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the crowd of images that oppressed his distraught brain, and to assign it more certainty and solidity. He even faintly argued with himself that it must be real, because the face was framed in the severe white of a hospital-nurse's cap, such as he had often fancied Edith wearing, though he had never actually beheld her in one; and also because this was the only face that never travelled slowly up to the ceiling and vanished, like most of the faces he tried to follow with his eyes about the room.

The first coherent words he spoke were addressed to this vision, and the sound of an answering human voice, low, soothing, and cheerful, penetrated the mental mist that surrounded him, and brought an extraordinary sense of relief. He could not follow her explanation, but his mind rested contentedly on the impression it received. He slept quietly for many hours, and when he woke, asked the same question as before.

The nurse answered him in the simple words she would have used to a young child, and Michael saw that she had a kind face, and intelligent dark eyes, though the fleeting likeness to Edith Roath had vanished, and with it all perception of the association of ideas that had produced it; he tried to thank her, but presently growing confused he desisted, and again sank into slumber.

'Yes, Sir Bernard; he is really better,' said the nurse, weary with her long vigil, and greeting the usual inquiry in the early morning with a tired smile, which nevertheless had much of sympathy and interest. 'If I'm not mistaken he's going to get quite all right again, only you must remember that his brain is in a ticklish condition, and we shall have to be more on our guard than ever now against emotion or excitement.'

She was touched by the faithful devotion of the boy, who guarded the sick-room, literally, day and night, ensuring by his incessant vigilance the absolute quiet commanded by the great specialist. She was touched no less by the wide anxious blue eyes of the little fair sister who hovered in the background, in her black frock; not venturing to cross the threshold, but waiting breathlessly for the news her brother conveyed.

When the nurse came on duty again that night, she found her patient once more sleeping peacefully; but there were traces of tears upon his thin face, and on his thick black eyelashes ; as though, like a child in his weakness, he had cried himself to sleep. Then she knew that he had begun to think and to remember.

(To be continued.)

A DISCOURSE ON MODERN SIBYLS. 1

BY LADY RITCHIE.

It is not only to unite teachers and to improve teaching that the English Association exists, but also to give in some measure a personal expression to our love of books, to the thoughts and impulses which come from their infinite combinations.

Everything is to be found in book-lore ; not only is the generous feast spread out for favoured guests, but the crumbs are there falling from the high tables. There is fun, there is fancy and good-humour, there is companionship for the solitary, comfort for the sad, knowledge of life for the young, and for the elders pleasant gossip and remembrance. Professor Ker has brought Romance before us ; Professor Bradley has spoken of Poetry and its uses—Who that was present on that last occasion when he spoke will not remember it? The foggy gloom of the streets invaded the crowded, attentive room, but it was of light, and lovely things, the lecturer discoursed. The wide suggestions appealed to those who could follow them, as well as to those among us who could not always follow with full comprehension, but who appreciated and breathed for the moment with some deeper breath, 'living,' as Professor Bradley said, “a section of each poet's own life' in the passing realisation of his thought. It may seem presumptuous indeed for a wren with little quill’ to follow such discourses with mere personalities, small in comparison to those larger philosophies, yet a literary association is intended to emphasise and give voice to the various units which compose the whole, as letters are part of a word, words form the sentence, and finally the book of life itself is spread open.

There is no doubt but that different chapters of Literature commend themselves to different generations. A well-known critic, an American lady, Miss Fanny Repplier, also taking a personal stand-point, deplores the misfortune of having been herself born quite a century too late for Success ! She appeals to 'Evelina,' that work admired by Johnson and Burke; she points to Hannah More, whose tragedies drew tears from and were

1 The Presidential Address delivered at the Annual General Meeting of the English Association, on January 10, 1913. It was read by Mr. Ernest von Glehn Copyright, 1913, by Lady Ritchie, in the United States of America.

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praised by Garrick, whose tracts reached Moscow and made their edifying way to Iceland itself-tracts, such as Charles the Footman' and the 'Shepherd of Salisbury Plain,' which are also said to have been found by a missionary in the library of the Rajah of Tanjore. Those were the days to live in,' cries Miss Repplier, 'when families tore the “Mysteries of Udolpho ” to pieces in their eager interest, when the astounding Miss Seward dazzled the literary world; and unfortunates, born a hundred years too late, may look back with wistful eyes upon an age which they feel themselves qualified to have adorned !'

Some time ago, borrowing a title from a well-known Elizabethan collection of histories, I wrote a little volume called 'A Book of Sibyls.' It did not concern classical beings, with flying robes and tripods, uttering incoherent rhymes and oracles at Delphi and elsewhere, but it related to certain women leading notable lives in mob-caps and hobble-skirts. Jane Austen, then as now, was supreme among them, although some sapient critics of her own time considered her 'common-place,' and not to compare to the Edgeworths, Barbaulds, and Opies of the day.

When it was first suggested that I should speak to the English Association of yet another generation of Sibyls nearer to my own experience, I could but feel that, unlike Miss Repplier, I had been fortunate indeed in the time of my birth. I do not know whether others will agree with a friend of mine who declares that people reach their complement from ten to twelve years old, and that they never really change after that time, though they may learn more and more facts. As the years go by, and, alas, the hour for forgetting may begin, the same observer still exists throughout the different stages. Mrs. Gaskell and Mrs. Oliphant were my torchbearers in youth as afterwards. The Brontës were magicians, , flashing romance into the little Kensington street in which we dwelt. George Eliot followed. I do not here attempt to speak of all the great masters of the craft then living, but of certain women with whom I have had the privilege of being in some relation. These ladies were dressed not in flying draperies nor in mob-caps and hobble-skirts, but in crinolines—though it seems almost desecration to mention the fact, or to suggest that George Eliot ever wore one. They put on lop-eared bonnets when they went abroad; their parasols were the size of half-crowns; they had sandalled shoes, or odd flat elastic brodequins. Whatever their dress may have been in 1850 they were true Sibyls nevertheless. Their voices were direct and outspoken, they went straight to the heart of things. When I made their acquaintance, I myself was about twelve years old and forbidden by my governess to read novels. No objection was made to the works of Miss Yonge, personally unknown to me indeed, but nevertheless a sympathetic confidante and playfellow. I was older before Miss Braddon wove the spells which my father and Dickens both so warmly praised. My father liked 'Lady Audley's Secret'; Dickens specially cared for the story of 'The Doctor's Wife.' Many other Sibyls were yet to be, but in those early days they concerned me not. Rhoda Broughton was in her schoolroom, Emily Lawless was in her nursery, Mrs. Humphry Ward in her cradle. Mary Cholmondeley and Margaret Woods were not even born; not to speak of how many others besides, happily yet to be, poets, historians, essayists, whose names will come to all our minds.

My governess herself gave me Mrs. Oliphant's first book as an exception to the rigid rule against novel-reading, saying she heard it had been written by a girl only a few years older than I was. It was in Scotch which I could not understand, but it was a novel all the same. As to the stern edict of limitation, fortunately for me * Blackwood' was not a novel, but a sober-looking magazine with a brown-paper cover and a picture of George Buchanan, surrounded by thistles ; and there it was that a few years later I found the Scenes from Clerical Life,' all-absorbing, convincing, written as I imagined by one of the wisest of men. I used to try to picture him to myself, grave and noble, with a melancholy reserved manner, rather bald-certainly a clergyman from Cambridge. It was like going to his church to read of Amos and Milly Barton and the people out of 'Janet's Repentance' and 'Mr. Gilfil's Love Story,' who seemed to fill our house where such good company was already to be found.

There are certain Overtures, like that one to the 'Freischütz,' which in the opening bars bring before us all the coming wonder of the great music yet to be. In the same way, it seems now, looking back, that when I wondered over the first opening chapters of George Eliot's work, all the suggestion of its future came flooding in. I cannot think that she has ever given us anything more beautiful than the Scenes from Clerical Life,' as they dawned then, complete, full of heart and of knowledge—knowledge of that special phase of life which was in her own experience.

The very first sentences of ‘Amos Barton' open in old

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Shepperton Church, where George Eliot, as a child herself, is waiting in her place :

As the moment of psalmody approached, by some process to me as mysterious and untraceable as the opening of the flowers or the breaking-out of the stars, a slate appeared in front of the gallery, advertising in bold characters the psalm about to be sung.' Then follows the description of its accompaniment, 'the bassoon, the two key-bugles, the carpenter understood to have an amazing power of singing “counter” who formed the complement of a choir regarded in Shepperton as one of distinguished attraction, occasionally known to draw hearers from the next parish. ... The greater triumphs were reserved for the Sundays when the slate announced an Anthem . . . when the key-bugles always ran away at a great pace, while the bassoon every now and then boomed a flying shot after them. ..

Better even than the account of the choir is the noble sermon the author speaks in conclusion, and of which this is the text :

'Blessed influence of one true loving human soul on another! Not calculable by algebra, not deducible by logic, but mysterious, effectual, mighty as the hidden process by which the tiny seed is quickened, and bursts forth into tall stem and broad leaf, and glowing tasseled flower. Ideas are often poor ghosts; our sunfilled eyes cannot discern them; they pass athwart us in thin vapour, and cannot make themselves felt. But sometimes they are made flesh; they breathe upon us with warm breath, they touch us with soft responsive hands, they look at us with sad sincere eyes, and speak to us in appealing tones ; they are clothed in a living human soul, with all its conflicts, its faith and its love. Then their presence is a power, then they shake us like a passion, and we are drawn after them with gentle compulsion, as flame is drawn to flame.'

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Some one asked me once if I liked books or people best. It is an impossible question to answer. Books are people, if they are worth anything at all; just as people at times become books, and are often all the better for the transmigration.

I once had a talk with George Eliot. It was in winter time with the snow lying on the ground. She sat by the fire in a beautiful black satin gown, with a green-shaded lamp on the table beside her, where I saw German books lying and pamphlets and ivory papercutters. She was very quiet and noble, with two steady little eyes and a sweet voice. As I looked I felt her to be a friend, not exactly

I a personal friend but a good and benevolent impulse. I remember she said it was better in life to build one's cottage in a valley so as to face the worst and not to fall away; and the worst,' she continued, ' was this very often, that people were living with a hidden power of work and of help in them which they scarcely estimated. We ought to respect our influence,' she said. We

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