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invisible realities, the soul is gone out of life, and it is no more worth the living. Hence Renan was ever building vague and unsatisfactory beliefs, speaking in terms which belong only to the language of faith-panegyrizing a courage and trust which have no meaning except to the believer. He was really, all his life, trying to find reason for a creed of optimism on a basis of doubt.
Renan approached the problem, of our life in much the same way as a greater and stronger mind of his own time approached them. The answer which Matthew Arnold and Renan give is the same. “We cannot believe, for we do not know. Science reveals to us no God. We must take our lives without him.” The despair of these men at discovering truth about the spiritual world is the reaction against the same error of narrow dogmatism on the part of those who have hitherto undertaken to speak of these high matters. But here they part. Matthew Arnold, the stronger soul, said : “If this is so, let us not deceive ourselves with dreams that are only shadows of what we have cast from us. Let us take a new courage, -all the harder and the higher because our old ground of hope is lost,-a new courage in what we find in our selves, and in the world, which makes for righteousness."
But to the lighter nature of Ernest Renan, this was far too cheerless a prospect. He tried to conceal, even from himself, the full meaning of the loss of faith. With the echoes of those cathedral bells of Brittany still ringing in his heart, he wrote with wonderful beauty of the emotions and aspirations of the ideal life. Men were charmed into listening-and, forgot what this all really meant. But when Renan turned, and told them that the religion in which they believed was a false and outworn creed,—they awoke to the fact that these fancies were all a dream, and nothing was really left to make life a less hard and pathetic affair. But Renan called this beautiful dream religion. For he forgot that dreaming is not the same thing as the serious business of life.
ON PARSONAGE HILL. ON
N Saturday nights the bench in front of Andrew
Witherbee's store is crowded. Here the old men of Eastbury dream away their time when the nets have been spread and the dories hauled up, listening to the roar of the surf below and living their youth over again in tales of the sea. It was on this bench too that Abner Tracy courted and won his first bride—Cynthy Tripp she was, before she was married. The affair happened some years ago, to be sure, but then a joke like that is always good, and Eastbury laughs heartily at it even now.
Andrew stood in the doorway of his store and drew a long breath, shuffling his feet so as to catch attention, for he had a piece of news, and was eager to tell it, having treasured it some hours. “ Cranb'ries is gettin' on these days," he ventured by way of introduction.
“I was out Eastb'ry Port way this aft'noon and they looked nice, I tell you." There was not a sound from the silent group on the bench to show that the men even heard the storekeeper's tones. Andrew seemed undecided, even disappointed. He cleared his throat and yawned prodigiously in order to cover his embarrassment, wishing heartily that he had said nothing. From far below the noise of the surf on Eastbury Ledges came up in a dull roar, echoing heavily on the dead air. The aspens hardly moved.
The silence became oppressive and Andrew was fast becoming desperate over the failure of his remarks to excite interest. It was impossible to repress the news
. longer. “I see Susy and Joe Gerritt agin this aft'noon,” he blurted out, “jest before train time. They was runnin' off, most prob’ly,” he added, and then laughed heavily at the conceit. This time there was a stir among the listeners, and Andrew felt repaid for his trouble in remembering all about the affair.
“Susy's gettin' to be quite a big girl now' days,” piped a thin old voice from the end of the bench near the street ; "She 'n' Joe seems right thick. Guess th' old man don't know nothin' how she takes on. He ain't overfond o' Joe." “He sets a power by Susy,” said Andrew, taking fresh courage; “Don't spend nothin' either, 'cept for her. She'd orter be grateful. Ain't no one else, is they, John Lang?"
“No; they all died ten year ago. Th’old man gave up goin' on a vessel then. Said he wouldn't make no voyage s' long 's he had Susy."
A belated customer called Andrew away to a prolonged discussion over the price of Graham flour, and silence settled down again over the cluster of black shapes by the door. One by one the men crept away, choosing times when they believed their retreat to be covered by the rustling of the trees, so obviating the awkwardness attendant on any leave-taking, agreeably to Eastbury custom. Andrew emerged from the brightness within, and looked vaguely up and down the street as if in search of some one. “I'd be sorry if Susy done anything to put th' old man out. He do set sech a power by her. I'd aʼmost oughter go up 'n' see him." He hesitated however, merely out of habit. The faint tinkle of his clock striking the hour decided him. “ Pooh! He'd be in bed long afore I could ever get up there. Ten o'clock, an me plannin' to make visits !” There was something ludicrous in the idea, and Andrew, chuckling solemnly, promised himself to remember the occurrence, so as to tell it the next evening. Then he turned the key in the rusty padlock and disappeared up the street, his footsteps echoing on the brick pavement.
Up at the house on Parsonage Hill the old man sat by the fire, staring at the glowing coals. He was very tired, for the day had been a long one; now and then he pressed his hand to his side. There was a weight on his heart, it seemed to him. “It's pretty steep climbin' up to the house from th' beach," he said, addressing the andirons, as if apologizing for his weakness. “I'm gittin' old, sure enough. Ain't near so smart as I was last year. But then,” he hastened to add, “I'm pretty stout yet, and then,there's Susy. I'd orter be more thankful.” He leaned back and smiled, shaking his head; “Twelve hundred
pound yist'day, and a good thousand t'day. Bluefish is comin' your way, Sandy Doane!” The words seemed to run in his mind in a kind of rhyme: once he actually found himself singing them.
There came a rap at the door. “Letter for you, Sandy Doane; I d'n' know where from." The old man and took the envelope almost mechanically. A letter! He had not received one in years. He scanned the address closely, his mind leaping from one theory to another concerning the sender, but with a vague feeling of disquiet ever present which would not down. “I wish Susy was here,” he sighed, as he fumbled for his glasses ; "She'd read it for me quick enough."
An hour passed, and the old man still sat by the grate; but the letter had fallen to the floor. The blaze had faded to a red glow; it cast a dim, lurid light on the tired figure in the armchair, who sat with his hand over his heart, while unchecked tears lay glistening on the withered cheeks. The room was very still. The sun rose and shone in the window through the geraniums—Susy's flower garden-waking the whole room into new life. It crept across the floor ; the letter became a leaf of gold. The beam glanced for an instant on a shape in the armchair, and was gone, dancing blithely across the heatherladen dunes, until it was lost in the gloomy shadow-prison of the pine woods.
There was a gloom about the little house that struck a chill to the men's hearts as they toiled up the hill, and a dull fear came over them as they remembered what Andrew told them the evening before; they looked stealthily at one another, like guilty persons, standing huddled before the door. Andrew raised the latch and entered the lonely place, followed cautiously by the others.
Andrew looked up from a letter which he had found on the floor; his face looked old and drawn. “Men," he said very gently, “ Th' old man's gone a long voyage this time, I reckon. He kep' his promise, too. This here's his shippin' articles.” In the smoky fire-place the blaze lay dead, hidden under its pall of cold, gray ashes.
Emerson G. Taylor.
EDWARD ROWLAND SILL.
AM not a poet, I am a school teacher who occa
sionally writes verses." Edward Rowland Sill uttered these words half in modesty, but in part to make a fine distinction between himself and the men who had adopted poetry as a profession, and therefore posed as poets. However sturdy his literary efforts while at Yale, however finished his class poem, and however mature his later compositions, he would have been the last man to claim any merit in what he had done, or to call his noblest stanzas more than “occasional verses." His own denial moreover, of any affiliation with the class of so-called poets, puts the man in a strange contrast with others gifted with poetical genius, a contrast which gives Mr. Sill the finer attitude. His motives for taking this stand seem to be justified by what he did. His poems were written for his friends rather than for publication, and if they appeared in print, oftentimes it was in an obscure periodical, or under a pseudonym. Above all, his poems were written as the expression of what he felt, and what moved his own heart. There was the pleasure of putting on paper what passed within him, even if no mortal eye should see it. Thus with his own extreme modesty, and with poems representing solely his inmost thoughts, Mr. Sill was least the man to be catalogued with poets who were eager to “secure recognition,” or ambitious to compose odes for state functions. What he did write was written with all the genuineness and intensity of his temperament. Yet this earnestness of spirit was not to sacrifice the form of his poetry, nor the beauty of his descriptions. While the form was subservient to the matter, he never relaxed to slothfulness or carelessness in workman. ship. But there is something more than heartfelt effort and honest work required for the composition of real poetry; something more was necessary to create the poems which appeared under Mr. Sill's signature. There must be the true poetical nature, which shall change the