Imatges de pÓgina

will they go?' And the voice said, 'The children are sons of a mighty King, and the garden is called the Garden of the Shadow of the Cross; but no one can tell whither each child will go when he is taken away: it will depend on how

far he escapes the dangers of the garden. If they carelessly lose their crosses, or so stain their beautiful garments that they can be made white no more, they will be thought unworthy of the presence of the great King, and will be hid in an outer darkness more terrible than that which they have just left. But if, when they go away, the crosses are still in their hands, and they so far keep themselves clean that the King may recognise them for his own children, then will their garments be washed until they become more shining white than snow, and they will be taken to a brighter and happier land, in which they will live with their Father for ever.""

Throughout this little volume there is a poetical spirit perceptible, which almost claims the accomplishment of verse by the elevation of the sentiment and tenderness of the ideas. Ordinary language seems almost too rough a garment for such delicate imaginings; for with some people prose is prose; and prose with fancy in it, or feeling or imagination, is simply prose run mad. Who ever heard of a simile in an Act of Parliament, or a metaphor in a catalogue of household furniture? Let us stick to the practical; and if we want the false and ornamental, let us seek for them in rhyme. The incapacity, however, to unriddle an allegory, seems to extend to any story or narrative which is not entirely composed of facts; for a romance or tale is so far an allegory that it presents truth in the disguise of fiction. A threevolume novel in this way ought to pronounce its moral, "Thou art the man," with as great plainness as Nathan; and although our better works of fiction do not condense the truth into so very terse an expression, it needs no great ingenuity to extract it for ourselves. Unless, indeed, we are gifted with this power, we need never read anything at all. If we cannot say at the end of a delightful book, "I will be as united in family feeling as the Caxtons;" "I will be as honest and persevering as David Copperfield; "I take

wisdom from the Antiquary, and patriotism from Old Mortality-and detest ambition after Macbeth, and jealousy after Othello "--we may as well give up reading, and take to skittles. The mere amusement af

forded by the finest works is not of any great importance when you have laid it aside; but if you have the faculty of distilling its inner spirit, which most people of average intellect have, you will find it a possession for ever, and ten times more useful than tomes of more didactic pretension and less captivating style. Surely, then, if the Shadow of the Cross is above the appreciation of the censor librorum of Fairleas, a common story in ordinary prose, without any graces of diction or loftiness of imagery, will not be beyond his powers. Let us look into this dingy little volume scored with hostile marks, and see what secret dangers lurk in its dusky boards. Why, the tables are turned on us in the most amazing manner, for the gentleman in Lemprière with a hundred eyes could not have detected a blot with half the rapidity of our purblind friend when it suits his purpose. He sees an allusion with marvellous sharpness, and smells out an invitation to wrong-doing with the scent of an aged hound. So far from not comprehending the meaning of allegories, rebuses, riddles, and conundrums, he would make his fortune as first interpreter to the Sphinxnothing escapes him. He will knock you out fifty meanings from the same simple phrase-he will prove that there is a distinct and powerful significancy in the commas and semicolons of a sentence-that the number of letters composing a word has a tremendous allusion to something or other totally unconnected with the word itself. He will assure you that omissions are as binding on conscience and reason as the plainest assertions. There is a direct encouragement, therefore, to bear false witness against our neighbour, because in a story illustrative of the fifth commandment there is no reference to the ninth. And, in short, no Jesuit was ever more ingenious in detecting Jansenism in books where Jansenism did not exist, than

this suddenly-illuminated expurgator in discovering sunbeams in the wholesomest of vegetables. We open the little volume, and find it to be a portion of a work whose acquaintance we had not previously made, called the Magazine for the Young. Oh, wicked Hans Christian Andersen, with your "Little Tin Soldiers,” and your "Ugly Ducks!" Do you think you will be allowed to spread such nonsense among the youthful scholars of Fairleas? And you, you imitator of Andersen's style-you most credulous and unprincipled Dane, whoever you are, whom a certain Mr Hamilton has translatedhow will you answer for such dangerous inducements to vice and thieving as you have introduced in your "Enchanted Pot?" This is a Scandinavian legend with the same moral as Fortunatus's purse and Cinderella's godmother, and fifty others which have never been accused of inculcating crime or wickedness. And as it is a short story, and not a bad specimen of the tales that please the descendants of our ancient progenitors in the Baltic isles, we will transcribe it, in hopes that it will have no bad effect on the honesty of our readers.


There was once a baron who was a very hard and cruel man, quick to get and slow to spend; greedy of gain and loth to give; an oppressor of the poor and a spoiler of the needy. On his property lived a poor widow with an only son, whom, little by little, he had reduced to the lowest depth of poverty; so that at last she was unable to pay the rent due for her poor hovel of a house; and although it was by his own extortion and injustice that she was reduced to such straits, he refused to wait a single day for his money, but threatened to turn her and her son out of the house, and seize the miserable remains of their furniture. The poor woman returned home and sent out her son to try and borrow some money from their friends; but one and all began to make excuses, for no one would help them for fear of the baron. So Holgar, for that was the name of the widow's son, re

turned homewards quite out of heart. By-and-by his path led him across a little stream of water; and when he approached the banks he saw a feeble miserable-looking old man standing beside it, who, as soon as he saw Holgar, asked him to help him over, as he was too weak to cross by himself. So Holgar took him by the hand, for he was a very good-natured lad, and led him safely over the wet slippery stepping-stones; and then, wishing him a kind good-morning, was walking away, when the old man called after him to stop, and said, "Do not go away until I have thanked you and paid you for your trouble."

"I don't want to be paid," Holgar said; "I am not such a churl as to refuse to help a fellow-creature in distress; so good-by."

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Nay," said the old man, putting his hand in his sack and pulling out a little three-legged copper pot," but take that with you."

"I am very much obliged," answered Holgar, "but the pot will be of no use; for the truth is we have nothing to boil in it."

"Never mind you about that," said the old man; you just put it on the fire and see what will happen."

So Holgar took the pot, which was for all the world like any other copper pot, and went home to his mother, showed her what he had got, and told her how all their friends had refused to help them. But the mother kicked the pot away with her foot, and rocked herself backwards and forwards on her chair, lamenting the unkindness of their friends; and Holgar said, "Mother, I shall do as the old man told me-I shall set the pot on the fire."

So he set it on; but no sooner did the pot feel the smoke and the flames curling about it than it called out "I run! I run!”

"Where do you run to?" asked the widow, suddenly stopping in her lamentations and starting up; but the pot only cried "I run! I run!"

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Well, run then!" quoth the woman, "and fetch us some of the good soup, such as I saw on the baron's kitchen-grate."

Scarcely had she spoken when the pot flew out of the cottage door and

presently returned filled with the most delicious soup. Oh it smelt so nice! For a moment or two the mother and son stood quite amazed, but soon recovering their senses, they fell to and ate it all up. But Holgar said, "Let us see if it can bring us anything else but eatables; for food is a good thing, but money is a better." So he put the pot on the fire again, and stirred the fire to make it burn brightly, and as soon as ever the pot felt the flames it called out as before, "I run! I run!"

"Run then," said Holgar, "and bring us the ten pounds we owe the baron."

So the pot flew off, and when it came back-there lay ten golden sovereigns in the bottom. "It is a splendid pot," said Holgar; and the next day he went and paid his debt to the baron. Every evening they ordered the pot to fetch what they needed-sometimes food and sometimes money, the latter of which they saved in order to buy another cow. And where the pot got the things it brought them they did not know. Perhaps it ran to the old man who had given it to Holgar; but in truth the pot got them from the baron's kitchen and the baron's money-box. Now, the baron, being a great miser, went every day to his money-box and counted his money, and sorely vexed and troubled was he when every day he found something wrong. There must be some one who has a false key, he thought; so the next night he hid himself behind the curtain and watched. Presently he heard a low knocking, and peeping out he saw the window open of its own accord, and a little copper pot on three legs come in. It knocked with its handle on the money-box and the lid flew open, and the pot scraped into itself some money, jumped out of the window, and lid and window shut of their own accord. "Well," exclaimed the baron, "this beats Gaffer Clinch's cat!' But the next night the baron was on the watch again, and as soon as the pot had collected the money it wanted, he laid hold of it by one of the legs, and thought that now the thief was caught. But lo and behold! the pot was stronger than he was,

and dragged him all across the room up to the window, and if he had not let go its leg, would surely have flown off with him. "Oh, well, just you wait, my good pot," said the baron, you have got away this time; but you shall not make a goose of me again."

The next night, as soon as ever the pot had entered the room on its three copper legs, and scraped together the money, the baron, who was a stout heavy man, clapped himself down upon it, and bursting out laughing, said in a taunting tone,

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Now, my lad, let us see what you can do." But the pot minded him no more than if he had been a feather, and, while the baron was fain to hold tight on by its sides, flew out of the window with him over field and meadow, over stock and stone, and did not stop until it stood still below the widow's chimney-piece.

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"Why, what's come to the pot?" cried the widow; " it has brought the baron;" and she and her son were terribly frightened when they saw the lord of the manor sitting there amongst the ashes. As soon as the baron had recovered breath enough to speak, he exclaimed, "Oh you wicked woman, I will have you and your son hung and burnt. So it is your pot that has been robbing me every day, and breaking open my money-box." In vain the widow and Holgar protested they knew not where the pot got the things it brought them. There the baron sat boiling with passion, and refusing to listen to a word. Hold him fast, Pot!" said Holgar, when he saw the baron trying to get up; "if you mean to revenge yourself in that manner, you shall sit there for ever." No sooner had he said it, than the baron found himself so tightly glued to the pot that he could not, though he tried with all his strength, get free of it. He tugged and tugged until he and the pot both rolled over on the floor together, and Holgar and his mother stood by, laughing until their sides ached. When the baron found that all his strength was of no use, he stopped rolling about, and said, "Let me go, good people, and I will not punish you at all.'

"That will not do," said Holgar; "I will have the lease of my father's former house, and you must supply me with horses, and cows, and sheep, and all things necessary for a farm. "No! no!" roared the baron, writhing and twisting himself about as he spoke,-"No! that I never will; I will die first!"

"Ah! well," said Holgar, "never is a long day. You may sit there and think about it." So he put on his hat, and went out of doors. But he had hardly been gone above a quarter of an hour, when his mother came running after him, and called him back; and as soon as the baron saw him, he told him he would consent to all he asked. Then Holgar sent for some of the neighbours, and put it all down on paper, and made the baron sign it, and then told him he might get up and go home as soon as he pleased. So he arose, and slunk home, quite ashamed of himself, grinding his teeth for very anger, and Vowing vengeance. However, he was so afraid of Holgar and his pot, that he thought it best to keep his word, and let him and his mother alone for the future. Perhaps had he known the truth he might have behaved less well, for the very day that he fulfilled his contract, and put Holgar and his mother in possession of the farm, the copper pot, greatly to Holgar's grief, disappeared. But no doubt he was better without it, for odd ways of getting things are generally wrong ways, and the enchanted pot might not always have been so discreet as to have taken only what justly belonged to his mother, and so might in the end have brought them into sad trouble and disgrace.

The dullest child in the dullest parish of Boeotia has always cleverness enough to make distinction between the moral responsibilities of the human actors in an ordinary story, and the magical performers in

a fairy-tale. It would hold the baron responsible for his unjust and illegal persecution of Holgar's mother, and look on the enchanted pot with respectful wonder as an embodiment of immediate justice-a kind of copper Campbell, or three-legged Don Quixote-redressing wrongs, and defending widows and orphans, without the tedious process of trials at law. But the expurgatorial ban is laid upon the culinary utensil, and it must descend to the undignified employment of boiling greens, instead of reforming extortionate lords of the manor. Its lessons of kindness to the old and feeble, help to the deserving poor, and punishment of the hardhearted, are all pretermitted, because it is feared that young Tom Kettle may think it an excellent thing to imitate the enchanted vessel, and break into a neighbouring proprietor's strong-box.

This picture of unauthorised ecclesiasticism would be painful if we thought it represented a common state of things. But the position of Fairleas is exceptional, and contrasts very unfavourably in the mean time with the liberal and conciliatory policy of the clergy in their management of parish schools, and their intercourse with the subscribers. In no other instance have we heard, though a few may possibly exist, of an incumbent setting up his own interpretation of disputed, still less of indisputable questions, as the rule by which Church of England books are to be received into a school and parochial library, or excluded from it. And all over the land there are schools where clergy and laity vie with each other in the mental and moral cultivation of the young, attending to their growth in true religion and virtue, without too curious an inquiry into the perfect orthodoxy of Jack the Giant Killer, or the opinions on irreversible decrees entertained at the court of Lilliput.


NOT a few of our statesmen, if asked to point out the leading characteristics of periodical literature, would fix upon two facts as most worthy of remark - namely, the secresy of its organisation and the necessity of securing for it a mercantile success. Perhaps a majority might see in these two facts a great public danger, and might be disposed to echo the complaint of which we have so often heard-journalism is a commercial speculation, therefore it must be venal; it is anonymous, therefore it must be irresponsible. If any of them ventured to deny these inferences, and to stand up for the English press, the defence would in all probability be only a defence; it would be limited to proving that the anonymous is harmless, and that mercantile motives are not necessarily base. This, indeed, is the utmost that the friends of the press have hitherto urged in behalf of the system. Even the press itself has been too content to prove a mere negative, showing that the objections are unfounded, that the dangers are imaginary, that the sneers are undeserved. It was only the other day that the secresy of newspaper writing was criticised by Mr Sidney Herbert, and the whole press was in arms to defend its privilege. So when, not very long ago, Mr Bright was kind enough to say that journalists care more for the sale of newpapers than for truth, the press flew to the rescue and rebutted the charge. But in either case we are not quite satisfied that the arguments for the defence, although urged with much wit and eloquence, went far enough. Here and there suggestions of a more thoroughgoing reply might be found; but there was no sustained attempt to show that the two facts in which our statesmen see so much public danger are not only harmless, but in reality a great public benefit; that the system of the anonymous is one of the most powerful restraints upon the press-one of the surest safeguards of English liberty; and that the necessity of securing for journal

ism a mercantile success affords both the best promise of its efficiency and the best guarantee of its integrity. In times past, indeed, it would not have been so easy as it is now to make good these positions; and if, in the discussions which Mr Sidney Herbert and Mr Bright have provoked, the newspaper press has been for the most part satisfied with merely parrying the thrusts of its opponents, it is probably because the facts that would justify a more vigorous warfare, and a more positive reply, have but recently emerged, and could not very well be marshalled for the first time within the limits of a newspaper article. It is only since the enormous increase of periodical literature has quickened its latent tendencies, and forced into palpable relief what before was scarcely visible, that the necessary facts have come out, that an answer has been possible, which not only quashes the verdict of disapproval, but also completely reverses it; which not only clears the organisation of the English press from the blame which has been imputed to it, but also covers it with praise; which not only dispels the fears of our public men, but also turns the ground of fear into the surest ground of hope.

Let us revert for a moment to the facts before us-the facts from which we started in our previous argument, and from which we have also to start in the present. The most important of all is the very simple one, that the quantity of literary production has in late years been prodigiously multiplied. No exaggeration is here possible. The actual fertility of the press is beyond reckoning, and the amount of its present issues appears to be as nothing in comparison with what we may expect in the future. The endeavours of the Government, the wishes of the people, the discoveries of science, the inventions of art, all conspire to this end; all things conspire to make literature in some form or other a prime necessity for every man, and to place it within his reach on terms well-nigh as easy

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