Puslapio vaizdai


hands with him,” Evelyn went on wore told Parker that he wished to hear no gently, "just to show you're sorry for more of him; and Parker, who was achaving been so unkind.”

customed to take his instructions literBellows held out a dirty hand. "I'm ally, would not even mention the fact agreeable," he said handsomely.

if Bellows again attempted to call at But this was more than Maxwell

his rooms. could put up with. "I'm hanged if I Fate, however, ordained that one will," he answered sulkily.

more meeting should take place be"Not when I ask you?” said Evelyn. tween Maxwell and his persecutor.

Her gray eyes were very appealing This happened one night in May at that moment. But Maxwell was too about two months after the disastrous angry to notice them, too angry to real. encounter in St. James's Street. Max. ize the absurdity of taking the situation well had spent the evening at the seriously.

House of Commons, where for once an "No," he said curtly.

interesting debate had been in prog. “Good-bye, then," said Evelyn, and .

The Strangers' Gallery had with a cold little bow she joined her been crowded and the air suffocating, cousin and the two walked on towards and when at last midnight struck and Piccadilly.

the debate stood adjourned he was glad Maxwell looked after her retreating to escape to the fresher atmosphere figure with a new pain at his heart. outside. The night was warm but a He had offended her now. Not content faint breeze from the river tempered it with draining him of money Bellows agreeably and, to enjoy this for a mowas bent on alienating his friends. He ment, Maxwell turned his steps toturned to pour out upon that worthy wards Westminster Bridge. The moon some of the bitterness which he felt, had not yet risen and through the haze but Bellows had prudently seized the of the calm summer night the long line moment to retire and was nowhere to of lamps on the Embankment stretched be seen.

away into the distance, while on the One revenge, however, was open to Surrey side illuminated advertisements Maxwell. Evelyn Allieson might never of somebody's whisky flashed upon the quite forgive him (and it is the painful night at intervals of half a minute to duty of this chronicler to admit that remind the gazer, if reminder she never did), Parker might form needed, that we are a vulgar nation. some new discreditable theory of his Maxwell walked half-way across the master's action, Bellows might make a bridge and then stood for a moment scene on his doorstep and get himself leaning against the parapet looking taken up by the police, paragraphs down upon the black water below. might fill the evening papers narrating He was startled by a voice behind Maxwell's impulsive leap into the river him uttering his name. He turned and his tardy repentance of that good sharply. “Who are you?" he said, but action, but on one thing he was he knew only too well. solved; no more money should be forth- "Look at that now!" said the de. coming for Bellows from his pocket. tested voice of John Bellows. “Here's He would instruct Parker at once to a gent as'll pull a man out of the river that effect.

when he's drowning 'isself and in half He did so, and, slightly cheered by a year's time 'e forgets what he looks this tardy act of vengeance, went to like! I call that noble! But"-here he luncheon at his club. At last, he felt, grasped Maxwell by the sleeve with he had got rid of Bellows. He had the energy of intoxication-"if 'e can




forget ’is noble conduct, I can't. Strike life-saving to last me a life-time.” me dead, I can't,” he added, hiccupping "You don't mean that" said Bellows, slightly.

leering tipsily. "You're making fun of Maxwell shook bim off angrily.

You couldn't see a poor fellow Look here, my man," he said, "I'm drown and not help him. You 'aven't tired of you. I've helped you with the 'art.” money again and again, but you al- “I wouldn't rely on that if I were ways come back. You're a worthless you, my man,” said Maxwell. drunken vagabond and I'll have noth- Bellows scrambled up on to the paraing more to do with you."

pet. “Here goes then," he said theat“Don't say that,” said Bellows insin- rically, and poised himself unsteadily uatingly. “Don't say that, gentleman. on its edge. I thought you had a feeling 'art for a Whether he really meant to throw poor man down on his luck.

Give me

himself into the river or whether he: a sovereign. I only asks a sovereign." was merely simulating that intention in "No," said Maxwell firmly.

order to soften the heart of Maxwell, it "Five bob then," said the man.

is impossible to say, and Maxwell him"No!" said Maxwell again.

self has never thought it necessary to Bellows grew indignant. “Look consider the point. There was a slip, here, governor," he said, "you pulled a splash, and in a moment, before Maxme out of the water once and I hope well could stretch out a hand even if I'm grateful”—Maxwell laughed—“but he had wished to do so, the body had I can't live on air. If you won't let disappeared in the muddy water thirty me drown give me something to eat. feet below. That's all I ask.”

As chance would have it the bridge "No!” said Maxwell for the third at that moment was quite deserted. time.

Not even the ubiquitous policeman was. "Very well,” said Bellows with a in sight, and if Bellows really wished drunken attempt at dignity, “then I to drown himself fate for once smiled shall jump into the river, that's all. I upon him. Maxwell was a man of imgive you fair warning.”

pulse. Impulse on that night in Sep“My good man," said Maxwell bit- tember made him leap into the river. terly, "you are at liberty to jump into Impulse on this night in May bade him the river when and where you please walk away as quickly as possible. And as far as I'm concerned. I shan't pre

he did. vent you. I've had quite enough

St. John Hankin. The English Review,

A POET OF THE NORTHUMBRIAN PITS. * Many years ago I used to meet a tesy, always cheerful in the matter if quiet, elderly gentleman and walk with not the fashion of his discourse, always him until our ways parted, chatting the ready to talk on any subject that came while. Sedate, grave, with a slowness up-he was Joseph Skipsey, until a of manner that made him seem older year or two before I knew him a pitthan he really was, with a curious un- man working for his living in the pits, couthness of speech, the soul of cour- a local poet known to many great per

"Joseph Skipsey: His Life and work.” sonages of the south. He was always By the Right Hon. Spence Watson. London: Unwin. 1909. 2s. 6d. net.

cheerful, but never exuberant: it may

be doubted whether he had ever in his life had a moment of exuberance. He was cheerful, I say: not in the least morose. Simply he faced life with immense seriousness, the seriousness of the best type of the northern workman who has paid dear for his experience and knowledge, the working man of the mechanics' institutes and debating clubs. The debating society was strong within Joseph Skipsey. He would argue any point, often taking up untenable positions and, in defiance of all the rules of warfare, defending them to the last, and longer. He was not solemn-only serious. He had seen afar off the promised land of knowledge, not from a mountain top but from the bottoms of the black, foul pits where his childhood and his youth and best manhood were spent; and he had fought his way to it while grimly toiling for his daily bread. Of the world and of men he knew next to nothing; but what he did know he had struggled to acquire and, no wonder, prized and took very seriously.

Joseph Skipsey wrote and published a fair amount of verse; it, and through it be, became known to many of the greatest guns in the land. Whether his verse endures or not, Dr. Spence Watson has taken care that his name shall live, at any rate in the memory of all Northumbrians; for he has written an account of the man and his work with a care and restrained enthusiasm which seem to be admirable. Skipsey was born in 1832 at Percy Main, a little pit-village near the mouth of the Tyne, grimy then as now, sordid, squalid. When he was only a few months old his father was murdered by a policeman. When seven years old Joseph went to work in the pit, and taught himself to read and write there. At the pit he stayed till 1852, when he got employment in London; in 1854 he married and returned to other pits in the north. Five years

later he published some verse which fell into the hands of a genial editor who found him a job as storekeeper at some engineering works. Then he was made sub-librarian of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-on-Tyne-the "lit-'n'-phil.”—and found the books there so engrossing that he forgot to attend to the wants of the members. So he went quietly back to the mines; and though he presently stayed with Jowett at Oxford and became a friend of Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Holman Hunt and Mr. Watts-Dunton in London, and published verse from time to time-verse some of which was highly praised by Rossetti-he remained unspoilt and returned to the mines again and labored there till he was fifty. He rose to some sort of foreman's post; then became caretaker of a Board-school in Newcastle-on-Tyne, and afterwards porter in the Armstrong College in the same coaly city. Hear Dr. Spence Wat"One morning I was taking Lord Carlisle over the new building, and our Principal joined us (Principal Garnett)"-now with the L.C.C. "As we went along the great corridor, Skipsey, bending under the weight of two coalscuttles of fair dimensions, met us. He at once pulled up, and Lord Carlisle, recognizing him, took him by the hand and said, 'My dear Skipsey, whatever are you doing here? We had a long talk, and explanations were made, but I saw from that time that it was impossible to have a college where the scientific men came to see the Principal and the artistic and literary men came to see the porter." So another position was got for him--that of custodian of Shakespeare's house at Stratford. Here is a list of names to make one stare-Browning, Tennyson, John Morley, Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Theodore Watts (-Dunton), Leighton, F. R. Benson, Andrew Lang, Lord Carlisle, Austin Dobson, Bram




Stoker, Lord Ravensworth, Thomas stance, 'May be, as they have been, Burt, William Morris, Wilson Barrett, may be.' It seems to me that, as reEdmund Gosse, Dowden. This is an gards style, you might take the verbal incomplete list of those who backed the perfection of your admirable stanzas porter in getting a humble job. He "Get up' as an example to yourself, and got it; and in half a year our American try never to fall short of this standard, visitors drove him out of it. He loved where not a word is lost or wanting. to argue, but not with fools; and the This little piece seems to me equal to fools doubted every statement he made anything in the language for beauty in showing them over the place until, and quiet pathetic force." Let Dr. Spence Watson says, “He felt quote the little piece, "The Caller": he would end by doubting the

“Get up!" the caller calls, “Get up!" very existence of Shakespeare . .";

And in the dead of night, So he left. In 1886, through Burne

To win the bairns their bite and sup, Jones, a grant of fifty pounds was

I rise a weary wight. made him from the Royal Bounty, and

My flannel dudden donn'd, thrice o'er a tiny pension he had was raised to

My birds are kissed, and then twenty-five pounds a year; on this, with

I with a whistle shut the door assistance from his now grown-up chil- I may not ope again. dren, he lived until his death in September 1903.

In the pit, at the pit-mouth, in the This Life of Joseph Skipsey, written pit-row, Skipsey found inspiration, and with beautiful simplicity, calm and lu- where, as here, by happy chance "the acid, yet tinged and warmed with gen

right touch" comes “of its own erous feeling and an affectionately hu- cord,” something like a true poetic mirmorous perception of the man's odd an

acle is wrought. But when he leaves gles and comical obstinacies, is a most

the pit and tackles subjects where fitting memorial of one who was not dainty workmanship and conscious arta great poet but, in his humble path mastery are requisite, we get experithough life, always a noble man. To ments like “The Daffodil." Dr. Watmy mind, little of his verse is genuine son speaks of his power of thought and poetry, and that little is not of the of making words live. I never obhighest order. At the outset a disas- served any original thought in him: trous deficiency of ear made him as a great and sincere character, not intelcolor-blind painter. He had no tech- lect, distinguished him. As for maknique. To get the mere rhyme and ing words live, it is a fact that he did rhythm he resorted to puerile dodges

recite. his verses with stupendous earand warped and twisted plain sen- nestness. His elocution simply made tences into unholy monstrosities. Here me smile; it was a ridiculous exhibiare some remarks addressed by Ros- tion. And as in repeating his poems, setti to Skipsey: • throughout so in composing them, the pressure of the book the want I feel is of artistic emotional steam was ludicrously out of finish only, not of artistic tendeucy: proportion to the importance of the the right touch sometimes seems to subject. It is idle to say that small come to you of its own accord, but, things are as important as great ones; when not thus coming, it remains a for they are not. The lingo he wrote want. Stanzas similarly rhymed are

in was part pit-Northumbrian, part apt to follow each other, and the metre conventional collocations of the eightis often filled out by catching up a eenth century, part reminiscences of word in repetition-I mean, as for in- contemporaries. A poet of great orig

inal force may borrow from anywhere O, the bugle horn I heard last night;


Its wild tone set the echoes flying,
And night-long in my soul, Delight
Danced, danced, her gift for dancing

with impunity; he loads his phraseology
with a new meaning which
whelms the old associations. Skip-
sey's burden was not fresh and new
enough; and his "adorn", "gem",
"peer"-and, in other verses, "bard",
"Fortune's darling", "fancy", and SO
on--stand out bald, expressionless,
hopelessly prosaic. And to show how
he produced all the unfortunate effect
of a plagiarism where there was no
real plagiarism let me make a last
quotation. Skipsey had gone to Gras-
mere with Dr. Spence Watson; the
wild scenery, the spirit of ancient days
that reigns omnipotent amongst the
hills and woods and waters, the mem-
ories of the great poets who lived there
and the poetry they wrote there-these
wrought upon him; and in the dark-
ness and silence of night a bugle-call
woke the echoes, gathered all his feel-
ings into one channel, and flooded his
soul with a most poignant sensation of
sweetness and joy. So he gave
vent to his feelings in "The Bu-
gle Horn":

The Saturday Review.

No wilder tone had echo known,
Since first upon the height she

She cried to fly, yet fled to cry,

What awed, when heard, and yet enchanted!

Alas! where is it now, the glory and the dream? We have a bald account of the incident; the essence of the matter, the magic, is rigorously excluded; and "bugle", "wild", "echoes", "flying", shout aloud the names of Tennyson and his "Princess."

It would be impertinent of me to give a pontifical judgment on Joseph Skipsey's work. I am only trying to show why he failed when he got away from the pit-shaft. His pit-poems are his best; and, if the appointment of a successor to Tennyson had not forced us to think that to be a laureate nowadays a man must be not a poet at all, Skipsey might be called the laureate of the Northumbrian pits.

John F. Runciman.


To those who knew Whitechapel some years ago such a thing as the Children's Pageant, now being acted every evening in the Art Gallery there, would have seemed incredible. Just a quarter of a century has passed since the first beginnings were made with a few dreary recitations, a wretched farce or two, and an occasional concert which people who cared about decency could not attend. Now if you want to see a historic display, with gallant songs and dances, all performed with the irresistible spirit of zeal, you can go to Whitechapel and see it. Some four or five hundred boys and girls from East End schools, working in shifts of alternate nights, will show you LIVING AGE. VOL. XLIV. 2288

PAGEANT. how it is done. Full of the joy of acting, they are so determined not to fail that during all the speeches the mouths of the whole company move in unison with the speaker, whispering the words to themselves. They have the zest of the amateur. They are as keen for stage perfection as Territorials are for bloodshed on a field-day. The audience is delighted, especially those who own a real child in the show. One may hope they are profited by some sort of historic interest. But, as in all art, the best delight and the best profit remain with the performers, and they are just the children for whom such a thing as this pageant would have seemed incredible only a quarter of a century ago.

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