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remedies which the publishing world is now thoughtfully pondering. The first is to increase the price of speculative novels, and to rely for support wholly on the libraries instead of partly on the libraries and partly on the booksellers. The objection to such a course is that the libraries would probably decline to sanction it. Why, indeed, as commercial concerns should they sanction it except under compulsion? And who would apply the compulsive force? The second remedy is to decrease the price of speculative novels. Now the three-and-sixpenny novel has been tried and has proved a failure; but the half-crown novel, the shilling novel, have yet to go through an exhaustive test. Decidedly there are signs that the half-crown novel is coming into fashion. Mr. John Murray began a new half-crown series only last week, and it is reported that Mr. Heinemann will shortly renew his activity in this direction. The object of
cheapening the speculative novel is twofold-first to popularize it, and second to reduce the pecuniary risks attached to it. If you print on thinner paper, and use a flimsier binding, spending £60 instead of £100 on an edition at a smaller price per copy, you will naturally stand to lose proportionately less on dead stock. And it is the risk of loss, not the hope of gain, which chiefly affects the publisher of a first book. As for the new author, the new author must openly reconcile himself to writing his first book for naught. He must not even pretend that the thing will be remunerative. It should be distinctly understood on all hands that a first book can only pay when a miracle happens. On such an understanding the new author may start fair-without illusions. After all, a first book is a mercantile experiment, and it is only proper that the experiment should involve the least possible risk.
In youth, when idle hearts to love inclined
Flit on from flower to flower, love passed me by;
I lived, love's battled votary. Swift would fly
The dream 1 clasped at; till I left behind
Fair youth, and thought, sweet love unfound, to die.
Dead in its ashes lies extinct desire.
Sound trumpets, sound! Blow bugle's maddening breath! Child, we have loved too late. Farewell! my bride is Death. Arthur Gray Butler.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "ELIZABETH AND HER GERMAN GARDEN."
When the gray November weather came, and hung its soft dark clouds low and unbroken over the brown of the ploughed fields and the vivid emerald of the stretches of winter corn, the heavy stillness weighed my heart down to a forlorn yearning after the pleasant things of childhood, the petting, the comforting, the warming faith in the unfailing wisdom of elders. A great need of something to lean on, and a great weariness of independence and responsibility took possession of my soul; and looking round for support and comfort in that transitory mood, the emptiness of the present and the blankness of the future sent me back to the past with all its ghosts. Why should I not go and see the place where I was born, and where I lived so long; the place where I was so magnificently happy, so exquisitely wretched, so close to heaven, so near to hell, always either up on a cloud of glory, or down in the depths with the waters of despair closing over my head? Cousins live in it now, tant cousins, loved with the exact measure of love usually bestowed on cousins who reign in one's stead; cousins of practical views who have dug up the flower-beds and planted cab
bages where roses grew; and though through all the years since my father's death I have held my head so high that it hurt, and loftily refused to listen to their repeated suggestions that I should revisit my old home, something in the sad listlessness of the November days sent my spirit back to old times with a persistency that would not be set aside, and I woke from my musings surprised to find myself sick with longing.
It is foolish but natural to quarrel with one's cousins, and especially foolish and natural when they have done nothing, and are mere victims of chance. Is it their fault that my not being a boy placed the 'shoes I should otherwise have stepped into at their disposal? I know it is not; but their blamelessness does not make me love them more. "Noch ein dummes Frauenzimmer!" cried my father, on my arrival into the world-he had three of them already, and I was his last hope -and a dummes Frauenzimmer I have remained ever since; and that is why for years I would have no dealings with the cousins in possession, and that is why, the other day, overcome by the tender influence of the weather, the purely sentimental longing to join
hands again with my childhood was enough to send all my pride to the winds, and to start me off without warning and without invitation on my pilgrimage.
I have always had a liking for pilgrimages, and if I had lived in the Middle Ages would have spent most of my time on the way to Rome. The pilgrims, leaving all their cares at home, the anxieties of their riches or their debts, the wife that worried and the children that disturbed, took only their sins with them, and, turning their backs on their obligations, set out with that sole burden, and perhaps a cheerful heart. How cheerful my heart would have been, starting on a fine morning, with the smell of the spring in my nostrils, fortified by the approval of those left behind, accompanied by the pious blessings of my family, with every step getting farther from the suffocation of daily duties, out into the wide fresh world, out into the glorious free world, so poor, so penitent, and so happy! My dream, even now, is to walk for weeks with some friend that I love, leisurely wandering from place to place, with no route arranged and no object in view, with liberty to go on all day or to linger all day, as we choose; but the question of luggage, unknown to the simple pilgrim, is one of the rocks on which my plans have been shipwrecked, and the other is the certain censure of relatives, who, not fond of walking themselves, and having no taste for noonday naps under hedges, would be sure to paralyze my plans before they had grown to maturity by the honest horror of their cry, "How very unpleasant if you were to meet anyone you know!" The relative of five hundred years back would simply have said, "How holy."
My father had the same liking for pilgrimages-indeed, it is evident that I have it from him-and he encouraged it in me when I was little, taking me
with him on his pious journeys to places he had lived in as a boy. Often have we been together to the school he was at in Brandenburg, and spent pleasant days wandering about the old town on the edge of one of those lakes that lie in a chain in that wide green plain; and often have we been in Potsdam, where he was quartered as a lieutenant, the Potsdam pilgrimage including hours in the woods around and in the gardens of Sans Souci, with the second volume of Carlyle's "Frederick" under my father's arm; and often did we spend long summer days at the house in the Mark, at the head of the same blue chain of lakes, where his mother spent her young years, and where, though it belonged to cousins, like everything else that was worth having, we could wander about as we chose, for it was empty, and sit in the deep windows of rooms where there was no furniture, and the painted Venuses and Cupids on the ceiling still smiled irrelevantly and stretched their futile wreaths above the emptiness beneath. And while we sat and rested, my father told me, as my grandmother had a hundred times told him, all that had happened in those rooms in the far-off days when people danced and sang and laughed through life, and nobody seemed ever to be old or sorry.
There was, and still is, an inn within a stone's throw of the great iron gates, with two very old lime trees in front of it, where we used to lunch on our arrival at a little table spread with a red and blue check cloth, the lime blossoms dropping into our soup, and the bees humming in the scented shadows overhead. I have a picture of the house by my side as I write, done from the lake in old times, with a boat full of ladies in hoops and powder in the foreground, and a youth playing a guitar. The pilgrimages to this place were those I loved the best.
But the stories my father told me,
sometimes odd enough stories to tell a little girl, as we wandered about the echoing rooms, or hung over the stone balustrade and fed the fishes in the lake, or picked the pale dog-roses in the hedges, or lay in the boat in a shady reed-grown bay while he smoked to keep the mosquitoes off, were after all only traditions, imparted to me in small doses from time to time, when his earnest desire not to raise his remarks above the level of dulness supposed to be wholesome for Backfische was neutralized by an impulse to share his thoughts with somebody who would laugh; whereas the place I was bound for on my latest pilgrimage was filled with living, first-hand memories of all the enchanted years that lie between two and eighteen. How enchanted those years are, is made more and more clear to me the older I grow. There has been nothing in the least like them since; and though I have forgotten most of what happened six months ago, every incident, almost every day, of those wonderful long years is perfectly distinct in my memory.
But I had been stiffnecked, proud, unpleasant, altogether cousinly in my behavior towards the people in possession. The invitations to revisit the old home had ceased. The cousins had grown tired of refusals, and had left me alone. I did not even know who lived in it now, it was so long since I had had any news. For two days I fought against the strong desire to go there that had suddenly seized me, and assured myself that I would not go, that it would be absurd to go, undignified, sentimental and silly; that I did not know them and would be in an awkward position, and that I was old enough to know better. But who can foretell from one hour to the next what a woman will do? And when does she ever know better? On the third morning I set out as hopefully as though it were the most natural thing in the
world to fall unexpectedly upon hitherto consistently neglected cousins, and expect to be received by them with open arms.
It was a complicated journey, and lasted several hours. During the first part, when it was still dark, I glowed with enthusiasm, with the spirit of adventure, with delight at the prospect of so soon seeing the loved place again; and thought with wonder of the long years I had allowed to pass since last I was there. Of what I should say to the cousins, and of how I should introduce myself into their midst, I did not think at all; the pilgrim spirit was upon me, the unpractical spirit that takes no thought for anything, but simply wanders along enjoying its own emotions. It was a quiet, sad morning, and there was a thick mist. By the time I was in the little train on the light railway that passed through the village nearest my old home, I had got over my first enthusiasm, and had entered the stage of critically examining the changes that had been made in the last ten years. It was so misty that I could see nothing of the familiar country from the carriage windows, only the ghosts of pines in the front row of the forests; but the railway itself was a new departure, unknown in our day, when we used to drive over ten miles of deep, sandy forest roads to and from the station, and although most people would have called it an evident and great improvement, it was an innovation due, no doubt, to the zeal and energy of the reigning cousin; and who was he, thought I, that he should require more conveniences than my father had found needful? It was no use my telling myself that in my father's time the era of light railways had not dawned, and that if it had, we should have done our utmost to secure one; the thought of my cousin stepping into my shoes, and then altering them, was odious to me. By the time I was
walking up the hill from the station I had got over this feeling too, and had entered a third stage of wondering uneasily what in the world I should do next. Where was the intrepid courage with which I had started? At the top of the first hill I sat down to consider this question in detail, for I was very near the house now, and felt I wanted time.
Where, indeed, was the courage and joy of the morning? It had vanished so completely that I could only suppose that it must be lunch time, the observations of years having led to the discovery that the higher sentiments and virtues fly affrighted on the approach of lunch, and none fly quicker than courage. So I ate the lunch I had brought with me, hoping that it was what I wanted; but it was chilly, made up of sandwiches and pears, and it had to be eaten under a tree at the edge of a field; and it was November, and the mist was thicker than ever and very wet-the grass was wet with it, the gaunt tree was wet with it, I was wet with it, and the sandwiches were wet with it. Nobody's spirits can keep up under such conditions; and as I ate the soaked sandwiches I deplored the headlong courage more with each mouthful that had torn me from a warm, dry home where I was appreciated, and had brought me first to the damp tree in the damp field, and, when I had finished my lunch and dessert of cold pears, was going to drag me into the midst of a circle of unprepared and astonished cousins. Vast sheep loomed through the mist a few yards off. The sheep-dog kept up a perpetual, irritating yap. In the fog I could hardly tell where I was, though I knew I must have played there a hundred times as a child. After the fashion of woman directly she is not perfectly warm and perfectly comfortable, I began to consider the uncertainty of human life, and to shake my head in gloomy approval as lugubrious lines of
pessimistic poetry suggested themselves to my mind.
Now, it is clearly a desirable plan, if you want to do anything, to do it in the way consecrated by custom, more especially if you are a woman. The rattle of a carriage along the road just behind me, and the fact that I started and turned suddenly hot, drove this truth home to my soul. The mist hid me, and the carriage, no doubt full of cousins, drove on in the direction of the house; but what an absurd position I was in! Suppose the kindly mist had lifted and revealed me lunching in the wet on their property, the cousin of the short and lofty letters, the unangenehme Elisabeth! "Die war doch immer verdreht," I could imagine them hastily muttering to each other, before advancing decked with welcoming smiles. It gave me a great shock, this narrow escape, and I got on to my feet quickly, and burying the remains of my lunch under the gigantic molehill on which I had been sitting, asked myself nervously what I proposed to do next. Should I walk back to the village, go to the Gasthof, write a letter craving permission to call on my cousins and wait there till an answer came? It would be a discreet and sober course to pursue; the next best thing to having written before leaving home. But the Gasthof of a North German village is a dreadful place, and the remembrance of one in which I had taken refuge once from a thunderstorm was still so vivid that nature itself cried out against this plan. The mist, if anything, was growing denser. I knew every path and gate in the place. What if I gave up all hope of seeing the house, and went through the little door in the wall at the bottom of the garden, and confined myself for this once to that? In such weather I would be able to wander round as I pleased, without the least risk of being seen by or meeting any cousins, and it was after all the garden