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supremacy of Northumberland over Cumberland or Westmoreland
or the Yorkshire dales. Most English counties merit a laureate, and if Mr. Swinburne constitutes himself that of Northumberland, so much the better for the northernmost of the shires. As extensive quotation from a play that deserves analysis such as I cannot afford is prohibited, I give the one passage in which the hero expresses his sentiment towards his county:
I just ask you where you'll find its like?
MR. HENLEy's POEMS.
HAVE made acquaintance late in the day with the poetry of Mr. Henley, and, like most converts, am an enthusiast. His latest volume, “The Song of the Sword, and other Poems,” reveals a genuine poet. Mystical, powerful, grim, and suggestive as it is, the “Song of the Sword” is not finer than some Roumanian folksongs on the same subject. So soon as we reach the “London Voluntaries” and other poems which follow, we encounter work of remarkable originality, beauty, power, and charm. It is the fashion to call Mr. Henley's verses realistic. I do not like the term, and find it, degraded as it is by earlier associations, inadequate and unhappy. Realism of a sort there is. The commonest objects of the streets are depicted, and we have a single line of verse consisting of the two words “Trafalgar Square”—an utterance from which Walt Whitman might have recoiled. The light in which they are seen, however, is neither * David Nutt.
common nor realistic. They are steeped in the glow of imagination, passion, poetry. Within the limits I impose on myself it is impossible to give the reader an adequate idea of the character of Mr. Henley's verse. Rugged, stern, and dark, it has in passages that meditative solemnity in which Englishmen have always delighted; passionate, sensuous, and dreamy, it seems in others to issue from a new Keats. Within a few lines of each other are specimens of the two phases. Here is the first :
And Death the while-
Not Death, who is old and very wise, can say.
As if my paramour, my bride of brides,
Some smiling nook of green-and-golden shade.
THE POET OF LONDON.
In the light in which he exhibits the most familiar objects in
I London, Mr. Henley accomplishes his most remarkable triumph.
At night this City of Trees
And monstrous majesties?
A rakehell cat-how furtive and a-cold !
Quite beautiful is the view of the Strand and Fleet Street in the morning, with its shapes of St. Clement's, St. Bride's, " that madrigal in stone,” and “the high majesty of Paul”; and the picture of Trafalgar Square in the haze of golden light is a rhapsody. London has had her poets, even in modern days, from Wordsworth to H. S. Leigh. No one, however, has hymned and lauded her, wooed her so amorously, or been so receptive of her various moods, as Mr. Henley. I have marked for extract many superb passages, but I will go no farther. I will, however, counsel every reader to turn to the closing poem, to the patriotic song beginning
What have I done for you,
England, my England ! Patriotism seems now to be “bad form”-out of date, what not. The man, however, who can be deaf to this noble poem is-well, is not to be envied.
FORTHCOMING SALE OF THE ALTHORP LIBRARY. TWO more of our “great houses” are divesting themselves of
1 what has been most civilising and honouring in their investiture. The great Dudley collection of pictures has now gone to the hammer, and the great Althorp library is to follow it with as little delay as possible. I am not behind the scenes, and do not know what private reasons may have justified in each instance the sale. The dispersal of the library at Althorp, one of the finest private collections in the world, is at least epoch-marking. A sort of alliance between the aristocracy and letters was involved when the greatest private libraries could be found in the palaces of Blenheim, Althorp, and the like. Now, however, this slight and, in fact, misleading symptom has passed, and the divorce between the landed aristocracy and the intellectual life of the nation seems all but complete. The present book-owners of England belong to the middle classes, and the nobles are left to the enjoyment of their collections of weapons of the chase, their studs, and other signs of their feudal origin and occupations. With the growth of public libraries one can contemplate with something not far removed from equanimity the breaking up of these princely collections. The taste for fine books will not soon expire, and one may even, with no very great grudging, watch the most splendid or the rarest typographical monuments being carried off by our descendants across the Atlantic. They are at least still in the family. A propos to the forthcoming sale, a description from the Gentleman's Magazine of 1819 of the purchase for Lord Spenser of the famous Valdarfer Boccaccio has been reprinted in various quarters. The previous and more spirited personal contest for the same priceless volume between Lords Spenser and Blandford, and the subsequent formation of the Roxburghe Club, are too well known to be again dragged to light.
A NEW NATIONAL LIBRARY,
I HAVE always held that we want a second great public library 1 accessible, under special restrictions, to students. For practical purposes the British Museum is admirable, being, in fact, one of the great national institutions in which it is difficult to find a blemish. The collection is noble, and the service unsurpassable in courtesy as in efficiency. To prosecute in the Museum a somewhat arduous search leaves one at the close with a higher estimate of one's fellows. From the point of view of the bibliographer, however, the British Museum collection is very far from complete. It has many priceless treasures, and may vie with the greatest libraries of other capitals ; but it is still in some respects painfully incomplete. Its funds are inadequate to the purchase of one tithe of the literary treasures that come into the market. The library I would fain see should be confined to the works of great cost and importance for which the scholar has constant need. It should have, for example, all printed editions of Chaucer, and as many early MSS. as are obtainable. To see these things a man has now to make a pilgrimage to Oxford or Cambridge, or, it may be, to obtain admission through private interest to some collection such as that of Mr. Huth. A library such as I indicate must necessarily be slow in growth. I would have it, however, if possible, endowed both publicly and privately., so that on an occasion such as the sale of the Althorp library it cocald make its pick among priceless books. On no occasion should it be allowed to compete with the British Museum beyond taking up the running in case that august but carefully managed institution should be outbid from some other source. Access to works such as should then be collected should be restricted to serious workers, and a work when lent to an individual should be collated before it is restored to the shelves. Many will think this scheme visionary. It will, however, I think, be carried out on some future day when the difficulties in the way of its establishment may be much graver than they niw are.
SYLVANUS URBA. T.
THE ALTRUIST IN CORDUROY.
By H. V. Brown.
A S the much battered door in the high garden wall was opened A -opened slowly, gently-and the undersized, deformed, rather singular-looking man dragged himself out in his limping painful way under the elms, a voice (not disagreeable in itself, yet terrible in its significance) called after him from the garden : “ Jacob Laur! Jacob Laur! come back an' hear th' rest ; I've on’y told ye summat o'th' truth! Come back, lad, an' hear it out like a man!”
But Jacob did not go back; and the man shouting from the garden did actually arrive at the conclusion that he was a poor-hearted sort of chap not to be able to listen to the end of a story like that.
The truth ! all the truth! Jacob had heard enough. He had heard more than he felt he could bear to think of with any degree of manly self-possession while the eyes of men looked on him. So he stood out here alone, under the great sweeping arms of the elms that were almost like friendly things to him in his deep suffering, with two or three fire-like rays from the hot July sun thrown across his face and his bare head and his sadly-worn clothes, and all his mind absorbed in appalled and incoherent contemplation of this pitiless flood that had suddenly rushed down upon his life. It was said, indeed, in this smiling land of Teignbury that Jacob Laur's mind was not a matter of any great moment either to himself or to the world at large ; yet a stranger passing just then through the solitude of the leafy canopy under which the rough-hewn dwarf was shrinking from the light, might have imagined, perceiving the expression of the man's eyes (supposing he did not avert them, which he likely enough would have
VOL. CCLXXIII. NO. 1941.