29 DECEMBER 1855, Page 17


some of the ancient classical fables, in a very vivid style, with a Sort of Homeric ruggedness and sim- ple belief. In the Greek heroic myths, which Kingsley has narrated for his children, he has introduced a little of his own age and pro- fession. He gives to the stories of Perseus, the Argonauts, and Theseus, some of his own rich and gorgeous manner, as well as a trifle of modern ideas. He improves the morals contained in those old myths of men "who soorn'd delights and lived laborious days," so as to serve more distinctly for lessons of life to the young of our day. The historian reproduced; the diviiae modernizes and applies.

This modernizing may sometimes be carried too far ; expansion or iteration inducing a muster-roll of words without ideas to many. The tales, however, are a powerful and skilful production. Mr. Kingsley has imbued his narrative with a classical feeling, and thrown over it the glow of a rich imagination and a poetical spirit. The heroic stature and beauty, and still More the simple heroic mind, are impressed upon the reader ; the geographical and magic wonders of ancient fable are strikingly presented, though perhaps with a shade too much of Scandinavian or Mediteval grotesqueness; and the supernatural character of the Immortals is as successfully attained as it is likely to be. Witness the appearance of Minerva and Mercury to Perseus when he is sadly meditating upon the sea- shore about the difficult task he has undertaken—that of bringing back the head of the Gorgon.

"Then he saw afar off above the sea a small white cloud, as bright as silver. And it came on, nearer and nearer, till its brightness dazzled his


" Perseus wondered at that strange cloud, for there was no other cloud all round the sky ; and he trembled as it touched the cliff below. And as it touched, it broke and parted ; and within it appeared Pallas Athena', as he had seen her at Samos in his dream, and beside her a young man more light-limbed than the stag, whose eyes were like sparks of fire. By his side was a scimitar of diamond, all of one clear precious stone, and on his feet were golden sandals, from the heels of which grew living wings.

"They looked upon Perseus keenly, and yet they never moved their eyes ; and they came up the cliffs towards him more swiftly than the sea-gull, and yet they never moved their feet, nor did the breeze stir the robes about their limbs ; only the wings of the youth's sandals quivered, like a hawk's when he bangs above the cliff. And Perseus fell clown and worshiped, for he knew that they were more than man."

The journey of Theseus to the inhospitable and terrible North is another forcible picture, perhaps a little too forced.

"Then he passed the Thracian mountains, and many a barbarous tribe, Pieons and Dardana and Triballi' till he came to the later stream, and the dreary Scythian plains. And he walked across the later dry-shod, and away through the moors and fens, day and night toward the bleak North-west, turning neither to the right hand nor the left, till he came to the Unshapen Land, and the place which has no name. "And seven days he walked through it, on a path which few can tell ; for those who have trodden it like least to speak of it, and those who go there again in dreams are glad enough when they awake ; till he came to the edge of the everlasting night, where the air was full of feathers, and the soil was hard with ice ; and there at last he found the three Grey Sisters, by the shore of the freezing sea, nodding upon a white log of drift-wood, beneath the cold white winter moon ; and they chanted a low song together, Why the old times were better than the new.'

"There was no living thing around them, not a fly, not a moss upon the rocks. Neither seal nor sea-gull dare come near, lest the ice should clutch them in its claws. The surge broke up in foam, but it fell again in flakes of snow ; and it frosted the hair of the three Grey Sisters, and the bones in the ice-cliff above their heads. They passed the eye from one to the other, but for all that they could not see ; and they passed the tooth from one to the other, but for all that they could not eat, and they sat in the full glare of the moon, but they were none the warmer for her beams. And Perseus pitied the three Grey Sisters ; but they did not pity themselves."

Here, from the story of the Argonauts, is the lesson of the value of other things than gold.

"I have told you of a hero who fought with wild beasts and with wild men ; but now I have a tale of heroes who sailed away into a distant land, to win themselves renown for ever, in the adventure of the Golden Fleece.

"Whither they sailed, my children, I cannot clearly tell. It all hap- pened long ago ; so long that it has all grown dim, like a dream which you dreamt last year. And why they went, I cannot tell; some say that it was to win gold. It may be so • but the noblest deeds which have been done on

a better thing on earth than wealth, a better thing than life itself; and that is, to have done something before you die, for which good men may honour you, and God your Father smile upon your work."

Although primarily written for the young, the interest of The _Heroes is not confined to them, but extends to all who are not old in spirit or narrowed in mind. The modernizing manner, spoken of as pervading these tales, is rather one of essence than of mode; bringing out all that is morally useful in those old stories, by applying a Christianlike commentary to a Pagan text. Neither is the form of the volume limited to juvenile tastes, though well adapted for a gift-book to the young. Outline illustrations in a classical style, by the author himself, accompany the text.

• The Heroes ; or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children. By the Reverend C. Kings- ley. With eight Illustrations by the Author. Published by Macmillan and Co., Cambridge.