Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/68

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54
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

Ladurlad, and, with the singular shortsightedness common in fairy stories, tries to prolong his victim's sufferings by endowing him with immortality and invulnerability. The result is that Ladurlad is always turning up in the most impossible times and places, and, being invulnerable, can frustrate all Kehama's tyrannical schemes by such singular feats as choking a supernatural sea-monster after a week of wrestling. It becomes quite impossible, as his eulogist admits, to 'drop a tear' over Ladurlad and his amiable daughter. They may be very virtuous, but their position is too grotesque; and when the terrible Kehama appears at the eight gates of Hell all at once, and tackles the excellent god of that district, one foresees too well the coming transformation scene. The lofty stoicism only adds a touch of the comic to this topsy-turvy world of the totally irrational. Fairyland is a very pleasant region in its way, and so is the philosophical world of ethical ideals, but somehow they do not blend very easily. There are certain poems of Southey's which we can all read with pleasure. The Old Woman of Berkeley for example, and others in which he appears as poet-laureate to the Devil—the genuine 'Old Nick,' with horns and hoofs, who found his master in