Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.
with all ignoble use”—­and to be the possessor in a considerable degree of that mysterious “sight” or sixth sense attributed to men and women of Gaelic blood.  Mrs. Sharp tells a curious story of his mood immediately preceding that flight to the Isles of which I have been writing.  He had been haunted the night before by the sound of the sea.  It seemed to him that he heard it splashing in the night against the walls of his London dwelling.  So real it had seemed that he had risen from his bed and looked out of the window, and even in the following afternoon, in his study, he could still hear the waves dashing against the house.  “A telegram had come for him that morning,” writes Mrs. Sharp, “and I took it to his study.  I could get no answer.  I knocked, louder, then louder,—­at last he opened the door with a curiously dazed look in his face.  I explained.  He answered:  ’Ah, I could not hear you for the sound of the waves!’”

His last spoken words have an eerie suggestiveness in this connection.  Writing of his death on the 12th of December, 1905, Mrs. Sharp says:  “About three o’clock, with his devoted friend Alec Hood by his side, he suddenly leant forward with shining eyes and exclaimed in a tone of joyous recognition, ‘Oh, the beautiful “Green Life,” again!’ and the next moment sank back in my arms with the contented sigh, ’Ah, all is well!’”

“The green life” was a phrase often on Sharp’s lips, and stood for him for that mysterious life of elemental things to which he was almost uncannily sensitive, and into which he seemed able strangely to merge himself, of which too his writings as “Fiona Macleod” prove him to have had “invisible keys.”  It is this, so to say, conscious pantheism, this kinship with the secret forces and subtle moods of nature, this responsiveness to her mystic spiritual “intimations,” that give to those writings their peculiar significance and value.  In the external lore of nature William Sharp was exceptionally learned.  Probably no writer in English, with the exceptions of George Meredith and Grant Allen, was his equal here, and his knowledge had been gained, as such knowledge can only be gained, in that receptive period of an adventurous boyhood of which he has thus written:  “From fifteen to eighteen I sailed up every loch, fjord, and inlet in the Western Highlands and islands, from Arran and Colonsay to Skye and the Northern Hebrides, from the Rhinns of Galloway to the Ord of Sutherland.  Wherever I went I eagerly associated myself with fishermen, sailors, shepherds, gamekeepers, poachers, gypsies, wandering pipers, and other musicians.”  For two months he had “taken the heather” with, and had been “star-brother” and “sun-brother” to, a tribe of gypsies, and in later years he had wandered variously in many lands, absorbing the wonder and the beauty of the world.  Well might he write to Mrs. Janvier:  “I have had a very varied, and, to use a much abused word, a very romantic life in its internal as well as in its external aspects.”  Few men have drunk so deep of the cup of life, and from such pure sky-reflecting springs, and if it be true, in the words of his friend Walter Pater, that “to burn ever with this hard gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life,” then indeed the life of William Sharp was a nobly joyous success.

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Vanishing Roads and Other Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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