« PreviousContinue »
PHILIP RETURNS TO THE CROWN AND CANDLE.
IT WAS evening, and the exterior of the Crown and Candle had assumed its wonted gloomy appearance owing to the shutters being fastened in all the windows. But within the lamps were lighted, and the comfortable, if unnecessary, fire was burning brightly as one by one the patrons of the house were dropping in ; and the clouds of tobacco smoke were already gathering under the grimy ceiling.
Mr. Blinks, the optician had, enlivened the company with the song "She wore a wreath of roses," and Tod the grocer was clearing his throat in order to meet the call of "Johnny Sands," when Dick Gadaway burst so abruptly into the room that he bruised his nose against the tall back of the settle, and gave the funnybone of his elbow such a crack that Mr. Scroggs thought a soda-water bottle had burst at the bar.
“Here he is," shouted the worthy gardener, “Gentleman, here he is, safe and sound. Hip—hip-hip-hooray.”
“Yes, here I am, safe enough, but not so sound," cried Philip, taking the landlord's hand, as all the company rose and clustered round him, making such sounds and gestures of gladness that the convalescent lad was hardly able to bear the noise and pressure.
“Steady, gentlemen, one at a time,” cried the excited Dick, “when his right hand is tired shake the left,
And here's a hand my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine,
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
For auld lang syne." Some Scotchmen might have taken exception to Dick's accent, and some critics might object that the song was hardly an appropriate welcome to so recent an acquaintance as
Philip, but no good fellow would have declined to join in that hearty chorus of the lusty old boys as they danced hand in hand around the astonished minstrel.
“Gentlemen," cried Mr. Scroggs, "glasses round at the expense of the house. Damme, this shall be a merry night; now laddie, set thee doon, and tell's all about it.”
“It is soon told, sir,” said Philip. “I was knocked down by a cab, and lost my senses, but some kind people took care of me, and here I am at your service.”
“Damme,” cried Mr. Scroggs, “but thou'st white enough and thin enough to ha been to the other worald and back."
Never mind, give me the fiddle. I have been dying to try my hand this week.”
It was a merry night. I am not sure that some of the songs were of the choicest, and I am quite sure that Philip was the only sober one of the company long before it broke up, but when we consider their good intentions, which were simply to show their joy at Philip's escape, and to welcome him back, we shall surely look askance at their weakness, nor listen too attentively to the incoherences they may utter, nor regard too sternly their staggering gait. Who knows but we ourselves may some day grow a little excited over our wine, and talk a little faster than we think, and mistake friend Jones for the waiter and the waiter for friend Jones. And then some envious people might say we were drunk, and we were drivelling. But who would believe it true? Who would care if it were ? Not you ; nor I.
These men meant to give Philip a merry welcome. Surely it is a good thing to be merry, certainly it is good to welcome the wanderer home, and we will pardon the faultiness of their manners for the honesty of their intentions. Of course somebody will quote the old remark concerning the pavement of a certain much frequented highway, but, with all due deference to that most respectable adage, I for one beg to think that the folks whose good intentions pave the way are by no means the likeliest to frequent it, and if we do not finally meet Mr. Ebenezer Scroggs and most of his friends in a place that is quite inaccessible by any paved road whatever, it will probably be because we are engaged elsewhere.
It was one o'clock when Philip, thoroughly tired by his ex
ertions and excitement, retired to rest. It was a treat to be back once more in the little garret bedroom, nevertheless it had lost something of its old peace and contentment. So long as Philip was in the taproom with the company he did not feel his loss, but once alone in his chamber he missed the beautiful face and kind hands that had soothed his convalescence. He could not desire her presence now. That last night's revelation of the terrible passions latent in her bosom had helped him much to resign her. Still the wonderful eyes, so full of intelligence and love, haunted him in the darkness. Then another face, not so beautiful, not so expressive, but a hundred times dearer, would picture itself in his feverish memory. And she, too, was gone, and would never smile on him again.
He fell asleep at last, and dreamed a long sweet dream of walking in Kensington Gardens with Emily Aldair at his side. He had just come to the end of the walk, and the sun was sinking smilingly over the Palace gables as he bent over his blushing companion, and, oh joy, kissed her pretty pouting lips when Abraham Moss tore her from his side, and Mdlle. Barb came smirking by with her blue parasol, then a thunder-' clap burst from a suddenly darkened sky, and in the lightning flash that followed, beautiful, terrible Pearl was standing before him with a drawn dagger in her hand.
With a cry that was heard by Mr. Scroggs as he stood below unbarring the shutters, he awoke, and wiped the big drops from his forehead.
JARLY in 1827 there was printed at Louth, in
Lincolnshire, a small volume of poems, containing
about one hundred pieces in all, under the title of “Poems by two Brothers.” The poets were two schoolboys, sons of the rector of Somersby, in the same county, and named respectively Charles and Alfred Tennyson. born in 1808, and he died on the 25th of April of the present Charles, the senior of the two by fully a year, was year, having been vicar of Grasby, in his native county, for nearly half a century. While his younger brother gradually asserted his claim to a foremost place among the poets of his country, taking a bold independent stand with his University prize poem, and in due time worthily holding the position of Laureate, Charles devoted himself to the duties of his position as a clergyman, and continued to write poetry at his leisure. It is interesting to note that he excelled chiefly in the sonnet, which is one of the forms that the Laureate has not cultivated to any extent. Charles Tennyson's first independent publication was (in 1830) a collection of " Sonnets and Fugitive Pieces.” He became vicar of Grasby in 1835, and shortly after assumed his grandmother's name of Turner, on succeeding to certain property at her death. His subse. quent publications were “Sonnets," dedicated to the Poet Laureate, “SmallTableaux,” and (in 1873) “Sonnets, Lyrics, and Translations." In this volume there is what is best and most matured of the poet's works, and it will be sufficient therefore for the present purpose to make use of it in the selection of specimens. At the same time it may be interesting to quote what Archbishop Trench says of the little volume which appeared about the time that Alfred Tennyson published
his “Poems, chiefly Lyrical.” This is the Archbishop's estimate, as given in the “ Afternoon Lectures on Literature and Art:” “ There is a tiny volume of sonnets published by his brother Charles between thirty and forty years ago, which shows plainly that, however the poetical gift may have come to its head in Alfred, he is not the only poet of the family. In this volume, which was published, I think, when he was still at college, there are some sonnets of rare and excellent workmanship.” One more readily thinks of workmanship in reading sonnets than in reading other kinds of poetry, and yet it will be found by the intelligent student of Charles Turner's poems that, while his artistic quality is of high excellence, there is in him, too, richness and delicacy of feeling and sentiment, as well as fresh spontaneity and considerable illustrative resource. His little volume will be prized by those who know how to appreciate purity of tone, evenness of temper, and suggestive pathetic reflections.
Sonnets alone, though every one of them were a gem, will hardly make a wide and lasting reputation. While those, for example, that have any familiarity with the subject at all, know that the Earl of Surrey has the reputation of introducing the sonnet, it is questionable whether more than a very small minority have read beyond his sonnet on Spring, which is given in illustrative handbooks. The general reader thinks of Sir Philip Sidney as the accomplished knight who was fatally wounded at Zutphen, and while a few may have dipped into his “ Arcadia" or seen extracts from his
Apologie for Poetrie,” it is only the exceptional man of letters like Charles Lamb that discovers the genuine beauties of his sonnets. How many readers are there who know that among Spenser's poems may be found a dainty little series of memorial elegies charged with heartfelt grief for the premature death of Astrophel ? And how many more could say why this beautiful descriptive title was chosen for Sidney, and who and what was Stella ? It is rare to meet a reader who is able to profess acquaintance with even the leading sonneteers of the late Elizabethan time. To say nothing of Spenser, whose sonnets alone (really unworthy of him) would never have made him known to posterity, there are Watson, and Lodge, and Daniel, and above all Henry Constable, whose