92 THE LANTERN-BEARERS surrounded, all of which they were ; and their talk as silly and indecent, which it certainly was. I might upon these lines, and had I Zola's genius, turn out, in a page or so, a gem of literary art, render the lantern-light with the touches of a master, and lay on the indecency with the ungrudging hand of love ; and when all was done, what a triumph would my picture be of shallowness and dullness ! how it would have missed the point! how it would have belied the boys ! To the ear of the steno- grapher, the talk is merely silly and indecent; but ask the boys themselves, and they are discussing (as it is highly proper they should) the possibilities of existence, To the eye of the observer they are wet and cold and drearily surrounded ; but ask themselves, and they are in the heaven of a recondite pleasure, the ground of which is an ill-smelling lantern. in For, to repeat, the ground of a man's joy is often hard to hit. It may hinge at times upon a mere acces- sory, like the lantern, it may reside, like Dancer's, in the mysterious inwards of psychology. It may consist with perpetual failure, and find exercise in the continued chase. It has so little bond with externals (such as the observer scribbles in his note-book) that it may even touch them not; and the man's true life, for which he consents tú live, He altogether in the field of fancy. The clergyman, in his spare hours, may be winning battles, the farmer sailing ships, the banker reaping triumph in the arts : all leading another life, plying another trade from that they chose ; hke the poet's housebuilder, who, after all, is cased in stone, * By his fireside, as impotent fancy prompts, Rebuilds it to his liking.5 In such a case the poetry runs underground. The observer (poor soul, with his documents !) is all abroad. For to look at the man is but to court deception. We shall see the trunk from which he draws his nourishment; but h&.