« НазадПродовжити »
estimate of the intrinsic value of these fragments, for to me every sentence floats in an atmosphere of undying associations and incommunicable memories. There may be readers to whom some thought here written may bring a revelation like that of which Pelican spoke: if there be one such I shall be content.
This has been a chapter of prose : it shall finish with a poem. Pelican has ceased talking for awhile; and now he shall sing. It will be welcome as a change, even though the music be in a minor key.
" THE YEARS TAKE ALL."
“ The years take all and leave us nought;"
So says the song I sing to-day :
To me—to thousands passed away
years take all! The wild delight
With rapture like a second birth ;
When round our head the airs of heaven
Seem to play softly, and our eyes
As Adam gazed in paradise ;
The exultation of the hour
When battles fought at last are won ;
Is born: that a great deed is done ;
All boyhood's dreams, all hopes of youth,
So quick to rise, so slow to fall; How sad the inevitable truth, The
years take all! The years take all !
Yet is it true, this strange sad thought,
When youth has gone doth nothing stay? Have I not memories that are fraught
With benediction for to-day?
If in my breast I feel no more
The ancient ardour for the fight, Still I am not without a store
Of trophies brave—a goodly sight.
What life has given I have and hold;
Time ne'er can call me to resign Her treasures rich and manifold :
They are myself—the years are mine.
So I no more my voice will lend
To the sad song that I have sung; For though some raptures have an end,
The purest joys are ever young.
And though the things most prized depart
Beyond the reach of love's recall, Love's self lives on: the loving heart
Can never say, “The years take all !”
FRIENDS AND FOES.
SUPPOSE every one who writes a book of any
kind, particularly a book which attempts anything like portraiture of persons, or places, or things, stops sometimes in the course of it to ask himself whether the picture in the mind of the reader bears any vital resemblance to that one which he himself sees hung in the gallery of memory, and which he feels he can never fully reproduce. I too ask, but I fail, as in such circumstances man must always fail, to find an answer; and I can have no idea as to whether the Paul Pelican whom the reader sees in these pages is the same Paul Pelican that I see while I write them. And so I ask another question which is more practical, and, I think, more easily answerable. What is the best method of making one man known to another? in other words, What are the things which, when told of a man, do most to strike into the mind of a stranger the very image of himself? I really think that we can learn more from a good painted portrait of him than from a folio volume about him ; I verily believe that the soul of a man does somehow get into his face in a way that it gets nowhere else; but suppose we can neither see the face nor a veritable reproduction of it; suppose we have to content ourselves with a folio, or even with an octavo volume,—what record there will tell us most? It will never be the record of what happened to him ; it will seldom be the record of what he did, or even of what he said or thought. There is something to be learned from all these, as there is also from the record of how he appeared to others, and how they were influenced by him ; but the man's self is most nearly apprehended by us when we open the pages that tell us of the things towards which he turned and from which he shrank, the objects of his likes and dislikes, his loves and hatreds. Give me the loves, and I will give you the man.
The previous pages have not perhaps been quite devoid of indications such as are here referred to, but they are scattered up and down in a somewhat aimless and unsystematic manner; and I cannot be certain that a definite human figure of unmistakable individuality does indeed stand out from this poor canvas of mine. Of one thing I may be certain, that if, in the end, this be not the case, the picture will be worth nothing, howsoever many clever tricks of drawing or colouring it may disclose ; while if the portrait be really recognisable and comprehensible, a little crudeness here and there cannot take away the value which always attaches to the living reproduction of a living man.
Is the old maxim true which implies that we must judge a man by his friends? I think it is—absolutely true. We may fairly judge a man either by his friends or by his enemies, best by both ; but then it must be remembered that comparatively few of our friends are human beings. Of human friends a man may be quite bereft; but he has birds, beasts, and fishes, rivers and mountains, books, thoughts, amusements, and great interests; not to mention the celebrated three of Coleridge,
“Himself, his Maker, and the angel Death.”
you assume to judge a man by his friends, he has a right to demand that these shall not be forgotten, and to contest your claim to found an estimate on the half-dozen men and women who revolve round him, or around whom he revolves. Of course the human friends will always head the catalogue, and in many cases you may begin and end with them, without much fear of your judgment being marred by the omission of the rest. The only thing you are in danger of mistaking, is the essential nature of the bond of union; for if you fail to get hold of the real uniting link, you are certain to be thrown hopelessly wrong. I once knew a man whom I will call A- who, much to his disgust, acquired the reputation of being an unbeliever in orthodox Christianity, from his known fondness for the society of B—, who was a confirmed doubter; while in reality the uniting links were a mutual respect for