« ForrigeFortsæt »
ing-room. They may possibly have Owen Meredith, and Mrs. Hemans, and been reared in the Surrey greenhouses, Erasmus Darwin, and Emerson, and but we are not told so, and, if they the Tyneside young clergyman's wife were, we are not instructed how we are not satisfying food. We want somemay go and do likewise. We do not thing larger and better than this. ask for things difficult; all we want Nevertheless, for sheer utility, Mrs. is to know how to have flowers, and Earle's is the best of all these books. what flowers to have all the year round. When we can persuade her to go with How many country drawing-rooms us into her garden we feel that we are does one go into, say in January, to in the company of an expert, and when find no more blossom than is repre- she tells us a cultural detail we listen sented by a primula and a bowl of the with respect, as to one who knows well so-called Chinese joss-lily? Mrs. Earle what she is talking about. The intimight take the amateur's greenhouse, mate society, even if only between the which can only just manage to keep covers of a book, of a person who is out the frost in winter, and tell us what a competent authority on any subject we might get from it; when to strike whatever is in itself a privilege, and on cuttings of pelargoniums for December every page Mrs. Earle convinces us flowering; when to Sow cinerarias; that she is worthy of attention, and we when to pot the various bulbs for suc- gain pleasure and instruction accordcession; how to ensure flowers from the ingly. But of subtler charm the book jacobea lily, and a dozen others to has none, and we put it down with a cheer us in the dark days. Since she sigh, and turn to “Elizabeth and her tells us how and when to pot freesias German Garden." for winter flowering, she would appear
Elizabeth is original or nothing. to accept a certain amount of responsi- Whereas most of these books have some bility for greenhouse as well as for sort of plea put forward for their exisoutdoor flowers; and since she carries tence, such as gardening, housekeeping, her pot-pourri through the winter or the like, Elizabeth's book frankly months, she might reasonably be ex- concerns Elizabeth. Her garden, though pected to instruct us during that period. it appears on the title-page, and on We feel inclined to cry out to her many another page of her volume, is with exceeding bitter cry for obviously incidental, and even the Man the help which she might give us, but of Wrath partakes of this nature as refrains from giving.
well as the April, May and June babies. There is no denying, however, that One realizes that, although Elizabeth Mrs. Earle complies, in a way, with may be rather fond of them, she could both the conditions with which I set very well reconcile herself to life with. out; she lets us have her own practical out them. She is profoundly interesting experience, and she enlivens the tech- to herself as well as-let me frankly nical matter of her book by putting be- confess it-to the reader. It is the fore us the thoughts of other writers book of Elizabeth which we have to in poetical form. But the experience is consider, with a German garden and not first and foremost of the garden, a few necessary impedimenta thrown and the thoughts are not of the great- in. We may dismiss her gardening exest. The verse she quotes is anything periences in a very few words. In but inspiring. She has chosen, for the common with most books of this kind most part, to express little minds in- there is little to be learnt from it of a stead of great ones, or rather, I should floricultural nature. To be sure we say, small poets instead of great poets. hear much of sweet rockets, sweet
peas, roses bought by the hundred, that her ignorance arises through the lilies, hollyhocks, pansies and various use of a tongue foreign to her. She is other subjects. But never a word does English to the backbone, despite her she tell us of their culture. For aught occasional artless attempts to persuade that we can learn from her we might, us otherwise. She is amusing in deon buying large quantities, as she does, scribing her adopted compatriots, and treat all these things alike, and suffer enjoys many a laugh at their expense. accordingly. Elizabeth would never She is certain that Dr. Grill must be a check us in our foolishness. Is it, dear German rose, because the more attenElizabeth, because you cannot? Is it tion you give him the ruder he is to that, in your desire to make us happy you, or, in other words, the less will be by writing a garden book, you took no repay your kindness by expansion. But heed to the fact that you were utterly there are very few things and fewer ignorant of gardening? But even if persons for whom Elizabeth has a this is so we may be persuaded to for- word of praise. The only friend whom give you. You have made amends for she can endure near her is one who is your deception by making your readers clever enough to flatter her about her happy. We will let the garden slip into garden. To the others she is inwardly its proper place and regard it as a par- cold and critical, with a charming affecterre blessed by your presence, and we tation of pleasantness which could not will hasten to discuss in its stead the deceive a baby. She dislikes Minora absorbing topic of the person, Eliza- most of all, and is only well disposed to beth.
her visitor when she notices her thick It has been noticeable that more wrists. The real fact is that Minora than one reviewer of recent novels has has a beautiful nose, and, although welcomed in them the revival of a de- Elizabeth would rather die with torture lightful character who had long been than own herself jealous, it is obvious thought extinct-the Minx. She dis- to the meanest capacity that this is appeared suddenly from among us just what ails her. The admirable Miss about the time that the Tendenz-Roman Jones, also, whose perfect propriety of came into vogue; there was not room demeanor is assumed through a rigid enough in our fiction for both types of sense of duty, rouses all her wrath. heroine. But she was pot extinct. She But what was there, in the name of jushad merely gone into retirement for a tice, to complain of in Miss Jones? while, to re-emerge brilliantly from the That she had small respect for her emrecesses of a far-away German garden. ployer should not in itself have formed And the absolute certainty that there a legitimate grievance, since not even a are April, May and June minxes being nursery governess can control her inbrought up to follow in her chartered ward feelings, and Elizabeth admits footsteps, relieves us from the haunt- that Miss Jones's conduct was severely ing fear that we may lose the type perfect in its outward manifestation. again. A joy has come back to the And to her bosom friend, Irais, Elizaworld in the person of that archetype beth is simply diabolical when she of minxes, Elizabeth.
thinks that that friend is trespassing Elizabeth's vivid and delightful style a little too long on her hospitality. She of writing makes us willing to overlook makes no secret of her opinion that the the fact that she is not quite familiar weeks her friends are with her are with some of the commonest rules of time lost so far as her pleasure is concomposition for the English language. cerned, and even goes so far as to say But I do not intend to convey the idea that it rejoices her as much to see them
go as to see them come. We suspect in the conviction that, inordinately as that it rejoices her even more.
he may adore her, he will never let her The truth of the matter is that our know it. Is he not a German husband, good Elizabeth has no wholesome illu- closely connected in his ways and sions; glamor is unknown to her; the modes of action with the Dr. Grill who bump of reverence is entirely missing. rouses Elizabeth's ire? When she puts The Man of Wrath no more than the forth her fascinations the Man of others escapes her scorn; he furnishes Wrath will retire with well-affected inher with many
an opportunity for difference to his smoky series of dens ribald jibes. It is evident to the reader in the southeast corner of the house. that she has utterly failed in bending When she holds forth on the superiorhim to her imperious will, as she would ity of the sex he will smile blandly fain bend all with whom she comes in down on her, talking her at last into contact. She has certainly not cured passionate flight. He dominates her him of his trick of holding his glass in by sheer strength, as well as by the his left hand, and she bears him a moral power of that superior irritating perennial grudge in consequence. smile.
We begin to wonder if there is any Although Elizabeth has done her best person in the world for whom she to persuade us, we do not even feel really cares, and it is a relief to find sure that it was by her own desire that her confessing that she likes her coach- she came to live in a German garden. man almost as well as her sundial, but It is far more likely that it was the it turns out that this is only because iron will of the Man of Wrath which he never attempts to thwart any of her condemned her to it after much ineffecunreasonable wishes. She hates giving tual resistance, although she had sense presents, for fear the recipient may be enough when she found herself in exile spoilt, and she shall suffer. She has a to pretend that she liked it. How else great dislike to furniture, though we should a commiseration of the neighfeel certain that she would be the first boring Patronizing Potentate (a woman to cry out if she had not enough of it, potentate, of course) have roused her or if her armchair was not comfortable, to such anger if some secret sting had or if her presses were not large enough not lain in the words: "Ah, these husto hold her frocks. But there is no bands! They shut up their wives bepleasing her. Things animate and in- cause it suits them, and don't care what animate alike annoy her, and the one their sufferings are?” person who is, in her eyes, entirely It was the painful, unacknowledged charming is Elizabeth.
truth of the remark which stung the And indeed she is not very far wrong. resentful Elizabeth. She is a fascinating being, and it is And this explains the whole situadifficult to endure with equanimity the tion. thought that the Man of Wrath has at- Here is a young and fascinating tained, by right of conquest, the privi. woman condemned by her bluebeard of lege of her constant society. She will a husband to live in a remote Schloss always amuse him; she will never- sorely against her will. The unfortueven when come the days of gray hair nate lady immediately becomes a cynic, and wrinkles-she will even then never and professes contempt of worldly enbore him. She will keep his affection joyments. But revenge is essential to inviolate, however much she may de- her well-being, so she sits down to serve to lose it. But one cherishes a write a book which, because she calls secret, though perhaps unworthy, joy it a book about a garden, will attract an enormous audience. In this book I think I have said sufficient to show she wreaks her vengeance on society, that the garden book, in its latest deon her friends both present and absent, velopment, is a very different thing on her insentient furniture, on her from the ordinary book on gardening, servants (except the one whom she and that in it a new form of literature likes nearly as well as her sundial), on has arisen which has appealed from her governess, and even-O tempora, O the first to the general public. There mores!-on her husband. The fact that can be no doubt as to the success of a she is totally ignorant of gardening class of book whose circulation is pracdoes not for a moment deter her from tically certain to run into thousands in writing a garden book. She might have a few months, and to continue lively put her experiences into a novel, and for years. That these books are not, enjoyed a circulation of a paltry five strictly speaking, gardening works, hundred or so. Or she might have ful- seems to be no disadvantage as regards minated under the guise of Woman's their sale, but rather the contrary. They Rights, and have printed a pamphlet evidently satisfy the buyer, which is (mainly for gratuitous distribution) in what both buyer and writer chiefly rewhich to vent her views. But she knew quire. But it is difficult to contemplate a better way than this. She had noted with equanimity the possibility of their the vogue of the garden book, and with continuing to flourish on their present specious craftiness she adopted this un- basis, for that would be to invite any failing method of reaching a large and irresponsible member of the general sympathetic audience.
public who may happen to be afflicted And what is the result?
with the cacoëthes scribendi to inflict us The result is exactly as she antici- with his private diary and to be repated. Everybody knows Elizabeth warded for the inflicting. and everybody is devoted to her. She That a knowledge of gardening is not has a charm such as is seldom found essential in these writers is sufficiently in the mere heroine of fiction; it is a shown by the analysis given above of real live charm, and her readers claim two of the most popular of these books. her as a--no, alas! not as a friend, be- That a working acquaintance with the cause she will not permit it, but as a English tongue is unnecessary is proved delightful acquaintance who has the by the fact that the novice is as sucrare power of keeping them amused for cessful as the practiced writer in atan hour together. We shall gladly read tracting attention. That the human inevery word which it may enter her terest is immaterial is demonstrated sprightly, capricious head to write, by more than one of the many popular though we shall first attempt to per- volumes on our shelves, such as Miss suade her not to call her future books Jekyll's “Wood and Garden," and Mrs. by titles so deceptive as to lead the Earle's “Pot-pourri from a Surrey Garreader to imagine that they deal with den," although such human interest gardening. It was distinctly fraudu- when it appears is evidently apprecilent so to describe this one, although in ated, as Elizabeth and Mr. Alfred AusElizabeth's painful position we have tin can testify. That natural history recognized and indicated the necessity is not definitely asked for, although it of the course. But in the future it will has an infinite charm when it is supnot even be necessary, because we plied, those who count Mr. Phil Robknow our Elizabeth, and shall be glad inson's "In Garden, Orchard and Spinto meet her again, no matter on what ney," as perhaps
the least subject she may choose to discourse us. known though most deserving of these
works, can positively assert. In short, the reasons for the present vogue of these books are so difficult to discover that, finding that hardly any two of them put forth the same claim to consideration, one is forced to the conclusion that this craze of the moment is merely a general demand which may be catered for in any manner chosen by those who make-or who intend to make-themselves responsible for the supply. The vogue will probably die away as effectually as it has arisen when the buyer knows a little more
about floriculture, and comes to see that he can be secure of anything save instruction in gardening matters from the majority of these garden books. Then the natural law of survival will step in, and the balance will be restored. Those books which have the power to amuse will be welcomed for their rare merit; those which can instruct for their almost valuable quality; and those which can do neither the one nor the other will probably lead the way to oblivion of this whole new class of garden literature.
H. M. Batson.
The Nineteenth century.
THE GIRL FROM FAERYLAND.
Along the lonely eskers I cut the summer grass,
hand." They all are kind because they mind I'm new from Faeryland.
I'm newly come from Faeryland; a twelvemonth and a day
Here comes a lad I never loved, and calls me “Gra machree,”
What will I do day in day out where she has waked and slept? My wheel it knows a stranger's hand, a stranger's care has
kept My mother's mouth from hunger, my mother's eyes from tears; And whiles my own voice echoes like a stranger's in my ears.
For half my heart's in Faery land, and half is here on earth, And half I'm spoiled for sorrow, and half I'm strange to mirth; And my feet are wild for dancing, and my neighbors' feet are
slowWhy did you take me, Gentle Folk? Why did you let me go!
Nora Hopper. The Speaker.