Imatges de pàgina


charm in them than the languid ästhete, musing over the pages of Verlaine and Mallarme, would find in a sea-wet breeze blowing across a hayfield at early morning. There is no studied mannerism, no sought-for darkness of expression, no exaggerated ecstasy or pessimism; there is such a natural feeling of joy as of sorrow, which come to the soul at once robust and sensitive; and these are expressed with frank, unstudied naïveté, with the candour as of a child, and the self-control of a man blent in their simplicity. “Look in your own heart and write,' has been the only precept which their creator has obeyed. The most intense attachment in them is for the

The sea, whether those grey sad tides which sway from the sands of Christchurch to the rocks of Freshwater, or that azure radiance which rolls from the headland of Antibes to the gardens of Porto Fino, has the same magic for Auberon Herbert that it has for Algernon Swinburne; a charm much calmer and more peaceful, but not less strong. Many of these little poems speak of the sea only; are full of that happy sense of return and recognition which so many amongst us feel when, after absence from the sea, we tread again its wet salt sands, and feel its white spray dance against our cheek. Swinburne is the great laureate of ocean, the charms of whose mighty lyre reverberate with the ocean storm and echo the thunder of breakers breaking upon iron shores, and of billows sweeping from pole to pole. The song of Auberon Herbert is the homing cry of the sea-swallows swaying on the crest of the waves. Back to the Sea Mother' he calls those yearning lines

Kindest of mothers, from whom I have strayed,

Back again, tired, I come to thee,
Chaunting and crooning the old wave-song ;

Sing it, oh! sing it again to me!

Weary aud spent as the hour draws near,

Hush me to sleep with the soft wave-song,
Wash all the cares away, wash all the strifes away,

All the old pains that to living belong.

Down at thy side I place me to rest;

Slowly my senses are stealing from me;
Passions and pleadings have ceased in my breast,

Gently my spirit floats away free.

And yet again

Thou great strong sea, fast lock'd in dreams,

Clouds journeying to and fro, Whose tender blue the stars como through,

I can but lore ye so !

Ye take possession of my heart,
And all my

life renew ;
Like grain of dust I grow a part,

A small stray part of you.

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I dislike the translation of expression from one art to another, otherwise I would call these verses impressionist. They have the quickly captured forms, the frail fugitive colour, the infinite suggestiveness, which are the notes of the highest impressionism in painting.

See these eight lines :

The sun is at rest-for the storms are o'er;

Just touch'd with the hand of night,
And a line of shadow creeps to the shore,

Then flashes in silver light

Like a note that stoops in its flight and droops,

And clings for a while to the ground;
Then trembles and wakes from its trance and breaks

Into passion and glory of sound.

How entirely true are these to the breaking of a smooth, pale expanse of water into motion and light; the sudden flashing as of a million spears with which the sea, when smitten by the sword of the Sun, rises to the challenge of Morning. And yet by what simple and common words this strong effect is produced ! Or this:

Only a bit of land-locked bay,

With a haunting face on the further side ;
Yet the ocean as well might bar the way,
So far from each other our lives divide.


For you jest at times, and at times you pray,

And you tread a path that cannot be mine;
And the world is with you from day to day,

And all that you are I dare not divine.

Or this :

In the glory of youth the young man went;

His heart with pride was stirred ;
They should yield,' he cried, 'to the message sent,
And force of the burning word.'

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The long years passed and a wearied man

Crept back to the old home door :
'I have spoken my word and none has heard,

And the great world rolls as before.'

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Forward we look and we gild it all,

Rich is the picture and tender and fair,
Backward we look and the blue mists fall,

Veiling the troubles that once were there.

Ah! well, and ah! well, and lighter the load,

If heart the enchanter weave his web;
If he tells love-stories to cheat the road,

And binds in our dreams the purple thread.

It will be seen that the store of words at the singer's command is limited; his palette is set with few colours; his lute has but few strings; and it is in this that he resembles the singers of the Italian folk-songs and couplets which have only the limited vocabulary of the peasant to express so many of the deepest chords of human feeling. These English verses, like those Italian canzone, might be created by one to whom all the stores of knowledge and of culture were sealed books. They are cast in the simplest of all possible forms of expression, and there is not one which would not suit the plaintive measure of a crooning ballad sung in twilight by the embers of a cottage hearth. They suggest their own music, and it would be difficult to read them aloud without falling into some rhythmical balance of their lines.

Auberon Herbert is, we know by his prose works, master of rich stores of language and of scholarship; therefore, this simplicity of style in his verses springs, not from poverty of resources, but from correctness of instinct. These songs are naïf as a child's prayer at its mother's knee at eventide; were they ornate or elaborate they would cease to be, as they are now, the frank and spontaneous utterances of the soul, natural, I have said, as song of linnet or of lark.

Let those who love pure, simple, unstudied, and unborrowed things send for the little azure book and read it for themselves; not in noisy railway train, or metropolitan library, or fashion-filled countryhouses; but in the solitude of some quiet rural place, beside some


nameless streamlet where the willow-leaves touch the blue brook-lime and the bees hum amidst the flowering thyme.

When we take it home, as the day dies, let us place it on a shelf between the hymns of George Herbert and those earliest love-songs which were signed Owen Meredith. There it will find its fit companionship.




I REMEMBER my old friend and master, Sir Henry Maine, once expressing his hope that some competent scholar would write a book on primogeniture. I am not sure that he did not from time to time contemplate addressing himself to that task. Certainly the subject, cutting, as it did, so to speak, into his special line of studies, was very much in his thoughts from the year 1861, when he published his book on Ancient Law, shortly after resigning his Regius Professorship at Cambridge, to the year 1883, when he embodied in his Early Law and Custom the most important of the lectures delivered by him as Corpus Professor at Oxford. Both these works contain some admirable pages upon it. So does his work on Early Institutions, published in 1874, in which he enlarges on the reasons that had led him thirteen years before to call primogeniture one of the most difficult problems of historical jurisprudence. I incline to think that his strong sense of its difficulty disinclined him for grappling with it. He was, as one of his most intimate friends described him, 'physically incapable of severe continuous drudgery.' And for fully exploring this matter a good deal of such drudgery would have been necessary. Mr. Evelyn Cecil has not shrunk from it, as the pages of his book sufficiently show. And in the work with which he has begun his literary career, Maine's aspiration is at last fulfilled. In his preface he modestly endeavours to extenuate his 'audacity'in undertaking the task. It is related of George the Third that when presented with Bishop Watson's Apology for Christianity he observed, ' Christianity needs no apology. We may say the same of Mr. Cecil's book. It is a valuable contribution to an important topic of jurisprudence. And he has laid all students of law and sociology under a very considerable obligation by publishing it. He has collected, from numerous sources, a great number of facts helpful for the

Primogeniture : a Short History of its Development in various Countries, and its Practical Effects, by Evelyn Cecil, M.A., of the Inner Temple, Barrister-at-Law, and a member of the London School Board (London : John Murray, 1895).


elucidation of his subject. He has stated them perspicuously; he has marshalled them skilfully; and he has indicated his conclusions in a spirit of moderation and candour by no means general even in purely scientific treatises. He follows in the footsteps of Maine, who, as Sir Frederick Pollock has happily remarked, ' forged a new and lasting bond between history and anthropology,' and treated jurisprudence as a study of the living growth of society through all its stages.' And in executing his task he has carefully observed what I may call the rules of literary perspective. He has brought his chief facts into bold relief, and has kept his less important ones in their proper place of subordination. Throughout his pages there reigns that unity of composition which enables him to present his materials in the light of a dominant idea. Such are some of the merits of Mr. Evelyn Cecil's book. A distinctly noticeable book, I account it, as being the first serious attempt made by an English scholar to deal adequately with a subject no less complicated and obscure than it is interesting. The faults of the book are chiefly three, which, happily, may all be easily removed in a future edition. In the first place certain important lines of inquiry are too bastily dismissed. For example, the subject of primogeniture in India is dealt with in six pages. Sixty would not have been too many for treating it even in the barest outline. Secondly, authorities are not always very discriminatingly cited. Tbus at pp. 83–4 a quite worthless extract from an obsolete book_Craig's Right of Succession—fills. a long note, and at p. 116 Dr. W. Roberston is referred to as though his opinions were conclusive regarding a difficult point as to fiefs for life. Thirdly, here and there are statements lacking in precision. Thus at p. 30 we read William the Conqueror took care that the rule of primogeniture should develop (in England] under his pilotage.' But as Messrs. Pollock and Maitland have pointed out in their History of English Law—published subsequently to Mr. Cecil's book - what William and his sons insisted on was rather “impartible succession ” than a strict application of the primogenitary rule.'

It would be manifestly out of place here to follow Mr. Evelyn Cecil through details interesting chiefly to the student of jurisprudence; but there are two questions of general interest dealt with in his last chapter as to which I should like to say a few words. Primogeniture properly means the right of the eldest among males to succeed to real property. That right is of much less consequence now than it was in ancient times, before alienation of such property by will was permitted. But it is a right which our law still recognises and enforces in cases where a landowner dies intestate. In such cases, provided,' as Mr. Cecil observes, that he has not overwhelmed his land by an avalanche of creditors,' the law appoints his nearest male relative to succeed him. That is the right of primogeniture. The custom of primogeniture is a distinct thing, although no doubt it

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