22 JULY 1882, Page 16

DICK'S WANDERINGS.* THE title hardly gives a fair idea what

to expect from this book. " Wandering" ought certainly to be taken here in Goethe's wider meaning, which is found in the Wander/care. There can be no pleasanter task than to review a book like the present one; there is no great display of exciting incident or startling events, but it is replete with all the charm of Mr. Sturgis's. writing, tender and subtle, suggestive in the highest degree, and fall of knowledge of the finer shades of human nature. The story opens when Dick was a fine, manly boy of twelve; he was of a bright, happy nature, with a face pleasanter to look on than many

* noes wandorino. By Julian Stairgig, author 0 "Little ComedieJ," &o. William Blackwood and Bone, Edinburgh and London. 1883„

a handsomer one, possessed of excessive energy, with a strong will, and devoted, moreover, to his beautiful, young, widowed mother. Dick had early found out that he was a person of im- portance ; he was called the "young squire," and big men touched their• hats to him. He felt that learning was necessary for him, he longed to know many things, and he wished to go to school, which had, besides the attraction to him of the unknown ; perhaps also, without realising it, he rebelled already against petticoat government. His mother had decided he should go to Eton, but the immediate cause of his being sent was a prank he played on Mr. John Kirkby, M.P., for the neighbouring town of Redgate. One evening, when the M.P. was sitting after dinner with Hervie Langdon, Dick's uncle and guardian, he gave himself up to the pleasure of criticising the party in power and the shortcomings of the middle-class ; it was always a particular pleasure to him to hear the sound of his own voice, and he was in great force, for he knew he was going to speak that evening to his devoted constituents in the "institute " at Redgate :—

" 'They are strong enough to smash this Government, or any Gov- ernment, if it comes to that, yet they are the stupidest class in Europe, bar none.' Here Mr. Kirkby paused, struck a match, lighted the cigar which he had been holding .between two of his big fingers, blew a light cloud, and then removing the cigar from his lips, delivered himself of this remarkable statement,—' The middle-class are fools.' The smile which had been twinkling in Hervie Langdon's eyes and lifting the corners of his moustache changed suddenly into one of those hearty bursts of laughter which had never failed to surprise Mr.

Kirkby, during a friendship of twenty years or more As the noise of his laughter died away a small boy; who was half hidden behind his chair, asked innocently, Are they all fools 'Hallo,' said Hervie Langdou, what are you doing here, young man P Why didn't you go with the other children P' He put his hand back,

and drew his little nephew into the fuller light Dragged from his poet of observation, this little hero showed no embarrassment in the presence of his elders. He looked his uncle in the face with his inquiring eyes, as he answered him, like to stay with the men, and I like politics ; but is it true, Uncle Hervie, that all the middle- class are fools r You be off to your mother,' Mr. Langdon said, and .tell Ossie and Betty to go to bed ; good-night, dear boy, • and put of being a politician as long as you can.' Why P' asked Dick, pushing his hair back from hie forehead, preparing to receive instruction ; but•his uncle only patted his cheek and smiled as usual. His uncle Hervie's smiles were very mysterious to Dick. Now, it happened that on that evening Mr. Langdon's eon had not waited for his father's commands, but had gouo to bed, because he felt lazy, which he often did. Therefore Master Osbert was already drifting peacefully towards slumber, when ho was disturbed by the sudden entrance of his cousin,"

Dick had the air of a conspirator, and he roused Ossie up with the splendid plan of getting out, and getting on to the back of the carriage, and so to Redgate, without old "Peter " knowing, and to hear him speak. " Now, ' Peter ° was the name which those little boys, for some humorous reason only known to themselves, had conferred on Mr. Kirkby." It was not long before the boys were stealing down the passage, with their shoes in their hands and the spirit of adventure in their hearts. Just when the dis- tinguished Member was winding up his oration with a panegyric to the "representatives of that commerce which is the pride of England, you the middle-class, from which I am proud to have sprung 1" there was heard a clear, young voice, calling, " Peter, Peter ! " Hervie Langdon leaned quickly forward in his chair, and stared into the darkness under the opposite gallery; and Mr. Kirkby, who was not very quick to hear, held up a large hand, with fingers outspread, and when silence was secured, asked, in his fullest and most patronising tones, "Did I not hear some- body ask a question ? " Ho waited with a tolerant smile ; he had the air of one who was about to crush a beetle in the kind- est possible way, but still crush it. Then, uttered in the same clear treble, came the words, " You said the middle-class were fools." " Eh, what," cried Mr. Kirkby, astonished, " what is that ?" " Didn't he, Uncle Hervie P It was when you were smoking after dinner. Didn't he tell you the middle-class were fools," after these words, there was a remarkable silence. Then old Durley's beery chuckle was heard, " So they be," he muttered. And so Dick went to Eton.

The relation between Dick and his mother is treated with the greatest skill and understanding ; this part of the book is almost the most masterly of the whole ; the gradual change in the characters of each, how out of her very love grew unhappiness for them both and estrangement is very true to nature, touched with great fulling, and admirably worked out. To Mrs. Hart- land, who was left a widow after a year of married life, her son was the most important of the race of men ; he was a source of strength, too, for from being the most helpless of women, the feeling of responsibility made her stronger day by day,—she filled her life with doing little things for Dick's sake. She ac- quired knowledge, that she might do everything for him. On the one hand, she regarded him with awe, as the representative of all the Hartlauds, and the son of her own saint and hero ; on the other, she considered him her own possession, and so precious

that it was her duty to keep him safe, by exacting perfect obedience. The first time that Mrs. Hartland felt herself at a loss and perplexed was when Dick was seventeen ; he had come home with all his honours ; he had won the sculling match, and brought an excellent character from his master, and yet he told

her quietly he wished to leave at Christmas. Moreover, he had not yielded at once, when she showed him the absurdity of such a course. " Was it possible that there was a flaw in his charac- ter ? Could it be that he was self-willed P" Dick left at Christ- mas, very sorry to grieve his mother,—this he did not know, how much it cost her to give in ; but he was sure he was right, he felt he could fit himself better for his life elsewhere than at Eton. He was, however, prepared to yield in a matter of less importance, and accept a tutor. By great good-fortune, a tutor was found who threw himself with a sort of frenzy into all his schemes, and was able to show him where to look for answers to all or most of his questions. Fabian Deane was quite unlike other young men, and took pride in being so. He became fifty times more zealous than Dick, who originally kindled his zeal ; and it was lucky that Dick had a cool head, or he would have been carried away by Fabian Deane's theories. The two young men spent many months in quiet reading and many more in travel, in which they studied profoundly laud and its occupants in all European countries. So it happened that at twenty Dick knew more on the subject than many a pro- minent politician, but "the only definite purpose which he had formed was that he would keep his property, as far as he could, In his own hands ; that he would not limit in any way his

power of doing as he liked with this interesting land." We have dwelt at great length on Dick and the opening of his life, because it strikes us that Mr. Sturgis has given us a study of a character very unlike any of the ordinary heroes of novels.

Dick is real and spontaneous in his thoughts and actions. He is a very fine young fellow, justly popular with every one. He does not get into scrapes, and yet he is not a prig. His nature is so fresh, simple, and straightforward, that he is innocently sure that he understands all men's motives without any trouble.

Nevertheless lie has to confess that he never can be certain what his cousin Ossie will do next. Ho feels also sometimes doubtful how far he understands women ; they seem to do so many un- expected things. The scene where he tells his mother of his intention not to resettle the land on his coming of ago is very

ably described ; he had had for some time an uneasy feeling that she might be hurt, and though he kept saying over and over again to himself that he had no intention of trying experi- ments or parting with the land, and that she must see he was right to wish to keep the power in his own hands, to be able to do what was right, still, he could not banish the thought from his mind that it would cause her distress, and this ho shrank

from doing. However, as he knew he must toll her, he seized the first opportunity, when all the guests who had been staying there for his coming, of age had left,—

" The next minute ho had made the necessary effort, and begun to speak. He stood looking out of the window, and he tried to tell her of his next visit to his lawyer, and of the formal deed which he was going to execute, as he had told her a thousand times of some small plan for the morrow. When ho had finished, he still looked out of the window, but he saw nothing ; he was intent on listening, and it seemed strangely long before he heard her words. When she spoke, she spoke very quietly, but there was something in her tone which sent a shock to his heart. Are you going to

sell the place ?' she asked. No, no,' cried Dick, I am not

going to do anything with the place ; everything is to be as it is, I only want to be able to do what it may be right to do some day, to keep the power.' To keep the power!' she repeated, bitterly. Though she spoke bitterly, her first great fear was gone. She was so far relieved, that she could find further relief in speech. The feeling of ill-usage which had hurt her so long, which had been shown so seldom and never expressed, save in some slight hint or polite refusal to interfere, found words at last,—words which half frightened her by their vehemence. You have never considered me,' she said. Perhaps there is no reason why you should consider me, or ask my advice, or even tell me what you are planning; but I did think, I did hope, that you would consider the wishes of your father, who is dead. He always looked forward, when you were a baby, he looked forward to the time when you would resettle the land as every Hartland had settled it before ; and when he was gone, I tried to study, that I might know what. he wished, and be able to tell you, and you never cared to ask ; and now I have nothing to tell you, except that you are doing what he—what your father--" But, mother,' said Dick, for something stopped her speech, Mother, don't

you see that I am going to do nothing with the place. I only want to keep myself free till I know better." And do you think that you will know better than your father and your grandfather, and all who have gone before ? Yes, that is just what you do think ; you have always thought that you knew best about everything. It was the same at School. You made up your mind to leave ; you thought that, mere child as you were, you wore a better judge than your mother, and your uncle Hervie, and John Kirkby, and your tutor, and everybody. You have always been like that, always self-willed, and I don't want to blame you ; I know that people have always liked you and flattered you, and made you think your-

self a great man, and —' No, mother,' said Dick. lie was amazed and shocked. He could not bear to hear her speak like this. He had always admired her for her dignity and simplicity, her self-control and calm. She had been to him, long before he had thought about it, his standard of perfect ladyhood, by which he measured other women. Now, she seemed to him for the first time to be speaking wildly ; he was shocked, and almost frightened. Once or twice there flashed across him the uncomfortable idea, with which Betty's engagement had inspired him, that perhaps he did not under- stand women. It was an idea by no means pleasant to Dick, for he was apt to congratulate himself ou understanding people so easily. If one-half of mankind were really so hard to read, it might not be so easy a matter, after all, to direct his course through life."

It is impossible to follow Dick in detail through all his wan- dering, and we can but glance at some of the other characters. Fabian Deane is, perhaps, the least well drawn among them.

He is meant to be so full of exaggerated enthusiasms, that it has been perhaps difficult to avoid exaggerating his exaggera- tions. We think that Dick's estimate of Ossie's character was, on the whole, correct,—that he was always like the last fellow he was with. But he was lovable withal, and had a great wish to be loved, which somewhat redeemed his selfishness and intense

laziness. There is but a slight sketch of Miss Susan Bond, but it is excellent,—" She was a popular girl, and even more clover than popular. She was not pretty, but she was always well dressed, she danced well and with all sorts of partners, she had good teeth, and was much given to laughter, she had a reputa- tion for making things go off well." And then Kitty Holcroft, —it is seldom we have met with so attractive a young person as this American girl that Dick and his companions made acquaint- ance with in Palestine. She was a constant puzzle to Dick, who 'told himself that all American girls are clever, able to take care of themselves, and unable to do without the admiration of men.

He felt sure of her cleverness, but could, then, her simplicity be genuine P Was it not a form of consummate artfulness, a super- fine affectation ? He felt he could not reconcile this apparent sim- plicity and the frankness of her speech with her experience of fashionable life, and even more with her undoubted cleverness. He could not resist the charm of her ways, but he would not allow himself to be convinced of her goodness; he distrusted both himself

and her, and caused both himself and her much unnecessary pain by the warp his mind got with regard to her. The girl found out quickly enough the state of the case. " Some day, you will discover you are profoundly cynical about women." "It makes me so mad, when men call women clever. They either mean that we have got some poor little accomplishments, like twanging the guitar, for instance,—or else it means that we are designing

and horrid." How Dick ended his wandering, we must leave our readers to find out for themselves.