Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors]

Mr Rider Haggard. He is the to one of the invaders; but in 'She' new avatar of the old story-teller, it is more romantic, being all mixed with a favour of the nineteenth with a very weird and uncanny kind century and scientific explanation, of love-making. It is no doubt a but at the same time a sturdy and sort of resurrection that has taken masculine force of invention which place in this new writer. The disdains these helps .even in en- fancy of the public has been lately ploying them. * King Solomon's turned, by one of those impulses Mines' was a strong pull upon the which periodically sway human wholesome curiosity of the race, sentiment, to the art of the storyand their interest in the wonder- teller, which; perhaps, had fallen a ful; but “She' 1 is a stronger. We little out of repute, dimmed by the were all disposed to account for modern art of character-painting our excitement over the former and analysis. We need scarcely inbook by a half-apologetic inference quire, for we could give no satisthat it was intended for “the factory answer, what has brought it boys," and therefore required to be back. Something entirely inadeinspected with a benevolent anxiety quate, no doubt, after the use and to know whether it was good for wont of human things: for neither them-an excuse also sometimes Mr Rider Haggard nor Mr Stevenput forth to explain the breathless son can claim to have been the ininterest with which Mr Louis strument of the change. It was Stevenson's finer workmanship and there before those who were born equally bold effects have been re- to supply it. As likely as anything ceived by most people. Mr Rider it was Mr Hugh Conway who first Haggard is not an exquisite work- struck the rock, though by what man like Mr Stevenson, but he has right no man can tell; certainly a great deal of power in his way, he was no prophet that he should and rougher qualities which are do this thing. But whatever the more likely, perhaps, to “take the means, the thing has been done ; town than skill more delicate. and now it is not the fine discusAnd then he has a distinct sphere sion of means and motive, the porwhich is his own. He “talks of trait long-drawn out and endless of Africa and golden joys,” with a internal doubts and fears, but a knowledge and certainty that few lively outside story, which is the possess, and is able to thread an best charm to conjure withal. It unknown river for us as if it were cannot be pretended that Mr Rider in all the maps, and make the Haggard has either the grim force dismal swamps as recognisable as of Gulliver, or that amazing calm Princes Street.

matter-of-fact reality with which There is, inevitably we suppose, Defoe impresses himself upon us, ą certain amount of resemblance with an unimaginative power albetween this wonderful tale and its most more telling than imagination. predecessor. There was a map to The methods of the new raconteur guide the investigators in the one are not refined, nor his inspircase ; there is a potsherd with a ation of any more ethereal kind Greek inscription in the other. In than that of mingling experience *. King Solomon's Mines 'the motive and invention into a stirring tale. was stronger, for it was the recovery Neither satire nor criticism of life of hidden treasure and of a kingdom is in the strain. His object is to

i She: A History of Adventure. By H. Rider Haggard. London: Longmans, Green, & Ca.

work in as many marvels as possible, all, would seem to be Mr Rider with so many realities as to make Haggard's theory. For when the the whole look as if it might have young hero, directed thereto by been, which is an effort much more the vengeful instructions of an difficult than that of the writer Egyptian ancestress, daughter of who flings himself into the person one of the early Pharaohs, forces of his hero, and feels and lives his way into the kingdom of the with him. Mr Rider Haggard enchantress, he is received by her has not proved as yet that he has with impassioned delight as the anything that can be called ima- very Kallikrates whom she stabbed gination at all; but invention he several centuries before the Chrishas of the most robust kind, such tian era. Naturally this brings as may afford a certain amount of about certain complications; for pleasure to everybody who reads, the mission upon which the youth and which probably impresses the was sent, following many unsucmasses more than the most poetic cessful ventures on the part of his fancy.

remote ancestors from that period She' is one of the wildest of pro- downwards, was to kill the sorsaic conceptions. She is an enchant- ceress and avenge his great-grandress who has established an empire papa. But instead of doing this in the interior of Africa, unknown he falls instantly in love with her, to history or tradition, unsuspect- as does his friend and guardian, ed by the geographers, a mysteri- the teller of the tale: and if ous region which contains the nothing had intervened, instead of central fountain, or rather fire, of vengeance there must have follife, in which having bathed she lowed only an ecstatic honeymoon, is immortal—or rather compara- and the reunion of the two souls tively immortal, for there are which were severed by the rash limits 10 all things; and up to the act of the lady 2300 years before. time at which the story begins, this But this, of course, could not be personage has lived and reigned permitted to be. only a trifle over


The reader will easily perceive Notwithstanding this respectable that, for a strong and daring period of duration, she is still as inventor, without the aid of a full of all the arts of coquetry as poetic imagination, the situaif she were

a young lady of the tion is a very startling one. It nineteenth century; although we would not, perhaps, have been are given to understand that she les difficult bad he been a poet, has been supported during the but the difficulties would have whole of the double millennium been of a different kind. No tine by a desperate passion, the love web of fate or tragic impossibility of a man whom she herself killed comes between. The old siren, 390 B.C., and for whose return to who all through looks very much this world she has been all the like an actress in a féerie, instead time waiting If the reincar- of being arrested by some subtle nation of souls is accomplished action of the unseen powers, or only at such long intervali, and stayed by an irresistible de tiny if the second life is to be lived in at the moment of her apparent the same or an exactly similar triumph, only make; a ludicrous person to that which embodied the mistake, and perishe; in a sort of first, the doctrine of Pythagoras explosion of fireworks in hideous becomes of less difficult acceptance; decrepitude and disgust, shriveland this, so far as he means it at ling up into the semblance of an




We re

up into

old monkey,—she who had been and truth most picturesquely and the most beautiful of all women ever vividly set forth. The pilgrims

Everything about the ca- have been enjoying the coolness of tastrophe is manqué. The journey the night on the deck of the dhow, to the centre of life is attended by when they are roused, in the midst horrors which suggest stage car- of a doze, by the following incipentry more than anything real; dent:and the plank which is carefully

“I remember no more, till suddencarried all the way to be placed ly a frightful roar of wind, a shriek over a gap in a tremendous chasm, of terror from the awakening crew, where the wind is always raving, and a whip-like sting of water in our and where that prosaic bridge has faces. Some of the men ran to let go to be thrown between a spur of the haulyards and lower the sail, but unsteady rock and a loggan-stone, the parrel jammed, and the yard would has surely been invented with

not come down. I sprang to my feet and hung on to a rope.

The sky aft some idea of future use in a panto- was dark as pitch; but the moon still mime. Only once in the twenty- shone brightly ahead of us, and lit up four hours does a ray of sunshine the blackness. Beneath its sheen a penetrate the blackness of this huge white-topped breaker, twenty too awful gulf, and that moment, feet high or more, was rushing on to

It was on the break: the moon of course, has to be taken advan

shone on its crest and tipped its toam tage of for the crossing. commend it to the attention of inky sky, driven by the awful squall

with light. On it rushed beneath the Mr Irving. It might be wrought behind it. Suddenly, in the twink

an unparalleled stage ling of an eye, I saw the black shape effect : but it is rather a failure in of the whale-boat cast high into the pen and ink. The more fearful air on the crest of the breaking wave. and wonderful such circumstances Then—a shock of water, a wild rush are intended to be, the more ab- of boiling foam, and I was clinging

for my life to the shroud,-ay, swept surd is the failure of them. We

straight out from it like a flag in a are, alas! not at all alarmed by the gale. We were pooped. plight of Messrs Holly and Vincey, “ The wave passed. It seemed to even when they return alone from me that I was under water for mintheir sublime adventure. It utes—really it was seconds. I looked cites our interest much more to

forward. The blast had torn out the hear how they are to fare at the great sail, and high in the air it was hands of their savage escort when fluttering away to leeward like a huge

wounded bird." they come back without the queen, who alone has kept these savages

After they have managed (quite in order. That commends itself miraculously, we should say) to get to us as a real danger : the other into the attendant whale-boat, with is mere pasteboard and fireworks. its air-tight compartments, further

But the shipwreck of the dhow; dangers arise :the sudden wild squall in the midst " The furious tempest drove over of the fierce tropical moonlight; the and round us, flinging the boat this escape across lines of breakers to way and that; the winds and the the savage unknown coast; the storm-wreath and the sheets of stingvoyage up the river into the wild ing spray blinded and bewildered us; solitudes and dismal swamps,—are

but through it all we worked like dea very different matter. The one despair-for even despair can exhila

mons, with the wild exhilaration of may not, perhaps, so far as we can

One minute, three minutes, tell, be any more real than the six minutes ! The boat began to other; but it looks like truth- lighten, and no fresh wave swamped



[ocr errors]



us. Five minutes more, and she was in the great University, and eager fairly clear. Then suddenly, above to know all about it without being the awful shrieking of the hurricane, able to claim that relationship. came a duller, deeper roar. Great

“I would give my right arm,' heavens! it was the voice of the breakers !

heard an enthusiastic “At that moment the moon began American poet say, Ringing forth to shine forth again-this time behind that member as he spoke, “to have the path of the squall. Out far across been educated at Eton and Oxthe torn bosom of the ocean shot the ford!” Alas! there are many who ragged arrows of her light, and there, have possessed these privileges who half a mile ahead of us, was a white make but small use of them. The line of foam ; then a little space of open-mouthed blackness, and then history of the University, Mr Lyte another line of white. It was the tells us, has never before been breakers, and these grew clearer and written. (Another shorter work yet more clear as we sped down upon of the same kind, by the Warden them like a swallow. There they were of Oriel, has, we believe, just come boiling up in snowy snouts of spray, from the press, but has not yet smiting and gnashing together like reached us. Oxford has furnished the gleaming teeth of hell!"


plenty of antiquarian “ bits,” and We will venture to add that in plenty of florid descriptions. The real adventure Mr Rider Haggard vagaries of its youthful inmates will find his best field. Truth is have called forth many a volume, stranger than fiction even there, and traditions of all sorts have and it is hard to fit such a person. been vaguely afloat, and done ser

She' to the uses either of vice as history in popular publipoetry or grammar. She' is a cations. But none of her many sham, and not a pleasant one. literary sons have till now gathered

We have given enough, perhaps documents and legends into the too much, room to the lighter liter- sieve of genuine and continuous ature. Here is something which is, historical research. Mr Lyte has in contrast with all this froth, no doubt destroyed a good many perhaps a little heavy, serious in- pleasant beliefs, and cut down struction, and worth preserving. cherished delusions into the bare Mr Maxwell Lytel deceives us a outline of fact; but he has thrown little to begin with, though we do a great deal of real daylight upon not suppose he had any such in- the beginnings of those stately tention. His book, which is in and venerable corporations which reality only the first volume of a give individuality to English unihistory, is put forth more or less as versities. Even in this respect we a companion book to the History are perhaps a little disappointed by of Eton,' which he published sev- the result of his investigations; for eral years ago; but the Eton book it had been a sort of accepted conhad many and very good illustra- clusion that the distinctive feature tions, and the present volume has of English university life, thc exnone, which is a disappointment to istence of its many separate Colbegin with. It is, however, very leges, each with a band of scholars, well worth the attention of those united by close ties of fellowship to whom Oxford is the Alma Mater and propinquity, was characteristic of intellectual life, as well as to and fundamental-in short, that the many more who are interested Oxford was born so, as a child is

age as



1 History of the University of Oxford. By Maxwell Lyte. London: Macmillan & Co.

born with its legs and arms com

" It was in or before the year 1260 plete, and fingers and toes de- that he incurred the censure of Walter veloped. The Scotch imagination Kirkham, Bishop of Durham, by some (being slow, as everybody knows) order, and he was not pardoned until

serious offence against ecclesiastical at first refuses to believe that the he had submitted himself to be time ever existed when there was publicly scourged by the bishop at no Master in Balliol, although Snell the door of the cathedral church, and scholarships, we allow, had an as- had vowed to set apart a certain sum certainable beginning ; but when of money for the perpetual maintenwe are called upon to ascend into ance of poor students at the Univerremote antiquity, and concede that sity. In fulfilment of this vow, an

establishment known as the house of there was once no Balliol at all, Balliol' was ere long opened at Oxford the blood almost refuses to flow in for the reception of poor scholars, the our startled veins.

patron granting to each of thein a Yet such it appears was reaily weekly allowance of eightpence for the case. “ For those who are ac

'commons,'—that is to say, for a share quainted with the Oxford of the of the food at common table." present century alone,” says Mr From such small beginnings do Lyte, “it may be difficult to realise the greatest results spring ! Devthat the University was a large and orgilla, the revered patroness to flourishing body long before it con- whom that learned corporation now tained a single college of secular looks back as upon an open-handed students. The collegiate system princess, "continued to pay the did not take its rise until the second weekly allowances” after her hushalf of the thirteenth century, and band's death, and a considerable at least three

centuries time afterwards the community elapsed before it became predomi- was constituted under the external nant,"_so that, in fact, the univer- supervision of two proctors, memsity in England was at its begin- bers of the university, and a Princining not much more dignified than pal elected by the students. The in other places, but consisted of the Master, that name of awe, was a same busy crowd of young men, the later institution, The College besame untitled groups of lecturers gan its career in a hired house near and teachers, as in France or Ger: the Church of St Mary Magdalen, many, or even Scotland. Even the about which spot it acquired first founders did not do much more various dwellings, never moving than establish “chests" (in fact, as from the vicinity of that corner, well as in title) containing certain now so fully filled up by the long moneys, to be given or lent to poor extending line of building which scholars to help them through their forms the present very modern studies. The Sea Chest, or Kist, by college. the by, an institution of last cen- Mr Lyte disposes almost contury in seaboard parishes, to help temptuously of the fond fiction of poor mariners to their salt-water University College--that its corequipment, hands on this simple poration was founded by Alfred. title. The first thing that looks And his account of how, one after at all like the foundation of a another, these little centres of life College was, what we should call in and learning were formed, or formed Scotland the “mortification” of themselves, with their chest or certain funds made by John Balliol, coffer full of odd moneys for the which does not, however, seem to help of poor scholars, is very inhave had the grace of a voluntary teresting. act.

On more than one occasion, how



« PoprzedniaDalej »