Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

seems

us

more

possible to rate too highly this Lee

to far “guide - book to Shakespeare's cogent, and his interpretation life and work,” which impresses of the Sonnets is the most the reader at once by its re- reasonable and most convincing markable width and accuracy that has yet been put forward. of learning, its marvellously But most of these points are lucid marshalling of intricate likely to remain for all time sub details, and the unfailing so- iudice, and we trust that their briety and modesty of its style. final settlement may be long The only portions of the book delayed, if for no other reason that are really open to criticism than to continue and stimulate are the few occasions on which our critical interest in ShakeMr Lee, departing somewhat speare.

We emphatically refrom his original design, defin- peat, however, that these quesitely enters the field of contro- tions do not enter into an versy ; and though no one has estimate of the new Life of a better right to be heard on Shakespeare. Mr Lee modestthese matters, we are inclined ly hopes that his work may be to think that it would have found "a complete and trustbeen better for Mr Lee to main- worthy guidebook,” and it is tain consistently his role as the assuredly that, and a great impartial historian of every- deal more. It is an absolutething relating to Shakespeare. ly indispensable handbook for Dr Robertson Nicoll has re every intelligent reader of the cently been promulgating the plays. very disputable theory that a The industry of biographers critic should be set to catch has of late been pressing hardly a critic, and - granting his on the memory of Robert Louis theory — justly pluming him- Stevenson,

many self on having elicited Pro- writers persist in referring to fessor Dowden's opinion of Mr as R. L. S. — an affectation Lee's achievement. The in- which does not make for the stance adduced does not inspire dignity of letters. We hope us with much confidence in the and trust that, when the time proposition, for, as might have comes, Mr Sidney Colvin may been expected, the professor re deal as faithfully by R. L. S. as views only those portions of the Mr Sidney Lee has by W. S., book which are really extra or Mrs Ritchie by W. M. T. neous to its real design, and So far, however, we have little pays but halting tribute to its to be thankful for in the way total excellence. True, Mr Lee, of Stevensonian biography, if while always ingenious, is not we except Mr Henley's very always convincing in his posi- masterly and virile portrait in tive criticism, and his argument verse. Professor Raleigh, whom in favour of Barnabe Barnes the reviewers, not without jusaffords no adequate reason for tice, term the Lyly of to-day, departing from Professor Minto's has discoursed in a vein of identification of Chapman with three-piled hyperbole, but the the “rival poet” of the Sonnets. volume—remarkable chiefly for On other disputed points, Mr its wealth of mixed metaphor

[ocr errors]

did not inspire us with con- hear something of what passed fidence in the critical value of between Mrs Jonson and Mrs Victorian euphuism. Nor did Shakespeare regarding the juthe article in the Dictionary venile delinquencies of their disof National Biography' carry tinguished sons.

All this seems us further than an admiration to us the reductio ad absurdum for Mr Colvin's astuteness in of biography; and it would be stimulating a curiosity in the unworthy of the advertisement Great Work that is to come. of reprobation, were it not that Meanwhile Mrs Black and it represents an all too common Miss Simpson have been busy. tendency in present-day jour“For once," wrote Mr Frederic nalism-a tendency begotten of Harrison in the wisest and most vulgar and irrelevant curiosity. stimulating utterance produced Justice compels us to admit, by the “Choice of Books” in- however, that these efforts at quiry—“for once that we take biography have not been written down our Milton, and read a in vain. They tell little, it is true, book of that 'voice,' as Words- of their hero that is of any literworth says, “whose sound is ary value, though they ascribe like the sea,' we take up fifty to him a measure of affectation times a magazine with some- which we hope is as exaggerated thing about Milton, or about as is their praise; but their real Milton's grandmother, or a book achievement lies in the fact stuffed with curious facts about that, hopelessly dull themselves, the houses in which he lived, they have driven Mr Sidney and the juvenile ailments of Colvin into a position of delighthis first wife.” And thus it is fully humorous absurdity. No

now know positively that sooner had Mrs Black's humble at the age of four Stevenson volume appeared than Mr Colvin was gorgeously arrayed “in a thundered "Hands off !—let no blue merino pelisse trimmed one touch Stevenson while the with grey astrachan," and that chosen biographer perpends." the excellent Cummy was dis- There is much that attracts us satisfied therewith, justly “in- in this new Literary Game Law, dignant that such bairn with its close seasons and its should be dressed in a rem ominous warnings to such as nant, however excellent

excellent the trespass. But it was surely unstuff.” Says Miss Simpson, gallant of Mr Colvin to bully “How interesting it would have two very harmless ladies, who been to have had a photograph have done their work so poorly of these two mothers (Mrs that we are prepared to be all Barrie and Mrs Stevenson) dis the more lenient to his longcussing their sons, their books, announced and much -vaunted or their infantine ailments." masterpiece when it does come. We confess that enter Let it be accounted for righttain no curiosity whatever on eousness to Mrs Black and Miss the subject; but should Miss Simpson that they have mainSimpson see fit to give us a series tained the “open door” against of imaginary maternal conver- Mr Colvin's preposterous theory sations, we shall be glad to of protection.

we

a

we

ROMANCE OF THE MINES :

CALIFORNIAN GOLD DISCOVERIES.

was

ex

of

NORTHERN AMERICA

ised in the distant future. founded on furs and built up Clarke and Lewis made their with gold and silver. The fur wonderful expedition in 1804, companies and the reckless starting from St Louis, which trappers in their pay had was then the outlying tradingscattered trading - posts over post on the Missouri. It was the Canadas, and roughly ex- undertaken chiefly from politplored the inhospitable regions ical curiosity, and in the inlying between the Missouri and terests of geographical science. the Pacific. Yet, to all ap- After eighteen months of inpearance, the population and credible endurance,

endurance, the civilisation the western plorers reached the shores of territories appertaining to the the Pacific. It was nearly Union might have been indefin- forty years before that expeitely deferred. The agricul- dition was followed up, and tural pioneers had been slowly the second and more importpushing westward across the ant exploration originated in prairies; but it was a perilous haphazard and a love romance. venture, and by no means By something like a providence, remunerative. The fertility of Fremont was predestined to the deep black loam had been prepare a way for the imrecognised; but the rude cul- pending rush of gold-seekers. tivation was carried on under The man who won, and well difficulties, and there were no deserved, the sobriquet of the local markets. The costs of Great Pathfinder was a young transport knocked off the officer of Engineers when he profits. The Santa Fé trade engaged himself to the pretty received a considerable impulse daughter of Benton, the sen

the annexation of New ator from Missouri. The Mexico; but it was never likely lieutenant was poor, and had to attain very lucrative pro no prospects,

the stern portions, so long as it lay parent would not hear of the across an unpeopled wilderness, match. He used his influence raided by the Indians whom at Washington to send the the caravans attracted. The youth on the perilous adventure States had been annexing to of examining the Des Moines the south and on the western river.

new version seaboard; but they could not of the old story of labours digest the territories they had imposed on lovers, when the swallowed, and the western gods or fairies come to their movement was virtually at a help. To the senator's surprise deadlock. Yet their statesmen and disgust, the

disgust, the successful cherished vague

dreams

of surveyor was back within the expansion, possibly to be real- year. As his bride was still

on

SO

It was

a

[ocr errors]

withheld, he married her sec- plored Alaska, was wrecked on retly, and, by way of mak- the return voyage in the Bay ing provision for the future, of San Francisco, and as he planned a geographical survey liked the look of the country of the western territory of the on which he had been cast, States. His record was good, there he resolved to settle and the Government gave him down. Getting a grant of employment. He was charged land from the Mexican Govto investigate the Rockies, with ernment, he established his setspecial regard to discovering tlement of New Helvetia on the a pass which should give toler- site of Sacramento. The Mexiably easy communication with

cans appreciated him so highly the Pacific He struck out that they made him Governor the South Pass, and it re- of Northern California, and mained the chief route of when that country was ceded travel until the treasure-seekers by treaty to America, he was found capital to lay down the confirmed in the post under railways. On a subsequent a different title. Everything expedition in 1843, and in the prospered under his hand. He beginning of a severe winter, initiated enterprise after enterhe was lost among the tribu- prise, and was a generous emtaries of the Columbia, in the ployer of labour. His munifichaos of barren mountains. cence was proverbial : for hospiFamine was staring the party tality he was famed far and in the face: suggestions of wide: he seemed to be reaping cannibalism had been freely the rich reward of his good broached, when Kit Carson, works. He took to spinning the redoubtable scout and woollens and distilling spirits ; guide, stepped forward to ac- he was enlarging the sawmills, cept the responsibility of ex which were doing a smart stroke tricating it from what seemed of business in the lumber trade; a hopeless cul de sac. And, and these were but a few of his sure enough, Kit's instincts thriving industrial undertakguided them to Sutter's Fort ings. Beneath the foundations on the Sacramento, where the of his buildings were buried ragged company of skeletons treasures of which neither he received a warm welcome. nor any one else had a suspicion.

Sutter, whose name will al- The year 1848 was fateful for ways be associated with that Sutter, as for kings and potenof Fremont, had an even more tates in Continental Europe. romantic career, and its end is In an evil hour he signed a infinitely touching. It points a contract to run up a new mill. moral on the vicissitudes of life Digging for the mill - race, and the vanity of human as- strange sparkles were seen in pirations. Born in Baden, he the sands. On close examinahad served with some distinc- tion they proved to be gold-dust. tion in Switzerland. In 1834 The discovery was an incentive he emigrated to America, and to further researches. The embarked in the Santa Fé trail of the dust was traced trade. He made money, ex

up to pockets, and then to

men

came

were

nuggets: the Sacramento and pers, who had passed their lives an indefinite surrounding area in trackless plains and among were demonstrated to be richly rugged mountains, were auriferous. And when the inured to hardship of every news came to the ears of the kind, and indifferent to peril. scientific geologists, it seemed The new-comers were men of clear that the scattered gold all sorts—the majority of them, was but the débris of the over- perhaps, absurdly unfitted for hanging Sierras. In the rush the adventures which

they that followed the first an- rashly undertook. They were nouncement poor Sutter was drawn by the gold, as by an swept off his legs. In the first irresistible magnet. Visions of place, all his workpeople deserted wealth to be easily won overħim : his cattle strayed un constitutional timidity, herded; he could not afford to animated exhausted or despairtempt his hands with fancy ing energy, and gave new life wages; and in the paralysis of in- and strength to frames debilidustry he failed to meet his obli- tated by dissipation. Mingled gations. The loose mining laws with these weaklings of the Union came into play, sturdy miners, and desperate and claims were pre-empted ruffians who scrupled at nothand pegged out on the landsing. The mixed multitude that passed from him. He had swarmed in on California from lavished his economies on benef- all directions and by every icence and hospitality. Now

of conveyance. They the wealthy settler was beg- chartered schooners from Ausgared, and he became a man tralia and the Pacific Isles; with a grievance. After strug- they faced the winter terrors gling on, in 1873 he emigrated of the Horn in unseaworthy eastwards to press his claims ships, indifferently found and on Congress. Penniless and dangerously overloaded. Some friendless, the old man had few, who had the means of proalmost broken his heart, when viding a costly outfit, resigned he received the pitiful compen- themselves to the sluggish oxsation of a trifling pension, and teams; but the most of the he only survived for a year to gold - seekers who came from draw it.

the Eastern States, when they The Sutter Discoveries, as passed the Missouri, tramped they were called, precipitated it on foot. They crossed sterile the evolution of America. They deserts of salt and alkali; they unlocked treasure-stores which ferried themselves somehow for a long time were to give it

flooded rivers ; they an unparalleled financial posi- struggled through quicksands tion. The Government had which sometimes engulfed them; actually to devise extravagant they threaded their way among ways and means to relieve the icy crags and dizzy precipices, Treasury of the glut of hoarded and stumbled along through metal. Meantime, the immed- the boulders and debris in the iate consequence was a general depths of gloomy chasms, soon exodus to the West. The trap- to be spanned by girdered via

means

across

« AnteriorContinuar »