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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/734

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THE MARQUIS OF LOSSIE.

acknowledge the dramatic complexion of a poem in which the author does not simply give scope to his own feelings, but represents two or more characters side by side. Nor is it likely, in an age when all lyric was composed to be sung, not read, that the same singer took the part both of Solomon and the Shulamite. If we may not suppose a stage with all its accessories, it is yet probable that the victory of pure affection over the seductions of a corrupt court and the temptations of a king was sung in the villages of the northern kingdom by several answering voices. Or if we hesitate to accept the attractive theory which sees in Solomon, not the hero, but the baffled tempter of a drama of pure pastoral love, the demand for more unambiguous proof of the power of the Hebrew poets to discriminate and depict in action various types of character is simply answered by the Book of Job, in which every interlocutor not merely upholds a distinct argument, but does so in consistent development of a distinct personality. If we have difficulty in classing this masterpiece of the Hebrew muse under the category of dramatic poetry, our difficulty has its source not in the absence of dramatic motives in the book, but in the marvellous many-sidedness with which this quintessence of the religious poetry of Israel combines the varied excellences of every species of Hebrew art. The study of the Book of Job is the study of the whole spirit of the Old Testament, so far as that spirit can be expressed in pure poetry without introduction of the peculiar principles of prophecy. The problem of God's providence, which is the theme of the poem, is the central problem of the pre-Christian economy; and in the discussion of this grand enigma are absorbed all the treasures of wisdom and fancy, all the splendor of language and conception, that adorn the culmination of Hebrew art It would be vain to attempt in a few lines, at the close of a paper already too long, to give even the most inadequate idea of so inexhaustible and withal so difficult a book; but our brief sketch of Hebrew poetry may fitly close when we can point to this noble and imperishable monument of the worldwide significance of the inspired genius of Israel. W. R. S.




THE MARQUIS OF LOSSIE.

BY GEORGE MACDONALD, AUTHOR OF "MALCOLM," ETC.

CHAPTER XXXIX.

DISCIPLINE.

What with rats and mice, and cats and owls, and creaks and cracks, there was no quiet about the place from night to morning; and what with swallows and rooks, and cocks and kine, and horses and foals, and dogs and pigeons, and peacocks and guinea-fowls, and turkeys and geese, and every farm-creature but pigs — which, with all her zootrophy, Clementina did not like — no quiet from morning to night. But if there was no quiet, there was plenty of calm, and the sleep of neither brother nor sister was disturbed.

Florimel awoke in the sweetest concert of pigeon-murmuring, duck-diplomacy, fowl-foraging, foal-whinnering — the word wants an r in it — and all the noises of rural life. The sun was shining into the room by a window far off at the farther end, bringing with him strange sylvan shadows, not at once to be interpreted. He must have been shining for hours, so bright and steady did he shine. She sprang out of bed with no lazy London resurrection of the old buried, half-sodden corpse, sleepy and ashamed, but with the new birth of the new day, refreshed and strong, like a Hercules-baby. A few aching remnants of stiffness was all that was left of the old fatigue. It was a heavenly joy to think that no Caley would come knocking at her door. She glided down the long room to the sunny window, drew aside the rich old faded curtain, and peeped out. Nothing but pines and pines — Scotch firs all about and everywhere. They came within a few yards of the window. She threw it open. The air was still, the morning sun shone hot upon them, and the resinous odor exhaled from their bark and their needles and their fresh buds filled the room — sweet and clean. There was nothing, not even a fence, between this wing of the house and the wood.

All through his deep sleep Malcolm heard the sound of the sea — whether of the phantom sea in his soul or of the world-sea to whose murmurs he had listened with such soft delight as he fell asleep, matters little: the sea was with him in his dreams. But when he awoke it was to no musical crushing of water-drops, no half-articulated tones of animal speech, but to tumult and outcry from the stables. It was but too plain that he was wanted.