, refused to be raised before the mind.
Charitableness, humaneness, the fact that she was an admirable nurse and
liked to exercise her natural gift, perfectly accounted for Jane's trips
to Lappett's farm, and the jellies and fresh dairy dainties and neat
little dishes she was constantly despatching to the place. A suggestion
of possible danger might prove more dangerous than silence, by rendering
it attractive. Besides, Jane talked of poor Captain Philip as Patrick
O'Donnell's brother, whom she was bound to serve in return for Patrick's
many services to her; and of how unlike Patrick he was. Mrs. Lackstraw
had been apprehensive about her fancy for Patrick. Therefore if Captain
Philip was unlike him, and strictly a Catholic, according to report, the
suspicion of danger dispersed, and she was allowed to enjoy the pleasures
of the metropolis as frequently as she chose. The nursing of a man of
Letters, or of the neighbour to him, a beggar in rags, would not have
been so tolerated. Thus we perceive that wits actively awake inside the
ring-fence of prepossessions they have erected may lull themselves with
their wakefulness. Who would have thought!--is the cry when the
strongest bulwark of the fence is broken through.
Jane least of any would have thought what was coming to pass. The pale
square-browed young officer, so little Irish and winning in his brevity
of speech, did and said nothing to alarm her or strike the smallest
light. Grace Barrow noticed certain little changes of mood in Jane she
could scarcely have had a distinct suspicion at the time. After a recent
observation of him, on an evening stroll from Lappett's to Woodside, she
pronounced him interesting, but hard. 'He has an interesting head . . .
I should not like to offend him.' They agreed as to his unlikeness to
fluid Patrick; both eulogistic of the absent brother; and Jane, who could
be playful in privacy with friends, clapped a brogue on her tongue to
discourse of Patrick and apostrophise him: 'Oh! Pat, Pat, my dear cousin
Pat! why are you so long away from your desponding Jane? I 'll take to
poetry and write songs, if you don't come home soon. You've put seas
between us, and are behaving to me as an enemy. I know you 'll bring
home a foreign Princess to break the heart of your faithful. But I'll
always praise you for a dear boy, Pat, and wish you happy, and beg the
good gentleman your brother to give me a diploma as nurse to your first-
born. There now!'
She finished smiling brightly, and Grace was a trifle astonished, for her
friend's humour was not as a rule dramatic.
'You really have caught a twang of it from your friend Captain Con; only
you don't rattle the eighteenth letter of the alphabet in the middle of
'I've tried, and can't persuade my tongue to do it "first off," as boys
say, and my invalid has no brogue whatever to keep me in practice,' Jane
replied. 'One wonders what he thinks of as he lies there by the window.
He doesn't confide it to his hospital nurse.'
'Yes, he would treat her courteously, just in that military style,' said
Grace, realising the hospital attendance.
'It 's the style I like best:--no perpetual personal thankings and
allusions to the trouble he gives!' Jane exclaimed. 'He shows perfect
good sense, and I like that in all things, as you know. A red-haired
young woman chooses to wait on him and bring him flowers--he's brother
to Patrick in his love of wild flowers, at all events!--and he takes it
naturally and simply. These officers bear illness well. I suppose
it 's the drill.'
'Still I think it a horrid profession, dear.'
Grace felt obliged to insist on that: and her 'I think,' though it was
not stressed, tickled Jane's dormant ear to some drowsy wakefulness.
'I think too much honour is paid to it, certainly. But soldiers, of all
men, one would expect to be overwhelmed by a feeling of weakness. He has
never complained; not once. I doubt if he would have complained if Mrs.
Adister had been waiting on him all the while, or not a soul. I can
imagine him lying on the battle-field night after night quietly,
resolving not to groan.'
'Too great a power of self-repression sometimes argues the want of any
emotional nature,' said Grace.
Jane shook her head. She knew a story of him contradicting that.
The story had not recurred to her since she had undertaken her service.
It coloured the remainder of an evening walk home through the beechwoods
and over the common with Grace, and her walk across the same tracks early
in the morning, after Grace had gone to London. Miss Colesworth was
coming to her next week, with her brother if he had arrived in England.
Jane remembered having once been curious about this adventurous man of
Letters who lived by the work of his pen. She remembered comparing him
to one who was compelled to swim perpetually without a ship to give him
rest or land in view. He had made a little money by a book, and was
expending it on travels--rather imprudently, she fancied Emma Colesworth
to be thinking. He talked well, but for the present she was happier in
her prospect of nearly a week of loneliness. The day was one of
sunshine, windless, odorous: one of the rare placid days of April when
the pettish month assumes a matronly air of summer and wears it till the
end of the day. The beech twigs were strongly embrowned, the larches
shot up green spires by the borders of woods and on mounds within, deep
ditchbanks unrolled profuse tangles of new blades, and sharp eyes might
light on a late white violet overlooked by the children; primroses ran
along the banks. Jane had a maxim that flowers should be spared to live
their life, especially flowers of the wilds; she had reared herself on
our poets; hence Mrs. Lackstraw's dread of the arrival of one of the
minstrel order: and the girl, who could deliberately cut a bouquet from
the garden, if requested, would refuse to pluck a wildflower. But now
they cried out to her to be plucked in hosts, they claimed the sacrifice,
and it seemed to her no violation of her sentiment to gather handfuls
making a bunch that would have done honour to the procession of the
children's May-day--a day she excused for the slaughter because her idol
and prophet among the poets, wild nature's interpreter, was that day on
the side of the children. How like a bath of freshness would the thick
faintly-fragrant mass shine to her patient! Only to look at it was
medicine! She believed, in her lively healthfulness, that the look would
give him a spring to health, and she hurried forward to have them in
water-the next sacred obligation to the leaving of them untouched.
She had reared herself on our poets. If much brooding on them will
sometimes create a sentimentalism of the sentiment they inspire, that
also, after our manner of developing, leads to finer civilisation; and as
her very delicate feelings were not always tyrants over her clear and
accurate judgement, they rather tended to stamp her character than lead
her into foolishness. Blunt of speech, quick in sensibility,
imaginative, yet idealistic, she had the complex character of diverse
brain and nerve, and was often a problem to the chief person interested
in it. She thought so decisively, felt so shrinkingly; spoke so flatly,
brooded so softly! Such natures, in the painful effort to reconcile
apparent antagonism and read themselves, forget that they are not full
grown. Longer than others are they young: but meanwhile they are of an
age when we are driven abroad to seek and shape our destinies.
Passing through the garden-gate of Lappett's farm she made her way to the
south-western face of the house to beg a bowl of water of the farmer's
wife, and had the sweet surprise of seeing her patient lying under
swallows' eaves on a chair her brother had been commissioned to send
from London for coming uses. He was near the farm-wife's kitchen, but to
windward of the cooking-reek, pleasantly warmed, sufficiently shaded, and
alone, with open letter on the rug covering his legs. He whistled to
Jane's dog Wayland, a retriever, having Newfoundland relationships, of
smithy redness and ruggedness; it was the whistle that startled her to
turn and see him as she was in the act of handing Mrs. Lappett her
'Out? I feared it would be a week. Is it quite prudent?' Jane said,
toning down her delight.
He answered with the half-smile that refers these questions to the
settled fact. Air had always brought him round; now he could feel he
was embarked for recovery: and he told her how the farmer and one of his
men had lent a shoulder to present him to his old and surest physician--
rather like a crippled ghost. M. Adister was upstairs in bed with one of
her headaches. Captain Con, then, was attending her, Jane supposed: She
spoke of him as the most devoted of husbands.
A slight hardening of Philip's brows, well-known to her by this time,
caused her to interrogate his eyes. They were fixed on her in his manner
of gazing with strong directness. She read the contrary opinion, and
some hieroglyphic matter besides.
'We all respect him for his single-hearted care of her,' she said.
'I have a great liking for him. His tirades about the Saxon tyrant are
not worth mentioning, they mean nothing. He would be one of the first to
rush to the standard if there were danger; I know he would. He is truly
chivalrous, I am sure.'
Philip's broad look at her had not swerved. The bowl of primroses placed
beside him on a chair by the farmer's dame diverted it for a moment.
'You gathered them?' he said.
Jane drank his look at the flowers.
'Yes, on my way,' she replied. 'We can none of us live for ever; and
fresh water every day will keep them alive a good long time. They had it
from the clouds yesterday. Do they not seem a bath of country
happiness!' Evidently they did their service in pleasing him.
Seeing his fingers grope on the rug, she handed him his open letters.
He selected the second, passing under his inspection, and asked her to
She took the letter, wondering a little that it should be in Captain
'I am to read it through?' she said, after a run over some lines.
He nodded. She thought it a sign of his friendliness in sharing family
secrets with her, and read:
'MY DEAR PHILIP,--Not a word of these contents, which will be delivered
seasonably to the lady chiefly concerned, by the proper person. She
hears this morning I 'm off on a hasty visit to Ireland, as I have been
preparing her of late to expect I must, and yours the blame, if any,
though I will be the last to fling it at you. I meet Father B. and
pretty Kitty before I cross. Judging by the wind this morning, the
passage will furnish good schooling for a spell of the hustings. But if
I am in the nature of things unable to command the waves, trust me for
holding a mob in leash; and they are tolerably alike. My spirits are up.
Now the die is cast. My election to the vacancy must be reckoned
beforehand. I promise you a sounding report from the Kincora Herald.
They will not say of me after that (and read only the speeches reported
in the local paper) "what is the man but an Irish adventurer!" He is a
lover of his country, Philip O'Donnell, and one of millions, we will
hope. And that stigmatic title of long standing, more than anything
earthly, drove him to the step-to the ruin of his domestic felicity
perhaps. But we are past sighing.
'Think you, when he crossed the tide, Caius Julius Caesar sighed?
'No, nor thought of his life, nor his wife, but of the thing to be done.
Laugh, my boy! I know what I am about when I set my mind on a powerful
example. As the chameleon gets his colour, we get our character from the
objects we contemplate . . .'
Jane glanced over the edge of the letter sheet rosily at Philip.
His dryness in hitting the laughable point diverted her, and her mind
became suffused with a series of pictures of the chameleon captain
planted in view of the Roman to become a copy of him, so that she did not
peruse the terminating lines with her wakefullest attention:
'The liege lady of my heart will be the earliest to hail her hero
triumphant, or cherish him beaten--which is not in the prospect. Let
Ireland be true to Ireland. We will talk of the consolidation of the
Union by and by. You are for that, you say, when certain things are
done; and you are where I leave you, on the highway, though seeming to go
at a funeral pace to certain ceremonies leading to the union of the two
countries in the solidest fashion, to their mutual benefit, after a
shining example. Con sleeps with a corner of the eye open, and you are
not the only soldier who is a strategist, and a tactician too, aware of
when it is best to be out of the way. Now adieu and pax vobiscum. Reap
the rich harvest of your fall to earth. I leave you in the charge of the
kindest of nurses, next to the wife of my bosom the best of women.
Appreciate her, sir, or perish in my esteem. She is one whom not to
love is to be guilty of an offence deserving capital punishment, and a
bastinado to season the culprit for his execution. Have I not often
informed her myself that a flower from her hand means more than treasures
from the hands of others. Expect me absent for a week. The harangues
will not be closely reported. I stand by the truth, which is my love of
the land of my birth. A wife must come second to that if she would be
first in her husband's consideration. Hurrah me on, Philip, now it is
action, and let me fancy I hear you shouting it.'
The drop of the letter to the signature fluttered affectionately on a
number of cordial adjectives, like the airy bird to his home in the corn.
Jane's face was clear as the sky when she handed the letter back to
Philip. In doing so, it struck her that the prolonged directness of his
look was peculiar: she attributed it to some effect of the fresh Spring
atmosphere on a weakened frame. She was guessing at his reasons for
showing her the letter, and they appeared possibly serious.
'An election to Parliament! Perhaps Mrs. Adister should have a hint of
it, to soften the shock I fear it may be: but we must wait till her
headache has passed,' she said.
'You read to the end?' said Philip.
'Yes, Captain Con always amuses me, and I am bound to confess I have no
positive disrelish of his compliments. But this may prove a desperate
step. The secret of his happiness is in extreme jeopardy. Nothing would
stop him, I suppose?'
Philip signified that it was too late. He was moreover of opinion, and
stated it in his briefest, that it would be advisable to leave the
unfolding of the present secret to the captain.
Jane wondered why the letter had been shown. Her patient might be
annoyed and needing sympathy?
'After all,' she said, 'Captain Con may turn out to be a very good sort
of member of Parliament in his way.'
Philip's eyebrows lifted, and he let fall a breath, eloquent of his
'My brother says he is a serviceable director of the Company they are
'He finds himself among reasonable men, and he is a chameleon.'
'Parliament may steady him.'
'It is too much of a platform for Con's head.'
'Yes, there is more of poet than politician,' said she. 'That is a
danger. But he calls himself our friend; I think he really has a liking
for John and me.'
'For you he has a real love,' said Philip.
'Well, then, he may listen to us at times; he may be trusted not to wound
us. I am unmitigatedly for the one country--no divisions. We want all
our strength in these days of monstrous armies directed by banditti
Councils. England is the nation of the Christian example to nations.
Oh! surely it is her aim. At least she strives to be that. I think it,
and I see the many faults we have.'
Her patient's eyelids were down.
She proposed to send her name up to Mrs. Adister.
On her return from the poor lady racked with headache and lying little
conscious of her husband's powder-barrel under the bed, Jane found her
patient being worried by his official nurse, a farm-labourer's wife, a
bundle of a woman, whose lumbering assiduities he fenced with reiterated
humourous negatives to every one of her propositions, until she prefaced
the last two or three of the list with a 'Deary me!' addressed
consolatorily to herself. She went through the same forms each day,
at the usual hours of the day, and Jane, though she would have felt the
apathetic doltishness of the woman less, felt how hard it must be for him
'Your sister will be with you soon,' she said. 'I am glad, and yet I
hope you will not allow her to put me aside altogether?'
'You shall do as you wish,' said Philip.
'Is she like Patrick? Her name is Kathleen, I know.'
'She is a raw Irish girl, of good Irish training, but Irish.'
'I hope she will be pleased with England. Like Patrick in face, I mean.'
'We think her a good-looking girl.'
'Does she play? sing?'
'Some of our ballads.'
'She will delight my brother. John loves Irish ballads.'
A silence of long duration fell between them. She fancied he would like
to sleep, and gently rose to slip away, that she might consult with Mrs.
Lappett about putting up some tentcover. He asked her if she was going.
'Not home,' she said. His hand moved, but stopped. It seemed to have
meant to detain her. She looked at a white fleece that came across the
sun, desiring to conjure it to stay and shadow him. It sailed by. She
raised her parasol.
His eyelids were shut, and she thought him asleep. Meditating on her
unanswered question of Miss Kathleen's likeness to Patrick, Jane imagined
a possibly greater likeness to her patient, and that he did not speak of
his family's exclamations on the subject because of Kathleen's being so
good-looking a girl. For if good-looking, a sister must resemble these
handsome features here, quiescent to inspection in their marble outlines
as a corse. So might he lie on the battle-field, with no one to watch
While she watched, sitting close beside him to shield his head from the
sunbeams, her heart began to throb before she well knew the secret of it.
She had sight of a tear that grew big under the lashes of each of his
eyelids, and rolled heavily. Her own eyes overflowed.
The fit of weeping was momentary, April's, a novelty with her. She
accused her silly visions of having softened her. A hasty smoothing to
right and left removed the traces; they were unseen; and when she
ventured to look at him again there was no sign of fresh drops falling.
His eyelids kept shut.
The arrival of her diurnal basket of provisions offered a refreshing
intervention of the commonplace. Bright air had sharpened his appetite:
he said he had been sure it would, and anticipated cheating the doctor of
a part of the sentence which condemned him to lie on his back up to the
middle of June, a log. Jane was hungry too, and they feasted together
gaily, talking of Kathleen on her journey, her strange impressions and
her way of proclaiming them, and of Patrick and where he might be now;
ultimately of Captain Con and Mrs. Adister.
'He has broken faith with her,' Philip said sternly. 'She will have the
right to tell him so. He never can be anything but a comic politician.
Still he was bound to consult his wife previous to stepping before the
public. He knows that he married a fortune.'
'A good fortune,' said Jane.
Philip acquiesced. 'She is an excellent woman, a model of uprightness;
she has done him all the good in the world, and here is he deceiving her,
lying--there is no other word: and one lie leads to another. When he
married a fortune he was a successful adventurer. The compact was
understood. His duty as a man of honour is to be true to his bond and
serve the lady. Falseness to his position won't wash him clean of the
Jane pleaded for Captain Con. 'He is chivalrously attentive to her.'
'You have read his letter,' Philip replied.
He crushed her charitable apologies with references to the letter.
'We are not certain that Mrs. Adister will object,' said she.
'Do you see her reading a speech of her husband's?' he remarked.
Presently with something like a moan:
'And I am her guest!'
'Oh! pray, do not think Mrs. Adister will ever allow you to feel the
lightest shadow . . .' said Jane.
'No; that makes it worse.'
Had this been the burden of his thoughts when those two solitary tears
forced their passage?
Hardly: not even in his physical weakness would he consent to weep for
such a cause.
'I forgot to mention that Mrs. Adister has a letter from her husband
telling her he has been called over to Ireland on urgent business,' she
Philip answered: 'He is punctilious.'
'I wish indeed he had been more candid,' Jane assented to the sarcasm.
'In Ireland he is agreeably surprised by the flattering proposal of a
vacant seat, and not having an instant to debate on it, assumes the
consent of the heavenliest wife in Christendom.'
Philip delivered the speech with a partial imitation of Captain Con
addressing his wife on his return as the elected among the pure Irish
party. The effort wearied him.
She supposed he was regretting his cousin's public prominence in the
ranks of the malcontents. 'He will listen to you,' she said, while she
smiled at his unwonted display of mimicry.
'A bad mentor for him. Antics are harmless, though they get us laughed
at,' said Philip.
'You may restrain him from excesses.'
'Were I in that position, you would consider me guilty of greater than
any poor Con is likely to commit.'
'Surely you are not for disunion?'
'The reverse. I am for union on juster terms, that will hold it fast.'
'But what are the terms?'
He must have desired to paint himself as black to her as possible. He
stated the terms, which were hardly less than the affrighting ones blown
across the Irish sea by that fierce party. He held them to be just,
simply sensible terms. True, he spoke of the granting them as a sure
method to rally all Ireland to an ardent love of the British flag. But
he praised names of Irish leaders whom she had heard Mr. Rockney denounce
for disloyal insolence: he could find excuses for them and their dupes--
poor creatures, verily! And his utterances had a shocking emphasis.
Then she was not wrong in her idea of the conspirator's head, her first
impression of him!
She could not quit the theme: doing that would have been to be
indifferent: something urged her to it.
'Are they really your opinions?'
He seemed relieved by declaring that they were.
'Patrick is quite free of them,' said she.
'We will hope that the Irish fever will spare Patrick. He was at a
Jesuit college in France when he was wax. Now he's taking the world.'
'With so little of the Jesuit in him!'
'Little of the worst: a good deal of the best.'
'What is the best?'
'Their training to study. They train you to concentrate the brain upon
the object of study. And they train you to accept service: they fit you
for absolute service: they shape you for your duties in the world; and so
long as they don't smelt a man's private conscience, they are model
masters. Happily Patrick has held his own. Not the Jesuits would have
a chance of keeping a grasp on Patrick! He'll always be a natural boy
and a thoughtful man.'
Jane's features implied a gentle shudder.
'I shake a scarlet cloak to you?' said Philip.
She was directed by his words to think of the scarlet coat. 'I reflect a
little on the substance of things as well,' she said. 'Would not
Patrick's counsels have an influence?'
'Hitherto our Patrick has never presumed to counsel his elder brother.'
'But an officer wearing . . .'
'The uniform! That would have to be stripped off. There'd be an end to
any professional career.'
'You would not regret it?'
'No sorrow is like a soldier's bidding farewell to flag and comrades.
Happily politics and I have no business together. If the country favours
me with active service I'm satisfied for myself. You asked me for my
opinions: I was bound to give them. Generally I let them rest.'
Could she have had the temerity? Jane marvelled at herself.
She doubted that the weighty pair of tears had dropped for the country.
Captain Con would have shed them over Erin, and many of them. Captain
Philip's tone was too plain and positive: he would be a most practical
'You would countenance a revolt?' she said, striking at that extreme to
elicit the favourable answer her tones angled for. And it was instantly:
'Not in arms.' He tried an explanation by likening the dissension to a
wrangle in a civilised family over an unjust division of property.
And here, as he was marking the case with some nicety and difficulty,
an itinerant barrel-organ crashed its tragic tale of music put to torture
at the gate. It yelled of London to Jane, throttled the spirits of the
woods, threw a smoke over the country sky, befouled the pure air she
The instrument was one of the number which are packed to suit all English
tastes and may be taken for a rough sample of the jumble of them, where a
danceless quadrille-tune succeeds a suicidal Operatic melody and is
followed by the weariful hymn, whose last drawl pert polka kicks aside.
Thus does the poor Savoyard compel a rich people to pay for their wealth.
Not without pathos in the abstract perhaps do the wretched machines
pursue their revolutions of their factory life, as incapable of
conceiving as of bestowing pleasure: a bald cry for pennies through the
barest pretence to be agreeable but Jane found it hard to be tolerant of
them out of London, and this one affecting her invalid and Mrs. Adister
must be dismissed. Wayland was growling; he had to be held by the
collar. He spied an objectionable animal. A jerky monkey was attached
to the organ; and his coat was red, his kepi was blue; his tailor had
rigged him as a military gentleman. Jane called to the farm-wife.
Philip assured her he was not annoyed. Jane observed him listening,
and by degrees she distinguished a maundering of the Italian song she
had one day sung to Patrick in his brother's presence.
'I remember your singing that the week before I went to India,' said
Philip, and her scarlet blush flooded her face.
'Can you endure the noise?' she asked him.
'Con would say it shrieks "murder." But I used to like it once.'
Mrs. Lappett came answering to the call. Her children were seen up the
garden setting to one another with squared aprons, responsive to a
'Bless me, miss, we think it so cheerful!' cried Mrs. Lappett, and
glanced at her young ones harmonious and out of mischief.
'Very well,' said Jane, always considerate for children. She had
forgotten the racked Mrs. Adister.
Now the hymn of Puritanical gloom-the peacemaker with Providence
performing devotional exercises in black bile. The leaps of the children
were dashed. A sallow two or three minutes composed their motions, and
then they jumped again to the step for lively legs. The similarity to
the regimental band heading soldiers on the march from Church might have
'I wonder when I shall see Patrick!' he said, quickened in spite of
himself by the sham sounds of music to desire changes and surprises.
Jane was wondering whether he could be a man still to brood tearfully
over his old love.
She echoed him. 'And I! Soon, I hope.'
The appearance of Mrs. Adister with features which were the acutest
critical summary of the discord caused toll to be paid instantly, and
they beheld a flashing of white teeth and heard Italian accents. The
monkey saluted militarily, but with painful suggestions of his foregone
drilling in the ceremony.
'We are safe nowhere from these intrusions,' Mrs. Adister said; 'not on
these hills!--and it must be a trial for the wretched men to climb them,
that thing on their backs.'
'They are as accustomed to it as mountain smugglers bearing packs of
contraband,' said Philip.
'Con would have argued him out of hearing before he ground a second
note,' she resumed. 'I have no idea when Con returns from his unexpected
visit to Ireland.'
'Within a fortnight, madam.'
'Let me believe it! You have heard from him? But you are in the air!
exposed! My head makes me stupid. It is now five o'clock. The air
begins to chill. Con will never forgive me if you catch a cold, and I
would not incur his blame.'
The eyes of Jane and Philip shot an exchange.
'Anything you command, madam,' said Philip.
He looked up and breathed his heaven of fresh air. Jane pitied, she
could not interpose to thwart his act of resignation. The farmer, home
for tea, and a footman, took him between them, crutched, while Mrs.
Adister said to Jane: 'The doctor's orders are positive:--if he is to be
a man once more, he must rest his back and not use his legs for months.
He was near to being a permanent cripple from that fall. My brother
Edward had one like it in his youth. Soldiers are desperate creatures.'
'I think Mr. Adister had his fall when hunting, was it not?' said Jane.
'Hunting, my dear.'
That was rather different from a fall on duty before the enemy, incurred
by severe exhaustion after sunstroke! . . .
Jane took her leave of Philip beside his couch of imprisonment in his
room, promising to return in the early morning. He embraced her old dog
Wayland tenderly. Hard men have sometimes a warm affection for dogs.
Walking homeward she likewise gave Wayland a hug. She called him 'dear
old fellow,' and questioned him of his fondness for her, warning him not
to be faithless ever to the mistress who loved him. Was not her old
Wayland as good a protector as the footman Mrs. Adister pressed her to
have at her heels? That he was!
Captain Con's behaviour grieved her. And it certainly revived an ancient
accusation against his countrymen. If he cared for her so much, why had
he not placed confidence in her and commissioned her to speak of his
election to his wife? Irishmen will never be quite sincere!--But why had
his cousin exposed him to one whom he greatly esteemed? However angry he
might be with Con O'Donnell in his disapproval of the captain's conduct,
it was not very considerate to show the poor man to her in his natural
colours. Those words: 'The consolidation of the Union:' sprang up. She
had a dim remembrance of words ensuing: 'ceremonies going at a funeral
pace . . . on the highway to the solidest kind of union:'--Yes, he
wrote: 'I leave you to . . .' And Captain Philip showed her the letter:
She perceived motives beginning to stir. He must have had his intention:
and now as to his character!--Jane was of the order of young women
possessing active minds instead of figured paste-board fronts, who see
what there is to be seen about them and know what may be known instead of
decorously waiting for the astonishment of revelations. As soon as she
had asked herself the nature of the design of so honourable a man as
Captain Philip in showing her his cousin's letter, her blood spun round
and round, waving the reply as a torch; and the question of his character
But could he be imagined seeking to put her on her guard? There may be
modesty in men well aware of their personal attractions: they can credit
individual women with powers of resistance. He was not vain to the
degree which stupefies the sense of there being weight or wisdom in
others. And he was honour's own. By these lights of his character she
read the act. His intention was . . . and even while she saw it
accurately, the moment of keen perception was overclouded by her innate
distrust of her claim to feminine charms. For why should he wish her
to understand that he was no fortune-hunter and treated heiresses with
greater reserve than ordinary women! How could it matter to him?
She saw the tears roll. Tears of men sink plummet-deep; they find their
level. The tears of such a man have more of blood than of water in
them.--What was she doing when they fell? She was shading his head from
the sun. What, then, if those tears came of the repressed desire to
thank her with some little warmth? He was honour's own, and warmhearted
Patrick talked of him as a friend whose heart was, his friend's.
Thrilling to kindness, and, poor soul! helpless to escape it, he felt.
perhaps that he had never thanked her, and could not. He lay there,
weak and tongue-tied: hence those two bright volumes of his condition
So the pursuit of the mystery ended, as it had commenced, in confusion,
but of a milder sort and partially transparent at one or two of the gates
she had touched. A mind capable of seeing was twisted by a nature that
would not allow of open eyes; yet the laden emotions of her nature
brought her round by another channel to the stage neighbouring sight,
where facts, dimly recognised for such--as they may be in truth, are
accepted under their disguises, because disguise of them is needed by
the bashful spirit which accuses itself of audaciousness in presuming to
speculate. Had she asked herself the reason of her extended speculation,
her foot would not have stopped more abruptly on the edge of a torrent
than she on that strange road of vapours and flying lights. She did not;
she sang, she sent her voice through the woods and took the splendid ring
of it for an assurance of her peculiarly unshackled state. She loved
this liberty. Of the men who had 'done her the honour,' not one had
moved her to regret the refusal. She lived in the hope of simply doing
good, and could only give her hand to a man able to direct and help her;
one who would bear to be matched with her brother. Who was he? Not
discoverable; not likely to be.
Therefore she had her freedom, an absolutely unflushed freedom, happier
than poor Grace Barrow's. Rumour spoke of Emma Colesworth having a wing
clipped. How is it that sensible women can be so susceptible? For,
thought Jane, the moment a woman is what is called in love, she can give
her heart no longer to the innocent things about her; she is cut away
from Nature: that pure well-water is tasteless to her. To me it is wine!
The drinking of the pure well-water as wine is among the fatal signs of
fire in the cup, showing Nature at work rather to enchain the victim than
bid her daughter go. Jane of course meant the poet's 'Nature.' She did
not reflect that the strong glow of poetic imagination is wanted to
hallow a passionate devotion to the inanimate for this evokes the
spiritual; and passionateness of any kind in narrower brains should be
a proclamation to us of sanguine freshets not coming from a spiritual
source. But the heart betraying deluded her. She fancied she had not
ever been so wedded to Nature as on that walk through the bursting
beechwoods, that sweet lonely walk, perfect in loneliness, where even a
thought of a presence was thrust away as a desecration and images of
souls in thought were shadowy.
Her lust of freedom gave her the towering holiday. She took the delirium
in her own pure fashion, in a love of the bankside flowers and the downy
edges of the young beech-buds fresh on the sprays. And it was no unreal
love, though too intent and forcible to win the spirit from the object.
She paid for this indulgence of her mood by losing the spirit entirely.
At night she was a spent rocket. What had gone she could not tell: her
very soul she almost feared. Her glorious walk through the wood seemed
burnt out. She struck a light to try her poet on the shelf of the elect
of earth by her bed, and she read, and read flatness. Not his the fault!
She revered him too deeply to lay it on him. Whose was it? She had a
vision of the gulfs of bondage.
Could it be possible that human persons were subject to the spells of
persons with tastes, aims, practices, pursuits alien to theirs? It was a
riddle taxing her to solve it for the resistance to a monstrous iniquity
of injustice, degrading her conception of our humanity. She attacked it
in the abstract, as a volunteer champion of our offended race. And Oh!
it could not be. The battle was won without a blow.
Thereupon came glimpses of the gulfs of bondage, delicious, rose-
enfolded, foreign; they were chapters of soft romance, appearing
interminable, an endless mystery, an insatiable thirst for the mystery.
She heard crashes of the opera-melody, and despising it even more than
the wretched engine of the harshness, she was led by it, tyrannically led
a captive, like the organ-monkey, until perforce she usurped the note,
sounded the cloying tune through her frame, passed into the vulgar
sugariness, lost herself.
And saying to herself: This is what moves them! she was moved. One
thrill of appreciation drew her on the tide, and once drawn from shore
she became submerged. Why am I not beautiful, was her thought. Those
voluptuous modulations of melting airs are the natural clothing of
beautiful women. Beautiful women may believe themselves beloved.
They are privileged to believe, they are born with the faith.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A whisper of cajolery in season is often the secret
Ah! we're in the enemy's country now
Beautiful women may believe themselves beloved
Could peruse platitudes upon that theme with enthusiasm
Foamy top is offered and gulped as equivalent to an idea
Hard men have sometimes a warm affection for dogs
He was not alive for his own pleasure
Hug the hatred they packed up among their bundles
I baint done yet
Irishmen will never be quite sincere
Loudness of the interrogation precluded thought of an answer
Love the children of Erin, when not fretted by them
Loves his poets, can almost understand what poetry means
May lull themselves with their wakefulness
Never forget that old Ireland is weeping
Not every chapter can be sunshine
Not likely to be far behind curates in besieging an heiress
Not the great creatures we assume ourselves to be
Nursing of a military invalid awakens tenderer anxieties
Paying compliments and spoiling a game!
Secret of the art was his meaning what he said
Suggestion of possible danger might more dangerous than silence
Tears of men sink plummet-deep
Tears of such a man have more of blood than of water in them
They laugh, but they laugh extinguishingly
Time, whose trick is to turn corners of unanticipated sharpness
Twisted by a nature that would not allow of open eyes
With death; we'd rather not, because of a qualm
Woman's precious word No at the sentinel's post, and alert
Would like to feel he was doing a bit of good