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oned jennet of unforced humor, she takes the world by inversion; you shall follow her circumspectly, or her steed will throw up his heels in your face and gallop off in the dust of his own making. “My novitiate page,' she ruefully confesses, invoking the influence of Hazlitt, "smelled hard of that dear name, likewise of Browne, Taylor, and Cowley, and Lamb, and of one R. L. S., a Romany chal then utterly unknown, whom I had found in secret and in secret worshiped.” It was a brave beginning, this slender book of little essays, and it was dedicated to Oliver Wendell Holmes. How charmingly, with what engaging gallantry he must have taken it!
To leap the fecund years to the Patrins of her later youth is to follow the same whimsical and reflective vein. This book, deriving its fortunate title from patrin, "a Gypsy trail: handfuls of leaves or grass cast by the Gypsies on the road, to denote, to those behind, the way which they have taken," is primarily for him whom reading “maketh a full man." The style, with a scholarship
better tempered and easier to carry, being, as it were, woven into chain mail, not the armor of her earliest adventuring, is the despair of the less agile and instructed mind. It is tinctured with her personal quality, and is incredibly rich, the richer when you return to it after absence and intercourse with more immediate things, to find fruits of her commerce with far off civilisations and loving sentience to the “hills of home." Like the buyer in Goblin Market, she drips with juices from the very fruits of life, antidote for our dull ambitions: the years “wasted in prison on casuist industries." It is full of a not too quaint and bookish but an altogether delicious persiflage. She praises the scholar's right to “fall back with delight upon a choice assortment of ignorances.” Yet, with whatever innocent suavity she puts it, you suspect her of having few scholarly ignorances of her own to fall back upon. So absolutely foursquare was her tower of recondite knowledge that you imagine her as having some ado to prevent its shadow from falling on the reader less equipped and terrifying him into
escaping her spell altogether. It is a book of praise. Most of all does she advertise the great narcotic of out-of-doors: the enchanting diversion of walking until the rhythm of the first arduous stretch dulls into the monotony of muscles settling into their slowly apprehended task. She betrays an unimpeachable bodily sanity. Though urban by birth, she is also, through adoptive kinship of Pan and all the nymphs, a sylvan, to her "a dear Elizabethan word.” You may find her beside the sea until conscious response to it ebbs into that trance of wonder which is the withdrawal of the soul into ultimate chambers, the inviolable retreat whence it comes forth washed clean of the injuries time has dealt it. She sings a remorseful dirge over the “defeated days” of captive animals. She quickens her pace, at moments, to the measures of a hilarious mind. Throughout that mischievous “encourager of hesitancy,” the Harmless Scholar, she all but dances.
“The main business of the scholar," she informs you, with a wicked twinkle behind her spectacles, “is to live gracefully, without
mental passion, and to get off alone into a corner for an affectionate view of creation."
This she concedes you as an egg warranted to hatch into something you don't expect, or a bomb likely to burst harmlessly, if disconcertingly, under your chair. For she knows, by diabolic instinct, just what your idea of the scholar is: the conserver of chronologies and sapient conclusions fit chiefly to be waved in pedagogical celebrations or trumpeted at authors' readings. No such sterile destiny as this for her, as she shall presently “fructify unto you."
"Few can be trusted with an education." This she tells you with a prodigious lightness of self-assurance. "The true scholar's signmanual is not the midnight lamp on a folio. He knows; he is baked through; all superfluous effort and energy are over for him. To converse consumedly upon the weather, and compare notes as to 'whether it is likely to hold up tomorrow,'—this, says Hazlitt, ‘is the end and privilege of a life of study.'
Mark you how humbly she proceeds, this multi-millionaire of the mind. Her intellect
ual barns are bursting with fatness, her cattle are on a thousand hills; yet she spares you not only the inventory of her acquisitions but any hint of her respect for them. One is smilingly glad to note that sometimes the challenge of the world's intellectual penury is really too much for her, and she cannot help rushing to the rescue with armies of notable names and historic data. Still she did converse consumedly upon the weather also, and it is one of the happy incredibilities of her delightful disposition that she never repudiated the intercourse of honest minds, even if they were dull. She adroitly refrained from tossing them the ball she knew they could never return, though with a curve imperfectly transcribed. She talked with them about dogs and mushrooms—for there also she was sapient in a lore that could be worn lightly and the more easily concealed—and the merciful recipe for killing a lobster painlessly before you plunge him in the ensanguining pot, of kittens and young furry donkeys and the universal boon of weather. And she had a store of absurdities, never anecdotes in the dire