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ties of life as a sort of dream of paradise, a fancy for whose brief fulfilment under happy conditions I would barter a dozen years of the delights of the gayest and most showy cities of Europe. But 'twas sheer nightmare and nothing more, spite of the waving verdure of the savanna, of the glittering of the tropic bird, of flowers lovely as the constellations of the midnight of the Antilles, of the rain-like pattering of the leaves of the palm-tree, of odours as of the lime and the citron, when one sent one's gaze seawards, and felt the whole solitude of the mighty deep melting through and through into one in a kind of swoon, as it seemed, of the very soul.
However, we ate and drank, and were the better for it. I lighted a cheroot, and fell a-thinking with my eyes on Miss Grant. She was equally thoughtful, with a far-away expression in her face.
"There are nervous folks," said I, "who would not accept the gift of looking ahead even for a fortnight if they could make their fortunes through it. Throw me back a couple of months ago into Piccadilly, with leave to peer far enough to divine old Broadwater's nature, and to guess at the issues it must shape, and we should not be here."
"It is all my fault," said she.
"Mine!" I exclaimed. "I should have insisted on being put ashore with you in the English Channel."
"I mean it is my fault that you ever made the voyage," she replied.
"You would not wish to be alone, though," said I, smiling.
She shook her head with an unaffected shudder.
"What conclusions will Alexander arrive at," said I, "when day after day goes by, and no Iron Crown arrives at Rio?"
"I don't like to think of it," she answered; "but he will have to be patient. He must wait, as /must wait."
"Pity it is not the other way about," said I. "He ought to be here, and you safe at Rio."
She looked at me quickly, with a half-formed fancy, as it seemed, hovering on her lips, parted as if to speak, faintly coloured, and plucking a blade of the coarse grass at her side, appeared to study the texture of it.
"Alexander will conclude that the brig has gone down with all hands," I continued. "The men are sure to scuttle her, and as they know if rescued they will have to account for us and the two men they have made away with—Broadwater and Bothwell, I mean—it is odds if they don't invent the name of the ship they profess to have belonged to, so that the truth will never reach my cousin until we carry the news ourselves to him."
"Poor boy! his anxiety will be cruel. But perhaps we shall be with him sooner than we expect."
"I hope so, indeed, for your sake," said I, with a lift of my brows to the tormenting puzzlement of how it was to be done. "But sufficient unto the day, Miss Grant. Here are we marooned, and what's next to do? that's the question. No chance of our being taken off this afternoon, nor of our escaping in any other way. The night then is before us, and we must provide for it. I have no means of erecting any sort of shelter, and the island offers nothing. For my part, one of those rugs and a stretch of that dry sand will make me as good a couch as I need, spite of the land-crab and whatever else crawls hereabouts at night. But the notion of your lying on the cold ground is intolerable to me," said I, turning my eyes about in vain search of any hint for a high and dry bed for her in tree or slope.
".I have a net hammock in one of those boxes," she exclaimed, "unhappily only one. If you"
"7/ Lord love you, Miss Grant! Why, if it were not for the lizards aloft, I'd seize myself to a bough, and make a bed of one of those leafy forks up there, as Robinson Crusoe did. But there may be monkeys in this island for aught I know, and on the whole I fancy a sand-mattress promises me a quieter couch than a tree. If you can find the hammock, we will turn to and rig it up in as snug a place as we can light on."
She immediately explored one of her boxes, and presently found the hammock. It was formed of net, but very strong, though so portable that one could have stowed it away in one's hat, with ship-shape clews and eyes and lengths of laniard ready spliced for lashings. This, it seems, like her pistol, her belt, and divers other matters, had been one of her Eio possessions. It was an odd thing to carry home from South America to the English climate; but it was an old relic of home, she told me, in which she had passed many a long slumberous hour under the scented and myriad-voiced shade of the cotton trees, of the gleaming leaves of the star-apple, and the slender branches bending to the weight of the golden shaddock. Besides, she knew little of Great Britain, and might have believed that the sun was as constant to the garden-plains and smoking cities of the greatest maritime nation on the face of the earth, as it was to the country in which she had been bred. But a spell of the Edgeware Road would suffice to correct even odder fancies than that.
I swung the hammock between two trees which exactly fitted the length of it. They stood somewhat forward from the group where our boxes were, with a tract of white sand hard by, which I had resolved should furnish me with a bed that night; so that she would swing close over me, and be as free likewise as one could possibly contrive from all risks of visits during the dark hours from the lizards and tree-toads in which I reckoned this island abounded. I formed a mattress and pillow for her of shawls and rugs, and, learning that she had some mosquito-curtains in her boxes, I borrowed a roll of white tape from her, wanting a better kind of line, and made a ridgerope of it along her hammock, with a couple of pieces of wood cut from the No. 356.—Vol. Lx.
bough of a tree to serve as stanchions, that the ends of the curtain might float fair past the clews, and so protect her at both ends.
"Perhaps there are no mosquitoes," said she, watching me as I worked.
"I hope not," said I, doubtfully; "anyhow, I shall borrow one of your curtains, and roll myself up in it when the time comes. Unless my system has undergone a change since I was at Bombay, a mosquito-bite with me signifies a lump rather larger than a crow's egg, and as red as Broadwater's nose."
"We have plenty of them at Rio," said she, "but they never tease me. Though the species may be different here," she added, with a glance at the contrivance I had rigged up, which made me fancy that, bad as our melancholy and dreadful situation was, there would be nothing in it to hinder her from objecting to the defacement of her fair face by the singing pests of these rich and sparkling parallels.
I now found that occupation of any kind was helpful to my spirits, and thereupon pulling off my coat and waistcoat, and baring my arms, I went to work with a tolerably stout knife I happened to have in my pocket— one of those useful combinations of corkscrew, gimlet, saw, and the like — to cut as much dried stuff as I could make shift to deal with; of which I manufactured faggots by securing them with ligatures of grass strong enough to knot. Miss Grant insisted on helping me. She had replaced the somewhat smallbrimmed hat she had come ashore in with a great yellow sombrero fashioned head-covering that sheltered her like an umbrella, and I see her now bending her graceful figure to the faggot at her feet, her white hands, with a flashing ring or two upon them, nimbly and swiftly knotting the grass bindings, lifting her face occasionally to address me, with her dark eyes the brighter, her teeth the whiter, her complexion the fairer, for the softness of the shadow which lay upon he beauty. We manufactured a great number of these faggots, and conveyed the whole of them between us in several journeys to the summit of the hummock, where we built them up in a goodly pile, taking care to fence them about that they should not be blown away by a sudden squall or rising of wind, and further protecting the whole by a thick cover of live branches, densely-leaved, which would also thicken the smoke whenever the time came for us to set fire to the heap. The great heap made this labour very arduous, but though its completion left us both wearied, it was a thing to be done, and we felt the easier in our minds when it was finished. It was impossible to know but that at any hour we might happen to look seawards and spy a vessel slipping fleetly past, too far off to witness any waving signal of shawl or handkerchief, but well within view of such a volume of smoke as our body of faggots would make.
We paused a moment on the brow of the little elevation, before returning from our last excursion to the hummock, to take a long look round. The sun was sinking in the cloudless western heavens, a great shield of fast reddening fire; and the placid purple ocean beneath him seemed to rise with a rounding of its polished bosom as though drawn upwards by some mighty magnet. One could not look a moment without a weeping of the sight into the blinding glow of the western atmosphere; but the sea went from there into a tender deepening of turquoise against the orange reflection of the eastern sky, and the thin edge of surf took a colour from the sands that now shone golden in the evening light. The air blew very gentle and warm. The
tropic picture was deepened to every sense by the strange uncommon sounds rising from the island—queer chirpings and snorings ; sharp short cries from the wood, like women's voices calling hoarsely; brief melancholy pipings making answer to like notes, sad, low, and more distant. The sound of the surf seethed through this curious concert, but nothing moved, look where one would, if it were not the flash of a bird of gorgeous plumage, a stir of some near tall spears of grass, or the curled head of a palm slightly swayed by the wind into a beckoning posture or an airy salutation. There was a quality in the light of the waning day that put a melancholy into the spirit of the solitude of this place far beyond the reach of moonlight or the starry darkness of the night. Fresh as we were from days and days of the loneliness and immensity of the deep, yet there was something in the boundless aspect of the ocean, as we surveyed it from the height of that hummock, which, speaking for myself, shocked and scared one's instincts as though one gazed at some preternatural revelation of sea. I saw Miss Grant droop in her posture, so to speak, at the sight of it; her clasped fingers holding her hands before her relaxed; her arms fell to her side; her head sank as she slowly brought her eyes from the flawless ocean to my face. She breathed slow and deep, as one in whom perception has grown to the weight of a burden upon the heart.
"Come," said I, taking her gently by the hand, "there is a morrow, and yet a morrow, before us. The good God is over all."
We walked slowly and in silence back to the spot where we meant to pass the night.
(To be continued.)
There is a certain small class of persons in the history of literature the members of which possess, at least for literary students, an interest peculiar to themselves. They are the writers who having attained not merely popular vogue, but fame as solid as fame can ever be, in their own day, having been praised by the praised, and as far as can be seen having owed this praise to none of the merely external and irrelevant causes —politics, religion, fashion or what not—from which it sometimes arises, experience in a more or less short time after their death the fate of being, not exactly cast down from their high place, but left respectfully alone in it, unvisited, unincensed, unread. Among these writers, over the gate of whose division of the literary Elysium the famous "Who now reads Bolingbroke?" might serve as motto, the author of "The Village" and "Tales of the Hall" is one of the most remarkable. As for Crabbe's popularity in his own day there is no mistake about that. It was extraordinarily long, it was extremely wide, it included the select few as well as the vulgar, it was felt and more or less fully acquiesced in by persons of the most diverse tastes, habits,and literary standards. His was not the case, which occurs now and then, of a man who makes a great reputation in early life and long afterwards preserves it because, either by accident or prudence, he does not enter the lists with his younger rivals, and therefore these rivals can afford to show him a reverence which is at once graceful and cheap. Crabbe won his spurs in full eighteenth century, and might have boasted, altering Landor's words, that he had dined early and in the best of company, or have parodied Coldsmith, and said, " I have John
son and Burke: all the wits have been here." But when his studious though barren manhood was passed, and he again began as almost an old man to write poetry, he entered into full competition with the giants of the new school, whose ideals and whose education were utterly different from his. While "The Library" and "The Village " came to a public which still had Johnson, which had but just lost Goldsmith, and which had no othor poetical novelty before it than Cowper, "The Borough" and the later Tales entered the lists with "Marmion" and "Childe Harold", with "Christabel" and "The Excursion", even with "Endymion" and "The Revolt of Islam". Yet these later works of Crabbe met with the fullest recognition both from readers and from critics of the most opposite tendencies. Scott, the most generous, and Wordsworth,1 the most grudging, of all the poets of the day towards their fellows, united in praising Crabbe; and unromantic as the poet of "The Village" seems to us he was perhaps Sir Walter's favourite English bard. Scott read him constantly, he quotes him incessantly; and no one who has read it can ever forget how Crabbe figures in
1 In 1834, after Crabbe's death, Wordsworth, wrote to his son: "Your father's works .... will last, from their combined merit as poetry and truth, full as long as anything that has been expressed in verse since the date of their first appearance ". Between the writing and the priuting of this paper, a very different estimate by Wordsworth of Crabbe has been published (for the first time, I believe) in Mr. Clayden's "Rogers and his Contemporaries ". Here he argues at great length that " Crabbe's verses can in no sense be called poetry ", and that "nineteen out of twenty of his pictures are mere matter of fact". It is fair to say that this was in 1808, before the appearance of "The Borough" and of almost all Crabbe's best work.
the most pathetic biographical pages ever written—Lockhart's account of the death at Abbotsford. Byron's criticism was as weak as his verse was powerful, but still Byron had no doubt about Crabbe. The utmost flight of memory or even of imagination can hardly get together three contemporary critics whose standards, tempers and verdicts, were more different than those of Gifford, Jeffrey, and Wilson. Yet it is scarcely too much to say that they are all in a tale about Crabbe. In this unexampled chorus of eulogy there rose (for some others who can hardly have admired him much were simply silent), one single note, so far as I know, or rather one single rattling peal of thunder on the other side. It is true that this was significant enough, for it came from William Hazlitt.
Yet against this chorus, which was not, as has sometimes happened, the mere utterance of a loud-voiced few, but was echoed by a great multitude who eagerly bought and read Crabbe, must be set the almost total forgetfulness of his work which has followed. It is true that of living or lately living persons in the first rank of literature some great names can be cited on his side; and what is more, that these great names show the same curious diversity in agreement which has been already noticed as one of Crabbe's triumphs. The translator of Omar Khayyam, his friend the present Laureate, and the author of "The Dream of Gerontius ", are men whose literary ideals are known to be different enough; yet they add a third trinity as remarkable as those others of Gilford, Jeffrey, and Wilson, of Scott, Wordsworth, and Byron. Much more recently Mr. Courthope has used Crabbe as a weapon in that battle of his with literary Liberalism which he has waged not always quite to the comprehension of his fellowcritics; Mr. Leslie Stephen has discussed him as one who knows and loves his eighteenth century. But who reads him? Who quotes him 1 Who likes him? I think I can ven
ture to say, with all proper humility, that I know Crabbe pretty well: 1 think I may say with neither humility nor pride, but simply as a person whose business it has been for some years to read books, and articles, and debates, that I know what has been written and said in England lately. You will find hardly a note of Crabbe in these writings and sayings. He does not even survive, as "Matthew Green, who wrote ' The Spleen ' ", and others survive, by quotations which formerly made their mark, and are retained without a knowledge of their original. If anything is known about Crabbe to the general reader, it is the parody in "Rejected Addresses ", an extraordinarily happy parody no doubt, in fact rather better Crabbe in Crabbe's weakest moments than Crabbe himself. But naturally there is nothing of his best there; and it is by his best things, let it be repeated over and over in face of all opposition, that a poet must be judged.
Although Crabbe's life, save for one dramatic revolution, was one of the least eventful in our literary history, it is by no means one of the least interesting. Mr. Kebbel's book J gives a very fair summary of it; but the Life by Crabbe's son which is prefixed to the collected editions of the poems and on which Mr. Kebbel's own is avowedly based, is perhaps the more interesting of the two. It is written with a curious mixture of the old literary state and formality, and of a feeling on the writer's part that he is not a literary man himself, and that not only his father but Mr. Lockhart, Mr. Moore, Mr. Bowles and the other high literary persons who assisted him were august beings of another sphere. This is all the more agreeable in that Crabbe's sons had advantages of education and otherwise which were denied to their father, and might in the ordinary course of things have been expected to show towards him a lofty patronage rather than any filial
1 "Great Writers: Crabbe"; by T. E. Eebbel. London, 1888.