Page images

But no;

to consummate fruit. Learning commit to some intimate friend and leisure, with all the luxuri- choice thoughts from that wellous appliances of a wealthy coun- shaped, capable head. try house at their command, ham- the letter is pered by no irritating defect of circumstance—mind will commune To the Secretary, Army and Navy with mind; and as we prepare to Co-operative Society, Victoria look over his shoulder, we antici- Street, S. IV. pate a real intellectual treat. Drawing a sheet of exquisite 1,291,065,” (shade of the great

“Captain de Crespigny, No. smoothness from the stand, and dipping a new grey - goose quill direct descendant having to cer

Crusader ! what think

you of

your in a silver fox-head inkstand, the scribe pauses, biting the feather tify his identity by a number like

a convict's ?) "requests that 1000 of the pen and gazing with a faroff look out of the window. His

c. f. E.C. cartridges, No. 6 shot,

may be sent to him at Hieover eye wanders over the soaked lawn,

Hall, Huntingfield.” which was once the cloister garth of an ancient religious house. Even so in olden days may a monk, be the letter to admit us to the

The third and last is going to wearied with the task of illumin

writer's mind, for it is ating a psalter, have rested his eyes on the same emerald sward. To

To his Friend. tell the truth, our friend is puzzled to remember the day of the “DEAR OLD MAN,—You wanted month, though that happens to to know what we did here. Fribe displayed in large black figures day- Cockshot Wood, 5 guns, 720 in a frame on the mantelpiece. pheas., 213 hares, 30 rab., 2 woodThe mental esfort seems too much cock, 18 various; total, 1083. Satfor him, for, laying down his pen, urday — Bangover Covers, 105 he pulls out a morocco - leather pheasants, 65 part., 19 hares, 573 cigar-case; and it is not till he rabb., 10 woodcock, 2 various; has a fine regalia under way that total, 774. Weather blagard (sic), he begins a letter

powder straightish. We don't

shoot to-morrow; there's a rotten To his Sister.

cattle-show or something. I'm off “ CAROL PRIORY, SOPPINGHAM, on Tuesday-home. Haven't seen Sunday.

you for an age. “ DEAR POLLY,- Please tell the we shall meet till about the Derby. governor I shall arrive on Tuesday Take care of your life. — Yours by the 5.15, and will he send a ever,

Bo DE CRESPIGNY." trap for me. Raining like any. thing.-Yours,

Bo.” Alas! it seems as if the cheapness

of correspondence has brought Evidently he reserves the confi- upon it the proverbial corollary, dence, always so facile and full Yet this is an age of copious, if between brother and sister, for not fastidious, reading. It is still their early meeting.

recognised as a duty to society to Before beginning the next let- make one's self as agreeable as ter, some minutes are devoted to may be in conversation. It would reflection and calculation, aided therefore seem worth the little exby the aromatic incense of Ha- tra trouble involved to make a vannah. Ah! he is now going to letter as attractive as a paragraph

I don't suppose


in an evening paper.

If it were

and common, they can never be once realised that it is as much

again what they were a hundred a breach of good manners to write

and fifty years ago.

It is not slatternly as to speak curtly, the difficult to imagine what they habit of adequate literary expres- were then. In a certain Scottish sion would soon be acquired. It country house there hangs on the is as integral to good breeding wall of the central hall a mighty to amuse or inform

friend at a fabric of appliqué work, origindistance as to do so to one sitting ally intended for and used as a in the next place at dinner. carpet.

Chairs and sofas It is easily imagined how, in covered with the same material. former times, the arrival of the It is the handiwork of a former weekly post must have been a lady of the house, and dates from vivid incident in the dulness of 1767-77. The faithful effigies of country life; but

hyacinths, crown imperials, fritil“Born a goddess, Dulness never dies," laries, honeysuckle, hellebore, tiger

lilies, moss and other roses. all and she seems to have avenged the lavish heraldry of the seaherself for the greater frequency sons that flaunted in the castle of letters by pouring her spirit parterres in those long-dead years upon their pages.

-still attest the industry of this In this country we look back to gentle dame and her maidens. the latter half of the eighteenth One can see them sitting round and the first quarter of the nine- the plum-coloured fabric, stitchteenth century, as the last period ing away as weeks, months, years when men took enough pains to slipped by. The part she had to write letters worth reading; but play in life is known to have been we should be slow to admit that the “ patient Grizel” business ; friendship is less prized now than there remain her letters in witthen. Walpole, the prince of cor- ness of it, the ink more faded respondents, quarrelled with most than her flowers. Truly to her, of his friends except Sir Horace left to struggle with the narrow Mann. Perhaps it was distance supplies allowed her by her selfish alone that prevented disagreement and absent husband, the rare arwith him ; but how full and warm rival of the post must have been the current of sympathy flows an event much looked forward to through the letters to the end ! and greatly prized. But the point and, but for this art, their friend- insisted on is this—it was not the ship must have died early of star- rarity of it that gave it value, but vation. It may be as cynically the trouble people took to make true as ever, that although any their letters compensate for their man can say how many horses or rarity and cost. Obviously, it is cattle he possesses, none can say the people who meet oftenest and how many friends he reckons : on the easiest terms who most still,

friendship endures; and, prize each other's company ; so while it does so, it is passing the ease of frequent corresponstrange that the priceless link of dence ought to multiply rather correspondence should be allowed than detract from its value. It to rust.

is easy to test the truth of this. At the risk of being wearisome, Does the lover of to-day treasure I must carry inquiry into this mat- one whit less fondly, or read over ter a little further. It is assumed one fraction less frequently, the that, because letters are so cheap daily letter from his mistress that



costs him nothing, than the lover anatomy), but houses could no of last century, who got a letter more be living fabrics. but once a-week that cost him Modern architects build eighteenpence? Does the nine excellent houses in


known teenth - century mother's heart style: he who pays for them has yearn less achingly over her only to specify his fancy. Hence schoolboy's blotty scrawls, be

be- the bizarre phenomena of justice cause she receives in a single scowling down Fleet Street from morning more letters from her the battlements of a feudal fortfriends than her grandmother got a Venetian Gothic palace in six months ? Not a bit. As trying to smile through the drizzle an avenue of intercourse, a bond of the Western Highlands—a timof affection, a source of delight, bered, red-tiled, Cheshire manorletter-writing has no more lost its house perched beside a Renfrewvirtue than speech has, only by shire coal-pit, like a pretty, smartour slipshod ways we let the wine ly dressed lady in a dust-cart. run in the kennel that we used to Signs of flickering life survived love to set before our friends.

even Strawberry Hill and AbbotsAs with most metaphors, so ford; there remained till within fault may

be found with that of a the last quarter century a semmarch to express the increase of blance of a style of the day. civilisation.

In some aspects it is Cubitt and Haussman may herelike a stream that has ceased to run after be remembered as the last in its old channels. For the first architects whose work carries uptime in history, from no cause that on it the evidence of its date. has ever been explained, we are After them—chaos : Queen Anne without living architecture. elbows the Abencerrages, King every former age, one desiring to John rubs shoulders with Adelphi build a house or a church in Adams, and the niggling confecstructed his architect as to the tionery of our native Tudor cringes scale of the work, but

before thought it necessary to specify the style.

. That was spontaneous : in “Those marble garments of the ancient the eleventh century the windows

gods, and doors would have round

Which the blaspheming hand of Baby

lon arches; in the thirteenth century, Hath gathered out of ruins, and hath pointed with capitals on the pilas- raised ters; in the fifteenth century the In this, her dark extremity of guilt." mode dispensed with capitals-and

In each age it was assumed One is led to wonder what kind that the new building would be of sentiment will hang in afterin the fashion of the day. Even


round the ruins of the ninewhen that fashion was a renais- teenth century. It has been said

a uniform, well- that, prone as men are to revivdefined renaissance. Not till als, no one will ever be tempted Walpole built Strawberry Hill to revive the eighteen hundreds. and Scott followed with Abbots- It is indeed difficult to imagine ford was it evident that architec- any one studiously reconstructing ture had ceased to live. Hence- Buckingham Palace (itself a disforward pretty and interesting torted renaissance), nor can one piles might be reared with the believe that any degree of anbones of the mighty dead (with tiquity can ever invest it with the becoming respect to comparative charm that hangs over the wasted


So on.

sance, it


walls of Holyrood, or

even the

was the cause of terrible ravages well - preserved dowagerhood of from the hand of the restorer, but Hampton Court.

even his work is carried on more One thing is certain, - our reverently now; and as for pullarchitects are preparing a pretty ing down or wantonly defacingcomedy of errors for future gen- an effectual stop has been put to erations of antiquaries. Massive these. One can hardly imagine Norman keeps that frown over a state of public opinion that English meadows, hoar peel-towers would allow of such an act being of the Border, dismal brochs on perpetrated as that of which the Highland capes, countless country writer has lately seen mournful churches and manor-houses—each traces in a certain ruined Scothas an intelligible story for the tish priory. The south doorway of traveller ; but heaven help him the nave is of late Norman work, who shall try five hundred years enriched with delicately carved hence to read the tale of nine- mouldings : in adapting the buildteenth-century civilisation by ing to the requirements of a modern eans of its buildings !

Scottish kirk (presumably about We do not realise the full absurd- two hundred years ago), a deep, ity of it now—perhaps it is as well straight groove has been cut right for the tempers of some of us that through the ornament on each side we do not; but it will reflect lit- of the arch, in order to support tle credit on our art hereafter. the gable of a porch. A spick-and-span house built in Certainly one of the pleasanter the fashion of a medieval baron's signs of recent civilisation is a stronghold is a common object on new-born respect for relics of the a Surrey heath or at a seaside past. It is a sentiment which watering-place. As parts of a de- may not, perhaps, rank as a moral tached villa, towers with machico- virtue, but is to be prized, if on lated battlements and loopholed no other account, for the keen enturrets are really nothing but an joyment it confers. No doubt the elaborate practical joke; an eligible present often jars harshly with the seaside residence tricked out with past, yet often it falls into unexthese is about as serious as the pected harmony with it. One men-at-arms in a Lord Mayor's spring afternoon I strolled into show. The architect displays a the gardens surrounding the cathecreditable acquaintance with arch- dral of Tours. The sun shone aeology, but the effect is not more brightly on the young leaves; an pleasant than when a grown per- artillery band was playing; the son affects juvenile airs.

townsfolk strolled about or sat But however absurd some re- under the trees, the men, as usual, sults of the Gothic revival may vying with each other in ugliness be, we are bound to be grateful of attire—the women, no doubt, for others. Receiving its main displaying travesty of the last but impulse from the skill of Pugin, two Parisian fashion; children guided and strengthened by the ran about; nurses wheeled perexquisite feeling and noble lan- ambulators,-in short, it was just guage of the author of the 'Stones such a gathering as may be witof Venice,' it has taken such firm nessed on a fine day in any

French hold of the popular imagination garrison town. But what has that each year sees more intelli- stamped it as one of the fairest gent care bestowed on our ancient scenes in a life's memory is that buildings. In its early fervour it high over the delicate greenery


soared the grey cathedral towers, alone on the state coach but on shining softly like columns of the panels of every hackney cab: dull silver against the blue vault. the trade advertisement, the pubEighteen generations or more havelican's sign - everything that is been laid in the earth since these common and much that is unclean stones were reared heavenward ; -borrows the lustre of gilding, rough fellows we should count till our jaded sight loses the sense the builders if they stood among of what should be matchless us now, and we should expect beauty, and we derive less pleasthem to be astonished at our pro

ure from it than a negro rightly gress, nor would they disappoint does from contemplating his glass us: yet it was their handiwork beads. It is a sound canon of that gave peculiar charm to the taste that places ormolu under the

The band would have same ban as stucco. played, the sun shone, the trees However, it is idle to repine, given as soft a shade, but the whole for if sumptuary law were ever to thing would have been forgotten be revived, there are perhaps sores as a sleepy fête-day but for those for it to deal with deeper than this cathedral towers, which a modern mere surface irritation. architect might mimic, but could It may not be too much to hope not design.

that the reverence which is beWith all our accumulated ex- ginning to be shown for ancient perience we lack discretion in the monuments may be extended to art of enjoyment seem indeed animate and inanimate nature. to be getting worse rather than Hitherto civilisation has dealt better in this respect, more stupid harshly with lands and their wild rather than wise. It is only pos- creatures, altering the face of the sible within reasonable limits to former and brushing aside the touch on an instance of this here latter to make way for omnivorand there, but a very obvious one ous, insatiate man.

In this counmay be taken at random. The try the regret that has long weighed hue of gold is that from which on the minds of the few at the the eye derives the fullest delight sight of devastated landscapes -not yellow, as of a buttercup, has at length, almost too late, bebut the hue of the metal itself. gun to find expression in the voice There is in it a sense of fulness of the many. On no question and richness, a blending of glow does Parliament show more vigiand coolness, which the old illumi- lant jealousy than on those touchnators well understood, and which ing encroachment on waste lands ; no other substance can give. railway engineers may no longer Plainly, then, continence of taste regard a common as a space inwould forbid the vulgar use of tended by nature to have a branch gold, even after profusion of dis- line run through it. But scored covery had put it within every and seared and deeply smirched one's reach. The cupola of St as

as is the fair face of our island, Paul's, the vanes of Westminster, a similar process is going on in all the gates of the Monarch's park- parts of this overcrowded globe. on such as these it may be most Many of us are old enough to rerightly spread, for these are what member the publication of Mr we have of most noble; but it is Gordon Cumming's work on Afrinot reserved for these—it is used can adventure and sport, describin the king's palace not so pro- ing how he carried out the purfusely as in the gin palace, not pose defined in his preface— "to

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