Imágenes de páginas

other age.

bey, some parts of which had been roofed have one room to sit in with two or three over and used as an inn. When we ar- bedrooms." Then he begins to growl rived, the rain was falling in torrents. about the weather and the carpenters. Soon after supper we took our candles After a while he writes again of the and climbed the winding stone stairs to house: “It's not half finished and has our rooms in the tower. The stones were cost me two thousand pounds. I think uneven and worn by generations of pious seriously of filling it with straw and setfeet. Outside we could see the ruined ting fire to it. Never was anything half nave of the church, with all the sur- so ugly.” rounding buildings. We were in an- I inquired about the house and was

told that it was not far away on the hillHad the sun shined next morning we side, and was yet unfinished. I was should have gone on our gypsy journey, pleased with this, and meant to go up and Llanthony Abbey would have been and see it when the spell of bad weather only an incident. But for five days and of which Landor complained had passed five nights the rain descended. We by. could make valiant sallies, but were Beside Landor there was only one driven back for shelter. Shut in by "the other historic association which one could tumultuous privacy of storm,” one felt a enjoy without getting drenched-that sense of ownership. Only one book was St. David. In wading across the could be obtained, the “Life and Letters” barnyard, I encountered “Boots,” an inof Walter Savage Landor. I had always telligent young man though unduly rewanted to know more of Landor and here spectful. He informed me that the old was the opportunity.

building just across from the stable was A little over a hundred years ago he the cell of St. David. came to the vale of Ewyas and bought I was not prepared for this. All I this estate, and hither he brought his knew was that St. David was the patron young bride. They occupied our rooms, saint of Wales and had a cathedral and a it appeared. In 1809, Landor writes to number of other churches dedicated to Southey, “I am about to do what no man him. Without too grossly admitting my hath ever done in England, plant a wood ignorance, I tried to draw out from my of cedars of Lebanon. These trees will mentor some further biographical facts look magnificent on the mountains of that my imagination might work on durLlanthony." He planted a million of ing my stay. He thought that St. them, so he said. How eloquently he David was some relation to King Arthur, growled over those trees! He prophesied but just what the relation was, and that none of them would live.

whether he was only a relative by marAfter reading, I donned my raincoat riage, he didn't know. It wasn't very and started out through the driving storm much information, but I was profoundly to see how Landor's trees were getting grateful to him. on. It seemed that it was only yester- I have since read a long article on St. day that they were planted. It was David in the "Cambrian Plutarch." The worth going out to see what had become author goes into the question of the famof them. They were all gone. I felt ily relations between King Arthur and that secret satisfaction which all right-St. David with great thoroughness, but minded persons feel on being witnesses what conclusion he comes to is not quite to the fulfilment of prophecy.

evident. He thinks that the people are And then there was the house which wrong who say that St. David was a Landor started to build when he and his nephew, because he was fifty years older wife were living in our tower. “I hope,” than Arthur. That would make him he writes,"before the close not of the more likely his uncle. But as he admits next but of the succeeding summer, to that King Arthur may possibly be an

other name for the constellation Ursa great stronghold of the Pale in the MidMajor, it is difficult to fix the dates ex- dle Ages, and the scene of Cromwell's actly. At any rate, the "Cambrian terrible vengeance in 1649. Three miles Plutarch” is sure that King Arthur was a up the river is the site of the Battle of Welshman and a credit to the country, the Boyne. It was one of the great inand so was St. David. The author was decisive battles of the world, it being neas accurate in regard to the dates as the cessary to fight it over again every year. nature of his subject would allow. He The Boyne had overflowed its banks, and adds apologetically, “It will appear that in the fields forlorn hay-cocks stood like the life of St. David is rather misplaced so many little islands. We stopped at with respect to chronological order. But the battle monument and read its Whigas he was contemporary with all those gish inscription, which was scorned by whose lives have already been given, the our honest driver. We could form some anachronism, if such it may be called, idea of how the field appeared on the can be of no great importance."

eventful day when King William and That is just the way I feel about it. King James confronted each other across After living for a whole week in such the narrow stream. Then the scene close contact with the residence of St. changed and we found ourselves in MelleDavid, I feel a real interest in him. Just font Abbey, the first Cistercian monaswho he was and when he lived, if at all, tery in Ireland, founded by St. Malachy, is a matter of no great importance. the friend of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

King William and King James were at Yet there are limits to the historical once relegated to their proper places imagination. It must have something to among the moderns, while we went back work on, even though that something to the ages of faith. may be very vague. We must draw the Four miles farther we came to Monasline somewhere in our pursuit of an- terboice, where stood two great Celtic tiquity. A relic may be too old to be crosses. There are two ruined churches effective. Instead of gently stimulating and a round tower. Here was an early the imagination it may paralyze it. What religious establishment which existed bewe desire is not merely the ancient but fore the times of St. Columba. the familiar. The relic must bring with This would be enough for one day's it the sense of auld lang-syne. The Tory reminiscence, but my heart leaped up at squire likes to preserve what has been a the sight of a long green ridge. “There long time in his family. The traveler is the hill of Tara!" has the same feeling for the possessions Having traversed the period from of the family of humanity.

King William to the dwellers in the The family-feeling does not go back of Halls of Tara, what more natural a certain point. I draw the line at the than to take a further plunge into the legendary period when the heroes have names, and more or less coherent stories We drive into an open field and alight are told of their exploits. People who a rock-strewn hill. Candles are had a local habitation, but not a name, given us and we grope our way through seem to belong to Geology only. For narrow passages till we come to the cenall their flint arrow-heads, or bronze in- tre of the hill. Here is a chamber some struments, I cannot think of them as fel- twenty feet in height. On the great low men.

stones which support the roof are mystic It was with this feeling that I visited emblems. On the floor is a large stone one of the most ancient places of worship hollowed out in the shape of a bowl. It in Ireland, the tumulus at Newgrange. suggests human sacrifices. My guide did It was on a day filled with historic sight- not encourage this suggestion. There seeing. We started from Drogheda, the l was, he thought, no historical evidence



for it. But it seemed to me that if these people of our own kind had walked, the people ever practised such sacrifices this Kings of Tara and their harpers, and St. was the place for them. A gloomier Patrick and St. Malachy and Oliver chamber for weird rites could not be Cromwell and William III. After the imagined.

unintelligible symbols on the rocks, how Who were the worshipers? Druids familiar and homelike seemed the sculpor pre-Druids? The archæologists tell tures on the Celtic crosses. They were us that they belonged to the Early Bronze mostly about people, and people whom we period. Now Early Bronze is a good had known from earliest childhood. enough term for articles in a museum, There were Adam and Eve, and Cain but it does not suggest a human being. slaying Abel, and the Magi. They were We cannot get on terms of spiritual in- members of our family. timacy with the Early Bronze people. But between us and the builders of the We may know what they did, but there underground chapel there was a great is no intimation of "the moving why they gulf. There was no means of spiritual did it." What spurred them on to their communication across the abyss. A scrap feats of prodigious industry? Was it of writing, a bit of poetry, a name handed fear or love? First they built their down by tradition, would have been chapel of great stones and then piled a worth all the relics discovered by archhuge hill on top of it. Were they still æologists. under the influence of the glacial period There is justification for the traveler's and attempting to imitate the wild doings preference for the things he has read of nature? The passage of the ages does about, for these are the things which renot make these men seem venerable, be- sist the changes of time. Only he must cause their deeds are no longer intelli- remember that they are better preserved gible. Mellefont Abbey is in ruins, but in the book than in the places where they we can easily restore it in imagination. happened. The impression which any We can picture the great buildings as generation makes on the surface of the they were before the iconoclasts destroyed earth is very slight. It cannot give the them. The prehistoric place of worship true story of the brief occupancy. That in the middle of the hill is practically un- requires some more direct interpretation. changed. But the clue to its meaning is The magic carpet which carries us into lost.

any age not our own is woven by the I could not make the ancient builders poets and historians. Without their aid and worshipers seem real. It was a re

we may travel through Space, but not lief to come up into the sunshine where through Time.



ROBERT CORTES HOLLIDAY While Mr. Chesterton represents in the familiar essay the height of epigrammatic satire, and Mr. Crothers typifies a certain suavity of phrase and outlook, Robert Cortes Holliday (1880- ) is distinctly an exponent of the modern journalistic school. The flippant note in his title “Caun't Speak the Language," an essay which appeared in the volume Walking-Stick Papers in 1918, is borne out in the casual treatment of his subject. Engaged at different times as illustrator, book-seller, reporter, and editor, Mr. Holliday has acquired an intimate knowledge of books and people which furnishes excellent material for essays of bright commentary and popular thumb-nail sketches.

WHENEVER we go to England we always to be borne in mind in considering learn that we “caun't" speak the lan- England is that it is an island, that its guage. We are told very frankly that people are insulated. An excellent thing we can't. And we very quickly perceive to remember, too, in this connection, is that, whatever it is that we speak, it cer- that England is a flower garden. In tainly is not "the language.”

ordinary times, after an Englishman is Let us consider this matter. A some- provided with a roof and four meals a what clever and amusingly ill- day, the next thing he must have is a natured English journalist, T. W. H. garden, even if it is but a flowerpot. Crosland, not long ago wrote a book They are continually talking about love"knocking” us, in which he says "that hav- liness over there: it is a lovely day; it is ing inherited, borrowed or stolen a beau- lovely on the river now; it is a lovely tiful language, they (that is, we Amer- spot. And so there are primroses in icans) wilfully and of set purpose dis- their speech. And then they have intort and misspell it." Crosland's ignor- herited over there, or borrowed or stolen, ance of all things American, ingeniously a beautiful literary language, worn soft revealed in this lively bit of writing, is in color, like their black-streaked, grayinteresting in a person of, presumably, stone buildings, by time; and, as Whistordinary intelligence, and his credulity in ler's Greeks did their drinking vessels, the matter of what he has heard about us they use it because, perforce, they have is apparently boundless.

no other. The humblest Londoner will However, he does not much concern innocently shame you by talking perpetuus. Well-behaved Englishmen would ally like a story-book. doubtless consider as impolite his manner One day on an omnibus I asked the of expression regarding the “best thing conductor where I should get off to reach imported in the Mayflower." But a certain place. “Oh, that's the jourhowever unamiably, he does voice a feel- ney's end, sir," he replied. Now that is ing very general, if not universal, in Eng- poetry. It sounds like Christina Rosland. You never get around—an Eng- setti. What would an American car lishman would say “round”--the fact conductor have said? "Why, that's the over there that we do not speak the Eng- end of the line.” “Could you spare me a lish language.

trifle, sir?" asks the London beggar. A Well, to use an Americanism, they-pretty manner of requesting alms. Litthe English-certainly do have the drop tle boys in England are very fond of cigaon us in the matter of beauty. Mr. rette pictures, little cards there reproducChesterton somewhere says that a thing ing "old English flowers." I used to

save them to give to children. Once I 1 From Walking-Stick Papers by Robert

gave a number to the ringleader of a Cortes Holliday, copyright, 1918, by George H. Doran Company, publishers. Reprinted

group. I was about to tell him to diby permission.

vide them up. "Oh, we'll share them,

sir," he said. At home such a boy might being in China. Just as traffic there have said to the others: “G’wan, these're keeps to the left kerb, instead of to the fer me.” Again, when I inquired my right curb, so whereas here I call you way of a tiny, ragged mite, he directed up on the telephone, there you phone me me to "go as straight as ever you can go, down. It would be awkward, wouldn't sir, across the cricket field; then take it, for me to say to you that I called you your first right; go straight through the down? copse, sir,” he called after me. The England is an island; and though the copse? Perhaps I was thinking of the British Government controls one fifth, "cops" of New York. Then I under- or something like that, of the habitable stood that the urchin was speaking of a globe, England is a very small place. small wood.

Most of the things there are small. A Of course he, this small boy, sang his freight car is a goods van, and it certainly sentences, with the rising and falling in- is a goods van and not a freight car. flection of the lower classes. "Top of So when you ask what little stream this the street, bottom of the road, over the is, you are told that that is the river Lea, way"-so it goes. And, by the way, how or the river Arun, as the case may be, aldoes an Englishman know which is the though they look, indeed, except that top and which is the bottom of every they are far more lovely, like what we street ?

call “cricks" in our country. And the Naturally, the English caun't under- | Englishman is fond of speaking in distand us. "When is it that you are go- minutives. He calls for a "drop of ale," ing 'ome?” asked my friend, the police- to receive a pint tankard. He asks for man in King's Road.

a “bite of bread," when he wants half a “Oh, some time in the fall,” I told him. loaf. His “bit of green” is a bowl of “In the fall?” he inquired, puzzled. cabbage. He likes a "bit of cheese,” in “Yes, September or October."

the way of a hearty slice, now and then. "Oh!” he exclaimed, "in the autumn, One overhearing him from another room yes, yes. At the fall of the leaves," I might think that his copious repast was a heard him murmur meditatively. Meet- microscopic meal. About this peculiarity ing him later in the company of another in the homely use of the language there policeman, "He," he said to his friend, was a joke in Punch not long ago. Said nodding at me, "is going back in the fall. the village worthy in the picture: "Ah, Deliciously humorous to him was my I used to be as fond of a drop o' beer as speech. Now it may be mentioned as an any one, but nowadays if I do take two interesting point that many of the words or dree gallons it do knock I over!” imported in the Mayflower, or in ships Into the matter of the quaint features following it, have been quite forgotten in of the speech of the English countryside, England. Fall, as in the fall of the year,

or the wonders of the Cockney dialect, I think, was among them. Quite so, the unlearned foreigner hardly dare venquite so, as they say in England.

ture. It is sufficient for us to wonder Yes, in the King's Road. For, it is an why a railroad should be a railway. When odd thing, Charles Scribner's Sons are on it becomes a “rilewie” we are inclined, in Fifth Avenue, but Selfridge's is in Ox- our speculation, “to pass," as we say over ford Street. Here we meet a man on here. And ale, when it is “ile," brings the street; we kick him into it. And in to mind a pleasant story. A humble LonEngland it is a very different thing, in- doner, speaking of an oil painting of an deed, whether you meet a lady in the island, referred to it as “a painting in ile street or on the street. You, for instance, of an oil.” wouldn't meet a lady on the street at all. An American friend of mine, resident In fact, in England, to our mind, things in London, insists that where there is an are so turned around that it is as good as English word for a thing other than the

« AnteriorContinuar »