« AnteriorContinuar »
used. We asked him what they were about, and he showed them to us, and was never impatient however many questions we asked, which is a thing that nurse does not allow. We saw them often after that, and came to know more about them; but we found, even on the first party night, that Bogy's favourites were the great books about the earth, and the sea, and the sky, about plants, and trees, and seaweeds, and animals, and birds, and fishes, and insects, and so very many other things that have been created by Almighty God.
He showed us a great many plates in his books, and talked to us about them; and he let us look at anything we wanted, and never seemed to think that we should spoil it. And while he talked to us, we stood round him, or sat on the floor, and patted the Great Bear.
* And why do you call your dog Major Ursa ?' asked Bobby. “It does sound such a funny name. Is he a kind of soldier dog?'
'Oh, no,' said Bogy. 'He is not Major Ursa but Ursa Major, and that is quite another thing.'
What does it mean?'
"Oh, we call him the Great Bear,' I said, because he is so like the picture in the Three Bears. Is yours from that too?'
No,' said Bogy;‘mine is from the Greater Bear and the Lesser Bear. Have you ever heard of them?'
We said no, so Bogy sent Bobby to the shelves for a book; a very tall, thin, oddly-shaped one. And when Bogy opened it, we saw that it was full of sheets that unfolded like maps, only instead of being maps of countries and seas, the paper was all dark with white spots on it.
Bogy explained to us that they were maps of the sky at night; and then he began to talk to us about the stars. I always used to think that the sky looked rather dreadful at night-so deep and dark, and with clouds blowing over the face of the moon, and the stars twinkling as if they were watching. But I never thought it dreadful in the same way after Bogy had told us about the two Bears, and the Pole Star, and the Dog Star all bright, and Aldebaran all red, and the Charioteer, and the Northern Crown, and Orion like a great knight kneeling to pray. And he told us about the Southern Cross that we cannot see here, and about the lost Pleiad.
And then he told us how planet was from a Greek word that meant wandering, and showed us how wonderfully and mys
teriously the planets did wander, and it might have been one of the loveliest fairy tales we had ever heard in our lives. Bobby sat cross-legged on the floor before Bogy; so excited, that he kept holding his breath till he was scarlet in the face. Paul sat on Bogy's knee, with the onę arm round him ; he did not understand all that we were listening to, but he was beginning to love Bogy so much, that he was quite good and content. But then Grizzle came to say that nurse was waiting for us—hours too soon it seemed to us.
•There is just one more thing I should like to ask before we go,' said Bobby, slowly getting up from the floor. “On the outsides of some of the most beautiful books, I mean the white ones, there is a silver thing. It is a coat of arms, like father's. It is yours, I suppose.'
I know,' I said. I know what you are going to say. It is the very same thing I wanted to ask too.'
About the words, you know,' said Bobby, stopping in the middle of rubbing his knees, and looking at Bogy with a frown of hard thinking that almost made his eyebrows meet. “Mother has told us about father's motto, but I don't understand at all what yours means. It only says three words, and they don't tell anything. The letters are very old, and you cannot read them very well, but I think they say, “The Gentle Heritage.” That is what I want to know, and it is the last thing I will ask you to-night ; yes, the very last thing, as much as if you were nurse.'
'And that is the one thing I am not going to tell you,' said Bogy, because I want you to find it out for yourselves.'
"All of us ? 'asked Patricia.
*Very well,' said Bobby,' we are going to try, at any rate, quite fairly and honourably, and no asking mother. And now if we don't
go, I daresay nurse may be crosser than ever.' But we are sorry to leave your party,' he said, as we shook hands with Bogy in the hall.
For we are dreadfully fond of parties,' said Annis; but Patricia, with the greatest presence of mind, stood in front of her. * But my parties are very dull, I am afraid,' Bogy said.
Oh, no, they aren't!'I cried. “I never, never enjoyed anything so much before.' 'I want to whisper to you,' said Paul. 'I can't reach you werry
When I whisper, I put my arms round the person's neck.'
So Bogy stooped down, and Paul put his arms round his neck. And I saw that when he did that, Bogy put his one arm quite round Paul, and held him.
‘Have I been good ?' Paul asked, in a loud whisper.
For we are dreadfully fond of parties,' said Annis, before Patricia could stop her. But Bogy only laughed aloud.
• We must have another soon,' he said.
It sounded rather funny, but it meant a great deal from Paul. And Patricia gave up trying to keep us in order after this, for Bogy only shook hands all over again.
And then we went home with nurse, and I wondered all the way how we could ever have thought that Bogy looked dreadful. For now I thought that in spite of his black thing, his face was as gentle as gentle could be.
To be continued.)
FIVE ENGLISH POETS.
THERE is no less variety in the methods of looking at Nature and the wild things of the earth than in the methods of looking at men and women. And it is certain that every great poet has the out-of-door feeling on him at times.
Wordsworth, however, may fairly claim to be par excellence the Poet of Nature : because all that is best in his work is more vitally dependent on his love of Nature than is that of
any other poet of the first rank. His mind is at the farthest remove from that of the dramatist, to whom the central interest must always be human passion, human loves and hates ; to whom the beauty of the world is mainly a setting for the men that live and move in it. The dramatist dwells among the haunts of men ; he derives his inspiration from the rough-and-tumble of everyday life, however he may glorify it. But Wordsworth is at his happiest when the clamour of men's tongues is hushed; when the voices of the mountains are in his ears, and overhead the
'broad open eye of the solitary sky.'
The sense of vastness does not have the same effect upon every one, or at all times; it is occasionally too overwhelming, and occasionally positively dreary. It has to be combined with a corresponding consciousness of supreme beauty ; and even then something more is wanting, before one can derive much comfort from it. The Eternal and the Infinite are impressive ; but the Interminable is annoying. Even if Enoch Arden had been thoroughly, vividly conscious of the glories of his solitary island, the continuous contemplation of boundless sea and sky would have failed to soothe him, or relieve the intolerable weariness; it would have been more likely to add to it. But that is just because ordinary human nature craves for human fellowship; and to make solitude tolerable, it must be varied by sufficient human fellowship.
But, given the right conditions, the frame of mind in which Vastness is not maddening but grand, Wordsworth is its high priest, its noblest interpreter.
'What soul was his, when from the naked top
This elevation of spirit, greater or less in degree, born of the contemplation of Nature in her grander aspects, is the distinguishing note of Wordsworth ; the quality which sets him apart from other poets. For his delight in beauties of detail-a Lesser Celandine, a Daisy, a bank of Daffodils—though essentially part of the man, is shared in an equal degree by many others. Stand under the canopy of heaven on a starlit night, when the moon is low ; you will draw from it a sense of power and of peace which nothing else can give. But the effect of Wordsworth's poetry is something analogous. It is the Peace at the heart of the Universe which he felt so deeply, and has helped so many to feel. This is the source of his own serenity, and of that 'healing power' which Arnold names as his chief gift. One is aware of it not only in passages where Nature is directly described, like the above; one feels that the same influence is at work on him all through his noblest productions. It is vividly present in the • Intimations of Immortality'; the spirit which informs the whole of the Ode to Duty is in the lines of the fifth stanza :