페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

old gentleman, dressed in black coat and creasing wonder. It must be poverty ;gray trousers. He took his place at the end perhaps it was avarice. His clothes were of the table. Nobody took the least notice worn and threadbare. He drank nothing but of him-except Captain Bowker, who asked water with his dinner. him, in a whisper, if he was better. Mr. The dinner consisted of an enormous leg Eddrup shook his head, and poured out a of mutton, the biggest ever seen, probably, glass of water. This was a sort of signal; and, Frank thought, perhaps the stringiest. for there is no better opportunity of display- He found that you could have beer, or even ing wit than when you are waiting to be wine-only that luxury was hardly known served, and no safer a method than that of at Mrs. Skimp's dinner table-by ordering chaffing an old man.

it of the red-armed attendant. During the The medical student began. How de- intervals of feeding, a running horseplay of lightful is the flow of spirits, unchecked by wit went on at Mr. Eddrup's expense. His the ordinary restrictions of politeness, which appetite was commented on—his personal distinguishes a certain class of medical stu- appearance and habits. Stories, not the dent!

most delicately chosen, were told about his He burst into a horse laugh, and pointed antecedents. To all this Mr. Eddrup was at Mr. Eddrup.

entirely callous. Captain Hamilton greatly “Ha, ha! - Ho, ho! There he goes distinguished himself in this feast of reason again. Must cool his coppers."

by a persistent disregard of a woman's pre“Where did you get tight last night, Mr. sence, and a steady accumulation of insinuaEddrup?" cried Captain Hamilton, whom tions against the morals of the old gentleFrank set down at once as a leg of the most man, which did him infinite credit. unmitigated description. He was one of “Does this sort of thing go on every those shady, suburban-race men who hang evening?" asked Frank of his neighbour, about at small meetings, living heaven Captain Bowker, the only one who took no knows how. At present, he was three weeks part in the conversation. in debt at Skimp's, and was meditating “Every morning and every evening. flight, with the partial sacrifice of his ward- Breakfast and dinner. At two bells and the robe.

dog watch," replied Captain Bowker. "I think I saw him at the Alhambra about Frank hardly understood the last allusion, eleven,” said another, a City clerk. “He but let it pass. was winking at the ballet girls.”

Dinner concluded without the ceremony "Oh, Mr. Eddrup !-Oh, bad man!" was of grace, and the guests rose one by one, groaned all round the table; and then every- and strolled into the billiard-room. body laughed.

Captain Hamilton and the three at the Mr. Eddrup took not the smallest notice end of the table alone remained. He adof anybody, calmly sitting with his eyes fixed vanced to Frank with an easy grace, and before him. The immobility of his features tendered him his card. was very remarkable. He took no notice “Let us know each other," he said, “as at all, either by look or gesture. He was a we are for the moment in this hole." small, thin man, with a broad, high brow. Frank took the card: “Captain Hamilton.” His hair, which had not fallen off, and was No regiment upon it. still thick, lay in long, white masses-much "Ceylon Rifles," said the gallant officer. longer than young men wear it—and gave “My name is Melliship,” said Frank. him a singular, out-of-the-way appearance, He would not have another alias. not easily forgotten. But his face attracted “Come and join our pool, Mr. Melliship." Frank at once. It had a quite inexpressible “No, thank you. I never play billiards, charm of sweetness. The cheeks were except—that is, I never do play.

“Come and look on. You can bet on pinched in; round the eyes were crows’feet; the lips were thin; but in the sad smile the game, and smoke.” that lived upon his mouth you could read "I never bet, thank you," said Frank, the presence of some spirit of content which coldly. made the foolish gibes of the rest fall upon "Well

, what do you do, then?" asked the him unregarded. Who was he? Why did he Captain, rudely. live at Skimp's? Frank caught himself look- What the devil, sir, is that to you?” ing at him during the dinner with ever-in- The blood rushed through Frank's veins

went away.

again. He was getting combative against I don't know," said Frank. “I should this thinly disguised rook.

not be inclined to pardon everything to the Captain Hamilton turned on his heel, and young. I like men of my own age—I sup

A minute or two afterwards pose I am young-to behave with some apthe click of the balls was heard, and an approach to good manners, as well as to be proving laugh at some anecdote of the gal- men of honour.” lant officer's-probably an account, from his “Honourable. Yes-yes. The young own point of view, of his late interview with must be always honourable. We can pardon Frank.

anything but dishonesty. But good manners. Mr. Eddrup still sat at the end of the Surely, sir, it is a very small matter." table-Captain Bowker beside him. They "Well, yes--but a sufficiently important rose together as soon as the room was small matter, Mr. Eddrup. May I light a cleared.

cigar?" “Young man,” said Captain Bowker, “I He lit and smoked one of Dick's Haam glad to hear that you don't bet—likewise vanas-Captain Bowker all the while puffing that you don't play billiards. Come up- vigorously at a pipe with a long cherry stairs, and have a pipe in the drawing-room stick, which held about an ounce or so of with me and Mr. Eddruf. We use this cut-up ship tobacco. No one came near room pretty much to ourselves," said Cap-them except Mrs. Skimp, who brought up tain Bowker, taking an easy-chair. “The tea. She gave Frank his cup, whispering others prefer the billiard-room. They go in his ear as she did soout, too, a good deal in the evenings. That's “It's a shilling a-week extra. Only Mr. a great thing at Skimp's. A man is left Eddrup and Cap'en Bowker has it.” alone if he likes."

Presently Mr. Eddrup got up, and stole The speaker was a man of about fifty-five out of the room. Frank saw him cross the or so-weather-beaten, rugged. He had fair square, and disappear in one of the streets hair and blue eyes, and had a habit of look on the other side. ing straight ahead at nothing, which comes “He always goes out at eight, every of a dreamy nature. He was an old "ship night, and comes home at eleven," said Capcaptain"-i.e., a merchant service skipper. tain Bowker.

It is a singular thing about skippers, that “What is he?" ashore they are all uniformly the most gentle, Captain Bowker evaded the question. tractable creatures that walk about. They “He's great company for me. If it warn't drink sometimes, which is their only vice. for him, Skimp's would be as dull as my old You may do what you like with them. A cabin in the Doldrums. I should go to live child can lead them with a thread. Afloat! at Poplar, where I've got chums. You never Phew! Defend us from serving under the went a long sea voyage, I suppose?" flag of a merchantman - British or Yankee. "No longer than from Newhaven to Language which belongs only to the mer- Dieppe." chant service; hard blows which belong "Ah! then you've got to find out what peculiarly to the galleys; rough treatment, solitude means. Be a skipper, sir, and you'll such as a Moorish prisoner used to look for know. They look up to us, sir, and envy all these you may expect from the merchant our position." He spoke as if he was an captain.

admiral at least. “But it isn't all sailing But Captain Bowker was ashore now, and with the sou’-west trade wind aft. Some it was only from occasional hints in conver- of us drink. That's bad. Now, beyond my sation that you got any gleams of light as to four or five goes of grog, of a night, a panthe other side of him.

nikin or so of a morning, another about Mr. Eddrup did not smoke. He sat at noon, and one or two after dinner, I never the window, and leaned his head on his did drink. I'm not one of your everlasting hand.

nippers. And what's the consequence, sir? “They're a wild set downstairs," said Cap. Here I am, sound in limb at fifty-five. Pentain Bowker. “ They want a little disci- sioned off by my noble firm after forty years' pline.”

service, and happy for the rest of my days." "They are all young," said Mr. Eddrup- He paused, and rang the bell. "all young. We pardon everything to the “ Bring the usual, Mary, and two tumyoung." He turned to Frank, smiling. blers. You shall have a glass of my rum tonight, Mr. Melliship. What was I a-say- "No, don't-pray don't." ing?"

“I won't. Let us talk.” “You were saying that you were going to That meant, “Let me talk." be happy for the rest of your days. So I Frank lay back in his easy chair, and suppose you are going to take a wife, Cap-dreamed of Grace and the pleasant countrytain Bowker."

side. How was he to win her;-how to pay "A wife! The Lord forbid! No, sir, I off those debts? It was not a hopeful redid that once-fifteen years ago-once too verie. There are times when the veil of iloften. Ah! well-she's dead; at least, I lusion falls off. It is at best but a fog, most suppose so." He had turned quite pale, and common in the morning of life, and exdrops of perspiration stood on his forehead. tremely pretty when the sun shines upon it. "Well, let that pass. What kept me from It was fallen now. Frank measured the drink was, that I had a resource which is distance between himself and Grace, and given to few men. Do you compose, sir?” saw that it was widening every day. Compose? Music?"

Captain Bowker recalled him. He was “No-music-nonsense! Anybody can maundering on:make music. Verses, sir_immortal verses. “when I commanded the Merry MoonThat's what I used to spend my time in shine, in the Chinese coolie trade, running doing when I was below in the cabin. Now to Trinidad. It was an anxious time, behere"-he pulled a folded and frayed piece cause we had four hundred of them aboard, of paper out of his pocket—"here is a copy and not too much rice. They used to murI made in my last voyage home. Read it

, der each other—ten, a dozen or so—every and tell me candidly what you think of it." night. That lessened the numbers.” Frank opened it. It began

“What did they do that for?” "'Tis fearful, when the running gear is taut,

“What do men always fight about? Then And creaking davits yield a frail support.

we had bad weather-terrible bad weather: “ Hem! Rhyme rather halts here, doesn't coolies battened down 'tween decks; and

got on the edge of a cyclone. We had the it? Shall I read the rest at my leisure, Cap- what with the noise of the storm, and the tain Bowker ?"

cries of them wild cats, and the mainmast “No, no—no time like the present. Give going by the board, I do assure you it was me hold, young man. Now, then-stand by as much as I could do to get that poem --here's the rum. So, sit steady, and listen.” finished. As it was, it wasn't really finished

He read his composition. Frank listened till I got home-for there was a lot more unas one in a dream. What next? To sing pleasantness. We put in at Allegoey Bay; in a music hall, to live at Skimp's, to sit at and directly the coolies caught sight of land, the same table with Captain Hamilton, to I'm blest if forty or fifty didn't chuck themhear Captain Bowker read his verses: this selves out of the ports and overboard, to was not encouraging. He would have to swim ashore. I do not remember," he go to the Palace in the morning to re- said, stroking his nose—“I do not rememhearsal

. After all, it is necessary to live. ber hearing that any of them got there. At least, one would be able to pay one's way There are sharks off that coast, you see. on three guineas a-week.

But think of the loss it was to me!" “So, like the Doldrums' calm, his onward way Is checked who dares thy laws to disobey."

THE POET LAUREATE. It was the termination of Captain Bow

IT

T is nearly forty-two years since Mr. TenFrank woke up.

nyson issued his first volumes of poems. “Very good indeed, Captain Bowker. The young poet attracted little attention at The last lines especially-very good. They the time, save from the critics, who could not remind me of Pope.

understand “this young man from Lincoln

shire," and so did the next best thing"So, like the Doldrums' onward way, his calm

namely, abused his verses. In 1833, TenIs checked who dares to—""

nyson, nothing daunted, made his second “Not quite right,” said the divine bard, appearance, only to be abused again, but with a smile. “But you are not a sailor. this time in a quarter where virulent conShall I read it again?”

demnation was — in that day, at least —

ker's poem.

generally accepted by a new author as the has since lost by the death or secession of best testimonial to his true merit. The the men who made it famous—we may be “Quarterly," having killed Keats—or, at all excused for giving a few specimens of the events, having gained the reputation for reviewer's manner. doing it—was ready, like the ogres of the The poet has sungold fables, to annihilate any new victim.

" Then let wise Nature work her will, Mr. Tennyson, in his earlier poems more

And on my clay her darnels grow; evidently than in his more mature efforts, Come only when the days are still, had drawn much of his turn of thought and

And at my headstone whisper low, imagination from the author of “Endymion.”

And tell me With a charming expression, therefore, of “Now, what," says the critic of the "Quarcontrition for its former bad treatment of terly," " would an ordinary bard wish to be "the harbinger of the milky way of poetry" told under such circumstances? Why, per

as, even in its Jesuitical apology, the haps how his sweetheart was, or his child, “Quarterly" still chose to designate Keats or his family, or how the Reform Bill worked, -it pointed its quill for the demolition of or whether the last edition of the poems had the later aspirant to poetic fame ;--with what been sold;- papæl our genuine poet's first ultimate success, the strong hold which Ten- wish isnyson's writings have since taken on the affections of the reading portion of his

. And tell me if the woodbines blow.' countrymen is sufficiently palpable. But it when, indeed, he shall have been thus is useful sometimes, if only for the benefit satisfied as to the woodbines - of the blowof poets yet unfledged, to point back to the ing of which, in their due season, he may, rough handling which men who have now we think, feel pretty secure he turns a made their names encountered at the outset passing thought to his friend, and another to of their careers. And we do not know his mother. whether these very men, now reposing in

*If thou art blest-my mother's smile the calm Hesperides of their success, are not

Undimmed inwardly thankful for the rough lessons which they received in the earlier days of their pil.

“Bụt such inquiries, short as they are, grimage to fame. Faults and flaws have

seem too commonplace; and he immediately been pointed out, which the man of true glides back into his curiosity as to the state genius has acknowledged to himself as the of the forwardness of the spring. ordinary results of inexperience, and has 'If thou art blest-my mother's smile accordingly rectified to the best of his

Undimmed-if bees are on the wing.' power. In Tennyson's earlier poems, for instance, No, we believe the whole circle of poetry

does not furnish such another instance of there was an air of affectation which, though enthusiasm for the sights and sounds of the pretty enough in its way, and a novel charac-vernal season! The sorrows of a bereaved teristic to a certain extent, yet betrayed a

mother rank after the blossoms of the woodlatent weakness. The same quality attaches bine, and just before the hummings of the to the Laureate's productions even now, to bee; and this is all he has any curiosity a limited extent. In fact, we doubt whether Tennyson could altogether get rid of the about, for he proceeds old trick; but his youthful effusions were "Then cease, my friend, a little while,

That I may overladen to a degree with these affectations.

'send my love to my mother,' or 'give you The critic of the "Quarterly" took good some hints about bees, which I have picked care to seize the weak points of the young up from Aristæus in the Elysian Fields,' Lincolnshire poet, and went mercilessly to or "tell you how I am situated as to my work.

own personal comforts in the world below'? If only as amusing pictures of the old Oh, no! style of criticism, which in this more polite

“That I may hear the throstle sing age

has rarely been seen-except a few years His bridal song-the boast of spring." ago in the coarse but vigorous criticisms of the Saturday Review, when that journal pos- This is tolerably severe. The following sessed a power in the world of letters it lines, however, gave too palpable an opportunity for even the most obtuse critic to resignation! 'He cut my throatnothing let slip:

more! One might ask, “What more she “ Sweet as the noise in parched plains

would have?! Of bubbling wells that fret the stones

The line has been altered in the later (If any sense in me remains)

editions of the poet's works; but we have Thy words will be, thy cheerful tones

merely recalled some of these earlier defects As welcome to—my crumbling bones.”

of the Laureate's muse to show that even And this is the commentary

great poets—though born, not made-must " If any sense in me remains !'

always owe much to long and elaborate

culture, and must pass through the crucible “This doubt is inconsistent with the open- in repeated refinings before their works are ing stanza of the piece—and, in fact, too fit to remain the last polished evidences to modest. We take upon ourselves to reassure posterity of their innate genius. Mr. Tennyson, that, even after he shall be Upon this principle, Tennyson is undead and buried, as much 'sense' will still doubtedly the most polished poet of modern remain as he has now the good fortune to times; but it is a question whether, in his possess.”

extreme cultivation, he has not sacrificed Take the following, again :

much of that 'manly vigour which some of “The accumulation of tender images in his contemporaries — Browning and Swinthe following lines appears not less wonder- burne, for instance—have displayed in their ful:

works, either with an unpopular abruptness, • Remember you that pleasant day

or, in the case of the latter poet at times, with When, after roving in the woods

a still more unpopular licence. Yet Tenny'Twas April then-I came and lay

son, with all his weaknesses, is Laureate of Beneath those gummy chesnut buds?

the day, as much by a pretty generally reA water-rat from off the bank Plunged in the stream. With idle care,

cognized right of sovereignty as by title. Down looking through the sedges rank, He has written much that is deliciously I saw your troubled image there.

sweet—much that is grandly chivalrous. His If you remember, you had set

ear for the music of our fine old Saxon lanUpon the narrow casement-edge A long green box of mignonette,

guage is perfect. He is almost always inAnd you were leaning on the ledge.' telligible; and, above all, he has never

written a word to raise a blush even on the “The poet's truth to nature in his ógummy most modest cheek. He is a worthy succhesnut buds,' and to art in the 'long green

cessor of Wordsworth in the Laureateship; box' of mignonette, and that masterly touch and although we have had greater poets even of likening the first intrusion of love into in this nineteenth century, and may yet see the virgin bosom of the miller's daughter to greater than those at present in the field be. the plunging of a water-rat into the mill-fore its close, Alfred Tennyson may well dam—these are beauties which, we do not claim the first place among living bards. fear to say, equal anything even in Keats.”

Indiscriminate praise, which popularity The most ardent admirers of Tennyson's for the time being naturally induces, is alearlier poems must confess that, in instances

ways damaging to an author's permanent such as these, the poet laid himself open to reputation. For this reason, at the risk of the ridicule of an ill-natured reviewer.

not being seconded in our opinions by the One more example of this, and we have

more enthusiastic admirers of the Laureate, done with the Laureate's more youthful let us consider briefly the salient characterisefforts. In the “Dream of Fair Women," tics of Tennyson's writings. we all know the exquisite description of

In the first place, except at occasional inIphigenia, and have most of us noted that tervals, his poetry has been essentially obflaw in the closing lines

jective rather than subjective. A lover of “ The tall masts quivered as they lay afloat; external things of beauty, a student of na

The temples, and the people, and the shore; ture rather than of men, a dreamer rather One drew a sharp knife through my tender throat, than a man of action, he-like his own "LoSlowly, and nothing more.

tus Eaters"-yields rather to the seductive The critic's chance here is, of course, in- influence of sensuous attractions than to the evitable.

impulse of more restless minds, who would “What touching simplicity! What pathetic | fain step forth, and, taking the living world

« 이전계속 »