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persecution next, and how long Heaven would let these things be.
The downfall of the Stuarts' rule came at last, violently as was fit, but to the end they used the old church on behalf of the wrong. The tower was wrapped in the smoke of the rebels' musketry when old Earl Patrick lay by the heels in Edinburgh awaiting his doom as a traitor, and his son held Kirkwall against what might, by comparison, be termed the Law, and it was only at the point of the pike that they turned the last Stuart out of the sepulchre of St. Magnus.
Then the long windows watched the shadows of all manner of persons, who are well forgotten now, darken the prospect for a while, and pass away to let other clouds gather; and in all that time there cannot have been many whom a critical edifice can recall with pride.
The bishops were sent about their business and the solemn League and Covenant as solemnly sworn. The troopers of Cromwell stalked through the old pillars with their wide hats the firmer set on. The Covenant was unsworn, and the bishops came back and acquired emoluments for a little while longer, till at last they went altogether, and in good, sober Presbyterian fashion the awakened people set about purifying their temple. Poor old church! they did it thoroughly. Away went carving and stained glass, and ancient tombs and bones, and everything that the austere taste of Heaven is supposed by man to dislike. They made it clean with a kind of yellowish whitewash, and divided it by a sanitary deal screen impervious to draught. In this shameful guise, more like a human sinner penitent during his Majesty's pleasure than the symbol of God Macmillan's Magazine.
on earth, the cathedral has watched the advent of quiet days and the slow healing of time. To-day the greatest clamor it hears is made by the rooks. No earl's men or bishop's men quarrel in the street; no one either fears or harries the islanders; the history of Orkney is written and closed and laid upon the shelf. The hands of the clock move evenly round, and the seasons change by the almanack.
But there stands the old red church, silently remembering and arranging in their due perspective all these things, remarkable and true. The worst of it is that it makes no comment that a mortal can understand, so that no one can say what a seasoned, well-mortared observer of seven centuries of affairs thinks of changing dynasties and creeds, and whether it is disposed to take them more seriously than so many moultings of feathers, and if one can retain any optimism through a course of whitewash and draughtproof screens.
It is pleasant to think, for the old minster's sake, that it heeds the rubs of fortune very little, and regards material changes just as so many shifts of plumage. Its people are still flesh and blood and its islands rock and turf and heather, and it will take more than pails and paint-brushes, and pledges and Covenants, to make them otherwise. The winter days are as bleak as ever, and the summer evenings as long and light, and the sun rises out of the North Sea among the flat green islands, and sinks in the Atlantic behind the western heather hills; and it is likely enough that from the height of the cathedral tower many other most serious events look surprisingly unimportant.
J. Storer Clouston.
SCENERY IN FICTION.
The late Mr. Francis Turner Palgrave wrote a book on Landscape in Poetry; we do not know that anyone has written a book on Landscape in Fiction. Yet this subject might repay close study. Any observations we can make must be of a desultory sort, and at once we will name the provocation we have received to launch our thoughts at all. It is that Mr. Eden Phillpotts has dared to open his fine novel, The River, with four pages of undiluted landscape, of unassuaged scenery. Scenery in fiction may well seem a subject for thought when the first chapter of a novel conducts you through 1,300 words of nature-painting to a rabbit-snarer sitting in the bracken.
Many novels, perhaps most novels, open with scenery or weather. Yet in spite of usage, in spite of illustrious example, we cannot rid ourselves of the idea that scenery and weather are a weak beginning. They make an easy and gliding beginning, no doubt: the harbor before the sea. In Mr. Phillpotts' case it is Southampton Water before the Channel. Yet we have never steamed down that magnificent waterway without an impatience to hear the first fist-blows of the sea on the ship's side. Yonder, not here, the voyage begins.
Mr. Phillpotts thinks otherwise. He leans all his weight on scenery at once. His first sentence is this:
From the rapt loneliness of her cradle, from her secret fountains, where the red sundew glimmers and cotton grasses wave unseen, Dart comes wandering southward with a song.
Anyone who knows anything about writing must perceive that this sen
tence was written with emotion. has that lilt which is the evasion of tears, and that vagueness of utterance which unlocks a fateful door. One respects such sentences; one respects, too, such impassioned description as follows this one. Still our inclination is to smile. A great deal is being done for us, but we are perversely willing to wait. "A mother of old story with haunted pools . . . to-day she glides in sleepy backwaters. . . to-morrow she leaps and thunders cherry-red . . . today the sub-aqueous mosses gasp as her receding stream leaves them shrunken under full blaze of light; tomorrow she foams in freshet, tosses her wild locks on high, shouts hoarsely, with echoing reverberations in deep gorges and old secret caves, drowns half a fathom deep the little flower that has budded and bloomed with trust beside her brink." We know that all this is impassioned and beautiful (a little obviously, perhaps); but the House of Commons would not stand a dozen words of it, and though literature is not the House, nor we the Speaker, the gulf of difference seems scarcely bridged. True, Mr. Phillpotts tells us that at a certain point "humanity grows concerned with Dart" and "pollutes her current with drosses and accretions from cauldron or vat," but these things are said in order that we may ignore humanity. The very diction obscures Man. We are in Eden before Adam, who, when he comes (on the fifth page) seems an intruder, or rather a red-haired accident.
Of course Mr. Phillpotts has his case: The River is concerned with people who live with nature and whose lives may be said, by a convenient rhetoric, to be "concerned with Dart" and with "the granite aprons of her thousand falls."
Actually, however, the print apron of one cottage girl, to say nothing of her possible fall, is more important to Mr. Phillpotts as a novelist, is more important to any novelist, than the wildest heave of boulder-strewn moor or forest. Is it not a mistake, even in a novel of this class, to entitle the story by its setting and to introduce that setting with the utmost power and volume of words? Does scenery of any kind really qualify human nature? It gives it complexion, and certain habits of mind and speech; but we discover even these limited effects only when we meet the people. We are not interested in such effects until the people interest us. The environment is important only as bringing out human nature in little unaccustomed ways.
The error of putting Nature before Man is rarely, however, palpable and complete in any one writer or story. It is certainly not so in The River. It came near being palpable and complete in Mr. Hardy's novel, The Well-Beloved. It will be remembered that Mr. Hardy insisted in his preface that the remoteness and natural gloom of the Isle of Slingers were "apt to generate a type of personage like the character imperfectly sketched in these pages." But when that amazing character was challenged and Mr. Hardy was driven to explanation, he referred it not to the climate and scenery of the Isle of Slingers, but to the fact that the story was planned and partly written in his less mature period, when his reading of human nature was adventurous. The truth is, of course, that human nature is everything in a novel and scenery qua scenery nothing. At the best it is as the setting to the jewel, and at the worst it is as the cackle to the 'osses.
No, a third and more excellent way there is, the way of drama, the way of truth. A novelist should see landscape through the eyes of his characters. He
should see it when they see it, and be blind to it when they are blind to it; and always introduce it as a part of the drama, never as an interlude. This may be a counsel of perfection, but in our opinion the success of even the shortest description of scenery in a novel depends upon our ability to see it through the eyes and mood of a character in the story, and in no wise on our ability to see it vividly through the author's eyes. In most novels when the author introduces scenery he is resting on his oars. The fact that a character walks from a place called A. to a place called B. is not in itself sufficient reason for describing the scenery between A. and B. Yet it is constantly done. Take the following very innocent passage from The River:
She went to a pastrycook's, where a friend served in the shop, made a meal of the things she liked, drank a glass of milk, and then started very happily upon her journey of twelve miles. She pursued the beautiful road now slowly unfolding pageants of spring. She crossed Holme Bridge, where Dart, silent and mysterious, passed through rocky channels; she climbed the great hill beyond; sank down again to New Bridge; presently descended a tremendous declivity that led to Dartmeet; and saw beneath her the sister rivers mingle. Their shining confluence was set in leaf-buds, in the alder's catkins and the gold and silver flowerlight of the willows. Half way up another hill Hannah heard a man's step behind her, and the next moment someone reached her side and slowed his progress. Then a familiar voice greeted her, as though no great matter stood between them; and she looked up and saw Timothy Oldrieve returning from his sport. "Congratulate me," he said.
This is a fair specimen of the ordinary landscape art of the ordinary novel. Elsewhere in The River it would be easy to find higher work; but here we have landscape for mere landscape's sake. It is Mr. Phillpotts who sees it,
not Hannah. It is not related to the girl. It would have been the same for you or us. Now, note with what skill Mr. Meredith, by a single touch, makes a scene personal to the character for whom he has already reserved our attention:
Nevil Beauchamp dozed for an hour. He was awakened by light on his eyelids, and starting up beheld the many pinnacles of grey and red rocks and shadowy high and white regions at the head of the gulf waiting for the sun; and the sun struck them. One by one they came out crimson flame, till the vivid host appeared to have stepped forward. The shadows on the snowfields deepened to purple below an irradiation of rose and pink and dazzling silver. There of all the world you might imagine the Gods to sit. A crowd of mountains endless in range, erect, or flowing, shattered and arid, or leaning in smooth lustre, hangs over the gulf. The mountains are sovereign Alps, and the sea is beneath them. The whole gigantic body keeps the sea, as with a hand, to right and left.
Nevil's personal rapture craved for Renée with the second long breath he drew. . .
It is not the splendor of the description that matters here, it is its dramatic attribution to the eyes and heart of Nevil. "He was awakened by light on his eyelids." In a moment we understand. So have we all awakened many times since childhood, and straightway we share the gradualness and wonder of Nevil, waking to the waking day. We obtain all the sensuous beauty of scenery, and yet we are wholly with Nevil; our attention remains the same in kind; we are not delayed, we progress. Even more apposite is the following:
They had to wait for tide as well as breeze, and pilot through intricate mud-channels before they could see the outside of the Lido, and meanwhile the sun lay like a golden altar-platter on
mud-banks made bare by the ebb, and curled in drowsy yellow links along the currents.
A superb piece of dramatic landscape is this of Mr. Hardy's:
Among the graves moved the form of a man clothed in a white sheet, which the wind blew and flapped sadly every now and then. Near him moved six men bearing a long box and two or three persons in black followed. The coffin, with its twelve legs, crawled across the isle, while around and, beneath it the flashing lights from the sea and the school of mackerel were reflected; a fishing-boat, far out in the Channel, being momentarily discernible under the coffin also. The procession wandered round to a particular corner, and halted, and paused there a long while in the wind, the sea behind them, the surplice of the priest still blowing. Jocelyn stood with his hat off: he was present, though he was a quarter of a mile off; and he seemed to hear the words that were being said, though nothing but the wind was audible.
Here the entirely personal character of the vision is felt long before Jocelyn is mentioned; it is felt in that note of the fishing-smack sailing under the coffin. It is to this plane that novelists should endeavor to rise in their treatment of scenery. But it is the highest plane, and is therefore scarcely to be reached. They will do much if on a lower plane they guard against writing landscape for landscape's sake. It has been told in Gath and mentioned in the New York Bookman that Mr. Phillpotts never describes scenery without sitting down in front of it like a painter, and transferring it bit by bit to his canvas-we mean his pocket-book. The method surprises by itself, but we do not quarrel with it; an author may work as he pleases. We are convinced, however, that Mr. Phillpotts finds his camp-stool too comfortable, and that it would be a kindness now and then to knock it from under him. Of course a
landscape-novelist like Black has his reward, but Mr. Phillpotts is hardly the man to covet that. He knows so much of human nature that one would have him see landscape as a part of it, and as a small part of it. In The River are passages in which he reaches a The Academy.
noble level of art. Indeed, the landscape with which the story begins is artistically redeemed by the landscape on which it ends. The one is premature and subjective, the other dramatic and punctual.
FINGER-PRINTS AS DETECTIVES.
The part which science often plays in the detection of crime is a comparatively unimportant, but to many people a peculiarly interesting, chapter of its beneficial story. There is something of the Sherlock Holmes in the composition of the average man,-hence one may deduce the remarkable popularity of Sir A. Conan Doyle's ingenious creation. In the trial of a burglar at the Central Criminal Court last Saturday a part which has no precedent in our Court was played by one of the fingerprints which Mr. Francis Galton has done so much to expound to the English student. The burglar in question had made his entry through a window the sill of which happened to have been freshly painted. In doing so he was unlucky enough to leave "a particularly plain imprint of his left thumb" on the soft paint. This led to his detection, and the sentence of seven years' penal servitude which the Common Sergeant passed upon him last week. To most people it will not be very clear how this could follow. One thumb, they will say, is very like another; and how can it be said with such certainty that a particular imprint, however clear, belonged to Henry Jackson rather than to John Smith? But the truth is that there is no physical characteristic by which a man can be more easily and certainly
than the print of his thumb. If the
reader looks closely at the ball of his thumb, or any of his fingers-wherein a small magnifying glass will be of great assistance-he will see that it is covered with a network of fine lines, arranged in a more or less distinct pattern of arches or loops or whorls. These minute marks are quite distinct from the lines to which the palmist attaches such importance, and though less obvious, they are far better worth study. The lines of cheiromancy, indeed, are the result of use, and indicate the creases into which the skin naturally folds itself when the hands are closed. But the less conspicuous markings, or "papillary ridges," originate at a much earlier period in the history of the individual, being essential features of the skin itself. They are probably formed by lateral pressure in the skin of the unborn infant: their mode of production is thus analogous to that which produces mountain-ranges, as the geologists tell us, by the crumpling which secular shrinkage causes in the earth's a crust, or, to take homely illustration, to the wrinkles which show themselves on the surface of the cooling porridge. It is possible that these ridges are connected in some obscure way with our sense of touch, and that we owe to them the power of distinguishing between the various textures of the objects which we handle. What is more important, from the