MR. RUDYARD KIPLING'S "BRUSHWOOD BOY."•
A FEW weeks ago there appeared in the Spectator a very able letter the upshot of which, briefly put, was this,—the best
thing that can be said for the education given at our public schools is that it does not entirely spoil the excellent material which is supplied in the English character. A tribe of inefficient parsons do their utmost in this direction, but they do not wholly succeed. Mr. Rudyard Kipling's book is not an answer to this contention, as it is a republication of what first appeared a considerable time ago. But it certainly puts the other side of the case with much force. One of the best passages in the tale is the description of how Georgie Cotter went up step by step to the top of a public school, and of the good it did him and helped him to do :—
" He became a rumple-collared, dusty-hatted fag of the Lower Third, and a light half-back at Little Side football; was pushed and prodded through the slack back-waters of the Lower Fourth, where the raffle of a school generally accumulates; won his 'second-fifteen' cap at football, enjoyed the dignity of a study with two companions in it and began to look forward to office as a sub-prefect."
So he rises to the dignity to which there is nothing quite similar.in human life,—the post of head of the schooL Mr. Rudyard Kipling tells us how he bore himself in this place;
and when he takes him to India, and describes his doings, Ant as a subaltern and then as Adjutant in a regiment on
the Indian frontier, he lets us see pretty clearly that in his opinion public-school ways may not spoil, but may rather improve, the stuff of an English lad's nature. All this, as may be supposed, is very well done. Mr. Kipling is always
great when he is telling us about schoolboys and soldiers, and he does not fall below himself in The Brushwood Boy.
And now there comes in something which is peculiarly his own. This very practical person, this prudent, right-minded ruler of boys, this resolute, sympathetic officer who can change the " bad bargains " of a regiment into men who are
really worth the " King's shilling," is a. dreamer. His dreams are full of the imagination which no one, leoking.at the man from the outside, would suppose to be largely present in his
temperament. Sometimes when he has overtaxed his strength, or the climate tries him too sorely, the night visions become
nightmares. All this is powerfully given. We are reminded again and again as we read of De. Quincey's Opium-Eater.
But Georgic's dreams are distinctive; they are the dreams, for one thing, of one who has seen a good deal of the world, and this helps on occasion to give them a nightmare character,—for this, to put the case briefly, is the seeing of
some terrible object amongst familiar surroundings. The griffin sits upon the sleeper's cheat, and the horror is that be recognises all the while the paper on the wall, the washatand,
the chest of drawers. And be was not alone in hia dreams.
Here is a glimpse of one of them :—
" In one room reached through leagues of whitewashedpassages a Sick Thing lay in bed. Now the least noise, Georgie knew, would unchain some waiting horror, and his companion kuevr it too; but when their eyes met across the bed, Georgie was dis- turbed to see that she was a child—a little girl in strapped. shoes, with her black hair combed, back from her forehead. What disgraceful folly,' he thought. Now she could do nothing what- ever if Its head came off.' Then the Thing coughed, and the ceiling shattered down in plaster on the mosquito-netting, and They' rushed in from all quarters. He dragged the child through the stifling garden, voices chanting behind them, and they rode the Thirty-Mile-Hide under whip and spur along the sandy beach by the booming sea, till they came to the downs, the lamp-post, and the brushwood-pile, which was safety."
Athenaeus tells a story of a Prince and Princess somewhere • The Brasl►uood Boy. By Budyard Kipling. London t Macmillan k Om Pm] near the Tanis and the Caspian Sea who fall in love with each other in dreamland, and marry in the real world. He rescues her from a bridegroom whom she has to take for reasons of •State. Georgie and Miriam are brought together in a way that better suits England in the twentieth century after Christ. He meets her at his father's house. On her part there is a little aversion, to begin with,—he stares at her, she thinks, so rudely. But when she sings a song of dream- land experiences, and he recognises them as his own, they soon come to an understanding. This is not a book for every one, but there are some whom its realities, and some whom its imaginings, may profit, and not a few, we hope, who will appreciate the whole. We must give a word of hearty praise to the illustrations; they do ample justice to both aspects of Mr. Kipling's work.