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My Young Alcides   By: (1823-1901)

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MY YOUNG ALCIDES

A FADED PHOTOGRAPH

by

Charlotte M. Yonge

PREFACE

Ideas have a tyrannous power of insisting on being worked out, even when one fears they may be leading in a track already worthily preoccupied.

But the Hercules myth did not seem to me to be like one of the fairy tales that we have seen so gracefully and quaintly modernised; and at the risk of seeming to travestie the Farnese statue in a shooting coat and wide awake, I could not help going on, as the notion grew deeper and more engrossing.

For, whether the origin of the myth be, or be not, founded on solar phenomena, the yearning Greek mind formed on it an unconscious allegory of the course of the Victor, of whom the Sun, rejoicing as a giant to run his course, is another type, like Samson of old, since the facts of nature and of history are Divine parables.

And as each one's conquest is, in the track of his Leader, the only true Conqueror, so Hercules, in spite of all the grotesque adjuncts that the lower inventions of the heathen hung round him, is a far closer likeness of manhood as, indeed, the proverbial use of some of his tasks testifies and of repentant man conquering himself. The great crime, after which his life was a bondage of expiation; the choice between Virtue and Vice; the slain passion; the hundred headed sin for ever cropping up again; the winning of the sacred emblem of purity; then the subduing of greed; the cleansing of long neglected uncleanness; the silencing of foul tongues; the remarkable contest with the creature which had become a foe, because, after being devoted for sacrifice, it was spared; the obtaining the girdle of strength; the recovery of the spoil from the three fold enemy; the gaining of the fruit of life; immediately followed by the victory over the hell hound of death; and lastly, the attainment of immortality all seem no fortuitous imagination, but one of those when "thoughts beyond their thoughts to those old bards were given."

I have not followed all these meanings, for this is not an allegory, but a mere distant following rather of the spirit than the letter of the old Greek tale of the Twelve Tasks. Neither have I adhered to every incident of Hercules' life; and the most touching and beautiful of all the rescue of Alcestis, would hardly bear to come in merely as an episode, in this weak and presumptuous endeavour to show that the half divine, patient conqueror is not merely a classic invention, but that he and his labours belong in some form or other to all times and all surroundings.

C. M. YONGE. Nov. 8, 1875.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I. THE ARGHOUSE INHERITANCE

CHAPTER II. THE LION OF NEME HEATH

CHAPTER III. THE "DRAGON'S HEAD"

CHAPTER IV. THE WRATH OF DIANA

CHAPTER V. THE CAPTURE IN THE SNOW

CHAPTER VI. OGDEN'S BUILDINGS

CHAPTER VII. THE BIRDS OF ILL OMEN

CHAPTER VIII. BULLOCK'S CHASTISEMENT

CHAPTER IX. THE CHAMPION'S BELT

CHAPTER X. DERMOT'S MARK

CHAPTER XI. THE RED VALLEY CATTLE STEALERS

CHAPTER XII. THE GOLDEN FRUIT

CHAPTER XIII. THE BLOODHOUND

CHAPTER XIV. SUNSET GOLD AND PURPLE

CHAPTER XV. THE FATAL TOKEN

CHAPTER XVI. CONCLUSION

MY YOUNG ALCIDES

A FADED PHOTOGRAPH

CHAPTER I.

THE ARGHOUSE INHERITANCE.

One of the children brought me a photograph album, long ago finished and closed, and showed me a faded and blurred figure over which there had been a little dispute. Was it Hercules with club and lion skin, or was it a gentleman I had known?

Ah me! how soon a man's place knoweth him no more! What fresh recollections that majestic form awoke in me the massive features, with the steadfast eye, and low, square brow, curled over with short rings of hair; the mouth, that, through the thick, short beard, still invited trust and reliance, even while there was a look of fire and determination that inspired dread.

The thing seemed to us hideous and absurd when it was taken by Miss Horsman. I hated it, and hid it away as a caricature... Continue reading book >>




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