Графични страници
PDF файл

into the boat. Dore took charge of her. They soon disappeared in the darkness. The poor baronet was very unhappy. He felt that he had done a very foolish thing in attempting to navigate his vessel, but how he had managed to cast her away it did not yet occur to him.

The wind was increasing; the sea came rolling in higher and higher every minute, and dashing with fury over the reef. Sir Paul's anxiety became very great. He wished that at first, while it was possible, he had lowered the large gig on the starboard side. Now it could not be done without the risk of her being swamped alongside. It became necessary, too, to secure the two young ladies to the bulwarks, lest a sea should wash them away. He and the men had great difficulty in holding on. Still nothing could be done till the return of the boat. It seemed an age since she had gone. Had she reached the shore in safety, or. had she been lost ? The crew crowded round their employer. No one blamed him, poor man; some proposed making a raft -others offered to lower the starboard gig at all risks.

“The vessel is new and strong, and will hold together for many an hour yet, I hope," answered Sir Paul. “If the first boat has been lost, we will not risk another till daylight. It seems to me, also, that the sea does not break over the brig as heavily as at first.” Others had remarked this.

“ We struck the reef nearly at the top of high water, and, as the tide rose, beat over it; the tide is now falling, and will leave us soon inside the reef and in smooth water," observed one of the crew. “Should this really be the case, of course it would be wise to remain on board.”

All were silent for some time. People are not given to talking on such occasions. A voice was heard in the distance.

Who is that?”' asked the baronet. “The captain, Sir Paul. Dore, sir," was the answer. In a few minutes Dore came alongside.

“ All right, sir-all safe !" he exclaimed, greatly to Sir Paul's and Polly and Carry's relief. “ It was hard work getting on shore ; but Mr. Leeson was there and helped us. His cutter struck, and has gone to pieces. It's an island-without people or cultivation. We left the ladies sheltered under a rock, and if it wasn't for their fears about you and their sisters they'd be all right.”

There was now little difficulty in getting into the boat, and Leeson and some of his men being on the watch for her on the beach, they were soon landed. The rest of the crew came on shore in another trip. No lives had been lost; that was their chief satisfaction. In other respects they were badly enough off. They bad as yet no provisions, fire, or water, and the young ladies and Sir Paul had scarcely sufficient clothing to defend them from the cold.

Such coats as the men had saved were of course handed to the young ladies, and they sat huddled close together under the rock in a most unromantic manner, wishing for daylight. When at length daylight did come, the young ladies almost wished it was dark again, 80 terribly shocked were they as they looked at each other.

“ Oh, Polly, how horrible you look !” “Oh, Fanny, what a figure!" “Oh, Carry, Carry, could you but see yourself!” were some of the exclamations uttered among them.

Still, as old Dore observed, “ Very few young ladies as he knowed could have better done without crinoline, hoops, or bustles, than his young missuses ; that he could say."

The great point was to get dresses manufactured as soon as possible. Polly had put on a pair of seaman's trousers, for really she could not do without them. Carry had a shawl for a gown; and a sail having come on shore, it was cut into garments for her three other sisters, all of them wearing jackets, and handkerchiefs rolled into turbans for head-dresses. As soon as there was sufficient light, the men went down to the beach in the hopes of finding provisions washed on shore; it was then seen that, though the cutter had gone to pieces, the brig was still entire. Dore, therefore, offered to go back to her at once, for when the tide again rose it was probable that she would also be knocked to pieces. He and his companions were absent for some time, but at last returned with a cask of water, some beef, biscuits, butter, tea, and other provisions, and several cooking utensils. Alas! however, with no clothing for the young ladies. Several articles of men's dress had, meantime, washed on shore from out of the cutter, and Sir Paul appeared completely clothed in a very nautical fashion, not altogether, however, becoming his age and character. Daylight also showed the land in the far distance to the north and east, and it was very clear that the yachts had gone on shore on a rock in the bight of the Bay of Biscay, where it was not likely anybody would think of looking for them. However, as one boat was saved, it was agreed that she must be sent to the coast to give notice of the wrecks, and to procure a vessel to take them off. Still some days might pass before this could be done, as the wind continued to increase, and there was already so much sea running, that it would not be safe for the boat to cross. All hands were now busy in collecting driftwood to light a fire, and in preparing such provisions as they had got for breakfast. The young ladies soon recovered their spirits, and insisted in spreading out the breakfast-things, which consisted of three tin mugs, and a saucepan for a teapot. There was also a big kettle, and some knives and plates. A bag of potatoes were among the things washed on shore, and the cooking of some of them in the

fire afforded matter of great interest. “ After all

, considering the circumstances, our board is not so ill supplied," observed Jack Leeson, who was determined to make the best of everything. “At all events, there is no lack of hunger among us.” The young ladies, like sensible girls,

were indeed doing ample justice to what was put before them. Breakfast was over, and the men were wandering round the rock, which was not a quarter of a mile in circumference, when Dore came back with a long face, and announced that a cross sea had come in as the tide rose, sweeping the spot where he had left the gig, and knocked her to pieces, and that the brig was already beginning to break up. This was, indeed, a serious matter. It was impossible to say how long they might have to remain without being seen, and it became a question if their provisions would bold out.

Leeson showed that he was not quite the rattlebrain he was supposed to be. He at once advised that they should calculate the

[merged small][ocr errors]

amount of provisions they had saved, and place themselves on an allowance, while search should be made for more provisions which might be washed on shore, and for any shell-fish which might be found at low tide. He suggested, also, that they should manufacture fishing-lines and hooks, and try to catch some fish. As the brig went to pieces more things were washed out of her, and among them a couple of sails, with which a tent was rigged under the rock for the ladies. Here they were, however, in sight of a civilised country, yet to all intents and purposes no better off than they would have been on a coral island in the Pacific. At first, there was a spice of romance in the affair which kept up the Miss Pendergrasts' spirits, but by degrees they began to grow heartily tired of the style of life they had to endure.

One day their hopes of release were raised by seeing a column of smoke in the distance. It grew nearer and nearer ; now it disappeared, but under it was, after a time, perceived the hull of a vessel, and farther off three sails. The wind was in their favour; they all drew near, the sea was smooth, the sun bright, the sky clear. They would, under any circumstances, have looked attractive.

“Hurrah !” exclaimed Leeson, throwing up his cap with an animation which he had not exhibited for the last two or three days. “That's the Aspasia, and if the other three are not Chesterton's and Peppercorne's schooner and yawl, and O'Dowdy's lugger, I'm a Dutchman."

Leeson was not a Dutchman. It would be difficult to describe the way in which the new comers were welcomed. Chesterton and Peppercorne, on reaching Plymouth, found Halliday and O'Dowdy starting to join them, thinking that they were still in the Mediterranean. O'Dowdy had unexpectedly come into a fortune, and got out of all big difficulties. When the Diana and Lady of Lyons did not arrive, it occurred to Chesterton that Sir Paul had made some blunder with regard to his course. On examining the chart, he discovered that the course he had given him from Gibraltar would, if he sailed from Corunna, most probably bring him upon the very rock on wbich he had in reality been wrecked. Accordingly, he having announced his fears to the other yachtsmen, they at once agreed to sail in search of their missing friends. Their discovery and rescue, just as they had come to the end of their provisions, was the happy result of his sagacity.

Sir Paul had a long purse, so that he did not seriously feel the destruction of his brig. "Leeson also looked on the wreck of his cutter as a mere trifle; the young ladies likewise considered the loss of their wardrobes of little consequence, as they had so soon to supply themselves with trousseaus.

The autumn was agreeably spent by the five young ladies in making matrimonial tours in different directions, and the next season they and their husbands were again at Cowes in their respective yachts, when the worthy old baronet, instead of getting a vessel of his own, took a cruise with each of them in turn.

It may truly be said that there are not to be found five happier yachtsmen.

[ocr errors]



Last year's exhibition in Trafalgar-square was above the average: the present year's is rather below it. We know it has been said, by some at least of the leaders of opinion, that the present exhibition is a good one; and good it undoubtedly is, within a range that is not very wide. But we cannot accept, as a fair presentment of the efforts of English artists, a collection to which three of the very foremost painters of our time-Mr. Millais, Mr. Holman Hunt, and Mr. F. M. Brown-have contributed nothing. It has been of late the practice of the two last-named artists to send very few of their pictures to the Royal Academy; but the little exhibition in Hanover-street, in 1864 and 1865, ensured for Mr. Hunt the remembrance and the continued admiration of the public; while the collection of very various pictures to which people were invited last season in Piccadilly, confirmed and enhanced the good opinion which some had formed of Mr. Madox Brown.

It is chiefly the works of Mr. Millais that have been looked for on the walls of the Academy; and Mr. Millais has the advantage of universal popularity. He is popular with some people because he paints “such sweetly pretty children, you know;" because he can paint little boys just in the most intense excitement of their play (as he did in “ The Wolf's Den"), or can paint little girls in church, with the very legs asleep in the straight rigid stockings (as he did in “My Second Sermon"); he is popular with others because, like a great actor, he can portray the finest shades of sentiment, and is capable, as a critic recently and most happily said of him, “ to depict an emotion at the supreme moment when, wavelike, it rises to a crest, to fall back into the general tumult from which it rose.” He is popular with these last, in short, because he has painted such pictures as “ The Huguenot,” “The Concealed Royalist,” and “The Romans Leaving Britain.'

It is fortunate for the lovers of English art that the absence of such painters as Mr. Hunt, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Millais, still leaves in the old rooms in Trafalgar-square a collection of great merit, and of much and varied interest. Let us look around the walls, and note some, at least, of the pictures most conspicuous for performance or for promise.

If one were asked to name the painter who combines a most admirable performance in the present with the greatest promise for the future—who, while pleasing us to-day, justifies the hope that he will please us still more to-morrow-it would not be difficult to signal out Mr. Frederick Leighton, a contributor to this year's exhibition of two pictures far above any criticism of mine. Mr. Leighton has many of the gifts and acquirements that go to make an artist of the very highest rank. To technical knowledge, such as is possessed by very few among his contemporaries, and to all the advantages that result from a careful and an extended training, he adds a naturally delicate perception of beauty, and a facile power in expressing it. The “ fine point of grace” is very rarely reached in English art—we have not had our Ingres, and do not know where to look for him but it is at least striven for, and partially grasped, by Mr. Leighton. In his picture of “Golden Hours," where for a mo

ment all emotions " lay quiet, happy, and supprest,” for the youth at the harpsichord and the girl at his side, there was a calm beauty such as only a poetical mind could have imagined. And the beauty of it all was dashed (as perhaps the highest beauty always is) with a subtle pathos but half discerned. As fine and delicate a feeling, and a power more complete, are shown in " The Painter's Honeymoon,” now on the walls of the Academy. The picture is essentially a picture of tender sentiment; but it does not depend for its success upon the sentiment alone, admirably as that is conveyed by the heads so lovingly drawn together, and the hands intertwined. You see at a glance how the lovers are different; the man's expression is so thoroughly

a man's—the woman's so entirely womanly. The painter's possession of his prize only serves-you see it in the resolute mouth and the firm hand—to make his effort more earnest, to throw new vigour into his work. But the woman has resigned herself to a dreamy delight, and bows contentedly before the god of her idolatry :

All, her body and soul,
That completes his whole,

All that women add to men, is given up to him alone, and in the knowledge of that her happiness consists.

But it is not as a delineator of certain phases of the affections that Mr. Leighton shines exclusively, or is always at his best. Sacred history, classic legend; these he has represented with equal power and beauty. The “Ahab, Jezebel, and Elijah,” of two or three years ago; the “ David” of last season (fraught with so fine a pathos), will be in the recollection of my readers; so, in quite another style, will be the “Orpheus and Eurydice,” and the “ Helen,” to whom the artist gave a perhaps too ethereal grace. To this second class of subjects a worthy addition has now been made, in the “ Procession of Syracusan Maidens to the Temple of Diana." The drawing of the figures is conspicuous for correctness and apparent freedom; dignity is given to one, lighter grace to another, some beauty of form to all. And

the picture's general arrangement is very greatly to be admired. · There is, properly speaking, no centre; but stiffness and a tiresome repetition are, as I venture to think, most successfully avoided. Some people say that the faces are too much alike: I think that objection has been sufficiently answered. Others would have the beasts more savage, and so make fear the dominant feeling in the picture, which is scarcely what was intended. For myself, I would only say that the faults of the picture are small as compared with its merits, and that Mr. Leighton's example in seeking for subjects alike beyond the range of every-day incident and worn-out story, is one that deserves to be followed by some, at least, of his contemporaries.

Far less varied than the works of Mr. Leighton, but informed with a spirit as poetical and refined, are those of Mr. A. Hughes. Every year Mr. Hughes presents us with one or two pictures in which a graceful fancy is conspicuous, but which do not, when we first see them, appear to us remarkable for their power. But their impressions remain with us when those produced by works which were at first more striking have passed away; and that is, after all, some proof of their merit. Mr Hughes is remarkable for individuality; he has a manner-I had almost

« ПредишнаНапред »