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THE TARGET :
HITS AND MISSES BY MEMBERS OF THE BROOKFIELD
The idea being considered a good one, unanimously adopted, and the business of the evening went on without further check. I, as the most silent member that could be laid hold of, was appointed one of the editors, and Pelican was induced to be the other. At first we seemed to have been elected to a very bed of roses. There was really nothing to be done; for a dozen members were ready to contribute to every number. We had one man of science, five essayists (serious and humorous), three poets, one novelist, and a couple of universal geniuses, who would give us anything we wanted. The first number was a great success, looked at from a quantitative standpoint if not from a qualitative
The man of science gave us the first of a series of papers on
“ Familiar Domestic Insects.” One of our poets filled three pages with a creditable imitation of the very poorest part of Mr. Bailey's Festus, entitled “A Soul's Yearnings," and the other contributed an “Address to Summer” (it was then February), which really might have been written by Mrs. Hemans—either at a very tender or a very advanced age. The essays on the “Rights of Genius,” and “Concerning a Pot of Pickled Onions," were really not so bad as they might
have been ; while the first two chapters of “ Lancelot Daryl : a Psychological Romance;" would certainly have made a sensation—I decline to say of what order—in a periodical much more ambitious than ours.
The second number of the Target was equal to the first,-some enthusiasts thought it even better ; but when the material for number three ought to have been coming in, clouds began to appear on our editorial horizon. One of the essayists took offence at the position in which his last paper had been placed; another was ill and could write nothing; and our "Festus” friend had become so enamoured of the daughter of the retired tobacconist who lived next door to him, that the ardour of his passion left him no time for literature. Most terrible of all, the psychological romancer fled to America with the avowed intention of joining one of the communities which Mr. Hepworth Dixon has so sympathetically described for us; and “ Lancelot Daryl” was left on our hands--a splendid fragment—a conundrum without an answer. Things grew worse and worse, and at last almost the only regular shots at the Target were made by the two editors. I convinced Pelican that our honour was involved in keeping up the magazine, and told him that if he would contribute the hits, I would, for my part, guarantee a supply of the misses. None of these latter need be reproduced ; but some of Pelican's archery studies, as he called them, may have an interest
One short essay may be given without
curtailment. He intended to write a number of such papers under the title of "Interpretations;" but none of the others were ever written, though I believe he had made notes referring to Spenser's “Fairy Queen,” Shakspeare's “Tempest,” Browning's “Childe Roland,” and George MacDonald's “Phantastes," concerning which he had spoken so enthusiastically on the first evening of our acquaintance. Whether his guess at the meaning of Mr. Tennyson's poem is worth anything or nothing is hard to say. It is something in its favour that Pelican himself thoroughly believed in it.
THE LADY OF SHALOTT:
A TENTATIVE INTERPRETATION.
While reading again the Laureate's exquisite versification of this story, or legend, only a few evenings ago, I was struck for the first time by the suggestion of a hidden meaning which, whether consciously present to the poet or not, may, I think, fairly be extracted from
I am inclined to set some value upon this idea, from the fact that it suddenly presented itself to me, and was not the result of any intellectual effort of my own. There are those who look upon all moral interpretations of works of pure art with suspicion ; critics who contend that no picture or poem has any legitimate meaning beyond that which was without doubt in the artist's mind at the moment of production; and that the
search after a deeper significance is impertinent and frivolous, its end being rather the glorification of the critic than the exposition of the work of the master. There is some truth and some falsehood in these assertions. It cannot be denied that critical ingenuity has sometimes been wasted in the invention of forced and arbitrary significations ; but still less can it be denied that the message of every real work of art is implied and hinted at rather than expressed, and that the lines of the picture or the words of the poem are rather of the nature of sacramental symbols than of mathematical definitions. It may be said, indeed, to be one sign of a great artistic work that no single interpretation is exhaustive of it; but that its fullest and most truthful meaning is the one which lies deepest and is, perhaps, seen last.
The legend of the "Lady of Shalott," as given by the poet is a very simple one, and it is left to make its own impression upon the reader. Here are a few of the earlier stanzas.
On either side the river lie
To many-towered Camelot;
and down the people go, Gazing where the lilies blow Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Flowing down to Camelot.
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow-veiled,
Skimming down to Camelot.
The Lady of Shalott.
And moving through a mirror clear,
Winding down to Camelot :
Pass onward from Shalott.
It appears to me that this history may be regarded as representative of the history of a woman living in a conventional world,—the world in which so many people live their whole lives,-a world whose inhabitants do not come into contact with the true substance of