The Project Gutenberg EBook of The London Mercury, Vol. I, Nos. 1-6,
November 1919 to April 1920, by Various

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Title: The London Mercury, Vol. I, Nos. 1-6, November 1919 to April 1920

Author: Various

Editor: J. C. Squire

Release Date: March 11, 2014 [EBook #45116]

Language: English

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Transcriber added this Table of Contents:

Issue Page
1 1
2 129
3 257
4 385
5 513
6 641

Greek transliterations provided by transcribers are enclosed in {curly braces}. Other Transcriber notes appear at the end of this eBook.


Edited by J. C. Squire

Volume I

1919 November to April 1920

London The Field Press Ltd












Vol. I No. 1 November 1919


WITH these notes we introduce the first number of the London Mercury. It might, beyond denial, appear in more tranquil and comfortable days. We have just been through a crisis which has brought us within sight of the basic realities of life—food, clothing, housing, security against violence. As soon as the paper was projected we were forced to visualise the likelihood of a time in which paper would be almost unprocurable, printing impossible (save in an amateur way at home), and the distribution of literature a matter of passing sheets from hand to hand. We have had a glimpse into the abyss of disorganisation, and, for the time being at all events, we have managed to keep on the solid ground. But, having conceived this journal, its conductors would have been reluctant to abandon their plans whatever confusion might have supervened. They may fairly claim to have formulated a scheme which, when it is perfectly executed, will meet all the demands of the public which reads old or new books, and of that other and smaller public which is chiefly concerned with the production of new works of the imagination. The more intense the troubles of society, the more uncertain and dark the future, the more obvious is the necessity for periodicals which hand on the torch of culture and creative activity. Literature is of the spirit; and by the spirit man lives. Our traditions are never more jealously to be cherished than when they are threatened; and our literature is the repository of all our traditions.

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We think that, with our list of contents before us, we may reasonably say that there has never been in this country a paper with the scope of the London Mercury. We have had periodicals which have exercised a great critical influence, such as the Edinburgh Review of Jeffrey's and Macaulay's day. We have had periodicals which have published an unusual amount of fine "creative work," such as Thackeray's Cornhill. We have at this day the Times Literary Supplement, which reviews, with the utmost possible approximation to completeness, the literary "output" of the time; we have weekly papers which review the principal books and publish original verse2 and prose, and monthly papers which diversify their tables of contents with articles on Molière or Chateaubriand, Byron or Mr. Alfred Noyes. But we have had no paper which has combined as the London Mercury will do all those various kinds of matter which are required by the lover of books and the practising writer. In our pages will be found original verse and prose in a volume not possible to the weekly paper; full-length literary essays such as have been found only in the politico-literary monthlies; a critical survey of books of all kinds recently published; and other "features," analogues to some of which may be found, one by one, here and there, but which have never before been brought together within a single cover. The London Mercury—save in so far as it will publish reasoned criticisms of political (as of other) books—will avoid politics. It will concern itself with none of those issues which are the field of political controversy, save only such—the teaching of English, the fostering of the arts, the preservation of ancient monuments are examples—as impinge directly upon the main sphere of its interests. But within the field that it has chosen it will endeavour to be as exhaustive as is humanly possible. The present number is an earnest of its intentions; in early future numbers other sections will be added which will steadily bring it nearer to the ideal that it has set out to reach.

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That ideal comprehends the satisfaction of the current needs of all those who are intelligently interested in literature, in the drama, in the arts, and in music. We shall attempt to make known the best that is being done and, so far as literature is concerned, to assist the process by the publication of original work. But thus far we have mentioned no more than the London Mercury's functions as what may be called a "news" paper, an organ for the recording and dissemination of things that have already happened or been done. Its functions, as its conductors conceive them, will include—and this will be the chief of them—the examination of those conditions which in the past have favoured, and in the future are likely to favour, the production of artistic work of the first order, and the formulation and application of sound critical standards.

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It is not a matter of attempting to make universal the shibboleths of some coterie or school, or of carrying some technical "stunt" through the country as though it were a fiery cross. We do not propose to maintain (to give concrete examples) that literature should be didactic or that it should be a-moral. We are not interested in urging that the couplet is exhausted, that the sonnet should be revived, that plays should have four or three acts, that rhyme is essential or that it is outworn, that lines should or should not be of regular lengths. We are tied to no system of harmony; we have no dogmas as to the dominance of representation in painting; we3 would make no hard-and-fast rule about the desirability of drawing a vertical wall as sloping at 45 degrees or of painting a man's face magenta and sage-green. As convenient descriptions we do not object (save sometimes on grounds of euphony) to the terms Futurist, Vorticist, Expressionist, post-Impressionist, Cubist, Unanimist, Imagist: but we suspect them as banners and battle-cries, for where they are used as such it is probable that fundamentals are being forgotten. Our aim will be, as critics, to state and to reiterate what are the motives, and what must be the dominant elements, of all good art, whatever the medium and whatever the idiosyncrasies of the artist, even if he find it convenient to draw on papier-mâché with a red-hot poker, and even if his natural genius impels him to write in lines of one syllable. The profoundest truths about art, whether literary or pictorial, are crystallised in maxims which may have been more often reiterated than understood, but which have undeniably been so often repeated that people now find them tiresome. Of such are "fundamental brainwork," "emotion recollected in tranquillity," "the rhythmical creation of beauty," and "the eye on the object." Each of these embodies truths, and there is indisputable truth also in the statements that a poet should have an ear and that a painter should paint what he sees. These things are platitudes; but a thing does not cease to be true merely because it is trite, and it is disastrous to throw over the obvious merely because it was obvious to one's grandfather. Yet men—and even women—do such things. We have had in the last few years art, so called, which sprang from every sort of impulse but the right one, and was governed by every sort of conceptions but the right ones. We have had "styles" which were mere protests and revulsions against other styles; "styles" which were no more than flamboyant attempts at advertisement akin to the shifting lights of the electric night signs; authors who have forgotten their true selves in the desperate search for remarkable selves; artists who have refused to keep their eyes upon the object because it has been seen before; musicians who have made, for novelty's sake, noises, and painters who have made, for effect's sake, spectacles, which invited the attention of those who make it their business to suppress public nuisances. We have had also theories in vogue the effects of which on mind and heart were such, and were foredoomed to be such, as to wither many talents in the bud. A single positive trend in English literature we do not ask and it is not necessarily desirable. We have heard the complaint from critics of the Gallic school that even in the days of the marvellously fertile English "Romantic generation" there was no one "movement," no Ten Commandments, and everybody was at sixes and sevens. That is the national way, and it probably accounts for our possession of the greatest and most varied imaginative literature that exists. Nevertheless, anarchy is not desirable, nor that worthy frame of mind which extends toleration not merely to the good of all kinds, but to the good and the bad, the intelligent and the foolish indifferently. And surely this toleration has been too commonly in evidence in this country in our time.

4 Is the contention disputed? Is the fact other than self-evident? Is it necessary to explain and to accentuate the confusion which for the last ten years has been evident in the creative and in the critical literature of this country? There have been, as there always are, writers who have cheerfully continued writing as their predecessors have written, serious parodists of Milton, of Tennyson, and of George Eliot. These least of all can be said to be in the tradition of English letters; for that tradition has been a tradition of constant experiment and renovation. There has been a central body of writers—from Mr. Hardy, Mr. Bridges, and Mr. Conrad to the best of the younger poets—who have gone steadily along the sound path, traditional yet experimental, personal yet sane. But there has been also a large number of young writers who have strayed and lost themselves amongst experiments, many of them foredoomed to sterility. Young men, ignoring the fundamental truth expressed in the maxim, "Look in thy heart and write," have attempted to make up poems (and pictures) "out of their heads." Others, defying the obvious postulate that all good writing will carry at least a superficial meaning to the intelligent reader, have invited us to admire strings of disconnected words and images, meaningless and even verbless. Others, turning their backs on those natural affections and primary interests the repudiation of which means, and must always mean, the death of the highest forms of literature, have concentrated upon the subversion of every belief by which man lives. They have sapped at the bases of every loyalty, and sneered at every code, oblivious to both social welfare and social experience. They have been, such of them as profess the moralistic preoccupation, very contemptuous of "clean living and no thinking," but the dirty living and muddled thinking that they have offered as a substitute have been no great improvement. They have been, such of them as have the preoccupation of the artist, so anxious to look at the abnormal and the recondite that they have forgotten what are and must be the main elements of man's life and what the most conspicuous features in man's landscape. We have had an orgy of undirected abnormality. The old object of art was "what oft was said but ne'er so well expressed"; the object of many of the new artists has been what was never said before and could not possibly be expressed worse. The tricks of abnormality have been learnt. Young simpletons who, twenty years ago, would have been writing vapid magazine verses about moonrise and roses have discovered that they have only to become incoherent, incomprehensible, and unmetrical to be taken seriously. Bad writers will, without intellectual or æsthetic impulse, pretend to burrow into psychological (or physical) obscurities which are no more beyond the artist's purview than anything else, provided he responds to them, but which have the advantage for an insincere writer that they enable him to talk nonsense that honest unsophisticated readers are unable to diagnose as nonsense. Year after year we have new fungoid growths of feeble pretentious impostors who, after a while, are superseded by their younger kindred; and year by year5 we see writers who actually have some intelligence and capacity for observation and exact statement led astray into the stony and barren fields of technical anarchism or the pitiful madhouse of moral antinomianism. At bottom vanity and pretence are the worst of vices in a young writer, but they may be encouraged or discouraged, even these; and we have seen times and places in which black was called white.

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Amid this luxuriant confusion the voices of critics at once sane and informed have been few. For the most part our older critics have tended to treat the younger generation as a howling menagerie of insensate young beasts, and have failed to keep sufficiently closely in touch with production to discriminate between the traditional and the anarchistic, the sincere and the pretentious, the intelligent and the stupid, the healthy and the vicious, the promising and the sterile. We have ourselves been frequently amused and irritated at finding elderly men of letters alarmed at the "revolutionism of the young," as manifested in Mr. A. or Mr. B., or asking, bewildered, "why the young take Miss C. so seriously," when as a fact A. and B. are merely rowdies of whose foolish books even the young buy only fifty or sixty copies, and the fair C. is a person taken seriously by no serious person of her own generation. Those critics, again, who are constantly in touch with the fruits of the printing press have for the most part got into a state of puzzlement in which they are not merely afraid to make mistakes (lest what looks like a frog may turn out to be an angel), but in which they have almost lost the habit of using their senses for the purpose for which they were meant to be used. Everything is treated with respect. Platitudinous rubbish—so welcome perhaps because it is so easily understood—is treated as though Wordsworth had written it; hectic gibberish of the silliest kind is honoured, at worst, with the sort of deferential reprimand that is applicable to great genius when great genius shows a slight tendency to kick over the traces. Even those of our reviews which do not ignore the best contemporary work more often than not allocate just as much space to the humbug and the faux bon. "The public, though dull, has not quite such a skull," as Swinburne's limerick put it. Many bad authors are much talked about but very little read, and critics who never write a line are frequently sound when most of the professionals have gone clean off the rails. Moreover, it is arguable—though we should not, without long consideration, accept the argument—that no amount of misleading criticism or bad example will ruin a man of strong natural genius, which implies perceptions which will not be denied, and a well-defined positive character. Nevertheless, even if we do not exaggerate the ill effects of haphazard and timid or haphazard and reckless criticism, it is surely obvious that both artists and their publics must gain if some of the rubbish can be cleared away. The ship moves in spite of all the barnacles, and it does not lose direction, but its progress might be less troublesome. We have often met6 persons who have distrusted all reviews because they have bought books on the strength of extravagant reviews and been once bit. We have often met people, too, who have procured what somebody (undeniably "intellectual") has told them to be the latest and most vigorous and representative work of imaginative literature, and, finding it distasteful, have come to the conclusion that the "poets of the day" or the "novelists of to-morrow" are not for them: turning back, then, to their Dickens or Browning or Dionysius of Halicarnassus in the mood of that ghastly pessimist who said that whenever a new book came out he read an old one. These readers are typical of many, and the result of their existence is that the dissemination of the best contemporary literature is (1) less wide than it might be and (2) less rapid than it might be. There is, as a rule—in the economists' term—far too great a "time-lag" in the making of the best reputations. A man often writes for years before he is heard of by the mass of the cultivated readers who are naturally predisposed to like his work, and do like it when at last they meet it. In a nation so large, and with so immense a volume of literary production, such numerous and diverse news-sheets, and such congested and ill-arranged bookshops, this phenomenon is bound to exist in some degree. But it may be minimised, and although we of the London Mercury cannot hope, and do not desire, to be judged by our aspirations rather than by our performances, we may at least be permitted to say that we shall do our utmost to contribute towards that end.

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Even to disclaim an ambition for an infallible pontificate of letters must savour of impertinence. We can only say that what our journal can do in the way of affirming and applying principles of criticism, and giving a conspectus of the best contemporary work, we shall attempt to do. Our other functions we have already outlined, and a beginning is made in this number. We have made no endeavour to arrange a dazzling shop-window of names or "features" for our first number; whatever may be our readers' views concerning this number we can at least assure them that the contributors to subsequent numbers will be not less representative than those here found, and that only a beginning has yet been made towards the complete scheme that we have in view.


Going and Staying

The moving sun-shapes on the spray,
The sparkles where the brook was flowing,
Pink faces, plightings, moonlit May,
These were the things we wished would stay;
But they were going.
Seasons of blankness as of snow,
The silent bleed of a world decaying,
The moan of multitudes in woe,
These were the things we wished would go;
But they were staying.

It's Not Going to Happen Again

I have known the most dear that is granted us here,
More supreme than the gods know above,
Like a star I was hurled through the sweet of the world,
And the height and the light of it, Love.
I have risen to the uttermost Heaven of Joy,
I have sunk to the sheer Hell of Pain—
But—it's not going to happen again, my boy,
It's not going to happen again.
It's the very first word that poor Juliet heard
From her Romeo over the Styx;
And the Roman will tell Cleopatra in hell
When she starts her immortal old tricks;
What Paris was tellin' for good-bye to Helen
When he bundled her into the train—
Oh, it's not going to happen again, old girl,
It's not going to happen again.

Château Lake Louise, Canada, 1913.


The Search for the Nightingale

(To S. S.)


Beside a stony, shallow stream I sat
In a deep gully underneath a hill.
I watched the water trickle down dark moss
And shake the tiny boughs of maidenhair,
And billow on the bodies of cold stone.
And sculptured clear
Upon the shoulder of that aerial peak
Stood trees, the fragile skeletons of light,
High in a bubble blown
Of visionary stone.


Under that azurine transparent arch
The hill, the rocks, the trees
Were still and dreamless as the printed wood
Black on the snowy page.
It was the song of some diviner bird
Than this still country knew,
The words were twigs of burnt and blackened trees
From which there trilled a voice,
Shadowy and faint, as though it were the song
The water carolled as it flowed along.


Lifting my head, I gazed upon the world,
Carved in the breathless heat as in a gem,
And watched the parroquets green-feathered fly
Through crystal vacancy, and perch in trees
That glittered in a thin, blue, haze-like dream,
And the voice faded, though the water dinned
Against the stones its dimming memory.
And I ached then
To hear that song burst out upon that scene,
Startling an earth where it had never been.


And then I came unto an older world.
The woods were damp, the sun
Shone in a watery mist, and soon was gone;
The trees were thick with leaves, heavy and old,
9 The sky was grey, and blue, and like the sea
Rolling with mists and shadowy veils of foam.
I heard the roaring of an ancient wind
Among the elms and in the tattered pines;
Lighting pale hollows in the cloud-dark sky,
A ghostly ship, the Moon, flew scudding by.


"O is it here," I cried, "that bird that sings
So that the traveller in his frenzy weeps?"
It was the autumn of the year, and leaves
Fell with a dizzying moan, and all the trees
Roared like the sea at my small impotent voice.
And if that bird was there it did not sing,
And I knew not its haunts, or where it went,
But carven stood and raved!
In that old wood that dripped upon my face
Upturned below, pale in its passionate chase.


And years went by, and I grew slowly cold:
I had forgotten what I once had sought.
There are no passions that do not grow dim,
And like a fire imagination sinks
Into the ashes of the mind's cold grate.
And if I dreamed, I dreamed of that far land,
That coast of pearl upon a summer sea,
Whose frail trees in unruffled amber sleep,
Gaudy with jewelled birds, whose feathers spray
Bright founts of colour through the tranquil day.


The hill, the gully, and the stony stream
I had not thought on when this spring I sat
In a strange room with candles guttering down
Into the flickering silence. From the Moon
Among the trees still-wreathed upon the sky
There came the sudden twittering of a ghost.
And I stept out from darkness, and I saw
The great pale sky immense, transparent, filled
With boughs and mountains and wide-shining lakes
Where stillness, crying in a thin voice, breaks.



It was the voice of that imagined bird.
I saw the gully and that ancient hill,
The water trickling down from Paradise
Shaking the tiny boughs of maidenhair.
There sat the dreaming boy.
And O! I wept to see that scene again,
To read the black print on that snowy page,
I wept, and all was still.
No shadow came into that sun-steeped glen,
No sound of earth, no voice of living men.


Was it a dream or was it that in me
A God awoke and gazing on his dream
Saw that dream rise and gaze into its soul,
Finding, Narcissus-like, its image there:
A Song, a transitory Shape on water blown,
Descending down the bright cascades of time,
The shadowiest-flowering, ripple-woven bloom
As ghostly as still waters' unseen foam
That lies upon the air, as that song lay
Within my heart on one far summer day?


Carved in the azure air white peacocks fly,
Their fanning wings stir not the crystal trees,
Bright parrots fade through dimming turquoise days,
And music scrolls its lightning calm and bright
On the pale sky where thunder cannot come.
Into that world no ship has ever sailed,
No seaman gazing with hand-shaded eyes
Has ever seen its shore whiten the waves.
But to that land the Nightingale has flown,
Leaving bright treasure on this calm air blown.


Early Chronology

Slowly the daylight left our listening faces.
Professor Brown with level baritone
Discoursed into the dusk.
Five thousand years
He guided us through scientific spaces
Of excavated History; till the lone
Roads of research grew blurred; and in our ears
Time was the rumoured tongues of vanished races,
And Thought a chartless Age of Ice and Stone.
The story ended. Then the darkened air
Flowered as he lit his pipe; an aureole glowed
Enwreathed with smoke; the moment's match-light showed
His rosy face, broad brow, and smooth grey hair,
Backed by the crowded book-shelves.
In his wake
An archæologist began to make
Assumptions about aqueducts (he quoted
Professor Sandstorm's book); and soon they floated
Through desiccated forests; mangled myths;
And argued easily round megaliths.
Beyond the college garden something glinted;
A copper moon climbed clear above the trees.
Some Lydian coin?... Professor Brown agrees
That copper coins were in that culture minted;
But, as her whitening way aloft she took,
I thought she had a pre-dynastic look.


The Rock Pool

(To Miss Alice Warrender)

This is the sea. In these uneven walls
A wave lies prisoned. Far and far away,
Outward to ocean as the slow tide falls,
Her sisters, through the capes that hold the bay,
Dancing in lovely liberty recede.
Yet lovely in captivity she lies,
Filled with soft colours, where the waving weed
Moves gently and discloses to our eyes
Blurred shining veins of rock and lucent shells
Under the light-shot water; and here repose
Small quiet fish and the dimly glowing bells
Of sleeping sea-anemones that close
Their tender fronds and will not now awake
Till on these rocks the waves returning break.

The Evening Sky in March

Rose-bosom'd and rose-limb'd,
With eyes of dazzling bright,
Shakes Venus mid the twined boughs of the night;
Rose-limb'd, soft-stepping
From low bough to bough,
Shaking the wide-hung starry fruitage—dimmed
Its bloom of snow
By that sole planetary glow.
Venus, avers the astronomer
Not thus idly dancing goes
Flushing the eternal orchard with wild rose.
She through ether burns
Outpacing planetary earth,
And ere two years triumphantly returns
And again wave-like swelling flows;
And again her flashing apparition comes and goes.
This we have not seen,
No heavenly courses set,
No flight unpausing through a void serene:
But when eve clears,
Arises Venus as she first uprose
13 Stepping the shaken boughs among,
And in her bosom glows
The warm light hidden in sunny snows.
She shakes the clustered stars
Lightly, as she goes
Amid the unseen branches of the night,
Rose-limb'd, rose-bosom'd bright.
She leaps: they shake and pale; she glows—
And who but knows
How the rejoiced heart aches
When Venus all his starry vision shakes:
When through his mind
Tossing with random airs of an unearthly wind,
Rose-bosom'd, rose-limb'd,
The mistress of his starry vision arises,
And the boughs glittering sway
And the stars pale away,
And the enlarging heaven glows
As Venus light-foot mid the twined branches goes.

Love's Caution

Tell them, when you are home again,
How warm the air was now;
How silent were the birds and leaves,
And of the moon's full glow;
And how we saw afar
A falling star:
It was a tear of pure delight
Ran down the face of Heaven this happy night.
Our kisses are but love in flower,
Until that greater time
When, gathering strength, those flowers take wing,
And Love can reach his prime.
And now, my heart's delight,
Good night, good night;
Give me the last sweet kiss—
But do not breathe at home one word of this!


The House That Was

Of the old house, only a few crumbled
Courses of brick, smothered in nettle and dock,
Or a squared stone, lying mossy where it tumbled!
Sprawling bramble and saucy thistle mock
What once was firelit floor and private charm
Where, seen in a windowed picture, hills were fading
At dusk, and all was memory-coloured and warm,
And voices talked, secure from the wind's invading.
Of the old garden, only a stray shining
Of daffodil flames amid April's cuckoo-flowers,
Or a cluster of aconite mixt with weeds entwining!
But, dark and lofty, a royal cedar towers
By homely thorns: whether the white rain drifts
Or sun scorches, he holds the downs in ken,
The western vale; his branchy tiers he lifts,
Older than many a generation of men.

Suppose ...

Suppose ... and suppose that a wild little Horse of Magic
Came cantering out of the sky,
With bridle of silver, and into the saddle I mounted
To fly—and to fly;
And we stretched up into the air, fleeting on in the sunshine,
A speck in the gleam
On galloping hoofs, his mane in the wind out-flowing,
In a shadowy stream;
And, oh, when, all lone, the gentle star of evening
Came crinkling into the blue,
A magical castle we saw in the air, like a cloud of moonlight,
As onward we flew;
And across the green moat on the drawbridge we foamed and we snorted;
And there was a beautiful Queen
Who smiled at me strangely, and spoke to my wild little Horse, too—
A lovely and beautiful Queen;
Suppose with delight she cried to her delicate maidens:
15 "Behold my daughter—my dear!"
And they crowned me with flowers, and then to their harps sate playing,
Solemn and clear;
And magical cakes and goblets were spread on the table;
And at window the birds came in;
Hopping along with bright eyes, pecking crumbs from the platters,
And sipped of the wine;
And splashing up—up to the roof tossed fountains of crystal;
And Princes in scarlet and green
Shot with their bows and arrows, and kneeled with their dishes
Of fruits for the Queen;
And we walked in a magical garden, with rivers and bowers,
And my bed was of ivory and gold;
And the Queen breathed soft in my ear a song of enchantment—
And I never grew old....
And I never, never came back to the earth, oh, never and never;
How mother would cry and cry!
There'd be snow on the fields then, and all these sweet flowers in the winter
Would wither and die....
Suppose ... and suppose....





LONG, long ago there dwelt in the pleasant City-of-Towers a young princess of immense riches and of such exceeding beauty that none other could be compared to her. So famous, indeed, became the riches of her beauty and her possessions, that were only less than her beauty, that she was sought in marriage by every kind of personage. In three moons the train of her suitors, or mounted upon gold-stencilled elephants, tassel-fringed camels, palfries of Arabia, ponies of Astrakhan, mules of Nubia, or faring but upon the Sandals-of-Nature along the Road-of-Advantage, became so huge that the citizens of the City-of-Towers being eaten (albeit at no small price) out of hearth and home, petitioned the princely father of the damsel to mitigate, in whatever sort he should think fit, the good fortune of their city, which, possessing such a treasure as the princess Sa-adeh, the Bestower-of-Felicity, admitted to finding its pleasure rather in reflecting upon the value of their jewel than in entertaining those who came to steal it. The ever-benevolent Prince accordingly issued a decree that no suitor was to approach the Princess save on the understanding that if he failed to win her affections his head should pay the forfeit. Forthwith ensued so remarkable a diminution in the number of her suitors that, in a short while, only those whom the Light-of-Love's-Eyes had guided or those whom the Three-thonged-Scourge-of-Need had driven remained mounted or standing before the palace gates. Nor did these linger overlong, for the heart of the Princess was less easily softened than that of the Executioner, who with one sweep of the scimitar relieved the Lover of the Burden-of-Love or severed the Needy from the Vessel-of-Need. Then the beautiful Sa-adeh, the Bestower-of-Felicity, not unfatigued by such a succession of maidenly preoccupations, determined that for a little she would forget the Bonds-of-Necessity and atone somewhat to the citizens of the City-of-Towers for the inconveniences she had brought them. To this end she caused a special litter of cedar wood to be constructed, and, mounting therein, sallied forth to bestow upon the citizens of the City-of-Towers the hitherto-unseen and almost-unendurable beauty of her face.

Now it happened that in this city there was then dwelling a young scribe by name Es-siddeeh, that is the Very Veracious. This youth, the height of whose beauty was almost as remarkable as the depth of his wisdom, had spent the greater number of his days in study; so much so, in fact, that he had never cast his eyes upon a woman to love her, and this in spite of the possession of an enchanting smile, Nature's gift to him, of the power of which he was hardly conscious. Surrounded by parchments, having hung about his neck many little scrolls, with his tablet laid across his knees,17 daily he sat in his window and, while the traffic flowed by and the crowd shrilled more loudly than a flock of parokeets, raised not his eyes from his papyrus nor regarded any sound but the squeaking of his stylus-reed.

Thus, then, was he sitting when the troating of horns and the bombilation of gongs proclaimed the nearing of the Princess in her progress. But Es-siddeeh paid this din no attention and, though the fantastic shadows of many majestically-apparelled persons fell across his page, lifted not the Gatherers-of-Knowledge from the Leaves-of-Enlightenment. Meanwhile Sa-adeh, lying in her litter, enjoyed a certain satisfaction in the pleasurable recognition the gracious bestowal of the sight of her countenance procured the citizens. This satisfaction she told herself, as the procession advanced, was increased rather than diminished by the spectacle of certain bleared scribes, who, with ears already attached by cobwebs to the lintels of their doors, never lifted eyes as she passed. "For," she reflected, "such insensibility affords me a scale by which to gauge the pleasure I bestow elsewhere."

At this moment she arrived opposite Es-siddeeh's window.

Then the young scribe, feeling the gaze of another fixed upon him, looked up. And the eyes of Es-siddeeh exchanged thoughts with the eyes of Sa-adeh. When he bent to the tablet again, behold the words were to him but foolishness. All the afternoon he sat there wondering why he had spent his youth upon such things as now appeared to him the very vanity of vanities, colourless and the occupation of the myopic. At evenfall, driven abroad by a terrible restlessness, he wandered outside the walls of the city, but the murmuring of the breeze through the groves did but increase his distraction. Toward midnight he returned and, after spending the remainder of the night without sleep, informed his parents of his intention to turn suitor. Greatly perturbed, they besought him to relinquish so hopeless a project. In vain! at the third hour he proceeded to the palace. The gates were shut. When they did at last open he found himself face to face with the Executioner. Involuntarily he recoiled.

"No alms will be given to-day," said the Reliever-of-Headaches.

"I have not come for alms. I wish to see the porter."

"I am the porter."

"I thought you were——"

"So I was. But now that job is at an end. The capacity to love as our forefathers loved is passing away. Even a spirit of commercial enterprise is lacking. The world goes from bad to worse. Yesterday I cut off the heads of princes; to-day I open the door to mendicants. On no one is Fortune harder than I."

"I find that last reflection," returned the scribe, "so general that I grow convinced it must be true. But be of good cheer. Strange as it may seem, I am the bearer of good tidings. There is every likelihood of your shortly resuming your distinguished office—I have come as a suitor to the Princess."

"Have you, indeed? Ha, ha, ha! The coin is as good as earned.... However ... excuse my entertainment. I should not laugh; for18 understand my heart goes out to you in your public-spirited endeavour not to permit my office to lapse. Ah, if there were only more men of your kidney, and yet ... I regret to have to add that you will not profit me much. For make no mistake, I am a Republican; I believe that handsome is as handsome does. It is therefore my custom to request a little honorarium, in ratio to the means of my customer, in return for the service I render him. For this is a service which is unique, in that he probably has no servant in his suite trained to perform this duty for him, and it is besides a service for which the requirement of one small fee cannot be described as extortionate since the duty is one which being once satisfactorily performed does not require to be repeated."

"But I have not yet incurred the penalty."

"You will. Be reassured and, having no troublesome misgivings on this count, hand me that which in a few hours it will be too late for me to ask."

Es-siddeeh smiled. "Are you not paid by the Court?" he asked.

"I am," replied the other, softening, "and a beggarly wage it is, too, which compels me to make these requisitions. However, since you seem, for all your queer dress, a pleasant fellow, I will reduce my charge."

"Good. I feared I should never be able to pay—my means are so scanty."

"I should inform you that it is as well to pay because, if you do not, my arm, unstrengthened by the sinews of charity, may not perform its office with quite that address which is at once a delight to the spectators and a matter of self-gratification to my customer."

"Your magnanimity," replied the scribe, giving the man a coin, "does indeed bear witness to the superiority of your mind to its present situation and deserves a reward. I hope you will see that I am not disappointed of an interview."

Thereupon the Executioner conducted him into the palace and, leaving him in an inner apartment, acquainted one of the attendant damsels with the object of the scribe's visit.

For some time the maid regarded his dress dubiously.

"I should be grateful if you would inform the Princess of my arrival, for I cannot say that I find the sound of the Executioner in the courtyard below sharpening his scimitar on a wheel affords me as much pleasure as by his expression it affords him."

She vanished through the curtains, and the following conversation was borne to Es-siddeeh's ears:

"A young man calling himself the Very Veracious has arrived and sues for an interview on the same subject as his forerunners."

"I cannot see him." The maid returned.

"Tell her," said Es-siddeeh, "that she is as beautiful as one red rose in a garden of lilies."

"The compliment," he heard the Princess remark, "is a new one and is graceful. Nevertheless dismiss him."

"Tell her," said Es-siddeeh, "that her wisdom has the wings of the19 rukh, the eye of the falcon, the talons of the osprey, and the voice of the dove."

"It is very remarkable," he heard the Princess remark, "that he should so accurately describe my characteristics. He must be a diviner; since, as far as I know, he has never seen me nor spoken to me. Nevertheless dismiss him."

"Tell her," said Es-siddeeh—but he could not think of anything to tell her and was sadly cast down. For his love, continuing to pain him, tortured him as a sweet fire in his bosom. At length, bethinking himself of his wisdom, he said in as brusque a tone as he could summon, "Tell her that I know the answer to all secrets and that she will regret it if she dismiss me."

"How now?" cried the Princess, "is he so clever, and has such courage? He will indeed be the Very Veracious if, possessing these answers, he depart immediately, for then my womanish regret will indeed be sharp; since of all humours, he has had the wit to see, this humour of curiosity is the one most deeply implanted in us. Of what complexion is he?"

"He is of spare build; his hair is black and glossy as that of a black panther; in his eyes there is a dark fire. His clothes are by no means new, his fingers are stained with ink, and about his neck there is a necklace of little scrolls."

"A necklace of little scrolls, did you say? Send him in."

Then Es-siddeeh stepped into her presence, and it was to him as if he were a little planet drawn for the first time into the orbit of the sun.

She commanded him to be seated and plied him with various questions concerning the value as an amulet of this or that precious stone, of the pedigree of famous horses, music as Emotional Sound or as an Architecture, and many other matters of a similar nature.

All these questions he answered not only discreetly, but with wit.

For some time she rested her eyes upon his face in a musing fashion. Then, with a strange inflection, she asked, "What is love?"

"I have but just beheld the cause," he returned; "give me a little space and I infer its properties as a consequence. At present I am troubled to know whether the same vessel can contain both cause and consequence."

Not without haste, she assured him that she would consider her question answered, and enquired, "Does it become thee to risk so wise a head at the bidding of so foolish a heart?"

"It lay not, and does not lie, with me to make it becoming."

This answer did not appear to please her, for, moving her head, she proceeded with an instant change of tone, "One thing I have ever desired to know. What is the secret of the smile of the Sphinx?"

He was taken aback.

"What? Canst thou not answer, thou who didst assert that thou hadst in thy bosom the answer to all secrets, O Very Veracious one?"

Seeing her smiling, he replied, "I have not seen the Sphinx unless I see her now."

20 "I perceive that thou canst not answer. Yet because of thy youth and thy beauty I will spare thee."

"Spare me not, since before thou hast not spared me."

"Upon one condition:—that shouldst thou wish again to see me thou shalt bring with thee the secret of the Sphinx's smile. And now, before thou leavest me, because thou wert not as insensible as most scribes are wont to be, but wast willing to assay to gain some knowledge of perfection from life as well as from thy scrolls, I will give thee a token to take with thee."

At these words, as if some beneficent and invisible djinn had escaped from his bottle, a spirit of strange sweetness seemed to fill the room. Strength forsook the body of Es-siddeeh.

"Come hither," she murmured.

So Es-siddeeh went to her and bowed down with his face to the floor.

Then the Princess took him very gently in her arms and, raising his head, placed one hand beneath his locks and the other over his eyes, and so kissed him.

Now when Es-siddeeh felt the touch of her hands, cool as water lilies upon him; smelled the delicate smell of her bosom, more mysterious than any perfume of the mages; tasted her mouth's nectar, more precious than the combed honey of the blessed in Paradise, then indeed he knew there to be such a seal coldly pressed upon his heart that the stamp of it would not be erased all the days of his life.

"Ah, merciless," said he, "thou hast indeed not spared me. Now must I inevitably return."

"It was for that reason I gave it thee," she said.


He hurried home. He sold all his belongings.

His father, seeing him about to depart, cried, "Thou wilt break thy mother's heart."

He could not reply.

His mother, watching him set out upon his mule with a slender bag of coin in his hands, cursed him and the Princess.

He did not look back.


After a journey of three moons he arrived before the Sphinx.

His first impression was that her countenance contained no such difficult riddle as he had been led to suppose. The body of the Sphinx was huge, her paws stretched in front formidable, her shoulders heavy. Her bandeletted head sustained a wedge-fronted tiara. All this he took in at a glance. Then he turned to the face. He had not expected it to be so close to the ground and so open to inspection. The forehead he could see was ample. The eyebrows, albeit contracted in a slight frown, were high, arched, and wide, which lent the upper part of the face a frank21 expression; but the reverie of the eyes, fixed on space, seemed somewhat dimmed—as if an impalpable hand had interposed itself between the gazing orbs and the sun. The smoothness and delicate moulding of the cheeks and chin were remarkable. The nose astonished by the firm subtlety of its outline, which gave to the face a simultaneous expression of suavity and undeviating determination. If the nose had provoked wonder the mouth was yet more amazing. The lips, which might have been gracious and full when parted, were so closely compressed in their smile as to modify the whole effect of the other features.

"I must go nearer," said Es-siddeeh.

He established himself almost between the paws of the monster, for monster she had become to him who now beheld her mien more clearly—a mien disfigured, yet seeming uncaring for its own disfigurement, and—greatest horror of all—a mien in which the eyes possessed irises but seemingly no pupils. For a little he considered returning. Then he said to himself, "No; to see her afar off gives a false impression. One should see her as she is, and earnestly scanning the visage wrestle in thought till one discovers the secret of the smile." In this he instinctively knew himself to be right.

But he was not long in finding that the more and the closer he stared the more difficult the problem became. To begin with the blemishes distracted him overmuch. The main cast of the face appeared, though subtle, simple and grand enough, but the fissures between the blocks that composed it, the discolorations, and the crevices that ran from side to side confused his eye. "If it were only perfect, all would be much easier to discover," he murmured. Then, too, the expression of the Sphinx and the import of the smile seemed to vary with the changes of the weather. On fresh-blowing sunny days the image beamed on him with a shadow-dappled, bleached cheerfulness of resignation. But when the sun raged the face, too, raged as with an inward fury; its lineaments shook in the heat-eddies that arose from the sand, and every grain glowed like a particle of fire. Nor did its rage abate during the succeeding night. The rising of the tropic moon gave to its complexion, streaked with violet shadows, an ashen hue: the pallidity of an unappeasable and frustrated anger. On lowering days it blackly scowled, and the swollen nostrils and imperious mouth assumed the similitude of being endowed only with the bitterest irony, a constancy of cruelty and an unquestionable scorn. Then he hated it....

At last, perceiving that the secret was not to be gained in a few days or even in a few moons, he resolved to settle in the desert opposite the Sphinx.

Three years passed.

Day by day and night by night Es-siddeeh watched the Sphinx. Daily the sun, shining upon the surface of the mask, seemed to make it more impenetrable, and nightly the moon, deepening the shadows in the crevices, increased its mystery. Round about the knoll, which the pilgrim had selected for his station, the sand gave off a glare more deadly than the bed of a furnace or, rising in whirlwind-spouts whose tops spattered ashes upon him, circled22 his island like monstrous and infuriate djinns. Toward sunset the clouds, gathered in an awful and silent grandeur, discharged, with stunning clap and reverberations as of mountains overthrown, their lightnings, a shower of blue arrows, to all quarters of the fluttering horizon. Once indeed Es-siddeeh awoke to behold a body of dense vapour launch itself wrathfully downward against the head of the brooding Sphinx and wreath it with a crown of crackling fire. The scribe leaped up, and, despite the pressure of the blast, succeeded in gaining, not without considerable risk to himself, a position before the base of the monster. His courage was unrewarded. Upon that obstinate mien, livid in the tawny light, the rain glistened as if there had indeed started from the stony pores a ghastly dew; but the thin lips were as tightly compressed as ever. "Hideous Sphinx!" exclaimed the youth, "thou cruelty incarnate, cannot even the ire of the gods subdue thee? Shall I never, from some motion of thy visage, learn what secret thou hidest?"

As the winter approached the wilderness, utterly denuded of weed or moss, grew vaster and more bleak. The nights turned frosty. Overhead the constellations increased in splendour and number until every quarter of the empyrean shone encrusted with stars. Against these brilliant galaxies and the diffused, pervasive effulgence of countless further bodies the forehead of the Sphinx outlined itself in desolate and stubborn majesty.

Then was it that, alone amid the desert, under the gaze of those myriad and so distant lights, facing the figure of the Sphinx, now blacker and more impenetrable than ever, Es-siddeeh reached the climacteric which is despair. Baffled, without any sensation but an exasperation that gnawed his very reins and made giddy his temples, he spent his days and nights in complete dejection. At length, wishing, to terminate his sufferings once and for all he approached the Sphinx and, vehemently hammering its breast with his fists, cried in a terrible voice, "What is the secret of thy smile, O Sphinx?"

But the Sphinx did not answer.

At dawn, impotent before the titan, he perceived upon the surface of her bosom bloodmarks hitherto unobserved. Other hands beside his own, then, had knocked upon that stony breast. He returned to his hovel and stretched himself down in a sleep that was like a stupor. On waking he determined to climb the bandelettes of the Sphinx and to cast himself from its forehead. He had scarcely taken a step when, exhausted by privation and prolonged anguish of mind, he fell, and lying helpless found himself fronting a face mirrored in a pool, the product of a shower which had fallen while he slept. The face was the face of one whose visage was slowly approximating to that of the Sphinx, but it lacked the smile, and in its eyes there was the light of imminent insanity. For a space he gazed without realising the apparition to be but his own reflection. Then—stiffening his arms that he might raise his head and shoulders, extended, as he was, upon the desert like a Syrian puma whose bowels are transfixed by an arrow and23 who is about to die—he rallied his strength for a last effort. Before him, a quivering tigress in the meridian sunshine, crouched the colossal Sphinx. The frustrated eyes of the scribe, nigh starting from their sockets, bent upon it such a glare as sought to penetrate its very soul. Yet at the last, heaving himself forward, with nostrils wrinkled and teeth bared as if in the very coughing frenzy of a fighting death, he could but ejaculate "Sphinx, now had I entreated thine aid!—hadst thou not rendered me too proud, who have discovered thee to be but stone."

Then the Sphinx answered in a voice of thunder:

"O man, aid thyself!"


A company of Bedawi, journeying across the desert, discovered him lying senseless. Him they succoured as a madman, and therefore sacred to the gods.

For a while he rested in a pleasant city, enjoying the support of a good man, who did not understand the cause of his afflictions, but at once realised their intensity and the deep importance to Es-siddeeh of the search on which he was engaged. His health mended at length and undeterred by the solicitations of his host, troubled to see him in such haste, he resumed his investigations. This time he did not attempt to wrestle the secret from the Sphinx herself, but determined to prosecute his enquiries among the learned.

With this end in view he interrogated the chief scholars of that district, but, coming to the conclusion that they were too provincial, he made his way to Jerusalem. Here no answer at all was given him—save that by the study of the particular law made for a particular tribe and containing, as he himself was obliged to admit, the most admirable rules for the preservation of an individual or a clan, he would attain to a knowledge of all things.

He determined to go to Greece, the fountain-head of knowledge. But in Athens he fared not much better. The majority of the inhabitants, the fascination of whose minds he had nevertheless to admit, seemed given up to the fervour of local politics, money-making, the quarrels of the law-courts, the consideration of athletics, the technique of the chase, and the refinement of trivial or voluptuous delights: pursuits which he told himself could scarcely further true knowledge. There were, however, a number of persons, given to the study of natural law as revealed in nature, who enquired whether he had weighed the Sphinx or examined her molecules beneath the magnifying crystal. He was compelled to reply that he had done neither of these things. Whereat they retorted that it was therefore impossible for them to build a theory as to the constituents of her smile and verify it in experiment. "Moreover," they continued, "even the data you have given us appear not only insufficient but contradictory, since you state that the smile is at once sweet and sour. Direct opposites cannot be reconciled in science. We think it therefore best to direct you to the school of metaphysics opposite, where, if we are to judge from the uproar which occasionally24 disturbs our precincts, we believe this feat to be daily accomplished." ... Es-siddeeh accordingly lost no time in entering the school opposite. After a lengthy session, the clamour of which somewhat bewildered him, a young man with a high complexion and a shrill voice approached him and said, "As far as can be ascertained (for there are the usual number of qualifications and reservations of opinion amongst us) we are of a mind that the secret of the Sphinx is that she has no secret—at least no secrets from us."

Es-siddeeh did not stop to enquire further, for it appeared to him that he could not gain by it and, moreover, he was much fatigued. So, taking boat, he sailed through the Pillars of Hercules and, turning north, descried, after an arduous voyage, the extreme Western Isles enshrouded in a perpetual prismatic fog. On these coasts he landed and, penetrating inland, in a short while discovered a university situated on the chief river of the main island. Having struck up an acquaintance with the courteous master of the chief college, he poured out his tale. The Disseminator-of-Truth, after prolonged thought, replied, "Without wishing in any way to influence your conduct, I should, since you seem to be enamoured of the lady, inform her that the secret is anything you happen to have in your head at the moment (as well it may be), provided the matter be of such obscurity that that instinct which is peculiar to females, and which on the best authority (namely, their own) I am given to understand is infallible, will instantly assure her that she understands it even better than you do."

"But you would not have me deceive her?"

"Indeed, no. For recollect—what she believes to be true will per contra be true to her."

"It seems to me, then, that you are asking her to deceive herself."

"Not at all," answered the Sage somewhat impatiently; "all is, you must know, relative, and any conclusion is as relative to enquiry as any other."

"But not to truth!" returned Es-siddeeh with heat.

The great man smiled. "An irritating preoccupation this, when the search itself is so intriguing."

Es-siddeeh, the Very Veracious, experienced a curious sensation in which pleasure certainly played a part. "That is perfectly true," he remarked; "I am finding more interest in the search than I expected. Nevertheless I wish to return to Sa-adeh, the Bestower-of-Felicity" (and at her name he was conscious of an inexplicable spasm of contrition), "and to present her with my conclusion—the Truth."

"Here I think we part," said the other suddenly. "Farewell."

Then, as he turned away, the elder flung over his shoulder, "For myself, old-fashioned being that I am, I am inclined to think the truth is that the secret of the smile of the Sphinx is not one that should be repeated to a lady."

It was some time before Es-siddeeh recovered from the shock of this interview. When he had done so, he hastened to leave the country and to betake himself to the Furthest East. The voyage lasted three years. But,25 when he posed his question to the head of a Manchu university, what was his surprise to be countered with just such a suggestion as had been put to him in the extreme Isles of the Western Hemisphere!

"But you forget my name," he exclaimed.

"No; for indeed so eager have you been to enquire of me the secret of the Sphinx and to narrate to me the story of your quest that you have forgotten to acquaint me with your name."

"I am named Es-siddeeh, which, being translated, is the Very Veracious."

"Then, my middle-aged young man of redoubtable veracity, I advise you to abandon your quest and to despair at once. It is much quicker. In such a mood you will discover yourself becoming most pleasantly the prey of one of the unmarried maidens who abound hereabout and who, I assure you, are not less beautiful and certainly less exacting than your friend. For women, according to the sage's experience, are much the same the whole world over—a morsel of honey in which the bee has left his sting: without the sting no honey, and no honey no sting."

"Sir," replied the scribe, "I am much indebted to you, but you know neither Sa-adeh nor the secret of the Sphinx."

"I do not indeed, but I venture to think that to propose to oneself a question that cannot immediately be answered is not the conduct of a wise man and may very well give offence to Powers of which we are becomingly ignorant."

Utterly wearied by the enquiries he had prosecuted among the learned, Es-siddeeh turned over in his mind the many types he had encountered in his wanderings and, recollecting the lively intelligence of those Athenians who were not of the learned professions, he determined to live after their manner that perchance he might hap upon the secret. Several years were spent in acquiring sufficient money. The subsequent spending taught him that his mind was apt to wander from the problem in the mere enjoyment of the moment. Before, however, he could make finally sure whether he was any nearer gaining a solution he found himself ruined. Turned soldier, he took part in many notable engagements and distinguished himself not a little. The itch of the excitement of the search was for the time being eclipsed by the perils and responsibilities of war. There were, too, other distractions, nor were these invariably the bodiless preoccupations of the mind.... It was the somewhat unpleasant termination of one of these episodes which plunged him into reverie upon the past. At midnight, silently rising from his rose-strewn couch, he determined there and then to bring to the contemplation of the Sphinx that store of varied knowledge which he had gathered in the course of his wanderings. Arrayed, then, in a dress similar to that which he had worn as a youth and encircling his neck with a necklace of scrolls he set out alone for the desert.

Since the way was long and he no longer young, a year passed ere he approached his goal.

Then once again Es-siddeeh stood before the Sphinx.



In the moonlight it seemed to him that during his thirty years of absence the image had grown larger. That his eyes, accustomed to watch for unexpected perils, played him no tricks he was certain, yet he now observed the brow of the Sphinx to be wreathed in a faint vapour as if its crest had attained the altitude of no inconsiderable hill. The fissures between the stones seemed slightly to have filled, but the crevices across the face were both more numerous and more deeply scored. The pits of the eyes, too, had become immensely more cavernous. And—could he be mistaken?—was not the smile less ambiguous? Surely he did not remember the visage as so noble, or had it grown nobler in his absence? How was it that, though the aspect remained as unflinching as ever, the expression now seemed less hard and more magnanimously stern? The cheeks had undoubtedly sunk further, but did not the muscles appear tightened less in impatience than in endurance of suffering? The nostrils no longer breathed scorn; they laboured with the indrawing of breath that, like fire, was at once painful and inspiriting. To the brow there had been added, he thought, a faint line, and its coming had softened the contraction of the brows so that the creature appeared even more majestic and wiser than of yore. And lastly—he took long to discover this—in the shadow under the brows the orbs seemed to stir with a mysterious and darkling life. "O mighty Sphinx," he murmured, leaning his head upon her bosom, "what has come to thee? How art thou changed! Much I fear thou hast passed beyond so small, feeble, and ignoble an intelligence as I and that now I shall never learn the secret that, behind thy lips, lies locked in thy heart. O Sphinx, if I speak wilt thou answer? Time was when I came to thee and, impatiently stamping my foot upon the mound of thy illimitable desert, beating with my fists thine unanswering flesh, conjured thee in a voice of thunder to yield up thy secret. But to-night, nestling against thy bosom, how shall I speak to thee?—I, of less account among men than one of the myriad morsels of dust out of which thou art compounded; I, whose voice is to thine ears hardly louder than the scratch of the beetles that crawl about thy base; I, lost in the shadowy cleft between thy breasts? O Sphinx, I will not cry out to thine unregarding face, lost in such a reverie as transcends the thought of such as myself, but leaning here my fevered forehead against thy cool stones, as in a dream and scarcely expecting an answer, let me whisper to thy heart, 'What is the secret of thy smile, O Sphinx?'"

Then from within the Sphinx arose a deep murmuring as of a multitude of nigh-forgotten voices; a handful of vapour parted from the lips to wither in the glacial moonshine.

"Scarcely am I changed," said the Sphinx. "'Tis thou art changed. Look in thy heart: there is my secret."

So low had been the sound, so immense was the night, so lonely the desert, that Es-siddeeh doubted whether it was not his own heart that had27 spoken. Then, placing both hands against the breast of the colossus, he cried in a despairing voice, "Is that thy all, O Sphinx?"

But there was no answer.

With spirit heavy as death, Es-siddeeh wrapped him in his cloak and laid him down to sleep between the paws.

"Alas," said he to himself, "how brief, how obscure, and how profitless seem all the answers given to man!" Yet, when the morning came, it occurred to him that, if the Sphinx had indeed spoken, he would do well to ponder the words.

So for three moons he sat pondering: "Scarcely am I changed. 'Tis thou art changed. Look in thy heart: there is my secret."

Those who crossed the desert marked him, sunk in the deepest travail of thought.

"Why do you not look at the Sphinx?" they asked.

"I begin to know something about it: that is why," he replied. "If I gazed at it always in the present and never in memory I should learn nothing."

One day a young scribe of great beauty approached the Sphinx and in a low tone enquired: "What is the secret of thy smile, O Sphinx?"

"Speak louder. She will not hear you," called his companion.

Es-siddeeh leaped to his feet.

"Who sent thee hither?" he cried.

"Sa-adeh, the Bestower-of-Felicity," answered the youth; and turning to his comrade, "If you wish to know why I do not shout, know that it is because I have read the early work of a certain scribe Es-siddeeh. It is very evident that, as with many persons of original mind, he scarcely recognised the full import of what he was at the time writing. Had he been acquainted with more scholars and had more experience of life he would have spoken with greater certainty. He would have also realised, too, I do not doubt, that his work was not so vain as it then appeared to him. But he disappeared and none knows whither, since his parents never spoke of him again. I, taking up his work, have already carried it further, I think, than he had when he abandoned it. Nevertheless I, too, have ceased to labour at it and am come hither for the purpose thou knowest."

"Sa-adeh," echoed Es-siddeeh, waking as if from a dream; "I seem to remember that name. Tell me now, how did you——"

But the stranger, receiving no reply from the Sphinx, had departed.

Es-siddeeh sat him down again in dejection.

That night he did not sleep. The memory of Sa-adeh overcame him with tears. All his life passed in review. Never had his reverie seemed so bitter, his questioning so futile as on that midnight, yet toward dawn he suddenly stood up with a shout. An immeasurable serenity flooded his being.

"I have it," he cried; "I have solved the secret of thy smile, O Sphinx!"

28 At that moment the tropic sun arose, and in its rays he beheld the face of the tormentor shine with an equable and golden splendour. The eyes, no longer lacking pupils, possessed sight, and from the smile had vanished all that he detested.


A new porter, a garrulous and slipshod wastrel, had taken the place of the old. It appeared that nowadays the Princess had but few visitors despite the fact that she was acknowledged almost as beautiful as ever, albeit in a different style. Her temperament, he learned, was difficult, her wealth greater than ever.

After but short delay he found himself in the antechamber. He acquainted the damsel with his mission. She vanished through the curtains, and the following conversation was borne to Es-siddeeh's ears:

"An old man, calling himself the Very Veracious, has arrived and sues for an interview on the same subject as his forerunners."

"I cannot see him." The maid returned.

"Tell her," said Es-siddeeh, "that she is as beautiful as one red rose in a garden of lilies."

"The compliment," he heard the Princess remark, "though graceful, is not new; in fact so old that I scarcely distinctly recollect when I made a fashion for it. Dismiss him."

"Tell her," said Es-siddeeh, "that her wisdom has the wings of the rukh, the eye of the falcon, the talons of the osprey, and the voice of the dove."

"The Very Veracious," he heard the Princess remark, "is there very much in the wrong. If I have learned nothing else in my life I have at least learned that my wisdom has no such enviable characteristics. Dismiss him."

"Tell her," said Es-siddeeh, suddenly overcome with a novel misgiving, "that I know the answer to all secrets, including the secret of the smile of the Sphinx."

"How original!" cried the Princess. "Does he really know the secret of the Sphinx's smile? Send him in."

Es-siddeeh went in and bowed down.

"Though changed," he said, "O Sa-adeh, you are as beautiful as ever."

"Your beard has grown so long and so white," she answered, "that—surely thou art the (what is the name?) the Es-siddeeh I once knew, are you not?"

"I am."

"And you know all secrets?"

"I do."

Then she plied him with various questions concerning the value as an amulet of this or that precious stone, of the pedigree of famous horses, of music as an Emotional Sound or as an Architecture, and many other matters of a similar nature.

29 All these questions he answered with such a considerable wealth of detail that Sa-adeh appeared confused. Both fell silent.

After her eyes had rested for some time upon his face in a musing fashion, she asked with a strange inflection, "What is love?"

He was dumbfounded.

"I believe you have forgotten," she said, and in the intonation of her voice there was a hint of the equivocal.

His eyes filled with tears. "I have not forgotten," he said; "perhaps I am only just beginning to learn."

She gave him a curious look; then, moving her head, proceeded with an instant change of tone, "Well, what is the secret of the smile of the Sphinx?"

A wave of emotion swept over him. He smiled and arose.

"With the details of my enquiry I will not trouble you. Suffice it to say that for nearly forty years I have been searching."

"So long as that?"

"Many hard early days I spent in the desert and endured great privations."

"Indeed? I am sorry. Forget them."

"I would not if I could—they were the price of knowledge. At one time I came near losing my wits."

"So? I am sorry."

"Then I spent some years interrogating the wisest of earth."


"But met with no answer."


"Then I spent further years in acquiring money—years of misery they were and years of degradation—that I might discover the secret. I was ruined. I repeat, I was ruined."

"Pardon me. Yes, you were ruined. I am sorry."

"I served as a soldier. I received wounds. I was captive. I was beaten. I escaped. I rose to power. I exploited all modes of living and fulfilling myself, but my experiments brought me no nearer the secret."

"No nearer...."

"Then I set forth on a dreary journey to renew my memory of the Sphinx's face. I sat down beside her. For a long time I learned nothing—the smile seemed hardly less mysterious than it had ever been. Then—but you are not listening...."

"My friend, I am indeed; you were on a dreary journey and——"

"At length one day a youth—but I will not burden you with that, though it was strange...."

"Why do you look so at me? I am listening."

"That night I learned the secret of the Sphinx."

"At last!"

"I learned it indeed."

"Yes. Well, what is it?"

30 "A difficult matter. You must listen most carefully, so subtle is its sense; yet in its comprehension lies hid the whole secret of man's possible happiness."

"I am listening."

There was a great stillness in the chamber. Es-siddeeh closed his eyes to concentrate his thought. Then, opening them, he began:

"I learned the secret—that smile is the secret."

"So I supposed."

"Hush, or I shall begin to think that you do not know how to value this gift of my whole life, which I am making you. It is very difficult, but if all men would listen to me their lives would be easier."

"I thought the secret was for me—yet no matter. Proceed. You see how serious I am."

"I learned its secret."

His lips trembled. He could hardly speak; at last with a great effort he said, "Now it comes—upon maintaining that smile, which is the sign of the power of her existence, all her energy is bent. She did not tell me, but I found it written in my heart. For what is she? In the Sphinx, with her ravaged countenance and mutilated smile, I behold Life itself—Life in mysterious might, ignorant of its own origin, conscious only of its own beauty, couchant amid the wilderness of space and eternity."

"Is the smile of the Sphinx all that indeed? I somehow thought it was something more intimate. But how serious you look! Do not frown—I would not offend you for the world."

"Should I not smile?" he said bitterly.

"Yes, like the Sphinx."

"Quick! How, did you know that?"

"Don't frighten me. I was but speaking idly."


"Seriously then, if you like—since you attach such importance to it. Women always work by miracles and never know when they have performed one.... Excellent, you are smiling, though your smile is ambiguous."

"I do but obey her."

"Not me?"

"That smile which we behold on her face is the smile we see everywhere about us; only in her it has become more august—first by reason of her greater consciousness of isolation in the Desert and beneath the Stars, and, secondly, by consciousness of her strength."

"Will you hand me my fan? Thank you."

"For what are not the properties of the smile—the sovereign beauty, the witness of power—in Nature? Wise indeed the man who knows the bounds of what it is capable. When we are born the first thing we behold is a smile: the Nurse smiles at us, and in that smile we should read—were we then capable—the self-satisfaction of Nature, proud of her reproductive powers, who dandles us in her hands with the assurance that she knows what is best for us. Ah, how universal is the smile! Think of the variety of smiles that exist.31 'Tis all for smiles this life! And that is at once its apparent cruelty and its final justification. On the blackness of Eternity it expands in a smile like a rainbow—a rainbow whose arch begins and ends, as rainbow arches do, uncertain where. And this blossoming in Infinity justifies itself.... How? By the beauty of its smile. Therefore smile. Smile and be in harmony with—if not the spirit of the Universe (for the unknown looking down from the Hill of Heaven upon the Rainbow may for all we know smile also, and on the import of that smile opinion may be divided), and be in harmony at least with the beauty of that fragment of the Universe which, if we do not wholly comprehend, we can at least worship and imitate.... But you are yawning."

"No, obedient to you, I was—smiling."

"And for how long? Until we are resolved—as the drops of the rainbow are resolved after refracting supernal colours. Yet as a raindrop glitters, ere it evaporate upon the flower and be again (who knows?) drawn up in the immense cycle, with some reflection of the glory which its passage served to make, so should we maintain that smile to the moment of our dissolution. As indeed I, whose stormy aerial passage is nearly over, shall do till I attain to mine. For what commoner solace do we hear than that 'he died with a smile upon his face'? Such a smile may each have at his passing! How happy our friends will be to see it, how confounded our enemies! How comforted, too, the philosophers, who will not fail to perceive in it the reflection of whatever faith they hold: the ineffable joy of one whose beatified wings even now mingle with the wings of other spirits in divine assumption; the satisfaction of the racked, whom never again the torturers Joy and Sorrow will wake from endless sleep; the profound irony of one who never expected his pleasures to last for ever; and the disdain, too proud to curve itself in a full sneer, of one who opposes to the silent smile of the unknown a smile yet more silent!"

He paused.

"I have been thinking," said the Princess.

"You wish to know more? Shall I explain?"

"No. It is unnecessary; all this amounts to that you wish to marry me, and the announcement that you have earned the right to do so, but I should inform you that since you were last here a gentleman, who as a matter of fact once occupied a position menial enough but of importance in this household, has by signal honesty and perseverance arrived at a position where—well, in fact, to put it shortly, I have formed another attachment."

"Madam, am I reft of my senses? You astonish me! Who?"

"The Executioner."

"Ah, heavens! Well, let me inform you, madam, that I, too, have formed another attachment."

"You say that to my face! How dare you? But I saw directly you entered this room that you had long ago forgotten what true love is. Your long32 absence from me bears it witness. Who, may I ask, is now the object of your affections?"

"Do not smile—or smile, madam, if you can; I love the Sphinx."

He had but that moment discovered it.

The Princess shrieked and at the sound he bent upon her such a smile as in memory effectually prevented her ever mentioning the Sphinx and its secrets again to anyone.

Then he walked out.


He returned to the Sphinx.

While yet afar off he was puzzled beholding a mountain range arisen in the wilderness. As he drew nearer he recognised it for the Sphinx. If during his thirty years' wanderings she had appeared to increase in size, to what dimensions had she not attained during his brief absence! The vapours of the desert, rising about her, had collected upon her shoulders in a strata of billowy cloud, and her head, unimaginably exalted, had now reached such an altitude that the features were almost indistinguishable in the blaze of the sun.

Night had fallen by the time that he stood within the canyon of her breasts. For a little he rested his head upon the rock. A great weariness descended upon him. Physical infirmity, the inevitable sequel of all he had suffered in body and in soul, now made him its prey. His mind and spirit, however, remained keen and unquenchable as ever. He wrapped himself in his cloak and lay down. At midnight he awoke. For the first time the Sphinx, speaking in a voice of more than mortal tenderness, had made utterance without being addressed, "Art thou returned, my lover?"

"Thou seest me. All I love I have given thee."

"Few have bestowed upon me so much as thou. Fewer still have arrived where thou hast arrived, while yet possessing the eye not wholly dimmed and the tongue not altogether palsied. One thing, however, thou hast kept from me—the seal that is on thy heart."

"Ah, Sphinx," replied Es-siddeeh, "that I cannot give; it is part of myself. Nor would I—for it was that which first brought me hither to scan thy face and to read thy riddle."

"I am a jealous lover."

"I know it. Yet what care I? Thy jealousy is a measure of my reward; for though I have discovered thy secret in general, yet it is a secret which no man perhaps will ever fathom in all particulars. Happy the hero who attains as far as I, happier yet he who can gaze unwinkingly upon thee as I do now, and hourly fathom something further!"

"I am a jealous lover. Thou hast not much longer to gaze."

"No matter. Eyes do not perish with me, and for myself I am rewarded."

Then was it that for Es-siddeeh the body and the face of the Sphinx achieved a final apotheosis. Her limbs throbbed with a deep and terrible33 energy. From her breast issued an all embracing warmth similar to that of the earth. Her breathing became distinct as an august and stupendous rhythm resembling the ascent and descent of waters from firmament to firmament. Her cheeks flushed with a youthful elation. Into her eyes arose an immense light fixed upon unforetold futurities, and all her face, so worn and beautiful, became more ravaged and even more beautiful—for the very deepening scars, wasting and remoulding the features, gradually resolved the visage into an ethereal harmony hitherto unknown. Around her head, entangling in its mesh the nearer planets, there wreathed itself an enormous halo, iridescent as that which encircles the frosty moon. Her whole being exuded a supreme lustre until she became one living and colossal crystal which distributed in refraction all the colours of the rainbow and which palpitated with powers unguessed.

And to Es-siddeeh, who beheld her through the tears of one who momentarily expects to be parted, the spectra and the palpitance appeared in triple.

"O Sphinx, O Life the Enchantress," he cried, "my true and only love, take if thou wilt my heart and the seal upon it, for thine am I only, thee only would I aid, thee only do I love, thee only would I worship!"


A band of Arabs, journeying across the desert, found him, when dawn came, lying between the paws of the giant—dead, more cold than the stone which surrounded him and which now began to kindle in the morning rays. Though there had been no dew, his garments were deluged as with the falling of an immense tear. Upon his face there lingered a fixed smile, and, gazing upward, they beheld its double in the sunlit face of the familiar Sphinx.

Here ends the story of the Smile of the Sphinx.
Mayest thou also learn its secret.




IN and after 1876, when I was in the habit of walking from the northwest of London towards Whitehall, I met several times, driven slowly homewards, a victoria which contained a strange pair in whose appearance I took a violent interest. The man, prematurely ageing, was hirsute, rugged, satyr-like, gazing vivaciously to left and right; this was George Henry Lewes. His companion was a large, thick-set sybil, dreamy and immobile, whose massive features, somewhat grim when seen in profile, were incongruously bordered by a hat, always in the height of the Paris fashion, which in those days commonly included an immense ostrich feather; this was George Eliot. The contrast between the solemnity of the face and the frivolity of the head-gear had something pathetic and provincial about it.

All this I mention, for what trifling value it may have, as a purely external impression, since I never had the honour of speaking to the lady or to Lewes. We had, my wife and I, common friends in the gifted family of Simcox—Edith Simcox (who wrote ingeniously and learnedly under the pen-name of H. Lawrenny) being an intimate in the household at the Priory. Thither, indeed, I was vaguely invited, by word of mouth, to make my appearance one Sunday, George Eliot having read some pages of mine with indulgence. But I was shy, and yet should probably have obeyed the summons but for an event which nobody foresaw. On the 18th of December, 1880, I was present at a concert given, I think, in the Langham Hall, where I sat just behind Mrs. Cross, as she had then become. It was chilly in the concert-room, and I watched George Eliot, in manifest discomfort, drawing up and tightening round her shoulders a white wool shawl. Four days later she was dead, and I was sorry that I had never made my bow to her.

Her death caused a great sensation, for she had ruled the wide and flourishing province of English prose fiction for ten years, since the death of Dickens. Though she had a vast company of competitors, she did not suffer through that period from the rivalry of one writer of her own class. If the Brontës had lived, or Mrs. Gaskell, the case might have been different, for George Eliot had neither the passion of Jane Eyre nor the perfection of Cranford, but they were gone before we lost Dickens, and so was Thackeray, who died while Romola was appearing. Charles Kingsley, whose Westward Ho! had just preceded her first appearance, had unluckily turned into other and less congenial paths. Charles Reade, whose It is Never Too Late to Mend (1856) had been her harbinger, scarcely maintained his position as her rival. Anthony Trollope, excellent craftsman as he was, remained persistently and sensibly at a lower intellectual level. Hence the field was free for George Eliot, who, without haste or hesitation,35 built up slowly such a reputation as no one in her own time could approach.

The gay world, which forgets everything, has forgotten what a solemn, what a portentous thing was the contemporary fame of George Eliot. It was supported by the serious thinkers of the day, by the people who despised mere novels, but regarded her writings as contributions to philosophical literature. On the solitary occasion when I sat in company with Herbert Spencer on the committee of the London Library he expressed a strong objection to the purchase of fiction, and wished that for the London Library no novels should be bought, "except, of course, those of George Eliot." While she lived, critics compared her with Goethe, but to the disadvantage of the sage of Weimar. People who started controversies about "evolutionism,"—a favourite Victorian pastime,—bowed low at the mention of her name, and her own sound good sense alone prevented her from being made the object of a sort of priggish idolatry. A big-wig of that day remarked that "in problems of life and thought which baffled Shakespeare her touch was unfailing." For Lord Acton at her death "the sun had gone out," and that exceedingly dogmatic historian observed, ex cathedrâ, that no writer had "ever lived who had anything like her power of manifold but disinterested and impartial sympathy. If Sophocles or Cervantes had lived in the light of our culture, if Dante had prospered like Manzoni, George Eliot might have had a rival." It is very dangerous to write like that. A reaction is sure to follow, and in the case of this novelist, so modest and strenuous herself, but so ridiculously overpraised by her friends, it came with remarkable celerity.

The worship of an intellectual circle of admirers, reverberating upon a dazzled and genuinely interested public, was not, however, even in its palmiest days, quite unanimous. There were other strains of thought and feeling making way, and other prophets were abroad. Robert Browning, though an optimist, and too polite a man to oppose George Eliot publicly, was impatient of her oracular manner. There was a struggle, not much perceived on the surface of the reviews, between her faithful worshippers and the new school of writers vaguely called preraphaelite. She loved Matthew Arnold's poetry, and in that, as in so much else, she was wiser and more clairvoyant than most of the people who surrounded her, but Arnold presented an attitude of reserve with regard to her later novels. She found nothing to praise or to attract her interest in the books of George Meredith; on the other hand, Coventry Patmore, with his customary amusing violence, voted her novels "sensational and improper." To D. G. Rossetti they were "vulgarity personified," and his brother defined them as "commonplace tempering the stuck-up." Swinburne repudiated Romola with vigour as "absolutely false." I daresay that from several of these her great contemporaries estimates of her work less harsh than these might be culled, but I quote these to show that even at the height of her fame she was not quite unchallenged.

36 She was herself, it is impossible to deny, responsible for a good deal of the tarnish which spread over the gold of her reputation. Her early imaginative writings—in particular Janet's Repentance, Adam Bede, the first two-thirds of The Mill on the Floss, and much of Silas Marner—had a freshness, a bright vitality, which, if she could have kept it burnished, would have preserved her from all effects of contemporary want of sympathy. When we analyse the charm of the stories just mentioned, we find that it consists very largely in their felicity of expressed reminiscence. There is little evidence in them of the inventive faculty, but a great deal of the reproductive. Now, we have to remember that contemporaries are quite in the dark as to matters about which, after the publication of memoirs and correspondence and recollections, later readers are exactly informed. We may now know that Sir Christopher Cheverel closely reproduces the features of a real Sir Roger Newdigate, and that Dinah Morris is Mrs. Samuel Evans photographed, but readers of 1860 did not know that, and were at liberty to conceive the unknown magician in the act of calling up a noble English gentleman and a saintly Methodist preacher from the depths of her inner consciousness. Whether this was so or not would not matter to anyone, if George Eliot could have continued the act of pictorial reproduction without flagging. The world would have long gazed with pleasure into the camera obscura of Warwickshire, as she reeled off one dark picture after another, but unhappily she was not contented with her success, and she aimed at things beyond her reach.

Her failure, which was, after all (let us not exaggerate), the partial and accidental failure of a great genius, began when she turned from passive acts of memory to a strenuous exercise of intellect. If we had time and space, it would be very interesting to study George Eliot's attitude towards that mighty woman, the full-bosomed caryatid of romantic literature, who had by a few years preceded her. When George Eliot was at the outset of her own literary career, which as we know was much belated, George Sand had already bewitched and thrilled and scandalised Europe for a generation. The impact of the Frenchwoman's mind on that of her English contemporary produced sparks or flashes of starry enthusiasm. George Eliot, in 1848, was "bowing before George Sand in eternal gratitude to that great power of God manifested in her," and her praise of the French peasant-idyls was unbounded. But when she herself began to write novels she grew to be less and less in sympathy with the French romantic school. A French critic of her own day laid down the axiom that "il faut bien que le roman se rapproche de la poésie ou de la science." George Sand had thrown herself unreservedly into the poetic camp. She acknowledged "mon instinct m'eût poussée vers les abîmes," and she confessed, with that stalwart good sense which carried her genius over so many marshy places, that her temperament had often driven her, "au mépris de la raison ou de la vérité morale," into pure romantic extravagance.

But George Eliot, whatever may have been her preliminary enthusiasms,37 was radically and permanently anti-romantic. This was the source of her strength and of her weakness; this, carefully examined, explains the soaring and the sinking of her fame. Unlike George Sand, she kept to the facts; she found that all her power quitted her at once if she dealt with imaginary events and the clash of ideal passions. She had been drawn in her youth to sincere admiration of the Indianas and Lelias of her florid French contemporary, and we become aware that in the humdrum years at Coventry, when the surroundings of her own life were arduous and dusty, she felt a longing to spread her wings and fly up and out to some dim Cloud-Cuckoo Land the confines of which were utterly vague to her. The romantic method of Dumas, for instance, and even of Walter Scott, appealed to her as a mode of escaping to dreamland from the flatness and vulgarity of life under the "miserable reign of Mammon." But she could not achieve such flights; her literary character was of a totally different formation. What was fabulous, what was artificial, did not so much strike her with disgust as render her paralysed. Her only escape from mediocrity, she found, was to give a philosophical interest to common themes. In consequence, as she advanced in life, and came more under the influence of George Henry Lewes, she became less and less well disposed towards the French fiction of her day, rejecting even Balzac, to whom she seems, strangely enough, to have preferred Lessing. That Lessing and Balzac should be names pronounced in relation itself throws a light on the temper of the speaker.

Most novelists seem to have begun to tell stories almost as early as musicians begin to trifle with the piano. The child keeps other children awake, after nurse has gone about her business, by reeling off inventions in the dark. But George Eliot showed, so far as records inform us, no such aptitude in infancy or even in early youth. The history of her start as a novel-writer is worthy of study. It appears that it was not until the autumn of 1856 that she, "in a dreamy mood," fancied herself writing a story. This was, I gather, immediately on her return from Germany, where she had been touring about with Lewes, with whom she had now been living for two years. Lewes said to her, "You have wit, description, and philosophy—those go a good way towards the production of a novel," and he encouraged her to write about the virtues and vices of the clergy, as she had observed them at Griff and at Coventry. Amos Barton was the immediate result, and the stately line of stories which was to close in Daniel Deronda twenty years later was started on its brilliant career. But what of the author? She was a storm-tried matron of thirty-seven, who had sub-edited the Westminster Review, who had spent years in translating Strauss's Life of Jesus and had sunk exhausted in a still more strenuous wrestling with the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus of Spinoza, who had worked with Delarive at Experimental Physics in Geneva, and who had censured, as superficial, John Stuart Mill's treatment of Whewell's Moral Philosophy. This heavily-built Miss Marian Evans, now dubiously known38 as Mrs. Lewes, whose features at that time are familiar to us by the admirable paintings and drawings of Sir Frederick Burton, was in training to be a social reformer, a moral philosopher, an apostle of the creed of Christendom, an anti-theological professor, anything in the world rather than a writer of idle tales.

But the tales proved to be a hundred-fold more attractive to the general public than articles upon taxation or translations from German sceptics. We all must allow that at last, however tardily and surprisingly, George Eliot had discovered her true vocation. Let us consider in what capacity she entered this field of fiction. She entered it as an observer of life more diligent and more meticulous perhaps than any other living person. She entered it also with a store of emotional experience and with a richness of moral sensibility which were almost as unique. She had strong ethical prejudices, and a wealth of recollected examples by which she could justify them. Her memory was accurate, minute, and well-arranged, and she had always enjoyed retrospection and encouraged herself in the cultivation of it. She was very sympathetic, very tolerant, and although she had lived in the very Temple of Priggishness with her Brays and her Hennells and her Sibrees, she remained singularly simple and unaffected. Rather sad, one pictures her in 1856, rather dreamy, burdened with an excess of purely intellectual preoccupation, wandering over Europe consumed by a constant, but unconfessed, nostalgia for her own country, coming back to it with a sense that the Avon was lovelier than the Arno. Suddenly, in that "dreamy mood," there comes over her a desire to build up again the homes of her childhood, to forget all about Rousseau and experimental physics, and to reconstruct the "dear old quaintnesses" of the Arbury of twenty-five years before.

If we wish to see what it was which this mature philosopher and earnest critic of behaviour had to produce for the surprise of her readers, we may examine the description of the farm at Donnithorne in Adam Bede. The solemn lady, who might seem such a terror to ill-doers, had yet a packet of the most delicious fondants in the pocket of her bombazine gown. The names of these sweetmeats, which were of a flavour and a texture delicious to the tongue, might be Mrs. Poyser or Lizzie Jerome or the sisters Dodson, but they all came from the Warwickshire factory at Griff, and they were all manufactured with the sugar and spice of memory. So long as George Eliot lived in the past, and extracted her honey from those wonderful cottage gardens which fill her early pages with their colour and their odour, the solidity and weight of her intellectual methods in other fields did not interfere, or interfered in a negligible way, with the power and intensity of the entertainment she offered. We could wish for nothing better. English literature has, of their own class, nothing better to offer than certain chapters of Adam Bede or than the beginning of The Mill on the Floss.

But, from the first, if we now examine coldly and inquisitively, there was a moth sleeping in George Eliot's rich attire. This moth was pedantry, the39 result doubtless of too much erudition encouraging a natural tendency in her mind, which as we have seen was acquisitive rather than inventive. It was unfortunate for her genius that after her early enthusiasm for French culture she turned to Germany and became, in measure, like so many powerful minds of her generation, Teutonised. This fostered the very tendencies which it was desirable to eradicate. One can but speculate what would have been the result on her genius of a little more Paris and a little less Berlin. Her most successful immediate rival in France was Octave Feuillet; the Scenes of Clerical Life answer in time to Le Roman d'un Jeune Homme Pauvre, and Monsieur de Camors to Felix Holt. There could not be a stronger or more instructive contrast than between the elegant fairy-land of the one and the robust realism of the other. But our admirable pastoral writer, whose inward eye was stored with the harmonies and humours of Shakespeare's country, was not content with her mastery of the past. She looked forward to a literature of the future. She trusted to her brain rather than to those tired servants, her senses, and more and more her soul was invaded by the ambition to invent a new thing, the scientific novel, dealing with the growth of institutions and the analysis of individual character.

The critics of her own time were satisfied that she had done this, and that she had founded the psychological novel. There was much to be said in favour of such an opinion. In the later books it is an undeniable fact that George Eliot displays a certain sense of the inevitable progress of life which was new. It may seem paradoxical to see the peculiar characteristics of Zola or of Mr. George Moore in Middlemarch, but there is much to be said for the view that George Eliot was the direct forerunner of those naturalistic novelists. Like them, she sees life as an organism, or even as a progress. George Eliot in her contemplation of the human beings she invents is a traveller, who is provided with a map. No Norman church or ivied ruin takes her by surprise, because she has seen that it was bound to come, and recognises it when it does come. Death, the final railway station, is ever in her mind; she sees it on her map, and gathers her property around her to be ready when the train shall stop. This psychological clairvoyance gives her a great power when she does not abuse it, but unfortunately from the very first there was in her a tendency, partly consequent on her mental training, but also not a little on her natural constitution, to dwell in a hard and pedagogic manner on it. She was not content to please, she must explain and teach as well.

Her comparative failure to please made its definite appearance first in the laboured and overcharged romance of Romola. But a careful reader will detect it in her earliest writings. Quite early in Amos Barton, for instance, when Mrs. Hackit observes of the local colliers that they "passed their time in doing nothing but swilling ale and smoking, like the beasts that perish," the author immediately spoils this delightful remark by explaining, like a schoolmaster, that Mrs. Hackit was "speaking, we may40 presume, in a remotely analogical sense." The laughter dies upon our lips. Useless pedantry of this kind spoils many a happy touch of humour, Mrs. Poyser alone perhaps having wholly escaped from it. It would be entirely unjust to accuse George Eliot, at all events until near the end of her life, of intellectual pride. She was, on the contrary, of a very humble spirit, timorous and susceptible of discouragement. But her humility made her work all the harder at her task of subtle philosophical analysis. It would have been far better for her if she had possessed less of the tenacity of Herbert Spencer and more of the recklessness of George Sand. An amusing but painful example of her Sisyphus temper, always rolling the stone uphill with groans and sweat, is to be found in her own account of the way she "crammed up" for the composition of Romola. She tells us of the wasting toil with which she worked up innumerable facts about Florence, and in particular how she laboured long over the terrible question whether Easter could have been "retarded" in the year 1492. On this, Sir Leslie Stephen—one of her best critics, and one of the most indulgent—aptly queries, "What would have become of Ivanhoe if Scott had bothered himself about the possible retardation of Easter? The answer, indeed, is obvious, that Ivanhoe would not have been written."

The effect of all this on George Eliot's achievement was what must always occur when an intellect which is purely acquisitive and distributive insists on doing work that is appropriate only to imagination. If we read very carefully the scene preceding Savanarola's sermon to the Dominicans at San Marco, we perceive that it is built up almost in Flaubert's manner, but without Flaubert's magic, touch by touch, out of books. The author does not see what she describes in a sort of luminous hallucination, but she dresses up in language of her own what she has carefully read in Burlamacchi or in Villari. The most conscientious labour, expended by the most powerful brain, is incapable of producing an illusion of life by these means. George Eliot may even possibly have been conscious of this, for she speaks again and again, not of writing with ecstasy of tears and laughter, as Dickens did, but of falling into "a state of so much wretchedness in attempting to concentrate my thoughts on the construction of my novel" that nothing but a tremendous and sustained effort of the will carried her on at all. In this vain and terrible wrestling with incongruous elements she wore out her strength and her joy, and it is heart-rending to watch so noble a genius and so lofty a character as hers wasted in the whirlpool. One fears that a sense of obscure failure added to her tortures, and one is tempted to see a touch of autobiography in the melancholy of Mrs. Transome (in Felix Holt), of whom we are told that "her knowledge and accomplishments had become as valueless as old-fashioned stucco ornaments, of which the substance was never worth anything, while the form is no longer to the taste of any living mortal."

The notion that George Eliot was herself, in spite of all the laudation showered upon her, consciously in want of some element essential for her41 success is supported by the very curious fact that from 1864 to 1869, that is to say through nearly one quarter of her whole literary career, she devoted herself entirely to various experiments in verse. She was so preternaturally intelligent that there is nothing unlikely in the supposition that she realised what was her chief want as a writer of imaginative prose. She claims, and she will always be justified in claiming, a place in the splendid roll of prominent English writers. But she holds it in spite of a certain drawback which forbids her from ever appearing in the front rank as a great writer. Her prose has fine qualities of force and wit, it is pictorial and persuasive, but it misses one prime but rather subtle merit, it never sings. The masters of the finest English are those who have received the admonition Cantate Domino! They sing a new song unto the Lord. Among George Eliot's prose contemporaries there were several who obeyed this command. Ruskin, for instance, above all the Victorian prose-writers, shouts like the morning-star. It is the peculiar gift of all great prosaists. Take so rough an executant as Hazlitt: "Harmer Hill stooped with all its pines, to listen to a poet, as he passed!" That is the chanting faculty in prose, which all the greatest men possess; but George Eliot has no trace of it, except sometimes, faintly, in the sheer fun of her peasants' conversation. I do not question that she felt the lack herself, and that it was this which, subconsciously, led her to make a profound study of the art of verse.

She hoped, at the age of forty-four, to hammer herself into poetry by dint of sheer labour and will-power. She read the great masters, and she analysed them in the light of prosodical manuals. In 1871 she told Tennyson that Professor Sylvester's "laws for verse-making had been useful to her." Tennyson replied, "I can't understand that," and no wonder. Sylvester was a facetious mathematician who undertook to teach the art of poetry in so many lessons. George Eliot humbly working away at Sylvester, and telling Tennyson that she was finding him "useful," and Tennyson, whose melodies pursued him, like bees in pursuit of a bee-master, expressing a gruff good-natured scepticism—what a picture it raises! But George Eliot persisted, with that astounding firmness of application which she had, and she produced quite a large body of various verse. She wrote a Comtist tragedy, The Spanish Gypsy, of which I must speak softly, since, omnivorous as I am, I have never been able to swallow it. But she wrote many other things, epics and sonnets and dialogues and the rest of them, which are not so hard to read. She actually printed privately for her friends two little garlands, Agatha (1868) and Brother and Sister (1869), which are the only "rare issues" of hers sought after by collectors, for she was not given to bibliographical curiosity. These verses and many others she polished and re-wrote with untiring assiduity, and in 1874 she published a substantial volume of them. I have been reading them over again, in the intense wish to be pleased with them, but it is impossible—the root of the matter is not in them. There is an Arion, which is stately in the manner of Marvell. The end of this lyric is tense and decisive, but there is the radical42 absence of song. In the long piece called A College Breakfast Party, which she wrote in 1874, almost all Tennyson's faults are reconstructed on the plan of the Chinese tailor who carefully imitates the rents in the English coat he is to copy. There is a Goethe-like poem, of a gnomic order, called Self and Life, stuffed with valuable thoughts as a turkey is stuffed with chestnuts.

And it is all so earnest and so intellectual, and it does so much credit to Sylvester. After long consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the following sonnet, from Brother and Sister, is the best piece of sustained poetry that George Eliot achieved. It deals with the pathetic and beautiful relations which existed between her and her elder brother Isaac, the Tom Tulliver of The Mill on the Floss:

His sorrow was my sorrow, and his joy
Sent little leaps and laughs through all my frame;
My doll seemed lifeless, and no girlish toy
Had any reason when my brother came.
I knelt with him at marbles, marked his fling
Cut the ringed stem and make the apple drop,
Or watched him winding close the spiral string
That looped the orbits of the humming-top.
Grasped by such fellowship my vagrant thought
Ceased with dream-fruit dream-wishes to fulfil;
Myaëry-picturing fantasy was taught
Subjection to the harder, truer skill
That seeks with deeds to grave a thought-tracked line,
And by "What is" "What will be" to define.

How near this is to true poetry, and yet how many miles away!

At last George Eliot seems to have felt that she could never hope, with all her intellect, to catch the unconsidered music which God lavishes on the idle linnet and the frivolous chaffinch. She returned to her own strenuous business of building up the psychological novel. She wrote Middlemarch, which appeared periodically throughout 1872 and as a book early the following year. It was received with great enthusiasm, as marking the return of a popular favourite who had been absent for several years. Middlemarch is the history of three parallel lives of women, who "with dim lights and tangled circumstances tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement," although "to common eyes their struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness." The three ineffectual St. Theresas, as their creator conceived them, were Dorothea, Rosamond, and Mary, and they "shaped the thought and deed" of Casaubon and Ladislaw and Fred Vincy. Middlemarch is constructed with unfaltering power, and the picture of commonplace English country life which it gives is vivacious after a mechanical fashion, but all the charm of the early stories has evaporated, and has left behind it merely a residuum of unimaginative satire. The novel is a very remarkable instance of elaborate mental resources misapplied, and genius revolving, with tremendous machinery, like some great water-wheel, while no water is flowing underneath it.

43 When a realist loses hold on reality all is lost, and I for one can find not a word to say in favour of Daniel Deronda, her next and last novel, which came out, with popularity at first more wonderful than ever, in 1876. But her inner circle of admirers was beginning to ask one another uneasily whether her method was not now too calculated, her effects too plainly premeditated. The intensity of her early works was gone. Readers began to resent her pedantry, her elaboration of allusions, her loss of simplicity. They missed the vivid rural scenes and the flashes of delicious humour which had starred the serious pages of Adam Bede and The Mill like the lemon-yellow pansies and potentillas on a dark Welsh moor. Then came Theophrastus Such, a collection of cumbrous and didactic essays which defy perusal; and finally, soon after her death, her Correspondence, a terrible disappointment to all her admirers, and a blow from which even the worship of Lord Acton never recovered. Of George Eliot might have been repeated Swift's epitaph on Sir John Vanbrugh:

Lie heavy on him, earth, for he
Laid many a heavy load on thee.

It was the fatal error of George Eliot, so admirable, so elevated, so disinterested, that for the last ten years of her brief literary life she did practically nothing but lay heavy loads on literature.

On the whole, then, it is not possible to regard the place which George Eliot holds in English literature as so prominent a one as was rather rashly awarded her by her infatuated contemporaries. It is the inevitable result of "tall talk" about Dante and Goethe that the figure so unduly magnified fails to support such comparisons when the perspective is lengthened. George Eliot is unduly neglected now, but it is the revenge of time on her for the praise expended upon her works in her life-time. Another matter which militates against her fame to-day is her strenuous solemnity. One of the philosophers who knelt at the footsteps of her throne said that she was "the emblem of a generation distracted between the intense need of believing and the difficulty of belief." Well, we happen to live, fortunately or unfortunately for ourselves, in a generation which is "distracted" by quite other problems, and we are sheep that look up to George Eliot and are not fed by her ponderous moral aphorisms and didactic ethical influence. Perhaps another generation will follow us which will be more patient, and students yet unborn will read her gladly. Let us never forget, however, that she worked with all her heart in a spirit of perfect honesty, that she brought a vast intelligence to the service of literature, and that she aimed from first to last at the loftiest goal of intellectual ambition. Where she failed, it was principally from an inborn lack of charm, not from anything ignoble or impure in her mental disposition. After all, to have added to the slender body of English fiction seven novels the names of which are known to every cultivated person is not to have failed, but to have signally, if only relatively, succeeded.




HERE is our world in motion.

We see a corner of it through our eyes. A man will march down a street with a crowd, or watch the politicians' cabs turning into Palace Yard, or make speeches, or stand on the deck of a scurrying destroyer in the North Sea, or mount guard in a Mesopotamian desert. A minute section of the greater panorama passes before him.

In imagination he will, according to his information and his habit of mind, visualise what he sees as a part of what he does not see: the human conflict over five continents, climates and clothes, multitudes, passions, voices, states, soldiers, negotiations. Each newspaper that he opens swarms with a confusion of events and argument, of names familiar and unfamiliar—Wilson, Geddes, Czecho-Slovakia, Yudenitch, Shantung, and ten thousand more. For the eye there is a medley, for the ear a great din. As far as he can, busy with his daily pursuits, a man usually ignores it when it does not intrude to disturb him. When most unsettled, the life of the world is most fatiguing. The spectacle is formless and without a centre; the characters rise and fall, conspicuous one day, forgotten the next. The newspapers mechanically repeat that we are at the greatest crisis of history, and that "a great drama is being unrolled." We are aware that the fortunes of our civilisation have been and are in the balance. But we are in the wood and cannot see it as we see the French Revolution. It is difficult, even with the strongest effort of imagination, to visualise the process as history will record it. To pick out those episodes and those persons that will haunt the imagination of posterity by their colour and force is more difficult still. An event, contemporaneously, is an event; a man is a man who eats, drinks, wears collars, makes speeches, bandies words with others, and is photographed for the newspapers.

Yet we know that a time will come when these years will be seen in far retrospect as the years of Elizabeth or of Robespierre are now. The judgments of the political scientist and the historian will be made: these men will arrange their sequences and their scales of importance. They will deduce effects and measure out praise and blame. With them we are not concerned. But others beyond them will look at our time. We shall have left our legacy for the imagination. What will it be? Who of contemporary figures may we guess as likely to be the heroes of plays and the subjects of poems? Which of the multitudinous events of these years will give a stock subject to Tragedy? Which of the men whom we praise or abuse will seem to posterity larger than human, and go with gestures across their stages, clad in an antique fashion? For to that age we shall be strange; whether our mechanical45 arts have died and left us to haunt the memory of our posterity as a race of unquiet demons, or whether "progress" along our lines shall have continued, none of our trappings will have remained the same.

But the soul of man will have remained the same. Those elements in events and persons which fascinate and stimulate us when we are looking at our past will stir them when they brood on their past, which is our to-day. And neither contemporary reputation, nor worldly position, nor conquests in themselves, nor saintliness in itself, can secure for a man a continued life in the imagination of the race.

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Contemplate our own past in the light of this conception. Who are the men of whom poets and playwrights and story-tellers have made fictions and songs? Augustus Cæsar when he lived was the greatest man in the world: but who since Virgil has panegyrised him and who—unless some ingenious psychologist of the second-rate like Browning—would make a dramatic poem out of him? William Wilberforce was a very good man, but his deeds and his name have survived his personality, and he will not be the hero of an epic. The Thirty Years' War was a long and very devastating war; Gustavus and Wallenstein, in their degree, survive the purposeless series of its disasters; and of all its events that which most vividly lives in the memory is the small thing with which it began: the flinging of two noblemen from a tower. What is it in things and men that gives them permanently the power of stirring the imagination and the curiosity of the artist? A quality of splendour and of power that grows more certain when the dust that was its receptacle has gone to dust. The artist who shall succeed with a historical personage may make whatever implicit or even explicit commentary he likes, but in choosing his subject—or being chosen by it—moral judgment or scientific estimate will not influence him. He will be the victim of an attraction beyond the will and beyond the reason. Consider who are the figures that truly, imperatively, live in the political story of the past. Not only and not all the Cæsars who fought over the known world; not only such chivalric souls as saw, and obeyed, the visions of Domrémy, and died when the echoes of the last horn faded over Roncesvalles. The Crusades, as a whole, were a great poem, but few of the Crusaders won more than an ephemeral name in art. Cœur de Lion has been in our own time the hero of a romance, but no man is likely again to write of even a Godfrey of Boulogne. The great age of historic Greece passed and left imperishable monuments, "one nation making worth a nation's pain," but how few of her soldiers and philosophers recur to the creative imagination! Those stories and figures from history and pre-history which do so recur are a strangely assorted collection. The Trojan War and its leading personages are a fascination and an inspiration perennially, and among those personages Helen, Hector, Achilles, Ulysses; but not Paris or the sons of Atreus, who live but as appendages. Coldly arguing, men may ask now as46 they asked then, why the Greeks should take so much trouble to recover a worthless woman, why a Hector should die to keep her, why ten thousand should perish in such a cause. But to the imagination Hector, Achilles, Helen, the divine unreason of that ten years' war, make an appeal that never comes from worthier struggles and wiser people. That is true also of Antony and Cleopatra: their story to the historian and the moralist is one of ruinous folly, to the poet a

Portentous melody of what giants wasting
Near death, on what a mountainous eminence
Still, in the proud contempt of consequence,
The wine of life with jubilation tasting.

The figure of St. Francis has been created and recreated in art; like those of Nero, Philip II., and Mary Stuart. With the mythical who are but names we can do what we will; Lear and Hamlet Shakespeare could cast in the sublimest mould; with the historical we are tied by the historical, and few are great enough to come through the sieve. Poets have attempted and failed to make great characters of Becket, of Wolsey, of Strafford, and Charles I.; their degree of failure has varied, but they have failed as certainly as Keats would have failed with King Stephen. The material was not there. Cromwell and Frederick the Great at least equalled Philip II. in achievement, and excelled him in intelligence. But Carlyle's two heroes were no true heroes for an artist; we are too uncertain about Cromwell's inner man, his direction; for all his battles he could cast no colour over his surroundings; and as for Frederick there was no tragedy about him—that was left for his neighbours. A great Cromwell, in one sense, would be an invented Cromwell; and we cannot invent a Cromwell because of the documents. But Philip II., the intense, narrow, laborious, dyspeptic bigot, sitting in a cell of his great bleak prison on the plateau, trying to watch every corner of the world, and contriving how to scourge most of it; he was contemptible, full of vices, a failure, but there was that in him which has compelled the gaze of poets in seclusion from the seventeenth century down to Verhaeren and Verlaine. He had a virtue in excess. There was a touch of sublimity about him. The setting counts for much; monarchs are on pinnacles. But where is Philip IV., except for his horse-face on the canvases of Velasquez? Where even, as against the man he beat, is William the Silent, who waged a great fight against odds and died by the dagger; but was a cool Whig, excessive in nothing but self-control? He is scarcely alive; but Satan, as Milton saw him, reigns in hell. We must have splendour of a sort. The normal man loves a conflagration, though he will lend a hand in putting it out; and if he is putting it out the inmost heart of him will rejoice if it be a large fire and there are very few firemen. Vivid force, moral or non-moral, must be there; a Borgia, though he be as wicked as a Nero, cannot compete with him before the imagination; he was commonplace and sordid and there is no response to him.

47 Such passages and such people kindle us in the records of the past. How, from this point of view, will the last five years, crowded and full of strife, look when we are the materials for art?

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Will the decline of Turkey command interest? To the historian, not to the poet, so not, ultimately, to the generality of mankind. There is no emergence there of the human spirit at an exalted pitch; very new and surprising things must come out about Enver if he is to rank with the great adventurers of the stage. Men may try it—they have tried most things—but Constantinople has failed the artist before and will again. There is something pathetic, there might be something tragic, in the collapse of the House of Hapsburg after so many centuries, but so far as we know at present (and our statements are avowedly conjectures) there was no incident of that fall, compassed and witnessed by small intriguing men, which can redeem it from squalor and insignificance; and not all our reiterated assurances that this is a tremendous and tragic catastrophe can invest it with the high romantic quality which comes from passion in many men or in one man, strength and a heroic struggle. The League of Nations may be the salvation of mankind, but it has come in such a way, so slowly, so reluctantly, so haphazardly, so sensibly, that (unless comedy) nothing vital will be written of its birth. Can we see a subject for a Shakespeare or a Milton in the domestic struggle here, or the fluctuations of the Balkans, or the entry of the East into the war? These things made their differences, but will they to the artist be more than facts? And the men. There have arisen from the populations of all countries men, many of them "great" by virtue of position, influence, achievement; many of them disinterested and ethically admirable. The mind passes from one to another; over some it flits, over others it hesitates and hovers. There is something of the sublime about M. Clemenceau, the old fighter, symbolising France at the last barrier: a man who, in early novels now forgotten, formulated, or refused to formulate, a philosophy of despair, and depicted a universe without principle, order, or hope, in which the stronger beast, to no end, preyed on the weaker; a man, nevertheless, so full of vital energy, and so certain of the one thing he loved, that he desired nothing better than to continue furiously struggling under the impending cope of darkness. There are, to some of us, disagreeable things about him; stripped of the non-essential there is something central, that is, elemental and fine. But were he of the kind that becomes legendary, should we feel that central something as still uncertain, and would it have needed a war at the age of nearly eighty to have revealed something of grandeur in him? Is he, at bottom, clear and forcible enough; or, alternatively, does he feel with sufficient strength, does he want anything, plan or place or spectacle, with sufficient passion? We cannot be certain: he may be forgotten.

48 Something of doubt colours also one's view of America's entry and the career of President Wilson, in some regards a close analogue to that of Lincoln. The lines of that story are simple—the watching pose, the gradual approximation to war, the President's mental struggle, his decision to throw America's weight into the scale, his manifestos to the world in the names of liberty, honesty, and kindness, his determination that the war, if possible, should be the last. But the man at the centre of this tremendous revolution of events, the mouthpiece of these great sentiments, has he that last abandonment of feeling which alone captivates the imagination of those who hold the mirror up to certain aspects of Nature? Without denying that it may be a great blessing that he lacks that force, without presuming to know all about him that may later be revealed, I feel doubtful. Death, more particularly violent death, before the end, might have enabled artists to impute to him something that perhaps was not there, to give him the benefit of the doubt. But very likely for our good, possibly with the greatest wisdom, he compromised at Paris. A more spontaneous man might have ruined us all; but if compromise is excellent in politics, it is of small use to poets. I doubt if the President will take his place with St. Francis, Philip II., and Nero.

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There will survive from the war, and from the other events of our day, certain episodes which will, as by accident, draw the notice of artists and be, as we speak, immortalised. A few of the countless heroic and self-sacrificing actions which men have performed in every country and by every sea will be snatched from oblivion. Tragedians, in all probability, will brood on the story of Miss Cavell. The names of a subaltern and an airman, fortuitously selected, will live as live those of Hervé Riel and Pheidipiddes. But this is not what we call history. I think that the Rupert Brooke legend will develop. He was beautiful and a poet, and he died in arms, young. He had wandered to the islands of the Pacific, and his comrades buried him in an island of the Ægean. About him they will write poems, plays even, in which, their colour given by actions and sayings which are recorded, he will pass through experiences which were never his, and thoughts will be imputed to him which possibly he never had. Two older artists have taken a more prominent part in the war and its politics, a part that may indisputably be called political. Of Paderewski I know nothing, except that a man's progress could not easily have a setting more superficially romantic; the strength of the man may be guessed at by stray tokens. A person of whom fame in art may more certainly be predicted is d'Annunzio, a man not in every way admirable, but of a demoniacal courage, who has crowned a career full of flamboyant passages with actions that, as a spectacle, are magnificent: orations pulsating with ardour for the glory and power of the Latin genius, words that were pregnant of acts, and following these, after years of reckless flying, the sudden theatrical stroke at Fiume. As a49 "character" he justified himself by that lawless blow; his rhetoric finally proved itself the rhetoric of real passion, a lust for violent life, self-assertion at the risk of death, the flaunting of the Italian name; and, felt as such, it has moved a whole army and a whole people. Whatever the results of analysis applied to his character or the ultimate outcome of his splendid panache, he cannot but become, to the artists of one nation at least, a hero, the material for romance.

There may be others. But, projecting myself as well as I am able, I cannot see on the larger stage, amid the great fortunes of peoples and their rulers, more than two subjects on which I think we may be positive that they will pass into the company of material to which artists return and return, subjects which already outline themselves with some clarity to the imagination and have the air of greatness.

One is the fall of the German Empire. Were it shortly to be restored, the force with which its calamities will appeal to us would be diminished: for an end must be an end. But if what seemed to happen really has happened there is a spectacle there which will appear more prodigious and more moving as time goes on—that triply-armed vainglorious kingdom pulling the world down on itself; the long, desperate, ruthless fight against enemies ultimately superior; the "siege"; the quality, proud and assured if barbaric, of the Prussian spirit which filled the ruling caste and determined at once its fight and its fall. The tale is tragic, and almost epic; the persons are not yet revealed who shall be capable of being made, on the stage or in books, the instruments for telling it. Certainly, though men, misguidedly, will attempt to make Wilhelm II. sustain an artistic load to which he is not equal, the Kaiser will make no great hero or hero-villain. Possibly in some Hindenburg or other general will be found the strength, the simplicity of belief or resolve, which make a great figure; or possibly this will be of the tragedies in which the individual humans are all pigmies subordinate to the main theme. Elsewhere, I think, is to be found a man who has about him the certain atmosphere of imaginative life. He is Vladimir Ulianoff, Lenin.

I talked a few weeks ago with a Russian in exile, a Conservative, an official of the old regime, and (I think) a Baltic Baron. He was not, therefore, sympathetic to the Bolsheviks or to Lenin; he hated, though he understood, them and he loathed him. "Lenin has ruined Russia," he said, taking no pains to conceal his desire that Lenin should die. Then the imaginative man in him awoke, as it has a way of doing in intelligent Russians of all kinds, and he suddenly added vehemently: "But a hundred years hence a Hero of Legend, like Peter the Great and the Prince who first introduced Christianity into Russia."

I felt immediately that he had spoken not merely a truth, but an obvious one. Englishmen may have all sorts of opinions about Lenin; few have heard much beyond rumour of him, but even those who are most avowedly ignorant of him or most leniently inclined to him would scarcely like to find him in their midst. Yet there is that flavour of vitality, of greatness,50 about him that is lacking in many who have caused misery to none and even in some of the most potent benefactors of mankind. We feel it almost unconsciously; the recognition of it is, as it were, instinctive; a picture of him, growing from stray scraps of news and rumour, has been forming in our minds, a picture almost from the first differentiated from that, say, of his equally active colleague, Trotsky. Trotsky, one feels, might disappear to-morrow and leave but a name and some wreckage. But the other man, if he be not in the line of Tolstoi (as some of his adherents seem to suppose him to be), is in the line of the great oriental despots, of Tamerlane and Genghiz Khan.

And we shall know more of him, far more, than we shall ever know of Tamerlane and Genghiz Khan: as much very likely as we know of Napoleon. He has no physical attributes and no material accoutrements which might lend him adventitious aid as the centre of a pageant of power, struggle, or woe: a short, bowed man in a black coat, vivacious, hedged by no formalities of ceremonial. Yet to the imagination—and it must surely be so when he is seen backward—this little fanatic, who for twenty years was hunted from exile to exile, and returned to overthrow a government and enthrone himself on the ruins of a great Empire, is the centre of Russia, seated in the middle of that enormous web of conflict and suffering like an impassive and implacable spider. We hear this and that of him. He is genial in conversation. He is not personally cruel. He is willing to slaughter thousands at a blow to realise his ideas, for he looks at human affairs historically, if with but one eye. He is a poor speaker, but his words whip audiences into enthusiasm. He thought he would be overturned in three weeks, but adapted himself with instant decision when a longer lease was offered. This man and that is jealous of him and has tried to upset him; he has said this or that about his success and his failure; he will fly; or he knows he will be executed. The reports contradict each other, but the picture remains and strengthens, the picture of a man in the grip of an idea, with one of the strongest wills in the world, indifferent to the pains and pleasures of ordinary people. That ugly little face, with its swollen bald forehead, its slanting lids closing on straight penetrating eyes, its squat nose, its fleshy mouth between moustache and goatee, its smile mechanical as a mask's, will be more familiar to our descendants than to us. They will see in reverie the revolution, with vast ancient Russia as its background, and this doctrinaire tyrant as its centre, with his ragged armies, his spies and Chinamen, his motley gang of clever Jews, brigands, and mild, bearded, spectacled professors around him. They will feel his magnetism, and, whether as "hero of legend" or devil of legend, they will celebrate him.

Of these things perhaps men will write two hundred or two thousand years hence. But the duration of human life on our planet is measured, as we suppose, in tens of thousands of years.

We go to the grave. The sunlight comes into this room; it shines on the table and the books and the papers. I listen to the twittering of the birds,51 shorter lived than ourselves, and the intermittent rushing of the wind, which, while life lasts, goes on always the same. A car moans past; its noise begins, swells, and dies away. The trees wave about; a horse's feet plod by; the sunlight sparkles on the river and glorifies the mud. Clouds come over. The sun, unseen, sets; the evening grows bluer and lamps twinkle out over the misty river. So, noiselessly, proceeds time, and the earth revolves and revolves through its alternations of sun and shade. These airs, these lights and sounds, will be the same; but we, alive and immortal as we feel, shall have gone and the clamour that we made will recede. To an epoch we shall be the coloured strutters of history and of legend; to a later age, however remote and whatever the accumulation of our records, we must become august shadows like the dim kings and fabulous empires that passed before Babylon and Egypt. "Truly ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you." The sentence was written more than two thousand years ago; the author is unknown and receding. Yet, obliterated in the end though all remembrance of us may be, we shall not even on this earth die with our bodies, and for some interval, not to be computed, certain actions at this moment in progress will endure in a sublimated state, and certain men with whom we may even have spoken will enlarge to a more than human stature and communicate, as they could never do in life, their essence to the enduring tradition of men. Are they those whom we have mentioned; or are they, as they may be, others who to us are insignificant and obscured?



1 Letters of Horace Walpole; Oxford University Press, 16 vols., 96s. Supplementary Letters, 1919; Oxford University Press, 2 vols., 17s.


HORACE Walpole was a dainty rogue in porcelain who walked badly. In his best days, as he records in one of his letters, it was said of him that he "tripped like a pewit." "If I do not flatter myself," he wrote when he was just under sixty, "my march at present is more like a dabchick's." A lady has left a description of him entering a room, "knees bent, and feet on tiptoe as if afraid of a wet floor." When his feet were not swollen with the gout, they were so slender, he said, that he "could dance a minuet on a silver penny." He was ridiculously lean, and his hands were crooked with his unmerited disease. An invalid, a caricature of the birds, and not particularly well dressed in spite of his lavender suit and partridge silk stockings, he has nevertheless contrived to leave in his letters an impression of almost perfect grace and dandyism. He had all the airs of a beau. He affected coolness, disdain, amateurishness, triviality. He was a china figure of insolence. He lived on the mantelpiece, and regarded everything that happened on the floor as a rather low joke that could not be helped. He warmed into humanity in his friendships and in his defence of the house of Walpole; but if he descended from his mantelpiece, it was more likely to be in order to feed a squirrel than to save an Empire. His most common image of the world was a puppet-show. He saw kings, prime ministers, and men of genius alike about the size of dolls. When George II. died, he wrote a brief note to Thomas Brand: "Dear Brand—You love laughing; there is a king dead; can you help coming to town?" That represents his measure of things. Those who love laughing will laugh all the more when they discover that, a week earlier, Walpole had written a letter, rotund, fulsome, and in the language of the bended knee, begging Lord Bute to be allowed to kiss the Prince of Wales's hand. His attitude to the Court he described to George Montagu as "mixing extreme politeness with extreme indifference." His politeness, like his indifference, was but play at the expense of a solemn world. "I wrote to Lord Bute," he informed Montagu; "thrust in all the unexpecteds, want of ambition, disinterestedness, etc., that I could amass, gilded with as much duty, affection, zeal, etc., as possible." He frankly professed relief that he had not after all to go to Court and act out the extravagant compliments he had written. "Was ever so agreeable a man as King George the Second," he wrote, "to die the very day it was necessary to save me from ridicule?" "For my part," he adds later in the same spirit, "my man Harry will always be a favourite; he tells me all the amusing news; he first told me of the late Prince of Wales's death, and to-day of the King's."53 It is not that Walpole was a republican of the school of Plutarch. He was merely a toy republican who enjoyed being insolent at the expense of kings, and behind their backs. He was scarcely capable of open rudeness in the fashion of Beau Brummell's "Who's your fat friend?" His ridicule was never a public display; it was a secret treasured for his friends. He was the greatest private entertainer of the eighteenth century, and he ridiculed the great, as people say, for the love of diversion. "I always write the thoughts of the moment," he told the dearest of his friends, Conway, "and even laugh to divert the person I am writing to, without any ill will on the subjects I mention." His letters are for the most part those of a good-natured man.

It is not that he was above the foible—it was barely more than that—of hatred. He did not trouble greatly about enemies of his own, but he never could forgive the enemies of Sir Robert Walpole. His ridicule of the Duke of Newcastle goes far beyond diversion. It is the baiting of a mean and treacherous animal, whose teeth were "tumbling out," and whose mouth was "tumbling in." He rejoices in the exposure of the dribbling indignity of the Duke, as when he describes him going to Court on becoming Prime Minister in 1754:

On Friday this august remnant of the Pelhams went to Court for the first time. At the foot of the stairs he cried and sunk down; the yeomen of the guard were forced to drag him up under the arms. When the closet-door opened, he flung himself at his length at the King's feet, sobbed, and cried, "God bless your Majesty God preserve your Majesty!" and lay there howling and embracing the King's knees, with one foot so extended that my Lord Coventry, who was luckily in waiting, and begged the standers-by to retire, with, "For God's sake, gentlemen, don't look at a great man in distress!" endeavouring to shut the door, caught his grace's foot, and made him roar with pain.

The caricature of the Duke is equally merciless in the description of George II.'s funeral in the Abbey, in which the "burlesque Duke" is introduced as comic relief into the solemn picture:

He fell into a fit of crying the moment he came into the chapel, and flung himself back in a stall, the Archbishop hovering over him with a smelling-bottle; but in two minutes his curiosity got the better of his hypocrisy, and he ran about the chapel with his glass to spy who was or was not there, spying with one hand and mopping his eyes with the other. Then returned the fear of catching cold; and the Duke of Cumberland, who was sinking with heat, felt himself weighed down, and turning round found it was the Duke of Newcastle standing upon his train to avoid the chill of the marble.

Walpole, indeed, broke through his habit of public decorum in his persecution of the Duke; and he tells how on one occasion at a ball at Bedford House he and Brand and George Selwyn plagued the pitiful old creature, who "wriggled, and shuffled, and lisped, and winked, and spied" his way through the company, with a conversation at his expense carried on in stage whispers. There was never a more loyal son than Horace Walpole.54 He offered up a Prime Minister daily as a sacrifice at Sir Robert's tomb.

At the same time, his aversions were not always assumed as part of a family inheritance. He had by temperament a small opinion of men and women outside the circle of his affections. It was his first instinct to disparage. He even described his great friend Madame du Deffand, at the first time of meeting her, as "an old blind debauchée of wit." His comments on the men of genius of his time are almost all written in a vein of satirical intolerance. He spoke ill of Sterne and Dr. Johnson, of Fielding and Richardson, of Boswell and Goldsmith. Goldsmith he found "silly"; he was "an idiot with once or twice a fit of parts." Boswell's Tour of the Hebrides was "the story of a mountebank and his zany." Walpole felt doubly justified in disliking Johnson owing to the criticism of Gray in the Lives of the Poets. He would not even, when Johnson died, subscribe to a monument. A circular letter asking for a subscription was sent to him, signed by Burke, Boswell, and Reynolds. "I would not deign to write an answer," Walpole told the Miss Berrys, "but sent down word by my footman, as I would have done to parish officers with a brief, that I would not subscribe." Walpole does not appear in this incident the "sweet-tempered creature" he had earlier claimed to be. His pose is that of a school-girl in a cutting mood. At the same time his judgment of Johnson has an element of truth in it. "Though he was good-natured at bottom," he said of him, "he was very ill-natured at top." It has often been said of Walpole that, in his attitude to contemporary men of genius, he was influenced mainly by their position in society—that he regarded an author who was not a gentleman as being necessarily an inferior author. This is hardly fair. The contemporary of whom he thought most highly was Gray, the son of a money broker. He did not spare Lady Mary Wortley Montagu any more than Richardson. If he found an author offensive, it was more likely to be owing to a fastidious distaste for low life than to an aristocratic distaste for low birth; and to him Bohemianism was the lowest of low life. It was certainly Fielding's Bohemianism that disgusted him. He relates how two of his friends called on Fielding one evening and found him "banqueting with a blind man, a woman, and three Irishmen, on some cold mutton and a bone of ham, both in one dish, and the dirtiest cloth." Horace Walpole's daintiness recoiled from the spirit of an author who did not know how to sup decently. If he found Boswell's Johnson tedious, it was no doubt partly due to his inability to reconcile himself to Johnson's table manners. It can hardly be denied that he was unnaturally sensitive to surface impressions. He was a great observer of manners, but not a great portrayer of character. He knew men in their absurd actions rather than in their motives—even their absurd motives. He never admits us into the springs of action in his portraits as Saint-Simon does. He was too studied a believer in the puppetry of men and women to make them more than ridiculous. And unquestionably the vain race of authors lent itself admirably to his love of caricature. His55 account of the vanity of Gibbon, whose history he admired this side enthusiasm, shows how he delighted in playing with an egoistic author as with a trout.

"So much," he concludes, "for literature and its fops." The comic spirit leans to an under-estimate rather than an over-estimate of human nature, and the airs the authors gave themselves were not only a breach of his code, but an invitation to his contempt. "You know," he once wrote, "I shun authors, and would never have been one myself if it obliged me to keep such bad company. They are always in earnest and think their profession serious, and will dwell upon trifles and reverence learning. I laugh at all these things, and write only to laugh at them and divert myself. None of us are authors of any consequence, and it is the most ridiculous of all vanities to be vain of being mediocre." He followed the Chinese school of manners and made light of his own writings. "What have I written," he asks, "that was worth remembering, even by myself?" "It would be affected," he tells Gray, "to say I am indifferent to fame. I certainly am not, but I am indifferent to almost anything I have done to acquire it. The greater part are mere compilations; and no wonder they are, as you say, incorrect when they were commonly written with people in the room."

It is generally assumed that, in speaking lightly of himself, Walpole was merely posturing. To me it seems that he was sincere enough. He had a sense of greatness in literature, as is shown by his reverence of Shakespeare, and he was too much of a realist not to see that his own writings at their best were trifles beside the monuments of the poets. He felt that he was doing little things in a little age. He was diffident both for his times and for himself. So difficult do some writers find it to believe that there was any deep genuineness in him that they ask us to regard even his enthusiasm for great literature as a pretence. They do not realise that the secret of his attraction for us is that he was an enthusiast disguised as an eighteenth-century man of fashion. His airs and graces were not the result of languor, but of his pleasure in wearing a mask. He was quick, responsive, excitable, and only withdrew into the similitude of a china figure, as Diogenes into his tub, through philosophy. The truth is, the only dandies who are tolerable are those whose dandyism is a cloak of reserve. Our interest in character is largely an interest in contradictions of this kind. The beau capable of breaking into excitement awakens our curiosity, as does the conqueror stooping to a humane action, the Puritan caught in the net of the senses, or the pacifist in a rage of violence. The average man, whom one knows superficially, is a formula, or seems to live the life of a formula. That is why we find him dull. The characters who interest us in history and literature, on the other hand, are perpetually giving the lie to the formulæ we invent, and are bound to invent, for them. They give us pleasure not by confirming us, but by surprising us. It seems to me absurd, then, to regard Walpole's air of indifference as the only real thing about him and to question his raptures. From his first travels among the Alps with Gray down to his56 senile letters to Hannah More about the French Revolution, we see him as a man almost hysterical in the intensity of his sensations, whether of joy or of horror. He lived for his sensations like an æsthete. He wrote of himself as "I, who am as constant at a fire as George Selwyn at an execution." If he cared for the crownings of kings and such occasions, it was because he took a childish delight in the fireworks and illuminations.

He had the keen spirit of a masquerader. Masquerades, he declared, were "one of my ancient passions," and we find him as an elderly man dressing out "a thousand young Conways and Cholmondeleys" for an entertainment of the kind, and going "with more pleasure to see them pleased than when I formerly delighted in that diversion myself." He was equally an enthusiast in his hobbies and his tastes. He rejoiced to get back in May to Strawberry Hill, "where my two passions, lilacs and nightingales, are in bloom." He could not have made his collections or built his battlements in a mood of indifference. In his love of mediæval ruins he showed himself a Goth-intoxicated man. As for Strawberry Hill itself, the result may have been a ridiculous mouse, but it took a mountain of enthusiasm to produce it. Walpole's own description of his house and its surroundings has an exquisite charm that almost makes one love the place as he did. "It is a little plaything house," he told Conway, "that I got out of Mrs. Chenevix's shop, and is the prettiest bauble you ever saw. It is set in enamelled meadows, with filigree hedges:

A small Euphrates through the piece is roll'd,
And little finches wave their wings in gold."

He goes on to decorate the theme with comic and fanciful properties:

Two delightful roads that you would call dusty supply me continually with coaches and chaises; barges as solemn as barons of the exchequer move under my window; Richmond Hill and Ham-walks bound my prospect; but, thank God, the Thames is between me and the Duchess of Queensberry. Dowagers as plenty as flounders inhabit all around, and Pope's ghost is just now skimming under my window by a most poetical moonlight. I have about land enough to keep such a farm as Noah's when he set up in the Ark with a pair of each kind.

It is in the spirit of a child throwing its whole imagination into playing with a Noah's Ark that he describes his queer house. It is in this spirit that he sees the fields around his house "speckled with cows, horses, and sheep." The very phrase suggests toy animals. Walpole himself declared at the age of seventy-three: "My best wisdom has consisted in forming a baby-house full of playthings for my second childhood." That explains why one almost loves the creature. Macaulay has severely censured him for devoting himself to the collection of knick-knacks, such as King William III.'s spurs, and it is apparently impossible to defend Walpole as a collector to be taken seriously. Walpole, however, collected things in a mood of fantasy as much as of connoisseurship. He did not take himself quite seriously. It was fancy, not connoisseurship, that made him hang up Magna Charta beside57 his bed and, opposite it, the Warrant for the execution of King Charles I., on which he had written "Major Charta." Who can question the fantastic quality of the mind that wrote to Conway: "Remember, neither Lady Salisbury nor you, nor Mrs. Damer, have seen my new divine closet, nor the billiard-sticks with which the Countess of Pembroke and Arcadia used to play with her brother, Sir Philip," and ended: "I never did see Cotchel, and am sorry. Is not the old wardrobe there still? There was one from the time of Cain, but Adam's breeches and Eve's under-petticoat were eaten by a goat in the ark. Good night." He laughed over the knick-knacks he collected for himself and his friends. "As to snuff-boxes and tooth-pick cases," he wrote to the Countess of Ossory from Paris in 1771, "the vintage has entirely failed this year." Everything that he turned his mind to in Strawberry Hill he regarded in the same spirit of comic delight. He stood outside himself, like a spectator, and nothing gave him more pleasure than to figure himself as a master of the ceremonies among the bantams, and the squirrels and the goldfish. In one of his letters he describes himself and Bentley fishing in the pond for goldfish with "nothing but a pail and a basin and a tea-strainer, which I persuade my neighbours is the Chinese method." This was in order to capture some of the fish for Bentley, who "carried a dozen to town t'other day in a decanter."

Among the various creatures with which he loved to surround himself, it is impossible to forget either the little black spaniel, Tony, that the wolf carried off near a wood in the Alps during his first travels, or the more imperious little dog, Tonton, which he has constantly to prevent from biting people at Madame du Deffand's, but which with Madame du Deffand herself "grows the greater favourite the more people he devours." "T'other night," writes Walpole, to whom Madame du Deffand afterwards bequeathed the dog in her will, "he flew at Lady Barrymore's face, and I thought would have torn her eye out, but it ended in biting her finger. She was terrified; she fell into tears. Madame du Deffand, who has too much parts not to see everything in its true light, perceiving that she had not beaten Tonton half enough, immediately told us a story of a lady whose dog having bitten a piece out of a gentleman's leg, the tender dame, in a great fright, cried out, 'Won't it make him sick?'" In the most attractive accounts we possess of Walpole in his old age, we see him seated at the breakfast-table, drinking tea out of "most rare and precious ancient porcelain of Japan," and sharing the loaf and butter with Tonton (now grown almost too fat to move, and spread on a sofa beside him), and afterwards going to the window with a basin of bread and milk to throw to the squirrels in the garden.

Many people would be willing to admit, however, that Walpole was an excitable creature where small things were concerned—a parroquet or the prospect of being able to print original letters of Ninon de l'Enclos at Strawberry, or the discovery of a poem by the brother of Anne Boleyn, or Ranelagh, where "the floor is all of beaten princes." What is not generally realised58 is that he was also a high-strung and eager spectator of the greater things. I have already spoken of his enthusiasm for wild nature as shown in his letters from the Alps. It is true he grew weary of them. "Such uncouth rocks," he wrote, "and such uncomely inhabitants." "I am as surfeited with mountains and inns as if I had eat them," he groaned in a later letter. But the enthusiasm was at least as genuine as the fatigue. His tergiversation of mood proves only that there were two Walpoles, not that the Walpole of the romantic enthusiasms was insincere. He was a devotee of romance, but it was romance under the control of the comic spirit. He was always amused to have romance brought down to reality, as when, writing of Mary Queen of Scots, he said: "I believe I have told you that, in a very old trial of her, which I bought for Lord Oxford's collection, it is said that she was a large lame woman. Take sentiments out of their pantoufles, and reduce them to the infirmities of mortality, what a falling off there is!" But see him in the picture-gallery in his father's old house at Houghton, after an absence of sixteen years, and the romantic mood is uppermost. "In one respect," he writes, speaking of the pictures, "I am very young; I cannot satiate myself with looking," and he adds, "Not a picture here but calls a history; not one but I remember in Downing Street or Chelsea, where queens and crowds admired them." And, if he could not "satiate himself with looking" at the Italian and Flemish masters, he similarly preserved the heat of youth in his enthusiasm for Shakespeare. "When," he wrote, during his dispute with Voltaire on the point, "I think over all the great authors of the Greeks, Romans, Italians, French, and English (and I know no other languages), I set Shakespeare first and alone and then begin anew."

Not that it is possible to represent him as a man with anything Dionysiac in his temperament. The furthest that one can go is to say that he was a man of sincere strong sentiment with quivering nerves. Capricious in little things, he was faithful in great. His warmth of nature as a son, as a friend, as a humanitarian, as a believer in tolerance and liberty, is so unfailing that it is curious it should ever have been brought in question by any reader of the letters. His quarrels are negligible when put beside his ceaseless extravagance of good humour to his friends. His letters alone were golden gifts, but we also find him offering his fortune to Conway when the latter was in difficulties. "I have sense enough," he wrote, "to have real pleasure in denying myself baubles, and in saving a very good income to make a man happy for whom I have a just esteem and most sincere friendship." "Blameable in ten thousand other respects," he wrote to Conway seventeen years later, "may not I almost say I am perfect with regard to you? Since I was fifteen have I not loved you unalterably?" "I am," he claimed towards the end of his life, "very constant and sincere to friends of above forty years." In his friendships he was more eager to give than to receive. Madame du Deffand was only dissuaded from making him her heir by his threat that if she did so he would never visit her again. Ever since his boyhood he was noted for his love of giving pleasure and for his thoughtfulness59 regarding those he loved. The earliest of his published letters was until recently one written at the age of fourteen. But Dr. Paget Toynbee, in his supplementary volumes of Walpole letters, recently published, has been able to print one to Lady Walpole written at the age of eight, which suggests that Walpole was a delightful sort of child, incapable of forgetting a parent, a friend, or a pet:

Dear mama, I hop you are wall, and I am very wall, and I hop papa is wal, and I begin to slaap, and I hop al wall and my cosens like there pla things vary wall and I hop Doly phillips is wall and pray give my Duty to papa.

Horace Walpole.

and I am very glad to hear by Tom that all my cruatuars are all wall. and Mrs. Selwen has sprand her Fot and gvis her Sarves to you and I dind ther yester Day.

At Eton later on he was a member of two leagues of friendship—the "Triumvirate," as it was called, which included the two Montagus, and the "Quadruple Alliance," in which one of his fellows was Gray. The truth is, Walpole was always a person who depended greatly on being loved. "One loves to find people care for one," he wrote to Conway, "when they can have no view in it." His friendship in his old age for the Miss Berrys—his "twin wives," his "dear Both"—to each of whom he left an annuity of £4000, was but a continuation of that kindliness which ran like a stream (ruffled and sparkling with malice, no doubt) through his long life. And his kindness was not limited to his friends, but was at the call of children and, as we have seen, of animals. "You know," he explains to Conway, apologising for not being able to visit him on account of the presence of a "poor little sick girl" at Strawberry Hill, "how courteous a knight I am to distrest virgins of five years old, and that my castle gates are always open to them." One does not think of Walpole primarily as a squire of children, and certainly, though he loved on occasion to romp with the young, there was little in him of a Dickens character. But he was what is called "sympathetic." He was sufficient of a man of imagination to wish to see an end put to the sufferings of "those poor victims, chimney-sweepers." So far from being a heartless person, as he has been at times portrayed, he had a heart as sensitive as an anti-vivisectionist. This was shown in his attitude to animals. In 1760, when there was a great terror of mad dogs in London, and an order was issued that all dogs found in the streets were to be killed, he wrote to the Earl of Strafford:

In London there is a more cruel campaign than that waged by the Russians: the streets are a very picture of the murder of the innocents—one drives over nothing but poor dead dogs! The dear, good-natured, honest, sensible creatures! Christ! how can anybody hurt them? Nobody could but those Cherokees the English, who desire no better than to be halloo'd to blood—one day Samuel Byng, the next Lord George Sackville, and to-day the poor dogs!

60 As for Walpole's interest in politics, we are told by writer after writer that he never took them seriously, but was interested in them mainly for gossip's sake. It cannot be denied that he made no great fight for good causes while he sat in the House of Commons. Nor had he the temper of a ruler of men. But as a commentator on politics, and a spreader of opinion in private, he showed himself to be a politician at once sagacious, humane, and sensitive to the meaning of events. His detestation of the arbitrary use of power had almost the heat of a passion. He detested it alike in a government and in a mob. He loathed the violence that compassed the death of Admiral Byng and the violence that made war on America. He raged against a public world that he believed was going to the devil. "I am not surprised," he wrote in 1776, "at the idea of the devil being always at our elbows. They who invented him no doubt could not conceive how men could be so atrocious to one another, without the intervention of a fiend. Don't you think, if he had never been heard of before, that he would have been invented on the late partition of Poland?" "Philosophy has a poor chance with me," he wrote a little later in regard to America, "when my warmth is stirred—and yet I know that an angry old man out of Parliament, and that can do nothing but be angry, is a ridiculous animal." The war against America he described as "a wretched farce of fear daubed over with airs of bullying." War at any time was, in his eyes, all but the unforgivable sin. In 1781, however, his hatred had lightened into contempt. "The Dutch fleet is hovering about," he wrote, "but it is a pickpocket war, and not a martial one, and I never attend to petty larceny." As for mobs, his attitude to them is to be seen in his comment on the Wilkes riots, when he declares:

I cannot bear to have the name of Liberty profaned to the destruction of the cause; for frantic tumults only lead to that terrible corrective, Arbitrary Power—which cowards call out for as protection, and knaves are so ready to grant.

Not that he feared mobs as he feared governments. He regarded them with an aristocrat's scorn. The only mob that almost won his tolerance was that which celebrated the acquittal of Admiral Keppel in 1779. It was of the mob at this time that he wrote to the Countess of Ossory: "They were, as George Montagu said of our earthquakes, so tame you might have stroked them." When near the end of his life the September massacres broke out in Paris, his mob-hatred revived again, and he denounced the French with the hysterical violence with which many people to-day denounce the Bolshevists. He called them "inferno-human beings," "that atrocious and detestable nation," and declared that "France must be abhorred to latest posterity." His letters on the subject to "Holy Hannah," whatever else may be said against them, are not those of a cold and dilettante gossip. They are the letters of the same excitable Horace Walpole who, at an earlier age, when a row had broken out between the manager and the audience in Drury Lane Theatre, had not been able to restrain himself, but had cried angrily from his box, "He is an impudent rascal!" But his politics61 never got beyond an angry cry. His conduct in Drury Lane was characteristic of him:

The whole pit huzzaed, and repeated the words. Only think of my being a popular orator! But what was still better, while my shadow of a person was dilating to the consistence of a hero, one of the chief ringleaders of the riot, coming under the box where I sat, and pulling off his hat, said, "Mr. Walpole, what would you please to have us do next?" It is impossible to describe to you the confusion into which this apostrophe threw me. I sank down into the box, and have never since ventured to set my foot into the playhouse.

There you have the fable of Walpole's life. He always in the end sank down into his box or clambered back to his mantelpiece. Other men might save the situation. As for him, he had to look after his squirrels and his friends.

This means no more than that he was not a statesman, but an artist. He was a connoisseur of great actions, not a practiser of them. At Strawberry Hill he could at least keep himself in sufficient health with the aid of iced water and by not wearing a hat when out-of-doors to compose the greatest works of art of their kind that have appeared in English. Had he written his letters for money we should have praised him as one of the busiest and most devoted of authors, and never have thought of blaming him for abstaining from statesmanship as he did from wine. Possibly he had the constitution for neither. His genius was a genius, not of Westminster, but of Strawberry Hill. It is in Strawberry Hill that one finally prefers to see him framed, an extraordinarily likeable, charming, and whimsical figure.

Back in Strawberry Hill, he is the Prince Charming among correspondents. One cannot love him as one loves Charles Lamb and men of a deeper and more imaginative tenderness. But how incomparable he is as an acquaintance! How exquisite a specimen—hand-painted—for the collector of the choice creatures of the human race!




THERE is no doubt whatever about the need for it. Search high or low in our social world, you will find it full of laments and dissatisfaction. In the Services Commanding Officers complain that their subalterns, even though they have been through the Classical course at Public Schools and Universities, cannot write a clear report. Headquarters themselves issue their orders and regulations in barbarous, unintelligible jargon. Government Departments, manned by Greatsmen, wrap themselves in phrases of pompous obscurity, and Cabinet Ministers couch their decisions or agreements in terms of such ambiguity as to leave nobody certain of their meaning. It would, however, be unjust to attribute bad English entirely to upper-class education, classical or modern. The business man in his "esteemed favours," though he may be more terse and polite, is not always able to convey what he intends. He lays the blame, when he fails to do so, upon the faulty education of his clerks and stenographers. The masses of the public too often show in practice that they simply cannot understand printed rules and directions. It is naturally too much to expect a universal diffusion of taste or elegance in the use of our language; but even when we feel the need of fine words to express deep feeling we choose for an obituary lines like these:

There's a lonely grave somewhere,
Where our dear and brave boy sleeps;
There's a little home in England,
Where mother and all of us weep.

or these:

Who knew that when he went away,
Departing from his door,
How or when he would come back,
Or whether never more?
For he who went away in health,
In battle soon waylaid,
Which took him in the prime of life,
To lie in a distant grave.

No, there is little doubt of the need for teaching clearness and improving taste. As for correct and grammatical writing, one week's study of a popular daily newspaper yielded the following excerpts from a collection of two-score:

In the last resort we have to depend upon a jury drawn from the people to convict the scoundrel who has tainted our public life, and unless that jury does not do its duty, unless it is backed by the public sentiment of the people....

The accused was ordered to pay £3, or a month's imprisonment in default.63 At Paignton, in Devon, a gigantic plum-pudding is made and distributed to the poor, which in 1897 weighed 250 lb.

... the officers closed on him. In throwing him to the ground the revolver dropped from his hand.

The charge is 50 per cent. higher than the same sheet may be bought in the street just outside. But what is a penny to an American?

—— —— had an unfortunate experience. While seated in his greenhouse it was wrecked by the wind, and on being extricated it was ascertained that both his legs were broken above the knee, necessitating his removal to the infirmary.

Provocation has been given by the hostile and shifty conduct of the Tibetan authorities, since the signing of the Treaty of 1800, which would have justified earlier punishment.

While riding in a hansom at Southport a runaway horse dashed into the conveyance, and the shaft of the trap penetrated her body, pinning her to the hansom, and causing almost instantaneous death.

But if you come to estimate a day's work—even in foot-pounds—the woman who cleans, bakes, washes, and takes to school six children, carries water and tramps upstairs and down for sixteen hours a day, need not fear comparison as to kinetic energy even with a miner working eight hours.

What is the schoolmaster doing about it? He is teaching a great variety of languages ancient and foreign, sciences, arts and crafts, and among other things he is believed to teach "English." He has found out that it does not come by nature, and that a mastery of the English language cannot be assured by teaching something quite different. But as to the best method of teaching boys and girls to write, read, and appreciate good English there is a controversy. Just as in most other branches of education there is a traditional method and a reformed method. Upon the latter some of us build hopes of extraordinarily great achievements, and if these hopes lead us into impatience we must ask for pardon.

Though Mr. Mais2 justly claims credit for originality in departing occasionally from the fixed lines of English teaching as it is practised in the Public Schools, his "Course" mainly follows the traditional modes and is directed to the preparation of pupils for the orthodox type of examination. The nature of the course is indicated by the chapter-headings; for example: "Grammar and Syntax—Analysis, Parsing and Synthesis—Punctuation—Vocabulary—Letter-writing—Reproduction—Paraphrase—Dictation—Précis—Prosody—Figures of Speech—Indirect Speech—Essay-writing—Examination Papers." There are, beside these thoroughly normal chapters, six pages on Elocution, Debating, Lecturing, Acting, etc., a useful list of cheap books for a home library, more than fifty critical pages on Shakespeare, and a regrettable3 twenty-page chapter entitled "Short History of English Literature." I think the author is trying to shake off a yoke which is not entirely congenial to him. But if he will make boys write essays on Scandinavia, explain Synecdoche, paraphrase Keats, "condense the Vision of64 Mirzah to 300 words," he cannot complain if he is mistaken for one of the old regime and guillotined in distinguished company.

2 An English Course for Schools. By S. B. P. Mais, Assistant Master at Tonbridge School and Examiner in English to the University of London. Grant Richards Ltd.; 6s. net.

3 e.g. "R. L. Stevenson represents the incurably romantic and is followed by Kipling and Conrad."

The traditional method begins with the copy-book and proceeds by way of dictation and formal exercises to its goal in the essay. Dictation is the core and kernel of it, for even when the exercise is called "composition" the subjects are so chosen that the pupil needs detailed guidance throughout and the results are practically uniform. The writing is accompanied by reading and grammar, but the reading is severely limited and the text is obscured by comment and minute explanation. Poetry is not only studied with notes: it is analysed and paraphrased and parsed. The grammar, which is also traditional, is alien both in its method and terminology. The people who invented "English" in the middle of the nineteenth century were the classical grammarians who knew only one way of teaching a language, and had been forced under pressure from indignant parents to put "English" on the syllabus. They gave it an hour a week: they spent that hour in parsing, in declining uninflected nouns, in conjugating, in insisting that because the complement of a Latin or Greek copulative verb is in concord with its subject therefore "It's me" must be wrong in English. They did violence to our tongue in other ways to make a Teutonic language fit a Latin system, introducing all sorts of unnecessary complications of gender, mood and case, which do not exist. They transferred to English the whole cumbrous system of Latin grammatical terminology and then set harmless English children to explain their hideous technicalities. All because they had an hour to waste and were determined to waste it in the manner to which they were accustomed. They were assisted in this ambition by the Scotch professors of rhetoric who were especially strong in figures of speech.

And then they remarked with pain and surprise that their method did not succeed. Their scholars did not appreciate good literature when it was taught to them. They lacked originality in their composition. They were tongue-tied in their speaking and muddled in their writing. There was once a man who determined to teach his monkey to sing "Voi che sapete," an air of which he was inordinately fond. So he took an old stocking with a hole in the toe and two holes in the heel and turned it inside out in order to conceal the holes, and crammed it full with shavings and breadcrumbs and fried it carefully and fed the monkey on it. When he complained that the monkey's voice was no better at the end of the course, his friends used to explain that it was because he was an old man and had lived in the reign of Queen Victoria.

Remember that this "English" teaching has been well tried for more than fifty years. Substantially, the course we are considering now does not differ in its methods from books like Dalgleish's English Composition in Prose and Verse based on Grammatical Synthesis of 1864 or Dr. William Smith's English Course. The subject subsists as a shuttlecock in a perpetual game of Badminton between examiners and teachers. If you ask the examiner65 of English why he continues to set such stupid questions, he replies quite rightly that he is forced to do so by the stupidity of the schoolmasters who teach it. If you ask the schoolmaster why he makes his "English" the dullest subject in the syllabus, he will probably answer that he is preparing for the London Matriculation. If you look for an explanation of the method, you might surmise that the aim is to secure accuracy in grammar at all costs. But that is not the aim. Mr. Mais explains it in a paragraph which he might well set for analysis of pronouns: "Of all our failings as a nation, this is the most marked. In our talk we are reticent; in our writing we are incoherent and slipshod. Every schoolmaster knows from sad experience that the average boy cannot produce a readable essay on any subject, however hard he may try. He strives by every means in his power to instil a sense of originality in his classes, to teach his boys and girls to observe...." Originality and observation!

To take the second first, every scoutmaster knows that observation can be taught, but not by dictation. Probably there is no faculty of the mind which responds so readily to training and practice. By systematic questioning a young child can be taught to notice the common objects by the wayside on his morning walk, the goods in the shop windows, the flowers in the garden, to remember them and describe them afterwards with great fidelity. A good teacher of infants can easily teach a child of six or seven to observe minute differences, to compare and contrast similar objects, such as the bulb of the iris and the corn of the crocus. This kind of observation is commonly appropriated by science, and it is indeed the same faculty which the physicist employs afterwards with his fine balances and test-tubes. But it is also, when reproduced in language, the beginning of good English. Words are the balances. Careful description in words, written and spoken, of things actually seen is, when developed fully, more than half of the business of poets, journalists, and novelists. A few gifted mortals like Balzac, Gissing, or Hardy may possess the faculty by nature, but any one may acquire it through early training and continuous practice. It can be lost almost as easily as it is won.

Can originality be taught? Less easily perhaps than observation. Real originality, in the sense of creative power, or what in its highest form we call "Inspiration," cannot be taught in school. Who taught Blake to see the tiger burning bright in midmost eighteenth-century London? There are some men born, apparently, to be our masters. Ideas flow not into them but out of them. They are the mainsprings of our mechanism. We attribute their origin to the wandering breath of some holy spirit. But in a humbler sense children can certainly be trained to be original, just as they can be trained by opposite methods to be commonplace, slavish, imitative, genteel, conventional, correct, and accommodating. These virtues are taught with great diligence and success in many schools, public and private. In the earliest stage you copy in a beautiful copperplate handwriting words like "England Expects Every," and you read aloud very slowly from a little66 book which contains these words in immense type: Shun that ox he is shy. You recite in chorus after teacher, you correct your speech by mimicking her accents and gestures. You sit, stand, or march to numbers at the word of command. In the next stage you are promoted to dictation, and once a fortnight you write a composition. But as the theme is Duty or The Elephant or something about which you can hardly be expected to have connected notions, you are given the headings, told what to say, have your mistakes carefully underlined, and are then presented with a model or fair copy. Any departure from the normal, whether in spelling or in ideas, is heavily penalised, and no credit is given for positive merit. In the next stage you learn the art of letter-writing by studying celebrated models, you paraphrase good poetry into bad prose, you analyse and parse and explain grammatical terms, you summarise and expand, you turn direct into indirect speech and generally feed your mind with a generous diet of cold minced hash.

If I were a little boy trained for years and years according to this plan, I hope I should be grateful to my teachers for all the trouble they had taken with me. But, if they then turned round upon me and reproached me with not being original, I should be sorely tempted to commit a breach of good English and say "That is the limit!"

In the pedagogical and psychological sense these methods are twenty years behind the times. They have been exploded in theory and disproved in practice. Each subject in its turn has fought its battle with the Dictation Method, and everywhere, except perhaps in religious instruction, the principle has been decided. In drawing, the freehand copy has given place to direct observation; in mathematics, mechanical working of rules and examples has been replaced by intelligence and problems. Even physical exercises are no longer mere drill.

Perhaps it is in the primary school that we shall find the right principles most clearly marked, if only because with the younger children the teacher is nearer to Nature and mistakes punish themselves more visibly. There also the dead weight of tradition has been less oppressive. Before Madame Montessori's star had risen above the firmament the best teachers in English infant schools had solved the fundamental problems of how to teach good English. The principle is that what the child speaks or writes shall come from its own brain. The first medium of expression is, of course, the tongue. No children, not even English children, are tongue-tied by nature, but they are generally timid and sensitive. If they find their adult world discouraging communicativeness with anger, or sarcasm, or pedantry, they will close down upon the rock of silence like the limpet which you must smash before you move. Probably before he comes to school the child has already been silenced by a mother or father whose love will bear anything for the child except to listen to him. It is wonderful to watch the skilled teacher of infants repairing this mischief, re-establishing confidence between innocence and wisdom, unlocking hearts and tongues, creating an atmosphere of freedom in which she possesses, in reality, absolute control. Instead of67 limpets you behold sea-anemones full open. The children talk at great length in co-ordinate construction about their mother and the baby's tooth, and when they have finished they sit quiet listening to others. Sometimes the teacher takes up her parable and tells them about Cinderella or the King of the Golden River. In other lessons other mediums of expression appear—pencils, chalk, plastic clay, music, dance, drama. The teacher continues unobtrusively feeding the children with beautiful things, she sings and plays to them, shows them pictures and exhibits gentleness, calm, and love.

Amid all the fog of controversy and all the noise of disputing cheap-jacks that surrounds the art and practice of education I see some of these infants' class-rooms as clear beacons showing the incontestably true course. I cannot see any limit of years to its progress. Many boys' and girls' schools have grasped the same principles and extended them to the age of fourteen with the same undeniable success in the results. Naturally, as the child grows the method has to be adapted, but the principle remains steadfast. I would not describe it as "freedom," because the child is not free, though he feels free. One never doubts the existence of a controlling will. But what is encouraged is authentic expression. In writing, topics are set which draw out of the child's own world the child's own thoughts. He is guided to think for himself and to speak his thoughts fearlessly. The skill of the teacher is shown mainly in the choice of subjects and the discretion with which corrections are made. Observation is translated into description, first in speech and then, when the pencil has been mastered, in writing. A child of nine may be asked to describe a corner of the class-room so that a blind man could understand exactly what is there and what it looks like. A child of twelve may be asked to describe the prettiest room she ever saw. A child of fourteen may be asked to describe the Harrow Road (a) on a Saturday night, (b) on a Sunday morning. Why stop at fourteen?

As well as observation and description, the infant school trains the elements of imagination and invention. Cannot the child who at eight years old wrote on "If I were the King...." profitably be asked to write on "If I had been Oliver Cromwell...." at eighteen? In one girls' school the teacher merely wrote on the blackboard "When the Moon went out" and left the rest to the class. In the same way children can be trained to argue pro and contra about problems of their own lives which clearly admit of argument, like "Would you rather be six or sixteen?" "Would you rather be a boy or a girl?" People new to the method might suppose that, although the brighter children could possibly attack such themes with success, the ordinary or dull child would be left staring. It is not so. Whole classes of children trained in this way produce work which is pleasant to read. The essentials seem to be stimulating topics, authentic expression without dictation, and constant practice. To one who has seen the elementary steps there is no magic in the Perse Plays or the Draconian Poems. They are natural. It is dullness that is artificial. Real dullness, such as one finds in68 Common Rooms, Mess Rooms, Pulpits, and Government Offices is the fruit of a long, careful, and generally expensive education in that quality.

In teaching a young person to speak and write you are also teaching him to think, because words represent thoughts. The adult may be able to think connectedly in silence, but the child generally cannot. The child's world is, however, at the largest a little one, and it is necessary to enlarge it by various means, including stories and pictures, songs and books. The book gradually becomes more prominent as the art of reading is mastered. A child constantly encouraged to express himself freely, always giving out and seldom taking in, would develop a number of unpleasant qualities. Therefore reading is only second to writing in its importance. A generous supply of good books is the second fundamental necessity of sound English teaching. So far as I know, no school has ever reached the limit in this direction. There is an excellent society which bases its method of teaching mainly on copious reading and has been able to multiply seven-fold the usual reading programme of primary schools. But they seem to put the book a little too much into the foreground. It is citizens that we seek to educate. For them books should be the background of real life. We do not all possess those opulent libraries into which Ruskin would turn his princesses to browse at will; but I subscribe to his doctrine in principle. Mere quantity of reading is a great thing. The more children read, the better they will choose their books.

Now these two things alone, authentic expression and copious reading, are capable of producing good English. Children taught well in these methods can, without any formal instruction in spelling or grammar, write correctly as well as pleasantly. Something more is needed for those who seek to become scholars in English, and still more if they aim at the study of language. For such as these the teaching may gradually and progressively develop a scientific character. In the earliest stages fluency was itself a chief aim, and the teacher was compelled to be very sparing of interruptions and corrections. She had to use discretion and to judge for herself what mistakes were dangerous. She might not interpose though twenty successive clauses were joined together by "and," because she knew that it is natural for language to begin with co-ordinates and that mere mental growth combined with practice in reading and writing will cure the fault. She corrected vulgarisms, like "he done it," not with any grammatical disquisition but dogmatically. Even where the children come from homes where the King's English is never spoken, systematic speech-training in the infants' school can correct and refine language before pen is put to paper. These infant years seem to be intended by Nature for the learning of language. Ears are sharp and memories retentive. But habits once formed at that age, whether good or bad, are very difficult to eradicate later on. Perhaps pronunciation is best taught through disguised phonetics in the singing lesson and elocution in the poetry lesson.

In the first written work it may be found that the spelling is all wrong. Great controversies rage on this subject. But it seems right to regard bad69 spelling as a disease which needs careful individual diagnosis in the earliest stages, when it can be cured so as to give no more trouble. Most often it springs from some fault in the method by which the child has learnt to read. Some people are allowed to grow up incapable of spelling because they make out the printed word by some process of guesswork and never fix the letters upon their memory. Good or bad spelling very rapidly becomes automatic.

Much the same is true of grammar. As I have said before, accurate use of language can be attained by purely empirical and dogmatic methods. Grammar is no essential preliminary to good English, but nevertheless there may be a good case for teaching it later on to those who can afford the time. It is well that English boys and girls should know something of the history and structure of their language as well as their constitution. It may be necessary for the linguist to understand the common grammatical technique of all languages. Moreover, teachers naturally seek to limit the domain of mere dogma and to give explanations where they can. Thus a child can easily be cured of saying "Between you and I" merely through the teacher's command, "Say me." He can be cured of saying "Like I did" in the same way. He will of course be on surer ground if he understands the reason. Only let it be English grammar and not Latin grammar that is used. The reason why the child should say "I am taller than he" is, if a reason must be given, that than is historically identical with then, not that "quam takes the same case after it as before it."

If we could only keep our eyes steadily fixed on the goal and discard formalism, tradition, and antiquated examinations, there is in the work of the best infants' and elementary schools a broad enough base for us to build a sound structure of English up to the University and beyond. Perhaps some day a progressive University may try the experiment of an English Arts Course in which the first part would consist solely of Advanced Reading and Writing, and the second part of options between English Philosophy, English Philology, English Poetics, or English Criticism. It need not be any lower in standard than an Oxford Greats course.

We could not well spare the scholars. On the contrary, those who believe with me that English contains all things necessary to culture will be most anxious to enlist for its service the finest scholarship of the day. Some will think the fare provided in such a course as I have outlined too rich in sugar or fat and wanting in the tougher constituents which produce bone and muscle. It is essential to require more and more precision and accuracy as the child passes through the phases of adolescence. This was the real virtue of the old classical training, and it is too often wanting on Modern Sides. We must contemplate something very like the best of classical teaching applied to English Classics for big boys and girls.

I write as a Pharisee of the Pharisees, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. A man like Robert Whitelaw loved the literature of Greece and Rome with such devotion that its very forms were sacred to him. A false quantity70 or a false concord was to him a personal affront: it caused him physical pain. Accents and particles mattered to him and so they mattered to us. There was a right and a wrong. We did not understand why, but we knew and felt his scorn of anything careless or superficial. He read Sophocles aloud with an intensity that at first puzzled and then infected us. Occasionally, but all too rarely, it was his task to do the same with Chaucer or Browning. Why not?

But at this point I labour with a sense of unreality. Is it possible to capture for our language a tithe of that old classical fervour? We have buried our Grammarian upon his peak, fronting the sunrise. He settled hoti's business. I have heard him lecture for an hour upon the future sense of the optative with an enthusiasm that was drawn from some pure source in the depths. Doubtless he survives in disciples. Is it the mere mystery and power of the Word that inspires them? I will not believe that it is any inherent virtue possessed by Propertius but denied to Shelley that inspires the classical scholar. But where are our inspired teachers of English? I have an impression of critical, quizzical gentlemen, deeply learned in Elizabethan drama or Saxon dialect, but all the same terribly mild. I cannot picture one of their disciples seriously moved by a misplaced "and which" or an unrelated participle in English. Something is missing.

There are thousands of genuine lovers of English literature scattered up and down the country, people who feel the thrill of delight in verbal beauty quite as keenly as any classical scholar. But they want leaders and a voice. We suffer our fools too gladly in English studies. Any lunatic is allowed to criticise, traduce, misinterpret Dryden, Carlyle, Addison, even Shakespeare, as if they were our private playthings. They are not. They are worthy of their pedestals of worship just as much as Homer and Aristotle.

The issue of the War has established more firmly than ever the predominance of the English language in the world. If our schools would rise to their opportunity and raise English into a culture worthy of its qualities there seems no reason why it should not become the universal medium of civilisation for the world. The richness and variety of its literature and the simplicity and flexibility of its structure render it, as a language, amply sufficient. Whether this is visionary or not, it is no longer safe for those who cherish the humanities in education to rely upon the old impregnable position of Latin and Greek. The world has received one of those secular shocks in which tradition crumbles to dust.





A GENERAL good habit might long ago have been ruled for our national literature in the use of two negatives—"un" or "in," and "less." A good rule once made known, long ago, would surely have lasted. We might set about it even yet, though with much to chastise. Let us try. The fault of "un" and "in" is of long standing. That of a misapplied "less" is probably quite modern. What I have to suggest is an obvious enough correction, but the offence is broadcast, therefore correction cannot surely be inopportune or importunate. For who is there who does not give the teutonic "un" to the Latin or Romance word, writing "unfortunate" or "ungracious"? Or who now is careful to write "inconquerable"? Any man to-day would certainly write "unconquerable." It may not be that Bacon is always consistent; nor is Landor, who had something—but that something has proved altogether ineffectual—to say on this question of good English. We must own the incorrect use of the German particle to be the commonest thing in the world, but the incorrect use of the Latin or Romantic derivative, on the other hand, does not occur.

The Teutonic "un" comes more readily to the English pen than the Latin "in," and thus is joined habitually to the wrong kind of adjective and verb and adverb. Not only, moreover, to the Romantic word, but also to the Greek. We have learnt to write "asymmetry," but not to avoid "unsymmetrical." There is also a very frequent jumble, so that "uncivil" appears in the same phrase with "incivility," and "unable" with "inability," "undigested" with "indigestible," "ungrateful" with "ingratitude"—but I need cite no more. It is worth noting that these confusions are not due to a kind of reluctance in the use of "un" for nouns. We have many nouns with the "un" (not otherwise to my purpose): "unrest," "unbelief," "unfaith," "unhappiness," "untruth," "unthrift," "unskilfulness," and so forth.

Now I know well that the reader has been courteously waiting until I should draw breath for a paragraph in order to say "Undiscovered: Shakespeare." It is all too true. I can only repeat, murmuring, "Inconquerable: Bacon."

There is nothing in English that we should prize more dearly than our right negative particles of both derivations, and especially our particle of German derivation in its right Teutonic place. That "un" implies, encloses so much, denies so much, refuses so much, point-blank, with a tragic irony that French, for example, can hardly compass. Compare our all-significant "unloved," "unforgiven," with any phrase of French. There are abysses,72 in those words, at our summons, deep calling to deep, dreadful or tender passion, the thing and its undoing locked together, grappled. But in order to keep these great significances the "un" should not be squandered as we squander it. And neither should the less closely embraced "in" be so neglected. It has its right place and dignity and is, as it were, more deliberate. It is worth while, furthermore, to enhance the value of both our negative particles (one of them, of course, shared with French) by considering how poor a negative that last-named tongue has often and often to use for lack of a better; not even a particle, but a thing unfastened, a weak separate word, a half-hearted denial—"peu." Let us try to keep our "un" in its right place by considering how, for instance, it makes of "undone" a word of incomparable tragedy, surpassing "defeated" and "ruined" and all others of their kind. "Undone" has the purely English faculty, moreover, of giving to a little familiar word a sudden greatness, such greatness as leaps to Lear's "every inch." This was found to be intranslatable when Rossi acted King Lear in Italian; he had to speak the phrase in English. Wonderfully well furnished as we are for all adventures, is it not then time that we reviewed and revised our habits, and restored to their proper lineage the great contemporary histories of our language by a right and left distribution of the "in" and the "un"? Our incorrect ways were never standardized, or they standardized themselves by precedent. No, it is all too late. We shall never undo the habit now, or cease to be "unconscious" in our custom.

But for the other particle—"the less"—there is hope or there might be, but for Shakespeare's strange and slightly ambiguous "viewless." We might at least check new coinings. "Less" is in the construction here to be considered, though not in other combinations, fairly equivalent to the Teutonic "without." It has great value. It also locks close meanings with its word. But that word should be a noun, and not a verb. Yet it is a verb at the present day, not only in hasty column after column, but in page by deliberate page, and especially in stanza by deliberate stanza. For no doubt the perfervid poets have spread that fashion. You will find "relentless" scattered in modern verse, and "quenchless" and "tireless" frequent. Keats, instigated indirectly if not directly by Leigh Hunt, has "utterless." The misuse of "less" is even somewhat more to be resisted than that of "un" because in the case first named the grammatical construction of our English words (and we have not too many laws of construction) is violated. And beautiful words that are neglected for "quenchless" and "relentless" pass out of use; the words that have "less" for their lawful negative are cheapened; and writers of talent learn to dash and as it were to gesticulate.



Correspondence from readers on all subjects of bibliographical interest is invited. The Editor will, to the best of his ability, answer all queries addressed to him.


WE are glad to see that the Clarendon Press has published Mr. Percy Simpson's edition of Every Man in His Humour, a pioneer volume to the complete edition of Ben Jonson's Works, which the same editor, in conjunction with Professor Herford, has been for many years preparing. Their edition should, we think, be definitive (we use Sir Eric's magical word with extreme caution for fear of provoking the National Union of Textual Editors to down books and refuse to continue their researches). A new edition of Ben Jonson's work is certainly needed: Gifford, re-edited by Cunningham, is sadly inadequate; the text is bad and the notes explain nothing that one wants to know. One walks darkling through the Discoveries. Take Ben's remarks about painting—they are Hermetic. What, for instance, does this mean? "Parrhasius was the first won reputation by adding symmetry to picture.... Eupompus gave it splendour by numbers and other elegancies." We shall indeed be grateful to the new editors if they can tell us exactly how Eupompus gave splendour to art by numbers—and other elegancies. The secret might be whispered along the galleries of Burlington House.


Another interesting book that should soon, though there is no news of its immediate arrival, be coming from the Clarendon Press is the third volume of Mr. Saintsbury's Caroline Poets. The first two volumes of this massive anthology opened up a whole province of literature hitherto almost unknown to the general reader. In the last this great work of excavation and exploration should be completed. With the exception of Chamberlayne and the Matchless Orinda the Carolines of Mr. Saintsbury's choice have been very obscure. In the last volume, we understand, he intends to soar to the dizzy heights of eminence on which Cleveland stands. A good critical edition of Cleveland will be welcomed by all lovers of seventeenth-century literature. The early editions of his works are a piratical sort of publication. Some of his poems were, even in his own life-time, attributed to other writers, notably his Hermaphrodite, which was fathered on Randolph, and which he claimed as his own in an amusing little poem appended, later on, to the stolen piece. And yet, in spite of Cleveland's claim to his own property, Carew Hazlitt, in his reprint of Randolph, continues to attribute the Hermaphrodite to its wrongful owner. A very unnecessary and supererogatory blunder.


While we are on the subject of the Caroline Poets we would like to express a pious hope that some day, when we are all immensely rich, the Clarendon Press, or some other great publishing institution, will bring out a complete corpus of English poetry. More than a century has elapsed since Chalmers issued his English Poets, and the book, in spite of bad editing and very imperfect—indeed non-existent—critical apparatus, is still an extremely useful one. It contains a complete Gower, a complete Lydgate, a complete Hawes, and a complete Skelton. The text of these older poets is indeed atrocious; but the fact remains that they are there, reprinted and easily accessible in Chalmers's stout volumes. For any study of the eighteenth century Chalmers is invaluable; everything is in him, from the Ruins of Rome to the Pleasures of Digestion—or is it the Art of Preserving Health? A well-edited Chalmers would be a work of immense74 value. And if the Clarendon Press would go on, in the same edition, from the Carolines to the Georgians and back, through the Elizabethans and Tudors as far as the Brutians (the contemporaries of our first Trojan king), we should be for ever grateful. But before that comes to pass we must all, as has already been hinted, be immensely rich


A rather battered Purchas's Pilgrim minus its title-page came into our hands recently. It appears to be the second edition, but the only actual indication of date that we can discover is to be found in the following passage, on which by a happy chance we lighted while turning over the pages of the book. "Sultan Achmet is now, Anno 1613, five and twentie yeares old: of good stature, strong and active more than any of his Court. He hath three thousand Concubines." We cannot help believing that someone had been pulling the Reverend Samuel Purchas's leg on the subject of young Sultan Achmet's harem.


The other day we bought a charming little first edition of Candide (1759). The title-page is amusing: "Candide, ou l'Optimisme, traduit de l'Allemand de Mr. le Docteur Ralph"; no publisher or place, but the date MDCCLIX. It was often Voltaire's custom not to acknowledge his publications till they were a success. Zadig (1749) is similarly without author's or publisher's name.


Perhaps some of our readers may be able to throw some light on a curious and interesting book, Specimens of Macaronic Poetry, published by J. Richard Beckley in 1831. The volume contains epics written on a single letter, like that which begins:

Cattorum canimus certemina clara canumque,

Odes in this style:

Emma! fer chartam, calamos, et inkum,

And the old Scottish Testament of Mr. Andro Kennedy, of which the first stanza runs:

I Master Andro Kennedy,
A matre quando sum vocatus,
Begotten with some incuby,
Or with some freir infatuatus;
In faith I can nocht tell redely,
Unde aut ubi fui natus,
But in truth I trow trewely.
Quod sum diabolus incarnatus.

No author's name is given and we have had no time or opportunity to make researches. But perhaps, as we have suggested, some of our readers may be able to give us the information desired.


We were fortunate in recently securing a very fine copy of Certaine Learned and Elegant Workes of the Right Honourable Fulke Lord Brooke, written in his Youth and familiar Exercise with Sir Philip Sidney, Henry Seyle, 1633. It is high time that a new edition of these very interesting and, by moments, very great poems was published. Grosart's reprint is faulty and is, furthermore, practically unprocurable. As a matter of fact a new edition was, we understand, in process of being prepared by a very able young scholar of Christ Church, when the war broke out and the would-be editor was unhappily killed. Mr. Rose had, we believe, made considerable researches and had even discovered a certain amount of new material, but he had not committed the results of75 his labours to paper; so that the possible new edition of Greville has perished with him. If the rest of Greville's works could be edited as well as his Life of Sidney has been by Mr. Nowell Smith we should be very well pleased. But the prospect of getting any new edition at all seems now extremely unlikely.


Some early printed books of considerable interest have recently been added to the Library of the British Museum, among them a copy of Sannazaro's Arcadia, Venice, 1502, in a contemporary binding of boards covered with designs printed from woodblocks. Terentius: Comediæ cum interpretatione Donati, Baptista de Tortis, Venice, 1482. Elegantiolae, by Augustinus Datus, produced at Verona by an unidentified printer in 1483. Ptolemaeus, Liber quadripartit, Ratdolt, Venice, 1484. Maurice de Sully, Bishop of Paris: Les exposicions des euungilles en romant, Antoine Neyret, Chambéry, 1484. (Only four fully authenticated incunabula of Chambéry are known, of which this is the earliest and rarest. It is printed in large Gothic type and adorned with woodcuts. The Museum possesses specimens of the second, third, and fourth Chambéry books, and this is a perfect copy of the first.) Jo: Balbus Januensis: Catholicon, Jean du Pré, Lyon, 1492. Several examples of early Spanish printing have also been presented, as well as two first editions of Swinburne, Laus Veneris, Moxon, 1866, and Dolores, Hotten, 1867, with "The Devil's Duel: a letter to the editor of The Examiner," an attack on Robert Buchanan, written by Swinburne under the pseudonym of Thomas Maitland, and printed for private circulation in 1875.


With the present boom in seventeenth-century literature one is unlikely, to judge from the catalogues of the better-known booksellers, to pick up many bargains in Caroline literature in London. The collector's only hope will be chance or the oversight or ignorance of the vendor. We know of someone who recently had the good fortune to find a copy of the extremely scarce Lyric Poems of Philip Ayres (1687) in a parcel of miscellaneous rubbish. But that was a stroke of luck not likely to be repeated, and collectors must be prepared to pay pretty heavily for their seventeenth century now. The following items from various catalogues will indicate the current scale of prices for early editions of Jacobean and Caroline books. We shall be interested to see the prices fetched in the sale of the third portion of the late Mr. W. J. Leighton's stock, at Messrs. Sotheby's in the last days of October. The catalogue makes mention of many extremely interesting seventeenth-century books as well as important manuscripts and early printed books.


Messrs. Dobell offer eight first editions of Richard Brathwaite. Barnabee's Journall, published by John Haviland in 1638, is priced at £48, and Ar't Asleepe Husband? A Boulster Lecture, 1640, at £25. Two more copies of this last work are included among the books at the Leighton sale. The second edition of Carew's Poems (1642), in the original calf, is offered at ten guineas; and a first edition of Dekker's Tragi-Comedy, called Match Mee in London (1631), at £14. A copy of the 1772 edition of Carew's Poems, originally the property of Mrs. Browning, with her maiden name and date, 1842, on the title-page, is on sale at the Serendipity Bookshop, price four guineas. Another book of Mrs. Browning's at the Serendipity Shop is Samuel Daniel's History of the Civil Wars, 1717. This is one of those odd reprints of Elizabethan poets that are to be found scattered up and down the eighteenth century. Perhaps the most unexpected of them is the folio Works of Michael Drayton, Esq.; A celebrated Poet in the76 Reigns of Queen Elizabeth, King James I., and Charles I., printed by J. Hughs and sold by R. Dodsley, 1748. Among other valuable seventeenth-century books at the Serendipity Shop are Crashaw's Carmen Deo Nostro in the original vellum, printed at Paris, 1652, £40, a second edition of Herbert's Temple, and a first edition of Hesperides, or the works, both Human and Divine, of Robert Herrick, Esq., £140.


It is interesting to note what high prices the works of Surtees can always command. In Mr. Frank Hollings's catalogue a set of the Sporting novels, with Leech's illustrations, one of them a first edition and the others early issues, is offered for £37 10s.

On the other hand, a first edition of Friendship's Garland can be bought at Messrs. Dobell's for 10s. 6d., and a first edition of Buchanan's Book of Orm for half-a-crown.

People still seem prepared to pay high prices for odds and ends from the nineties. Mr. Hollings has a complete Savoy at £7 10s. and two first editions of Oscar Wilde at nearly four pounds apiece.

A first edition of Trilby (1895) can be purchased for 7s. 6d. at Messrs. Dobell's, and of Daniel Deronda (1876) at 18s. Evan Harrington, in the twelve original parts of Once a Week, is offered at 25s. at the Serendipity Shop.


Mr. Everard Meynell has a curiosity of nineteenth-century literature for sale in the shape of Coventry Patmore's Odes, dated 1868, but never published, for the following reason: "Early in 1868 he had written nine odes, which in the April of that year he printed for private circulation. Afterwards, keenly mortified at the coldness of their reception by friends, he made a fire in the hall and cast on it (as he thought) all the copies remaining in his hand, while he calmly sat and watched them burn. A friend, who had heard of the intended bonfire, persuaded his daughter Emily to abstract a copy or two, and these, with the few which had been sent to friends, were all that remained of the edition." The price of this soul saved from the burning is £8 10s., and a first edition of The Unknown Eros (1878), with inscription from the author to Richard Garnett, is priced £2 10s.


Having recently picked up cheap a third edition (1872) of FitzGerald's Omar Khayyám (Quaritch, 1872), we are interested to see that a copy of the fourth edition (1879) is for sale at three guineas. We suspect ourselves of having made a bargain, but are not yet quite sure.


Messrs. Dobell have an interesting collection of first editions of works by Victor Hugo, most of them presentation copies, with Hugo's autograph inscription, to Mademoiselle Louise Jung.

A. L. H.



(To the Editor of The London Mercury)

Sir,—On the assumption—I hope justified—that you propose to have a "Correspondence Column" in your paper, I write to plead that you should devote some of your attention to the subject of what is, I believe, called "book production." That your guidance as to the contents of books will be valuable I do not doubt; but I feel that an organ such as yours might be of considerable service if it would determine to devote some consideration to their physical form.

It may fairly be said, I think, that, as a body, English publishers produce their books as respectably as any publishers in the world. The Germans produce—or produced before the war—a larger number of agreeable-looking cheap books, and a larger number of finely-printed and bound editions de luxe, such as were specialised in by firms like Langen of Munich. But the ordinary German book of commerce was frequently very shoddy and the pseudo-romantic "Albert Memorial" tradition had never been entirely shaken off. The French presses issue many books which are a delight to possess. Their tradition is an old one. It can be traced through the delicate eighteenth-century editions, with their unequalled engravings, back to the Estiennes and the Torys, who were infinitely superior to the printers of their time. Throughout the last fifty years French publishers and "societies of bibliophiles" have issued editions of poetry and of old rarities exquisite in their taste: beautifully printed on the best paper and never eccentric. But the ordinary French novel or political book, printed in blunt unattractive type and "bound" in yellow paper covers, which fall in pieces at a touch, is certainly not a model that anyone would wish to copy. Much may be said against our wood-pulp paper and our common cloth bindings; but, on the whole, we certainly clothe most books in garments more durable than the books deserve; and the same thing holds good of America, though there the types and bindings are, as a rule, uglier than ours.

The fact remains that not one book out of twenty that we produce can be called beautiful, and that fifteen out of twenty are indisputably ugly. That the "public" will ever demand an improvement is a fantastic dream. The ordinary reader likes a nice book when he sees it, but will never make an "effective demand" on his own account. We have to rely on the initiative, largely disinterested, of (1) the publishers, (2) the authors, and (3) the critics.

Publishers, we know, must earn their living like other men; their chief attention must be given to procuring saleable "matter." But they have to get their books printed, and they have to get them bound; and while they are about it they would lose nothing, and we should all gain something, if they would see to it that the work was done by someone who cared about types and was anxious to make the best of the materials available at a specified price. Authors, again, may often be heard complaining that they do not like the look of their books; but does any author (except Mr. Bernard Shaw and a few bibliophiles who patently supervise the job themselves) ever take any steps to secure a "production" of which he would approve? Finally, though the critics occasionally praise a book for being "beautifully printed" or tastefully "bound," not one of them seems to make a regular practice of commenting on the physical design of books—which, after all, is an ingredient in our civilisation just as much as the design of cottages.

I should, as I say, be relieved to hear that the Mercury, from which we all hope so much, intends to "do its bit" in this connection.—Yours faithfully,

Original Subscriber.

[We think our correspondent is a little hard on English publishers. Some of them, though a minority, seldom produce an unattractive book; and the book-production of them all is on a higher average level than it was ten years ago, or has ever been in our time. But we agree that there is room for improvement, and scope for commendation or the reverse; and we purpose in our next issue to institute a regular page of "Book Production Notes," which we hope will give our correspondent satisfaction.—Ed. L.M.]




REYNARD THE FOX. By John Masefield. Heinemann. 5s. net.

It is an agreeable thing to find a man whose work has been overpraised writing better than he has ever done before. Mr. Masefield's earlier narrative poems were panegyrised for their vices: their unreal plots, their bad psychology, their sentimentality, their jog-trot metres. He; wiser in his generation, appears to have realised that the best parts of them were the "descriptions": details of vivid imagery, pictures of scenes and brief incidents; and that where he was dealing with a person he was at his best when the person was alone and in one self-centred mood. The picture of the widow alone in her cottage was worth all that incredible plot in the Widow in the Bye Street; the public-house scene and the birds following the plough remain in the memory when Saul Kane's spiritual struggles have faded away; Dauber was little more than a means of arriving at that peaceful entry when the ship trod the quiet waters of the harbour like a fawn; and landscapes were the only excuse for The Daffodil Fields. Mr. Masefield (who very likely realises that Biography, a poem that will not die, is the best thing he has done) seems to have discovered his bent. In Reynard the Fox there is only one leading character, the fox, and he is shown in no complicated relationships. It is the description of a chase and of a fight for life, and we could not hope to see it better done. Mr. Masefield's faults of writing are still evident. Lines like

He, too (a year before), had had
A zest for going to the bad

might have come out of one of the numerous parodies which have been perpetrated at his expense; he is unscrupulous in rhyming, he takes pot-shots with words, and he is occasionally grossly sentimental. But none of these faults is bad enough in this poem to get in the way. It is a poem to read again as soon as one has forgotten it, and it will give equal enjoyment every time.

The opening section, which describes the meet, is a little too drawn out; too much time is taken up with describing a multitude of characters, once seen and then forgotten. But no Dutch painter ever gave a better idea of the bustle about an inn than Mr. Masefield does, and the approach of the Hunt is done deliciously. We would spare little of the long description of the hounds who come round the corner in front of the red-coats:

Intent, wise, dipping, trotting, straying,
Smiling at people, shoving, playing,
Nosing to children's faces, waving
Their feathery sterns and all behaving,

and then draw round Tom Dansey on the green in front of the Cock and Pye:

Arrogant, Daffodil, and Queen
Closest, but all in little space.
Some lolled their tongues, some made grimace,
Yawning, or tilting nose in quest,
All stood and looked about with zest,
They were uneasy as they waited.


Byron said the octosyllabic metre is the easiest to write. It is, unvaried, the most monotonous to read. Mr. Masefield, who breaks into anapæstic passages when hounds are in full cry, pulls it off all the way. It was not an easy thing to supply enough bite to descriptions of earth, tree, and sky, to invent enough novel incidents, to enable us to follow without fatigue a ten or fourteen miles chase across country. But it has been done, and Mr. Masefield has also succeeded in intensely interesting us in the fox without (as a rule) making him any less an animal. When he finds one earth and then another stopped the reader's feelings are what they are when a hero of romance walks blind along the plank, and it is with an immense relief that, in the end, we find the fox (at the expense of another) escapes. The final description of the rested fox's nocturnal hunt and the hounds going home is admirable fresh painting. Here is the close:

Then the moon came quiet and flooded full
Light and beauty on clouds like wool,
On a feasted fox at rest from hunting,
In the beech-wood grey where the brocks were grunting.
The beech-wood grey rose dim in the night,
With moonlight fallen in pools of light,
The long dead leaves on the ground were rimed,
A clock struck twelve and the church bells chimed.

It is just the end of such a day.

THE SUPERHUMAN ANTAGONISTS. By Sir William Watson. Hodder & Stoughton. 6s. net.

Nobody could accuse Sir William Watson of over-colloquialism, morbid violence, or carelessness. A slight infusion of those vices might do him good. He is determined to be as lofty and orotund as Milton, as grave as Matthew Arnold, as sage as Wordsworth, if he can manage it; and the result is often a cold and carven monument of respectable but uninspired verse akin to the better of the large tombs in Westminster Abbey. On every page of his title-poem (a debate between Ormuzd and Ahriman) we find lines like

Legible haply in that brow benign.
Rashnu and Vayu and great Mithra, sons
With the huge monster's dragon armature,
Out of the pregnant and parturient dust
Large hereditaments of bliss and woe,

sentences, however mighty their mould, which are to modern poetry what Lord Chaplin's speeches are to modern oratory. This much, however, can be said for Sir William, that his brain is always working in spite of his lordly panoply of words outworn, and he who can penetrate his language will arrive at some sort of argument. The shorter poems are also magniloquent, and, like the longer one, barely escape commonplaceness by a certain activity of mind. But the language would not have been poorer had none of them been written.

MORE TRANSLATIONS FROM THE CHINESE. By Arthur Waley. Allen & Unwin. 3s. and 4s. 6d. net.

Mr. Waley's 170 Chinese Poems (Constable) was one of the most memorable books of recent years; and, what is more, was instantly recognised as such. Even those of us (and we can certainly claim to be a majority) who do not know Chinese could tell at80 sight that they were accurate beyond the wont of translations. They were obviously beautiful poems in the original tongue, and they became beautiful English poems through Mr. Waley, who has handled unrhymed verse as skilfully as anyone alive or dead, with a variety of rhythm and a flow of sound correspondent to sense, which is amazing in translations. The new collection should not be missed by anyone who has the old one; those who have not should get the old one (which contains a historical sketch, and which, on the whole, covers better poems) before this one. In his second collection Mr. Waley still devotes most of his space to Po Chu'i, really a greater poet than Li Po, of whom we have heard so much. The poems from him are again very diverse in subject and mood; and the more we see of him the more his personality attracts us. We may quote two shorter examples. One is The Cranes, which has the terseness, the melancholy, the directness of the best of Verlaine:

The western wind has blown but a few days;
Yet the first leaf already flies from the bough.
On the drying paths I walk in my thin shoes;
In the first cold I have donned my quilted coat.
Through shallow ditches the floods are clearing away;
Through sparse bamboos trickles a slanting light.
In the early dusk, down an alley of green moss,
The garden boy is leading the cranes home.

Po Chu'i's mild humour is seen in The Lazy Man's Song (A.D. 811):

I have got patronage, but am too lazy to use it;
I have got land, but am too lazy to farm it.
My house leaks; I am too lazy to mend it.
My clothes are torn; I am too lazy to darn them.
I have got wine, but I am too lazy to drink;
So it's just the same as if my cellar were empty.
I have got a harp, but am too lazy to play;
So it's just the same as if it had no strings.
My wife tells me there is no more bread in the house;
I want to bake, but am too lazy to grind.
My friends and relatives write me long letters;
I should like to read them, but they're such a bother to open.
I have always been told that Chi Shu-yeh
Passed his whole life in absolute idleness.
But he played the harp and sometimes transmuted metals.
So even he was not so lazy as I.

The finest thing in the book is perhaps Ch'u Yuan's The Great Summons. That is too long to quote; but we cannot resist Mr. Waley's version of a brief lyric by Li Po, Self-Abandonment:

I sat drinking and did not notice the dusk,
Till falling petals filled the folds of my dress.
Drunken I rose and walked to the moonlit stream;
The birds were gone, and men also few.

These translations may be not without their influence on English poetry; and though the Chinese spirit is not ours, the example of their exactitude and economy will not be thrown away.



In a note Lord Alfred Douglas observes that all great art is founded on morality; and that "good poetry is made up of two things: style and sincerity." These apophthegms are brief and unelaborate but indisputable. Unfortunately he proceeds to say that poetry has never sunk so low as now, and that "there is not a good poet among the lot," which suggests that he does not know where to look for poetry. He is out of touch with the time, and it is unfortunate for him. Again and again as we read his collection we feel that he is the last of the pre-Raphaelites, clothing genuine feelings in a faded vesture, and images and words gone stale. He has improved. His earliest poems might well have been left out; his latest include several sonnets (notably that beginning "I have been profligate of happiness") which have been, and deserve to be, in the anthologies. But the last exactitude of statement he seldom, as yet, has achieved; and his feelings about persons come out much more strongly and convincingly than his feelings about Nature or the eternal. This edition has a portrait.

FORGOTTEN PLACES. By Ian Mackenzie. Chapman & Hall. 3s. 6d. net.

In the last four years many young men have died who would have helped to make our age—as it will in any case be—glorious in song. Brooke and Flecker and Edward Thomas had at least partly expressed themselves; others, such as Wyndham Tennant and Julian Grenfell, had written one or two perfect poems and justified the muse; but there were some, whose talents only their friends knew, who might have ranked with the first of these, and died before they had outgrown their boyhood. Ian Mackenzie was one of these. He was in the H.L.I.; had a breakdown in England (he had outgrown his strength) and died of pneumonia on Armistice night, after hearing that peace had come. He was just twenty.

The present volume (his second) gathers up what was left over from his first, and is prefaced by a memoir by Arthur Waugh, every word of which will be echoed by those who knew Mackenzie, one of the handsomest, sunniest, most candid boys in the world. He was twenty; and as yet too young to hammer into form the large visions of his precocious imagination, and the queer thoughts that engaged his intellect. The reader who knew him will see in every line the promise of a great maturity; the reader who did not know him will probably fail to see more than a tumble of confused thoughts and images obscurely worded in rhythms that are often ungainly. But even he may be arrested here and there by a phrase beyond the common range of eighteen or nineteen. There are several such in Eyes:

Eyes swim out like strange blue fishes
Recovering beauty from the dark.

And several also in the poem which arises out of the childlike reflection:

What a strange marvel is the telephone.

The whole of the second section of Friends is clear and passionate, and there are lines at the beginning in which he makes the comparison of a thinker with a child looking at pebbles in a pool, which are of the last simplicity and completeness. He oscillated between an extreme analytical habit and a profound love for ordinary things. The first mood may be illustrated by his strange poem on Words:

I watch you talking, catching mouthfuls of air,
Which you twist around till you throw them out
In various shapes, such that each is clear.
Patterns of sound: some soft, some you shout;
Some are round and soft or dimpled and thin,
82 Some writhe and quiver fantastic about,
Some slip through the lips, and turn whispering in,
Till the waves of silence shut them out.
So, if we could not hear any sound,
But could see air moving like waves in a pond,
And the shape of every word had been found
Till they faded away in the air beyond,
And words came twisted in breaths of air,
You could tell each one by a careful stare.

The other is naïvely expressed in his phrase:

There is as much of beauty in one breath
As there could be upon the largest star!

He was immature; but he need not have troubled to cross-examine himself about

These three last years of fraudulent
Subconscious plagiarism,

For there never was a person so unable to be anything but natural.

A CHALLENGE. By Maitland Hardyman, Lt.-Col., D.S.O., M.C. Allen & Unwin. 2s. 6d. net.

Col. Hardyman was a young civilian soldier who believed in peace, was on the committee of the Union of Democratic Control, and died at twenty-three at the head of his regiment. "I have never seen or heard of a man," says Mr. N. H. Romanes, in his introduction, "to whom not merely a lie, even a harmless one, but any kind of misrepresentation, was so abhorrent." He wrote his own epitaph thus: "He died as he lived, fighting for abstract principles in a cause which he did not believe in." The verse of the man described here cannot but be interesting. But it would be an affectation to call it poetry. Genuine feeling often comes through, but in an amateur way. The nearest thing to good poetry in the book is Via Crucis, which begins:

Lord Jesus of the trenches,
Calm, 'midst the bursting shell,
We met with Thee in Flanders,
We walked with Thee in hell;
O'er Duty's blood-soaked tillage
We strewed our glorious youth;
Yes, we indeed have known Thee,
For us the Cross is Truth.

POEMS OF THE DAWN AND THE NIGHT. By Henry Mond. Chapman & Hall. 3s. 6d. net.

"Youth's a stuff will not endure," and in a year or two Mr. Mond will probably not be talking of storming the battlements of Heaven, and will not care to begin a poem with

An aged filthy hag, with bloated face,
Upon her haunches, wrapped in bloody rags,
There squats Bellona—splashed with entrails—

—words which do not really horrify us, and did not really horrify him. He shows certain gifts. There is observation at the end of The Silver Corpse, and in parts of The Fawn. But he strains after effects and misses them. Honest vision and honest feeling may be later discoveries. He would do well, for a time, to subject himself to a strict discipline formally.


NAPOLEON. By Herbert Trench. Oxford University Press. 2s. 6d. net.

This is a cheap reprint of Mr. Trench's play, previously published at 10s. 6d. net, and recently acted by the Stage Society. With the exception of The Requiem of the Archangels and one or two other poems it is certainly the finest thing he has done. Unfortunately the finest things in it are probably those which are least suitable to the theatre.

ATHENIAN DAYS. By F. Noël Byron. Elkin Mathews. 2s. 6d. and 1s. 6d. net.

Mr. Byron seems to have read the classics, and is obviously fond of Greece. The unfortunate moon has been compared to many things; this time it is a beckoning courtesan. There are few notable blemishes about Mr. Byron's poems; but he never ends them properly, and it is seldom clear why he begins them.

ANY SOLDIER TO HIS SON. By George Willis. Allen & Unwin. 1s. net.

A volume of lively verses, some of them in the military vernacular. The speaker in the title poem, after long service in the trenches, sums up his feats thus:

I never kissed a French girl and I never killed a Hun,
I never missed an issue of tobacco, pay, or rum,
I never made a friend and yet I never lacked a chum;
I never borrowed money, and I never lent—but once.

Not a bad record. The conventional poems at the end are competently written; "Bed" has something of the neatness, and something of the allusiveness, of Prior.

THE STATION PLATFORM AND OTHER POEMS. By Margaret Mackenzie. Sands, 2s. 6d. net.

"These Verses are not all sad—indeed, I hope that in a very real sense none of them are that." They are poems of sorrow and consolation, decently worded and written with a sincerity and simplicity that is sometimes moving. The author has a habit of being too simple. It takes some time to recover from a beginning like "I think maybe the souls of men are bulbs."

ECHOES FROM THE GREEK ANTHOLOGY. By J. G. Legge. Constable. 2s. 6d. net.

Mr. Legge has long been known as one of the most competent and comprehensive of the many who in our time have tried their hands on the Epigrams of the Greek Anthology. This selection is based on that given in Mr. Mackail's excellent little book. Mr. Legge says that many of his versions were made on the top of a municipal tram. He must be a self-possessed man. He never touches the level of inspiration reached in Lang's or in Shelley's few translations from the Anthology, but no translator, so far as we know, has done so many so well. He is always smooth, neat, perspicuous; his principal lack is music. He gives what is perhaps the best extant version of the epitaph on the dead of Thermopylæ.



JEREMY. By Hugh Walpole. Cassell. 7s. net.

THE YOUNG PHYSICIAN. By F. Brett Young. Collins. 7s. net.

POOR RELATIONS. By Compton Mackenzie. Secker. 7s. 6d. net.

THE TENDER CONSCIENCE. By Bohun Lynch. Secker. 7s. net.

SEPTEMBER. By Frank Swinnerton. Methuen. 7s. net.

TIME AND ETERNITY. By Gilbert Cannan. Chapman & Hall. 7s. net.

RICHARD KURT. By Stephen Hudson. Secker. 7s. net.

The literary arena of England is at this moment strewn with the forms of discouraged novelists who were hailed as coming great men and who have never yet been able to make any adequate reply to the hail. The arrival of Mr. Conrad, Mr. Wells, and Mr. Bennett, as writers concerning whom, in whatever tenor, our questions are answered, is within recent memory. Soon after that event a new generation rose. Henry James stooped from Olympus to examine them; and there was a good deal of excitement abroad as to their future performance. But where are they now? Mr. Walpole's latest book carries the history of a child up to his first departure from school. Mr. Compton Mackenzie shows us a popular dramatist struggling for life in the midst of a farcical crowd of relations. Mr. Swinnerton produces punctually one book a year in time for the autumn publishing season. But meanwhile what is happening to the English novel? Is anything happening to it?

It is certainly true that there is no perceptible curve of development or change. There are fashions. Two of the books before us illustrate one of the most popular of them, a fashion begun and now abandoned by Mr. Mackenzie. Mr. Walpole pushes the novel of adolescence to its extreme, or beyond the extreme, by the tender age at which he takes his hero. Mr. Brett Young goes through with it in conventional fashion, conducting Edwin Ingleby from early years at school to his final medical examination and the beginning of life. Mr. Walpole's Jeremy is a very faithful and exact record, and yet it is not easy to say why he should have written it.

Mary, however, was there, and in the very middle of her game, searching for him, as she was always doing, she found him desolate under the shadow of the oak. She slipped away, and, coming up to him with the shyness and fear that she always had when she approached him, because she loved him so much and he could so easily hurt her, said:

"Aren't you coming to play, Jeremy?"

"I don't care," he answered gruffly.

"It isn't any fun without you." She paused and added: "Would you mind if I stayed here too?"

"I'd rather you played," he said; and yet he was comforted by her, determined, as he was, that she should never know it!

"I'd rather stay," she said, and then gazed with that melancholy stare through her large spectacles, that always irritated Jeremy, out across the garden.

"I'm all right," he said again; "only my stocking tickles, and I can't get at it—it's the back of my leg. I say, Mary, don't you hate the Dean's Ernest?"

A not too exigent reader might still fail to be surprised or delighted by that passage or by a hundred like it, and of such passages the book is made up. If Mr. Walpole continues the child's career on the same scale his followers will groan; and yet perhaps as Jeremy85 grew older he might grow more interesting. For it is unlikely that, except in rare cases, a grown man will remember enough of childhood to make the material of a long novel. And the character of even the most remarkable child is not, after all, sufficiently broad, sufficiently varied, to bear the weight of this exhaustive description.

Mr. Brett Young's less unusual design gives him better opportunities for the use of his talent, but not often the opportunities his talent deserves. He came into notice a little later than that younger generation which we have mentioned, and in some ways his gifts are superior to those of any novelist of his own age. But it is a matter for doubt whether they are strictly the gifts of a novelist. In the row of his books, all sincere, all well written, all with obvious merits, the best is undeniably his account of the East African Campaign, Marching on Tanga, the second his collection of poems, Five Degrees South. In these two, landscape and his delight in it had an uncontested supremacy. In his novels up to now that supremacy has been contested by the characters, who have, however, faded away in the end against the background like puffs of smoke. This certainly allowed the author's best talent to be displayed at advantage, and yet it is a doubtful recommendation of a novel to say that the persons in it can hardly be noticed.

In The Young Physician the persons are not so unobtrusive, and the hero, if we had not been aware of him before, would have forced himself on our attention by committing manslaughter in the last pages of the book. He does, however, live and move before that, and the characters around him at home, at school, at the university where he studies medicine, are living and moving human beings. But the more clearly we see Edwin and his surroundings the less, very unfortunately, we see of those poetical qualities to which we have grown accustomed in Mr. Brett Young. Certain of the human relations are indeed very well drawn. Edwin's love for his mother and his grief at her death make moving passages. The episode in which he is drawn closer to his lonely father is excellently done. But the second part of the book, where Mr. Brett Young voluntarily confines himself in North Bromwich, is not, on the whole, a distinguished piece of work. Here the author is without his hills, trees, and clouds, and is compelled to exert himself in the observation and delineation of character. But though he does his work here cleanly and honestly, as we have a right to expect from him, he does it lifelessly and without enthusiasm. "W. G.," Boyce, even Rosie Beaucaire are alive and credible, but it is hard for the reader not to suspect that Mr. Brett Young takes but little interest in them and impossible, with that suspicion in his mind, to take much interest in them himself. Much the best part of the book is the description of the journey made by Edwin and his father to the deserted mining village in the Mendips, which had been the father's home. Here Mr. Brett Young has his opportunity for description and uses it well in a dozen passages.

And, from a final crest, the road suddenly fell steeply through the scattered buildings of a hamlet. An inn, with a wide space for carts to turn in, stood on a sort of platform at the right-hand side of the highway, and in front of the travellers lay the mass of Mendip: the black bow of Axdown with its shaggy flanks, the level cliffs of Callow, and a bold seaward spur, so lost in watery vapours that it might well have claimed its ancient continuity with the islands that swam beyond in the grey sea. In the light of his new enthusiasms Edwin found it more impressive than any scene that he remembered; more inspiring, though less vast in its perspective, than the dreamy plain of the Severn's upper waters that he had seen so many times from Uffdown. For these hills were very mountains, and mightier in that they rose sheer from a plain that had been bathed in water within the memory of man. And more than all this ... far more ... they were the home of his fathers.

This quotation does not indicate, a dozen such could not exhaust, the grace and charm of the episode in the Mendips. Here, perhaps, for a moment in the midst of an unsatisfactory book Mr. Brett Young has attained a higher level of achievement than ever86 before. His persons do not here fade into the landscape, but rather blend with it into one picture, of which they are as essential a part as the hills and clouds. There is still, it must be confessed, a certain lack of vigour in the presentation, but if the author could compose a whole book in this manner it would be a very fine and remarkable performance. Perhaps he may still do so. It would be very rash to decide at this moment that the novel is not the form of art which he ought to pursue. But even if we reserve judgment on this point, there can be no doubt that the scheme of The Young Physician is in any case not well adapted to his particular gifts.

Mr. Compton Mackenzie, however, who invented and popularised this kind of novel, has, in his latest production, thought fit to drop it. It was indeed desirable, after the unfortunate affair of Sylvia and Michael, that he should attempt to break new ground; but we think that many of his admirers will read Poor Relations in a mood of pleasure mingled with dismay. One critic observed of Guy and Pauline that the future of the English novel was, to a quite considerable extent, in Mr. Mackenzie's hands. But the future of the English novel does not really lie in the direction of rattling books for railway journeys, where humour is derived from cows, comic clergymen, and an overwhelming hair-wash. Those who fixed Mr. Mackenzie with solemn expressions of expectation on the ground of Carnival and Sinister Street will probably be hard put to it to know what to make of this romping and boisterous piece of work. It contains little more of what the author has been praised for than his vitality—which was much diminished in Sylvia and Michael—and his verbal ingenuity. But it does show high spirits and an eye not blind to those obvious humorous effects, such as bad wine, mischievous and inquisitive children, the nervous author with his secretary, and so forth, which when they are whole-heartedly embraced are, after all, still humorous. If the future of the English novel really is in Mr. Mackenzie's hands and if he continues in his present mood, the English novel is going to have a queer time of it. But if he has done nothing else, he has proved himself free of priggishness.

Among these novelists only two, Mr. Swinnerton and Mr. Lynch, much concern themselves with what was once an urgent topic of conversation, with the business, namely, of giving the novel shape and compactness. This, it was at one time announced, was the direction in which English fiction was moving, and perhaps it is still the most significant movement, though it is accidentally a little veiled at present. But Mr. Swinnerton, who is a novelist pure and simple, who follows no extravagant theory, has no doctrinaire axe to grind, seems bent on making shipwreck of his powers. Some novels can be written, as was Mademoiselle de Maupin, in six weeks. But Mr. Swinnerton has not yet written a novel like Mademoiselle de Maupin, nor does it appear probable that he will do so. He seems to have fallen into the habit of producing a cross between a good book and "the commercial article" in good time for the autumn publishing season once a year. Thus are the hopes raised by Nocturne disappointed; and those who were disconcerted but cheerful last year under the stroke administered by Shops and Houses will possibly falter in despair this year under the more poignant blow of September. It is the theme of a beautiful woman, whose placid life does not flower into passion until she is nearing middle age. Cherry Mant, who hardly hurts Marian Forster by tampering with the affections of her good fellow of a husband, wounds her deeply by making off with her youthful lover, Nigel Sinclair; and both acts of rapine are cleverly introduced by a silly joke about the name of a brand of cigarettes. It is true: Mr. Swinnerton knows his business. And if he has not the final fusing fire of genius, he has talent in great quantities, experience, and knowledge and cleverness. He has learnt his art, but rather than apply his learning he gives us once a year the irritating phantom of a good book. His theme and his conception of its treatment are excellent. But he will not pursue sufficiently deeply his researches into character, and unless he can resign himself to missing the season now and again, he will be lost to the English novel.87 His is not one of those talents that shine in rash and careless brilliance. It requires intensive labour to make the best of it.

The same judgment applies with equal force to Mr. Lynch's talent. The difference between him and Mr. Swinnerton is that he has taken the trouble to make the best he can of his theme, which is exiguous and yet sufficient. The story turns on Jimmy Guise's gradual discovery of his wife's worthlessness; and the hasty reader might complain that in a short book Mr. Lynch has spent a great deal of time over a very small matter. But those who range through contemporary fiction, anxious to be hopeful, will be more interested in the care which he has spent on every facet of the tale. The device, by which Jimmy is at once presented, full length and in detail, to the reader, while Blanche is gradually discovered, is one of those solid and sufficient inventions which immediately command respect. The exact and measured discovery of her worthlessness takes place by slow, inexorable degrees which show that the author has never once relaxed his vigilance over his composition. There are, it is true, irrelevancies even in so short a work. Jessie Carruthers was not really necessary as a foil to Blanche. The "New Department," though it is deliciously sketched, takes too prominent a place. But these irrelevancies do not noticeably distort the general scheme, and are in fact probably the result of Mr. Lynch's unconscious recognition that his plot was a little too slender for even so brief a novel. But, in spite of this initial difficulty, The Tender Conscience is a very creditable and satisfactory performance and gives grounds for looking forward with much interest to Mr. Lynch's future development.

The novels of Mr. Gilbert Cannan and Mr. Stephen Hudson are of the sort in which an attempt is made to simulate distinction by gratuitous eccentricity. Some painters, in order to improve the landscapes with which nature has provided them, screw up their eyes until the scene before them runs into a confused blur. Mr. Cannan and Mr. Hudson make this grimace before the spectacle of life. It is a fashion like another, but it has less usefulness and, we imagine, less durability than the novel of adolescence.

Mr. Cannan's book contains a gentleman named Perekatov with a "massive Jewish face, thick, sensitive lips, a heavy blue chin, and tragic, short-sighted eyes," another gentleman named Stephen Lawrie, whose characteristics are not so obvious, and a young lady named Valérie du Toit, who appears to be the incarnation of all that Mr. Cannan considers glorious. The thesis of the story, so far as we have been able to discern it in the gyrations of these and other characters, is that the true England was not in the war, but sat unheeded, forgotten, alone, in a little garret until the fighting was over. Mr. Cannan is plainly dissatisfied about something, but he lacks a brain sufficiently clear to make the reader understand what it is or what he wishes done. Meanwhile he creates unreal scenes of physical and mental misery and squalor through which the stoutest hearted could not drag themselves unyawning or undepressed. Their yawns and their depression are, it is true, in some sort a tribute to Mr. Cannan's powers. He creates these scenes with a certain vigour and finish, but his qualities will be for ever wasted unless he can raise himself out of his present state of aimless gloom.

Mr. Hudson, perhaps even more than Mr. Cannan, has forgotten the limitations imposed on him by his material, which is life. In this story of Richard Kurt, his shallow and philandering wife, Elinor, and his crafty young mistress, Virginia, he seems to suppose that nothing more than his bare word is needed to carry off impossible events and unnatural psychology. But the novelist's task is not so easy as this. He cannot secure originality by willing it or by producing an unexpected situation out of the void. The unusual situation must be justified, not only by itself, but by all that has preceded it. The novel effect which is obtained by suddenly altering a character already defined is below childishness. As for the rest, this is a tale of the idle and indigent rich and their experiments in adultery. Richard Kurt appears to be a perfectly worthless person, so irritating in his sins and weaknesses, that it is easy to understand the feelings of his88 disagreeable father and his frivolous, selfish, restless wife. Virginia, unfortunately, does not in a strict sense, exist. The maiden, whose one desire it is to be seduced without appearing to consent or even to be aware of the incident, may live somewhere in the case-books of the pathologists; but Mr. Hudson has not delivered her from that prison-house. He tells us that such was her behaviour and such her motives, but the reader involuntarily declines to accept the assertion. Nor is it likely that the reader would much care if it were true.

OVER AND ABOVE. By J. E. Gurdon. Collins. 7s. 6d. net.

This is a curiously naïve and artless story of the adventures of an airman, as seen through the eyes of one Warton, whom we meet crossing to France for the first time and leave going back to England on transfer to home service, with a Military Cross and two bars. It is written with evident knowledge and covers most of the typical incidents in an airman's life at the front. It is written, too, with complete sincerity, and it is easy to discern the author's personality behind the speeches of his characters and his own asides. Yet for all this it is hardly a success, hardly so convincing or informing as a number of books that have been built on a much slighter foundation of first-hand knowledge. The fights described are not clear or lucid, the persons introduced never become real. All this goes to show that both some natural gift for, and some practice in, literary composition are necessary for any book as well as experience of the life it depicts.

THE NEW DECAMERON. By Various Authors. Blackwell. 6s. net.

The New Decameron is a fascinating title which covers a disappointing book. The greatness of the original Decameron springs, after all, in the first place from the extraordinary beauty of the introduction, which sets the reader in a proper state of mind for the stories that follow and which lingers with him ever afterwards if he reads a story here and there at random. But the state of mind produced by the setting here, in which a miscellaneous collection of rather disagreeable persons is becalmed in mid-Channel in an excursion steamer, by no means recalls the magic of the Tuscan garden. The stories vary greatly in quality, but none of them is entitled to be considered very seriously. The best would make pleasant patches in our magazines, and the worst would be bad anywhere. The jokes at the expense of German dullness in the "Professor's Tale" are made with neatness and point. The Stone House Affair is not a bad detective story. The Upper Room is a decadent effort of a somewhat antiquated kind, but it is not too ill-written. There is no reason why these stories should not have been both written and published. But the great name under which they are announced and the elaboration of their frame make them seem perhaps more insignificant than they really are.

THE REVOLT OF YOUTH. By Coralie Hobson. Werner Laurie. 6s. net.

The squalors of theatrical touring companies seem to be, and no doubt are, capable of indefinite exploitation by novelists. Readers who care to be mildly harrowed by these topics will find in this volume all the pabulum to which they have been accustomed in innumerable other books. But those who have no particular taste for this sort of thing beyond moderation will confine themselves to wondering in what the revolt of youth here consists and in what way they are expected to find it a moving performance. Louie breaks away from home, goes on the stage, is a failure, returns and marries her cousin. There is a suicide and a good deal of illicit love-making, and at the end the heroine behaves with conventionally noble unconventionality. But these things are wearisome if one has no special taste for them.



SOME DIVERSIONS OF A MAN OF LETTERS. By Edmund Gosse, C.B. Heinemann. 7s. 6d. net.

Diversions? In a sense they are all, they have always been, diversions. Mr. Gosse has never allowed the chains of the critical vocation to weigh heavily upon him. It has been consistently his especial characteristic that he has approached the most difficult problems in literature with undaunted courage and vivacity. Where others have sat down to the difficult siege of Donne or Swinburne with the pedantic long faces of writers determined not to flinch even though all their readers fall asleep during the fray, Mr. Gosse advances lightly, blows a pleasant blast on the trumpet of his familiar prose and topples the most obdurate walls over before him, without ever losing the least part of his dignity. This it is which makes his reputation one of the assets of modern English literature. He represents among us a school of critics of which the disciples in this country are by no means too numerous. During a long career he has found and continually practised the secret of being almost always sound and never dull, invariably vivacious, and hardly ever superficial. His critical essays have always the gay, untrammelled air, if not the frivolous substance, of pure diversions.

In his new collection he ranges among a variety of subjects and takes now a well-worn road, now a path that has tempted few enquirers. The Songs of Shakespeare is not precisely a subject to attract the dealer in literary fireworks. It is, on the other hand, a subject ripe for the most portentous, the most meaningless, the most tedious aberrations of the pedant. Yet how delicately does Mr. Gosse, in no more than five pages, steer between these extremes and plant the arrow of his comment exactly on the necessary spot! Benjamin Disraeli, in his capacity as novelist, makes a theme not much less forbidding to the critic who doubts his own ability to be original. But Mr. Gosse is, with justice, serenely confident in the power of his style to overcome this difficulty. There is perhaps little in this essay which has not been both perceived and expressed before. But it is Mr. Gosse who crystallises mature opinion on the novels of Disraeli in a passage which might be taken as a model of discrimination and style or critical prose:

Disraeli began his career, as I have pointed out in the earlier part of this essay, as a purveyor of entertainment to the public in a popular and not very dignified kind. He contended with the crowd of fashionable novelists whose books consoled the leisure of Mrs. Wititterly as she reclined on the drawing-room sofa. He found rivals in Bulwer and Mrs. Gore, and a master in Plumer Ward. His brilliant stories sold, but at first they won him little advantage. Slowly, by dint of his inherent force of genius, his books have not merely survived their innumerable fellows, but they have come to represent to us the form and character of a whole school; nay, more, they have come to take the place in our memories of a school which, but for them, would have utterly passed away and been forgotten. Disraeli, accordingly, is unique, not merely because his are the only fashionable novels of the pre-Victorian era which anyone ever reads nowadays, but because in his person that ineffable manner of the "thirties" reaches an isolated sublimity and finds a permanent place in literature. But if we take a still wider view of the literary career of Disraeli, we are bound to perceive that the real source of the interest which his brilliant books continue to possess is the evidence their pages reveal of the astonishing personal genius of the man. Do what we will, we find ourselves looking beyond Contarini Fleming and Sidonia and Vivian Grey to the adventurous Jew who, by dint of infinite resolution and an energy which never slept, conquered all the prejudices of convention, and trod English society beneath his foot in the triumphant irony of success. It is the living Disraeli who is always more salient than the most fascinating of his printed pages.

90 We have chosen this passage, not because it is the most remarkable in the book, but almost at random, and in preference to some which are more brilliant and more highly wrought. But it is a fair example not only of the grace, but also of the precision, with which Mr. Gosse habitually uses his pen. His Three Experiments in Portraiture are specimens of the same skill in delineation with the added advantage that the author knew his subjects directly. This is an art in which he has always excelled. His slighter, and his more elaborate, portraits of Swinburne stand easily among the first things of the kind in our language; and though perhaps Lady Dorothy Nevill, Lord Cromer, and Lord Redesdale did not offer material so variegated or so unusual, it may be for that reason that Mr. Gosse's portraits of them are even more interesting as studies by a virtuoso. When we come again to pure criticism, we find in The Message of the Wartons, a lecture delivered before the British Academy, the same graceful and distinguished gesture with which Mr. Gosse points to the interesting and useful traits to be discerned in his subject. Mr. Gosse will never be a true or a factitious fanatic elevating some spark of genius in a neglected worthy above the true fire discovered in others by the just sense of mankind. He makes no exaggerated claim for the Wartons, but he does see in them what has not been sufficiently insisted on before.

They struggled for a little while, and then they succumbed to the worn verbiage of their age, from which it is sometimes no light task to disengage their thought. In their later days they made some sad defections, and I can never forgive Thomas Warton for arriving at Marlowe's Hero and Leander and failing to observe its beauties. We are told that as Camden Professor he "suffered the rostrum to grow cold," and he was an ineffective Poet Laureate. His brother Joseph felt the necessity or the craving for lyrical expression, without attaining more than a muffled and a second-rate effect.

All this has to be sadly admitted. But the fact remains that between 1740 and 1750, while even the voice of Rousseau had not begun to make itself heard in Europe, the Wartons had discovered the fallacy of the poetic theories admitted in their day, and had formed some faint conception of a mode of escape from them. The Abbé Du Bos had laid down in his celebrated Réflexions (1719) that the poet's art consists of making a general moral representation of incidents and scenes, and embellishing it with elegant images. This had been accepted and acted upon by Pope and all his followers. To have been the first to perceive the inadequacy and the falsity of a law which excluded all imagination, all enthusiasm, and all mystery, is to demand respectful attention from the historian of Romanticism, and this attention is due to Joseph and Thomas Warton.

They had a faint conception: they demand respectful attention. These are indeed the accents of moderation, but then, as Mr. Gosse knows, to praise the Wartons with enthusiasm would be unjust. It is the centre of his critical talent that he is always moderate and precise in his estimates, and this fact gives his commendation more value, his blame more weight, and makes his judgments more readily acceptable.

It is possible to bring forward charges against Mr. Gosse. The two essays in this book on contemporary literature, Some Soldier Poets and The Future of English Poetry, suggest that, at least when they were written, the author was not fully acquainted with the buds of the new spring. The opinions expressed in them are, within the limits of his apparent knowledge, equally acceptable to both older and younger critics; but these limits are somewhat narrower than they might have been. But it would be ungracious, as well as disproportionate, to make much of this point. What is important is that Mr. Gosse is a veteran of English criticism, who has enriched our literature with a body of work which has no parallel and whose powers show no signs of flagging. When we consider his latest, we involuntarily turn our eyes back to his earlier books, and we cannot resist the conclusion that he has rendered to English letters a very remarkable service indeed. The latest is a continuation of the earliest, and this is, after all, the most important thing which can be said of it.


A CRITIC IN PALL MALL. By Oscar Wilde. Methuen. 6s. 6d. net.

This volume appears, rather regrettably, with no indication of how it came into existence, how Wilde wrote the essays of which it is composed or who chose them for republication and on what principle. But the references given at the heads of the essays show that they are reviews collected from the Woman's World, the Pall Mall Gazette, and other papers. Wilde did not gather them together nor, so far as we know, even contemplate such a book. It is probable that he would be a little dismayed by it if he could see it.

In some of these pieces there occur phrases and judgments which are the genuine Wilde at his best, witty and well turned if not always wise. There is, for example, a pleasing pertness in his remark on dialect poetry:

To say "mither" instead of "mother" seems to many the acme of romance. There are others who are not quite so ready to believe in the pathos of provincialism.

There is a long essay on Lefébvre's Embroidery and Lace which is very characteristic, and has, we think, been quoted before. There is a short essay on Dinners and Dishes, from which the following passage may be extracted:

There is a great field for the philosophic epicure in the United States. Boston beans may be dismissed at once as delusions, but soft-shell crabs, terrapin, canvas-back ducks, blue fish, and the pompons of New Orleans are all wonderful delicacies, particularly when one gets them at Delmonico's. Indeed, the two most remarkable bits of scenery in the States are undoubtedly Delmonico's and the Yosemite Valley, and the former place has done more to promote a good feeling between England and America than anything else has in this century.

These are worth having, if Wilde is worth having at all, because they are characteristic. There would have been no great occasion for weeping if they had been lost or if they had never been clipped from the papers in which they appeared. But since someone has had the industry to collect them, and since there is a sufficient demand to warrant their issue in volume form, we may receive them with a moderate pleasure.

The greater part of the volume, however, does not rise to this level. Even the most brilliant and versatile of writers cannot consistently display his individual powers in journeyman work; and Wilde, though his wit was irrepressible, almost involuntary, was no more conscientious than any other reviewer. When the good sentences came they came: when they did not, he made no particular effort to maintain either his style or his ideas on any very elevated plane. There is no great value for the reader of to-day in a picture of Mrs. Somerville in a review of a book on her by a Miss Phyllis Browne. And no reader is likely to take a very vivid delight in Wilde's comment on a book called How to be Happy though Married, that

Most young married people nowadays start in life with a dreadful collection of ormolu inkstands covered with sham onyxes, or with a perfect museum of salt-cellars. We strongly recommend this book as one of the best of wedding presents

or in the jokes that Wilde quotes from the book. Unfortunately it is by no means clear that the anonymous compiler has realised how much uninteresting matter he is reprinting. He closes the volume with twenty-odd pages of Sententiæ, selected from reviews in which the gems of thought and language were detachably scattered. But these gems include such remarks as "No one survives being over-estimated," and "No age ever borrows the slang of its predecessor." We cannot therefore excuse him on the ground that he knew he was dragging lumber into the light, and did so from a pious if mistaken motive.


CONTEMPORARIES OF SHAKESPEARE. By Algernon Charles Swinburne. Heinemann. 7s. 6d. net.

THE PROBLEM OF HAMLET. By the Rt. Hon. J. M. Robertson. Allen & Unwin. 5s. net.

Swinburne's book, as Mr. Gosse explains in his introduction, is the complement of his work The Age of Shakespeare. He had intended a comprehensive survey of the whole of the Elizabethan drama, the glories of which he spent a great part of his life in celebrating. He did enough of it to show what the complete work would have been; the outlines are all here, but they are only filled in patches.

That, carrying on as he did the Lamb tradition, and expressing it in his own language, he was sometimes over-enthusiastic, every reader of his sonnet on Tourneur knows. That he was liable to say incompatible things on different pages, where his purposes were different, is also common knowledge. We do not go to him for an exact "placing" of men or for temperate statement; it might be roughly said that he was willing to regard any minor Elizabethan writer as a master, unless he desired to use him to point a contrast with someone else, in which event the unfortunate playwright might be treated as a buffoon, an incompetent, and an impostor. Yet even of just and balanced criticism there is much in this book. No critic before him has so acutely dissociated the great Marlowe from the Greenes, Peeles, and Lodges, who are indolently classed with him. (It is characteristic that in making this dissociation he says of one of Peele's plays that it is "a riddle beyond and also beneath solution" how a man of any capacity could have "dropped upon the nascent stage an abortion so monstrous in its spiritless and shapeless misery as his villainous play of Edward I.") And the essay on Chapman, here reprinted, is one of the finest panegyrics and most illuminating pieces of imaginative criticism in the language. He may, when he turns his searchlight on little men, illumine them too much; but Chapman was not a little man, and with space to move in and time to think in Swinburne here produced a masterpiece. The long passage on Browning and his obscurity is almost as good, so good that a digression, otherwise unpardonable, is self-excused.

The book as a whole is among Swinburne's best prose books. His writing is what it ever was. Almost every word and sentence is duplicated. He would write: "No man and no woman who has ever ridden on a bus or driven on a cab down the quiet bye-streets and crowded thoroughfares of Paris or of London could fail to have noticed with interest and to have condemned, or at least deprecated, without hesitation or afterthought, the design of the posters displayed on the hoardings or exhibited in the windows, even as, with no greater hesitation and no less microscopic afterthought, he would have," &c., &c. We feel that the sentences might have been split into halves and two books of precisely similar meaning made out of the one. Yet his manner is a part of him. Even his most serpentine sentences have vigour and directness when they are read aloud; and his invective is as entertaining as ever. Swinburne had a very small vocabulary as a poet, but a very large one as a writer of denunciatory prose. He refers to a play of James Howard's as "a piece of noisome nonsense which must make his name a stench in the nostrils of the nauseated reader," and through a series of "laughing jackasses," "howling dervishes," and things ignoble, impure, infamous, and abominable he reaches the climax of his abuse with the beautiful appellation, "verminous pseudonymuncule."

Mr. Robertson also has planned a large work on the drama, but his is restricted to Shakespeare. He proposes to complete a series, of which his Shakespeare and Chapman was an instalment, on "the canon of Shakespeare." He has more concentration and more industry than Swinburne, and he may complete his task. He is not an inspired critic and, unlike Swinburne's, his manner does not contribute to the93 readableness of his books. He is often—though an engagingly acrimonious controversialist—heavy-footed; and he has a passion for words like "theorem" and "confutation" which is almost incomprehensible in a man who obviously loves the simplest and most beautiful art. In the present volume he tackles the problem of Hamlet. He ridicules those who think that Hamlet was very vacillating; who would not be upset if he discovered that his father had been murdered by his uncle and his mother, and who would not hesitate before killing a man on the word of a ghost? But he admits, as we all must admit, that there are inconsistencies in the play, and he argues, with what we think conclusive force, that these are derived from Kyd's lost Hamlet, which Shakespeare used as a basis. Here, as elsewhere (in Othello and The Merchant of Venice for example), Shakespeare was handicapped by his sources. Mr. Robertson sometimes pushes his arguments too far, and he exaggerates, we think (where he finds it convenient), the inexplicability of Hamlet's character. But he has spent immense industry on the book, and it is a contribution to Shakespearean study that no scholar will be able to ignore. We wish, by the way, that he would not spend so much of his time, here and elsewhere, arguing with people, German and other, who are not worth arguing with.

APPRECIATIONS OF POETRY. By Lafcadio Hearn. Heinemann. 15s. net.

Hearn was a sensible critic. But it is a fact—and a pity—that his criticisms of English literature were addressed to an audience of Japanese students. In examining a few of them (and we have already had two immense volumes) we get some instruction and entertainment from observing what he selects for Japan and how he explains it—a comparison and a contrast of the Eastern and Western points of view. Here and there, too, trying everything "on the dog," he reveals unexpected merits in English writers. In the "Interpretations" he demonstrated not merely the worth of Longfellow, but the intermittent genius of Mrs. Norton. But we can have too much of a rather interesting thing, and it is inevitable that these lectures on Tennyson, Rossetti, Swinburne, Browning, Matthew Arnold, Morris, and various minors should be too elementary, however sound they may be, and however happy the quotations, to give serious English readers much satisfaction. We note with pleasure that many years ago Hearn was pointing out to Japan the great qualities of Robert Bridges as a poet of landscape.


THE EXPANSION OF EUROPE (1415–1789): A History of the Foundations of the Modern World. By W. C. Abbott, Professor of History in Yale University. Bell. Two vols. 30s. net.

Every schoolboy, in the Macaulayan sense, has at some time or other determined to write a history of the world in twenty volumes from the earliest times to the present day. Achievement is fortunately given to few. Omniscience becomes yearly more impossible, and, since the human mind can no longer single-handed cope with the accumulations of human knowledge, in history, as in so many other things, we have reached an age of intensive specialisation. These are truths which are continually being impressed upon us by the schools of modern history, and that they are to a great extent truths will be shown by a glance at any well-loaded shelf in a library devoted to the output of the modern historian. Yet there is distinct evidence of a reaction against this meticulous specialisation; there are signs that several most learned historians are discarding the historical microscope for the historical telescope and are yielding to the old fascination of writing histories of the world. The free airs of the New World94 seem to encourage this new phase of an old fascination. It is not very long ago that Professor Hayes of Columbia University took a large brush and a large canvas and produced two excellent and impressive volumes which he called A Political and Social History of Modern Europe. These two volumes were in effect a world history from 1500 to 1915. The mere thought of such a venture would produce a feeling of intellectual vertigo in most historians of the old world. But now Professor Abbott of Yale University comes along with two great volumes, and a promised third, in which he approaches world history with an even larger canvas and larger brush. He tells us himself that he is presenting us with "a new synthesis of modern history." We confess to as profound a distrust of the word "synthesis" as some people have of the word "definitive," and when a professor tells us that he has produced a new synthesis of history we are inclined to believe that this is another way of admitting that Providence has not granted him the gift of clear thinking or clear writing. But Professor Abbott's preface does him and his book an injustice. Some doctors, if you go to them with a swollen arm, will tell you that you have œdema of the arm; but there is no need to be frightened—the doctor is only telling you, what you know already, that you have a swollen arm. So, too, there is really no need to be frightened by the historian who assures you that his book has a synthesis; he probably only means, what you know already, that his book has a subject.

We have not discovered the synthesis in Mr. Abbott's 1000 pages, but we have discovered that he has a very good subject and has written, in many respects, a very good book. The book itself proves that he is well equipped with knowledge and has made full use of the intensive and microscopic study of the modern historian. But he approaches history from the standpoint of enthusiastic and large-minded youth. He has thrown away his microscopes and determined to look back at history through a telescope. Immediately a large and dominating fact has attracted his attention. The age we live in is pre-eminently the European Age. The world is dominated by Europe and Europeans: there have in the past been eras in which a race or races have by migrations and conquests spread themselves and their civilisation and government over wide spaces of the earth, but never before has there been so universal and permanent a domination and expansion from one small quarter of the globe. Professor Abbott, seizing his historical telescope, has looked back and tried to discover the origin, the causes, and the courses of this amazing phenomenon. And the more one investigates the phenomenon the more amazing it appears. Take the case of migrations. The European Age or the modern world, as Professor Abbott has no difficulty in showing, began in the fifteenth century. (In history, of course, there is really never any real beginning or any real end; there are no abrupt transitions, only faster or slower currents in the stream of change; nevertheless there are periods in which the movement quickens so perceptibly that they are clearly turning-points in human history; and the fifteenth century is undoubtedly such a turning-point.) Now one of the most striking facts in the modern world has been the migration of Europeans. In North America, Northern Asia, Australia, South Africa, and to some extent in South America we see the Europeanisation of vast regions of the earth still being accomplished by the most ancient form of migration and colonisation. At the same time Europe has sent out a continual stream of conquerors and traders by whose efforts practically the whole of the rest of the world, where the inhabitants were not exterminated, has been subjected to European rule and the European's political and economic system. As Professor Abbott points out, this was a complete reversal of the rôle of Europe and the European in history. "Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the discovery of America Europe had been rather the passive than the active element in that great shifting of population to which we give the name of folk-wandering or migration." And it is a curious fact that the new period of history, of the expansion of Europe, and of the modern world begins95 with an event—it is the event mentioned in the very first sentence of Professor Abbott's book—which involved not the expansion but the most notable shrinking and invasion of Europe and was characteristic of the old world. To the European of 1453 the fall of Constantinople before the victorious Turk seemed to portend one more desperate and disastrous struggle against a horde of Asiatic invaders, and the inevitable and universal blindness of contemporaries to the great movements and currents moulding their destiny and history could not be better illustrated than by this fear and foreboding of the European in 1453. Within a hundred years of the fall of Constantinople, instead of Europe fighting desperately against the non-European world of invaders, the non-European world was already engaged in a hopeless struggle against the swarm of European invaders. In fact, however, the movement, which within a generation was to send Portuguese and Spaniards ranging over Africa, Asia, and the New World, had already begun in 1453. Contemporaries thought the end of a European world had come with the capture of Constantinople; they should have seen that the fall of Ceuta to the Portuguese prince in 1415 and the discovery and colonisation of the Madeiras in 1418 marked the beginning of a new European world of colonisation, conquest, and territorial expansion.

It is the story of this expansion, this change from the mediæval to the modern world, which Professor Abbott seeks to unfold in his two volumes. The estimation of his success or failure raises an important question for the historian. He is clearly right in his view that "a proper basis for the understanding of what has happened during the past five hundred years" cannot be found merely in the history of territorial expansion. If you look at the past through his historical telescope you soon see that you cannot isolate the voyage of Columbus from the break up of the feudal system and mediæval institutions, or the exploits of Hernando Cortez from those of Martin Luther. Consequently Professor Abbott attempts, as he says in his preface, to combine three elements into a narrative of European activities from 1415 to 1789. The three elements are described by him as first "the connection of the social, economic, and intellectual development of European peoples with their political affairs"; second, "the progress of events among the peoples of Eastern Europe, and of the activities of Europeans beyond the sea"; and third, "the relation of the past to the present—the way in which the various factors of modern life came into the current of European thought and practice, and how they developed into the forms with which we are familiar." The real question for the critic of Professor Abbott's book is how far he has succeeded in this tremendous undertaking. The undertaking is so tremendous and the attempt so gallant that we hesitate to give an answer which is in fact so easy. With all its good points, its wide learning, its scholarly arrangement, its great interest and enthusiasm, the book cannot really be said to succeed in its chief aim. To judge from our personal experience, the reader, when he is about a third of the way through the two volumes, begins to have an uncomfortable sense of having lost his way, and this feeling gradually grows stronger and stronger. The man who writes a history of the world which is not to be a mere catalogue of facts, but is to illustrate and explain the present by the past and is to keep us on the track of great world movements, has to select his facts, and it is mainly upon his intuition for relevant facts and his skill in selection and presentation that the success of his enterprise depends. Professor Abbott's failure to keep our vision clear and our feet steadily upon the right path comes from a failure to select and an error in method. His book as it proceeds tends to become more and more a catalogue of facts, divided into chapters and labelled with such labels as "Europe beyond the Sea" and "Social and Intellectual Europe"; the general theme which should connect these innumerable facts becomes lost and forgotten, or at least no longer visible to or present in the consciousness of the reader. The measure of this failure is the frequency with which Professor Abbott makes the connection between his facts purely one of time, for it is96 almost a confession of failure on the part of a world historian with a synthesis when he has to point out to us that the summoning of the Imperial Diet at Nuremberg, the conversion of John Calvin, and the conquest of Peru all happened in the same year. Professor Abbott's mistake seems to us to consist largely in having overloaded his book with detailed facts. As it stands it is invaluable as a mine of facts bearing upon the change from mediævalism to modernity and upon Europe's conquest of the world; but an immense number of these facts are irrelevant to his general theme and purpose. Open the book at random and this immediately becomes apparent. Here is page 384 in a chapter called "The Rise of Holland," and on it we find ourselves immersed in the details of the Thirty Years' War. Here Professor Abbott has failed to decide whether he is writing a text-book of history in which the military exploits of the Margrave, John George of Brandenburg-Jägerndorf are relevant, or a wide survey of the great currents of history in which John George had but a microscopic place. Here the author abandons his telescope and world history for the microscope and John George, with the result that the feet of his reader wander from the path and his eyes are clouded. It is fatal to attempt to use a telescope and a microscope at the same time on the same object.

BOCHE AND BOLSHEVIK. By Hereward T. Price. Murray. 6s. net.

The author of this book was born an Englishman, but at the outbreak of war he was living in Germany, a naturalised German. He was called up and served in the German Army on the Eastern front, was taken prisoner, sent to Siberia, and was a witness of the Russian revolution there. The book is a record of his personal experiences and views. He is as bitterly hostile to his adopted country as he is to Bolshevism and Bolsheviks. His book does not add very much to our knowledge of the war or the revolution, and his own knowledge may be measured by the fact that he apparently thinks that the "secret treaties" published by the Bolshevik Government were made by Kerenski.

TO KIEL IN THE "HERCULES." By Lewis R. Freeman. Murray. 6s. net.

Mr. Freeman was Official Correspondent with the Grand Fleet, and he accompanied Admiral Browning to Kiel after the surrender of the German fleet as "Keeper of the Records" to the Allied Armistice Commission. The book contains an interesting record of the various inspections and of conditions in Germany immediately after the armistice.

MY KINGDOM FOR A HORSE! By William Allison. Richards. 21s. net.

If he never sacrificed a kingdom, Mr. Allison at least abandoned a first-class in his schools for the sake of horses. That day was, indeed, evidently the turning-point of his life. He was an admirable writer of Latin verse, and when he was in for Moderations at Oxford the Latin verse paper fell on the same day as the Derby. He left his composition unwritten to go and see whether Prince Charlie had won the Derby. Mr. Allison, with the modesty proper to heroes, now calls his action "extremely silly," but few readers of this book of recollections will agree. Many men get firsts; few men pursue horse-breeding and racing with the poetic fervour which Mr. Allison brought to them. His recollections are of Rugby under Temple and Balliol under Jowett, and this part of his book is an amusing mixture, recalling now Tom Brown's Schooldays (for Rugby still kept the Arnold stamp) and now Ruff's Guide. When he left Balliol he was called to the Bar, but never gave it undue preference over the paddock. He ran a famous breeding establishment, and when the Stud Company Limited failed Mr. Allison97 combined practice at the Bar with journalism. As editor of St. Stephen's Review, which was started with £500 capital in 1883 and lasted till its famous conflict with the Hansard Union in 1891, Mr. Allison deserves praise for one notable act—he discovered Phil May. The cartoons of May's which he reproduces will not compare with the artist's later drawings, but it is not possible to estimate the value to May of the training he obtained in this early political work. The Fleet Street of the '80's, when Romano's was a place the quieter journalist entered with trembling, is portrayed in a dry, matter-of-fact way far more effective than any elaborate, highly-coloured description. There may be people who are not interested in horses or journalism; to them we can recommend the pleasant tributes to Bacchus which lace engagingly the more serious chronicle. As a boy Mr. Allison was not strong, and a good old-fashioned doctor ordered him a glass of port every morning at eleven; this "advice was followed scrupulously, both at home and when I went to school," and Mr. Allison never actually says that he has abandoned the prescribed dose.

Mr. Allison writes with no pretensions to literary art, and he sometimes chronicles very trifling occurrences; but he has an engaging modesty and a genial "take it or leave it" attitude which redeem his book from the charge of triviality. My Kingdom for a Horse! should be invaluable to the historian of social manners and to the novelist who is anxious to get material for the reconstruction of a time which already seems historical. There are plenty of illustrations—mostly process reproductions of old photographs and examples of Phil May's work. We wish, by the way, if Mr. Allison owns the copyright, that he would persuade some publisher to issue a new and worthier edition of May's The Parson and the Painter, which first appeared in the St. Stephen's Review.


HOW THE WAR CAME. By the Earl Loreburn. Methuen. 7s. 6d. net.

There is very little disagreement to-day, we suppose, as to who were the prime authors of the War. But on the minor question, whether any blame attaches to the Entente Powers, opinion is, as it was from the beginning, far more divided. The controversy as to our own position in the crisis, which had almost faded out of the public mind, is sharply revived by Lord Loreburn's book. Lord Loreburn, let us hasten to say, does not deny the guilt of Germany. Indeed, he is at pains to show how the Bismarckian tradition, improved upon by chauvinistic professors, a more or less demented monarch and a ruthless military caste, had sapped the morality of the German nation and made it all too ready to follow its rulers into a deliberate attack on the peace of Europe. Nor does he lend any support to the suggestion that the British Government or the British people wanted war with Germany. He pays a tribute to the efforts made by the Foreign Secretary to avert the disaster at the eleventh hour. And yet Viscount Grey cannot, in his mind, escape a large share of responsibility for the final conflagration. For what made the war inevitable, he asserts, was our entente with France. That entente was a departure from the traditional British policy of holding aloof from all Continental entanglements. It was developed by Sir Edward Grey, with the assistance of Mr. Asquith and Lord Haldane, behind the backs of Parliament, and even of the Cabinet, from the end of 1905 onwards. Not only was Sir Edward Grey working in secret; he was committing this country to the support of France (and through France of Russia) without taking the necessary steps to increase the army so as to make that support effective. And, worst of all, he had nothing in black and white to define exactly to what amount of support we were committed. The result was seen on August 4th, 1914, when it became manifest that we were under an obligation of honour98 to join our arms with the French against Germany. Sir Edward Grey, of course, maintained that we were not so bound, that we were free to decide whether to declare war or not. And it is certain that a large part, if not the whole, of the nation, was convinced that it was the attack on Belgium which did finally bring us in. But this, says Lord Loreburn, was a delusion, which flowed from the arch-delusion of Sir Edward Grey that our hands were free.

Lord Loreburn's case, it will be seen, clearly has two heads. He did not like the policy of the French Entente, and he did not like the methods by which it was promoted. On the first point most readers will disagree with him, and, in any event, the matter is now of merely historic interest. On the second point, public opinion will be more interested in his criticisms. Some will say that Lord Loreburn's old hostility to the Liberal Imperialists inclines him to magnify the faults that were committed between 1905 and 1914. Some will say that he exaggerates the ignorance under which we are alleged to have laboured in regard to our relations with France. His opponents will certainly suggest that everybody knew where we stood, as towards France, and that the secrecy was secrecy in name only. But these are not matters for discussion in these columns. Lord Loreburn thinks that "the persistent danger of secret diplomacy is hitherto tolerated and abused in this and other countries" is one that the nations ought to lose no time in taking to heart.

THE MASTERY OF THE FAR EAST. By A. J. Brown. Bell. 25s. net.

This massive volume (it runs to some 650 pages) is a very interesting account of the Japanese and Korean peoples, their customs, their religions, their politics, and the influence of Christian missions in their countries. Dr. Brown is an American with an agreeable style, a sense of humour, and, in general, a nice critical faculty, and, though we are very doubtful of some of his conclusions, we do not hesitate to say that his book is a valuable contribution to the literature of the Far East.

From a political point of view the Far East means to-day—and it will mean more and more in the future—Japan. Every schoolboy knows the story of Japan's rapid emergence from feudalism to the position of a first-class modern Power, of her successful struggles with China and Russia, of her mastery of the Korean peninsula, of the great part she played in the late war. And schoolboys, as well as statesmen, may presently watch the effects upon world politics of her status in Asia. Dr. Brown is a candid friend of the Japanese. He is not under the illusion that they are a model people, nor is he of those who describe them as "varnished savages." He comments severely on the lamentable labour conditions that prevail under their newly-created industrial system. He is no lover of the autocracy of their government. He does not deny the faults of their diplomacy. Nevertheless he is their friend, who believes in them. He expresses his sympathy with Korea and with China in their subjection. But he takes what he calls "the large way" of viewing Japan's Korean policy. "The large way," he says, "is to note that, in the evolution of the race and the development of the plan of God, the time had come when it was for the best interests of the world and for the welfare of the Koreans themselves that Korea should come under the tutelage of Japan." As for China, she is "an enormous and backward country ... like a ship without a captain or pilot, helplessly drifting on the high seas, apparently unable to right herself and, in her present water-logged condition, a menace to other ships." And so he sympathises "with the feeling of the Japanese that they cannot ignore this incontestable situation." He is an enthusiastic believer in Christian missions, and he hopes that Christianity will be the salvation of Japan. Japan's great need, he says, is to be spiritualised. Neither Buddhism nor Shintoism have the necessary moral influence. But Christian missions are a great reconstructive force—economical, social, intellectual,99 political, spiritual, international. What, then, is the position of Christianity in Japan? Dr. Brown produces statistics to show that it has made enormous strides, and quotations from Japanese statesmen and publicists as evidence that its growth is welcomed by the rulers of the country. Yet all the public schools are forbidden to teach religion; Buddhism has been driven to reform itself; Shintoism, as he admits, is a waxing rather than a waning force. In another passage he says that the old religions of Japan are losing their hold on the educated classes. Thus a recent census in the Imperial University of Tokio showed fifty Buddhists, sixty Christians, 1500 atheists, 3000 agnostics. It would appear, therefore, that the missionaries have a long row to hoe before Christianity becomes the general religion of the Japanese.

RACE AND NATIONALITY. By John Oakesmith, D.Litt., M.A. Heinemann. 10s. 6d. net.

There is some chance, now that the heat and passion of the war are past, that the vexed questions of nationality and nationalism will be discussed with a little more intelligence and discrimination. Dr. Oakesmith certainly sets a good example. He tells us that he was formerly one of those (they were the vast majority, we think) who had but a vague idea of what they meant by nationality, till he set himself to study the question and classify his mind. The results appear in this very interesting book. He criticises alike the theory that nationality is based on "race," and the opposing theory that there is no such thing as nationality at all. In his own view nationality develops as an evolutionary process, and the full-grown thing may be defined as "organic continuity of common interest." He argues strongly against the internationalist pacifist's contention that nationality is the cause of war, and that peace is to be obtained by the spread of cosmopolitanism. On the contrary, he avows, nationality is "actually the one instrument destined, if wisely directed, to secure lasting and universal peace." This is a statement which most sane persons to-day will accept easily enough. But the crux is the "wise direction." Dr. Oakesmith does not give us much practical guidance on this point. Generalities and fine words are not very helpful, whether they come from the side of passionate enthusiasts for the League of Nations or from those who, like Dr. Oakesmith, are a little doubtful whether the world is quite ripe for it. However, the book is well worth studying, especially on its critical side.

WAR-TIME FINANCIAL PROBLEMS. By Hartley Withers. Murray. 6s. net.

Mr. Hartley Withers is not only a "financial expert"; he is also a really interesting writer. Even though one may not agree with all his views, one can enjoy this collection of vigorous essays on war finance, company law and banking, currency problems at home and abroad, the conscription of wealth, the theory of Guild socialism. Mr. Withers does not spare his criticism of the Government's financial policy, which has brought us to the verge of bankruptcy. He dismisses the "capital levy" as impracticable; but he advocates a high income tax, with super-tax beginning at a much lower level, and "with skilful differentiation according to the circumstances of the taxpayer."

THE GREAT UNMARRIED. By Walter M. Gallichan. Werner Laurie. 6s. net.

This book is a painstaking attempt to show the evils of celibacy (including the common state of "pseudo-celibacy") both to society and to the individual. Mr. Gallichan arraigns the false ideals and the economic pressure of our industrial system, the perverse influence of ecclesiasticism, and the other causes which produce the myriads of involuntary or voluntary celibates in the western world. He advocates no "fancy"100 remedies, such as free love, polygamy, or the taxation of bachelors, but rather an attack on poverty, the spread of education, the moralisation of the marriage laws. The book is not a profound or scientific study, but it might be instructive to those who have never given any thought to the subject.

ULSTER AND IRELAND. By James Winder Good. Maunsel. 6s. net.

This little volume is one of the clearest and the most interesting books that we have seen on the Irish problem. Mr. Good gives us a survey of Ulster history from the seventeenth century, which shows the unifying influence of the genuine democratic ideals common to both the contending parties. He argues that this unification has been, and is, thwarted by "religion," and by "Carsonism," "the supreme example in modern times of the triumph of the influences that make for divisions in Ireland." Sinn Fein, in Mr. Good's view, offers no practicable way out of the difficulty of Ulster. "If Sinn Fein is," he says, "as it can now claim to be, the creed of the Irish people it must propound a solution of the Ulster riddle based, not on abstract theories, but on the realities of the situation." Mr. Good's concluding chapters on "Ulster as It Is" are excellent reading. We do not suppose Ulster Unionists will agree with all the views he expresses there, still less with his conclusions—one of the chief of which is that Ireland is really one nation and not two. But his book may induce a good many mere Englishmen to take a more intelligent attitude towards Irish politics.

THE GUILD STATE: ITS PRINCIPLES AND POSSIBILITIES. By G. R. Stirling Taylor. Allen & Unwin. 3s. 6d. net.

Mr. Taylor is an enthusiastic Guildsman, though a heretic, in that he stands for a localised system as against the orthodox National Guilds. His book is a very naïve account of the Guild proposals, and we can hardly imagine that it will convert anyone to his views. There is a vast amount of idealisation of the Middle Ages—an idealisation which frequently verges on the ridiculous. Many of the historical statements are extravagant. We are told, for instance, that Queen Elizabeth "had perhaps the most honest and most efficient ministers of State that this nation has ever possessed." And is it not going rather far to say that "the French peasant remains much as he has been for centuries—the most substantial fact in European civilisation, and perhaps its highest product"? Mr. Taylor's style would not suffer if it were less arrogant and less splenetic. He lets us know, till we are sick of it, that there is but little wisdom in the world save in the common-sense simple man and the hard-headed Guildsman. And his virulence against politicians and University professors almost assumes the dimension of a disease.


The greater part of this brochure is taken up with a defence of the capitalist against the attacks of revolutionaries, impossibilists, and all the tribe of intellectual "high flyers"—such as Mr. Bernard Shaw, Mr. Chesterton, Mr. Orage, and the late Mr. Sidney Ball. The author's own plan is to harmonise the interests of capitalists and workers in a system of "separate autonomous industries co-ordinated with a National Federal Parliament of Industry." It is in fact something like Guild socialism with the socialism left out. "Oxon" hardly appears to appreciate the limitations or the difficulties of his scheme.


A PRIMER OF NATIONAL FINANCE. By Henry Higgs, C.B. Methuen. 5s. net.

This is a purely elementary volume which explains the revenue and expenditure of the British Government and local authorities, the National Debt, and the study of financial statistics. It is clearly and simply written, and might be a valuable schoolbook. For the interested and courageous student there is some useful advice on further reading. But Mr. Higgs will strike fear into the heart of many beginners by telling them in the first chapter that the science of finance is so vast a subject that Professor Jèze of Paris is preparing twelve bulky volumes upon it, and that his elementary treatise alone consists of over 1100 large octavo pages!


THE SUPREME ADVENTURE. By Mercedes Macandrew. Chapman & Hall. 7s. 6d. net.

Certain Nonconformist ministers had a habit—it is now fast dying—of interspersing the reading of the Lesson in service-time with comment and illustration. Mrs. Macandrew has applied a similar method in this volume. Writing to satisfy the needs of an agnostic friend, Mrs. Macandrew retells the story of the four Gospels and supports the narrative with critical expositions of her own or, occasionally, of such authorities as Edersheim. It is not easy to see for whom the book is intended. Mrs. Macandrew is frankly uncritical. She not only ignores the whole body of "higher criticism," but she makes no reference to textual difficulties, and, in discussing such a passage as the Confession of Peter, does not even mention the fact that a considerable controversy has gathered for some years around the precise significance of the promise, "On this rock I will build my Church."

It will not be to everybody's taste to have the annunciation described in this way:

God the Father sent an angel called Gabriel to that city of flowers—Nazareth in Galilee—sent him to a sweet and good and lovely but quite poor girl called Mary who was soon to be married to a man much older than herself, called Joseph.

And when we tried to read Mrs. Macandrew's paraphrases of the parables we recalled with a sigh Mr. Birrell's complaint against Canon Farrar, "who elongated the Gospels." It no doubt gave Mrs. Macandrew some months of happiness to write the book, but we think she was ill-advised in submitting it to the public.


CATALYSIS IN THEORY AND PRACTICE. By Eric K. Rideal and Hugh S. Taylor. Macmillan & Co. 17s. net.

In spite of the difficulties which war-time placed in the way of publishers, the production of scientific books, both in England and Germany, has been astonishingly large during the past five years. The greater number of them have—naturally enough—been devoted either to technical subjects or to branches of science having an immediate technical application. The field of industrial chemistry, especially, has been well tended by the writers, and not only new books, but new series of books—such as Messrs. Longmans' Monographs on Industrial Chemistry, Messrs. Churchill's Textbooks of Chemical Research, and Messrs. Baillière, Tindall, and Cox's Industrial Chemistry series—have appeared to bear witness to the activity of the English chemists. Certain subjects in particular have been extensively treated; we may instance synthetic colouring matters,102 colloid chemistry, and catalysis, the last-named subject having books devoted to it in all the series just specified. In these the subject is handled from the industrial point of view, but it is frequently seen that the commercial and the theoretical developments of a science are mutually stimulating, discoveries made in the laboratory without any object but the wresting of knowledge from nature finding commercial application, and the commercial processes suggesting fresh theoretical problems. The great industrial importance of catalysis has led to a revived interest in the scientific theories of the process, and the latest book on the subject, by Drs. Eric Rideal and Hugh Taylor, deserves praise for having devoted considerable attention to the historical and theoretical aspect of the subject, which has been rather neglected of late.

There are many chemical reactions which are promoted or accelerated by the addition of a small quantity of some foreign substance which is not used up in the process and does not appear in the final products. Thus one of the romances of chemistry was the discovery, occasioned by the chance breaking of a thermometer in the vessel, that the presence of a small quantity of mercury greatly hastens the oxidation of naphthalene to phthalic acid, a process of great importance in the manufacture of synthetic indigo. Similarly the presence of finely divided metals accelerates many reactions, such as oxidations and hydrogenations—for example, asbestos impregnated with particles of platinum promotes the oxidation of sulphur dioxide to the trioxide in the manufacture of sulphuric acid. The researches of Baker and others, showing that certain gas reactions, which ordinarily take place rapidly, proceed very slowly indeed if the gases are thoroughly dried, point to a catalytic action of small traces of moisture. The enzymes of the human body which accelerate the chemical processes of digestion and assimilation constitute another class of catalysts, and Drs. Rideal and Taylor class under catalytic action the effect of radiant energy in promoting such combinations as that of hydrogen and chlorine, although it is perhaps rather extending the usual conception of the term to do so. These examples will indicate the wide range of the subject and help to make intelligible Ostwald's famous generalisation that "there is probably no kind of chemical reaction which cannot be influenced catalytically, and there is no substance, element, or compound which cannot act as a catalyser," which is no doubt true if very slight accelerations of reaction be taken into account. Of course a catalyst cannot affect the final state of equilibrium, but only quicken or institute (the discussion as to whether, in some cases, the catalyst initiates or merely accelerates a reaction already taking place imperceptibly slowly seems to us pointless) a reaction theoretically possible. Other, the so-called negative, catalysts hinder reactions; other substances "poison," or stop, the action of ordinarily activating materials; others again, the "promoters," increase the efficacy of the catalyst. The phenomenon is a complex one.

By no means the least interesting and valuable feature of the book before us is the exposition of the historical development of the subject. We who are apt to look on the feminine scientist as a product of the last twenty years are reminded that there was at least one woman chemist of ability in the eighteenth century, Mrs. Fulhame, whose Essay on Combustion, published in 1774, emphasised the importance of the presence of moisture in gaseous reactions. Faraday, "the prince of experimenters," also worked on catalysis, and, in fact, originated the adsorbtion theory of the process, which attributes the action to the extended compressed film formed at the surface of a porous solid. It is not only in the chapter expressly devoted to the early history that we find an account of the original workers; the advances made by them receive recognition throughout the book in connection with the branches in which they experimented. The treatment of the various theories of catalysis—the intermediate compound, the adsorbtion, electrochemical, and radiant energy theory—might have been extended with advantage. The mathematical exposition of the adsorbtion theory is one of the weakest things in the book, and McLewis's work is not very clearly handled. The difficulties of giving an103 adequate summary of this part of the subject are undoubted, but the need of it is so marked that we regret that the authors have not spent more energy on the task. This is not the place to deal in detail with the account of the practical applications of catalysis, which is excellently done and includes the most recent work, some of it, such as Partington's improvements in oxidising ammonia, only made public last year. The use of catalysts in, to take a few examples at random, surface combustion, the hardening of oils by hydrogenation (used so extensively in margarine making), the fixation of nitrogen, and electrolysis is well described, and there is a good chapter on ferments and enzymes, and another on the Grignard reagent. Omissions may be noted here and there, but the book is not, of course, intended to give detailed instructions to the commercial chemist. Rather, we believe, is it meant to supply to chemists in general, and even to the lay reader, an idea of the nature of the process of catalysis, which is becoming more important every day, and the extent of its applications, with sufficient detail to make the reactions clear, as far as they are at present understood. As a general exposition of the subject the book is really needed, and will undoubtedly find a place on the shelves of all who follow the advances of science.

TEN BRITISH PHYSICISTS. By Alexander Macfarlane. John Wiley & Sons, and Chapman & Hall. 7s. 6d. net.

Writing of the life of Rankine, Professor P. G. Tait gave as his opinion that "the life of a genuine scientific man is, from the common point of view, almost always uneventful," and, if the man in question has no interests but science, this is, in general, true. Engaged in researches on the laws of nature, the most that he demands from life is that he shall have his study, his laboratory, food, shelter and peace, and such an attitude does not lead to high adventure or romances of passion. Consequently, in writing biographies of physicists it is advisable not to dwell too long on their everyday life, marriages and meals, for there is a certain monotony about the material lives of these great men. In the lives before us, which are little more than sketches, the author has rightly laid most stress on the scientific achievements of his ten physicists, but he has a tendency to reduce his account to a catalogue of the discoveries and advances made. An estimate of the place of each man in the thought of the time, and of his scientific character, of the general tendencies of his work and the place it now occupies in the history of the science, deserves to take a rather larger place in these short biographies than it has received.

Happily many of the ten are men of very interesting personality. The selection—James Clerk Maxwell, W. J. M. Rankine, P. G. Tait, Lord Kelvin, Charles Babbage, William Whewell, Sir G. G. Stokes, Sir G. B. Airy, J. C. Adams, and Sir J. F. W. Herschel—if based on no clearly-defined plan, has the merit that it includes one or two men who have been unduly neglected. Rankine, in spite of his important work on thermodynamics, does not receive much attention from the physicists of to-day, possibly owing to his unattractive "molecular vortices," and Babbage is known to most people rather from the sneer in the Ingoldsby Legends:

Master Cabbage, the steward, who'd made a machine
To calculate with, and count noses—I ween
The cleverest thing of its kind ever seen,

than for his really great, though imperfect, achievements. Why Babbage is set down as a physicist, when his whole effort was devoted to the perfecting of calculating machines, we do not know, but the life is one of the most interesting, and makes an attempt to expound the causes—obvious enough, perhaps—of his misfortunes. It is a generous appreciation of an ill-starred genius, now seldom heard of. Whewell, again, is scarcely known as a physicist, but rather as the historian of inductive science; we suppose that104 his writings on the tides have secured him his place. Joule is mentioned in early life, and was certainly one of the leading physicists of the century, yet he is not among the selected ten—neither, for that matter, is Faraday, so it is evident that scientific prowess has not been the test of admission.

On the whole the ten are versatile men, although no one of them could come near in diversity of performance to the great Thomas Young, who was not only a physicist of the first rank but also a physician, a classical scholar, and one of the first successful decipherers of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Rankine and Whewell were fair poets, and Clark Maxwell deserves higher praise for his verses. His description of Kelvin's reflecting galvanometer, in the form of a parody of Tennyson's "Blow, bugle, blow," illustrates the ease and finish of his light verse:

O love! you fail to read the scale,
Correct to tenths of a division.
To mirror heaven those eyes were given,
And not for methods of precision—
Break, contact, break, set the free light-spot flying,
Break contact, rest thee magnet, swinging, creeping, dying.

The poem is quoted in the life of Kelvin, and two of Rankine's songs are given. We hope that physicists can still show the same accomplishment.

The lives are well written, and, while not a very profound contribution to the history of the science, make very pleasant reading for scientist and layman. There is, however, occasionally a lack of proportion, as when Clark Maxwell's work on electro-magnetic waves receives little attention compared to his other far less important achievements.




Paris, October, 1919.

IN France as much as, and perhaps more than, in England the novel has been since the eighteenth century the central massif of literature. While in England the poets and the novelists formed two quite distinct groups, while the poets Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Burns, Tennyson, Swinburne remained pure poets, in France there have been few poets who have not wished to write novels. Lamartine, Hugo, Musset, Vigny, Gautier have done so. A pure critic like Sainte-Beuve wished, with Volupté, to try his hand at the novel. Taine left in manuscript the novel Etienne Maylan and Renan the novel Patrice; they did not publish these books because they recognised them to be mediocre, but both wished to obtain the glory of the novelist. The novel is in France the highest object of literary ambition. It alone assures a position of material and social importance. Thus it is that a novelist who is read by the upper and middle classes is necessarily admitted to the Academy while a historian or a philosopher is admitted only in exceptional circumstances, and great poets like Baudelaire, Gautier, Banville, Paul Fort remain outside unless they have certain connections and certain sources of support. The prosperity of the novel at a given moment may then be considered, in France, as the most obvious mark of a powerful literary activity. No form of literature addresses a larger public, provokes more discussion, or gives more of its own colour to a generation or to an epoch. I will endeavour to indicate here in a few pages the condition of the French novel on the morrow of the war.

Beyond doubt it is passing through a moment of mediocrity. This is not because its public is beginning to break up. Publishers and readers demand novels. In default of genuinely new novels many old ones are reissued and read again and cheap reprints are swarming. Every new novel in which any grain of originality can be perceived is discussed and brought into the light and sells satisfactorily. And yet nothing so far has told us of the appearance of the Flaubert, the Zola, the Maupassant of to-morrow.

Naturalism proves to have been the last great school, massive, compact, and powerful, of the French novel. Well, the survivors of the naturalist movement, such as MM. Céard, Hennique, Descaves, have ceased to write novels or else, if they still write them, have given up completely the methods of naturalism, and seek, without success, to adapt themselves to new tastes. It is not, however, impossible that in a little time from now naturalism in several ways may again be somewhat in fashion. There is a tendency among young writers and critics to revise the judgment given in the case of Zola, as the judgment on Dickens has been revised in England, and to consider that the poverty and emptiness of his last books has unjustly thrown a shadow on the profound and powerful works of his maturity. Those works, born of the war, which have been most favourably received, have been on the whole inspired by naturalist methods of observation and composition. The European success of Le Feu is due in large part to the fact that the author applies to the great war the point of view and the methods of Zola. It was also from the point of view of the story of a squad that Zola wrote La Débâcle.

So far the novel of manners and psychology born of the war has only been attempted by writers of the older generation, that which knew the masters of the naturalist novel, which lived their life, which took part, from one side or another of the barricade, in their struggles.

I am here thinking especially of the works written during the war by the doyen of the French novel, M. Paul Bourget. M. Bourget occupies to-day in the novel a position analogous to that of Zola in his last years. The young literary generation is hostile to him or regards him with contemptuous indifference, except that part of this generation106 which is grouped round M. Maurras, whose political ideas he has adopted. He is justly reproached with a painful style, with conventional psychology in upper and middle class surroundings, with laborious intrigues carried out according to antiquated formulæ. He must be regarded, nevertheless, with respect as a great worker, who seeks conscientiously to extend the limits of his manner, and, above all, as the sole representative to-day of the old tradition of the French novelists of the nineteenth century—that of Balzac, of Sand, of Flaubert, of Maupassant, of Zola. Perhaps he marks the irremediable decadence of this style which the twentieth century will replace by one more supple and more precise.

The war novels of M. Bourget, Le Sens de la Mort, Nemesis, are mediocre, though showing always the same technical qualities of solid construction. But he has written a short nouvelle of profound beauty, Le Justicier, on a great theme of human peace and reconciliation within a divided family; and this sketches perhaps the general lines of to-morrow's reconciliations on our torn planet.

Among the innumerable books written by combatants, in which novels abound, no novel has achieved the powerful interest of certain collections of letters and journals which render, without literary modelling, fresh, authentic, and actually seen impressions. The generation which has lived through the war as an immediate and tragic reality has not written and certainly will not write the novel of the war. The Thackeray, the Balzac, the Tolstoi of to-morrow have probably been born, but are hardly out of the nursery.

The two forms of the novel preferred by the young generation of to-day are the novel of adventure and the little novel of irony and sentiment. Neither has yet produced any great result. The first, after a year, is already out of fashion, and the second will probably follow it in a few months. And the writers of value who have passed through these phases are now passing through some other.

The English novel of adventure has been in favour in France for some time. The novels of Wells have found here for twenty years, like those of Kipling, great numbers of ardent readers. Before that, a long time ago, in symbolist circles, it was the fashion to speak with the greatest admiration of Stevenson. And the novels of Chesterton, the influence of which was visible in André Gide's Les Caves du Vatican, have been appreciated by a narrower, but select, circle. Nevertheless it was only during the war that the younger writers were tempted systematically to compose romantic novels of adventure. The two novels of M. Pierre Benoit, Königsmarck and l'Atlantide, are clever books, in which old methods are enhanced by a true novelist's temperament. An Englishman will find little in them which Stevenson, and even Rider Haggard, have not already given him. The Maître du Navire of M. Louis Chadousne seems to introduce in addition a note of irony which shows that the author writes to amuse himself and does not believe in his adventure. And this note of irony is still more obvious in Le Chant de l'Equipage of M. Pierre Mac-Orlan, which parodies the novel of adventure. The French novelist is a rationalist who pretends to believe in his mystery and does not believe in it. Between the adventure of the English novel and the adventure of the French novel there is the same difference as between the ghost in Hamlet and the ghost which Voltaire brings on to the stage at full noon, without deceiving anyone, in Semiramis. The novel of adventure proves to have been a season's fashion which those who launched it abandon in the following season.

What I have called the little novel of irony and sentiment has had a longer, a more vivacious, and a more durable existence. It is almost peculiar to French literature and produces every year a good harvest of agreeable books. It is generally an invertebrate composition, made up of humorous episodes and reflections, the slight daily impressions of a man of letters, delicate and fatigued, in Parisian surroundings. It is, as it were, the chronicle-novel of French literary life.

A great number of the works of M. Abel Hermant belong to this style, and among them, in particular, the Anglo-French novel, half of Paris, half of Oxford, which he is107 now publishing, and the first two parts of which are called L'Aube Ardente and La Journée Brève (the latter in course of publication in the Revue de Paris). These are, like M. Hermant's books, the elegantly but frigidly written compositions which come only from a literary and conventional atmosphere and appear to have been developed in the author's mind as in an artificial incubator.

The true novel of this sort comes into existence under freer and more fanciful conditions than obtain in the intelligent and tidy, though somewhat melancholy, manufacture of M. Hermant. A young writer, who died a score of years ago, Jean de Tinan, produced masterpieces in Pense-tu réussir? and Aimienne, which have not been surpassed. To-day this type of novel has a right and a left—elegance on the right and Bohemianism on the left, the latter as a rule being more picturesque and more highly flavoured. On the right there is what one might call, using the word in the sense in which it is used by historians of mediæval literature, a littérature courtoise—I mean a literature of the court with some refinement and some sensuality. Here the author describes his little amatory adventures, endeavouring to relieve their inevitable banality with a certain piquancy in the introduction of portraits of his men and women friends, chosen among an elegant society. Les Papiers de Cleonthe, by M. Jean-Louis Vaudoyer, and Le Diable a l'Hôtel, by M. Emile Henriot, which have just appeared, though they fall sometimes into banality, make agreeable reading. On the left there is the little Bohemian novel, which deals with Montmartre as ancient stories dealt with Miletus. Its characters are artists and their more or less interesting friends, young women and their more or less interested friends. The novel of Montmartre, in which style Charles-Louis Philippe wrote the earliest masterpieces, is practised to-day in the most agreeable fashion by M. Francis Cares, author of Bob et Bobette, M. Mac-Orlan, author of La Clique du Café Brebis, and M. André Billy, the author of Scènes de la Vie Littéraire. Nevertheless these sometimes shady cabarets, where boredom is chased away, must not be confused with the higher spheres of literature.


The French novel, regarded as a whole, is at the present moment going through a crisis. The qualities of original, free, and vigorous creation which were the causes of success from Balzac to Maupassant have become rare. The novel no longer produces those real and living characters round whom, as Taine said, it is possible to walk. But it is remarkable for qualities of intelligence.

Alphonse Daudet somewhere makes a distinction between creative novelists and essayist novelists. The distinction is very just. We lack to-day creative novelists, but we have a number of essayist novelists. Our contemporary novelists are very intelligent persons, who are often admirable in their knowledge of human nature, but who rarely succeed in making it live. It is nevertheless probable that there is nothing to be gained by retracing our steps. We shall no doubt reach something new by continuing to the end this exercise of the intellect, by applying it to an increasingly profound and refined psychological analysis. If we take examples from the English novel, the sign-post of our French novel of to-day would not be such a name as that of Dickens or of Eliot or of Kipling but rather that of Meredith. This is what is indicated by the great success now enjoyed by two complex and delicate writers, M. Marcel Prevost and M. Jean Girandoux. A l'Ombre de Jeunes Filles en Fleur and Simon le Pathétique are both novels of rich and fugitive personalities, who are absorbed in the contemplation of themselves, and who thus find a real world of inward adventures. It seems that the French novel is now moving by choice in this direction, and that the public is assisting the movement. This should not be astonishing in a country which has always regarded psychological analysis as the supreme goal of literature.




STONEHENGE was formally handed over to the nation on October 26th, 1918, and H.M. Office of Works at once made plans to secure some of the standing stones in danger of cracking, and to excavate the entire area without disturbing the monument. The archæological supervision of the work was entrusted to the Society of Antiquaries, and the programme was to have a season of about three months for several consecutive years on the same lines as in 1901, when the great leaning stone was raised with interesting results. Professor Gowland's health, however, prevented his participation in the scheme, and his successor, Lieut.-Colonel Hawley, unfortunately met with an accident, which, with a strike among the contractor's men, prevented any but preliminary work being carried out on the site this year. If funds are available—and the opportunity of solving the riddle of Stonehenge must appeal to all interested in antiquity—there is a good prospect of starting in earnest next summer, without prejudice, it is hoped, to the society's enterprises at Old Sarum and Wroxeter, the Roman town near Shrewsbury, on both of which sites considerable progress had been made before the outbreak of war. The recent death of Professor Haverfield is one of many severe losses incurred by the society during the past summer.


For years the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has been associated with the work of protesting against the destruction or spoiling of good examples of the building art of the past. This year it is developing the more constructive side of its activities. The following instances will suffice to illustrate this development.

First, the Society is endeavouring to show that the humbler forms of English architecture—the old cottages—should not only be saved, but used, and how they can be made decently habitable, though much injured by time and neglect. Works replete with old-time building lore should not be permanently condemned because they lack damp courses, proper ventilation, larders, or upstair fireplaces. Instead of building new at £800 or so, the Housing Committees should acquire cottages of this kind and repair them at, say, £250 or £300. To draw attention to this subject the Society has issued a well-illustrated booklet (Batsford, 94 High Holborn; 2s.), which it hopes to follow by a practical demonstration on a pair of old cottages, proving the possibility of remedying common defects. It hopes to publish the results in a second booklet which would in fact be a pictorial specification.

The second illustration of the Society's constructive activity is the offer to give lectures on the objects and work of the Society, in which special emphasis is to be laid on what may be learnt in matters of economy and beauty, from old buildings.


The Royal Numismatic Society has removed from 22 Albemarle Street to 22 Russell Square, W.C.1, where meetings will be held and the library is housed. On October 16th, Sir Henry Howorth, Vice-President, in the Chair, Mr. Lawrence read a note on some of the difficulties of distinguishing halfpence from farthings during the period between 1465 and 1523. Parliament in the latter year directed some alteration of type of the farthings, as it was shown that halfpennies and farthings were with difficulty distinguishable owing to both denominations having been struck from the same "coin." A discussion was also raised on the profile half-groats of Henry VII. bearing the mint-marks martlet and rose. Some of these have keys below the shield on109 the reverse and others are without the keys. The question raised was whether these later coins were to be considered as having been struck at York in consequence of the martlet mint-mark, previously only known at York, or whether the absence of the keys denoted their issue at London. Mr. Brooke and Col. Morrieson urged that these coins were sede vacante issues of York.

Mr. H. Mattingly read a paper entitled "A. Vitellius Imp. Germanicus," in which he attempted to determine the reasons for the variations in Vitellius's obverse legends, between the forms Imp. Germ. and Germ. Imp. After distinguishing clearly the class of coins on which these titles appear, he brought evidence to show that the title Imp. Germanicus is characteristic of the non-Roman coins of Vitellius and of the early period of the reign before the victory over Otho. It implied a definite challenge thrown out by the German armies to the rest of the Empire, and in consequence when Vitellius became constitutional Emperor at Rome the title was deftly deprived of offence by inversion to Germanicus Imp., a normal form of title already borne by Claudius and Nero.


The forty-second annual meeting of the Library Association was notable, not by reason of its bibliographical or literary interest, for either was to seek, but as marking a definite cleavage between librarians and the Board of Education upon a matter of national importance. Were it not that education in this country has always been the province of the amateur, one might say that the cleavage was between amateur and professional opinion. The third interim report of the Adult Education Committee to the Ministry of Reconstruction proposed to hand over the control of the Public Library to the Local Education Authority; the Library Association, as a body possessed of a charter for the support and advancement of the public library movement, opposed the main recommendations of that report and returned to the Minister of Education a memorandum of counter argument. The four points of the memorandum were: (1) "That, with the already heavy responsibilities of the Education Authority, an additional duty—problems requiring detached consideration—will result in the convenient relegation of the library to a mere appendage of the school; (2) that, although co-operation between school and library does exist, the initiative has come almost wholly from the latter, and that assimilation by the comparatively untried and empirical "1918 model" education will be fatal to its general usefulness; (3) that the interest of the public is the main interest of the library, and that this is subordinated by the Adult Education Committee to the special interest of the school; (4) that the recommendations upon the provision of technical and commercial books were unduly extravagant and wasteful as regarding the first, but unduly parsimonious and wrongly conceived in the case of the second. To this document, beyond a bare acknowledgment, no reply has been given. Its form and tenor were unanimously approved by the Association at Southport.


The Bibliographical Society opens its 28th Session on November 17th, with a paper by Mr. R. F. Sharp, of the British Museum, on "Travesties of Shakespeare's Plays." The Society has not only kept up its normal output of books during the war, but has produced some volumes of exceptional importance, notably Mr. Gordon Duff's wonderfully complete record of English Fifteenth-Century Books, with facsimiles of all the types used in them; Mr. E. F. Bosanquet's illustrated Monograph on English Printed Almanacks and Prognostications; the first volume of Professor Carleton Brown's Register of Middle-English Religious Verse; and two exceptionally interesting volumes of Transactions. A Bibliography of Landor, by Mr. Stephen Wheeler and110 Mr. T. J. Wise, will shortly be issued, and the second volume of Professor Carleton Brown's Register should be ready early next year. The books of the Society are only printed for its own members, and until 1914 it was a close corporation, with an English and American membership limited to 300. In the January before the war it opened its ranks in order to obtain a hundred additional members and further increase its output. It is still open to book lovers to join at the old subscription of a guinea, but unless the Annual Meeting in January next decides otherwise, the roll of the Society is due to be closed on the third Monday of the new year. That the Society has done so well during the war is largely due to its genial President, Sir William Osler, who has held office longer than any of his predecessors and is soon further to help the Society by producing for it a Monograph on the Medical books published by the earliest printers, i.e. not later than 1480. Among the earlier presidents were Dr. Garnett and Mr. Fortescue, of the British Museum, the late Earl of Crawford, Mr. H. B. Wheatley, and Mr. A. H. Huth, owner of the splendid library which has already furnished material for eight sales at Sotheby's. Mr. A. W. Pollard, the present Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum, has been its Hon. Secretary since 1893, and was given some years ago a notable partner in Mr. R. B. McKerrow, the Editor of Nashe.


During the war the Folklore, like other societies, has suffered by the absence of some of its most active members on service, but the work of the Society has not been interrupted, its meetings have been regularly held, many valuable contributions have been received, and the attendance has been well maintained. Folk-lore, the quarterly Proceedings, has retained its position as one of the leading authorities on popular beliefs and superstitions of races in the lower stage of culture. Its principal function is to publish papers read by members at the Society's meetings, and to review the more important literature on subjects in which it is interested. But it also welcomes from the general public notes and queries on British and foreign folklore and beliefs. The foundations have been laid for two important works which, it is hoped, will soon be ready for publication. As regards the folklore of these islands, the leading authority is the Observations on Popular Antiquities, by John Brand, subsequently edited by Sir H. Ellis. Large collections have been made under the supervision of Miss S. C. Burne, an ex-president of the society and author of a valuable book on the folklore of Shropshire, with a view to the compilation on the basis of Brand's work of a cyclopedia of British folklore. The second work now in progress is a general index to the long series of special books and Proceedings issued by the society since its foundation, the work of compilation having been entrusted to Mr. A. R. Wright.


The Society of Pure English, which was founded shortly before the war, and which during the war was temporarily suspended, has now begun to carry out its original purpose, and probably before this note appears its first two pamphlets will have been published. Pamphlet No. 1 will contain a list of the members of the Society and a reprint of the original prospectus, which was privately printed in 1913, and which contains a statement of the Society's aims in general terms. Pamphlet No. 2 will consist of a discussion by the Poet Laureate of a curious and hitherto almost unnoticed phenomenon of contemporary speech, the great increase, namely, of homophones, or words of the same sound but different meanings, in the English language. As the original prospectus shows, the Society does not in the least aim at the absurd project of "fixing" the language—its conception is rather that, since all living languages change and must change as life changes, an attempt should be made to guide this necessary process by acknowledged principles of tradition and taste.




THIS section opens amid a furore for improving the Drama in this country. Leagues have sprung up, with imposing committees of enormous length, and are canvassing for money and members with considerable success. A Conference of the Theatre, lasting a fortnight, was held in the summer at Stratford-upon-Avon for the first time in history, at which actors, dramatic critics, trade unionists, authors, publishers, newspaper proprietors, theatrical managers, voice trainers, poets, scenic artists, school teachers, clergymen, and one bishop expressed day after day their intense determination to have more drama and better drama than we have ever had in England before. This assemblage of people, whom as one of them I may perhaps be permitted to call without offence fanatics, may have appeared to the detached onlooker to have been of very little use. The Conference melted away, leaving the British Drama League and the Arts League of Service still without sufficient money to do any of the practical things without which the gathering of conferences and the sitting of committees are merely occasions for the ventilation of private grievances.

But the Conference could never have been held if there were not, widespread through the country, a genuine passion for the theatre far more extensive and far stronger than it had ever been in England during the whole of the nineteenth century. There are no statistics available to give us the percentage of the population who were regular theatre-goers during the last century, but it was certainly very small, and everyone knows that it has increased enormously during the last ten years, and has probably even doubled again during the war. This is a fact which is generally overlooked, but which really provides us with the soundest basis for hope. What is the matter with the theatre in England is mainly that there is not enough of it. Nearly all its faults and shortcomings may be put down to deficiencies of matériel, both structural and human. There are not enough theatres, those in existence are obsolete, cranky, ill-ventilated, absurdly constructed, badly placed buildings, an eyesore to passers-by, a hell of discomfort for 90 per cent. of the audience, a death-trap for actors. Only a fanatical human passion for the theatre could drive people into such places away from the comparative comfort of their own firesides. There are not enough actors, and those that survive the barbaric tortures of rushing week by week from one cold and slatternly apartment-house to another, always arriving in their next provincial town on the dismallest of Sundays, generally find that they are the one spark of life in the place, and end, like Sir Henry Irving, by expiring in their miserable and draughty dressing-rooms. The English provincial town in its dreariness and dirt awaits the coming of the actor much as the Esquimaux in winter await the coming of the sun, but the actor during the day when he is free wanders through its streets as Virgil wandered by the banks of the Styx—forlorn, and like a man among shadows who have no commerce with him, but belong to another world. It is no wonder that they become more and more divorced from their fellow-creatures, more and more inefficient, more and more lacking in zest for experiment and enterprise, until neglected and isolated the profession sinks, with bright exceptions, to a level of illiteracy, incompetence, and sloth that lately even in London moved a commercial manager like Mr. Cochran to express his astonishment.

But the municipal councils, which are the civic committees of the townspeople entrusted with organising their social life, cannot remain for ever indifferent to their duty in face of a growing popular demand for the theatre; that is why I point to the enormous increase in the number of habitual theatre-goers as our strongest basis of hope. Or112 if they do so persist private enterprise will inevitably step in, as it did in the case of so many electric-lighting, tramway, gas, and water undertakings, build up a profitable theatrical business, mulct the town annually of thousands of pounds in profits, and ultimately will have to be bought out by the municipality at an inflated price. As Mr. Granville Barker pointed out in an extraordinarily able speech at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, the people's greatest need is to become articulate. Art means nothing if it does not mean giving speech to the people, and the art of the Drama is the most democratic, the most popular, the most wide-reaching, the most easily understood, and the most stimulating, because the most social of all the arts. There was a time, and it is not so very long ago, when primary education in its most rudimentary, that is to say, its school form, was left to private enterprise, and if private enterprise could have done it at all it might possibly have done it better than the nation; but every argument that can be used in favour of teaching everyone to read and write applies still more forcibly to giving the people a real education. It is far too important and too urgent to be left to the chance provision of speculators out merely to make profits for themselves, and it is to enlighten public opinion on the subject that these leagues have primarily been founded. But let me not be mistaken. There can be no intention of priggishly educating the people in the "higher drama." We must carefully discriminate between advocating for theatres—municipal, if possible, but if not, private—and advocating for the performance of plays by any dramatist or school or coterie of dramatists. The Drama is a much bigger thing than Mr. Shaw, Ibsen, Chekhov, or anyone else, and what has always prevented these movements from gaining popular sympathy has been their lack of breadth, their curious fascination for pedants and cranks. Almost every decent, sane human being will appreciate and support a demand for a theatre to enlighten the dismal misery and boredom of the winter evenings of his native town and to take him out of the narrow groove into which he will inevitably stick if left alone with his books and his relations; but he will not support a scheme to ram down his throat obvious propaganda.

The Calvinists of the Drama

I have sat for hours in the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, watching the people. The most heterogeneous collection of persons imaginable assemble there. Washerwomen, soldiers, artisans, clerks, clergymen, navvies, all classes and ages. Some wander aimlessly about, some stand petrified before one picture for a quarter of an hour, some look only at portraits, others search for familiar landscapes, others again are attracted by historical interest. There is hardly one of them that would not probably earn the contempt of Mr. Clive Bell if he were to give Mr. Bell the reason of his enjoyment; but I assert with all the emphasis I can command that there is not one of them who has not gained by even ten minutes within that building something impossible to value and precious, beyond estimation. Can any human being go out of the dirt, the indignity, the ugliness, the noise, the formlessness of the modern city into the serenity, the colour, the dignity, the peace, and the beauty of the rooms of the National Gallery without a quickening of the spirit, however imperceptible? What is there in Trafalgar Square apart from the National Gallery which in any degree witnesses that man is more than an animal? True, there is St. Martin's Church, but the associations of the church—irrelevant if you will—adulterate and weaken its spiritual influence on men's minds to-day. But the National Gallery exerts a completely catholic and irradiating power on all who enter.

So does the theatre, even exactly as it stands to-day. I am in profound disagreement with those who raise up their hands in horror at the present state of the theatre where it exists. What causes me to join the chorus of Jeremiahs is the scarcity of theatres, their complete and utter absence in hundreds of large towns where they should exist, and113 the smallness of their numbers in our largest cities. My mention of Mr. Clive Bell in connection with the National Gallery was doubly relevant, for there is a set of high-brows connected with the theatre who have set their eyes so fixedly on an unreal and abstract perfection that they have become blind. They talk about Serious Drama in the same solemn, pompous and hopeless way that the Calvinists used to talk about salvation, and the mass of the people, cheerfully ignoring them, continues to go tranquilly to perdition. Ask anyone of these apostles of Serious Drama to show you one serious drama, and the odds are that they will say, Man and Superman or Ghosts or Justice. Well, there is something to be said for the authors of these three plays, although not one of them is a really first-rate dramatist, the equal of Shakespeare, Sophocles, Euripides, or even Racine, but for their followers—the dealers in the doleful realism of Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow, and the London suburbs—there is in the main nothing to be said whatever. Their works are for the most part immeasurably inferior to the average London Revue, and to accuse the theatre of sinking into degradation because it prefers the wit, humour, beautiful dressing, vivacious dancing, and high spirits of an Ambassador's, Vaudeville, Pavilion, or Alhambra Revue to a serious, machine-made play by Mr. Sutro or two hours of mechanical dulness from someone I had better not name is simply to accuse it of preferring life to the undesirable "seriousness" of the tomb.

Influence of the Existing Theatre

It is not as if there were no drama better than the Revue or the Musical Comedy, but the stupidity of the high-brows, their dull acceptance of the solemn and the pompous, of anything in fact that is not bright or imaginative or stirring, but is sufficiently pretentious, does incalculable harm to that annually growing fraction of the public which, fully appreciative of Revue and Musical Comedy, is yet unsatisfied and is really thirsting for finer things. This public is continually essaying samples of the drama of the high-brows and is continually being driven back from such dry, unprofitable verbiage to those theatres where there is humour, wit, charm and beauty. And for this evidence of good taste it is roundly abused. I frequently wonder whether anyone of these misguided zealots has ever been inside the popular theatre, the theatre of the Musical Comedy. Have they any idea what a revelation of beauty it is to large numbers of the population? I dare to assert that in London the popular theatre has done more to develop and educate the taste of the masses in dress, furniture, and decoration than fifty years of propaganda from Ruskin, William Morris, and all their disciples. The theatre, of course, has learnt from the artists of all countries, but it has been the great cultural organisation which has taken the fruits of the artists' work to the people and opened their eyes.

In educating the senses the popular theatre has done and is still doing invaluable work; it is when it comes to educating the finer emotions that it fails so lamentably, though hardly so utterly as the high-brow theatre, in which there are no emotions but those of despair, disillusionment and derision. And yet it is strange that in spite of the general abuse of the low standards of London plays, on the rare occasions when a really fine play is put on it is generally met by the critics with a chorus of disapproval or the praise that damns. We have had a good example in London recently. Mr. Henry Ainley, by common consent our finest actor, begins his management of the St. James's Theatre with Tolstoy's The Living Corpse, the title being changed to Reparation, in consideration of the mental state of a public frightened out of its wits by the high-brows and the cranks. Tolstoy was a great man, and The Living Corpse is a fine play, a play that ought to have a great success; but do the critics say, "Here at last is a magnificent play, a play which everyone must see"? Not a bit of it. The general spirit of their114 notices is one of chilly respect for the famous name of Tolstoy, with an insinuation that the play would have been much better if it had been handled by a competent dramatist like Sir Arthur Pinero or Mr. Sutro. "What is the central theme? We are not quite sure," says the critic of the leading London daily. Is it a mere coincidence that on the same page that journal's musical critic, in reference to Prometheus, the work of Tolstoy's compatriot, Scriabin, one of the greatest of modern composers, says he does not understand it and, asking himself whether Scriabin was "sane or deranged," declares that he does not know? Here is a lesson for Drama Leagues, for it is almost certain that when we do get good drama scarcely anyone will know it.


A society called "The Phœnix," with headquarters at Dudley House, Southampton Street, Strand, has been formed to revive plays of Elizabethan, Restoration, and later times. The following plays have been selected for early production:

The Duchess of Malfi (John Webster), Marriage à la Mode (John Dryden), The Fair Maid of the West, Part I. (Thomas Heywood), Don Carlos (Thomas Otway), Volpone (Ben Jonson). The Duchess of Malfi will be given on Sunday, November 16th.


HEARTBREAK HOUSE, etc. By Bernard Shaw. Constable. 7s. 6d.

Mr. Shaw is one of the most consistent authors living. His readers know almost to a comma what he is going to give them every time they open his latest book. That is perhaps the chief reason why there has been such a falling off in Mr. Shaw's popularity of recent years. Another reason is, of course, the war; but it is strange that Mr. Shaw's opinions, or his particular way of expressing his opinion, during the war should have alienated and even made bitterly hostile men of wide knowledge and experience of his writings and his character who, if they could be persuaded momentarily to reflect without prejudice, would have to admit that what offends them now was precisely what offended so many others in the years before the war, when they on the contrary were Mr. Shaw's ardent champions or, at the very least, his apologists. It only goes to show how very far anyone of us is from being able to judge a man's work rationally once our own particular prejudice is touched. We are all raw somewhere, and woe to the man who touches us on the raw, for then all hope of dispassionate criticism, of Christian toleration even, is gone. It has been Mr. Shaw's most vivid characteristic that he has never lost his intellectual integrity. It is easy to be honest among one's enemies, but to be honest among one's friends is a virtue so rare, so uncomfortable, and outwardly so contrary to the spirit of fair play that it is not surprising it should be generally detested. Mr. Shaw has always retained what he believes, perhaps conceitedly, to be his right to say the worst that can be said of his dearest friends, and of the advocates of whatever cause happens at the moment to be nearest to his heart. However ruinous such conduct may appear to be to the immediate interests of the movement he is supposed to support, he will not abandon his right to forge weapons for the enemy more damaging than any discoverable by their own brains. When life or one's country or one's family is at stake, such conduct appears little less than devilish, yet Mr. Shaw has his right to express his opinions as lucidly and as pointedly as he can, and it may be that when we are far enough removed from the heat and blinding dust of the moment's conflict we shall realise that Mr. Shaw has been faithful to the truth that is in him, and if we have any reason to complain it is certainly not of Mr. Shaw, but of the God who made him.

It may seem that what the ordinary man would call, and call wrongly, Mr. Shaw's unreliability does not square with the assertion that he is consistent, and that his readers115 know beforehand exactly what Mr. Shaw is going to give them. But Mr. Shaw's consistency lies in his artillery, not in his object of attack. The enemy varies, but the same guns are always going off. In Heartbreak House there is at times all and more than all the old brilliancy. The dialogue of the first and third acts is concentrated, savage, and burns with an intensity that casts a dull imaginative glow over the play. The characters of the Hushabyes, of Captain Shotover, of the sham millionaire Mangan, of Mazzini Dunn, and the fluteplayer are drawn with a pen steeped in vitriol and, exaggerated as they are, they have a genuine imaginative reality deeper than most Shavian figures. There is a moral passion in this play gloomier and more savage than in anything Mr. Shaw has yet done, and an absence of that childish and inconsequent flippancy which so often mars his work. The other plays in the volume vary in quality from some excellent fooling in Great Catherine to a depressing mechanical liveliness, almost utterly without humour, in Augustus Does His Bit. The best of them is O'Flaherty, V.C.; but although it frequently makes one laugh one finds oneself, at the end, closing the book with that tired yawn that seems to be the fatal consequence of reading a great deal of Mr. Shaw at one time.

FIRST PLAYS. By A. A. Milne. Chatto & Windus. 6s,

I am not sure that I do Mr. Milne any injustice by asserting that the best thing in his first volume of plays is the Introduction, describing how the five plays came to be written. It is turned with that inimitable grace and lightness of touch which have made Mr. Milne famous as a journalist. Mr. Milne's charm and quaint humour need a certain space in which to display themselves. It would be fatal to hurry him or to try to straighten his meanderings and digressions, but that is exactly what the dramatic form does do. It is not that Mr. Milne cannot express himself in a few sentences, he can; but however few the sentences they will be allusive, indirect, full of parabolas and curves that seem to lead away but really come back to the point. These qualities are difficult to transfer to dialogue, especially when one is hampered by the consciousness of theatrical convention, and in his first effort, Wurzel-Flummery, after inventing that wonderful name, Mr. Milne fails entirely to get his own individual qualities into the play. The dialogue is in short, flavourless sentences that seem to have been shot out of a popgun, and the characters being mere lay-figures, the play is simply dull. The Lucky One is a much more ambitious and more successful experiment. The people are alive, but Mr. Milne is probably right in seeing no hope of its being produced. It is intelligence without frills or decoration; and, as he says, "the girl marries the wrong man." It is in Belinda that Mr. Milne is most successfully himself. Mr. Milne calls it an "April Folly in three acts." and that describes it exactly.




IT may be of interest at this juncture, now that the "close time" for artists between the spring and autumn exhibitions has come to an end, to review past events in artistic circles, and attempt to place readers au courant with events to come. The war has not been without its effects on some branches of artistic development. The supporters of Burlington House, it is true, pursue their way more or less undisturbed by the startling incidents of the last four years; I would be inclined to rank with them the greater part also of the members of the International Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers, whose twenty-sixth exhibition is now being held at the Grosvenor Galleries.

It is only fair to say, however, that the so-called revolutionary in art can sometimes find a place for his work even on these august walls.

The New English Art Club has been handicapped by the commandeering of its gallery by the Government. Still, here again the god-fathers and professors still hold the sway, and it is only in such bodies as the Allied Artists Association, the Friday Club, and the London Group, that the new blood can be more or less assured of a place to exhibit their work and obtain their share in the business of acceptance for, and arrangement of, exhibitions. All these societies are now firmly established, though the last-named has sustained a great loss by the death of its admirable president, Harold Gilman. The Allied Artists is a thoroughly democratic institution and a step towards a trade union of artists, if such a thing is possible: that some step in that direction is needed there can be no doubt, as the artist suffers very severely indeed from the middleman. These societies, then, in their exhibits generally, show renewed signs of energy and development in art.

The employment of younger men in an official capacity as war artists instead of such Academicians as were not too infirm to bear the weight of a steel helmet, showed unusual wisdom and perspicuity on behalf of the responsible bodies concerned. The direct result was a fine collection of paintings by men who, for the most part, had been able to depict their impressions of war in war's surroundings, or record their experiences, not easily forgotten, after they had been freed from the ranks. An exhibition of these paintings held in America was attended with marked success, and helped to make known the work of young English artists in that country. C. R. W. Nevinson, Paul Nash, Wyndham Lewis, and Eric Kennington, to mention only a few, have produced some fine and lasting records of their impressions in medias res. The public will have an opportunity of seeing the fine collection of paintings commissioned and collected by the Imperial War Museum this winter. The effect of this official employment is particularly noticeable upon the more extreme body of painters known as the Vorticists with Wyndham Lewis at the head: they have voluntarily or involuntarily made certain concessions to representation ("compromise" is in bad odour now) in their work, but these concessions have in no way weakened the results of their toil, as appeared evident at the Canadian War Memorials Exhibition this spring.

Turning to other events—the exhibition of foreign artists at the Mansard Gallery, which has recently closed, is, I believe, the first one of its kind since the post-impressionist Exhibition at the Grafton Galleries before the war. Now, as then, I fancy, it will be found to be a case of a little garden in a patch of wilderness. Mr. Clive Bell would perhaps have us bow unreservedly before the lions of the continent, but I feel that some of the artists are only repeating with variations the themes given out by their forerunners. Even the work of the accepted masters, such as Picasso and Derain, and so forth, does not seem quite convincing at first sight, but perhaps these were acting117 purposely as foils to their younger contemporaries. The Exhibition was, nevertheless, of great interest, especially if we may take it to show roughly the various tendencies of continental art.

The Memorial Exhibition of the works of Harold Gilman at the Leicester Galleries deserves special notice. Harold Gilman died suddenly of influenza this spring. To everyone who knew him his death must have come as a severe shock; his unfailing courtesy and true gentleness of manner had endeared him to many. As an artist, the sane outlook and sincere purpose in his work were valuable assets to whatever movement he was connected with. It is difficult at this time to estimate his value as a painter, but I am inclined to think it will be considerable. He had elaborated a fine sense of colour which was as effective in his painting as it was useful in his teaching. His work, hung all together in this exhibition, seems far more striking than when seen in isolated examples, the drawings forming a decidedly important part of the whole. He was not accustomed to show these drawings nor did he seem to value them very much, except as a means to the end; and I am surprised by their excellence. No. 23 is a design for a large painting commissioned by the Canadian Government, and left unfinished at his death. No. 37 is one of the gems of the collection. An illustrated memorial volume of Gilman's work will be published shortly. Other picture shows forthcoming in London during the autumn and winter are—an exhibition of the works of Matisse, Mr. Marchant's Salon, open for the first time since the war at the Goupil Galleries, the Imperial War Museum Exhibition, and the London Group at the Mansard Gallery in November.


To the most hardened critic the sounding title of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Engravers may seem a little overaweing; each time, as the Society's exhibition comes round, he must feel this peculiar thrill; the catalogue also, with its crescendos of lay members, honorary lay members, and deceased honorary lay members, has a conscious feeling of "well-to-do-ness" which is very impressive, and may tend to undermine impartial judgment. The twenty-sixth exhibition of this Society is, notwithstanding, very like many others which have gone before. A long search for instances of any serious purpose, with a few exceptions, meets with nothing but superficial cleverness or work of a purely negative value. As in the exhibitions of Burlington House, so here, the artists seem entirely concerned with the portrayal of the anecdote for itself, without the least regard for design, in fact with the least amount of solid purpose or feeling, and with the free use of cheap bravura painting. There are, of course, the well-known stand-bys who provide what is expected of them with satisfactory regularity. Mr. MacEvoy's portraits of the nobility and gentry seem more and more evanescent, and one would hardly credit them with a drop of red blood, let alone blue—but they have their charm. The portraits in general are not peculiarly interesting, characterised as they are by good but uninspired painting. Mr. Frampton's No. 29 is a case in point. The only bright exception, both as a portrait and a work of art, is Mr. Alvaro Guevara's portrait of Miss Edith Sitwell, which alone is worth paying 1s. 6d. to see. The painting throughout is curiously realistic, the colour is very fine, and the arrangement of the figure so as to present a view looking down upon it, together with the placing of the mats on the floor, make a most interesting design. Placed as it is among the portraits of Mr. MacEvoy, the contrast is startling and a little cruel, not unlike a bird of paradise amongst a batch of ring-doves. I am surprised to see that the perseverance of the firm of Nicholson and Son, though the business is now mostly carried on by Mr. Benjamin Nicholson, has not yet been awarded by royal warrant. No one, I hope, will be so obtuse as not to distinguish the filial from the paternal jug. Considerable mention has been made of the landscapes in water-colour by Miss Frances Hodgkins, and though I118 cannot quite agree with all that has been said, I think her work has charm and a strong sense of pattern. No. 214, Threshing, is especially attractive. The drawings of J. D. Revel will repay attention, particularly No. 194. Mr. Keith Baynes contributes two pleasing drawings, one of which has an interesting design of boats, while Mr. William Rothenstein has a good but very war-like self-portrait. I feel glad my acquaintance with him has been so far only in a civilian capacity. It would appear that sheep-skin jerkins are regulation dress for official war-artists.


Art and Letters

With the autumn number of Art and Letters the periodical completes its fourth publication since the beginning of the new series. Art and Letters was first published in July, 1917, under the editorship of Frank Rutter, Harold Gilman, and Charles Ginner, and was devoted to the reproduction of the graphic arts and the publication of short essays, stories, poems, and reviews. After the first four numbers the magazine came under the management of Mr. Frank Rutter and Mr. Osbert Sitwell, who changed the cover from a set design to one of a varied pattern each quarter.

Art and Letters has continued to supply a certain demand as an artistic quarterly, and indeed, with the exception of Colour, it seems to be the only periodical which reproduces the works of younger contemporary artists. The first numbers contained some excellent drawings by Walter Sickert, Harold Gilman, and Charles Ginner, with woodcuts by Lucien Pissaro; later, work by Paul Nash, MacKnight Kauffer, and Therèse Lessore formed a pleasing contribution. With the inception of the new series in 1918, the paper was given fresh impetus and still maintains its high level. A criticism which applies to many other like publications may be also applied to Art and Letters: it is too precious. There is need of a wider scope and more general appeal to the public.

The chief item of artistic interest in Volume 2, No. 4, of Art and Letters, which has just appeared, is the drawing by Modigliani, who was one of the most promising exhibitors at the recent exhibition of Continental Artists held at the Mansard Gallery, and referred to above. This is really a beautiful drawing, delicate and sensitive; the artist, while relying chiefly on the rhythmic value of his line, has introduced ever so slightly into the face the literary interest, so to speak, of a subtle expression which is the quintessence of placid kindness. There are also excellent drawings by the late Gaudier Brzeska and Wyndham Lewis, and a wood-cut by Paul Nash which, at the risk of being censored for partiality, I venture to think is of interest in another branch of his art. The drawing by Miss Anne Estelle Rice is competent and decorative. A new periodical entitled The Owl was hatched in the early summer, in which the excellence of the literary contributions greatly outweighed the value of the artistic reproductions. I hope in the future that the art editor will range a little wider in his choice of drawings.

The Poetry Bookshop

Mr. Harold Monro is publishing a series of monthly chap-books, which has already run into three numbers; it purports to be a record of the poetry and drama of to-day. In so far as it bears upon these columns, Volume 2 is of interest as containing reproductions of Mr. Albert Rutherstone's theatre designs for Bernard Shaw's play, Androcles and the Lion, produced at St. James's Theatre before the war. This is altogether an admirable and valuable little book. The most recently published number is entitled Poems Newly Decorated, and contains some charming and effective designs by the younger artists.





IT has been good to see the Queen's Hall filled once more with a happy crowd, after the thin and uncertain audiences which listened to the Promenade Concerts during the war. Even to a jaded professional critic there is a peculiar sense of pleasure to be derived from them which no other concerts can convey. One is free to smoke, to begin with, and free to move about and see one's friends; for that is one of the pleasant things about a Promenade Concert, that one always finds friends there. And just as one finds unexpected old friends on the floor of the house, so one finds them in the programme. There are many works from which the hardened concert-goer flees when he sees them put in to fill up time in an ordinary symphony concert. At the Promenades he may find himself listening to them in the company of someone who has never heard them before, and suddenly discover that they have taken on a new aspect in relation to all the music which memory has accumulated since the last time that he came across them. The more heterogeneous the programme, the more delightful it is, and one wonders what goes on in the minds of those listeners who crowd to the evenings that are given up to Wagner alone or to Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. It is on a Wagner night that one begins to be conscious of how badly the band is playing. They are trotting through the old stock extracts, which they are supposed to know by heart. The old hands are bored to death, the new ones do not yet know their way about. At least so one is tempted to think for the moment. And on a classical night one is tempted to quarrel with some of Sir Henry Wood's interpretations.

Such judgments are unprofitable, even if one could be sure that they were true. It is the homogeneous programme that alters one's critical angle. The last new versification of a suburban house-agent's advertisement in the second half of the programme restores a juster balance. To judge from old Promenade programmes, the "one-style" night must be a relic of earlier tradition. When Mr. Robert Newman first started the concerts, in 1895, there would be a Scottish night, an Irish night, a Military night, and, besides a Wagner night, a Gounod night. The Irish night meant a programme of Stanford, Balfe, Wallace and Sullivan. Sullivan still figures in our programmes; the others have dropped out, and so has the Gounod night. The programme of a Military night does indeed seem a curiosity to-day. Here it is: Military March (Schubert), overture Les Dragons de Villars (Maillart), The German Patrol (Eilenberg), Trumpet Overture (Mendelssohn), The Red Hussar (Solomon), The British Army Quadrilles (Jullien), The Drum Polka (Anonymous), and the "Soldiers' Chorus" from Faust. Maillart's overture still figures in this year's list; but probably no one wants a military programme in these days, even if it were made up from the classics. It is interesting to note that what we called a "Popular" night differed very little from the Saturday programmes of this year, in spite of the number of novelties that have in the course of time been gradually added to the repertory. The operatic selections were dropped a long time ago, but such things as Handel's Largo, Grieg's Peer Gynt, the overture to William Tell, and Bizet's L'Arlésienne have probably been played once or even twice in every season.

The book of programmes may be regarded as a fair index of average taste, and as such is instructive. English people, on the whole, have had too much common sense to allow their musical interests to be distorted by the war. It is true that modern German music is no longer heard, and that the names of modern French, Russian,120 and Italian composers figure largely on the programmes. But it is probably also true that the accident of the war has merely helped to consolidate a tendency that was apparent some time before. Brahms was never a composer for the man in the street. What the ordinary man wants in music is a clear-cut tune, a vigorous rhythm, and an exciting volume of sound. He gets these in William Tell and L'Arlésienne. In the presence of these and other old favourites we are all ordinary men. They are the things which the man in the street enjoys at a first hearing, the things which the cultivated musician never ceases to enjoy. It is through such music that the average man has gradually learned to enjoy Beethoven's Symphonies and the Brandenburg Concertos, for they too possess those essential qualities.

On the other hand, there is a very large section of the public which demands a more sensuous and emotional type of music. The emotion which these people seek is not necessarily erotic, nor is it consciously religious, though the prelude to Tristan and Handel's Largo (with harp and organ) are among the works which appeal to them most. It was they who made the popularity of Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss, and it is they who will establish the popularity of Scriabin. Together with this desire for sensuous emotion there is often combined a delight in curious and amusing orchestral effects. This was another factor in the enjoyment of Strauss, and it can be satisfied not only in such works as Scriabin's Prometheus, but in Sir Henry Wood's ingenious orchestral transcriptions of Moussorgsky. Brahms has always been too difficult of understanding for the William Tell public, and too austere for what one may call the "wallowers." He is hardly a composer for the Promenade Concerts at all; the Requiem, the chamber music, and the songs are his best works, and those can always be heard in their proper places.

The complaint is frequently made that the music of the modern English composers is crowded out, not so much by foreign contemporaries as by the classics. New works by English composers are played once, it is said, but never again. Yet even if we leave out Elgar, as being a classic as surely established as Saint-Saëns, there are several English works which are played over and over again. Sullivan's In Memoriam is one of those which might well be laid on the shelf; but like Walford Davies' Solemn Melody it brings in the organ, and to many English people music of this kind would appear to offer all the spiritual advantages of church-going without its discomforts, intellectual or physical. Besides these there are Mackenzie's Benedictus and Edward German's Henry VIII. dances, as well as various pieces by Balfour Gardiner and Percy Grainger, which undoubtedly possess those desirable qualities of tune, rhythm, and a jolly noise. In one case Sir Henry Wood has managed to add the attractions both of organ and batterie de cuisine, thus combining mirth with devotion.

It is perhaps because a Promenade audience is so kind and so undiscriminating that these concerts have become the recognized trial ground for new works. This year's novelties have been, on the whole, of little interest. Malipiero's second set of Impressioni dal Vero was the most original, Roger Quilter's Children's Overture the most attractive.

The want of discrimination shown by the audience is most apparent in the case of the vocal and instrumental soloists. A few years ago, it is related, the students of the Paris Conservatoire used to make a hostile demonstration against every concerto on the ground that the concerto was of its nature a bad form of art. There are indeed a fair number of musicians in this country who in private conversation will confess to much the same opinion. Generally, however, if pressed, they will make four or five exceptions, such as the favourite concertos of Mozart and Beethoven, together with Schumann's and the B flat concerto of Brahms. As regards the rest, they at least afford proof of the good manners inculcated at our music schools. The more recent ones, such as those of Rachmaninov and Tcherepnin, are no better than the others. That of Delius alone stands out as a work of real beauty. The real disfigurement of the Promenade Concerts121 is provided by the singers. One might have supposed that a public which had enjoyed a scena of Wagner or Verdi would refuse to tolerate the vapid domesticities of the second half of the programme. But, alas! it is probably this very domesticity that evokes the applause. The promenaders will admire Isolde's Death Scene or Eri tu, but they must worship at a distance. When they hear the other stuff they know that it is something which they themselves can sing successfully in their own suburban drawing-rooms. Sir Henry Wood was once heard to express the hope that some day there might be a Promenade Concert in London every night of the year. Could that hope ever be realized it would be the noblest monument to the man who for our generation at least has created the Promenade Concerts. But must there always be those songs? They are symbols of bondage to commercial interests.


After five years of absence Busoni has returned to England, and his recital at the Wigmore Hall on October 15th showed that his playing has lost none of its former strength and vitality, whilst it has undoubtedly gained in dignity and serenity. His audience consisted mainly of musicians, and his programme was evidently intended for serious and cultivated listeners. He began with the first prelude and fugue from Bach's Forty-Eight, producing a wonderful effect at the end of the fugue by a continuous haze of pedal, through which the counterpoint yet stood out with perfect clearness. His reading of the Goldberg Variations was startling, both in its quality of tone and in its departures from the text. But it was clear that there was a considered reason for everything that was done, and as a commentary on Bach the performance was of singular interest. Busoni was at his best in Beethoven's Hammerklaviev sonata. It is probably the most difficult work in all the literature of the pianoforte. When Busoni plays one does not take technical difficulties into account; but this sonata is both supremely difficult to understand and supremely difficult to interpret to an audience. To grasp its vastness of conception and to present it without the least appearance of struggle in perfect balance of poetry and philosophy is a task which Busoni alone of living pianists can accomplish. It was evident from the behaviour of the audience after the end of the sonata that they all realised how in comparison with Busoni most other pianists, despite their admirable qualities, are very small fry.




4 In this section we propose to give monthly skeleton lists of the works of modern authors: where feasible of contributors to the issue current.


[Poetical works only. Full information as to all his writings may be obtained from the bibliographies by A. P. Webb and H. Danielson.]

COLLECTED POEMS. Macmillan. 1919.

[This volume and that containing The Dynasts, mentioned below, give a full collection of Mr. Hardy's work in verse. The Wessex and Mellstock editions of his complete works include his poems in several volumes.]

SELECTED POEMS. Macmillan. 1916.

[In the Golden Treasury Series.]

WESSEX POEMS. Macmillan. 1898.

[This volume contains illustrations in pen and ink by the author.]


THE DYNASTS. Macmillan. Part I., 1903. Part II., 1906. Part III., 1908.

[Now published in one volume.]

TIME'S LAUGHING STOCKS. Macmillan. 1909.

SATIRES OF CIRCUMSTANCE, with miscellaneous pieces. Macmillan. 1914.

MOMENTS OF VISION. Macmillan. 1917.

[Certain poems and small collections have been published in very small editions, mainly by Clement K. Shorter. These include Song of the Soldiers (1914), When I Weakly Knew (1916), In Time of the Breaking of Nations (1916), The Fiddler's Story (1917), Call to National Service (1917), and Domicilium (1918).]



SONGS OF CHILDHOOD. Longmans. 1902.

[Reissued in Longmans' Pocket Library.]

POEMS. Murray. 1906.

A CHILD'S DAY. Verses to pictures. Constable. 1911.


PEACOCK PIE. Constable. 1913.

[Reissued with pictures by Heath Robinson.]

THE SUNKEN GARDEN. Beaumont. 1918.

[A limited edition de luxe.]

MOTLEY AND OTHER POEMS. Constable. 1918.

[Embodies the whole of the material in the last-named.]


HENRY BROCKEN. Murray. 1904.


THE RETURN. Arnold. 1910.



COLLECTED POEMS. With a portrait by W. Rothenstein. Fifield. 1916.

[This volume contains a selection of what the author considered the best of his poems up to that date.]

123 THE SOUL'S DESTROYER. Alston Rivers. 1907.

[This book was published in the Contemporary Poets' Series, after a privately published issue by the author from the Marshalsea. It has since been reissued by Mr. Fifield.]

NEW POEMS. Elkin Mathews. 1907.


FAREWELL TO POESY. Fifield. 1910.

SONGS OF JOY. Fifield. 1911.

FOLIAGE. Elkin Mathews. 1913.

THE BIRD OF PARADISE. Methuen. 1914.

CHILD LOVERS. Fifield. 1916.

RAPTURES. Beaumont. 1918.

[A limited edition de luxe.]

FORTY NEW POEMS. Fifield. 1918.

[Contains the poems in the last entry and ten additional pieces.]



[With an introduction by Bernard Shaw.]

BEGGARS. Fifield. 1909.

A WEAK WOMAN. Fifield. 1911.

[A novel.]

THE TRUE TRAVELLER. Fifield. 1912.

NATURE. Batsford. 1913.

[An essay in the Fellowship Books.]

A POET'S PILGRIMAGE. Melrose. 1918.



THE COLLECTED POEMS OF RUPERT BROOKE. With a memoir by Edward Marsh.

Sidgwick & Jackson. 1918.

[The memoir was separately printed by the same publishers in the same year.]

SELECTED POEMS. Sidgwick & Jackson. 1917.


POEMS. Sidgwick & Jackson. 1911.

[This, Brooke's first book, has gone into an enormous number of editions, and the first is so scarce as to cost £4 or more in the second-hand market.]

1914 AND OTHER POEMS. Sidgwick & Jackson. 1915.

[This appeared with a portrait shortly after Brooke's death.]

THE OLD VICARAGE, GRANTCHESTER. Sidgwick & Jackson. 1916.

[A poem from the last volume, separately published.]


LETTERS FROM AMERICA. With a preface by Henry James. Sidgwick & Jackson. 1916.

[James's preface was the last of his published writings. The letters originally appeared in the Westminster Gazette; one or two stray papers are added.]


[Brooke's fellowship thesis at King's. There exists in the British Museum in typescript an essay that Brooke wrote in 1910 for the Harness Prize. The subject is Puritanism as represented or referred to in the Early English Drama up to 1642.]




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Editor—J. C. SQUIRE Assistant-Editor—EDWARD SHANKS

Vol. I No. 2 December 1919


OUR last notes in this place were written "in the dark." We sketched, in a general way, our attitude, our intentions, and our hopes whilst we were still without more evidence than our private enquiries could produce as to the degree of confidence that our proposals would inspire and the amount of support that we should receive. We are now more fully informed; and we may honestly say that, although our expectations were not, perhaps, coloured by an excessive diffidence, they have been more than realised.

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The extraordinarily cordial reception given us, both by critics in the Press and by our readers, has proved that there is a demand for a paper on the lines which we have laid down, and that our first number was regarded as a satisfactory beginning. We must express our profound gratitude to those—there are hundreds—who have written to us in terms of unqualified appreciation and benevolence, and to the reviewers, whose kindness is more encouraging than they probably know. It now remains for us to attempt to live up to the promises we have made.

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One more thing we must add before we turn to detail. Editors do not normally discuss the economics of their enterprises in public, and nobody wishes that they should. But before the London Mercury appeared, we made a special effort to start it on a firm basis by securing a large number of Original Subscribers. That effort was remarkably successful; thousands of persons subscribed for a year before they had seen a copy of the paper. These proved by their willingness to buy a pig in a poke that130 they were thoroughly interested in our scheme; and we are entitled to assume that they will be interested to hear that our initial success has been so great that our immediate future is securely guaranteed. In other words (though much ground remains to be won), we have been spared the wearing and worrying struggle to obtain a position and a "hearing" which so often embarrasses literary and artistic periodicals. A direct result of this is that we shall be under no necessity to experiment hastily, but shall be able to give due consideration to every possible development that occurs to us. A direct implication of it is that should we, in the long run, fail to satisfy the public, we should have nothing and nobody but ourselves to blame. Either our conception would have been proved unpopular or our execution would have been deemed inadequate. It is the most comfortable of situations. That is all we need say on the subject. We have spoken frankly about it (rather than affect an impassive indifference) simply because we think our readers would like us to do so.

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We have as yet received no great number of detailed criticisms or suggestions for improvement. But there have been some, both in the Press and in the letters from our correspondents. Some of the suggestions that have been made we shall adopt; some we shall not; one or two of the most interesting are based on a misunderstanding. The most noticeable of these derive from the notion that the London Mercury was intended to be an exact analogue of the Mercure de France, and borrowed its title from that excellent paper. We may as well explain, once and for all, that the similitude with the Mercure de France, happy though it may be, was reached by accident; our own title was derived directly from the Mercuries which were the earliest products of the English periodical Press; and for our scheme we are indebted to no paper, British or foreign. A Scottish critic observes that "Belgian literature owed its notable capture of Europe largely to its [the Mercure's] whole-hearted welcome, and the new movement in Germany associated with the names of Rilke and Zweig found its first foreign recognition in its pages. Moreover, it surveyed the whole field of human intellectual achievement—philosophy, science, religion—in its articles.... The name of M. Davray at the foot of a Mercure article has made more than one British writer's reputation in Paris, and Europe would have been entirely ignorant that there was a new and rich literature in Spanish-America had not the Mercure discovered it and blazoned forth its merits." We might, if we would, make some remark on the detail of this. Rilke is not a major poet; Zweig is an unimportant, over-exuberant critic who tried, in vain, to persuade the late Emile Verhaeren that he was a German; the fame of Spanish-American literature, trumpeted though it may have been by the Mercure, has not yet reached London. But we prefer to concentrate on the more important point, and that is that our functions, as we conceive them, are not those of the Mercure de France.131 We have already published letters from French and American correspondents; we shall shortly publish letters from Italian, Russian, and German correspondents; we shall from time to time publish fuller articles about recent developments in foreign countries. But there are certain limits to our space, and there is a centre in our plans. It is an admirable thing to disseminate the works of good Belgian and Spanish-American authors, and we hope that we shall not overlook anything really important that comes from any quarter of the globe. But our principal object is to assist people to read the good English authors of the past, and to stimulate the popularity of good English authors of the present. There are those to whom any foreigner, writing in some mysteriously wonderful language, like French or Polish or Spanish-American, is a portent; but we are not amongst them. We desire to keep the British public in touch with all foreign developments that may be considered likely to be of special interest to the British public; but we certainly do not intend to devote to the study of foreign authors space that might more profitably be given to the examination of a dead or living man who has written in our own tongue. The Mercure bestows a great deal of attention on foreign authors; it publishes political articles; it concerns itself largely with problems of philosophy and religion. Some of these questions will be ignored by the London Mercury. Some it will discuss; regarding some its functions will be purely that of a recorder. But it does not propose to deflect from its original purpose, which was to publish the best contemporary "creative work" that it could obtain, to criticise new books and old, and to minister to the other needs of the British reader and the British book-collector. It is just as well that this should be clear.

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In the present number one or two slight changes are to be observed. There is a minor, but not insignificant, typographical change, and two new, and we hope welcome, "features" have been added. These had already been premeditated, but we made them with all the more satisfaction in that several correspondents had recommended—we had almost said demanded—them. We hope, in an early issue, to add to these a section on Architecture, similar to the sections on Art, Music, and the Theatre.

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Several correspondents have written to ask us whether we propose to devote any attention to the economics of authorship, and two of them (persons whom we conceive to have a direct and immediate interest in the subject) make special reference to the question of American copyright. To all of them we can reply that, although economics in general, like politics in general, come within the sphere of our self-abnegation, we shall throw what light we can on the economics of authorship, just as we shall hold132 ourselves free to trespass on politics when politics touch art. American copyright, as a fact, we had already marked out as one of the matters to which we intend to return again and again until America puts her laws straight. The British copyright laws are now, so far as they affect the author, on a very satisfactory footing. The principal countries of the world have signed the Berne Convention, and even Russia, had there been no Revolution, would by this time have agreed that the works of British authors should be automatically copyrighted in Russia. The more widely the civilised custom spreads the more glaring becomes what, without offence, we may call the offence of America. There only—and it is the largest English-speaking and English-reading community in the world—is the British author defenceless, there only may he be robbed with impunity of the fruits of his labour.

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Let us recapitulate the elements of the American copyright law as they at present stand. Copyright in America is defined by a law of 1909. That Act lays down that a book, to secure legal protection, must be manufactured in the United States of America; the stipulation was carried on from an earlier statute. A book published in the English language may obtain interim protection for one month from the date of publication if a copy is forwarded to an office in Washington; but at the end of the month protection lapses. Copyright is lost unless a book (or a newspaper contribution) has been "set up" in the States and issued there within a month of its publication in Great Britain.

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Now we have no hesitation in describing the present copyright arrangements as between England and America as immoral and unjust. They do not greatly handicap authors of international reputation, so far as their new books are concerned. If—he will forgive us for using his name as an illustration—Mr. Rudyard Kipling has written a new book, he will have no difficulty whatever in getting an American publisher to put it into type in America and issue it at a date approximate to that of the English publication. But even the eminent and the "arrived" are put to some trouble and expense by the necessity of "securing copyright," and on those who are not so eminent the law presses very hardly indeed. There are famous English authors whose early books are not copyright in America; there are young English authors who have to go through the anguish of seeing American copyright expire whilst some American publisher is debating whether or not he shall take "sheets" of a book from England; and "first books" of any character published in England can virtually never be copyrighted in America. It may, and should, be granted that as a body American publishers are more just and generous than their laws. We know of many cases in which the English authors of non-copyright books have obtained133 from American publishers precisely the same royalties as they have obtained from their English publishers. We know also of cases—relatively few, we gladly admit—in which the works of English authors have been pirated by American editors and publishers without sanction, thanks, or payment. But the mere fact that in most instances American publishers are ashamed to take advantage of the law, and that in other instances they do the handsome thing in order to secure "favours to come," is no palliation of the law. It is a harsh and a selfish law; a law unworthy of a great nation, a nation which is second to none in its professions and in its intentions with regard to the welfare of humanity at large.

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The state of the law is commonly ascribed to the typographical unions. "Protection for Printers": books should have no rights in America unless American typographers have been employed upon them. Beneath this argument lies the naked, brutal fact that at present, America having not yet produced the great universal literature that she is destined to produce, America imports much more from us than we do from her. If "sheets" were copyright, whenever sent, we should get the better of the exchange; we produce ten Masefields for one O. Henry, and England would print far more for America than America would for England. This may determine the printers' attitude; though even the printers might realise that a time might come when the boot would be on the other leg, and British publishers will be in a position to squeeze American authors to any extent, and British printers will insist on printing books which might more conveniently and economically be printed in America. But surely, in a matter like this, the law ought not to be dictated by the selfish and shortsighted conceptions of a trade. We have never met an English author who has had, or who has contemplated, relations with America who has not been bitterly contemptuous of the American attitude towards the copyright law. We have never spoken to an American author or publisher who has not admitted that it was a disgrace to America. Authors may be a small body, but they are as entitled to their rights as anybody else; these, also, are God's creatures. President Wilson himself, for all we know, may under the present regime have lost English copyright in his early works; and the irony of the law is that it presses most hardly on those who have still their fortunes to make, for the celebrated, or their agents, can successfully cope with it.

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These lines will, as we are happy to know, meet the eyes of many Americans who write and many who do not. We appeal to them to agitate for a change in their law. That the American copyright law should be placed on precisely the same basis as the English copyright law we do not ask, and134 have no right to ask. But that English authors should automatically enjoy in the United States the same privileges as are enjoyed by native authors is a reasonable proposition. Cannot somebody move the Legislature?

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We shall return to this subject at greater length. Meanwhile, if we may hark back for a moment to the point from which our digression started, may we say that we shall welcome any suggestions our readers may make as to the development of the paper within the limits we have defined? Particularly we desire to hear—though we should not be human if we pretended to enjoy—objections, provided they are conceived in a friendly spirit, to anything in our present arrangements which may strike readers as unsatisfactory. It was another god who sprang, perfect and in full panoply, from the head of Jove.



THE death of Mr. Bruce Cummings on October 22nd, at the age of thirty, brought to an end a literary career which was singular alike in its character and in its brevity. He did not expect to live to see the publication of his book, The Journal of a Disappointed Man, and himself inserted the last and the only falsity in it, except the name he gave himself: "Barbellion died on December 31st." But he did actually witness its remarkable success on its appearance in the early part of this year; and it is impossible not to feel that this must, to some extent, have alleviated his disappointment. He was remarkable, not only in his personality and his gifts, but also in the fact that he was fully and frankly conscious, at all events for some years before his death, that his journal would be published and would be examined as a literary composition. He compared it with the journals which were already famous, he speculated on the reception it would have, he experienced a thrill in discovering a sister-soul in Marie Bashkirtseff. And it is hardly doubtful that his expectations will be realised. His career was one of struggle under almost overwhelming difficulties. His earliest ambition was to be a naturalist; and without training or assistance of any kind he had almost achieved it, when the breakdown of his father compelled him to earn a more substantial, though still meagre, living as a reporter on the staff of a provincial newspaper. He struggled out of this pit, and eventually succeeded in obtaining a position at South Kensington, which, in view of the obstacles in his way, was an extraordinary performance. Through all this battle against odds he was handicapped by an ill-health which seems to have affected almost every organ in his body—a weak heart, susceptible, if not actually tubercular, lungs, dyspepsia, and disordered nerves; and these ailments were accompanied and intensified by a perpetual brooding over his health which, had it had no basis, might have been called acute hypochondria. But it was only after his marriage that he discovered, by a dramatic and extraordinary accident, that he was already condemned to death by a more terrible malady than any of these. Under the rapidly-approaching shadow of this end, he continued his work and his journal as long as his strength permitted, and survived, though but for a little and in a state of complete collapse, the success which had been so persistently denied him before. His journal tells an extraordinary story and reveals an extraordinary person. Its confessions are frank, quiet, and obviously truthful; and neither his introspective habit of mind nor his belief that his journal would be published seems ever to have vitiated his powers of observation and notation. But he was something more than a remarkable personality and a veracious reporter of himself. He was also a writer and a critic of great ability. His notes on literature and music, here and there through the diary, show considerable penetration and judgment; and his descriptions of persons and places are vivid, fascinating, and often humorous. A volume of his remains has just been issued under the title, Enjoying Life, and Other Essays; and this includes the paper on the great journal-writers to which he alludes more than once in his diary.

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As a token of their admiration for a master in their craft, a number of poets recently united to make a presentation to Mr. Thomas Hardy, O.M., on the occasion of his entering his eightieth year. Their tribute took the form of a manuscript volume in which each of the poets wrote one of his own pieces and which was prefaced by an address written, it is understood, by the Poet Laureate, with whom are joined in the136 volume the Hon. Maurice Baring, Mr. Hilaire Belloc, Mr. Laurence Binyon, Mr. G. K. Chesterton, Mr. W. H. Davies, Mr. Walter de la Mare, Mr. Austin Dobson, Mr. Edmund Gosse, Mr. Maurice Hewlett, Mr. Ralph Hodgson, Mr. A. E. Housman, Mr. Rudyard Kipling, Mr. John Masefield, Mrs. Alice Meynell, Mr. Sturge Moore, Professor Gilbert Murray, Sir Henry Newbolt, Mr. Alfred Noyes, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, Mr. G. W. Russell ("A. E."), Mr. Arthur Symons, Mr. Herbert Trench, Sir William Watson, Mr. W. B. Yeats, and many of their younger fellows. A sentence from the address, "We would thank you for the pleasure and increasing delight that your art has given us," explains the purpose of the gift and supplies a text on which a discourse might be pronounced. For if it is a delight for an established master to receive the homage of his juniors, it should be, and is, an especial delight for them to be able to offer it. We think it probable that some of the younger contributors to this volume will live to remember with wonder and gratitude the fact that they were able, while he still lived, to express their gratitude to one of the greatest of modern English poets.

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Mr. Edmund Gosse, the doyen of English critics, celebrated his seventieth birthday in September, and, through Lord Crewe, a presentation was made to him accompanied by a memorial of almost unexampled length and distinction. Each of the signatories has since received a beautifully printed "memento." Those who saw Mr. Gosse's paper on George Eliot will not need to be told that his powers seem, if anything, to increase with age. Great and diverse as have been his services to literature since his first book was (when he was in his early twenties) published, his finest work, both "original" and critical, has appeared in recent years; and it is easily conceivable that the decade between his seventieth and his eightieth birthdays will be his most productive. A man of letters can be paid no higher compliment: Mr. Gosse has retained, and will retain to the end, the energy and the freshness of youth, whilst his knowledge and experience, in the natural course of things, broaden and deepen.

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The death of Leonid Andreef removes the most savage pessimist of all the pessimists who have come out of modern Russia. But the author of The Life of Man, The Seven that Were Hanged, and The Red Laugh was not a pessimist for pessimism's sake: he suffered and he expressed his suffering sincerely. One of his short stories—that which tells of a student and his girl who were overtaken by a band of ruffians in a wood—is perhaps the most ghastly story that has ever been written; yet the most revolted reader could not suppose that the author had been less revolted than himself. Andreef had refused enormous offers to work for the Bolsheviks, and died, in great poverty, from shock induced by a rain of Bolshevik bombs near his house.



Ishak's Song5

5 This song comes from Flecker's unpublished drama Hassan, which those who have seen it consider immeasurably the finest thing that he ever wrote. It has remained in manuscript since his death, awaiting stage production. His Yasmin is another song from the play, and his well-known Golden Journey to Samarkand is its epilogue. Ishak is the Court poet of Haroun-al-Raschid.

Thy dawn, O Master of the World, thy dawn,
The hour the lilies open on the lawn,
The hour the grey wings pass beyond the mountains,
The hour of silence when we hear the fountains,
The hour that dreams are brighter and winds colder,
The hour that young love wakes on a white shoulder,
O Master of the World, the Persian dawn!
This hour, O Master, shall be bright for thee:
Thy merchants chase the morning down the sea,
The braves who fight thy fight unsheath the sabre,
The slaves who toil thy toil are lashed to labour,
For thee the waggons of the world are drawn—
The ebony of night, the red of dawn!


The Buzzards

When evening came and the warm glow grew deeper,
And every tree that bordered the green meadows
And in the yellow cornfields every reaper
And every corn-shock stood above their shadows
Flung eastward from their feet in longer measure,
Serenely far there swam in the sunny height
A buzzard and his mate who took their pleasure
Swirling and poising idly in golden light.
On great pied motionless moth-wings borne along,
So effortless and so strong,
Cutting each other's paths together they glided,
Then wheeled asunder till they soared divided
Two valleys' width (as though it were delight
To part like this, being sure they could unite
So swiftly in their empty, free dominion),
Curved headlong downward, towered up the sunny steep,
Then, with a sudden lift of the one great pinion,
Swung proudly to a curve, and from its height
Took half a mile of sunlight in one long sweep.
And we, so small on the swift immense hillside,
Stood tranced, until our souls arose uplifted
On those far-sweeping, wide,
Strong curves of flight—swayed up and hugely drifted,
Were washed, made strong and beautiful in the tide
Of sun-bathed air. But far beneath, beholden
Through shining deeps of air, the fields were golden
And rosy burned the heather where cornfields ended.
And still those buzzards wheeled, while light withdrew
Out of the vales and to surging slopes ascended,
Till the loftiest-flaming summit died to blue.


The Moon

(To Maurice Baring)


I waited for a miracle to-night.
Dim was the earth beneath a star-swept sky,
Her boughs were vague in that phantasmal light,
Her current rippled past invisibly.
No stir was in the dark and windless meadows,
Only the water, whispering in the shadows,
That darkened nature lived did still proclaim.
An hour I stood in that defeat of sight,
Waiting, and then a sudden silver flame
Burned in the eastern heaven, and she came.


The Moon, the Summer Moon, surveys the vale:
The boughs against the dawning sky grow black,
The shades that hid those whispering waters fail,
And now there falls a gleaming, lengthening track
That lies across the wide and tranquil river,
Burnished and flat, not shaken by a quiver.
She rises still: the liquid light she spills
Makes everywhere quick sparkles, patches pale;
And, as she goes, I know her glory fills
The air of all our English lakes and hills.


High over all this England doth she ride;
She silvers all the roofs of folded towns,
Her brilliance tips the edge of every tide,
Her shadows make soft caverns in the downs;
Even now, beyond my tree serenely sailing,
She clothes far forests with a gauzy veiling,
And even as here, where now I stare and dream,
Standing my own transfigured banks beside,
On many a quiet wandering English stream
There lies the unshifting image of her beam.



Yes, calm she mounts, and watching her, I know
By many a river other eyes than mine
Turn up to her; and, as of old, they show
Their inward hearts all naked to her shine:
Maids, solitaries, sick and happy lovers,
To whom her dear returning orb discovers
For each the gift he waits for: soft release,
The unsealing of imagination's flow,
Her own sweet pain, or other pain's surcease,
The friendly benediction of her peace.


I gaze as they: as kind she is, as fair,
As when long since a younger heart drank deep
From that sweet solace, while, through summer air,
Her lucid fingers hushed the world to sleep.
O as I stand this latest moon beholding,
Her forms unresting memory is moulding;
Beneath my enchanted eyelids there arise
Visions again of many moons that were,
Fair, fleeting moons gathered from faded skies.
Greeted and lost by these corporeal eyes.


Unnumbered are those moons of memory
Stored in the backward chambers of my brain:
The moons that make bright pathways on the sea,
The golden harvest moon above the grain;
The moon that all a sleeping village blanches,
The woodland moon that roves beyond the branches,
Filtering through the meshes of the green
To breast of bird and mossy trunk of tree;
Moons dimly guessed-at through a cloudy screen
The bronze diffusion shed by moons unseen;


Moons that a thin prismatic halo rings,
Looking a hurrying fleecy heaven through;
The fairy moons of luminous evenings,
Phantoms of palest pink in palest blue;
Large orange moons on earth's grey verge suspended,
When trees still slumber from the heat that's ended,
141 Erect and heavy, and all waters lie
Oily, and there is not a bird that sings.
All these I know, I have seen them born and die,
And many another moon in many a sky.


There was a moon that shone above the ground
Where on a grassy forest height I stood;
Bright was that open place, and all around
The dense discovered treetops of the wood,
Line after line, in misty radiance glistened,
Failing away. I watched the scene and listened;
Then, awed and hushed, I turned and saw alone.
Protruding from the middle of the mound,
Fringed with close grass, a moonlight-mottled stone,
Rough-carven, of antiquity unknown.


A night there was, a crowd, a narrow street,
Torches that reddened faces drunk with dreams;
An orator exultant in defeat;
Banners, fierce songs, rough cheering, women's screams;
My heart was one with those rebellious people,
Until along a chapel's pointing steeple
My eyes unwitting wandered, and I found
A moon, and clouds a swift and ragged sheet;
And in my spirit's life all human din
Died, and eternal Silence stood within.


And once, on a far evening, warm and still,
I leant upon a cool stone parapet.
The quays and houses underneath the hill
Twinkled with lights; I heard the sea's faint fret;
And then above the eastern cape's long billow
Silent there welled a trembling line of yellow,
A shred that quickened, then a half that grew
To a full moon, that moved with even will.
The night was long before her, well she knew,
And, as she slowly rose into the blue,



She slowly paled, and, glittering far away
Flung on the silken waters like a spear,
Her crispèd silver shaft of moonlight lay.
The lighthouse lamp upon the little pier
Burned wanly by that radiance clear and certain.
Waiting I knew not what uplifted curtain,
I watched the unmoving world beneath my feet
Till, without warning, miles across the bay,
Into that silver out of shadows beat,
Dead black, the whole mysterious fishing-fleet.


These moons I have seen, but these and every one
Came each so new it seemed to be the first,
New as the buds that open to the sun,
New as the songs that to the morning burst.
The roses die, each day fresh flowers are springing,
Last year it was another blackbird singing,
Thou only, marvellous blossom, whose pale flower
Beyond mankind's conjecture hath begun,
Retain'st for ever an unwithering power
That stales the loveliest stranger of an hour.


But O, had all my infant nights been dark,
Or almost dark, lit by the stars alone,
Had never a teller of stories bid me hark
The promised splendours of that moon unknown:
How perfect then had been the revelation
When first her gradual gold illumination
Broke on a night upon the conscious child:
My heart had stopped with beauty, seeing her arc
Climbing the heavens, so far and undefiled,
So large with light, so even and so mild.


Most wondrous Light, who bring'st this lovelier earth,
This world of shadows cool with silver fires,
Drawing us higher than our human birth:
To whom our strange twin-natured kind suspires
Its saddest thoughts, and tenderest and most fragrant
Tears, and desires unnameable and vagrant:
143 Watcher, who leanest quietly from above,
Saying all mortal wars are nothing worth:
Friend of the sorrowful, tranquil as the dove,
Muse of all poets, lamp of all who love.


Alone and sad, alone and kind and sweet,
But always peaceful and removed and proud,
Whether with loveliness revealed complete,
Or veiling from our vision in a cloud:
Our souls' eternal listener, could we wonder
That men who made of sun and storm and thunder
The awful forms of strong divinity,
Heard in each storm the noise of travelling feet,
Should, gazing at thy face with hearts made free,
Have felt a pure, immortal Power in thee?


Selene, Cynthia, and Artemis,
The swift proud goddess with the silver bow,
Diana, she whose downward-bending kiss
One only knew, though all men yearned to know;
The shepherd on a hill his flock was keeping,
The night's pale huntress came and found him sleeping:
She stooped: he woke, and saw her hair that shone,
And lay, drawn up to cool and timeless bliss
Lapt in her radiant arms, Endymion,
All the still night, until the night was gone.


By many names they knew thee, but thy shape
Was woman's always, transient and white:
A flashing huntress leaving hinds agape,
A sweet descent of beauty in the night:
Yet some, more fierce and more distraught their dreaming,
Brooded, until they fashioned from thy seeming,
A lithe and luring queen with fatal breath,
A witch the man who saw might not escape,
A snare that gleamed in shadowy groves of death,
The tall tiaraed Syrian Ashtoreth.



And even to-night in African forests some
There are, possessed by such a blasphemy;
Through branching beams thy fevered votaries come
To appease their brains' distorted mask of thee.
There in the glades the drums pulsate and languish,
Men leap and wail to dim the victim's anguish
In the sad frenzy of the sacrifice.
They are slaves to thee, made mad because thou art dumb,
And dumb thou lookest on them from the skies,
Above their fires and dances, blood and cries.


So these; but otherwhere, at such an hour,
In all the continents, by all the seas,
Men, naming not the goddess, feel thy power,
Adoring her with gentler rites than these:
The thoughts of myriad hearts to thee uplifted
Rise like a smoke above thine altars drifted,
Perpetual incense poured before thy throne
By those whom thou hast given thy secret dower,
Those in whose kindred eyes thy light is known,
Whom thou hast signed and sealed for thine own.


For thee they watch by Asian peaks remote,
Where thy snows gleam above the pointing pines;
Entranced on templed lakes is many a boat
For thee, where clear thy dropt reflection shines;
On the great seas where none but thou is tender
Rising and setting, unto thee surrender
All lonely hearts in lonely wandering ships;
And, where their warm far-scattered islands float,
Through forests many a flower-crowned maiden slips
To gaze on thee, with parted burning lips.


O thus they do, and thus they did of old;
Our hearts were never secret in thy sight;
Ere our first records were thy shrine was cold
That speechless eyes went seeking in the night;
Beyond the compass of our dim traditions
Thou knewest of men the pitiful ambitions,
145 Their loves and their despair; within thy ken
All our poor history has been unrolled;
Thou hast seen all races born and die again,
The climbing and the crumbling towers of men.


Black were the hollows of that Emperor's eyes
Who paced with backward arms beyond his tents,
Lone in the night, and felt above him rise
The ancient conqueror's sloping, smooth, immense,
Moon-pointing Pyramid's enduring courses,
Heard not his sentries, nor his stamping horses,
But thought of Egypt dead upon that air,
Fighting with his moon-coloured memories
Of vanished kings who builded, and the bare
Sands in the moon before those builders were.


Restless, he knew that moon who watched him muse,
Had seen a restless Cæsar brood on fame
Amid the Pharaohs' broken avenues.
And, circling round that fixed monition, came
Woven by moonlight, random, transitory,
Fragments of all the dim receding story:
The moonlit water dripping from the oars
Of triremes in the bay of Syracuse;
The opposing bivouacs upon the shores,
That knew dead Hector's and Achilles' wars.


He saw fall'n Carthage, Alexander's grave,
The tomb of Moses in the wilderness,
The moonlight on the Atlantean wave
That covered all a multitude's distress:
Cities and hosts and emperors departed
Under the steady moon. And sullen-hearted
He turned away, and, in a little, died,
Even as he who hunted from his cave
And struck his foe, and stripped the shaggy hide
Under the moon, and was not satisfied.



For in the prime, thy influence was felt;
When eyes first saw, thy beauty was as this;
Thy quiet look bade hope, fear, passion melt
Before men dreamed of empire. The abyss
Of thought yawned through their jungle then, as ever
Dark past, dark future, menaced their endeavour:
Yet, on thy nights, stood some by hill and sea
Naked; and blind impulsive spirits knelt,
Not questioning why they knelt, feeling in thee
Thought's strangest, sweetest, saddest mystery.


Still Moon, bright Moon, compassionate Moon above,
Thou shinedst there ere any life began,
When of his pain or of his powerless love
Thou heardest not from heart of any man;
Though long the earth had shaken off the vapour
Left by the vanished gleams of fire, the shaper,
Old, old, her stony wrinkled face did grow
Ere aught but her blind elements did move;
Dumb, bare, and prayerless thou saw'st her go,
And afterwards again shalt see her so.


A time there was when Life had never been,
A time will be, it will have passed away;
Still wilt thou shine, still tender and serene,
When Life which in thy sister's yesterday
Had never flowered, will have drooped and faded;
Passed with the clouds that once her bosom shaded.
She will be barren then as not before,
Bared of her snows and all her garments green;
No darkling sea by any earthly shore
Will take thy rays: thy kin will be no more.


Pale satellite, old mistress of our fires,
Who hast seen so much and been so much to men,
Symbol and goal of all our wild desires,
Not any voice will cry upon thee then;
Dreamer and dream, they will have all gone over,
The sick of heart, the singer and the lover,
147 An end there will have been to all their lust,
Their sorrow, and the sighing of their lyres;
O all this Life that stained Earth's patient crust,
Time's dying breath will have blown away like dust.


Gone from thine eye that brief confusèd stir,
The rumours and the marching and the strife;
Earth will be still, and all the face of her
Swept of the last remains of moving life;
The last of all men's monuments that defied them,
Like those his valiant gestures that denied them,
Into the waiting elements will fade,
And thou wilt see thy fellow traveller,
A forlorn round of rocky contours made,
A glimmering disk of empty light and shade,


Ah, depth too deep for thought therein to cast;
The old, the cold companions, you will go,
Obeying still some long-forgotten past,
And all our pitiful history none will know;
Still shining, Moon, still peaceful, wilt thou wander,
But on that greater ball no heart will ponder
The thought that rose and nightingale are gone,
And all sweet things but thou; and only vast
Ridges of rock remain, and stars and sun;
O Moon, thou wilt be lovely alone for none.


And so, pale wanderer, so thou leavest me,
Passing beyond imagination's range,
Away into the void where waits for thee
Thy inconceivable destiny of change;
And after all the memories I have striven
To paint, this picture that thyself hast given
Lives, and I watch, to all those others blind,
Thy form, gliding into eternity,
Fading, an unconjectured fate to find,
The last, most wonderful image of the mind.



Moon, I have finished, I have made thy song,
I have paid my due and done my worship, Moon;
Yet, though I truly serve and labour long,
Thou givest not, nor do I ask, one boon;
That peace which clings around thee where thou goest,
Which many seek from thee and thou bestowest,
Did never this most faithful heart invest;
Even now thou shinest clear and calm and strong,
And I, and I, the heart within my breast,
Troubled with beauty, Moon, and never at rest.




At Solemn Music

I SAT there, hating the exuberance of her bust and her high-coloured wig. And how could I listen to the music in the close proximity of those loud stockings?

Then our eyes met: in both of us the enchanted chord was touched; we both looked through the same window into Heaven. In that moment of musical, shared delight—these awful things will happen—our souls joined hands and sang like the morning stars together.

The Platitude

"It's after all, the little things in life that really matter!" I exclaimed, to my own surprise and the general consternation. I was as much chagrined as they were flabbergasted by this involuntary outbreak; but from my reading of the Chinese mystics, and from much practice in crowded railway carriages, I have become expert in that Taoist art of disintegration which Yen Hui described to Confucius as the art of "sitting and forgetting." I have learnt to lay aside my personality in awkward moments, to dissolve this self of mine into the All Pervading; to fall back, in fact, into the universal flux, and sit, as I now sat there, a blameless lump of matter, rolled on, according to the heaven's rolling, inert and unconcerned, with rocks and stones and trees.

The Communion of Souls

"So of course I bought it! How could I help buying it?" Then lifting the conversation, as with Lady Hyslop one always lifts it, to a higher level, "This notion of free will," I went on, "the notion, for instance, that I was free to buy or not to buy that rare edition, seems, when you think of it—at least to me it seems—a wretched notion really. I like to think I must follow the things of desire as—how shall I put it?—as the tide follows the moon; that my actions are due to necessary causes; that the world inside isn't a meaningless chaos, but a world of order, like the world outside, governed by beautiful laws, as the Stars are governed."

"How I love the Stars!" murmured Lady Hyslop. "What things they say to me! They are the pledges of lost recognitions—the promise of ineffable mitigations."

150 "Mitigations?" I gasped, feeling a little giddy. But it didn't matter: always when we meet Lady Hyslop and I have the most wonderful conversations. And is not their greatest charm precisely the fact that neither of us understands a word the other says?


Life, I often thought, would be so different if I only had one; but in the meantime I went on fastening scraps of paper together with pins.

Opalescent, infinitely desirable, tinged with all the rainbow hues of fancy, inaccessible in the window of a stationer's shop around the corner, gleamed the paste-pot of my day-dreams. Every day I passed it, but every day some inhibition paralyzed my will; or my thoughts would be distracted in a golden dream or splendid disenchantment, some metaphysical perplexity, or giant preoccupation with the world's woe.

So time rolled on; the seasons followed in each other's footsteps. Empires rose and fell; and still that paste-pot hung, a dragon-guarded fruit of the Hesperides, in the window I walked by every day.

Then one morning, one awful morning, my pins gave out. I met this crisis with manly resolution: I was the master of my fate! Summoning all the forces of my moral nature, I put on my hat and went calmly out and bought that paste-pot. I bought three paste-pots, and carried them with me calmly home. At last the countercharm was found, the spell was broken, and the Devil finally defeated—but, oh, at what a cost! In the reaction, which immediately followed, I sat, facing those pots of nauseating paste, unnerved and disenchanted, beyond the reach of consolation, with nothing to wait for now but Death.

The Listener

The topic was one of my favourite topics of conversation, but I didn't at all feel on this occasion that it was I who was speaking. No, it was the Truth shining through me; the light of the Revelation which I had been chosen to proclaim and blazon to the world. No wonder they were all impressed by my moving tones and gestures; no wonder even the fastidious lady whom it was most difficult to please kept watching me with almost ecstatic attention.

As in an eclipse the earth's shadow falls upon the moon, or as a cloud may obscure the sun in his glory, so a shadow fell, so from some morass of memory arose a tiny mist of words to darken my mind for a moment. I brushed them aside: they had no meaning. Sunning myself in the lovely mirror of those eyes, never, for a moment, could I credit that devil-suggested explanation of their gaze.

151 And anyhow—thus I laughed away the notion—how could she do it anyhow, even if she tried? Other people perhaps—but me? No, that phrase I had heard, I had heard, was a nonsense phrase; the words, "She mimics you to perfection," could be nothing but a bit of unintelligible jabber. For who can turn the rainbow or the lightning-flash into ridicule, make fun of the moon's splendour, or mimic the Daystar in his shining?


Sometimes my soul floats out beyond the constellations, then all the vast life of the universe is mine. Then again it evaporates, it shrinks, it dwindles, and of all that flood of thought which over-brimmed the great Cosmos there is hardly enough now left to fill a teaspoon.

The Lift

What on earth had I come up for? I stood out of breath in my bedroom, having completely forgotten the errand, which, just as I was going out, had carried me upstairs, leaping two steps at a time.

Gloves! Of course it was my gloves which I had left there. But what did gloves matter, I asked myself, in a world bursting with misery, as Dr. Johnson describes it?

O stars and garters! how bored I am by this trite, moralizing way of regarding natural phenomena—this crying of vanity on the beautiful manifestation of mechanical forces. This desire of mine to appear out of doors in appropriate apparel, if it can thus defy and overcome the law of gravitation—if it can lift twelve stone of matter thirty or forty feet above the earth's surface; if it can do this every day, and several times a day, and never get out of order, is it not as remarkable and convenient in the house as a hydraulic lift?

The Danger of Going to Church

As I came away from the Evening Service, walking home from that Sabbath adventure, some neighbours of mine passed me in their motor laughing. Were they laughing at me? I wondered uneasily; and as I sauntered across the fields I vaguely cursed those misbelievers, remembering some maledictions from the Prophets, and from the Psalms we had sung that evening. Yes, yes, their eyes should be darkened, and their lying lips put to silence. They should be smitten with the botch of Egypt, and a sore botch in the legs that cannot be healed. All the teeth should be broken in the mouths of those bloody men and daughters of backsliding; their faces should become as flames, and their heads be made utterly bald. Their little152 ones should be dashed to pieces before their eyes, and brimstone scattered upon their habitations. They should be led away with their buttocks uncovered; they should stagger to and fro as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.

But as for the Righteous Man who kept his Sabbaths, his should be the blessings of those who walk in the right way. "These blessings"—the words came back to me from the Evening Lesson—"these blessings shall come upon thee and overtake thee." And suddenly, in the mild summer air, it seemed as if, like a swarm of bees inadvertently wakened, the blessings of the Old Testament were actually rushing after me. From the hot, remote, passionate past of Hebrew history, out of the Oriental climate and unctuous lives of that infuriate people, gross good things were coming to reward me with benedictions for which I had not bargained. Great oxen and camels and concubines were panting close behind me, he-goats and she-goats and rams of the breed of Bashan. My barns should burst their doors with plenty, and all my paths drop fatness. My face should be smeared with the oil of rejoicing; all my household and the beasts of my household should beget and bear increase; and as for the fruit of my own loins, it should be for multitude as the sands of the sea and as the stars of heaven. My sons and daughters, and their sons and daughters to the third and fourth generation, should rise up and call me blessed. My feet should be dipped in butter, and my eyes stand out with fatness; I should flourish as the Cedar of Lebanon that bringeth forth fruit in old age.

My Prayer Book began to smoke in my hand from the hot lava embedded in it; the meadow was scorched by the live coals of cursing and still more awful benediction I had so thoughtlessly raked out of the church furnace and brought down in a hot shower on myself and my neighbours.

The Wrong Word

We were talking of the Universe at tea, and one of our company declared that he at least was entirely without illusions. He had long since faced the fact that Nature had no sympathy with our hopes and fears, and was completely indifferent to our fate. The Universe, he said, was a great mechanism; man, with his reason and moral judgments, was the chance product of blind forces, which, though they would so soon destroy him, he must yet despise. To endure this tragedy of our fate with passionless despair, never to wince or bow the head, to confront a hostile universe with high disdain, to fix with eyes of scorn the Gorgon face of Destiny, to stand on the brink of the abyss, hurling defiance at the icy stars—this, he said, was his attitude, and it produced, as you can imagine, a very powerful impression on the company. As for me, I was completely carried away by my enthusiasm. "By Jove, that is a stunt!" I cried.



"Life," said a gaunt widow, with a reputation for being clever—"life is a perpetual toothache."

In this vein the conversation went on: the familiar topics were discussed of food-restrictions, epidemics, cancer, and so on.

Near me there sat a little old lady who was placidly drinking her tea, and taking no part in the melancholy chorus. "Well, I must say," she remarked, turning to me and speaking in an undertone, "I must say I enjoy life."

"So do I," I whispered.

"When I enjoy things," she went on, "I know it. Eating, for instance, the sunshine, my hot-water bottle at night. Other people are always thinking of unpleasant things. It makes a difference," she added, as she got up to go with the others.

"All the difference in the world," I answered.

It's too bad that I had no chance for further conversation with that wise old lady. I felt that we were congenial spirits, and had a lot to tell each other. For she and I are not among those who fill the mind with garbage: we make a better use of that divine and adorable endowment. We invite Thought to share, and by sharing to enhance, the pleasures of the delicate senses; we distil, as it were, an elixir from our golden moments, keeping out of the shining crucible of consciousness everything that tastes sour. I do wish that we could have discussed at greater length, like two Alchemists, the theory and practice of our art.

The Rationalist

Occultisms, fairyisms, incantations, glimpses of the Beyond, intimations from another world—all kinds of supernaturalisms are most distasteful to me; I cling to the world of science and common sense and explicable phenomena; and I was much put out, therefore, to find this morning a cabalistic inscription written in letters of large menace on my bath-room floor. TAM HTAB—what could be the meaning of these cryptic words, and how on earth had they got there? Like Belshazzar, my eyes were troubled by this writing, and my knees smote one against the other; till majestic Reason, deigning to look downward from her contemplation of eternal causes, spelt backwards for me, with a pitying smile, the homely, familiar, harmless inscription on the BATH MAT, which was lying there wrong side up.


Well, what if I did put it on a little at that luncheon-party? Do I not owe it to my friends to assert now and then my claims to consideration; ought I always to allow myself to be trampled on and treated as dirt? And how154 about the Saints and Patriarchs of the Bible? Didn't Joseph tell of the dream in which his wheatsheaf was exalted, and Deborah sing without blame how she arose a mother in Israel? And didn't David boast of his triumph over the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear? Nay, in his confabulations with His chosen people, does not the Creator of the universe Himself take every opportunity of impressing on those Hebrews His importance, His power, His glory?

Was I not made in His image?


"Yes, as you say, life is so full of disappointment, disillusion! More and more I ask myself, as I grow older, what is the good of it all? We dress, we go out to dinner," I went on, "but surely we walk in a vain show. How good this asparagus is! I often think asparagus is the most delicious of all vegetables. And yet I don't know—when one thinks of fresh green peas. One can get tired of asparagus as one can of strawberries—but tender green peas and peaches I could eat for ever. And there are certain pears, too, that taste like heaven. It's one of my favourite day-dreams for my declining years to live alone, a formal, greedy, selfish old gentleman, in a square house, say, in Devonshire, with a square garden, whose walls are covered with apricots and figs and peaches; and there are precious pears, too, of my own planting, on espaliers along the paths. I shall walk out with a gold-headed cane in the autumn sunshine, and just at the right moment pick a delicious pear. However, that isn't at all what I was going to say——"




(A paper based on, but not identical with, a discourse delivered at what may be called the headquarters of the subject—the Pump Room, Bath, October 1st, 1919)

THE effect of convincing anyone against his will is sufficiently familiar, but it may be questioned whether there is not another state of mind which is still more insusceptible of real conviction, which it is still more of a labour of Sisyphus to convince. In this state there is too much mere inertia for the word "will" to come in. There is no intention of relapsing into the same opinion; there is indeed no need of any, for the opinion is never disturbed. The attempts at convincing need not be resisted or contemned; they may even be listened to and enjoyed like a very pleasant song, but they are at once forgotten.

Something of this sort, it may be feared, is the case with the subject of this present paper. People have made up their minds that there was no eighteenth-century poetry or, at best, that such as there was was not properly eighteenth-century poetry at all, but merely a survival or an anticipation. The present writer had a perhaps accidental but certainly curious illustration of the fact in reference to the origin of this very paper; for having expressed his intention of discussing "eighteenth-century poetry," he found the subject announced at first as "eighteenth-century verse." In face of such a popular attitude—let us be bold and give it its proper name: such a vulgar error—it may not be quite idle to make a fresh attempt against it. I am not sure that in some of the versions of the Pagan Apocrypha it is not recorded that Sisyphus did get that stone lodged at last. At any rate it is worth trying, even at the risk, which is almost a certainty, of the very illogical suspicion that if you like eighteenth-century poetry, you don't like—or don't sufficiently understand—seventeenth and nineteenth. On that point the present writer may, he thinks, slap his sword home and decline duello with any man. But he will take the liberty firstly, in order to confine the matter within reasonable limits, of leaving Pope almost entirely out. Obviously the famous and much-argued question, "Was Pope a poet?" can be answered, even in the negative, without deciding our general point here.

There is, of course—the fact has been already admitted by glance—a division of the poetry of 1700–1800 to which, in a more or less grudging way, the poetical franchise is generally granted. Scraps of Lady Winchilsea and Parnell quite early; Dyer and Thomson at the beginning of the second quarter; Collins and Gray in the middle; Blake and Burns and Chatterton if not also Cowper and Crabbe, in the last division are admitted, if only to a sort of provincial or proselyte membership. Gray, indeed, has always156 been granted special grace, even, as some think, to an unfair comparative extent, and perhaps Mr. Swinburne's exuberant championship was never less wasted than in the cases of Collins and Blake. But Blake really does belong to no time at all except in a few fragments, and most of the others are too well known for further comment. Let us in the very limited space here available, before passing to other aspects of the subject, take two poems, one of the earlier, one of the later time, as examples of pure poetry charged with special eighteenth-century difference—for that is the point at issue. They shall be Dyer's Grongar Hill and Mrs. Greville's Prayer for Indifference. The one is a picture of that external nature to which as a rule the century is supposed to have been blind, yet charged with an "inwardness" to which that century is equally supposed to have been callous. The other is a poem of mood, almost a pathological poem, possessing the same inwardness, but charged with a flutter of feeling, again supposed to be quite unknown to the age of prose and sense. Both are curious examples of what is called the conventional phraseology of the time, flushed and animated by something additional—a characteristic which also appears in Collins, but is more disputable in Gray, save perhaps in the remarkable "Vicissitude" ode. Grongar Hill ought to be given whole, but it is not difficult of access; the "Hymn" is not so easy to get at, but it suffers less from "sampling."

There is not the slightest extravagance, from any catholic point of view over poetry, in calling Grongar Hill simply beautiful. I think it deserves that term better than anything of Gray's, though not perhaps quite so well as some things of Collins's in the first half of the century; while nothing outside them can touch it, and it came before both. Its attractions, to a somewhat close student, are manifold, not the least of them being the fashion in which, for the first time since Milton, and in a way not directly imitated even from him, it moulds the couplet of mixed eight and seven syllable lines. But one need not neglect the late Mr. Lowell's remark that when Edgar Poe talked of iambs and pentameters he made other people d——n metres. The poem has plenty of other attractions for the most untechnical reader. Dyer, who was himself a painter, invokes the Muse of Painting as well as Her of Poetry, and it is really remarkable how, at this time when hardly anybody is supposed to have had his eye on nature except Thomson, and in the very year of Winter itself, full eighty, too, before Scott provoked from Pitt his famous surprise that verse should be able to express the effect of painting—how visual as well as audible effect is produced. The exordium to the

Silent nymph with curious eye,
Who in the purple evening lie
On the mountain's lonely van;

the following description of the landscape in general with its unusual and extraordinarily true conclusion:

And swelling to embrace the light,
Spreads around beneath the sight,


in which everybody who has after climbing a hill turned round and seen the prospect must acknowledge the felicity of "swelling," though he may never have formulated the appearance before; the details of wood, and ruin, and river, with the sudden and just sufficient moral:

A little rule, a little sway,
A sunbeam on a winter's day;

for the castle, and for the rivers:

Sometimes swift, sometimes slow,
Wave succeeding wave they go,
A various journey to the deep,
Like human life to endless sleep;

the fillings in of various detail and the penultimate passage formed into a sort of roundel:

Now, even now, my joys run high
As on the mountain turf I lie,
While the wanton Zephyr sings
And in the vale perfumes his wings;
While the waters murmur deep,
While the shepherd charms his sheep,
While the birds unbounded fly,
And with music fill the sky—
Now, even now, my joys run high;

with the finale to Peace and Quiet, close allied to Pleasure—all these and all the rest of the 150 lines or so of the poem have their own appropriate agreeableness. And it will be very dangerous for anyone to try the usual sneer at eighteenth-century convention, lest haply he be thought to be blinded or hoodwinked by conventions of another sort. He has, for instance, been taught to think "wanton Zephyr" very bad. But has he quite realised the simplicity and perfection with which the single word "sings" distinctively characterises the rush of the wind aloft, and the next line brings before the mind's senses the flowers and crops and woods, from which the "perfume" is derived below? Is "unbounded," in the particular and yet fully legitimate sense, quite what Edmond de Goncourt used disdainfully to call "everybody's epithet" for the apparently limitless freedom of the birds' flight? Without quoting the whole piece it would be impossible to show the singular uniformity of pictorial and musical skill which distinguishes it; but this can be left, with complete security of mind, to anyone who gives it an impartial reading to discover for himself. Even the impartial reader is not recommended to proceed from Grongar Hill to The Ruins of Rome, as the poet in this latter piece most unwisely invites him to do—still less to The Fleece. But no attempt is being made here to prove that the eighteenth century never produced bad poetry: one merely endeavours to point out that it sometimes produced good.

The Prayer for Indifference is much less varied in kind, and much more limited in degree, of attraction, but it is perhaps subtler. The personal158 application of it can escape no reader of Fanny Burney's Diaries, but is not necessary to appreciation. The idea is that of an appeal to Oberon for a "balm" slightly different from that which plays so important a part in A Midsummer Night's Dream—a spell causing neither love nor hate, but only indifference. The metre is ordinary ballad or common measure; the language not very different from the ordinary poetic diction of the time. You are not, as in Grongar Hill, made to believe that you are not in the eighteenth century at all, or, if at all, as far from its usual and central ways and thoughts as Grongar itself was and is from London. But, by a quaint and pleasing paradox, the suppliant infuses into her prayer qualities which were the very opposite of that which she prays for, and which in a certain sense might be said to be the quality of the century itself at least on the common estimate. Indifference—in the sense of abstinence from enthusiasm—certainly was affected by many, and positively approved by some, in those days. But when the lady says:

I ask no kind return in love,
No tempting charm to please—
Far from the heart such gifts remove
That sighs for peace and ease,

there is a quiver in verse and phrase and sense alike which indicates and expresses very effectively aspirations quite different from indifference. And the quiver becomes a throb, emphasised by the repetition of that potent word "far," as she goes on:

Nor ease, nor peace that heart can know
That, like the needle true,
Turns at the touch of joy or woe,
But, turning, trembles too.
Far as distress the soul can wound,
'Tis pain in each degree;
'Tis bliss, but to a certain bound,
Beyond, 'tis agony.

And there is not much less real passion, though the expression has become ironic instead of direct, in the concluding stanza:

And what of life remains to me
I'll pass in sober ease:
Half-pleased, contented I will be—
Content but half to please.

Now it is probably hopeless to expect readers who have been thoroughly broken to other styles of poetry themselves to be contented, to be even "half-pleased" with this. The metre will seem to them jog-trot, the language hopelessly prosaic, the expression, as Nietzsche says of John Stuart Mill, "offensively clear"; the absence of any attempt at elaborate ornament or elaborate ugliness almost more offensive still. And it may also seem159 idle boasting or sheer mendacity to observe that there are people who delight in intricate versification, who love even metaphysical ambiguousness and obscurity; people for whom Blake is not too uncommonplace or Rossetti too flamboyant, or—to come to more recent days, while keeping to the equal waters of the dead—Mary Coleridge too problematic, who yet can enjoy this verse very much indeed, and feel that, having known it, they could not do without it, which some have held to be the great test of poetry. Indeed, to them, not the least interesting point about it is that it does take the form and colour of the time to so large an extent and vindicates its indispensableness thereby. On the other hand, if anyone says, "But I do not perceive the quiver, or feel the throb of which you talk," why, of course, there is nothing more to be done or said. For that person Mrs. Greville's work is undoubtedly not poetry. But whether his or her state is the more gracious, because of the fact, is a further question, though one on which we need not enter. The whole purport of this paper is once more to make an effort to establish the old position that there are many mansions in the Heaven of Poetry, and that the mere fact that some one does not care to live in or to recognise the existence of this or that among them does not prove that they ought to be pulled down or that they do not exist at all.

It may, however, be admitted—in fact no admission or confession is required, no idea of contesting or denying having been entertained—that neither the qualities of Grongar Hill nor those of the Prayer, that still less the general characteristics of the group of romantic precursors from Collins to Blake distinguish eighteenth-century poetry generally. And it may in the same way be further allowed that some of the actual characteristics of this poetry in general are not strictly poetic at all. Its didacticism is perhaps the chief of these; but there are undoubtedly others. And we are busy not with what is not poetical in eighteenth-century verse, but with what is poetical in eighteenth-century poetry. There are two departments in which it is almost pre-eminent, in which it is certainly very distinguished. The strict poeticalness of both of them has indeed been denied by extremists. All of us probably have heard it said, perhaps some of us have said it ourselves, that rhetoric is not poetry; and (though here there may not have been so much agreement) that "light" verse, whether regularly satiric or not, is at best poetry by allowance and, short of the best, not poetry at all. Now undoubtedly some rhetoric is not poetry, and a good deal of light verse is poetry only by extremely generous allowance. But the complete ostracising of either kind from the poetical city involves two propositions which are contentious in the extreme, and which I and those who think with me hold to be abominable heresies. The one is that "All depends on the subject" in poetry, and the other is that "Verse is not an essential feature of poetry." We maintain that anything can be treated poetically, though some things are very rebellious to such treatment, and that though rhetoric is strictly a characteristic of prose, it cam be, so to160 speak, super-saturated with poetry when it adopts poetical form, the same contention extending to the subjects of satiric or of merely light verse. A great deal of the abundant rhetorical verse of the eighteenth century is no doubt not poetry, or not very poetical poetry, and a good deal of its abundant satire, not a very little of its vers de société and trifles is not poetry or not very poetical. But, on the other hand, not a very little of both kinds is poetry, and the reason and origin of its poetical character are by no means uninteresting to trace. There is no room, and indeed not much occasion, to do this at length here. Suffice it to say that for its rhetorical verse the century was very much indebted to Dryden, and that for its light verse it was still more indebted to Prior.

The positions of the two were indeed different, for Dryden was a dead man when the century opened, though he had died on its very eve, while Prior was an actual member of its first great literary group. And, further, Dryden's influence, though it continued to some extent directly through the whole time, was largely exercised at second-hand through Pope, while Prior's was first-hand all through. For which reasons we need not say anything more here on Dryden himself, while we must say something on Prior. But the rhetorical influence which had produced such great poetry (for great it is, let who will gainsay) as the finest passages of Dryden's satires, the opening of Religio Laici, the "wandering fires" paragraph in The Hind and the Panther, and not a few things in the neglected plays, was well justified of its children in the following century. I have never seen any successful attempt to deny the name of poetry to such magnificent things as the close of The Dunciad and the close of The Vanity of Human Wishes. I have never seen any real fight at all made for this denial except the endeavour to turn them, as scapegoats, into the wilderness of rhetoric. And that, as I have said already, is really a begging of the question. Most certainly there is rhetoric which is not poetry—there is a very great deal of it—in fact most of it; as certainly there is rhetoric which is. And the passages which may claim that name in the eighteenth century, if never quite so great as the two just mentioned, are very numerous. There is that fine one in Tickell's epitaph on Cadogan which, after the eclipse of eighteenth-century verse in the earlier nineteenth, Thackeray was the first to rediscover:

Ah, no! when once the mortal yields to fate
The blast of Fame's sweet trumpet sounds too late—
Too late to stay the spirit on its flight
Or soothe the new inhabitant of light,

with its later address to Fame herself:

Thou music, warbling to the deafened ear!
Thou incense, wasted on the funeral bier!

There is Akenside's still finer Epistle to Curio, which Macaulay laughed at rather ignobly as unpractical. Well, Akenside, like Macaulay himself, was a Whig, and I am a Tory; nor are the ideals expressed in the following lines161 by any means mine. But if they are not fine lines, if they are not, though in one of the outer provinces no doubt, poetical, I will acknowledge that I know nothing at all about poetry:

Ye shades immortal, who by Freedom led,
Or in the field or on the scaffold bled,
Bend from your radiant seats a joyful eye,
And view the crown of all your labours nigh.
See Freedom mounting her eternal throne,
The sword submitted, and the laws her own;
See public power chastised beneath her stand,
With eyes intent and uncorrupted hand,
See private life by wisest arts reclaimed,
See ardent youth to noblest manners framed,
See us acquire whate'er was sought by you,
If Curio! only Curio! will be true.

Well, once more, Curio, alias Pulteney, was not true, but deserted Akenside's party and became Earl of Bath and possessor of no small part thereof. And private life and ardent youth were not reclaimed much in the days of the historic Charteris and the fictitious Lovelace. And the practical realisation of something like Akenside's undoubted principles and aspirations was the French Revolution fifty and the Russian Revolution nearer two hundred years later. But all this has nothing to do with the question whether in this passage also rhetoric, which hardly anybody will deny to it, has not passed under the influence and received the transforming force of poetry. I say it has, though I am perfectly willing to admit that it is not the best or the most poetical form of poetry, and that it is very far indeed from the forms that I myself like best. But one of the cries which the critic should never be tired of uttering, whether in the streets or in the wilderness, is that nothing is bad merely because it is different from another thing which is good, and that in this world there is no equality or fixed standard to which everything must be cut down or stretched out. The best rhetorical poetry of the eighteenth century is not the best poetry, but it is poetry in its own way, exhibiting the glow, the rush, the passion, which strict prose cannot, and which poetry can, give.

There is less specific prejudice against "light" poetry on the part of poetical highfliers than there is against poetical rhetoric, but there is some. Once more I venture to disallow this prejudice in toto as far as kind is concerned, though, of course, each individual specimen of that kind must pass its individual muster as a piece of intenser thought or feeling, expressed in appropriate language and inspired by the charm of verse-music. For that, though no one ever has defined or will define poetry, is one of the divers good approaches to a description of it. Now here, as was briefly said above, the eighteenth century possessed, for nearly the whole of its first quarter as an actual living practitioner, and for the whole of the rest of it as a past contemporary of still living persons, an unsurpassed general of light verse in Matthew Prior. On the whole I know few English poets who162 have so seldom had full justice done to them. No competent judge, indeed, has ever denied Prior's excellence in pure lightness, but there have been frequent failures to allow for that undercurrent of seriousness, sadness, and almost passion—that "feeling in earnest while thinking in jest," according to the best definition of humour—which characterises him. Thackeray has, indeed, equalled, but in obvious and even frank following, the great lines written (or not written) in Mézeray's History of France; but hardly anyone else has come near them in irony and melancholy and music, blended as three appeals in one. There is even a touch, though more than a touch would have been out of place, in the famous Child of Quality, and a great deal more, not quite so perfectly expressed, in the Lines to Charles Montague. If the touch of sadness be for the moment unwelcome, there is Daphne and Apollo or the famous English Padlock, with a dozen or several dozen others ready to hand. And to go to yet another nuance, the recent discovery at Longleat of Jinny the Just, with its touches of sincere sorrow and the three unequalled stanzas of kindly irony:

Thus still, while her morning unseen fled away,
In ord'ring the linen and making the tea,
That she scarce could have time for the psalms of the day—
And while after dinner the night came so soon
That half she proposed very seldom was done,
With twenty "God bless me's, how this day has gone!"
While she read, and accounted, and paid, and abated,
Ate and drank, played and worked, laughed and cried, loved and hated,
As answered the end of her being created,

especially with that last unsurpassable line; all these and many more exemplify and illustrate that indescribable raising of the expression—that making the common as if it were not common—which is the essence of poetry and the privilege of verse.

How this side of the matter was produced (in the mathematical sense) and maintained throughout the century would take many times the space of the present paper to show in anything but the briefest and barest epitome. Almost all Prior's own shorter later poems would have to be quoted; Swift, though so much greater in prose, and though best in verse on the severer side, especially in the magnificent and quite sufficiently authenticated Judgment Day verses, could not be left out; and it might be possible to make more fight than even lovers of the eighteenth century have recently made for Gray. But perhaps the scraps and orts of lesser men of letters—though sometimes not lesser men—show the strong point of the century even more convincingly. Where will you find more musical lightness of a certain easy but far from unpoetical kind than in those verses on Strawberry Hill in which Pulteney almost paid his rather heavy debts in more serious ways to the House of Walpole? Or than in the others in which he and Chesterfield combined to estimate "Hanover Bremen and Verden," that is to say,163 the whole continental dominions for which George the Second was making England fight, as worthless compared with the charms of Molly Lepell? Go lower still, take a professional littérateur and laureate like William Whitehead, to whom hardly anybody save Mr. Austin Dobson (and it is certainly no small exception) has been favourable, and read the piece on Celia, which is a more or less independent expansion of Ausonius on Crispa. It begins with a sort of pettish avowal of ignorance how the mischief of love came, and goes on with rather rude depreciations of the lady's face, figure, air, and even sense. Then it slides rapidly into a sort of grudging allowance:

Her voice, her touch, might give the alarm—
'Twas both perhaps or neither,

and then capitulates headlong:

In short 'twas that provoking charm
Of Celia altogether!

Trivial, of course, but then it ought to be trivial, and the trivial can be, and is, here super-trivialised.

One might go on, even in this skipping fashion, for a long time till one came to the great political satires of the close of the century, but once more time and space forbid. As it has been frivolously said:

You have only to search
In Dodsley and Pearch

(the standard ten volumes of eighteenth-century miscellaneous poetry) and you will find; though, of course, if you only look for bad things you will find them, too, in plenty. But even this collection is by no means exhaustive, and with some of the more famous verse-writers it does not deal at all; while we have in this survey confessedly left most of them alone. What has been intended is to show that making of the common uncommon by means of treatment in verse was not an unknown thing between 1700 and 1800; that it was attempted and achieved in various kinds. Finally, if the attempts were rarely and the achievements hardly ever in kinds that can be called the very highest, one may at least urge that there is not an absolute vacuum between the loftiest mountain-tops of poetry and the actual plain of prose—that Parnassus has lower slopes, some of which are not so very low



6 Samuel Butler: a Memoir. By H. Festing Jones. 2 vols. Macmillan. 42s. net.


SAMUEL Butler was a philosopher whose favourite doctrine was expressed in the words pas trop de zèle; and he spent a great part of his life complaining a little too eagerly that the world was not sufficiently zealous in the appreciation of his works. His reception and his reputation did indeed deserve a considerable part of the almost excessive attention which he lavished on them; for at this moment, now that the first is accomplished and the second enormous, they make a very curious subject for study. In his notebooks they occur again and again as themes for his meditation. "I am the enfant terrible," he says, "of literature and science. If I cannot, and I know I cannot, get the literary and scientific big-wigs to give me a shilling, I can, and I know I can, heave bricks into the middle of them." "I have chosen the fighting-road," he says elsewhere, "rather than the hang-on-to-a-great-man road, and what can a man who does this look for except that people should try to silence him in whatever way they think will be most effectual? In my case they have thought it best to pretend that I am non-existent." There is something pathetic in the spectacle of a man pursuing "the fighting-road" with no one to fight him and heaving bricks into the middle of persons who obstinately continue to ignore his existence. There is something more pathetic in the spectacle of an original thinker and a great wit sitting down in isolation to pen these apologies for his obscure position, always affecting to be indifferent to it and never deceiving anyone. For Butler was not indifferent to his lack of success. Had his been a true and not an assumed indifference he could not have returned to the subject so often as he does and in so many keys. He betrays himself again and again beyond mistake. He was an intensely, a morbidly sensitive man, one to whom success would have been very pleasant. He was damaged, and confirmed in oddity, by the want of it. He missed it because of what first started him in oddity—that is to say, an unfortunate childhood.

"The subject of this memoir," so Butler once suggested that his biography ought to begin, "was the son of rich but dishonest parents." Dishonest they may have been: respectable they certainly were. Dr. Butler, the first distinguished member of the family, was for twenty-seven years headmaster of Shrewsbury, a man with all the attributes of the great schoolmasters of the early nineteenth century, an imposing figure, who, towards the end of his life, became Bishop of Lichfield. His son was not so distinguished. His sole claim to be remembered, if his canonry be disregarded, is the fact that somehow or other he became the father of Samuel Butler. There is much detail, in Mr. Festing Jones's enormous book, on Butler's165 early life and his relation to his parents; but there is nothing quite so significant as an anecdote which occurs in the second volume:

At Saas he made the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. MacCarthy, who were staying in the hotel with their son, an Eton boy. One day the father and son had been for an excursion and the father returned alone. The anxious mother, hearing that her boy preferred speculating in short cuts to accompanying his father, borrowed a red umbrella to make herself conspicuous, and went out "to look for Desmond." Presently she came upon Butler loaded up with his camera and toiling along on his way back after a fatiguing day. He told her he had seen a little white figure among the trees on the mountain-side and had no doubt it was her son who, he assured her, would be all right, and he himself was loitering, intending to be overtaken so that they might arrive at the hotel together.

"You see," he explained, "I know he will be late for dinner, and it may make things a little easier for him if he does not come in alone."

Years afterwards Mrs. MacCarthy told me that she had been reading The Way of All Flesh, and had remembered this incident and had for the first time understood why Butler thought that her son would require the presence of an elderly gentleman to protect him from his parents if he came in late for dinner.

This throws a curious and unexpected sidelight on Butler's childhood from the effects of which he never recovered. His parents learnt the art of bringing up children from a book which adjured them to "Break your child's will early or he will break yours later on." They did not break it, but unquestionably they deformed it. This may have been done on principle. To Butler, however, it sometimes seemed to spring from other motives. "I have felt," he once said of his father, "that he has always looked upon me as something which he could badger with impunity." He said that, like Ernest Pontifex, with regard to his father he could remember no feeling during his childhood except fear and shrinking.

Nor was this life of terror and pain lightened by any gracious or liberal influences. The world which Mr. Festing Jones exhibits to us in his opening chapters is full of the drabbest and most depressing horrors of Early Victorianism. Its measure can be taken by a single story which Butler preserved:

Archdeacon Bather was lunching with my grandfather some two or three years after the Archdeacon had lost his first wife. Dr. Butler dearly loved a hard crust of bread baked nearly black, and it so happened that a piece was set by his plate with hardly any crust, and what little there was, very thin. My aunt, then Miss Butler, observing what had happened, at once said:

"Oh, Papa, this won't do at all! I will find you a piece more to your liking." Whereon she went to the kitchen and returned with a crust baked exactly to Dr. Butler's taste.

When Archdeacon Bather saw this he said to himself: "That is the young woman for me"; and shortly afterwards he proposed and was accepted.

Readers will remember the scene in The Way of All Flesh in which Theobald, driving away for his honeymoon, insists that Christina shall order their dinner at the first stop, and in which Christina protests with tears her166 nervousness, and Theobald replies, "It is a wife's duty to order her husband's dinner; you are my wife, and I shall expect you to order mine." A sensitive child, neglected or even ill-treated by its parents, might, if the relations of the parents between themselves had anything beautiful or kindly, see some possibilities of happiness in the institution of the family. But Samuel Butler was brought up in a world where no such possibilities seemed to exist. He came to believe, Mr. Festing Jones tells us, that, like Habakkuk, le père de famille est capable de tout. It has often been maintained that the greatest poets and artists do nothing throughout life but draw on those fresh and lovely impressions which they have gathered in childhood. When he was a child Butler acquired habits of suspicion against all those surrounding him who were not connected with him by freely-chosen bonds of friendship. Canon Butler bullied him on moral grounds; and he grew to suspect every claim made on him, every exhortation addressed to him, on moral grounds. Ernest Pontifex is described on one occasion as assuming the expression of a puppy which is being scolded for something it does not understand; and Butler did indeed develop some of the habits of an ill-treated dog. He shied and snarled at a lifted hand, which might have been lifted in kindness or in ignorance of his existence. Having, as he supposed, penetrated the fraud of the family, he felt a distrust of all human institutions. He suspected the world of being in a conspiracy to pretend that parents were naturally kind to their children, that Christ rose from the dead, and that Tennyson was a great poet. And, turning from all these discredited shows, he devoted himself in isolation to the care of his own idiosyncrasies and the companionship of a very few, very intimate friends.

Here, where he might in one case have suspected with justice, he was all blind trust. The story of Charles Paine Pauli is one of the most extraordinary that have been brought to light in human records in recent years. A correspondent who knew him and admired him wrote not long ago to the Times, not to controvert Mr. Festing Jones's account of the relations between him and Butler, but to protest, in an almost agonised manner, that there must be some explanation of it; and this is precisely what the reader, who did not know Pauli, feels when he comes upon these pages. But there seems to be no explanation.

In 1859 Butler rebelled against his father, and finally decided that he could not take Orders, basing his refusal on "doubts," which in after years seemed to him no less absurd than the doctrines against which they were directed. As a result of this, he emigrated to New Zealand, taking with him an allowance from Canon Butler and a promise of support in capital, in order that he might establish himself as a sheep-farmer. In this occupation he was, against all the probabilities, moderately successful and, largely owing to the rapidly-developing condition of the colony, managed to turn an original capital of £4400 into the sum of £8000. But finding the life uncongenial, he concluded that it would be wiser to invest his money in New Zealand, where the current rate of interest was 10 per cent., and go home and live on167 the proceeds. While he was making preparations to this end, a previous slight acquaintance with Pauli developed into an intimate friendship. Pauli was handsome, fascinating, well dressed, ineffably well mannered. He was, in fact, the Towneley of The Way of All Flesh, though Providence, not doing as well by him as by Towneley, had omitted to make him rich. He was actually poor and in ill-health, and anxious to go to England in order that he might recover. He then proposed to get called to the Bar and to return to New Zealand to practise. Butler, who believed himself to be worth about £800 a year, promptly lavished on this creature the generosity and tenderness which had found no outlet during his childhood. He offered to lend him £100 for his passage, and to allow him £200 a year for three years—that is, until his return to New Zealand as a barrister. They accordingly made the passage together; and Butler kept his promise, and more than kept it, extending the allowance, even through the time of his acutest financial difficulties, until Pauli's death in 1897. It was then discovered that at one time Pauli had been earning £900 a year, and that even at the last he earned between £500 and £700. He left a fortune of £9000; but Butler was not mentioned in the will and received his invitation to the funeral from the undertaker.

A singular and enlightening circumstance in the intercourse between Butler and Pauli unhappily prevents Mr. Festing Jones from making this astonishing but veracious narrative entirely lifelike. The charming young man did not reciprocate the feelings of his pathetic and somewhat uncouth adorer. "I had felt from the very beginning," says Butler, "that my intimacy with Pauli was only superficial, and I also perceived more and more that I bored him." Pauli confessed that he had never been more miserable in his life than once when he spent a holiday with Butler at Dieppe. Consequently it soon came about that the essential part of the relations between them was the punctual payment of the allowance. Latterly, they only met three times a week, when Pauli lunched in Butler's chambers. He discontinued informing Butler of his changes of address, so that at the end Butler did not know where he was living, and Mr. Festing Jones met him "only on business, for he would have nothing to do with any of Butler's friends in any other way." Butler learnt of his death from an announcement in the Times.

Truly a mysterious creature! And his friend is very comprehensible in supposing that there must be some explanation. Possibly Mr. Festing Jones, if he had met him otherwise than purely on business, might have given us some impression of his personality which would have let in light on this dark business. As it is, we must content ourselves with wonder at the extraordinary situations which human nature is capable of creating. But this unhappy friendship is worth examining, apart from its intrinsic curiosity, because it presents in extremity an essential and determining part of Butler's life. His devotion and loyalty to his friends were perhaps the most beautiful things in his character and do much to redeem his somewhat unlovely attitude of snarling and suspicion towards all strangers.

168 Life might be thought to have treated him savagely in following up his parents with the hardly less cruel Pauli. He disguised the shock of his discovery on Pauli's death by remarking that he would now save not only £200 a year, but also the cost of those three lunches a week in Clifford's Inn. Yet a nature that opened itself so trustingly, so defencelessly, must have suffered on finding its bounty abused. But in his other friends, in Miss Savage, in his clerk, Alfred Emery Cathie, and in Mr. Festing Jones he had ample compensations. He was a man who at first sight was not readily liked. He was awkward and nervous in the company of strangers, and it is likely that he did not disguise so well as he supposed his grave misgivings that they were either pretentious scoundrels or conceited hypocrites. He was always badly and carelessly dressed; and though his portraits, when one is used to them and can associate them with the best one knows of his mind, become attractive, there can be no denial that his appearance was on the most lenient showing decidedly grotesque, that of a difficult, taciturn, maliciously observant gnome, roughly carved in a hard wood. It took some time and some degree of intuition to penetrate behind this mask. Those who did so were rewarded and rewarded him. Miss Savage, who used to meet him first at Heatherley's art-classes, was not attracted by him for a considerable time. When at last she was, it was by a flash of remarkable intuition. In commenting on one of his books, she writes:

I like the cherry-eating scene, too, because it reminded me of your eating cherries when first I knew you. One day when I was going to the gallery, a very hot day, I remember, I met you on the shady side of Berners Street eating cherries out of a basket. Like your Italian friends, you were perfectly silent with content, and you handed the basket to me as I was passing, without saying a word. I pulled out a handful and went on my way rejoicing, without saying a word either. I had not before perceived you to be different from anyone else.

It is not certain whether Miss Savage became a Butlerian or whether Butler acquired something of what we consider his characteristic attitude of mind from her. If it was not so, then her spirit leapt at once to answer his as soon as she had perceived the possibility of common interests between them, for her first letters to him are written in his own vein. She entered immediately into his concerns, read all his books in manuscript, criticised them, gave them more praise than they received from anyone else, and abused his enemies with a gusto equal to his. The only trouble between them in their long connection was his gnawing fear that she wanted to marry him. And he did not want to marry anyone, let alone her who was

Plain and lame and fat and short,
Forty and overkind.

But if all these disabilities had been removed, he would still have been disinclined to marry her. He did not believe in marriage, had a hatred of the family; and he slunk away snarling from the danger like a terror-stricken169 wild animal at the sight of a trap, only to reproach himself in after years for unkindness to his friend. But his relations with women were not, and he did not intend that they should be, of the sort that lead to marriage. He had mistresses, whom he visited. Mr. J. B. Yeats, in a recent paper of reminiscences, has repeated his avowals on this point in a manner which conveys well enough Butler's view that his lapses were caused by a necessity of the flesh. Mr. Festing Jones reinforces this impression. One of his mistresses, referred to as "Madame," was, after a long connection, allowed to visit his chambers in Clifford's Inn. No other gained this privilege; and Butler extended it to her as he might have done to an old and well-tried servant. Butler did not love these women, he frequented them. He was insensible to the notion that there might be anything beautiful in the relations between the sexes, as he was insensible to the notion that there might be anything of value written in verse. Theobald and Christina pretended to like poetry: Theobald and Christina pretended to love one another and him. It was all of a piece with their pretence that Christianity was a religion of kindliness and enlightenment.

So he remained a bachelor, and, when Miss Savage was dead, contented himself with the intimate companionship of Mr. Jones and Alfred, his clerk. After he had resigned the ambition of becoming a painter, after his odd and disastrous excursion in the world of business, his daily life was that of an eccentric gentleman with a small independent income. He read and wrote in the British Museum, he went for walks in the country and took holidays in Italy, he published his books at his own expense, and he scrambled out of invitations to dinner as best he could. For a hobby he wrote music in collaboration with Mr. Festing Jones, oratorios which were to be as much like Handel's oratorios as possible. The first of them, Narcissus, was inspired by his own misfortunes in business, and the final chorus ran:

How blest the prudent man, the maiden pure,
Whose income is both ample and secure,
Arising from consolidated Three
Per Cent. Annuities, paid quarterly!

"We remembered Handel's treatment of 'continually,'" says Mr. Festing Jones, "and thought we could not do better than imitate it for our words 'paid quarterly.'"

And so his life went on and his interests drifted through the theory of evolution, the authorship of the Odyssey, the life of his grandfather, and the meaning of Shakespeare's Sonnets. The sales of his books pursued a course by no means so varied, but steadily declined. In 1899, when he drew up a statement of profit and loss, the average sales of his eleven books, excluding Erewhon, which was the first, amounted to 306 copies each. Of his Selections from Previous Works, 120 copies were sold in fifteen years. Of The Authoress of the Odyssey, 165 copies were sold. He might well have added discouragement170 to his first cause of bitterness. The religion of Christ produced Canon Butler, the religion of science produced Darwin, the religion of good looks and good breeding produced Pauli. On paper he was indomitable. He swore he had enjoyed life, that on the balance his good luck overbalanced the bad. But he swore a little too often, he explained a little too much in detail for this to have been quite true. And then, at the very end of his life, the luck turned, and his last book, by a strange irony, was produced at the publisher's own risk, the greatest triumph in his literary career which Butler was able to see since the success of his first book. After he was dead his reputation, magically assisted with incantations by Mr. Bernard Shaw and others, sprang up to an amazing height, like the plant grown from the Indian enchanter's bean.

Now the world is confronted with a situation in which the neglected philosopher of Clifford's Inn has attained an importance he never dreamt of and perhaps would not have approved. "Above all things," he said, "let no unwary reader do me the injustice of believing in me." This useful motto was printed on the menu of the first Erewhon dinner; but a great number of his disciples have disregarded the admonition. I was once the witness of one undergraduate trying to proselytise another and telling him that it was a worthy ambition to desire to be like Christ. "I don't want to be like anyone else," replied the second undergraduate, "but if I did, I shouldn't choose Christ, I should choose Samuel Butler." This is at once an extreme instance and one strictly guarded against Butler's own disapproval: for the kernel of the remark would meet with his applause. But it illustrates the direction in which many of his admirers have more frenetically rushed. It is an ironic fate for so ironic a philosopher that his teaching should have become a sort of Tom Tiddler's ground for so many solemn and ridiculous persons.

What, after all, is his total achievement? He himself summed up what he considered to be his life-work in a statement which is not dated but which must have been written in 1899 or later. It begins with (1) The emphasising the analogies between crime and disease [Erewhon], and ends with (17) The elucidation of Shakespeare's Sonnets [Shakespeare's Sonnets Reconsidered.] "The foregoing," he continues, "is the list of my mares'-nests, and it is, I presume, this list which made Mr. Arthur Platt call me the Galileo of Mares'-nests in his diatribe on my Odyssey theory in the Classical Review." The two to which he probably attached most importance, to judge from the bitterness of his remarks on their reception, were his intervention into the great evolution dispute and his great discovery that the Odyssey was written by a female inhabitant of Trapani in Sicily. With regard to the second he continually complained that no classical scholar had ever replied to his arguments. It was once remarked in answer to this, that if a classical scholar published a book arguing that no player of Rugby football ought to be allowed to pass the ball to another without obtaining a signed receipt for it, the great community of Rugby footballers, intent on other matters, would171 probably ignore his suggestion. Butler's claim may perhaps be left there. Yet he did apparently take it seriously, in spite of his failure to deal with the singular fact that no scrap of confirmation of his theory has survived from the writings or the traditions of antiquity. His "mares'-nests," he said, "were simply sovereigns which he found lying in public places and which people would not notice and be at the trouble of picking up." They were mostly, however, one cannot help suspecting, recommended to him less because they seemed to be sovereigns than because other people would not pick them up. They were, in fact, the notions of a crank, who, having acquired a distrust of the rest of the world, took pains to differ from it as much as he could.

His theories of evolution hold a different position. Darwin's theory has now been so greatly modified, as much by his supporters as by his opponents, that it cannot be said any longer to hold the field as he first presented it; and Butler's attitude has been in a manner justified. But this change has been accomplished not by the acceptance of Butler's views but by the work of experimental biologists. He did, in fact, offer many general principles, some well founded, some mistaken, all stimulating, for the consideration of practical workers; and it would not be possible to assert, without an exhaustive enquiry into the history of the matter, that his writings have had no influence on the development of science. But Charles Darwin and his followers were practical men—men no doubt with faults, with the intolerance and impatience of the laity that are often to be found in the scientific investigator. It is not hard to see why they received Butler with tepid interest, and finally ignored him when he forsook their path of enquiry. For they did ignore him: they did not, as he supposed, conspire to silence him. He seems to have believed that Darwin was a sort of Anti-Christ malevolently determined to force on humanity a diabolical belief of his own invention; and he was only too ready to suspect him of unscrupulous dealing and machinations. When he conceived that Darwin had engineered an attack on him, though he obtained an expression of regret for an accident, he flung violently into print, and did, though he remained ignorant of the fact, get from Darwin and his friends the attention as an enemy which they would not bestow on him as a scientist. His letter to the Athenæum seriously perturbed Darwin, who drafted two replies to it, and submitted them for advice to the members of his family and to Professor Huxley. The advice given was against replying; and Butler was accordingly confirmed in his opinion. But this was an opinion which a less suspicious man would have been slower in forming and readier to discard.

Darwin was not, in his career or in his handling of Butler, a model of the urbane virtues. Butler did right to protest against the sacerdotal attitude which Victorian men of science frequently adopted. But he did wrong not to realise that Darwin did not take him altogether seriously, and why this was so. Butler's challenging manner of writing, the prickly defensiveness which he developed on the smallest provocation, must have been disagreeable to172 the great investigator who had spent years of careful research into the problems which Butler airily settled at his writing-table in the intervals of other pursuits. Darwin is perhaps to blame, but not so greatly to blame as Butler contended, if he regarded Butler at first as a well-disposed, and then as an ill-disposed, amateur; and that was in effect his view of the whole matter. When he sent Evolution Old and New to Dr. Krause, he expressed the hope that the German writer "would not expend much powder and shot on Mr. Butler, for he really is not worthy of it. His book is merely ephemeral." And it was in fact ephemeral or nearly so. Butler's works on evolution contain many inspired guesses; but the inherent value of these ceases to have much more than a historical interest when they are confirmed by practical observation. If they are not so confirmed they remain open to question, though they may have their uses in suggesting paths for research. Butler's place in science is somewhat below that of Goethe, who did after all make a practical discovery which remains valid to-day.

Some of his "mares'-nests," then, were "mares'-nests" from the beginning. Others, neglected when they might have been useful, had begun to be superannuated when they first attracted attention. But Butler, apart from his theories and his discoveries, remains as an observer of life and a teacher of conduct. Passages of this nature exist in all his works; but, generally speaking, his claim to be accepted as a philosopher rests on five books, Erewhon, Erewhon Revisited, the Note-books, The Way of All Flesh, and Mr. Festing Jones's biography.

Mr. Festing Jones observes that "I was struck by his uncompromising sincerity. If a subject interested him, he took infinite pains to find out all he could about it first-hand, thought it over and formed an opinion of his own, without reference to what anyone else thought or said." In demonstration of this, Mr. Jones relates the following reminiscence:

We talked about Charlotte Brontë; Butler did not like her; I said, as though taking the odd trick with the ace of trumps:

"Well, at all events, she wrote three splendid novels."

He replied in a low voice, reluctantly but decidedly: "They are not splendid."

These four words shifted the subject under discussion from the splendour or otherwise of Charlotte Brontë's novels to the sincerity or otherwise of my opinion.

It was no doubt well that Mr. Jones's sincerity should be probed; and this is in fact what Butler does at his best. He challenges established opinions and forces those who hold them to consider whether they have any good ground for doing so. But the reader who is not dazzled by Butler's originality of judgment in this instance will ask himself whether the sentence which Mr. Jones quotes is anything more than a very facile assertion. He will then perhaps ask himself how often Butler's original pronouncements on established reputations are of the same order. He will certainly find some. In the Note-books there is an elaborate arraignment of Raphael. It may not be convincing; but the critic has produced his arguments. Here,173 also, may be found Butler's explanation of his hostility towards post-Handelian music. But one may search the two volumes of the biography for a considerable time without finding his appreciation of any book published in his own time. Here, again, we must be just: Butler did like one book. It was called Pusley, or My Summer in a Garden; its author was Charles Dudley Warner; and Butler said, "I like Pusley very much and have read it all."

But the majority of his opinions are on the model of the much-quoted passage in the Note-books:

Talking it over, we agreed that Blake was no good because he learnt Italian at sixty in order to study Dante, and we knew Dante was no good because he was so fond of Virgil, and Virgil was no good because Tennyson ran him, and as for Tennyson—well, Tennyson goes without saying.

That is an exceedingly witty way of expressing an indolent prejudice; and those who share that particular chain of prejudices may well rejoice in it, without supposing that it proves their case. But this particular form of humour and Butler's independence of attitude would be slightly more entertaining if he had occasionally replaced the reputations he smashed with these hammer-strokes by some discovery of his own. Unfortunately, it is not easy to remember any unknown author whom he brought into the light—unless Nausicaa be taken as an example.

But this is, in a way, the defect of his qualities. It is easy, too easy, to grow incensed with him when he inanely doubts any convention or opinion that comes in sight. It is possible to remark of him, adapting the remark made of Dr. Johnson, that he may have been very sensible at bottom, but that there was a great deal of nonsense on top. But the fact remains that by challenging everything he did detect a great many frauds, and he did let the light of scepticism into a great many topics where scepticism is a healthy attitude. If his view of family life was bigoted and unreasonable, there is a great deal of use in the reminder that family life is not necessarily perfect and needs a deal of watching to keep it from being very imperfect indeed. Some of the assumptions he challenged have now disappeared. We no longer believe that good looks and good manners are the unmistakable indices of an ill heart; and we are becoming convinced that it is better to have these attributes than to be without them. But these lessons can be enforced as Butler continually enforces them. It was his fate that life made him a suspicious man. But suspicion made him a doubting, questioning, and therefore enquiring man. And his natural gift of humour taught him what he has ever since been teaching others, that it is possible to be serious without being solemn. This was perhaps the most valuable thing he had to say to a society emerging from the Victorian era and passing over into another that was to be as desperately serious as we are now realising. It is a reflection pathetically ironical that his loudest followers in these days should be persons whom he would very likely have described as Simeonites of the intellect.

174 Of the value of his writings judged as literature it is not so easy to speak with confidence. Erewhon is not so much a novel as a collection of essays roughly pressed into a common mould. They are not merely disconnected, they are also composed on different planes of satire, at different removes from reality, so that the reader as he goes from chapter to chapter has an uncomfortable sense of being jolted from level to level. Yet the satire, on its varying levels, is extraordinarily easy, ingenious, and penetrating; and, in another key again, the opening chapters make one of the best introductions to a story of exploration ever written. Erewhon Revisited is the book of an old man; and it has much of the beauty so often to be found in such compositions. The manner of its writing was very different from that of its predecessor, and it is impossible to complain of any unevenness in its structure. Nevertheless the satire is not so easy. It is a little strained, a little too ingenious, a little too closely calculated to make good reading. Butler himself picked out the best part of the book when he complained that none of his critics had noticed the idea of a father attempting by noble conduct to deserve the good opinion of a newly-found and adored son. Thus, at the end of his life, still haunted by early memories, he attempted to fashion in imagination what should have been and completely to invert the facts of his own childhood.

The Way of All Flesh is precisely the opposite of this. It has long been known to be of the photographic order of novels; but how minutely photographic it is we could not know until the appearance of Mr. Jones's book. This need not, and should not, affect our judgment of it, even when we are informed that Theobald's delightful letters are almost literal transcriptions from those of Canon Butler. We can very well continue to admire the inimitable accuracy and vividness with which these real scenes are described, while we suffer from the painful bitterness of this exhaustive improvisation on the old theme of parents and children. But the whole book is not of equal merit. It begins to weaken at the point where Ernest's career diverges from Butler's own experience; and when it reaches the catastrophe it sinks into improbabilities from which it never recovers. The Ernest, whose thoughts and feelings at Cambridge have been described, and who was Butler, would never have made that disastrous mistake over Miss Maitland's real profession. Butler did not in fact ever make it, nor did he ever develop into the super-prig which Ernest became after his release from prison.

Butler's reputation will probably rest more and more, as time goes on, on his Note-books and on Mr. Jones's biography, which might be described together as the story of a distrustful man. Indeed, posterity reading these alone, will probably miss little of what it should retain: for Butler was careful of his best things, and most of them are to be found here as well as in the books in which he enshrined them among more perishable material. On the strength of these two books he will remain a definite and unforgettable character, though he may, probably will, recede in importance, perhaps even175 to the level of those wits whose "table-talk" is read by the curious in every generation.

But even so, there he will be still: a man whom fate tortured into such distrust of his fellows as to make him question everything and teach others to do the same. He suffered intensely in the process that made him what he was: he suffered again, much more than he would ever admit, from the ineffaceable results of the process. "I do not deny, however," he bursts out, "that I have been ill-used. I have been used abominably." This cry rings truer, echoes longer in the memory, than the assertion which follows that he considered the balance of good fortune to have been on his side. By one of those contrivances of events with which fate marks the lives of distinguished men, an atmosphere of distrust followed him on to his death-bed and beyond it. For the doctors disagreed during his last illness, and Mr. Festing Jones doubts the accuracy of the causes given in the certificate of death.




I HAVE often wished that I could write a novel in which, as mostly in life, thank goodness, nothing happened. Jane Austen, it has been objected, forestalled me there, and it is true that she very nearly did—but not quite. It was a point for her art to make that the novel should have form. Form involved plot, plot a logic of events; events—well, that means that there were collisions. They may have been mild shocks, but persons did knock their heads together, and there were stars to be seen by somebody. In life, in a majority of cases, there are no stars, yet life does not on that account cease to be interesting; and even if stars should happen to be struck out, it is not the collision, nor the stars either, which interest us most. No, it is our state of soul, our mental process under the stress which we care about; and as mental process is always going on, and the state of the soul never the same for two moments together, there is ample material for a novel of extreme interest, which need never finish, which might indeed be as perennial as a daily newspaper or the Annual Register. Why is it, do you suppose, that anybody, if he can, will read anybody else's letter? It is because every man-Jack of us lives in a cage, cut off from every other man-Jack; because we are incapable of knowing what is going on in the mind of our nearest and dearest, and because we burn for the assurance we may get by evidence of homogeneity procurable from any human source. Man is a creature of social instinct condemned by his nature to be solitary. Creatures in all outward respects similar to himself are awhirl about him. They cannot help him, nor he them; he cannot even be sure, for all he may assume it, that they share his hope and calling.

Ensphered in flesh we live and die,
And see a myriad souls adrift,
Our likes, and send our voiceless cry
Shuddering across the void: "The truth
Succour! The truth!" None can reply.

That is the state of our case. We can cope with mere events, comedy, tragedy, farce. The things that happen to us are not our life. They are imposed upon life, they come and go. But life is a secret process. We only see the accretions.

The novel which I dreamed of writing has recently been done, or rather begun, by Miss Dorothy Richardson. She betters the example of Jane Austen by telling us much more about what seems to be infinitely less, but is not so in reality. She dips into the well whereof Miss Austen skims the surface. She has essayed to report the mental process of a young woman's lifetime from moment to moment. In the course of four, if not five, volumes177 nothing has happened yet but the death of a mother and the marriage of a sister or so. She may write forty, and I shall be ready for the forty-first. Mental process, the states of the soul, emotional reaction—these as they are moved in us by other people are Miss Richardson's subject-matter, and according as these are handled is the interest we can devote to her novels. These flitting things are Miss Richardson's game, and they are the things which interest us most in ourselves, and the things which we desire to know most about in our neighbours.

But of course it won't do. Miss Richardson does not, and cannot, tell us all. A novel is a piece of art which does not so much report life as transmute it. She takes up what she needs for her purpose, and that may not be our purpose. And so it is with poetry—we don't go to that for the facts, but for the essence of fact. The poet who told us all about himself at some particular pass would write a bad poem, for it is his affair to transfigure rather than transmute, to move us by beauty at least as much as by truth. What we look for so wistfully in each other is the raw material of poetry. We can make the finished article for ourselves, given enough matter; and indeed the poetry which is imagined in contemplation is apt to be much finer than that which has passed through the claws of prosody and syntax. The fact, to be short with it, is that literature has an eye upon the consumer. Whether it is marketable or not, it is intended for the public. Now no man will undress in public with design. It may be a pity, but so it is. Undesignedly, I don't say. It would be possible, I think, by analysis, to track the successive waves of mental process in In Memoriam. Again, The Angel in the House brought Patmore as near to self-explication as a poet can go. Shakespeare's Sonnets offer a more doubtful field of experiment.

What then? Shall we go to the letter-writers—to Madame de Sévigné, to Gray, to Walpole and Cowper, Byron and Lamb? A letter-writer implies a letter-reader, and just that inadequacy of spoken communication will smother up our written words. Madame de Sévigné must placate her high-sniffing daughter, Gray must please himself; Walpole must at any cost be lively, Cowper must be urbane to Lady Hesketh or deprecate the judgment of the Reverend Mr. Newton. Byron was always before the looking-glass as he wrote; and as for Charles Lamb, do not suppose that he did anything but hide in his clouds of ink. Sir Sidney Colvin thinks that Keats revealed himself in his letters, but I cannot agree with him. Keats is one of the best letter-writers we have; he can be merry, fanciful, witty, thoughtful, even profound. He has a sardonic turn of language hardly to be equalled outside Shakespeare. "Were it in my device, I would reject a Petrarchal coronation—on account of my dying day, and because women have cancers." Where will you match that but from Hamlet? But Keats knew himself. "It is a wretched thing to confess, but it is a very fact, that not one word I can utter can be taken for granted as an opinion growing out of my identical Nature." So I find him in his letters, swayed rather by his fancies than his states of soul, until indeed that soul of his was wrung by agony of mind and disease178 of body. Revelation, then, like gouts of blood, did issue, but of that I do not now write. No man is sane at such a crisis.

Parva componere magnis, there is a letter contained in The Early Diary of Frances Burney (ed. Mrs. A. R. Ellis, 1889) more completely apocalyptic than anything else of the kind accessible to me. Its writer was Maria Allen, daughter of Dr. Burney's second wife, therefore half-sister to the charming Burney girls. She was a young lady who could let herself go, in act as well as on paper, and withal, as Fanny judged her, "flighty, ridiculous, uncommon, lively, comical, entertaining, frank, and undisguised"—or because of it—she did contrive to unfold her panting and abounding young self more thoroughly than the many times more expert. You have her here in the pangs of a love affair, of how long standing I don't know, but now evidently in a bad state of miss-fire. It was to end in elopement, post-chaise, clandestine marriage, in right eighteenth century. Here it is in an earlier state, all mortification, pouting and hunching of the shoulder. I reproduce it with Maria's punctuation, which shows it to have proceeded, as no doubt she did herself, in gasps:

"I was at the Assembly, forced to go entirely against my own Inclination. But I always have sacrificed my own inclinations to the will of other people—could not resist the pressing Importunity of—Bet Dickens—to go—tho' it proved Horribly stupid. I drank tea at the —— told old Turner—I was determined not to dance—he would not believe me—a wager ensued—half-a-crown provided I followed my own Inclinations—agreed—Mr. Audley asked me. I refused—sat still—yet followed my own Inclinations. But four couple began—Martin (c'etait Lui) was there—yet stupid—nimporte—quite Indifferent—on both sides—Who had I—to converse with the whole Evening—not a female friend—none there—not an acquaintance—All Dancing—who then—I've forgot—nimporte—I broke my earring—how—heaven knows—foolishly enough—one can't always keep on the Mask of Wisdom—well n'importe I danced a Minute a quatre the latter end of the Eve—with a stupid Wretch—need I name him—They danced cotillions almost the whole Night—two sets—yet I did not join them—Miss Jenny Hawkins danced—with who—can't you guess—well—n'importe——"


There is more, but my pen is out of breath. Nobody but Mr. Jingle ever wrote like that; and in so far as Maria Allen may be said to have had a soul, there in its little spasms is the soul of Maria Allen, with all the malentendus of the ballroom and all the surgings of a love affair at cross-purposes thrown in.

As for Fanny Burney's early diary, its careful and admirable editor claims that you have in it "the only published, perhaps the only existing record of the life of an English girl, written of herself, in the eighteenth century." I believe that to be true. It is a record, and a faithful and very charming record of the externals of such a life. As such it is, to me at least, a valuable thing. If it does not unfold the amiable, brisk, and happy Fanny herself,179 there are two simple reasons why it could not. First, she was writing her journal for the entertainment of old Mr. Crisp of Chessington, the "Daddy Crisp" of her best pages; secondly, it is not at all likely that she knew of anything to unfold. Nor, for that matter, was Fanny herself of the kind that can unfold to another person. Yet there is a charm all over the book, which some may place here, some there, but which all will confess. For me it is not so much that Fanny herself is a charming girl, and a girl of shrewd observation, of a pointed pen, and an admirable gift of mimicry. She has all that and more—she has a good heart. Her sister Susan is as good as she, and there are many of Susan's letters. But the real charm of the book, I think, is in the series of faithful pictures it contains of the everyday round of an everyday family. Dutch pictures all—passers-by, a knock at the front door, callers—Mr. Young, "in light blue embroidered with silver, a bag and sword, and walking in the rain"; a jaunt to Greenwich, a concert at home—the Agujari in one of her humours; a masquerade—"a very private one, and at the house of Mr. Laluze ... Hetty had for three months thought of nothing else ... she went as a Savoyard with a hurdy-gurdy fastened round her waist. Nothing could look more simple, innocent, and pretty. My dress was a close pink Persian vest covered with a gauze in loose pleats...." What else? Oh, a visit to Teignmouth—Maria Allen now Mrs. Ruston; another to Worcester; quiet days at King's Lynn, where "I have just finished Henry and Frances ... the greatest part of the last volume is wrote by Henry, and on the gravest of grave subjects, and that which is most dreadful to our thoughts, Eternal Misery...." Terrific novel: but need I go on? There may be some to whom a description of the nothings of this our life will be as flat as the nothings themselves—but I am not of that party. The things themselves interest me, and I confess the charm. It is the charm of innocence and freshness, a morning dew upon the words.

The Burneys, however, can do no more for us than shed that auroral dew. They cannot reassure us of our normal humanity, since they needed reassurance for themselves.

Where, then, shall we turn? So far as I am aware, to two only, except for two others whom I leave out of account. Rousseau is one, for it is long since I read him, but my recollection is that the Confessions is a kind of novel, premeditated, selective, done with great art. Marie Bashkirtseff is another. I have not read her at all. Of the two who remain I leave Pepys also out of account, because, though it may be good for us to read Pepys, it is better to have read him and be through with it. There, under the grace of God, go a many besides Pepys, and among them every boy who has ever befouled a wall with a stump of pencil. We are left then with one whom it is ill to name in the same fill of the inkpot, "Wordsworth's exquisite sister," as Keats, who saw her once, at once knew her to be.

In Dorothy Wordsworth's journals you may have the delight of daily intercourse—famigliarmente discorrendo—with one of the purest and noblest180 souls ever housed in flesh; to that you may add the reassurance to be got from word and implication beyond doubt. She tells us much, but implies more. We may see deeply into ourselves, but she sees deeply into a deeper self than most of us can discern. It is not only that, knowing her, we are grounded in the rudiments of honour and lovely living; it is to learn that human life can so be lived, and to conclude that of that at least is the Kingdom of Heaven.

These journals are for fragments only of the years which they cover, and as such exist for Jan.-May, 1798 (Alfoxden), May-Dec., 1800, Oct.-Dec., 1801, Jan.-July, 1802: all these at Grasmere. They have been printed by Professor Knight, and I have the assurance of Mr. Gordon Wordsworth that what little has been omitted is unimportant. Nothing is unimportant to me, and I wish the whole had been given us; but what we have is enough whereby to trace the development of her extraordinary mind and of her power of self-expression. The latter, undoubtedly, grew out of emotion, which gradually culminated until the day of William Wordsworth's marriage. There it broke, and with it, as if by a determination of the will, there the revelation ceased. A new life began with the coming of Mary Wordsworth to Dove Cottage, a life of which Dorothy records the surface only.

The Alfoxden fragment (20 Jan.-22 May, 1798), written when she was twenty-seven, is chiefly notable for its power of interpreting landscape. That was a power which Wordsworth himself possessed in a high degree. There can be no doubt, I think, that they egged each other on, but I myself should find it hard to say which was egger-on and which the egged. This is the first sentence of it:

"20 Jan.—The green paths down the hillsides are channels for streams. The young wheat is streaked by silver lines of water running between the ridges, the sheep are gathered together on the slopes. After the wet dark days the country seems more populous. It peoples itself in the sunbeams."

Here is one of few days later:

"23rd.—Bright sunshine, went out at 3 o'cl. The sea perfectly calm blue, streaked with deeper colour by the clouds, and tongues or points of sand; on our return of a gloomy red. The sun gone down. The crescent moon, Jupiter and Venus. The sound of the sea distinctly heard on the tops of the hills, which we could never hear in summer. We attribute this partly to the bareness of the trees, but chiefly to the absence of the singing birds, the hum of insects, that noiseless noise which lives in the summer air. The villages marked out by beautiful beds of smoke. The turf fading into the mountain road."

She handles words, phrases, like notes or chords of music, and never gets her landscape by direct description. One more picture and I must leave it:

"26.— ... Walked to the top of a high hill to see a fortification. Again sat down to feed upon the prospect; a magnificent scene, curiously181 spread out for even minute inspection, though so extensive that the mind is afraid to calculate its bounds...."

Coleridge was with them most days, or they with him. Here is a curious point to note. Dorothy records:

"March 7th.—William and I drank tea at Coleridge's.... Observed nothing particularly interesting.... One only leaf upon the top of a tree—the sole remaining leaf—danced round and round like a rag blown by the wind."

And Coleridge has in Christabel:

The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.

William, Dorothy, and Coleridge went to Hamburg at the end of that year, but in 1800 the brother and sister were in Grasmere; and the journal, which opens with May 14, at once betrays the great passion of Dorothy's life:

"William and John set off into Yorkshire after dinner at half-past two o'clock, cold pork in their pockets. I left them at the turning of the Low-Wood bay under the trees. My heart was so full I could hardly speak to W. when I gave him a farewell kiss. I sate a long time upon a stone at the margin of the lake, and after a flood of tears my heart was easier. The lake looked to me, I know not why, dull and melancholy, and the weltering on the shore seemed a heavy sound.... I resolved to write a journal of the time till W. and J. return, and I set about keeping my resolve, because I will not quarrel with myself, and because I shall give William pleasure by it when he comes again...."

"Because I will not quarrel with myself!" She is full of such illuminations. Here is another:

"Sunday, June 1st.—After tea went to Ambleside round the lakes. A very fine warm evening. Upon the side of Loughrigg my heart dissolved in what I saw."

Now here is her account of a country funeral which she reads into, or out of, the countryside:

"Wednesday, 3rd Sept.— ... a funeral at John Dawson's ... I was affected to tears while we stood in the house, the coffin lying before me. There were no near kindred, no children. When we got out of the dark house the sun was shining, and the prospect looked as divinely beautiful as I ever saw it. It seemed more sacred than I had ever seen it, and yet more182 allied to human life.... I thought she was going to a quiet spot, and I could not help weeping very much...."

The italics are mine. William was pleased to call her weeping "nervous blubbering."


And then we come to 1802, the great last year of a twin life; the last year of the five in which those two had lived as one soul and one heart. They were at Dove Cottage, on something under £150 a year. Poems were thronging thick about them; they were living intensely. John was alive. Mary Hutchinson was at Sockburn. Coleridge was still Coleridge, not the bemused and futile mystic he was to become. As for Dorothy, she lives a thing enskied, floating from ecstasy to ecstasy. It is the third of March, and William is to go to London. "Before we had quite finished breakfast Calvert's man brought the horses for Wm. We had a deal to do, pens to make, poems to put in order for writing, to settle for the press, pack up.... Since he left me at half-past eleven (it is now two) I have been putting the drawers into order, laid by his clothes, which he had thrown here and there and everywhere, filed two months' newspapers, and got my dinner, two boiled eggs and two apple tarts.... The robins are singing sweetly. Now for my walk. I will be busy. I will look well, and be well when he comes back to me. O the Darling! Here is one of his bitter apples. I can hardly find it in my heart to throw it into the fire.... I walked round the two lakes, crossed the stepping-stones at Rydalefoot. Sate down where we always sit. I was full of thought of my darling. Blessings on him." Where else in our literature will you find mood so tender, so intimately, so delicately related?

A week later, and William returned. With him, it seems, her descriptive powers. "Monday morning—a soft rain and mist. We walked to Rydale for letters. The Vale looked very beautiful in excessive simplicity, yet, at the same time, uncommon obscurity. The church stood alone, mountains behind. The meadows looked calm and rich, bordering on the still lake. Nothing else to be seen but lake and island." Exquisite landscape. For its like we must go to Japan. Here is another. An interior. It is the 23rd of March, "about ten o'clock, a quiet night. The fire flickers, and the watch ticks. I hear nothing save the breathing of my beloved as he now and then pushes his book forward, and turns over a leaf...." No more, but the peace of it is profound, the art incomparable.

In April, between the 5th and 12th, William went into Yorkshire upon an errand which she knew and dreaded. Her trouble makes the words throb. "Monday, 12th.... The ground covered with snow. Walked to T. Wilkinson's and sent for letters. The woman brought me one from William and Mary. It was a sharp windy night. Thomas Wilkinson came with me to Barton and questioned me like a catechiser all the way. Every question was like the snapping of a little thread about my heart. I was so183 full of thought of my half-read letter and other things. I was glad when he left me. Then I had time to look at the moon while I was thinking of my own thoughts. The moon travelled through the clouds, tinging them yellow as she passed along, with two stars near her, one larger than the other.... At this time William, as I found the next day, was riding by himself between Middleham and Barnard Castle." I don't know where else to find the vague torment of thought, its way of enhancing colour and form in nature, more intensely observed. Next day: "When I returned William was come. The surprise shot through me." This woman was not so much poet as crystal vase. You can see the thought cloud and take shape.

The twin life was resumed for yet a little while. In the same month come her descriptions of the daffodils in Gowbarrow Park, and of the scene by Brothers Water, which prove to anybody in need of proof that she was William's well-spring of poesy. Not that the journal is necessarily involved. No need to suppose that he even read it. But that she could make him see, and be moved by, what she had seen is proved by this: "17th.... I saw a robin chasing a scarlet butterfly this morning"; and "Sunday, 18th.... William wrote the poem on The Robin and the Butterfly." No; beautiful beyond praise as the journals are, it is certain that she was more beautiful than they. And what a discerning illuminative eye she had! "As I lay down on the grass, I observed the glittering silver line on the ridge of the backs of the sheep, owing to their situation respecting the sun, which made them look beautiful, but with something of strangeness, like animals of another kind, as if belonging to a more splendid world...." What a woman to go a-gipsying through the world with!

Then comes the end.... "Thursday, 8th July.... In the afternoon, after we had talked a little, William fell asleep. I read The Winter's Tale; then I went to bed, but did not sleep. The swallows stole in and out of their nest, and sat there, whiles quite still, whiles they sung low for two minutes or more at a time, just like a muffled robin. William was looking at The Pedlar when I got up. He arranged it, and after tea I wrote it out—280 lines.... The moon was behind.... We walked first to the top of the hill to see Rydale. It was dark and dull, but our own vale was very solemn—the shape of Helm Crag was quite distinct, though black. We walked backwards and forwards on the White Moss path; there was a sky like white brightness on the lake.... O beautiful place! Dear Mary, William. The hour is come.... I must prepare to go. The swallows, I must leave them, the wall, the garden, the roses, all. Dear creatures, they sang last night after I was in bed; seemed to be singing to one another, just before they settled to rest for the night. Well, I must go. Farewell."

Next day she set out with William to meet her secret dread, knowing that life in Rydale could never be the same again. Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson on the 4th October, 1802. The secret is no secret now, for Dorothy was a crystal vase.



7 Ben Jonson. By G. Gregory Smith. (English Men of Letters Series.) Macmillan, 1919. 3s. net.


IT comes as something of a surprise to find that the niche reserved for Ben Jonson in the "English Men of Letters" series has only now been filled. One expected somehow that he would have been among the first of the great ones to be enshrined; but no, he has had a long time to wait; and Adam Smith, and Sydney Smith, and Hazlitt, and Fanny Burney have gone before him into the temple of fame. Now, however, his monument has at last been made, with Professor Gregory Smith's qualified version of "O rare Ben Jonson!" duly and definitively carved upon it.

What is it that makes us, almost as a matter of course, number Ben Jonson among the great? Why should we expect him to be an early candidate for immortality, or why, indeed, should he be admitted to the "English Men of Letters" series at all? These are difficult questions to answer; for when we come to consider the matter we find ourselves unable to give any very glowing account of Ben or his greatness. It is hard to say that one likes his work; one cannot honestly call him a good poet or a supreme dramatist. And yet, unsympathetic as he is, uninteresting as he often can be, we still go on respecting and admiring him, because, in spite of everything, we are conscious, obscurely but certainly, that he was a great man.

He had little influence on his successors; the comedy of humours died without any but an abortive issue. Shadwell, the mountain-bellied "Og, from a treason tavern rolling home," is not a disciple that any man would have much pride in claiming. No raking up of literary history will make Ben Jonson great as a founder of a school or an inspirer of others. His greatness is a greatness of character. There is something almost alarming in the spectacle of this formidable figure advancing with tank-like irresistibility towards the goal he had set himself to attain. No sirens of romance can seduce him, no shock of opposition unseat him in his career. He proceeds along the course theoretically mapped out at the inception of his literary life, never deviating from this narrow way till the very end—till the time when, in his old age, he wrote that exquisite pastoral, The Sad Shepherd, which is so complete and absolute a denial of all his lifelong principles. But The Sad Shepherd is a weakness, albeit a triumphant weakness. Ben, as he liked to look upon himself, as he has again and again revealed himself to us, is the artist with principles, protesting against the anarchic185 absence of principle among the geniuses and charlatans, the poets and ranters of his age.

"The true artificer will not run away from nature as he were afraid of her: or depart from life and the likeness of truth; but speak to the capacity of his hearers. And though his language differ from the vulgar somewhat, it shall not fly from all humanity, with the Tamerlanes and Tamer-Chams of the late age, which had nothing in them but the scenical strutting and furious vociferation to warrant them to the ignorant gapers. He knows it is his only art, so to carry it as none but artificers perceive it. In the meantime, perhaps, he is called barren, dull, lean, a poor writer, or by what contumelious word can come in their cheeks, by these men who without labour, judgment, knowledge, or almost sense, are received or preferred before him."

In these sentences from Discoveries Ben Jonson paints his own picture—portrait of the artist as a true artificer—setting forth, in its most general form, and with no distracting details of the humours or the moral purpose of art, his own theory of the artist's true function and nature. Jonson's theory was no idle speculation, no mere thing of words and air, but a creed, a principle, a categorical imperative, conditioning and informing his whole work. Any study of the poet must, therefore, begin with the formulation of his theory, and must go on, as Professor Gregory Smith's excellent essay does indeed proceed, to show in detail how the theory was applied and worked out in each individual composition.

A good deal of nonsense has been talked at one time or another about artistic theories. The artist is told that he should have no theories, that he should warble native wood-notes wild, that he should "sing," be wholly spontaneous, should starve his brain and cultivate his heart and spleen; that an artistic theory cramps the style, stops up the Helicons of inspiration, and so on, and so on. The foolish and sentimental conception of the artist, to which these anti-intellectual doctrines are a corollary, dates from the time of romanticism and survives among the foolish and sentimental of to-day. A consciously practised theory of art has never spoiled a good artist, has never dammed up inspiration, but rather, and in most cases profitably, canalised it. Even the Romantics had theories and were wild and emotional on principle.

Theories are above all necessary at moments when old traditions are breaking up, when all is chaos and in flux. At such moments an artist formulates his theory and clings to it through thick and thin; clings to it as the one firm raft of security in the midst of the surrounding unrest. Thus, when the neo-Classicism, of which Ben was one of the remote ancestors, was crumbling into the nothingness of The Loves of the Plants and The Triumphs of Temper, Wordsworth found salvation by the promulgation of a new theory of poetry, which he put into practice systematically and to the verge of absurdity in Lyrical Ballads. Similarly in the shipwreck of the old tradition186 of painting we find the artists of the present day clinging desperately to intellectual formulas as their only hope in the chaos. The only occasions, in fact, when the artist can afford entirely to dispense with theory occur in periods when a well-established tradition reigns supreme and unquestioned. And then the absence of theory is more apparent than real; for the tradition in which he is working is a theory, originally formulated by someone else, which he accepts unconsciously and as though it were the law of nature itself.

The beginning of the seventeenth century was not one of these periods of placidity and calm acceptance. It was a moment of growth and decay together, of fermentation. The fabulous efflorescence of the Renaissance had already grown rank. With that extravagance of energy which characterised them in all things, the Elizabethans had exaggerated the traditions of their literature into insincerity. All artistic traditions end, in due course, by being reduced to the absurd; but the Elizabethans crammed the growth and decline of a century into a few years. One after another they transfigured and then destroyed every species of art they touched. Euphuism, Petrarchism, Spenserism, the sonnet, the drama—some lasted a little longer than others, but they all exploded in the end, these beautiful iridescent bubbles blown too big by the enthusiasm of their makers.

But in the midst of this unstable luxuriance voices of protest were to be heard, reactions against the main romantic current were discernible. Each in his own way and in his own sphere, Donne and Ben Jonson protested against the exaggerations of the age. At a time when sonneteers in legions were quibbling about the blackness of their ladies' eyes or the golden wires of their hair, when Platonists protested in melodious chorus that they were not in love with "red and white" but with the ideal and divine beauty of which peach-blossom complexions were but inadequate shadows, at a time when love-poetry had become, with rare exceptions, fantastically unreal, Donne called it back, a little grossly perhaps, to facts with the dry remark:

Love's not so pure and abstract as they use
To say, who have no mistress but their muse.

There have been poets who have written more lyrically than Donne, more fervently about certain amorous emotions, but not one who has formulated so rational a philosophy of love as a whole, who has seen all the facts so clearly and judged of them so soundly. Donne laid down no literary theory. His followers took from him all that was relatively unimportant—the harshness, itself a protest against Spenserian facility, the conceits, the sensuality tempered by mysticism—but the important and original quality of Donne's work, the psychological realism, they could not, through sheer incapacity, transfer into their own poetry. Donne's immediate influence was on the whole bad. Any influence for good he may have had has been on poets of a much later date.

187 The other great literary Protestant of the time was the curious subject of our examination, Ben Jonson. Like Donne he was a realist. He had no use for claptrap, or rant, or romanticism. His aim was to give his audiences real facts flavoured with sound morality. He failed to be a great realist, partly because he lacked the imaginative insight to perceive more than the most obvious and superficial reality, and partly because he was so much preoccupied with the sound morality that he was prepared to sacrifice truth to satire; so that in place of characters he gives us humours, not minds, but personified moral qualities.

Ben hated romanticism; for, whatever may have been his bodily habits, however infinite his capacity for drinking sack, he belonged intellectually to the party of sobriety. In all ages the drunks and the sobers have confronted one another, each party loud in derision and condemnation of the defects which it observes in the other. "The Tamerlanes and Tamer-Chams of the late age" accuse the sober Ben of being "barren, dull, lean, a poor writer." Ben retorts that they "have nothing in them but the scenical strutting and furious vociferation to warrant them to the ignorant gapers." At another period it is the Hernanis and the Rollas who reproach that paragon of dryness, the almost fiendishly sober Stendhal, with his grocer's style. Stendhal in his turn remarks: "En paraissant, vers 1803, le Génie de Chateaubriand m'a semblé ridicule." And to-day? We have our sobers and our drunks, our Hardy and our Belloc, and Chesterton. The distinction is universally and eternally valid. Our personal sympathies may lie with one or the other; but it is obvious that we could dispense with neither. Ben, then, was one of the sobers, protesting with might and main against the extravagant behaviour of the drunks, an intellectual insisting that there was no way of arriving at truth except by intellectual processes, an apotheosis of the Plain Man determined to stand no nonsense about anything. Ben's poetical achievement, such as it is, is the achievement of one who relied on no mysterious inspiration, but on those solid qualities of sense, perseverance, and sound judgment which any decent citizen of a decent country may be expected to possess. That he himself possessed, hidden somewhere in the obscure crypts and recesses of his mind, other rarer spiritual qualities is proved by the existence of his additions to The Spanish Tragedy—if, indeed, they are his, which there is no cogent reason to doubt—and his last fragment of a masterpiece, The Sad Shepherd. But these qualities, as Professor Gregory Smith points out, he seems deliberately to have suppressed; locked them away, at the bidding of his imperious theory, in the strange dark places from which, at the beginning and the very end of his career, they emerged. He might have been a great romantic, one of the sublime inebriates; he chose rather to be classical and sober. Working solely with the logical intellect and rejecting as dangerous the aid of those uncontrolled illogical elements of imagination, he produced work that is in its own way excellent. It is well-wrought, strong, heavy with learning and what the Chaucerians would call "high sentence." The emotional intensity and brevity excepted, it possesses188 all the qualities of the French classical drama. But the quality which characterises the best Elizabethan and indeed the best English poetry of all periods, the power of moving in two worlds at once, it lacks. Jonson, like the French dramatists of the seventeenth century, moves on a level, directly towards some logical goal. The road over which his great contemporaries take us is not level; it is, as it were, tilted and uneven, so that as we proceed along it we are momently shot off at a tangent from the solid earth of logical meaning into superior regions where the intellectual laws of gravity have no control. The mistake of Jonson and the classicists in general consists in supposing that nothing is of value that is not susceptible of logical analysis; whereas the truth is that the greatest triumphs of art take place in a world that is not wholly of the intellect, but lies somewhere between it and the inenarrable, but, to those who have penetrated it, supremely real, world of the mystic. In his fear and dislike of nonsense, Jonson put away from himself not only the Tamer-Chams and the fustian of the late age, but also most of the beauty it had created.

With the romantic emotions of his predecessors and contemporaries Jonson abandoned much of the characteristically Elizabethan form of their poetry. That extraordinary melodiousness which distinguishes the Elizabethan lyric is not to be found in any of Ben's writing. The poems by which we remember him—Cynthia, Drink to Me Only, It is Not Growing Like a Tree—are classically well made (though the cavalier lyrists were to do better in the same style); but it is not for any musical qualities that we remember them. One can understand Ben's critical contempt for those purely formal devices for producing musical richness in which the Elizabethans delighted.

Eyes, why did you bring unto me these graces,
Grac'd to yield wonder out of her true measure,
Measure of all joyes' stay to phansie traces
Module of pleasure.

The device is childish in its formality, the words, in their obscurity, almost devoid of significance. But what matter, since the stanza is a triumph of sonorous beauty? The Elizabethans devised many ingenuities of this sort; the minor poets exploited them until they became ridiculous; the major poets employed them with greater discretion, playing subtle variations (as in Shakespeare's sonnets) on the crude theme. When writers had something to say, their thoughts, poured into these copiously elaborate forms, were moulded to the grandest poetical eloquence. A minor poet, like Lord Brooke, from whose works we have just quoted a specimen of pure formalism, could produce, in his moments of inspiration, such magnificent lines as:


The mind of Man is this world's true dimension,
And knowledge is the measure of the mind;

or these, of the nethermost hell:

A place there is upon no centre placed,
Deepe under depthes, as farre as is the skie
Above the earth; darke, infinitely spaced:
Pluto the king, the kingdome, miserie.

Even into comic poetry the Elizabethans imported the grand manner. The anonymous author of

Tee-hee, tee-hee! Oh sweet delight!
He tickles this age, who can
Call Tullia's ape a marmosite
And Leda's goose a swan,

knew the secret of that rich, facile music which all those who wrote in the grand Elizabethan tradition could produce. Jonson, like Donne, reacted against the facility and floridity of this technique, but in a different way. Donne's protest took the form of a conceited subtlety of thought combined with a harshness of metre. Jonson's classical training inclined him towards clarity, solidity of sense, and economy of form. He stands, as a lyrist, halfway between the Elizabethans and the cavalier song-writers; he has broken away from the old tradition, but has not yet made himself entirely at home in the new. At the best he achieves a minor perfection of point and neatness. At the worst he falls into that dryness and dullness with which he knew he could be reproached.

We have seen from the passage concerning the true artificer that Jonson fully realised the risk he was running. He recurs more than once in Discoveries to the same theme, "Some men to avoid redundancy run into that [a "thin, flagging, poor, starved" style]; and while they strive to have no ill-blood or juice, they lose their good." The good that Jonson lost was a great one. And in the same way we see to-day how a fear of becoming sentimental, or "chocolate-boxy," drives many of the younger poets and artists to shrink from treating of the great emotions or the obvious lavish beauty of the earth. But to eschew a good because the corruption of it is very bad is surely a sign of weakness and a folly.

Having lost the realm of romantic beauty—lost it deliberately and of set purpose—Ben Jonson devoted the whole of his immense energy to portraying and reforming the ugly world of fact. But his reforming satiric intentions interfered, as we have already shown, with his realistic intentions, and instead of re-creating in his art the actual world of men, he invented the wholly intellectual and therefore wholly unreal universe of Humours. It is an odd new world, amusing to look at from the safe distance that separates stage from stalls; but not a place one could ever wish to live in—one's neighbours, fools, knaves, hypocrites, and bears would make the most pleasing prospect intolerable. And over it all is diffused the atmosphere of Jonson's humour.190 It is a curious kind of humour, very different from anything that passes under that name to-day, from the humour of Punch, or A Kiss for Cinderella. One has only to read Volpone—or, better still, go to see it when it is acted this year by the Phœnix Society for the revival of old plays—to realise that Ben's conception of a joke differed materially from ours. Humour has never been the same since Rousseau invented humanitarianism. Syphilis and broken legs were still a great deal more comic in Smollett's day than in our own. There is a cruelty, a heartlessness about much of the older humour which is sometimes shocking, sometimes, in its less extreme forms, pleasantly astringent and stimulating after the orgies of quaint pathos and sentimental comedy in which we are nowadays forced to indulge. There is not a pathetic line in Volpone; all the characters are profoundly unpleasant, and the fun is almost as grim as fun can be. Its heartlessness is not the brilliant, cynical heartlessness of the later Restoration comedy, but something ponderous and vast. It reminds us of one of those enormous, painful jokes which fate sometimes plays on humanity. There is no alleviation, no purging by pity and terror. It requires a very hearty sense of humour to digest it. We have reason to admire our ancestors for their ability to enjoy this kind of comedy as it should be enjoyed. It would get very little appreciation from a London audience of to-day.

In the other comedies the fun is not so grim; but there is a certain hardness and brutality about them all—due, of course, ultimately to the fact that the characters are not human, but rather marionettes of wood and metal that collide and belabour one another, like the ferocious puppets of the Punch and Judy show, without feeling the painfulness of the proceeding. Shakespeare's comedy is not heartless, because the characters are human and sensitive. Our modern sentimentality is a corruption, a softening of genuine humanity. We need a few more Jonsons and Congreves, some more plays like Volpone, or that inimitable Mariage à la Mode of Dryden, in which the curtain goes up on a lady singing the outrageously cynical song that begins:

Why should a foolish marriage vow,
That long ago was made,
Constrain us to each other now
When pleasure is decayed?

Too much heartlessness is intolerable (how soon one turns, revolted, from the literature of the Restoration!), but a little of it now and then is bracing, a tonic for relaxed sensibilities. A little ruthless laughter clears the air as nothing else can do; it is good for us, every now and then, to see our ideals laughed at, our conception of nobility caricatured; it is good for solemnity's nose to be tweaked, it is good for human pomposity to be made to look mean and ridiculous. This should be the great social function—as Marinetti has pointed out—of the music halls, to provide this cruel and unsparing laughter, to make a buffoonery of all the solemnly-accepted grandeurs and nobilities. A good dose of this mockery, administered twice a year at the191 equinoxes, should purge our minds of much waste matter, make nimble our spirits and brighten the eye to look more clearly and truthfully on the world about us.

Ben's reduction of human beings to a series of rather unpleasant Humours is sound and medicinal. Humours do not, of course, exist in actuality; they are true only as caricatures are true. There are times when we wonder whether a caricature is not, after all, truer than a photograph; there are others when it seems a stupid lie. But at all times a caricature is disquieting; and it is very good for most of us to be made uncomfortable.



A Note Without Dates


MY acquaintance with Crane was brought about by Mr. S. S. Pawling, partner in the publishing firm of Mr. William Heinemann.

One day Mr. Pawling said to me: "Stephen Crane has arrived in England. I asked him if there was anybody he wanted to meet and he mentioned two names. One of them was yours." I had then just been reading, like the rest of the world, Crane's Red Badge of Courage. The subject of that story was war, from the point of view of an individual soldier's emotions. That individual (he remains nameless throughout) was interesting enough in himself, but on turning over the pages of that little book which had for the moment secured such a noisy recognition I had been even more interested in the personality of the writer. The picture of a simple and untried youth becoming through the needs of his country part of a great fighting machine was presented with an earnestness of purpose, a sense of tragic issues, and an imaginative force of expression which struck me as quite uncommon and altogether worthy of admiration.

Apparently Stephen Crane had received a favourable impression from reading the Nigger of the Narcissus, a book of mine which had also been published lately. I was truly pleased to hear this.

On my next visit to town we met at a lunch. I saw a young man of medium stature and slender build, with very steady, penetrating blue eyes, the eyes of a being who not only sees visions but can brood over them to some purpose.

He had indeed a wonderful power of vision, which he applied to the things of this earth and of our mortal humanity with a penetrating force that seemed to reach within life's appearances and forms the very spirit of their truth. His ignorance of the world at large—he had seen very little of it—did not stand in the way of his imaginative grasp of facts, events, and picturesque men.

His manner was very quiet, his personality at first sight interesting, and he talked slowly with an intonation which on some people, mainly Americans, had, I believe, a jarring effect. But not on me. Whatever he said had a personal note, and he expressed himself with a graphic simplicity which was extremely engaging. He knew little of literature, either of his own country or of any other, but he was himself a wonderful artist in words whenever he took a pen into his hand. Then his gift came out—and it was seen to be much more than mere felicity of language. His impressionism of phrase went really deeper than the surface. In his writing he was very sure of his effects. I don't think he was ever in doubt about what he could do. Yet it often seemed to me that he was but half aware of the exceptional quality of his achievement.

193 This achievement was curtailed by his early death. It was a great loss to his friends, but perhaps not so much to literature. I think that he had given his measure fully in the few books he had the time to write. Let me not be misunderstood: the loss was great, but it was the loss of the delight his art could give, not the loss of any further possible revelation. As to himself, who can say how much he gained or lost by quitting so early this world of the living, which he knew how to set before us in terms of his own artistic vision? Perhaps he did not lose a great deal. The recognition he was accorded was rather languid and given him grudgingly. The worthiest welcome he secured for his tales in this country was from Mr. W. Henley in the New Review and later, towards the end of his life, from the late Mr. William Blackwood in his magazine. For the rest I must say that during his sojourn in England he had the misfortune to be, as the French say, mal entouré. He was beset by people who understood not the quality of his genius and were antagonistic to the deeper fineness of his nature. Some of them have died since, but dead or alive they are not worth speaking about now. I don't think he had any illusions about them himself; yet there was a strain of good-nature and perhaps of weakness in his character which prevented him from shaking himself free from their worthless and patronising attentions, which in those days caused me much secret irritation whenever I stayed with him in either of his English homes. My wife and I like best to remember him riding to meet us at the gate of the Park at Brede. Born master of his sincere impressions he was also a born horseman. He never appeared so happy or so much to advantage as on the back of a horse. He had formed the project of teaching my eldest boy to ride and meantime, when the child was about two years old, presented him with his first dog.

I saw Stephen Crane a few days after his first arrival in London. I saw him for the last time on his last day in England. It was in Dover, in a big hotel, in a bedroom with a large window looking on to the sea. He had been very ill and Mrs. Crane was taking him to some place in Germany, but one glance at that wasted face was enough to tell me that it was the most forlorn of all hopes. The last words he breathed out to me were: "I am tired. Give my love to your wife and child." When I stopped at the door for another look I saw that he had turned his head on the pillow and was staring wistfully out of the window at the sails of a cutter yacht that glided slowly across the frame, like a dim shadow against a grey sky.

Those who have read his little tale, Horses, and the story, The Open Boat, in the volume of that name, know with what fine understanding he loved horses and the sea. And his passage on this earth was like that of a horseman riding swiftly in the dawn of a day fated to be short and without sunshine.



Correspondence from readers on all subjects of bibliographical interest is invited. The Editor will, to the best of his ability, answer all queries addressed to him.


ONE of the great autobiographies, and a very important document for any one who undertakes the most rudimentary study of the English romantic movement, is the Life of B. R. Haydon, drawn from his journals. He was the friend of Keats, Lamb, Wordsworth, Leigh Hunt; he moved in many different spheres, among Dukes and politicians, and artists, and the debtors in King's Bench Prison. A man of boundless energy, an able writer capable of rendering his impressions vividly and with force, he was, indeed, everything but what he believed himself with passionate faith to be, what he even succeeded in persuading others that he was—a great painter. He was convinced—as firmly convinced as of the fact that two and two are four—that he was a genius as overwhelmingly great as Michael Angelo. He was, as a matter of fact, one of the second-rate romantic painters of the early nineteenth century, in some things a little better, in others a good deal worse, than his contemporaries in the same line of trade. The book is a fascinating study in psychology as well as one of the most vivid pictures of an interesting society. It is, therefore, unfortunate that it should now be a matter of some difficulty to lay one's hand on a copy. The first edition of the book appeared in 1853, the second and last some ten years later—more than half a century ago. We venture to express the pious hope that some beneficent publisher will reprint what is certainly one of the most peculiar human and historical documents of the nineteenth century.


We learn from Mr. Leslie Chaundy, of Oxford, that he has purchased intact the whole library of the late Provost of Worcester. Dr. Daniel's collection comprises a great number of rare and interesting books, including, of course, all the volumes issued from the famous Daniel Press. A catalogue is, we understand, in course of preparation and will be issued shortly.


October 31st saw the publication of the first number of the Bookman's Journal and Print Collector, qualified in a sub-title as The Journal for the Trade, for Collectors, and for Libraries. "Our aim," we read in the editorial, "is to be useful, not ornamental. Booksellers, publishers, librarians, and collectors alike from all parts of the country have agreed with the need for such a journal as this, and have given us generous support." The magazine contains reviews, a library supplement of "New Publications and Reprints of the Week," miscellaneous articles and notes on books and booksellers, prints and engravings. A useful feature of the journal will be the series of complete bibliographies of modern authors which it is proposed to publish. The first is devoted to the works of Hubert Crackanthorpe, who died in 1896, aged only twenty-six. Similar bibliographies of Masefield, Galsworthy, Conrad, Gissing, George Moore, and Merrick are in preparation. Those who wish to buy or sell books will be interested in the "Books Wanted" and "Books for Sale" columns of advertisements. Altogether, we think that this little paper will have no difficulty in substantiating its claims and will prove very valuable to all book-lovers.

195 Another interesting event in the world of books is the opening of the Chelsea Book Club at 65 Cheyne Walk. "It is being founded," we are told, "in the belief that in bookselling selection and specialisation are essential. It will aim, therefore, at having a stock of those books, new and second-hand, English and foreign, dealing with Belles Lettres and Art which appear to be most worthy of study and appreciation." A reading-room for the use of members will be attached to the club, in which lectures and exhibitions of works of art will be held from time to time. Those who wish to have further particulars as to membership, country book-service, lectures and exhibitions are asked to apply to the Secretary, 65 Cheyne Walk, London, S.W.3.


At the sale, by Messrs. Sotheby, of the late Mr. W. J. Leighton's stock, to which we referred last month, a copy of Walton's Compleat Angler (1655) fetched £21 10s.; The Pricke of Conscience, fifteenth century M.S., £50; Myrrour and Description of the Worlde, printed by Laurence Andrews, circa 1530, £72. Important auction sales in the month of November were Messrs. Sotheby's sale of the late Sir Frank Crisp's library and the sale of Mr. Christie Miller's library on the 28th of the month. We shall have gone to press before the results of the sale are known. What will be paid for Lot 81, we wonder?—Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, the first edition, folio, 1623.

The Christie-Miller library contains many other books of extraordinary interest, among them three unique copies of works by Nicholas Breton: A Smale Handfull of Fragrant Flowers, Selected and Gathered out of the Lovely Garden of Sacred Scripture; A Floorish upon Fancie, As Gallant a Glose upon so Triflinge a Text as ever was Written; and The Workes of a Young Wit Trust up with a Fardell of Prettie Fancies. Robert Greene is represented by three unique copies, one of Gwydonius, and another of Arbasto, The Anatomie of Fortune; and the third of the earliest edition of A Quip for an Upstart Courtier, containing the passage, suppressed in all the later editions, in abuse of Gabriel Harvey and his brothers, which started the literary war between Greene and the pedant of Cambridge.



It is possible, with a bundle of booksellers' catalogues, to waste more time more pleasantly than in any other way. As one idly turns the pages, catching sight here and there of a strange title or a book on some impossibly queer subject, one realises, more fully than one could do in years of social intercourse with one's fellow-men, how fantastic a thing is the human mind—a stable full of prancing hobby-horses for crochety horsemen to ride about the world. We can speculate pleasantly on the character of the practical parson who wrote the Clergyman's Intelligencer; or, a Compleat Alphabetical List of all the Patrons in England and Wales, with the ... Benefices in their Gift and their Valuation Annexed (1745), for which Mr. Mayhew asks 5s. In the same catalogue is offered that curiosity in the history of science, P. H. Gosse's Creation (Omphalus); an Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot, published in 1857, two years before the Origin of Species. The title, Ode to the Duke of Wellington and Other Poems, Written Between the Ages of Eleven and Thirteen Years, by Robert Charles Dallas (1819), calls up visions of some tight-trousered infant prodigy; and we wish that the book were not an example of fine binding, and that Mr. Chaundy could part with it for less than 30s. Just above the infant, alphabetically and perhaps also in order of merit, we find196 the name of D'Adelsward, the author of a volume of poems (of which, in our ignorance, we had never heard) entitled Les Cortèges Qui Sont Passés. The volume, which was published in 1903, is bound in pink watered silk, and costs four guineas. We have a vision of something even more prodigious than the infant of 1819.


Mr. Chaundy has a number of first editions of Disraeli's novels for sale. The very scarce Contarini Fleming (1832) is priced at £6; The Voyage of Captain Popanilla (1828) at 35s.; Vivian Grey (1826) at 21s.; Venetia (1837) at 20s. A first edition of Borrow's Wild Wales, in three volumes (1862), is offered by Messrs. Heffer, of Cambridge, for £9 9s. It is almost worth paying that for the sake of the description, at the beginning of the book, of the negro who sat on the walls of Chester, spitting into the void. You can have George Eliot for a good deal less. Mr. James Miles, of Leeds, has a Silas Marner (first edition, 1861) for 25s. First editions of Robert Bridges are, we notice, priced a good deal higher than the later firsts of Robert Browning. Eros and Psyche costs 15s. at Messrs. Heffer's, and Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangan only 5s. The four volumes of the first edition of The Ring and the Book (1868) cost one 32s. at the same bookseller's.

Similarly Conrad firsts are more precious than Bennetts, if we may judge from the fact that Hilda Lessways (1911) costs 7s. at Mr. Chaundy's shop, while Chance and Victory (novels of Mr. Conrad's corresponding period), at Messrs. Heffer's, are priced at 12s. and 9s. respectively, and the precious Almayer's Folly of 1895 costs £3 3s.


Mr. P. J. Dobell has already done good work in the field of bibliography. The catalogue published by him last year, under the title, The Literature of the Restoration, was a useful guide for all students of the period. He has now issued a supplementary catalogue of works connected with the Popish Plot.

Most of the pamphlets which he offers for sale are unknown to us; but here and there we light on an old friend. We can remember laughing heartily over A Modest Vindication of the Earl of S[haftesbur]y, in a Letter to a Friend Concerning His Being Elected King of Poland. The ironical eulogy of Shaftesbury with which the pamphlet begins is an admirable piece of satire. The Earl is praised for "his unshaken obedience to every Government he has been concerned in or lived under; his steady adherence to every religion that had but hopes to be established." It is interesting to note that in this pamphlet, written after the production of the Spanish Friar, and before the publication of Absalom and Achitophel, Dryden is regarded as a Whig poet. For the new King of Poland appoints "Jean Drydenurtzitz to be our Poet Laureate for writing panegyrics upon Oliver Cromwell and libels against his present master, King Charles II. of England." The deputy Laureate is no less a person than "Tom Shadworiski," or Shadwell, Dryden's most bitter enemy in the later years of the Plot. Mr. Dobell's price for the pamphlet is 7s. 6d. Two pamphlets in this collection refer to the fantastic rector of All Saints', Colchester—Edmund Hickeringill, one time chaplain in the Scottish regiments of the Commonwealth, and the author of the first retort to The Medal, The Mushroom, which was written and sent to press on the day following the publication of Dryden's poem—a feat of composition which he modestly suggests was due to divine inspiration.

Great News from the Old-Bayly, Mr. Gar's Recantation; or, the True Protestant Renegade, the Courantier Turn'd Tony, sounds interesting. Henry Care had the distinction197 of being the first to reply to Absalom and Achitophel. His Towzer the Second was published three weeks after the appearance of the Tory Satire, for Care was a true blue Protestant in those days. "His breeding," says Anthony Wood, "was in the nature of a Petty Fogger, a little despicable wretch ... a poor snivelling fellow." He was a poor literary hack, and at James II.'s accession, "for bread and money sake, and nothing else," he went over to the side in power and turned his pen against the Protestants.

Three pamphlets deal with Roger L'Estrange, or "Towzer," as he was nicknamed by his enemies. But there is one enchanting ballad entitled "A New Ballad on an Old Dog (Towzer) that Writes Strange-lee," of which Mr. Dobell does not seem to have a copy. We could wish that we had space to quote it. But we have embarked on a subject which needs treating at length. The literary history of the Popish Plot remains to be written. A volume of extracts joined together by explanatory notes, biographical, political, and critical, would be a thing of absorbing interest.


We notice, by the way, in Mr. Dobell's catalogue that The London Mercury, or Moderate Intelligencer, from December 24th to 27th, 1688, may be purchased for 5s. It is to be hoped that the intelligence of its namesake of to-day will prove more than moderate.

A. L. H.




(To the Editor of The London Mercury)

Sir,—All schoolmasters and schoolmistresses will be grateful to you for your services to a great cause in allowing Mr. J. C. Stobart to talk at length on the teaching of English, but I was surprised to find myself selected as his scapegoat and "guillotined in distinguished company" (that of the old régime). My colleagues will be amused at that. Unfortunately Mr. Stobart is not a very skilful executioner. He tries to show that in my English Course I have followed the traditional methods in "thoroughly normal chapters." And yet he does allow that I am "trying to shake off a yoke which is not entirely congenial" to me. It is more than ten years since I shook off the yoke which he describes as uncongenial. "The traditional method," he says, "begins with the copybook and proceeds by way of dictation and formal exercises to its goal in the essay." I do not advocate the use of the copybook for the simple reason that copybooks insist on the Vere Foster type of handwriting, while I require from my pupils an artistic caligraphy which is opposed in every particular to the uniform ugliness of the old Board School and present Army Council standard.

Dictation I use most sparingly, though I certainly do prefer a boy to leave me with an elementary knowledge of punctuation and a slight acquaintance with the more normal forms of spelling rather than with a contempt for or slavish adoration of stops, and a phonetic system of spelling which is intelligible and phonetic to no one but himself. The reading that I advocate, both in my book and in practice, is not limited (has Mr. Stobart himself read all the books that I recommended as useful for boys?), and the text is never obscured with comment. Where did he get this false information from? To definite grammar I assigned four and a half pages out of 500, which exactly expresses my opinion of its importance. Having misrepresented me in every detail so far, Mr. Stobart proceeds to attack me on two sides at once. "If you ask the schoolmaster why he makes his English the dullest subject in the syllabus, he will probably answer that he is preparing for the London matriculation." I am both a schoolmaster and the English examiner for the "Matric." I will pay Mr. Stobart's first-class return fare from his home to Tonbridge and board him for a week if he will visit my English classes and at the end of his stay retain that word "dullest" in all sincerity. I cannot believe that it is only I who enjoy these English hours so whole-heartedly. I certainly should find them dull if I were proceeding on "traditional" lines, either in my book or in the class-room.... I am next taken to task for daring to teach observation and originality. Mr. Stobart rather rudely (I wish he would practise gentleness and love himself) calls my methods here "a generous diet of cold minced hash." It is "up" to him to prove it. The point is, do I or do I not achieve observation and originality by my methods? Come down to Tonbridge, Mr. Stobart, and I will let you judge for yourself.

When, therefore, you suggest that every boy should learn how to express himself freely and to read widely, I can only reply that every boy has been doing so with very great advantage for years. You cannot picture a Public Schoolmaster so zealous for the purity of his own tongue that he treats a misplaced "and which" or "unrelated participle" as a personal affront. You cannot have been inside a Public School class-room for "donkey's years." I can show you scores as devoted to our classics as Whitelaw was to Latin and Greek?—Yours, etc.,

S. P. B. Mais.




(To the Editor of The London Mercury)

Sir,—The author of Specimens of Macaronic Poetry, published by J. Richard Beckley in 1831, is William Sandys, F.S.A. (1791–1874). He was a barrister of Gray's Inn, and a member of the law firm of Sandys and Knott, of Gray's Inn Square. He was born and died in London, and, in addition to the book mentioned above, was the author of A Short History of Freemasonry (1829), Christmas Carols (1833), and a few other books, a full bibliography of which will be found in Bibliotheca Cornubiensis. He was an enthusiastic musical amateur from youth, and further biographical particulars will be found in the Dictionary of National Biography.—Yours, etc.,

Winifred Sparke.


(To the Editor of The London Mercury)

Sir,—Specimens of Macaronic Poetry, to which reference is made on page 74 of your last issue, is chiefly remarkable for its interesting introduction to the subject and to the fact that most of the specimens printed are, or were at the date of publication, rarely met with.

The epic which you mention first is discussed on page 17 of the introduction, where it is said to be an imitation of Folengo. I have not been able to trace the author, but it bears many evidences of having been written by Folengo himself. The ode was written by Dr. Geddes, and the author of the old Scottish Testament was Wm. Dunbar, whose name is printed at the end of the verses in my copy.

Macaronic Poetry creates but little interest in these days, though there are still students who appreciate some of its qualities.

If "A. L. H." is interested, I am sure that an article on the subject would be read with very great appreciation even if that quality be confined to very few in number.—Yours, etc.,

B. Bagnall.

43 Chancery Lane, London, W.C.2.

(To the Editor of The London Mercury)

Sir,—What does "A. L. H." mean by "no" author's name is given? The editor's of the book—or the author's of Mr. Andro Kennedy?

The latter is, of course, my compatriot, William Dunbar, but neither of my editions of him mentions this poem's having been printed in that particular book.

Also, your reviewer of Wilde, on page 91, begins, quite in error, saying that the book has no indication of how it came into existence or who chose them for republication. The wrapper, cover, and title-page, all three, say, "Being extracts from Reviews and Miscellanies" (one of those large white volumes on hand-made paper that smelt so of bad paste, published by Methuen in 1912); while behind the title-page is, "This selection has been made by Mr. E. V. Lucas." The best thing in it is, I think, the charming paragraph on Balzac, "A steady course of Balzac reduces our living friends to shadows and our acquaintances to the shadows of shades"—Yours, etc.,

C. K. S. M.

(To the Editor of The London Mercury)

Sir,—With regard to your query in No. 1, as to who was the author of Specimens of Macaronic Poetry, I think I can supply the answer. After reading your paragraph on the subject I took down the book from its shelf and found that my father, the late Dr. Henry B. Wheatley, had pencilled on the title-page the name of Sandys. I then turned200 to Lowndes and found the book under the name of William Sandys. The Dictionary of National Biography states that the author was born in 1792 and died in 1874, and that he is best remembered for his share in Sandys' and Forster's History of the Violin, 1864. The Specimens, published in 1831, was his second venture in authorship. My father evidently bought the book when he was engaged in writing his own first book Of Anagrams, containing in the introduction (I quote from the title-page) "numerous specimens of Macaronic poetry, Punning Mottoes, Rhopalic, Shaped, Equivocal, Lyon, and Echo Verses, Alliteration, Acrostics, Lipograms, Chronograms, Logograms, Palindromes, and Bouls' Rimes." To any one interested in queer forms of verse this book is full of entertainment. It was published in 1872, and is now out of print.

In the first of your Bibliographical Notes, in which you notice Mr. Percy Simpson's edition of Every Man in His Humour, you say, "A new edition of Ben Jonson's work is certainly needed: Gifford's, re-edited by Cunningham, is sadly inadequate." I have not yet had the pleasure of reading Mr. Simpson's book, but I would point out that Gifford's edition was not the only predecessor. An edition of Ben Jonson's play was edited, with an introduction and critical apparatus, by my father in 1877, for the "London Series of English Classics," edited by J. W. Hales, M.A., and J. S. Jerram, M.A., and published by Longmans, Green & Co. The excellent introduction contains, besides the facts of Jonson's life, a lucid explanation and examination of the Comedy of Humours, together with a critical comparison of the various editions. The notes are adequate, and placed at the end of the book. It was a labour of love, and, although doubtless scholarship has advanced since it was published, my filial partiality compels me to think that it still ranks as a worthy edition of this classic of our literature.—Yours, etc.,

Geo. H. Wheatley.

83 Salisbury Road, Harrow.


(To the Editor of The London Mercury)

Sir,—A Bibliographical Note in your first number makes reference to "a charming little first edition of Candide (1759)", and the writer of the paragraph, commenting on the absence of the author's name and of any particulars concerning the publisher and place of publication, states that "it was often Voltaire's custom not to acknowledge his publications till they were a success."

There lies before me as I write, however, a copy of an edition also published in 1759, but which contains the author's name and particulars as to publication. As it may interest some of your readers, as well as "A. L. H.," I venture to transcribe the title-page, which is as follows:—

Candidus: or, the Optimist By Mr. De Voltaire. Translated into English by W. Rider, M.A., Late Scholar of Jesus College, Oxford. London: Printed for J. Scott, at the Black Swan, in Pater-noster-Row, and J. Gretton, in Old Bond-Street. MDCCLIX. [Price One Shilling and Six-Pence.]—Yours, etc.,

Lewis H. Grundy.



(To the Editor of The London Mercury)

Sir,—Mrs. Meynell has the support of a great master in the niceties of the English language when she takes exception to the particle "less" being tacked on to a verb.

Writing to Bernard Barton (February 7th, 1826) in acknowledgment of his Devotional Verses, Charles Lamb says: "One word I must object to in your little book, and it recurs more than once—FADELESS is no genuine compound; loveless is, because love is a noun as well as a verb, but what is a fade?"—Yours, etc.,

(Mrs) G. A. Anderson.

The Moorlands, Woldingham, Surrey




GEORGIAN POETRY, 1918–1919 Edited by E. M. The Poetry Bookshop 6s. net.

The new collection of Georgian Poetry contains specimens of the work of nineteen poets, fourteen of whom have appeared in one or more of the previous volumes of the series, while five are represented for the first time. The fourteen are Mr. Lascelles Abercrombie, Mr. Gordon Bottomley, Mr. W. H. Davies, Mr. Walter de la Mare, Mr. John Drinkwater, Mr. John Freeman, Mr. W. W. Gibson, Mr. Robert Graves, Mr. D. H. Lawrence, Mr. Harold Monro, Mr. Robert Nichols, Mr. Siegfried Sassoon, Mr. J. C. Squire, and Mr. W. J. Turner. The five are Mr. Francis Brett Young, Mr. Thomas Moult, Mr. J. D. C. Pellow, Mr. Edward Shanks, and Mrs. Fredegond Shove. On account of their editorial connection with the London Mercury, the contributions of Mr. Squire and Mr. Shanks will not receive further mention in this notice.

"I hope," observes E. M. in his preface, "that [the present volume] may be thought to show that what for want of a better word is called Peace has not interfered with the writing of good poetry." Certainly many critics have supposed that war was the prime generator of what they admit to be a new movement in poetry. But the anthologist's hope is justified, on a priori grounds at least, by the fact that the movement began, however tentatively, before the late war. The first collection of Georgian Poetry appeared in 1912, when the title expressed an act of faith, based on an act of divination, which has since been confirmed. A comparison of the four members of the series suggests that what, for want of a better word, has received this name, is still in a state of slow development towards a certain community of spirit and attitude, which does not however connote any uniformity of style. In the third volume the nebula appeared to be taking shape, and in the fourth the process has advanced a stage. E. M. may be issuing the fourteenth before that shape can be accurately defined and described. The curve has not been drawn far enough for us to say what course it will trace; but there is already enough of it to look like a curve and not merely like a wavy line.

That remote first volume, which was of course a symptom and a rallying-point or the new tendencies, not their origin, seems now to have been somewhat chaotic and lacking in direction. It included such older poets as Mr. G. K. Chesterton, Mr. Sturge Moore, and Sir Ronald Ross; and some of those who appear to-day the most characteristic had not then shown themselves. At that time the most powerful tendency seemed to be leading towards the realism, sometimes informed with a conscious brutality, of Mr. Masefield, Mr. Gibson, and Mr. Abercrombie. In 1919 this sort is fully represented only by Mr. Abercrombie's Witchcraft: New Style, a poem principally in dialogue which is realistic in method, if its conception has a fairy-tale brutality about it. Such lines as the following are in a familiar style:

A little brisk grey slattern of a woman,
Pattering along in her loose-heel'd clogs,
Push't the brass-barr'd door of a public-house;
The spring went hard against her; hand and knee
Shoved their weak best. As the door poised ajar
Hullabaloo of talking men burst out,
A pouring babble of inflamed palaver.


In spite of their vividness and exactitude, they make us think of a good passage of prose slightly spoiled. Mr. Gibson has not continued in the vein, and is confined here to a few momentary impressions, mostly in the sonnet form.

But if we dismiss this tendency from those we imply when we speak of "Georgian," poetry, if we admit too that Mr. W. H. Davies is often not characteristic but a poet who might have appeared at almost any time (as, in another way, is Mr. John Drinkwater), what are we to take for our definition? If we are ever to devise one, we must somehow reconcile and bring under one heading a bundle of qualities, which seem to have but little in common when they are separately described. Yet that there is some common term, some central motive, is suggested by the fact that the pieces in this book which may be thought to be on a lower level than the rest, those by Mr. Moult and Mrs. Shove, are yet not wholly out of place. These writers have been touched in some degree by the spirit of the time, which manifests itself with more power and originality in poets so diverse as Mr. de la Mare, Mr. Sassoon, and Mr. Turner. But it is likely that for some time we shall have to content ourselves with such vague recognitions of spirit, without attempting to be more precise in definition.

We must at all events include Mr. Monro's curious and good poem, Man Carrying Bale, which by its title gives a faint suggestion of some sorts of modern painting, and is actuated by the same desire, to flash suddenly a light on a familiar thing from an unfamiliar angle:

The tough hand closes gently on the load,
Out of the mind, a voice
Calls "Lift!" and the arms, remembering well their work,
Lengthen and pause for help.
Then a slow ripple flows from head to foot
While all the muscles call to one another:
"Lift!" and the bulging bale
Floats like a butterfly in June.

With this may be associated Mr. Davies' remarkable piece, A Child's Pet:

When I sailed out of Baltimore
With twice a thousand head of sheep,
They would not eat, they would not drink,
But bleated o'er the deep.
Inside the pens we crawled each day,
To sort the living from the dead;
And when we reached the Mersey's mouth,
Had lost five hundred head.
Yet every night and day one sheep,
That had no fear of man or sea,
Stuck through the bars its pleading face,
And it was stroked by me.
And to the sheep-man standing near,
"You see," I said, "this one tame sheep:
It seems a child has lost her pet,
And cried herself to sleep."
So every time we passed it by,
Sailing to England's slaughter-house,
Eight ragged sheep-men—tramps and thieves—
Would stroke that sheep's black nose.


Yet of how different a quality is the whole admirable selection of eight poems from Mr. de la Mare, to illustrate which we quote the exquisite Fare Well:

When I lie where shades of darkness
Shall no more assail mine eyes,
Nor the rain make lamentation
When the wind sighs;
How will fare the world whose wonder
Was the very proof of me?
Memory fades, must the remembered
Perishing be?
Oh, when this my dust surrenders,
Hand, foot, lip, to dust again,
May those loved and loving faces
Please other men.
May the rusting harvest hedgerow
Still the Traveller's Joy entwine.
And as happy children gather
Posies once mine.
Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour. Let no night
Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
Till to delight.
Thou have paid thy utmost blessing;
Since that all things thou wouldst praise
Beauty took from those who loved them
In other days.

We come again upon another manner in the poems of Mr. Robert Nichols. Here an inadequate passage from a long and very lovely piece called The Sprig of Lime will serve to suggest his qualities:

Sweet lime that often at the height of noon
Diffusing dizzy fragrance from your boughs
Tasselled with blossoms more innumerable
Than the black bees, the uproar of whose toil
Filled your green vaults, winning such metheglyr.
As clouds their sappy cells, distil, as once
Ye used, your sunniest emanations
Towards the window where a woman kneels—
She who within that room in childish hours
Lay through the lasting murmur of blanch'd noon
Behind the sultry blind, now full, now flat,
Drinking anew of every odorous breath,
Supremely happy in her ignorance
Of Time that hastens hourly and of death
Who need not haste.

These poems are not realism, but passages of reality imaginatively seized and transfigured by passion; and the same description may be applied to a number of pieces in this book as different from these as these are from one another. If we attempt to map out the whole achievement and promise which the book represents, we must refer to the204 originality and beauty of rhythm displayed by Mr. John Freeman in such a poem as The Alde, which begins:

How near I walked to Love,
How long, I cannot tell;
I was like the Alde that flows
Quietly through green level lands,
So quietly, it knows
Their shape, their greenness, and their shadows well;
And then undreamingly for miles it goes
And silently, beside the sea.

We must refer also to Mr. W. J. Turner's noble and largely conceived, if a little chaotic, poem Death; and to Mr. Sassoon's extraordinarily economical and finished pictures of impressions at the front and in England. There is moreover Mr. Brett Young's graceful and delicate talent.

If we say that in all these it is possible to perceive reality imaginatively seized and transfigured by passion, even if we add a general curiosity to penetrate behind the appearances of things to their substance, we say no more than we ought to say of any poetry which we are disposed to praise. Perhaps if we could say much more we should distinguish the literature with which we are dealing as one which has forsaken the proper traditions of the art for qualities of a merely temporary interest. It is not necessarily the business of new poets to discover new objects for poetry; it is their business to bring to bear on the old objects their own new personalities and whatever has accrued both to the language and to general human experience. We are of opinion that the "Georgian" poets are doing this; and though to give them that title still requires something of an act of faith, it is one much easier to make than it was seven years ago.

The survival of the word as the name of a period is, of course, not yet assured. Many of these writers are still extremely young. Some of them will develop in ways which cannot yet be foreseen. Mr. Nichols and Mr. Turner, both of them capable of grandiose conceptions and engaged in making a style to sustain them, will very likely attempt the drama, where an empty throne is waiting. Mr. de la Mare, who is probably the oldest of the distinctively Georgian writers, grows every year deeper and solider, and it is impossible to say what will become of him. Mr. Robert Graves is producing a body of work almost every line of which is as sweet and sound as a nut, and is an influence against the obscurity from which a good many of his contemporaries suffer. The author of A Ballad of Nursery Rhyme, which begins:

Strawberries that in gardens grow
Are plump and juicy fine
But sweeter far as wise men know
Spring from the woodland vine.
No need for bowl or silver spoon,
Sugar or spice or cream,
Has the wild berry plucked in June,
Beside the trickling stream,

may perhaps have done a service by writing these lines at the same time as Mr. Turner was writing such a fine but involved stanza as this from Death:

That sound rings down the years—I hear it yet—
All earthly life's a winding funeral—
And though I never wept,
But into the dark coach stept,
Dreaming by night to answer the blood's sweet call,
She who stood there, high-breasted, with small, wise lips,
And gave me wine to drink and bread to eat,
Has not more steadfast feet,
But fades from my arms as fade from mariners' eyes
The sea's most beauteous ships.


And others no doubt will appear who are now no more thought of than were Mr. Nichols or Mr. Graves or Mr. Turner in 1912.

At least this movement—we do not use the word in the sense of "organised movement" or "school"—has had the luck of early recognition and careful fostering. There are faults to be found with this as with the three earlier volumes of the series, but, in a world which has produced no faultless anthology, we ought not to expect the first to be a collection of contemporary verse. No one will be able to look through the book without objections rising to his lips. Every reader will want this or that poet omitted, this or that included. There are few readers of anthologies who do not find, on mature consideration, that they could have done the work better themselves, and this would be just if, in fact, anthologists worked only for themselves. But to E. M. we must assign the credit of having carried through an exceedingly difficult task with as few mistakes as could be thought possible. He has the extra distinction of having foreseen seven years ago the beginning of a "liveliness" which has justified him by enduring until at this moment it shows no signs of recession. He would be no doubt the last person to claim the invention, or even the discovery, of the "Georgian" movement. But he might reasonably claim, and, if he does not, the honour must be thrust upon him, to have provided it with a means of growing naturally and without undue extravagance.

NEW POEMS. By Iolo Aneurin Williams. Methuen. 3s. 6d. net.

Mr. Williams' first book of poems, published four years ago, was a quite little book, noticeable for some polished little songs with a Caroline or Queen Anne air. His tastes have remained the same; his capacity for writing has developed; he paints miniatures, and his ingenuity expends itself on the elaboration and variation of the frames. The frontier between success and non-success is narrow in this kind of work; a slight flaw ruins all, and Mr. Williams does not always escape collapse. But Alice and Song are of a neatness and completeness which would do credit to the best of the Queen Anne practitioners. The Country Songs is a fragment of what may become a really excellent celebration of our folk-songs, and Rocks and Astronomy, though still with something of the song in them, let delicate plummets into deeper waters. The image of the rock, doomed to decay, yet

The lizard's immortal friend,
And deathless to the flower,

is happy Astronomy we quote in full:

Jupiter may be that or this
Of stars that shine in heaven,
Neptune a mere hypothesis,
And Saturn one of seven.
They will not make the dark less bright,
For names I do not know;
Nameless the stars across the night
In nameless beauty go.
Over my head their vault is bent—
206 A mirror and a screen—
An ever fresh prefigurement
Of glory past the seen.

It is an unambitious and uneven but very pleasant little book.


This volume contains fifty-two poems selected from Mr. Sassoon's previous volumes, and twelve new ones. The former are far too well known to need description at this date; but we think that even in these, and still more in the new poems, there is ground for the conjecture that those who think of Mr. Sassoon primarily as a savage realist and satirist are likely in the future to be surprised. It was a genuine and profound sensibility, tenderness, and a cheated passion for beauty that produced his war poetry; not an innate predilection for violence, vituperation, or caricature. Now the storm has gone over he seems to be becoming more and more a poet of nature. The transition is perhaps symbolised in the most beautiful of the new poems here printed. It is called Everyone Sang, and concludes the book, so full of blood and corpses, rats, evil smells, and all the turmoil and débris of war:

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark green fields; on; on; and out of sight.
Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted,
And beauty came like the setting sun.
My heart was shaken with tears and horror
Drifted away.... O but every one
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

The book contains much that, however sincere, can only be described as journalism in excelsis, but it is all inextricably mixed with genuine poetry, and the collection as a whole, we suspect, will have a permanent interest and value. Better than from a hundred histories posterity will get from these poems a picture of how men felt and looked in that world of

Sad, smoking, flat horizons, reeking woods,
And foundered trench-lines volleying doom for doom.

Their merits are never more clearly displayed than when they are compared to the poems of the imitators who have sprung up like mushrooms since Mr. Sassoon began publishing. These have taken his brutal words, his more obvious attitudes, and the senile and complacent objects of his satire; but in the copies the life is lacking.

ARGONAUT AND JUGGERNAUT. By Osbert Sitwell. Chatto & Windus 5s. net.

At first sight this book looks like a revolutionary manifesto. Its title is vehement and original, and its paper "jacket" is decorated with the photograph of a negro head surmounted with a towering and tapering wickerwork structure. It has no bearing on207 the contents, and we can only assume that the author put it there because he liked it or to arrest attention. Attention having been arrested, expectation is disappointed. It is true that Mr. Sitwell often writes in vers libres, and that he opens with a challenge and hearty proclamation in the key of

Let us prune the tree of language
Of its dead fruit.
Let us melt up the clichés
Into molten metal;
Fashion weapons that will scald and flay
Let us curb this eternal humour
And become witty.
Let us dig up the dragon's teeth
From this fertile soil;
Before they fructify.

And that, at a later stage, he observes that

The world itself
To make us dance
In cosmic frenzy.

But his frenzies have a very calculated air; he has not got rid of those clichés, and that wit does not emerge. He cannot really play the revolutionary with gusto, so, as Queen Victoria said, "We are not amused": and when he lapses into more ordinary forms and more connected statements he is revealed as an ordinary immature writer of verses. He has some gift of observation which he will waste unless he treats it more conscientiously, but observation will not make a poet.

CARMINA RAPTA. By Griffyth Fairfax. Elkin Mathews. 3s. 6d. and 2s. 6d. net.

Mr. Fairfax's volume consists of "Verse translations from the French, Spanish, Italian, German, Greek, Latin, with a few Arabic, Japanese, and Armenian renderings from French prose versions." Mezzofanti and the monk Calepino, in another sphere, must be alarmed for their linguistic laurels. Some of Mr. Fairfax's translations are neat; but we hope those from the Armenian—our Armenian wants rubbing up—are nearer the spirit of the originals than are some of those from European languages. He is at his neatest in some brief poems from the Spanish. His versions of Hérédia and Baudelaire are especially lifeless; and he inflicts an additional injury upon the latter by attributing the famous Don Juan in Hell to Hérédia.

THE CLOWN OF PARADISE. By Dormer Creston. Heath Cranton. 3s. net.

We notice this volume merely in order to record a neologism which we commend to the notice of the editors of the Oxford Dictionary. It is found in this passage:

My tearful soul did slip into those silver pools,
And, bathing in that stillness,
Was oned with God.

In the Court of Sir Henry Duke, we may continue, people are twoed.



COUSIN PHILIP. By Mrs. Humphry Ward. Collins. 6s. net.

SAINT'S PROGRESS. By John Galsworthy. Heinemann. 7s. 6d. net.

IF ALL THESE YOUNG MEN. By Romer Wilson. Methuen. 7s. net.

MADELEINE. By Hope Mirrlees. Collins. 6s. net.

LEGEND. By Clemence Dane. Heinemann. 6s. net.

THE MASK. By John Cournos. Methuen. 6s. net.

It seems probable that a long time must elapse before the novel escapes altogether from the spell of the war; and the reasons why this should be so are fairly obvious. It is not only that the novelists, like all of us, have received in their minds an indelible impress of that great event. We must recognise that the last five years have made a gulf between us and preceding time only comparable to a long interval of history. The manners and habits of 1913 are not connected in an imperceptibly changing fabric with our own. They are already a matter of archæological interest, and definitely to place the action of a novel in that year requires a course of archæological research—say among old numbers of Punch. In 1919 the war is still so vivid a thread in the web of our minds that we are constantly influenced by it, constantly referring to it, in our actions, our conversations, and our thoughts. When we meet a character, whether in a novel or a drawing-room, it is still our instinct to enquire where he has been, what he has been doing since August, 1914, and the present moment. This is natural indeed; but its tendency in the novel is to produce ephemeral work. The tidal wave may have subsided, but it has left the mental waters exceedingly muddy.

Mrs. Humphry Ward's novel, Cousin Philip, is an excellent example of the work which this state of affairs elicits from even the most serious authors. It is a study, careful and detailed, of the sort of young woman who has emerged from the war. Helena Pitstone, aged nineteen, arrives at the house of her guardian, Lord Buntingford. She looks like Romney's Lady Hamilton; but "the beautiful head was set off by a khaki close cap, carrying a badge, and the khaki uniform, tunic, short skirt, and leggings, might have been specially designed to show the health and symmetry of the girl's young form"—all this though she has been demobilised. She naturally begins her stay with Lord Buntingford by quarrelling with him over one of her men friends, whom he refuses to allow her to invite to his house. This gentleman had run away with the wife of a friend, not for any base motive—"He didn't mean anything horrid," says Helena—but "for a lark," and to show her husband that she was not to be bullied. In the end Helena marries a politician, who says to her, "Are you mine—are you mine at last?—you wild thing!"—a remark which has been made by other lovers in other novels. In between these two points lies Mrs. Humphry Ward's study of the girl of the period, in order to make which, it may be supposed, she wrote this novel. An idea of its quality and usefulness may be gained from the following specimen of Helena's conversation:

"The chauffeur here is a fractious idiot. He has done that Rolls-Royce car of Cousin Philip's balmy, and cut up quite rough when I spoke to him about it."

"Done it what?" said Mrs. Friend faintly.

"Balmy. Don't you know that expression?" Helena, on the floor, with her hands under her knees, watched her companion's looks with a grin. "It's our language now, you know—English—the language of us young people. The old ones have got to learn it as we speak it."


Mrs. Ward would no doubt be shocked by a writer who delivered his, or her, views on the French people with an obvious ignorance of the French language. She would despise the affectation of an author who used Latin tags incorrectly. But it is only fair to say that her views on the younger generation are rendered slightly ridiculous by her obvious ignorance of its idioms. She would perhaps have been better employed in a detailed picture of the manners of 1913, a period to which she doubtless looks back as to a lost paradise of decorous behaviour.

Mr. Galsworthy's Saint's Progress suffers less from insufficient documentation. His heroine Noel, with her short hair, is the daughter of a clergyman, and follows the course gloomily foretold for so many young girls during the war-period to the predestined end of bearing a war-baby. She and her sister Gratian are forced by the pressure of events to think and act for themselves. Gratian, safely married to a doctor, delivers herself as follows:

"Dad," said Gratian suddenly, "we can only find out for ourselves, even if we do singe our wings in doing it. We've been reading James's Pragmatism. George says the only chapter that's important is missing—the one on ethics, to show that what we do is not wrong till it's proved wrong by the result. I suppose he was afraid to deliver that lecture."

But, while Mr. Galsworthy is much superior to Mrs. Ward in the accuracy of his information, he can hardly be said to be superior to her in the justice and clearness of his presentation. The traits of his persons are correctly observed and generalised, but they are not shown through the medium of living individuals. We feel of Noel that many girls of such a disposition found themselves in such circumstances and behaved thus; and so far, regarded as a sociological study, the book is deserving of praise. But what we never feel is that the individual girl, Noel, ever existed; and by the deficiency it is condemned as a novel. This book will be a serious disappointment to those who imagined from Five Tales that Mr. Galsworthy had recovered the original freshness of his talent and was about to begin a new and a sincerer period.

But perhaps the desire to depict, and to comment on, phenomena so fresh and living in the mind as these, which has been fatal to experienced craftsmen of the order of Mrs. Ward and Mr. Galsworthy, is one which will ruin any novel in which it is attempted. Miss Romer Wilson has not the experience of either; but as her first book, Martin Schuler, demonstrated, she has really extraordinary natural gifts. These gifts are still obvious in her second book, which is nevertheless disappointing and all but a complete failure. It describes a circle of non-combatants during the last year of the war, young people, of whom Mrs. Ward has hardly heard, who sway between cynical disgust with the world around them and cynical disgust with their own natures. No man, it has been wisely said, is uninteresting, and these persons, regarded from a sane and tolerantly humorous point of view, might have been the theme for a good book. But since the thoughts, or actions, the manners through which they manifest themselves not being genuine or spontaneous, are important neither for good nor evil, the method of treating them seriously results in making them appear thin and tedious. Affectations, except in the rare event of their producing serious consequences, are a topic only for satire; and here the loves of Josephine and Sebastian, of James Blanchard and Susan and Amaryllis, are expressed purely by affectations, which overlie and conceal whatever genuine feelings these persons may have possessed. This type has had in recent years a curious attraction for young novelists, who have as a result produced many books which are not worthy of attention. But the author of Martin Schuler must sin deeply before we can refuse to read any book of hers, however unwillingly we may persevere in it. And even here her special qualities are altogether beyond mistake. She can still, even in this dreary and pointless tale of people we should prefer not to meet, astonish us with vivid and enchanting210 fragments of pictorial beauty. A couple of these passages, which are all that redeems the book from dullness, may be given as specimens:

... At the turn of the night it began to rain, and at daybreak the whole country was grey with driving rain, which spluttered against the bedroom window and beat upon the thatch. The noisy sparrows under the eaves shook themselves angrily and fluttered up and down in the garden after worms. The tom cat, who had been out all night, gathered himself up on the doorstep and brooded there with one eye on the sparrows, waiting for the door to be opened. The draught under the door made his paws cold, so he blew himself out and crouched down with his paws folded up underneath him. He was angry and tired, and his fur was covered with minute drops of water that in places had penetrated to his skin, but he sat there patiently dosing and dreaming for two hours until half-past eight, when the bolts were drawn. At the sound of the bolts being shot back he at once stood up and mewed, and the door was hardly opened before he ran into the kitchen, where a stick fire roared in the grate and a frying-pan gave out an odour of frying fat.

... The people came out of the house door, mysterious in the fading light like a procession of Boccaccio's women and a clerk of the Decameron seen through the romantic distance of seven hundred years. They lit the candles in the dark garden-room and sat down as if waiting for somebody to begin a story. Overhead the blue sky gleamed through the gathering darkness, and in the west a rosy glow spread up behind the delicate aspens and maples and acacias of the little plantation above the yew garden. Up in the mazy blue sky the transparent half moon and a few bright planets gleamed beneath the outermost heavens, where faint white constellations began to appear as the darkness quickly gathered upon the earth.

We do not quote these descriptive passages as proving Miss Wilson's aptitude for the novelist's multifarious task. They represent only one of the many gifts of which she must dispose; and they are themselves in several details open to criticism. They do moreover represent almost everything in this book which can be distinguished for commendation. They suggest, however, that Miss Wilson possesses one of the most important gifts of the novelists, namely, a sense of the scene; and it remains for time to show whether she can imagine persons and a situation worthy of her background.

It is a relief to recede from the tangled epoch, which has spoilt and hindered all these writers, into the seventeenth century in France. Miss Mirrlees has written, not a wholly satisfactory or very agreeable, but a very strange book, one far removed from the historical romance of commerce. She has combined what appears to be a close knowledge of her period, of the time of the Jansenists, the Précieuses, and Mademoiselle de Scudéry, with a desire to study a curious case of mental pathology. Madeleine, her heroine, is a provincial girl who removes to Paris with her family and is consumed by an intense longing to enter that fantastic circle of elegance and galanterie which revolved round Mademoiselle de Scudéry and was depicted by her in Le Grand Cyrus. But her awkward shyness forbade that this longing should ever be satisfied; and when she sought to pacify it by the familiar device of the "endless story," she exacerbated it into madness. This is a brief and inadequate account of a most unusual composition, but it will serve to show how Miss Mirrlees has loaded the historical novel with a heavier freight than that ornamental craft is accustomed to carry. But she has not developed either the psychology or the descriptive detail at the expense of the other. She dissects Madeleine's mind with almost morbid closeness and makes of it a terrifying spectacle, but at the same time she has contrived to make her setting in time and place convincing. Her picture of mind and manners may or may not be strictly accurate; but it is certainly not conventional, it is original, it bites. There are certain crudities apparent both in the style and in the construction of the book, as well as in the choice and development of subject; but it will be very interesting to see the next production of a mind so unusual.

211 Miss Clemence Dane's Legend touches Miss Mirrlees' work fleetingly at one point. It too describes a literary "circle," dominated by women, of the sort which draws weaker characters into it and causes them to deteriorate. But it interests not so much as a study of this particular phenomenon as in that it is an extraordinary attempt, the only one among these books, to carry on the history of the novel, to give that form a new task, to enlarge its range and its adaptabilities. It consists of one long conversation; and the principal character, Madala Grey, makes no appearance, unless the regrettable introduction of her ghost towards the end be counted as such. Madala is a woman-novelist who has contracted what seems to her friends an inexplicable marriage with a dull country doctor. She is in child-bed; and her circle meets to await news, hears of her death, and discusses her. Their views, all mistaken, are reported by the one person present who had never seen her and who deduces the true and simple explanation—that she was actually in love with her husband. This is, it may be objected, merely jumping through a series of hoops; and in a sense the objection has its justification. For, when the story should reach its climax, when Madala herself begins to emerge from the mists of misjudgment and misinterpretation, she is revealed as being only a lay figure. This does not mean that Miss Dane's singular device in the end misses its aim. On the contrary she accomplishes what she set out to do with perfect precision. Nevertheless, the fact remains that she has locked in a very complicated cabinet, and thence extracted again by very subtle means, not a living woman but a doll. Hence her book is not the masterpiece it might have been. But we are almost brought to overlook this fact by the amazing skill with which she manages her invention; and her jumping through hoops, whether it be regarded as an unrelated exhibition of agility or as an experiment in a new method of progress, deserves all attention even though it leads only to disappointment at the end. Miss Dane's first novel, Regiment of Women, was much praised not long ago; her second, First the Blade, did not receive so much notice. This reveals in her originality, daring and ingenuity which could hardly have been predicted from her earlier work; and there is no doubt that it will be widely discussed, since it is in fact rare for any really remarkable display of these qualities to miss its reward. But Miss Dane has yet some distance to advance if she is to do more than win fame as a conjuror or open up paths for other novelists. For an artist capable of so distinguished a conception her style is strangely flat and undistinguished; and the introduction of some very bad and banal passages from the works of Madala Grey is a curious lapse of tact.

Mr. John Cournos's The Mask, which is perhaps the most satisfactory of all these books, though it is not so dazzling and exciting as Legend, is one which has very little to say to the development of the novel. We generally reckon it impertinent to see in any book not avowed as such the autobiography of the author; but in this story of a Jewish boy in Russia and America, without knowing anything of Mr. Cournos, we are forced to make the inference. Its tone and flavour are those of autobiography; and its softened reminiscences of things not always pleasant give it its peculiar charm. It reveals, at all events, more than most novels, a temperament; and this temperament, whatever turn the story may take, is always agreeable and gracious. Vanya Gombarov, the little boy, was brought up in Russia by a stepfather, who wasted all his money in mechanical researches and was obliged to emigrate with his family to America. Here Vanya added to the family income by selling papers, and in other ways, and saw many horrible things. The family experienced many misfortunes; and at the end Mr. Cournos abruptly leaves it moving from one house to another. We have here no pyrotechnics of construction; nor does such a book offer any opportunities for them to the author. But he is able to show himself an artist in the softening veil which his narrative throws over his incidents without in any way distorting them.



SEVEN MEN. By Max Beerbohm. Heinemann. 7s. net.

It is a common ground of complaint against Mr. Max Beerbohm that he publishes too little. But the very fastidiousness which makes him, compared with the word-fountains of our time, so notable an example of limitation of output is what makes the work he does print so surpassingly good. Economy is a word freely used and much abused. It is sometimes applied to writers whose only claim to it is that they use short sentences or that they omit everything except inessentials. But Mr. Beerbohm deserves more than any artist of our time the epithet "economical." Always, and increasingly so with the passage of time, he has taken pains to print no sentence and no word that does not help his effect; and the five stories in this book, even were their other merits less than they are, might serve as models of simple and exact expression, the cunning accumulation of telling detail, the complete avoidance of detail which does not tell.

Of the five stories one, James Pethel, is a study of the gambling temperament localised in an attractive but terrifying man, and one, A. V. Laider, is an astonishingly clever fantasia on the theme of lying. The other, and more ambitious, three are studies, we might almost call them historical studies, of literature, literary men, and "the literary life." They all relate to that remote period, now faded and therefore a little charming, "the nineties"; they give us types of writers, second or third or tenth rate, whose reputations die, but who are interesting enough to be celebrated as types, if not as individuals. Savonarola Brown—the obscure man who spent his life on an unfinished tragedy on the best blank-verse models—is the most slightly sketched of them; but here what the portrait lacks—perhaps that shadowy figure offered no more lines for the pencil to seize—is more than made up for by the best parody that even Mr. Beerbohm has written. Remove the burlesque, the comic stage directions, the juxtapositions of Lucrezia Borgia, St. Francis, Andrea del Sarto and Pippa (who "passes" in her own inimitable way), and the more extravagant convolutions of the plot, and you will see that Mr. Beerbohm could quite easily have manufactured a play better than most modern poetic dramas, and written in verse at once so fluent and so reminiscent of the best masters as to command the respect of the reviewers, and possibly a production (for a few nights) by some manager ambitious to show that he desired to reunite Literature and the Stage. At times we forget that we are reading a burlesque:

Pope. Of this anon.
[Stands over body of Gaoler.]
Our present business
Is general woe. No nobler corse hath ever
Impressed the ground. O let the trumpets speak it!
[Flourish of trumpets.]
This was the noblest of the Florentines.
His character was flawless, and the world
Held not his parallel. O bear him hence
With all such honours as our State can offer.
He shall interred be with noise of cannon,
As doth befit so militant a nature.
Prepare these obsequies.
[Papal Officers lift body of Gaoler.]

Did Mr. Beerbohm write this? Or was it Brown, fresh from The Duchess of Malfi or The Broken Heart?

213 The two stories that remain are more elaborate. In Enoch Soames we are given the picture of the kind of sepulchral, costive, dedicated, fame-gluttonous minor poet who has haunted the by-ways of literature in all ages; we are given, as well, a realistic picture of what those by-ways were twenty years ago, and a plot (which races between the future and the past) the intricacies of which are followed with equal ingenuity and imperturbability. But there can be little dispute that Maltby and Braxton is the great achievement of the volume. These two were rivals who had a brief vogue in the nineties; the very scent of the time comes back with the titles of their masterpieces, Ariel in Mayfair and A Faun in the Cotswolds. Maltby in a weak moment cheated Braxton out of a week-end at the Duchess of Hertfordshire's, and when the hapless Maltby got to Keeb Hall Braxton's ghost haunted him, driving him into perpetual solecisms and misadventures. There is the background: the gossiping coteries of London, the fleeting fashions of literature, the first vogue of the bicycle, the dabbling great dames, the house-parties, soirées, dinners, church-goings. And in front of it the most comic of tragedies, the most tragic of comedies is played. The story is written with such skill that the cruelty is never quite cruel, the laughter never quite flippant, the extravagances always anchored to reality: at the end, in spite not only of the caricature but of the "tallest" fiction about a ghost that we remember, we feel that we have been reading a plain statement of fact. And this is what, at bottom, the story is: it is more realistic than any naturalist novel: it is the work of one who, for all his fantastic invention and wit, has a prodigiously keen pair of eyes and a profound understanding of human nature. We hope, by the way, that Mr. Beerbohm's passage about literary fauns will finally expel these overworked creatures from our midst.

DONNE'S SERMONS: SELECTED PASSAGES WITH AN ESSAY. By Logan Pearsall Smith. Milford. 6s. net.

Donne's reputation as a poet, very high for some time after his death, sank almost to nothingness for two centuries. In the last thirty years he has, by virtue partly of his occasional splendours of passion, imagery, and even music, partly of a modernity in him which is attuned to the spirit of our own time, regained his old position. Much has been written of him; Mr. Gosse has written his Life in two volumes, Professor Grierson has edited him in one of the most exhaustive and scholarly of the Oxford editions of poets; he has exercised a traceable influence on men now writing. But the revival has been confined to his poems. His prose, contained in three huge folios and several small pamphlets, has remained unread; and it is significant that until a few years ago he who wished to possess (for none thought of perusing) the Dean's sermons was likelier to find them at a theological bookseller's than in one of those shops which cater for the collector of fine literature. The neglect was doubly explicable. Not only were Donne's Sermons sermons, and therefore liable to fall into the disregard into which the sermons of South and Tillotson, and even those of Jeremy Taylor, have fallen, but they were sermons so voluminous as to be terrifying to the most insatiable reader, and (for the most part) so involved, so stuffed with scholasticism, theological hair-splitting, debate about texts and about commentaries on texts, that a first attempt at perusal might have made the bravest quail. But the few who have dared the darkness of the great mine have never been disappointed; all over it, sparkling magnificently to the explorer's touch, are great jewels of imagination cut with the craft of a master of language.

Mr. Pearsall Smith, performing for his readers the labour they would have shirked, has gone through the whole of Donne's Sermons and extracted a hundred-and-fifty passages, short and long, illustrating his character and his genius. Not quite the whole of the ground is covered; the editor has chosen nothing of which the principal claim to distinction was that it conveyed, with great justice or great force, a doctrine of the214 Church or an edifying lesson. He has made his anthology as a poet and a student of character would make it; and the result is a volume of passages which exhibit that strange vehement man of genius more clearly than could any biography, and which substantiates his claim to be considered as being, at his best, a writer of English prose that has never been surpassed for music and richness. His greatest passages—and this holds good of all English prose—are those in which he is contemplating large elemental things. A roll like the roll of the prophetic books comes into his voice when he speaks of the majesty of God, the powers of Death and of Evil, the passage of time, the justice that waits for sin, and the decay that will overtake beauty; when he stands in the attitudes and assumes the voice of adoration, of accusation, or of grief. But even in his dialectics the restless intellectual in him was continually striking out sparks of wit; the insatiable observer in him was noting small things, sticks, straws, and insects, puddles and ponds; the insuppressible poet pouring out images copious enough to furnish out a hundred minor men. This is a long-needed book, done with competence and exquisite taste. His greatest, loveliest things are as good as Sir Thomas Browne's; his grandest are grander than Jeremy Taylor's. There is probably no sentence in our language so long as that in which he depicted Eternal Damnation, yet it swells and swells, never breaking its back, always borne up by the mighty mind of his spirit. Hell is deprivation of God. "That God," begins this great passage,

that God should let my soule fall out of his hand, into a bottomlesse pit, and roll an unremoveable stone upon it, and leave it to that which it finds there (and it shall finde that there, which it never imagined, till it came thither) and never think more of that soule, never have more to doe with it. That of that providence of God, that studies the life of every weed, and worme, and ant, and spider, and toad, and viper, there should never, never any beame flow out upon me; that that God, who looked upon me, when I was nothing, and called me when I was not, as though I had been, out of the womb and depth of darknesse, will not looke upon me now, when, though a miserable, and a banished, and a damned creature, yet I am his creature still, and contribute something to his story, even in my damnation....

so it proceeds in tremendous crescendo describing, or failing to describe, what it must mean "to fall out of the hands of the living God ... a horror beyond our expression, beyond our imagination"; and this is but the sublimest of many sublime utterances in these sermons of the greatest of the Church's poets. We commend Mr. Pearsall Smith's book, and shall return to it and its subject at length in an early number.

SOUTH SEA FOAM. By A. Safroni-Middleton. Methuen. 6s. net.

The sub-title of this book, "The Romantic Adventures of a Modern Don Quixote in the Southern Seas," gives the clue to a quality in Mr. Safroni-Middleton that might repel a fastidious reader. He is a little too effusive, a little too self-conscious in his adventurousness. But the reader who is repelled early will miss something; for with all its defects South Sea Foam is a full and exciting and often beautiful book. Mr. Middleton has not the technique of the artist; he does not write well. But he has the artist's sensibility, and his writing is at its most vivid when the greatest demands are made upon it. "My greatest literary effort in the following pages," he says, "has been to keep to the truth of the whole matter, even though such frankness should leave me, at the end of this volume, with a blackened name." He need not be anxious about his name; but if this book is all true he has had adventures as wild and strange as any man alive. His book is a medley of Polynesian legends, and the most extraordinary events on the ocean and among the islands; storms, moonlight dances, abductions of "dusky maidens" from chiefs'215 palaces, orgies in saloons, chases and shots, canoes, sharks, and love-songs: a great flood of brightly-coloured reminiscence tumbled out in language which is never quite "right" but always picturesque. At any page one is liable to come across some passage that thrills or deeply touches; and occasionally there is an episode narrated so well that criticism is silent. Such an episode is that of the old dog Moses, which falls overboard on a murky night. He barks amid the waves to guide the boat; but there comes a scream that means a shark and no more is heard. Next night the old bearded sailor-men sit on their chests in the fo'c'sle puffing out smoke, drinking rum in silence, brooding over the dog: and no scene could be more vividly painted. The last adventure (in a castaway boat with a brown girl), which we should call incredible were it not for Mr. Middleton's assurance, is the loveliest and most terrible of all. We think that anyone who reads this book once will make a habit of reading it.

RUPERT BROOKE AND THE INTELLECTUAL IMAGINATION: A LECTURE. By Walter de la Mare. Sidgwick & Jackson. 2s. 6d. net.

The lecture here printed was delivered before Rugby School on the occasion of the unveiling of a memorial there to Rupert Brooke. Mr. de la Mare, as he recalls, was chosen to go to America as Mrs. Brooke's representative to receive the first presentation of the Howland Memorial Prize, the posthumous award of which to Brooke was an act of international courtesy and generosity, too little noticed in this country at the time. It was fitting that Mr. de la Mare should be again associated with the dead poet; and in this short paper he outlines his character and his achievement with as much affection as discernment. Brooke, he is insistent to make plain, was a happy man, a vigorous, healthy creature, who found the world teeming with food for his multifarious appetites. It is with this fact in mind that all his poems, not omitting those which are "disquieting to read at meals," must be judged. He desired truth at all costs; and "if, unlike Methuselah, he did not live long enough to see life whole, he at least confronted it with a remarkably steady and disconcerting stare." "The theme of his poetry," says Mr. de la Mare, "is the life of the mind, the senses, the feelings, life here and now, however impatient he may be with life's limitations. Its longing is for a state of consciousness wherein this kind of life shall be possible without exhaustion, disillusionment, or reaction." This essay is short, but it is full both of wise judgments and beautiful sayings. It conveys a sense not only of the value of Brooke's poetry but also of the charm of his personality. More, much more, will be written about him; and we shall have his character carefully examined and defined, both by those who knew him and those who did not. But this brief study, at once an exposition and a ceremonial and moving eulogy, will retain its place in the literature collecting around his name.

SOME SOLDIER POETS. By T. Sturge Moore. Grant Richards. 7s. 6d. net.

This volume contains short essays on the poems of Julian Grenfell, Rupert Brooke, Robert Nichols, Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, R. E. Vernède, Charles Sorley, Francis Ledwidge, Edward Thomas, F. W. Harvey, Richard Aldington, and Alan Seeger: with a paper on "The Best Poetry" at the end. A casual student of the list of contents might make several hasty criticisms. He might suppose that he was going to find here a series of short lives, manufactured because of an accidental connection between them. He might be fortified in this suspicion by the fact that one or two poets are in the list who have no claim to rank with the others. But he need only begin to read the book to remember that Mr. Sturge Moore is a poet, a sound critic, and a writer incapable of hackwork. There is one obvious defect; he has omitted a few poets (Edward Wyndham Tennant is an example) who had better claim to admission than some in his216 list. But there is little else that can be urged against him. Mr. Sturge Moore wastes no space over biography. He takes, seriatim, the books of these young poets and confronts them in a generous but not an undiscriminating mood, asking himself what is their spirit, what their technical qualities and defects and which are their best poems. These essays are not (even when their subjects are unworthy of effort) facile journalism; they are considered criticism written in the prose of a poet, prose rich with novel and beautiful images and embodying the results of profound reflection upon life and art.

Mr. Sturge Moore's essay on Brooke is too brief to be a final estimate; the main fault of all his essays is that they are not long enough to include sufficient quotations; otherwise they would certainly be of permanent value. But it is a penetrating essay, full of interesting obiter dicta, such as the statement that "the fallacy of impressionism" has tainted modern æsthetic thought, and the more disputable statement that "failure in love and war is much more inspiring to the poet than success; when the real world has rejected a man he feels freer in the Muses' house; he no longer has any interests that conflict with theirs." Julian Grenfell's Into Battle he describes (and we think he is right) as the best poem of the war. Of three poets commonly linked together, he says that "Those who shall gaze back a century hence may discern rather in Nichols than in Sassoon or Graves the poet's mind that is independent of time and approaches all human circumstance with the kinsman's joy and pain," though he admits that the race has only just begun, and another runner may outstrip the others. He is admirable on Sorley, whom many think the greatest loss to literature of all who fell in the war, and he has found—and no one before has, we believe, so celebrated this poem—in Mr. Harvey's The Bugler something like an isolated great poem. The one chapter which we find relatively inadequate is that which deals with Edward Thomas. "Every time I read them I like them better," he says; and he quotes in full Thomas's superb welcome to death; but the reader misses here all the rest of the poet's most beautiful poems and passages. They are even yet not known as they should be; we wait for a collected volume to reveal to most English readers how profuse, in his last two years, Thomas was of exquisite poems crowded with characteristic English landscape, and often profoundly moving by their sincere expression of universal emotions. He died resigned, and fulfilled at last. In Mr. Moore's words, "Our house was not well ordered; he should not have had to write hastily for his own and his children's bread; we have lost the chance of using him to the best advantage; yet he leaves us more than we deserved, something that will be treasured by posterity for ever. As his body fell, its cloak melted off the soul and we caught a glimpse which confounded our poor recollections of the man, and words of his still tolling round our ears make us aware that for him this dark casualty had a different meaning."

A BOOK OF R. L. S. By George Brown. Methuen. 7s. 6d. net.

This work is really a Stevenson Encyclopædia reminiscent of that colossal Browning Cyclopædia which still goes into new editions. Mr. Brown arranges, in alphabetical order, the names of Stevenson's books, characters, friends, critics, dwelling-places, etc. We have tested him with several questions and not found him to fail. He gives more than the facts he might be expected to give; for example, when a book is under notice he enters the latest prices paid for its first edition in the sale-room. He also lightens his pages with compact but pungent comments. For instance, he describes Mr. Swinnerton's able but hostile study of Stevenson as "the kind of study which it can be imagined Dr. Clifford would write of Ignatius Loyola." A good book of its kind and one that should be bought by everyone who has a Collected Stevenson. The illustrations do not greatly add to its charms.



FIFTY YEARS OF EUROPE, 1870–1919. By C. D. Hazen. Bell. 14s. net.

Professor Hazen ends his survey of the last fifty years of European history with the words: "The evil that men do lives after them." The remark is not original, but it is none the less historically true and melancholy. Upon page 414 of this book it refers to Wilhelm Hohenzollern, but as the final note struck in a text-book of European history it has a wider significance. After reading Professor Hazen one is tempted to ponder the question whether the good men do is interred with the bones of history, and only the evil done by them lives after them and their time. Here is the story of fifty years in 414 pages, and indisputably the story is concerned far more with the evil that men have done than with the good. What is the reason of this? The question is extraordinarily difficult to answer, and, though the reviewer ex cathedra is officially supposed not to admit anything but infallibility, we confess to be at a loss for a prompt and unhesitating answer. The cause may be subjective rather than objective: the historians may look at history from a wrong angle, so that the shadows are exaggerated or intensified. On the other hand, it may really be, as Shakespeare seemed to think, that the effects of evil are actually more permanent than those of good. And there is a third alternative which the philosophical historian and the historical philosopher cannot dismiss out of hand: history is the tale of men's communal actions, and it may be that man is so incompletely a political animal that his communal actions are more often evil than good.

We cannot answer these questions, but they rise naturally from a consideration of Professor Hazen's volume. The first question which a reviewer has to put to himself is "What is the object of this book?" The object of Professor Hazen's is obvious: it is a text-book, a rapid survey of a period of history which, as he rightly says, possesses "a unity that is quite exceptional among the so-called 'periods' of history." As a text-book it has great merits; it is accurate and brief, it runs with great rapidity through all the more important facts of its "period," and the author's opinions and prejudices are severely repressed. It has some obvious faults: the author seems to us ill-advised to have added his last chapter in the form and size adopted by him. This chapter deals with the actual events of the world war, and occupies nearly a quarter of the entire book. This throws the whole of his book out of shape. The war in itself had, of course, enormous importance, but the details of its progress are of little importance in a survey like this. In the previous pages we have been whirled from the Balkan question to the Irish, from the Irish question to the rise of Japan, from the rise of Japan to the Russian internal struggle, and many of these immense complicated problems have necessarily been dismissed in a few pages. There is no room in a book on this scale for a description of the campaigns of the war, and Professor Hazen's volume loses rather than gains by his attempt to deal with them. But as a text-book it has merits above the average. One great merit is inherent in it—it looks at history not from a national but a European or world angle. We are inclined to believe that for use in schools no histories of "France," "England," or other individual countries should be tolerated, that all history should be either of Europe, Asia, of some continent or era, or of the world. And then, perhaps, historians might be able to deal a little more with the good that men do communally than with the evil.

THE TANK CORPS. By Major Clough Williams-Ellis, M.C., and A. Williams-Ellis. With an Introduction by Major-General H. J. Elles, C.B., D.S.O. Country Life. 10s. 6d. net.

This is, if not an official, at least a semi-official history of the Tank Corps; and if the other arms of our fighting forces get histories as good they will be fortunate. It contains the218 whole story of the machine and of those who manned it—invention, manufacture, organisation, training, use—from the nebulous beginnings in the minds of the various gentlemen whose claims to paternity are now being disputed to the last battle of 1918. The information has an air of final authority: official reports are backed with copious personal narrative. There is no attempt at fine writing; the book is a long series of short paragraphs containing essential facts. Yet, when occasion demands, the authors' terse sentences are far more vivid and more full of emotion than are the elaborate pages of the professional battle-painters. This is never more noticeable than in their chapter on the "Battle of Cambrai," where the fortunes of the whole Tank experiment were at stake. Nothing is elaborated, yet we see very vividly the whole panorama of those days of intense surreptitious preparation, and the final overwhelming advance against the enemy, whose suspicions had been aroused too late. The authors finally dispose of the story that the General's last order to his Tanks told them to "do their damnedest." "That spurious fosterling he hated the more the more he perceived its popularity." The authentic Order is given: a brief restrained document ending "5. I propose leading the attack of the Centre Division." This he did, in the "Hilda," which reached the outposts line in the van of the battle, General Elles standing with his head through the hatch picking up targets for the gunners. The "Hilda's" flag was several times hit, but not brought down. It was at this battle that sixteen Tanks were knocked out by one gun, served single-handed by a German officer, who died at his post. The story of the Tanks that crossed a canal on the back of another does not seem to be verified. The authors' conclusion is that "in the phase at which military science has arrived, and at which it will probably remain for a generation, a superior force of Tanks can always top the scales of the military balance of power." The illustrations are many and well chosen. We recommend the book, both as a work of reference and as a book to read.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: THE PRACTICAL MYSTIC. By Francis Grierson. With an introduction by John Drinkwater. John Lane. 5s. net.

Mr. Grierson states that Abraham Lincoln was "the greatest practical mystic the world has known for nineteen hundred years," thus unnecessarily challenging comparisons with Saint Teresa and others. His book, both as an effort to sustain this thesis and as a book to read, is something of a disappointment. Some of his earlier works—notably the beautiful Valley of Shadows—are closely thought and admirably written; the best have never had in full the credit they deserve. But the present volume is little more than a small scrap-book of other people's impressions and anecdotes of Lincoln, sprinkled with Mr. Grierson's not very profound comments and assertions to the effect that we are now at the end of a dispensation, and are emerging into "the mystical dawn of a new day." That Lincoln was a very great and a very good man we know, and that he lived in the light of conscience. Of such we can never be told too much, and the book might well serve as an introduction to more elaborate biographies. But we cannot say that Mr. Grierson adds anything to our knowledge. He tells us of Lincoln's sense of duty, his dedication to the service of his kind, his premonitions. "One of the most memorable mystical demonstrations ever recorded in any epoch occurred in the little town of Salem, Illinois, in August, 1837, when Lincoln was only twenty-three years of age," and "some of his deepest thoughts on the mysteries of life and death were never voiced by this man, who never spoke unless he deemed it imperative to speak." The New York Times says this or that, the Spectator says so-and-so; Lincoln was a "unique" manifestation of the Supreme Mind, like Moses. "The American people were at that time practical, democratic seers, without whom the greatest practical mystic could not have existed." These passages are not cheering. There is an introduction by Mr. John Drinkwater, who says something and says it clearly.


MEN AND MANNERS IN PARLIAMENT. By Sir Henry Lucy. Fisher Unwin. 10s. 6d. net.

Sir Henry Lucy's reprint of his notes on the Disraeli Parliament of 1874 will find a place in that world-museum where a bottle containing the Bruce's spider stands next on the shelf to the original kettle which inflamed the young imagination of George Stephenson. They were published serially in (how distant it all seems!) the Gentleman's Magazine, and a set of bound volumes of that venerable periodical found its way (by the steam-packet, no doubt) to the young republic of the United States. There in the beautiful new-world calm of the Chancellor Green Library, at Princeton, the old printed words in their quaint black-letters met the young eye of Woodrow Wilson, a smart student of his seniors, Chatham, Burke, and Brougham, of the more recent writings of Lord Macaulay, then recently dead, and of the positively burning message of the still more topical Mr. Bagehot. But it was Sir Henry Lucy, not yet dubbed a Knight, who produced, if we may believe the official biographer—and Sir Henry does—an "influence ... on his broadening thought." The debt was very gracefully acknowledged by the President long afterwards in a letter which pays tribute to "the interest you stirred many years ago in the action of public affairs in Great Britain." He added that he would always think of Sir Henry as one of his instructors.

The whole story is one more example of the ineradicable romanticism of the New World which led Henry James to the belief that great leaders in England conversed intelligently (if not always quite intelligibly) and drew Whistler to dramatise the Thames. One sees the American undergraduate hanging spellbound over Sir Henry Lucy's parliamentary notes, and rising from the table with bright eyes and burning cheeks to mutter, as he walked out among the chipmunks and prairie foxes, "I too will hold assemblies in the grip of my eloquence like the Right Honourable George Sclater-Booth; in me Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen shall have his transatlantic counterpart." And one is inclined to wonder, as one rambles through the pages of what the President, remembering his constitutional obligations to the American language, described as "The Syndicated London Letter," which of these amiable pages of political gossip it was that finally tilted the young Wilson on to that inclined plane which led to Washington and the Galerie des Glaces. Was it the picture of Mr. Disraeli on the Treasury Bench, impassive, arms folded, forelock well in evidence, or the more vivacious scenes in which Mr. Bright, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr. Lowe chased one another across the Mid-Victorian stage? No one except Mr. Wilson can say. But the anecdote lends point to the reissue of Sir Henry's notes, which always possess a high interest for political historians, apart from the addition which the story makes to their intrinsic value.

THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF LADY DOROTHY NEVILL. By Ralph Nevill. Methuen. 18s. net.

This is a most disappointing book. Of Lady Dorothy's charm and intelligence we have had evidence in the two volumes published in her lifetime, and edited by Mr. Nevill. She certainly deserved a biography which should preserve for posterity a true portrait of one who typified what was best and most likeable in a state of society that became historical even in her lifetime. Unfortunately, Mr. Nevill has been content to give us merely gleanings of his mother's notebooks and post-bag. He makes no effort at all at formal biography, keeps no sequence, and betrays no sense of proportion. The writing of the book is slack and formless, as, for instance, in such sentences as the following:

No one probably knew more about the inner social history of her time than Lady Cork; a very clever woman, who long after she had ceased to be able to leave her couch, owing to220 her numerous visitors, kept herself excellently posted as to everything of interest which was on foot. At the time of the Druce case, being a confirmed invalid, her evidence, which would have completely put any claimant out of court, was taken on commission.

The book is full of writing as careless as this, and is, in consequence, very trying to read. All one can do is to search through the volume for amusing stories of the world Lady Dorothy Nevill adorned, and to make some guess at the character of the woman who could number among her friends Lord Clanricarde, Father Dolling, Lord Beaconsfield, Mr. Chamberlain, Lord Lytton, and Mr. John Burns.

The second task is difficult. One knows her better from that glowing portrait by Watts—which we wish Mr. Nevill had reproduced—than from any of her letters given here. She was not a good letter-writer, though better than some of her correspondents. She had both generosity and an aptitude for mischief, stout prejudices, but a lovable curiosity which prevented her being their slave. Her Toryism was of the "Young England" variety, and never stopped her from making friends where she could. Her wit seems to have been a wit of personality rather than of mind, almost a spiritual glow which is rarely apparent in the printed page. Of her family life we are told practically nothing—not even the date of Mr. Reginald Nevill's death is given.

Many of the anecdotes in the book are old, but we have not met this before. Lady Pollington, Lady Dorothy Nevill's sister, "adored dancing, her love of which may be realised when it is stated that the night before her only son was born she was at Lady Salisbury's dance in Arlington Street till one-thirty and her son was born at three." New to us also is the story of the petition presented to the United States Congress "by some zealots who entertained strong religious objections against the use of oil." Mr. Nevill does not assign its precise date, but gives it as an instance of "mid-Victorian bigotry."

The signatories to this remarkable document prayed that a stop might be put to the irreverent and irreligious proceedings of various citizens in drawing petroleum from the bosom of the earth, thus "checking the designs of the Almighty," Who, they said, had undoubtedly stored it there with a view to the last day, "when all things shall be destroyed."

Mr. Nevill tells us one thing about his mother which possibly reveals her character and the temper of her time more truly than anything else in the book: it seems to belong to the England of General Gordon and Lady Burton. Lady Dorothy practised illumination, presumably as taught in the once popular Owen Jones' volume.

One of the works she executed was Hood's Song of the Shirt, another was The Service for the Burial of the Dead, which she finished and signed in 1848, when twenty-two years of age—a curious instance of the strange mixture of seriousness and vivacity which went to form a highly original mind.


INDUSTRY AND TRADE. By Alfred Marshall. Macmillan. 18s. net.

Dr. Marshall's well-known Principles of Economics was published as long ago as 1890. For many years he continued to work at the volume with which he designed to follow that, but weak health, as well as heavy professional duties and much time devoted to the public service, made his progress slow. It is only now, therefore, after an interval of nearly thirty years, that he has been able to complete the present book. And even so his scheme is not yet complete, for there is still a companion volume to come, which will deal with "influences on the conditions of man's life and work exerted by the resources available for employment; by money and credit; by international trade; and by social endeavour."

221 Industry and Trade is a monument of lucidity and carefulness. Every student of economics will read it with interest, even though it does not appear to throw much new light on the problems it discusses. Dr. Marshall traces out for us in a general way the technical evolution of industry, both in this country and elsewhere. We have an analysis of the conditions which produced in turn the industrial leadership of Britain, of France, of Germany, of the United States. We have a minute discussion of the dominant tendencies of business organisations, the expansion of the unit, the application of scientific method, the problems of joint-stock companies, of banking, of marketing. And finally the question of monopolies is examined—the American and German experience of trusts and cartels, the great movement towards aggregation, federation, and co-operation in British trade. Dr. Marshall writes throughout in a spirit of large and rather fatherly benevolence, here reproving some "anti-social practices" of trade unionism, there gently censuring abuses of power by a trust. It is admirable, of course, but there are times when his elaborate avoidance of partisanship and his cautious non-committal attitude leave the reader a little perplexed. Dr. Marshall tells us that his aim has been to present as accurate a picture as he can without advocating any particular conclusions. This is very well in a general way, but where an economic problem becomes an ethical problem a conclusion may not be an altogether bad thing. There are two chapters devoted to a consideration of "Scientific Management," in which the author has certainly achieved an almost superhuman impartiality. He thinks, as everyone does, that there is much that is valuable in the application of efficiency methods in industry. He does not think that the worker need be unduly strained by scientific management. He is apparently doubtful about the danger of monotony that it introduces. Finally, he suggests that "though it be true that scientific management diminishes the need of the operative for resource and judgment in small matters, it may help him ... to estimate the characters of those who bear large responsibilities. Unless and until he can do that, democratic control of industry will be full of hazards." True, but some bolder critics will turn back a few pages and refer to a quotation given of some of Mr. F. W. Taylor's principles: "All possible brain-work should be removed from the shop and centred in the planning department, leaving for the foreman and gang-bosses work strictly executive in its nature.... Each man must ... adapt his methods to the many new standards and grow accustomed to receiving and obeying directions covering details large and small, which in the past have been left to his individual judgment." Will a manipulation of human beings on these lines really make ideal "democratic controllers of industry"? Leaving the desirability or undesirability of such control out of the question it will certainly be argued that Mr. Taylor's is not the way to get it. However, Dr. Marshall admits that American methods of scientific management will need to be somewhat modified before they can obtain a very wide acceptance in British industry. He does not discuss how they are being modified in their application in this country, where a good many experiments are actually being made.


In general, the book presents us with a pretty bright picture of capitalist industry. There is much that needs to be altered, yet progress, we are reminded, has been great: education has spread, the standard of comfort of the working-class has risen enormously, and "both competition and combination in Anglo-Saxon countries generally have been more inclined to construction than to destruction: emulation has often given an incitement to exertion stronger than that which was derived from the desire for gain...." We are not to be led away, therefore, by large socialistic schemes of reform. Collectivism would be unfavourable to the best solution of men for the most responsible work in industry; National Guilds "look only at the surface difficulties of business" and promise to lead us into nothing but chaos.


INFLATION. By J. Shield Nicholson, M.A., Sc.D., LL.D., F.B.A. (Professor of Political Economy in the University of Edinburgh). King. 3s. 6d. net.

Until the other day we all thought we were threatened with national bankruptcy, and a great many people think so still, despite the recent rapid conversion to optimism of the Government and the House of Commons. Professor Nicholson, we are sure, is not one of those who are impressed by the change. His interesting and outspoken little book may be summed up in two sentences—"The principal cause of the disorder of the body politic is the abuse of paper money," and "Our present need is to get back to a sound monetary system and to get rid of the mirage of inflation." He does not believe in the theory that an internal debt "makes no difference": that it is merely a transference from one set of pockets to another. And he does not think that the burden of the debt can be removed either by a capital levy or by a continuance of inflation, which, as he gloomily observes, is a popular remedy, both with the industrial and commercial classes. If that continues, its evils will continue—high profits, high wages, higher prices, and a general scarcity. The great practical difficulty is to stop the rise in prices. It may be done partly by greater output and lower profits, partly by reduced public expenditure, but, above all, by a reduction in the volume of paper currency. For that, Professor Nicholson observes, moral courage is needed, and also hard thinking.

IRISH IMPRESSIONS. By G. K. Chesterton. Collins. 7s. 6d. net.

"These are the notes of a visit to Ireland during the dark days when a last effort was made to undo the blunders that had wrecked the great promise of Irish recruitment." Mr. Chesterton, in lamenting the fact that a large section of the Irish population remained neutral in the war, blames both sides. The case against England and the British Government is familiar; but, he argues, however badly Ireland may have been treated in the past, and however the Irish situation was mishandled in the early days of the war, the Sinn Feiners are still to be blamed. They were as men who should have abstained from Marathon because of a quarrel with some archon, or refused to fight Attila because of a grievance against Ætius. All civilization was at stake; that being so, even the claims of nationality should have been, if necessary, postponed—though, in fact, they would have been actually assisted had Ireland made the plunge. Mr. Chesterton states with characteristic force the existence of a definite Irish nationality, a thing to be perceived in any Irish home. As a practical politician he believes that the extreme demand for separation can still—though time presses—be effaced if Dominion Home Rule is offered. The bargaining peasant lives in the fighting rebel; and when even the last Home Rule scheme was postponed a genuine disappointment was to be seen throughout Ireland.

This is his central case. He argues it characteristically: that is to say, his method of exposition, by means of rapid generalizations, digressions, witticisms, allusions, will fascinate those who believe there is great sagacity behind his fireworks, and irritate or bore those who habitually dislike him. In making out a case for Ireland he also makes out a case for a rural, a Catholic, and a "distributive" civilisation. Everywhere there are quotable sayings. He speaks of "the brilliant bitterness of Dublin and the stagnant optimism of Belfast." "Modern industrial society," he says, "is fond of problems, and therefore not at all fond of solutions."

Arguing that on the outbreak of war England abjured her pro-Teutonist delusions, he says the Sinn Feiners fatally played with the thing they had always denounced:

That is why the Easter rising was really a black and insane blunder. It was not because it involved the Irish in a military defeat; it was because it lost the Irish a great controversial victory. The rebel deliberately let the tyrant out of a trap; out of the grinning jaws of the gigantic trap of a joke.


"Imperialism," he observes, "is not an insanity of patriotism; it is merely an illusion of cosmopolitanism." Such epigrams—and there is always something in them—are all over the book; but in two places, where he is talking of the war and of Kettle's death and where he celebrates the Christian virtues of charity and humility, he reaches an eloquence almost comparable to that of the magnificent passage at the close of his Short History of England. That passage deserves to go into all anthologies of English prose henceforth compiled.

THE HANDMAIDEN OF THE NAVY. By G. S. Doorly. Williams & Norgate. 6s. net.

There are still two books which ought to be written about the war. One is a real novel of the adventures and sufferings of the Merchant Service, and the other is a historical account of the partnership between the Navy and the Merchant Service, and that marvellous convoy organisation which unobtrusively won the war. Mr. Doorly ought to help with the latter, but we hope he will not attempt the former. These stories, collected under a cumbrous and not too accurate title, are a painstaking but disappointing attempt to deal with both. Mr. Doorly has not the literary gifts necessary to do complete justice to the human side of his subject, though he faithfully pictures the very real camaraderie which the convoy established between the naval officer and the mercantile marine. All his sailors are of the "hearty" type made familiar by "Bartimeus" and the Press. His troopships "plough their way across the leagues of ocean towards the great-little island home." The sinking of a ship is "another foul victory for the wretched Hun." It is a pity, because Mr. Doorly has clearly had a wide experience, and gives the fullest account we have yet seen of the intricacies and anxieties of convoy organisation and escort work, though the convoy of his stories is a primitive affair compared with the perfected form of 1918. He is technically accurate and very thorough, and does not shrink from explaining such complexities as the methods of "zigzagging," and he has an eye for the humorous sides of submarine warfare. But his accounts of exciting moments frankly do not excite, and the merchant captain who says "'Tut-tut,' swallowing a lump in his throat," does not move us as perhaps he should. Yet it is an interesting little book, and until the theme receives the treatment it deserves, we hope it will be read.

POLAND AND THE POLES. By A. Bruce Boswell. Methuen. 12s. 6d. net.

This is a useful and interesting book. It is, as Mr. Boswell says in his Preface, a series of essays. In these essays he deals with the Polish people, their national characteristics, their country, history, literature, music, and art, their industry and commerce, and their future. Poland, which has for centuries exercised a fascination over the romantic mind, always makes good reading; and Mr. Boswell communicates his enthusiasm. He is perhaps not altogether untouched by that partisanship which seems almost inevitably to fall upon the foreigner who becomes intimately associated with any nation. The truth is that all the peoples of the earth have so many good qualities that it is impossible for anyone who is brought into contact with any one of them not to feel for it occasionally as a lover or a child. Mr. Boswell certainly feels for Poland as a lover, and his book is none the worse for that. At first, however, we thought that he was to prove one of those whose love of a particular nation engenders hate of other nations. Indeed, we hardly think that he is altogether fair to Russians, Jews, and others. But his prejudices are mild compared to those of most historians, and, despite his frank bias towards the Polish outlook, when he comes to deal with so vexed a question as that of the Ukraine he displays a praiseworthy impartiality.



SUCCESS IN ATHLETICS AND HOW TO OBTAIN IT. By F. A. M. Webster, T. J. Pryce Jenkins, and R. Vivian Mostyn. Sidgwick & Jackson, 10s. 6d. net.

Every man is more or less an athlete, and training begins in the cradle and ends with the grave—at least it should do. Unfortunately many people of our generation were brought up in the languid atmosphere of Victorianism where ill-health was tolerated, almost worshipped. In due time we went to school—if it was summer we played cricket; if winter, we played football; if spring, we ran races and jumped jumps and threw hammers; but as for any real education in physical culture or athletics we had none. Every young athlete should read Success in Athletics, for in it he will find very simple and very excellent advice as to how to train for every branch of field sport. The elements of success upon which stress is laid are as follows: First, to choose a branch of athletics suitable to the build of the individual. Second, to build up the necessary muscles by training at home and in the gymnasium long before practices are carried out on the track. Third, to study the scientific side of the particular sport chosen, so as to acquire a perfect style and to economise energy to the utmost extent.

The book begins very properly with a tribute of respect to athletes who have fallen in the war; then chapters follow on running, jumping, hurdling, and throwing weights of all descriptions; there are also chapters on diet, massage, and clothing, and an appendix on leg exercises. The book is illustrated with admirable photographs, but it is a pity that these are not placed more in accordance with the text. The chapter on "Hurdling" is among the best. The hurdler must be "tall, fairly slim, and well 'split up,'" which being interpreted means that his height must be contained in his legs rather than in his body. He must build up the strength of his legs by special exercises, such as high kicking, the splits, and skipping; and there is yet another admirable exercise—the athlete, in a sitting position, puts himself into the attitude of a hurdler topping a hurdle, the left leg is stretched straight out, the right leg is at right angles to it, the knee is bent and the inside of the leg is resting on the ground. The exercise consists in raising the body so that only the left heel and the inner side of the right calf are resting on the ground. It is a most painful and excellent exercise.

We are glad to see that in the chapter on diet athletes are warned against an excess of meat; one good meat meal a day is all that is recommended. Meat, besides its nourishment, contains many poisonous substances which are with difficulty eliminated from the system. Many a good athlete has been wasted through inattention to this fact. The chapter on massage is to our mind inadequate.

In the last chapter the following passage occurs: "... it is felt that a new epoch of athleticism in Great Britain is about to commence—that an entirely new breed of athletes will arise or be recruited from the ranks of those who through four and a half years of war have learned the true meaning of discipline and the importance of close attention to the least little detail of instruction." Now we all feel that something good must come after all this suffering and slaughter; the Briton has proved that he is possessed of true greatness; how can this greatness be turned to full account? Let us give up once for all this idea of record-breaking and producing freaks who can jump an inch higher than any other man or throw a hammer a foot farther. At best that is a very low ideal, and such over-specialisation produces ugliness and unhealthiness. The only kind of athlete that we want to contemplate is the all-round athlete who can run fast and far, jump high and broad, and have sufficient strength for heavy events. An instance of what we mean occurs in this book—the pictures of A. E. Flaxman show a magnificent athlete of about eleven stone; such a man would have to compete in heavy events with mountains of flesh weighing twenty stone; hence all Flaxman's symmetry225 and grace and style are wasted, and the mountain wins the points for his side. This is all wrong. We should abandon the practice of selecting one athlete for one event. We should have teams composed of all-round athletes, each of whom competes in all events; these athletes will not break records, but they will be super-athletes such as a great nation should aim at producing. When we have got rid of this odious specialisation it will be time to aim still higher, and produce not only the all-round athlete but the all-round man, made up of mind, character, and muscle, all developed to the utmost extent.


AN INVISIBLE KINGDOM. By W. S. Lilly. Chapman & Hall. 15s. net.

The late Mr. Lilly was a Roman Catholic journalist who combined attachment to his faith with adherence to a benevolent paternalism in politics. This posthumous volume, edited by Dr. William Barry, is partly concerned with political and sociological problems, though there are two essays on Memory and Sleep which do little but review current opinion on those two functions. The political essays suffer from their date. Although fond of appeals to history, Mr. Lilly discusses the affairs of the moment from the angle of the moment; there is much talk of universality, but very little application. Indeed at times one doubts if he could have seen the precise significance of his opinions. For instance, he was a determined opponent of democracy, and quotes with approval Mill's statement that "Equal voting is in principle wrong"; and he proceeds to state a doctrine of political justice which does not differ in principle from that stated by Trotsky. Where Mr. Lilly and Trotsky would differ is, of course, on the question into whose hands political power was to be put. Also one finds it difficult to understand how a Roman Catholic can agree—as Mr. Lilly does—with Ibsen's creed, "The minority is always right." Here are Mr. Lilly's words:

If there is one lesson written more legibly than another in the annals of the world it is that majorities are almost always wrong; but that is the prerogative of minorities—nay, it may even be of a minority of one. That is the verdict of history. It holds good of all ages.

Mr. Lilly might contend that he is not bound to square his opinions with St. Augustine's Securus judicat orbis terrarum; but how can his statement be reconciled with the practice of his Church? All General Councils, which decide Catholic dogma, have come to their decisions by taking a vote and accepting the verdict of the majority. This has been so from the Council of Jerusalem to the Vatican Council. Are we to believe that only in matters ecclesiastical the minority is wrong?

Mr. Lilly was also rather apt to substitute mere statement for argument. Thus, in discussing the modern position of women, he writes:

Of course reason itself declares that on the physical and psychical inequality of the sexes, and on the willing obedience of the weaker, the happiness of both depends. It is the lesson which Shakespeare has worked out, with consummate art, in the Taming of the Shrew.

It is evident that, whatever may be thought by a modern man or woman about the equality of the sexes, no satisfactory argument can be based on the premise that women's physical and psychical inferiority is an axiom. In his discussion on Socialism and on Trades Unions, Mr. Lilly displays the same incapacity to understand his opponent's starting-point. He has plenty of sense and a desire for fairness which makes him quote Aquinas' declaration on riches—that they are only lawful if they are possessed justly and used in a proper manner for the owner and others—and apply it to modern fortunes. His last essay is on Newman, and is rather inadequate, as it appears to have been written without reference to Mr. Wilfrid Ward's life. It is too early to write about that excessively226 human, lovable spirit in the artificial language of the official hagiographer: there are, however, sentences which arouse interest. We do not remember seeing it stated before that, late in life, Newman "perused translations of The Critiques of the Pure and The Practical Reason, pen in hand—that was his usual way—and made some notes on them." It would be interesting to see these notes.

EMERSON AND HIS PHILOSOPHY. By J. Arthur Hill. W. Rider. 3s. 6d. net.

This brief essay on Emerson is marked by enthusiasm, and shows evidence of a wide acquaintance with Emerson's works, but is otherwise unremarkable. Mr. Hill gives a brief biography of his hero, and then discusses him in relation to his views on religion, science, with chapters on Emerson's style, poetry, and criticism. His last chapter is a brief résumé of English Traits and Representative Men, treating those very readable books as if they were essays in some unknown language. Mr. Hill's own opinions hardly inspire one with confidence in his capacity to interpret emotions.

Beautiful language, true poetry, often contains little truth and not much passion; we feel that the poetry is in the beauty of the images evoked, or in the sheer unanalysable charm of the words as sounds, or—more generally—both combined. The more "thought" there is in poetry the less poetical it is.

There is much virtue in inverted commas, and no doubt "thought" is absent from the Antigone, the Divina Commedia, Hamlet, Paradise Lost, Tintern Abbey, and The Ring and the Book; but we cannot follow Mr. Hill in his contention that these poems lack truth or passion. Nor indeed can we remember any poem of which his remark would be true. Mr. Hill's observations on Emerson's style and his biographical portions of the essay are not quite so off the mark. Few readers will accept his very high estimate of Emerson, and he fails to remove our suspicion that the great American writer, who was never known to laugh, was at times perilously near being an ordinary prig. As to Emerson's influence on his contemporaries and successors, it is generally underestimated. The Essays in particular are always a delight to youth, and are read with avidity by boys at the most impressionable age. A great deal of modern individualism, of modern defiance, which is often put down to the discredit of Ibsen, or Nietzsche, or Blake, is really due to Emerson. He was the first eminent man to preach disobedience as an ethical duty; his conscience was always uneasy if he caught himself conforming; and this uneasiness, which a more vigorous man in a more natural society would have recognised as an emotional mood, Emerson distorted into a kind of council of perfection. "Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist," he proclaims exaltedly, not seeing that this sentiment has, as a generalisation, already been contradicted by his birth and his marriage, and is to be finally quashed by his death.



It was quite time that we had in English a standard treatise on gyroscopic motion. Space is, of course, devoted to the subject in various well-known text-books on rigid dynamics, and there are one or two good little books of an elementary nature, such as Perry's Spinning Tops and Crabtree's Spinning Tops and Gyroscopic Motion, but hitherto the man in search of detailed information on problems concerning tops in the widest sense has had to go to Klein and Sommerfeld's Theorie des Kreisels, if he could not find what he wanted in Sir George Greenhill's Report. That Professor Gray should be the227 man to supply our want is only fitting. At the University of Glasgow, where he succeeded to the chair of Natural Philosophy left vacant by Lord Kelvin's death, an interest in gyroscopic motion is traditional, and Professor Gray inherited a collection of apparatus for experiment in this field which he has extended by many ingenious and convenient forms of gyroscope described in the book before us. His own researches on the general dynamics of gyroscopic systems have added clearness to that branch of applied mathematics, and his son is an expert in the design and application of practical gyrostats. A judicious combination of experimental and theoretical treatment forms the great attraction of Professor Gray's book.

The problems of gyroscopic motion range from the behaviour of the schoolboy's top to that of this great top, the earth, and include a great number of engineering applications. The torpedo is kept in its course by a gyroscope; the gyroscopic compass, which makes no use of magnetic properties, has rendered possible the navigation of a submerged submarine; Schlich invented a gyroscopic apparatus, which has been tried successfully in small ships, for keeping a vessel from rolling in a rough sea; with Brennan's monorail the car is kept upright by means of a gyroscopic device; and many other ingenious uses have been made of the seemingly paradoxical properties of spinning tops. The gyroscopic compass is, unfortunately, not treated in Professor Gray's book, nor is there any account of other naval and military applications of the gyroscope, since the author, finding that the official secrecy, necessarily imposed at the time of writing, would prevent him giving anything but a fragmentary account, has preferred to reserve his discussion of these appliances to a promised second volume. Very little is said of the monorail (in fact, Brennan's name is not mentioned), which is less explicable. Many practical applications of gyroscopic theory to such problems as the drift of projectiles, golf balls, and boomerangs (the last-named treated necessarily in a very general manner) come up for consideration, and the forgotten diabolo, child of a passing craze, is resurrected to provide an example of the effect of equality of the principal moments of inertia on the stability of rotation of a body under no forces. Most attention is, however, given to the first two subjects mentioned above—the top spinning on a flat surface, and the earth spinning through space—which are, of course, the classical problems in rotational dynamics. It need scarcely be said that Sir George Greenhill's work is abundantly cited.

"In the present work my aim has been to refer, as far as possible, each gyrostatic problem directly to first principles, and to derive the solutions by steps which could be interpreted at every stage of the progress," says the author in his preface, and he has followed this aim with considerable success. It is, of course, impossible to treat many of the problems of rotational dynamics without mathematical analysis of some complexity, and a knowledge of elliptic functions and such-like weapons of the applied mathematician lies, perhaps, outside the scope of the average engineer and inventor. Professor Gray, who deplores the present ignorance of inventors in the matter of gyroscopic motion, has kept the needs of this class before him, and has taken care to arrange his matter so that those who cannot always follow the mathematical exposition given can, at least, gain a clear knowledge of the results. The first chapter, which contains no mathematical symbols, forms an excellent introduction to the subject and is quite elementary, and elsewhere in the book, when practical problems, such as the drift of a projectile, are being discussed, the nature of the investigation is stated as simply as may be. Throughout the inquiry is illustrated, as far as possible, by experiment and diagram.

"Les Anglais enseignent la méchanique comme une science expérimentale; sur le continent, on l'expose toujours plus ou moins comme une science déductive et a priori. Ce sont les Anglais qui ont raison, cela va sans dire." In these words, the late Henri Poincaré, the greatest mathematician of his generation, praised the British tradition of228 teaching dynamics as an experimental subject, which is so well maintained in this book. Some specialists, no doubt, will find minor omissions in their subject, but, on the whole, with the exceptions already noted, the book is very complete. It is printed with the well-known elegance in all that pertains to mathematical symbols of the firm of Robert Maclehose, and the general production is very good. We do not understand, however, why the illustrations in the first chapter are nearly all reproduced a second time further on in the book, especially as they are mostly photographs of apparatus, which do not necessitate frequent reference. And—the question that has to be asked so often with English books—why is the index so defective?


It is stated in the preface that the material of this Practical Guide to Efficient Living has been used extensively as a correspondence course, so that anyone who is thinking of paying pounds to be taught by post how to be efficient can save most of his money. All the most notable authorities on Efficiency—Ike Marvel, Buddha, Arnold Bennett, Walter Dill Scott, Prentice Mulford, Yoritomo-Tashi, and Baudelaire (to what the last-named said is added what he might have said)—are quoted, and many varieties of type and a liberal use of capital letters add to the strenuousness of the book. There is much about Ideals ("Ultimate and Other Ideals") and much about Money, much about Character Formation and much about Vocational Efficiency. We attribute our own inefficiency largely to the fact that we cannot whistle, for this seemingly trivial accomplishment is of far-reaching use—"Whistle and wear a smile for fifteen minutes, and you will most assuredly begin to feel cheerful"; "Sing and whistle as you dress." But, again, we have not done the essential thing, which is, we are told, to read the lessons of the Course again and again, and to devote close thought to them. Alas, we fell a victim to Waning Will, a fault early handled in the book, and although somewhat comforted to learn that it is a "common form of weakness," we could not bring ourselves to adopt the cure, which is "When a resolution is formed, record it definitely in your file under the head of Ideals, Aspirations, Tasks, Duties, or other appropriate designation." The appropriate designation for the reading of this book is undoubtedly Task. The author, who has also written books entitled Efficiency and The Psychology of a Sale, is a man who has evidently obeyed his own great precept, "Don't admit any limit to your attainment and capacity." His intense self-respect will prevent him feeling hurt on learning that a smile is the only aid to efficiency which we have derived from his book.

ANAPHYLAXIS AND ANTI-ANAPHYLAXIS. By Dr. A. Besredka. English Edition by S. Roodhouse Gloyne. Heinemann. 6s. net.

Medical research bears so directly on the well-being of every one of us that it is astonishing that more people do not take an interest in it. The existing indifference may be attributed partly to the lack of good popular books describing recent advances in an easily comprehensible way, partly to the nomenclature adopted by the medical profession, which is apt to frighten the layman into imagining that the exotic polysyllables in question can be used only for phenomena of unimaginable complexity and obscurity. Complex they always are, of course, with the complexity of all natural manifestations, but very often the main lines of the problems which have arisen, and the methods of attack, can be stated in plain language. The book before us, which deals with the profoundly interesting subject of anaphylaxis, is not avowedly written for the enlightenment of the public, yet it is in most parts accessible to anybody with a slight knowledge of medicine, and, not being a "popular" book, it has the advantage of being free from229 the erroneous generalisations so often introduced in presenting a branch of science to the lay reader. The subject is described as one still in the course of development, and is not given that false air of completion so dear to the populariser.

The phenomena of anaphylaxis are among the most striking in medical science, and have only recently been investigated, for although isolated cases of what we should now call anaphylaxis had been previously noted, Richet was the first to show the significance and extent of the subject in his memoir of 1902, in which he established many of the most important points. The essence of anaphylaxis is that the injection into an animal of a small quantity of one of certain substances—which in some cases are, and in others are not, poisons (with a poison the dose must, of course, be less than the fatal one)—puts the animal in a particular sensitive state, so that a very small second injection produces fatal results of a very violent and well-marked character. Some time must elapse after the first injection for the sensitive state to establish itself, and the second injection must be of exactly the same nature as the first, this latter fact constituting the so-called specificity of the anaphylactic effect. This specificity has been applied for identifying blood of a doubtful source, since an animal which has been sensitised with an injection of blood from a given species is sensitive only to blood of the same species. Further, the blood of an animal in the sensitive state can be used to render another animal sensitive, a result known as passive anaphylaxis.

The important bearing of anaphylaxis on clinical practice is obvious. With therapeutic sera accidents have been fairly common in the past, grave effects following a second injection; this is a pure anaphylactic phenomenon. Much research has been done to find out methods of preventing the anaphylactic shock, and the most important advances in the field of anti-anaphylaxis are due to Dr. Besredka. His book naturally devotes much space to this aspect of the study, and gives details of the successful technique which he has developed. He worked mainly on guinea-pigs, having obtained extreme regularity of reaction with these animals. His most important result, both from the theoretical and the practical standpoint, is that vaccination against anaphylaxis can be produced by a system of gradually increasing doses, starting with the injection of a very small amount of the substance in question. This has led to a routine for serum injection by graduated doses, which has been successful in averting serum sickness. Besredka's interpretation of his results is against Richet's theory that the second injection combines with a substance, the toxogenin, present in the serum as a consequence of the first injection, and so produces a poison, the apotoxin. He considers rather that the reaction of the injected substance, the antigen, with the substance already formed (which he calls sensibilisin) itself produces the fatal result by disturbing the equilibrium of certain nerve cells where the combination takes place. By graduating the doses the reaction is watered down into a series of slight shocks, so that the great shock produced by a single injection is spread over a comparatively large time, and becomes innocuous. He finds an analogy between the effect and the mixing of water and sulphuric acid. If the water is poured in quickly there is an explosive action, but if it is added gradually the combination takes place without violence. "In our opinion the anaphylactic poison does not exist."

There are a great number of interesting experiments cited in the book which we cannot mention here. The translator has done his work well, although we do not like some of his importations from the French. It should not be impossible to find expression more English than "titre of toxicity" and "fulminating cases." He has added an excellent chapter on "Recent Work on Anaphylaxis." We are glad to see at last a short work in English on the subject, which is one of the most fascinating fields in modern medicine. Somebody should translate and bring up to date Richet's excellent little book. It is a pity that the nomenclature of the subject cannot be made uniform.


Hodder & Stoughton. 4s. 6d. net each.

This new series is rather pompously announced as striving to build "up the New Humanism on the basis of the student's immediate economic interest and environment" (which implies a considerable modification of the accepted meaning of Humanism). We translate this as meaning that it is intended to give the reader some idea of the various sciences and arts as they find application in industry and commerce. This is a worthy object, and, on the whole, the books are simple and interesting expositions of the utilitarian aspect of the sciences in question. There is, perhaps inevitably, a tendency to hurry over fundamental difficulties which will not, we think, leave an intelligent student satisfied. For instance, to say that a force is whatever changes motion, without further explanation, may well puzzle the reader, who knows that he can push against a heavy stone without producing any apparent motion. However, there is a distinct place for books of this general character, which do good work by showing to a wide audience the peaceful achievements of science and its practical aspects; they act as a counterblast to the deadening tradition of rule of thumb. The industrial chemistry is particularly comprehensive, and has an excellent set of original diagrams of industrial plant. The series is well printed and well illustrated, and, for present times, moderately priced. It deserves wide recognition.

PROJECTIVE VECTOR ALGEBRA. By L. Silberstein. G. Bell & Sons. 7s. 6d. net.

It is not often that a book appears describing an essential advance in pure mathematics which is intelligible to the man of moderate attainments in that science—by moderate attainments we mean such knowledge of mathematics as is picked up in one or two years at a university. Dr. Silberstein, who is well known in this country for his original work, especially in connection with the theory of relativity, has, in his Protective Vector Algebra, developed his latest researches in geometry in a form which is attractive and free from pedantic formalities, and has throughout aimed at simplicity of expression, in contrast to certain modern mathematicians who endeavour to lend importance to minor conventional problems by a bewildering display of definitions and theorems. The essential novelty of the book, from which the whole theme is developed, is the generalised definition of the addition of vectors, which does not need any construction of parallel lines, but depends solely on a straight line construction making use of the points where the vectors cut an arbitrary fixed straight line. Dr. Silberstein's definition is a generalisation of the Euclidean one, to which it reduces if the arbitrary line just mentioned is moved away to infinity, and if the space is Euclidean. The knowledge of geometry which is demanded is little more than the usual postulates of projective geometry and Desargues' theorem. From his definition the author proceeds to prove the associative law, and then, after dealing with the equality of non-coinitial vectors, gives many interesting uses of the generalised vector algebra. The proof of Pascal's theorem gives a striking example of the power and simplicity of the new method, and the whole treatment of conics will delight the student of projective geometry. Altogether the book is a very original and striking contribution to a fascinating branch of mathematics.




THE important work done by the private presses of the last twenty-five years will probably be found to be in its results more far-reaching than that done in any other artistic craft. For, in addition to giving the world monumental editions of chosen works, such as the Kelmscott Chaucer, the Doves Bible, and the Ashendene Dante, they have set up the right standards in type lettering, margins, spacing, paper, illustration, and binding.

Even in binding they have set a standard that can be widely applied; for the linen back and paper sides that were good enough for a Kelmscott Press book set an example of wholesome plainness that has done a great deal to improve the task of publisher and public. The publisher of this generation is in strong reaction, as a rule, against the cloth gilt extra of his father and grandfather. The Artistic Crafts Series, edited by Professor W. R. Lethaby, is a notable example of such a plain, useful cover. One of the earliest, the first I think, of this series was that dealing with Bookbinding, and doubtless this was largely the cause of the series starting right in the matter of covers. One regrets that there wasn't a printer available to have influenced the choice of type and dimensions of the page—the series that is satisfactory in both respects has not yet been published.

Type, paper, proportions of printed page and margins, and finally the cover, are the chief matters to be considered in producing a satisfactory book, and all of these cost no more—with the exception of paper—when right than when they are unsatisfactory. Even in the matter of paper, there is a wide range of choice, in normal times, at every price above the very cheapest.

One generally sees the best attempts at book-production in small volumes of verse. Some of them are very attractive and show that care and thought have been spent in producing them. Yet, as a rule, they show some weakness, some lapse, to which the amateur is liable. The little book of verse, Arcades Ambo, by Lily Dougall and Gilbert Sheldon, published by Blackwell of Oxford, is an instance. A pleasant type, based on that of Jenson, the Venetian printer, pleasing both in design and weight (the thin lines are not in strong contrast to the thicks), predisposes us in favour of the book at first glance. The normal margins are good without being excessive, but they are spoilt on most openings by the dropped beginnings of each poem. Thus, on pages 22, 23, instead of the tail margins being three-quarters of an inch more than the head margins (the normal), they are practically equal. The result is that the type appears uncomfortably low on the page. Yet the good Venetian capital lines would have given an excellent line to the top of the page. The three-line initials are not in keeping with the capitals of the text; for their thin strokes are in too great a contrast with their thick strokes. Moreover, they are of a different shape—note the "T" in the text, and compare with the initial on page 22. The little black ornament in the headlines and the arrangement of the title-page and the label are also unsatisfactory. The press work is good, the inking of the type being full and even, and does the good design of the type full justice.

Another book with pleasant margins—perhaps a little more at the head would have been an improvement—is Max Beerbohm's Seven Men, published by Wm. Heinemann. (Miss Dane's Legend is, roughly, uniform with it.) To secure a good foredge margin without unduly shortening the line the book is half an inch wider than the ordinary crown octavo; this gives a squarer format, which is much preferable to the ordinary octavo. Such a format, too, gives the binder, in case the book is thought worth a leather binding, a chance to make a good design for the sides—the ordinary octavo precludes certain good designs. I cannot commend the "modern" type which has been chosen for this book; but I will discuss "modern" type on some other occasion.



New York, November, 1919

AMERICAN life, as it now is, would seem to make original literary production almost impossible. Energy here cannot work distinctively; it is forced at its very birth into one or the other prepared channel. No one who has not lived in this country can have any conception of the unrelenting and unremitting drive that would subdue, and does subdue, all thought, all feeling, to mediocrity. It is a drive of vast circumference: no single activity, whether political or artistic or religious, can escape it. Religion, indeed, it has destroyed; there is no religion in America. The experiences of religion can only be felt by the man who has realised himself as an individual terribly separate and distinct from all others—an individual whose soul has awful significance as a thing-in-itself, a thing eternally unmatched, forever recognisable by God. Such conceptions cannot breathe the American air: neither terror nor awe nor mystery have room within the borders of this sceptical and destructive continent. The implacable rule prevails: that the soul may have no adventures of its own.

"Adventures," indeed, there are, and many. You can go in for anything you like—everybody does—provided that you go in for it in groups. You may present yourself for the smearing of a particular brush, you may band yourself with those who have received a similar treatment. You may become a "society man," a church worker, a Bolshevik revolutionary, a philanderer, a writer of vers libre, a "realistic" sex-novelist, a Cubist, or a Futurist; but whatever you become, you will always know precisely where you are and precisely what will come of your being there. Every square inch of your region will be defined. And the conventionalities of every cult are essentially identical; the set phrases of the man about town or the church worker have the same ring as the set phrases of the littérateur. The raisers of the standards of artistic or political revolt will expound their theories in just the same way, except for the mere words, as the business man will expound his. The various samples of modern American "free verse" resemble one another quite as closely—they keep quite as deliberately clear of individual distinction—as do the articles in the magazines of culture or the jokes in the comic sections of the Sunday papers. Their own conventions weigh no less heavily on the unconventional than the most hidebound provincial's do on him. Even the wicked know what is expected of them, and they, no less than the virtuous, answer public expectation. Conventional or unconventional, virtuous or wicked, all enact their ordered and calculable rôles according to schedule; there can be nothing unexpected anywhere, nothing that can startle or embarrass or discomfort or strike wonder.

Can we say, then, that literature, like wickedness and virtue, like religion—and, of course, education—does not, and cannot, exist at all in America? Is it really true that nothing at this moment can be expected from the land of Edgar Allen Poe and Walt Whitman? Has America no authentic poet now writing, no novelist? Even granting that American conditions are intolerable to the man of artistic impulse, and that most artists must be paralysed by them or forced to a sterile cleverness, must there not be some, at least, who will react?—react violently and at least interestingly and with a certain distinction against the pressure of their period? How about Mr. Theodore Dreiser and Mr. Edgar Lee Masters? What of the novels of Mr. Joseph Hergesheimer? Is not Mr. Dreiser at least original? Have not critics of well-reputed judgment written, strongly moved, of his "deep original mysticism"—that mysticism which "penetrates the rough chaotic surface of American life" and "lays bare its primitive foundations"?233 Has not the genius of Mr. Dreiser been credited with the "impetus of a huge cosmic plough"?

Yes: and in America one can understand an enthusiasm for Mr. Dreiser, but only in America. This writer has courage, that is undeniable: the courage to look with the naked eye at as much of American life as he can bring within his heavily-blinkered vision. It is not a slight thing to have achieved so direct a gaze in a country where sentimental make-believe triumphs more amazingly and more comically than in any other country under the sun. On this account we can forgive Mr. Dreiser his unequalled incapacity for artistic selection, his unvarying preference for making fifty or a hundred sentences do the work of one; we can forgive him the dullness of his æsthetic nerve, his mountainously heaped banalities of phrase, his grinding tediousness, his incoherence, his clumsiness that produces the distressing effect of some obtruded physical deformity. At least he has done something: he has given us a sense of the Middle West that is almost as depressing, almost as spiritually devastating as any that actual contact with the Middle West itself can produce. He is a realist: and it is an extraordinary feat of heroism to be a realist in America. But if Mr. Dreiser had written in any European country, he could not have been read. The tremendous strain that he imposes on his readers is only tolerable because they feel that he is doing something, or, with the throaty groans and gastric rumbles of an elderly Hercules badly out of condition, trying to do something that no one else has found the nerve or the stomach to attempt.

It will be asked if Mr. Edgar Lee Masters has not also the distinction of having dared to tell the truth in a land where, whenever truth shows itself, public opinion is instantly on the alert to suppress it. Does not the author of the Spoon River Anthology expose, powerfully and memorably, the vices of the respectable provincial bourgeois, the "Pillars of Society"? But again the question may be raised—did the Spoon River Anthology enjoy its vogue on account of its power and distinction as a work of art, or on account of the unusualness that lay in the subjection of American material to treatment of the kind? Guy de Maupassant had, long since, the same idea as Mr. Edgar Lee Masters, and de Maupassant executed it with genius. If a European, coming after de Maupassant, after Ibsen, had written such an Anthology from, say, the Potteries, with so much less than de Maupassant's or Ibsen's power, would his work have made any noticeable impression? Time will show—indeed it has done much to show already—how much less formidable Mr. Masters's power is. And how unfortunate that, induced by the success of Spoon River, Mr. Masters should have committed himself to other verse—rhymed verse, schoolboy exercises limping after models, otiose in expression, commonplace in thought. Mr. Masters writes in America: there is nothing to keep him back.

Mr. Dreiser, it is true, has never done anything quite so deplorable as the later verse of Mr. Masters: the tendencies of the author of The Titan and The Genius go another way. Intrigued by the fantasies of pseudo-scientific speculation he has of late taken to writing queerly and embarrassingly juvenile plays and stories about "energies" that form the subject-matter of Physics: he makes ponderous Teutonic play with electrons and the like. Or, stung by the crass persecution of American Puritanism, he writes grimly and solemnly and staidly about lust, turning pornographer out of a quaint and harassed sense of moral duty, or, it may be, merely out of obstinate combativeness, under impulse to retaliation. Mr. Dreiser is at least a phenomenon of psychological interest.

There are no poets who are in any way observable, but there is Mr. Joseph Hergesheimer, whose novels have been highly commended on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed, his style, self-conscious though it is, has an unquestionable claim to serious regard. His honesty in characterisation, his vigour, his sense of the running sap of human existence, his energy in narrative, all mark him out. We can hardly, after our234 later experience of them, expect any new values, any development, from Mr. Dreiser or from Mr. Masters; we can justifiably expect a good deal more from Mr. Hergesheimer than we have yet had, for he has only begun. The Three Black Pennys and Java Head point the way perhaps to much more considerable novels. Mr. Hergesheimer, far less unsurely than any other American writer of to-day, gives us hope for the future of American literature. To anyone familiar with the conditions of American life, it is amazing that he should have been able to write so well, to advance so far under so heavy a handicap. But, of course, no conditions of life are all-powerful. The individual will in the end escape from under the blight and the burden of any general mass whatsoever; partial evasions herald complete release. In ten years time, maybe—or in twenty—there will be very different letters to be written from America.

News there is little. Mr. Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, the one American writer of verse who shows signs of genius, is projecting a visit to England, and Mr. Hugh Walpole, Lord Dunsany, and Mr. Drinkwater are touring the country as so many of their British colleagues have done before. Mr. Walpole's addresses are very popular. Mr. Drinkwater has been more than once to Springfield, the shrine of Abraham Lincoln, in whom he now has a sort of property, and Lord Dunsany has been lecturing to a large audience at the Æolian Hall in this city. His reception was marred by excited interruptions from patriotic Irishwomen who wanted to know why he had ignored the grievances of his country. In a despairing way he repeated again and again, "I am a poet, not a politician."

R. E. C.




THE influence of the war is plainly seen in the Society's programme for the coming session, and the prospect of exploring the ancient seats of civilisation hitherto under Turkish rule will give general satisfaction. The Latin monastic buildings of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre will be described and illustrated, and a mosaic pavement found at Um Jerar during the advance in Palestine will be discussed. In Mesopotamia official excavations have been carried out at Ur of the Chaldees, Abu Shahrain, and El-Obeid; a Sumerian figure has been found, dating from the pre-Semitic period; and a marble slab of about 1200 A.D., carved with a double-headed eagle, has found its way to the British Museum from the neighbourhood of Diarbekr. The heraldry of Cyprus and recent excavations in that island are other items from abroad; but discoveries at home will not be neglected. The megalithic monument known as Wayland's Smithy (caricatured by Scott in Kenilworth) was thoroughly examined last summer; a report is promised on excavations at Templeborough, a Roman camp between Sheffield and Rotherham; and a small ivory carving of the later Anglo-Saxon period from St. Cross will take rank as a rarity of peculiar charm. It reached Winchester Museum unprotected among a miscellaneous collection of fossils.


The Society was just preparing to recover from the loss it suffered by the death of Dr. Furnivall when the war broke out. The officials had to do their best to keep the Society going whilst many members were away. A tentative unofficial revival of the annual report was made official and permanent, but several winter meetings were suppressed on grounds of war economy. The question of a proposed official phonetic transcription came before the Council, which also considered that of adhesion—as a section—to the British Association. In 1917 the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Society's foundation was celebrated. Recent publications include The Tale of the Armament of Igor, A.D. 1185, translated from the Russian by Leonard A. Magnus; an address on Jacob Grimm; and a paper by Sir James Wilson, K.C.S.I., on The Dialect of the New Forest in Hampshire (as spoken in the village of Burley). The President this year is Sir Israel Gollancz, and the secretary Mr. Leonard C. Wharton, of 31 Greville Road, N.W. 6. Forthcoming meetings (at University College) will be held on December 5th, January 9th, and February 6th, the subjects being Existing Parts of Speech Distinctions have no Topical Basis (Mr. H. O. Coleman), A Middle English Topic (Sir I. Gollancz), and The Perception of Sound (Dr. W. Perrett). New members are wanted. The subscription is a guinea.


We are hearing at the present moment a good deal about the Enabling Bill, and considerable interest has been evinced at the large majority which approved its second reading. This is not without its bearing on a matter in which the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings feels very strongly—i.e., that the laity should not only have a voice in church legislation, but that where church buildings (which may legitimately236 be looked on as national possessions of the highest value) are concerned the public has a right to know of improvements or additions which may be in contemplation, and to express its approval or disapproval of any such scheme.

Two cases which have come to the notice of the Society within the last two months have brought this subject again to the fore. In the present condition of things the Dean and Chapter of a Cathedral can exercise an arbitrary ruling over the structure under its charge which none can gainsay.

In certain cases, doubtless, no great harm may result even from the arbitrary decision of a small body of men who may or may not have any architectural or archæological knowledge, but the past bears many glaring instances in which succeeding generations have had good reason to deplore that in a preceding age a Dean and Chapter has held undisputed sway and worked its will.

What is needed is that it should be made illegal to add to or alter a cathedral—in fact, to do anything beyond ordinary works of upkeep (which do not involve removing stones or timbers from the structure)—without the permission of either the advisory board set up under the Ancient Monuments Act (1913), or, if the church would prefer it, some advisory board on which the opinion of such societies as the Society of Antiquaries, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and this Society would be represented equally with the dignatories of the church. This is a case about which the public should express its opinion so strongly that a revision of the existing system would inevitably follow.


The Egypt Exploration Fund is arranging a series of lectures to be given in the rooms of the Royal Society, Burlington House (by the kind permission of the President and Council). The lectures are primarily for the benefit of its own members and subscribers, but others will be admitted by tickets, which can be obtained gratis by application to the Secretary of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 13 Tavistock Square, W.C.1. The first of these lectures was delivered on Friday, November 21st, at 8.30 p.m. The chair was taken by Professor Percy G. Newberry, and the lecture, entitled "The Egyptian Origin of the Alphabet," was given by Mr. T. Eric Peet, who urged the view that both the North Semitic and South Semitic alphabets, from which together the Greek alphabet was derived, were derived in their turn from a common source which was taken, on the acrophonic principle, from Egyptian hieroglyphics. This argument is largely based on the inscriptions discovered in 1905 at Serâbît-el-Khâdim, in the Sinai peninsula, by an expedition of the Egypt Exploration Fund. The fund has recently published a pamphlet dealing with its aims and accomplishments, in which it is pointed out that Egyptology to-day demands more precise and scientific methods than were formerly employed, and that, as Egypt is now a protectorate of the British Empire, the responsibility for safeguarding the records of its history must be accepted by this country in a fuller measure than heretofore.


At a meeting of the Royal Numismatic Society on November 20th, Mr. Harold Mattingly read a paper on "The Republican Origins of the Roman Imperial Coinage." His main contention was that the Imperial coinage was the direct successor not of the Republican mint of Rome, but of the coinage of the "Imperator" in the provinces, as issued from about 83 B.C. onwards. He traced the history of military coinages under the Republic and brought evidence to show that it was not till about the time of Sulla that the "Imperator" himself exercised the right of striking coins. He then showed how out of this provincial coinage the coinage of the triumvirs naturally developed, and again237 from that coinage of Augustus. Augustus chose to found his system on this basis in view of the failure of the triumvirs, following in the steps of Julius Cæsar, to establish a personal coinage at the Republican mint of Rome.


This Association celebrated its sixtieth anniversary on December 7th, 1918, when a Lecture was delivered by Major Sir Douglas Mawson, in the Architectural Theatre, University College, Gower Street, W.C.1, on "The Glaciation of Antarctica." During 1919 several important papers have been read, including the Annual Address by the President, Mr. J. F. N. Green, B.A., F.G.S., on "The Vulcanicity of the Lake District" and a paper on "Old Age and Extinction in Fossils," by Dr. W. D. Lang. Three parts of the Proceedings for 1919 have already been published containing a full report of Dr. Lang's paper, another paper by the same authority on "The Evolution of Ammonites," and the Presidential Address by the Past-President, Mr. George Barrow, F.G.S., on "Some Future Work for the Geologists' Association," which is an interesting and exhaustive study of the post-Eocene deposits of clays, sands and gravels, older than the River Terrace deposits. The Proceedings also contain accounts of the excursions made to certain places of geological interest during the year. At Easter an excursion was conducted to the Bristol District by Professor S. H. Reynolds and Mr. J. W. Tutcher, and at Whitsuntide the Association visited the Isle of Wight, under the guidance of Mr. G. W. Colenutt and Mr. R. W. Hooley. Llangollen was selected as the district for the "Long Excursion" in August, and about forty members spent a week in the study of the Ordovician, Silurian and Carboniferous systems of the neighbourhood. Mr. L. J. Wills, M.A., F.G.S., was the Conductor. Excursions were also made to Sevenoaks, Farnham, Berkhamstead, Codicote (Herts), St. George's Hill (Weybridge), Box Hill, Headley Heath and Epsom. The first meeting of the Winter Session was held at University College on November 7th, which was followed by a conversazione. Many exhibits were made of Fossils and Flint Implements. Mr. Llewellyn Treacher showed a fine specimen, one of the largest known, of a flattened, pear-shaped late Chellean implement, 12½ inches long, recently found in the Maidenhead gravels; a slab of shale studded with Graptolites, from the Tarannon of Peebleshire, was exhibited by Mr. R. J. A. Eckford; and Mr. J. Francis showed many fine examples of Jurassic Ammonites and Belemnites, illustrating chambers, septa, siphuncles and sutures.




[This list is a selection.]

A PRIMER OF FRENCH LITERATURE. Clarendon Press. 1866 (fourth edition, revised, 1912).

JOHN DRYDEN. Macmillan. 1878. (English Men of Letters Series.)


A SHORT HISTORY OF FRENCH LITERATURE. Clarendon Press. 1882 (Current edition, 1917).

FRENCH LYRICS. Kegan Paul. 1882. (Parchment Library.)

MARLBOROUGH. Long. 1885. (English Worthies.)

A HISTORY OF ELIZABETHAN LITERATURE. Macmillan. 1887 (ninth edition, 1907).

[The material in this volume deals with the larger "Elizabethan" period from Wyatt and Surrey to the Restoration.]


ESSAYS IN ENGLISH LITERATURE, 1780–1860. Percival. 1890.

THE EARL OF DERBY. Dent. 1890. Prime Ministers of Queen Victoria.


MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. Percival. 1892 (second edition, Rivington, 1895).

THE COOKERY OF THE PARTRIDGE. 1893. (Watson's Fur and Feather Series.)

THE COOKERY OF THE GROUSE. 1894. (Watson's Fur and Feather Series.)

CORRECTED IMPRESSIONS. Essays on Victorian Writers. Heinemann. 1895.

ESSAYS IN ENGLISH LITERATURE, 1780–1860. Second Series. Dent. 1895.

INAUGURAL ADDRESS AT EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY, October 15th, 1895. Blackwood. 1895.

SIR WALTER SCOTT: A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. Walter Scott Co. 1896. (Famous Scots Series.)


THE FLOURISHING OF ROMANCE AND THE RISE OF ALLEGORY. Blackwood. 1897. (Periods of European Literature.)


MATTHEW ARNOLD. 1899. (Modern English Writers.)

HISTORY OF CRITICISM AND LITERARY TASTE IN EUROPE. From the earliest texts to the present day. Three volumes. Blackwood. 1900-4.

THE EARLIER RENAISSANCE. Blackwood. 1901. (Periods of European Literature.)


THE LATER NINETEENTH CENTURY. Blackwood. 1907. (Periods of European Literature.)


THE HISTORICAL CHARACTER OF THE ENGLISH LYRIC. 1912. (From Proceedings of the British Academy.)


THE ENGLISH NOVEL. Dent. 1913. (Channels of English Literature.)


THE PEACE OF THE AUGUSTANS. A Survey of Eighteenth-Century Literature as a place of rest and refreshment. G. Bell. 1916.


LOCI CRITICI. Passages Illustrative of Critical Theory and Practice from Aristotle downwards; selections, part translation, and arrangement. Ginn. 1903.

CAROLINE POETS. Clarendon Press. Two volumes. (The complete works of certain minor Caroline Poets with reproductions of first edition title-pages, etc., and introductions to thirteen poets. A third volume is in preparation.) 1905.

[Chamberlayne's Pharonnida, Ayres's works, and other rarities are here to be found.]

THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK. Maid Marian and Crotchet Castle; Melincourt; Gryll Grange; Headlong Hall and Nightmare Abbey; Misfortunes of Elphin and Rhododaphne.

He has also edited various series: the works of Dryden, Fielding, Goldsmith, Herrick, Montaigne, Racine, Donne (Poems), Longfellow, Shadwell, Thackeray, Richardson, Smollett, Sterne, Swift, and numerous collected or selected works of English and French authors.

He has written prefatory memoirs to Pride and Prejudice, Merope, A Calendar of Verse, Gil Blas, J. B. B. Nichols' Words and Days, Scott's Lives of the Novelists, Staël's Corinne, and various separate works of Thackeray, and he contributed many chapters to the Cambridge History of English Literature.



THE COLLECTED POEMS OF J. E. FLECKER. Edited with an introduction by J. C. Squire. Secker. 1916.

[Contains several poems not published before Flecker's death.]

SELECTED POEMS. Secker. 1918.


THE BRIDGE OF FIRE. Elkin Mathews. 1908.

[In the Vigo Cabinet Series.]

THIRTY-SIX POEMS. Adelphi Press. 1910.

FORTY-TWO POEMS. Dent. 1911.

[A reissue of the last with additions.]


[This book, which contains Flecker's Parnassian preface, was subsequently taken over by Martin Secker.]

THE OLD SHIPS. Poetry Bookshop. 1915.

[Published just after Flecker's death.]



[Each of these was privately printed in a very small edition by Clement K. Shorter.]


THE LAST GENERATION. New Age Press. 1908.

[A short satire.]


THE SCHOLAR'S ITALIAN GRAMMAR: An Introduction to the Latin origin of Italian. D. Nutt. 1911.


[Now published by Allen & Unwin.]




THE question, Is there or is there not a future for poetic drama?—that is to say, drama wholly or principally in verse—is very much like the question, Is there a future for sport? There are times when everybody seems to be talking about sport, times when even bookworms begin to play ping-pong; there are other periods—one thinks of the novels of George Eliot and Thackeray—when the world seems to have been without sport, and in the England of Jane Austen and the Brontës (contemporaries of Chopin) the sportswoman-composer, the "horsy" musician revealed in the pages of Miss Ethel Smyth's recent Memoirs is a figure less conceivable than the Phœnix. But through the darkest of ages sport has persisted, often as nothing more than the eccentricity of a few cranks, who in the eyes of the world about them have neglected serious affairs "idly to knock about a ball."

It was characteristic of a utilitarian age that sport and the poetic drama should have been abandoned together for what the unhappy people of that time, caught in an unimaginative and rigid scientific theory, thought to be "real life." The spirit of the age was like the sudden seriousness that seizes a young man when he first realises that he has great ability and that he must improve the universe. It is a state of mind that rests upon the conviction that one knows everything, and that what ought to be done is always as plain as a pikestaff. Once the bottom is knocked out of that omniscient self-confidence the whole policy and fabric of the time crumbles to pieces, and that is exactly what happened towards the beginning of the twentieth century when the scientists, like the decent fellows they are, began to realise that the great clarity and understanding which had fallen upon the middle of the nineteenth century was in reality a thick fog. But the old mental attitude persisted well into the present century, and is by no means yet dead. Owing to the way in which it brought the young intellectuals into practical affairs and set them studying economics and political policy, chiefly under the influence of that great spiritual survival of the nineteenth century, Mr. Bernard Shaw—who happened by a freak of nature which suggests the comic chuckle of an all-seeing God, to have a passion for writing plays—that utilitarian influence continued to pervade the drama when it had almost faded from the rest of literature. Mr. Shaw's plays are really a sort of inverted Smiles' Self-Help, and might well be called Plays for Paralysing the Puny Emotions—all emotions being puny to Mr. Shaw and Mr. Samuel Smiles compared with the necessity of getting on—with the job! With Mr. Smiles the job is one's own career, with Mr. Shaw the career of the universe—that is the only difference. The young intelligentsia of to-day, having almost all of them become materialists under the influence I have just mentioned, have at last, however, begun to realise that the universe is not only not going to have the career planned for it by Mr. Shaw or any other group of thinkers, but also that to plan a career for the universe is like planning an "occupation" for the Sun. To imagine that in a Daylight Saving Bill you have set the course of the Sun is to imagine exactly what this social-political school of realists has imagined in its programme for the universe! Naturally, when one knows what the world ought to be, and knows one has the power to produce that ideal, one has no time to spare for sport or for letting one's feelings interfere with one's business. Supermen, like self-made men, have no time for sentiment. It is here that we find the link—which might escape the superficial glance—between Samuel Smiles and Nietzsche, who has had such an influence on the Shavian school. It explains, also, why this school was so largely "pacificist" during the war, for really its intellectual sympathies were with the Prussians, whose241 philosophic justification was that they alone had the right conception—the conception of an efficient world—and that it was their task, in fact, their duty, to bring this conception forcibly into being. Such ideas always bring in their train a morality wholly opposed to sport and to poetry—a morality whose essence is the duty of preaching to the unenlightened. The drama became suddenly useful as a vehicle for intellectual propaganda.

The Intellectual Drama

The young intellectuals began to go to the theatre for the pleasure of hearing their theories preached at a public unable to answer back or easily to walk out, but dumbly conscious that it had paid its money to be entertained, and was having its head punched. It is no wonder that the drama suddenly became so popular with the intelligentsia. Here was an end to crying in the wilderness, to preaching your world panacea in dull tracts and essays! They had hit upon a method of getting the man in the street actually to pay to be instructed in the true doctrine, thinking that he was going to see the drama of the modern Shakespeare or of one who was "greater than Shakespeare." This, of course, was hailed as a great dramatic revival, and in so far as it brought the intellectuals back to the theatre which they had deserted, it was a revival. That is to say, it was a revival of the intellectuals, not of the theatre. You do not revive the drama by pouring into it a mass of sociological or philosophical theories, any more than you could be said to have revived poetry by suddenly writing verses about machines. One of the chief objects of art is to keep alive in our minds the realisation of the extraordinary depth and complexity of life. All the greatest dramatists do this; that is why people write books called The Problem of Hamlet; but the characteristic of this modern school of realists is not only that they are propagandists—that is to say, expounders of a certain point of view—but that they really believe that they understand the world. With that amazing certainty which is the hall-mark of the materialistic mind, the mind to which everything presents a hard, distinct superficies, they have no doubts about anything, and they display a set of characters who, to use a horrible but expressive phrase, are "all there." These characters are worthy inhabitants of the world as it appears to their creators. A world whose stupidity and wrong-headedness is so extraordinarily obvious—a world in which it is always so patent what ought to be done, that when one lives in it for the space of two or three hours during the play's performance one feels like a higher mathematician with a child's problem out of Euclid. This outrageous simplification and externalising of life is an intellectual mania fatal to great drama. It is the antithesis of poetry, just as we have seen war become the antithesis of sport, thereby offending the soundest instincts of the English people who, though they could find no arguments against the Prussian intellectual logic, yet felt dumbly but intensely that this simplification of war to something which shut out all ethics and all play made war damnable and finally unendurable.

We find now the war is over that this drama, whether written to get slums abolished, to expose prostitution, to draw attention to our prison laws, to expound socialism, to influence our marriage customs, to kill conventions, to explain strikes, or merely to be witty at the stupidity of mankind, is no longer in demand. There will always be a place for comedy, however bitter, savage, and loveless, and all the subjects named are traditional and excellent for the comic dramatist; but a comedy which is cold at heart, a comedy in which there is no love, occupies a very insignificant position in dramatic literature. At this moment the stage is mainly held by the stage play, which is little more than the bare bones of drama, the actors' device for entertaining an audience, resembling conjuring and the displays of acrobats. This kind of thing will always be more plentiful than poetic drama, for the simple reason that it is easier to obtain and easier to appreciate. Mr. Sutro's The Choice, as well as The Voice from the Minaret, by Mr. Robert Hichens, and Mr. Arnold Bennett's Sacred and Profane Love belong to this category. I find them often much more entertaining than the drama of242 ideas which to-day lives on the first ghost of its former self, in such a play as Mr. Maltby's A Temporary Gentleman, which has naturally won the approval of no less a person than Mr. William Archer. Mr. Archer has lately had the courage to declare that he has no use for the poetic drama of the Elizabethans (Shakespeare excepted). This is not surprising. Mr. Archer has been the champion of the school of modern English dramatists gathered around Ibsen and Mr. Shaw. It is natural to most Scotsmen to prefer argument to poetry, and Mr. Archer's animadversions on the Elizabethans only reveal Mr. Archer's limitations. But he will find that whereas a quarter of a century ago what he wanted to say was exactly what the young men and women wanted to hear, now nobody has the slightest interest in discussing social problems on the stage, and A Doll's House and Man and Superman are more absolutely dead than Tennyson's Becket. It is amazing to feel the change. I was at Oxford a short time ago, and I found that the forthcoming performances by the newly-formed Phœnix Society of Webster's Duchess of Malfi and other Elizabethan plays aroused the same interest and excitement there as I had felt myself. It is evident that the last wave of Victorian materialism is rapidly ebbing. The Age of Drains is past. This does not mean that we shall sink back into the diphtheric state from which the Victorians rescued us; it is simply that after two or three decades during which the young intellectuals have been annually sucked into a frenzied enthusiasm for social reform there has come a reaction in which we have suddenly had quite another vision of life—a vision far more profound and closer to reality than the one concentrated in the famous saying: "What is the matter with the poor is their poverty"—which has been the social slogan of the last decade.

Materialism and Poetry

It is important to stress this connection of the drama with life, because if we are going to have, as I believe, poetic drama in the near future, it will be because it is the best dramatic form for expressing what we feel, and as the demand must come in the first place from the intellectuals—since in them alone are the common desires sufficiently conscious—it was impossible to get a flowering of poetic drama until the intelligentsia had recovered from the epidemic of materialism, and had begun to feel the need of something more satisfying than glittering theories of reforming mankind by pure economics. The leaders of materialistic thought have always been uncomfortable about art, and have never been completely honest. In their uneasiness as to its practical value they have explained it on the ground that art develops and trains the senses—pictures train the eye, music trains the ear, drama presumably trains both.

To knock the bottom out of this ridiculous nonsense one has only to ask: What drama would you give a man in order to train him to pick up pins in the dark? Is it any wonder that the leaders of this precious substitute for thought could not appreciate Shakespeare, and is it any wonder that under their influence poetic drama has been extinct? The deadening influence of this utilitarian materialism has not only been felt in drama, it has been present in the whole life of the community; but the masses have been less subject to it than the intelligentsia, that is why the masses on the whole have stayed away from the intellectual theatre and have patronised the purely sporting, purely poetic, utterly useless Revue, Musical Comedy, and Farce. And their instinct has been sound, as sound as it is when they ignore the offer from the same quarter of a social millennium to be obtained merely by the exercise of logic. But the result has been a wider cleavage between the people and the intelligentsia than has ever existed before, and most of the dissatisfaction with the present state of the theatre is due to this fact.

It is a curious thing, but Mr. Herbert Trench, in his fine play Napoleon, which was produced last month at the Stage Society, and made a strong impression, occasionally touches on the very idea I have been setting forth. His Napoleon is a type of the materialistic intellectual who has a routine plan for the universe, and he harps continually243 on "order," as if "order" were something simple, something he had invented to enable the universe to run smoothly: "Your tide-work taught you poetry. I seek order," he says to Wickham—and it sounds like Mr. Shaw or some intellectual dramatist speaking. I will quote one passage from the central scene—the scene between Napoleon and Wickham—which really puts the case against the intellectuals:

Wickham: . . . . . . .
Because you have no love you have no eyes;
Your naked energy, working lovelessly,
Be it balanced like a planet is not wise.
How we have suffered from you, ghosts of Cæsar,
Suffered through concentrations of our hope,
Age after age about your glittering figures,
That have polarized and crystallized and chained
Awake! Rome left our tribes one great bequest,
Her law. That's in our blood, absorbed for ever.
But is then Europe's many-fountained forest
Bubbling with ten thousand springs of life—clans, nations,
Coloured by the ruddy soils from whence they spring,
Is this multi-coloured, insuppressible world
To be controll'd from one centre? Not again!
To be twice Roman'd? Never!
The grass will lift you as it lifts the stone.

Mr. Trench's play is a beginning. If we had—what is an elementary requirement of civilisation—a National Theatre, we would certainly see Mr. Trench's play there, and I should not be in the least surprised to find it a popular success. The public will never demand Mr. Trench's play; but then the public never demanded compulsory education, much as it needed it. I have little doubt but that what the public needs in the theatre to-day is poetic drama.


The Phœnix Society produced Webster's The Duchess of Malfi on November 23rd. The performance will be noticed next month. The date of the production of Dryden's Marriage à la Mode has not yet been fixed.


A series of French Classical Matinées is being given by Mlle. Gina Palerme at the Duke of York's Theatre on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 2.30. The plays will be produced as at La Comédie Française, with original music by Lully and other old masters. The list of plays is as follows: Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (Molière), Le Malade Imaginaire (Molière), Les Précieuses Ridicules (Molière), Le Barbier de Seville (Beaumarchais), Les Romanesques (Rostand), Le Voyage de Mr. Perrichon (Laliche).


BEN JONSON'S EVERY MAN IN HIS HUMOUR. Edited by Percy Simpson. Clarendon Press. 6s.

This is a pioneer volume to a complete edition of Ben Jonson's works, projected by Professor C. H. Herford and Mr. Percy Simpson, and its excellence is such that it is fervently to be hoped that we shall not have to wait long for the companion volumes. When these appear nothing more will be needed, and it will be possible for the ordinary person to read Jonson without floundering hopelessly among the maze of queries which244 the text at present available raises, and which its paucity of notes does nothing to explain. Mr. Simpson's admirable introduction deals with the quarto and folio texts, the date of the play's revision, and the general question of the portraiture of humours. It contains some excellent criticism of Jonson's revisions, and Mr. Simpson comes to the conclusion that Jonson began preparing the folio edition in 1612, and his reasons are, on the whole, convincing. There are sixty pages of notes.

SACRED AND PROFANE LOVE. By Arnold Bennett. Chatto & Windus. 3s. 6d.

A writer of Mr. Arnold Bennett's eminence and great sagacity would be the last person to expect us to take this play seriously as a contribution to dramatic literature. Although it is a play of modern life in the most colloquial prose, it has less reality than the wildest and most phantasmagoric drama of the Elizabethans. We may not expect Mr. Arnold Bennett to create for us an imaginative world of his own in which there is an inner and satisfying truth, but we look to him to mirror in his own peculiarly brilliant fashion a part of contemporary life with that precision which has so often delighted us. There is nothing in this play that could not actually have happened, but it is impossible to believe in it as it is happening. Mr. Bennett has not visualised his people intensely enough; they are mere puppets borne along by the machinery of the play. This machinery is from the theatrical point of view effective, and it leaves the creation of the illusion of life to the flesh and blood of the actors, so that on the stage the play may have an effect which it can never have when read. The play, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with sacred or profane love; no hint of the tremendous reality of love in any sense appears between its covers.




Group Making and Group Breaking

THERE is a distemper prevalent amongst artists of to-day. I refer to the mania for group forming. We are told by grave scientists that we carry in us the germs of various diseases; the latent microbe is in our system, apt to be shaken into active life by some unforeseen circumstance. Artists, it would appear, have the germ of "group making" inborn in their systems; less quiescent than other microbes, it awaits the often trivial cause for its activity—in some cases too much fame, in other cases the gall of unnoticed mediocrity. Given, then, one or other of these causes, a series of events is set in motion.

Mr. Maguilp gathers round him various fellow-brushmen of whose work he approves and, if he is wise and is conversant with the recipe of group making, he will exclude from the number any one who will be likely to offer serious rivalry to his own position; he may also luckily procure someone who can make play with the quill as well as the brush to boost him and his band of worthies with the public. A manifesto is next issued in which the faithful band begs to be entirely dissociated from any form of art movement prior to its own, and its members present themselves purged from original influences, risen like several phœnixes from the fire. They offer, so to say, a firm breakwater to the untiring waves of mediocrity. Good! After a few exhibitions of their united work the brothers may be considered established and perhaps not unnoticed by the critics. But now, mark the subtlety of the evil genius which haunts artistic circles, the group begins to think of self-aggrandisement. "Let us have other members, let us enlarge, let us, in fact, become (fatal word) representative." But these good men do not really mean "representative," their exact intentions are rather to increase their numbers by a process of eclecticism. Alas! The most carefully selected members may develop different ideas after their election. What trouble might not be averted if we could see the mental condition, as it were, of every chicken's egg through the shell; to emphasise this point, however carefully you choose your cabbage there may always be a slug in it. So, in this little band, which has now become a "group," there are already forces of unrest, as the papers say. The stages of dissolution from this point are very rapid: the undesirables multiply, they question the authority of our original worthies, they manage to introduce other undesirables, and on all sides there is mutual suspicion and distrust of each other's motives. "I fear he intends to swamp us with the work of his followers," or "He intends to try and get control of the Group" is whispered round. Then the rot sets in. One member, for convenience A., refuses to show in the same room as B., as if the mere presence of the latter's work would corrode the gilt on his frames. Another disagrees with the gallery, a third has been maliciously hung. Worse follows, for one of our original friends secedes and forms another group, drawing others away with him: fresh manifestos are issued, and all original ideas revised, "We shall burst upon the public," and so on, da capo al fine. The public! What do they think of it all, does it interest them; do our friends, the artists, fancy that their petty strife is watched with eager anxiety? Surely to the public this formation and dissolution of groups must be as puzzling as were the military categories of the war. A layman, having once become accustomed to one artistic movement, has his attention diverted to another; on refixing his attention to the first he finds it split up into other formations. He is as a man watching a parade of soldiers, he sees each battalion form and reform, wheel and turn, flaunting the while their separate banners as they march, a bewildering kinetic display. Samuel Butler used to wonder why curates could not be hatched fully246 fledged in surplice and gown, without the troublesome prelude of ordination. Could not artists be allocated at birth in a system of unchangeable groups? Now all this lamentable state of affairs is largely due to "cliquishness," and in a lesser degree to an inherent distrust of each other which all artists seem to possess. There is also another contention which hampers them in their deeper divans. One man regards the exhibition of pictures as a purely business concern, whereby he hopes to sell his work; another man imagines it to be an opportunity of displaying, for the education of the uncultured, the results of his own deep inspiration. The possible difference in their position may be that the former has to live by what work he sells, the latter has very likely a private income. If, for the sake of convenience, we introduce our alphabetical friends again, B. will despise A. for what appear to him to be mercenary feelings, while A. holds B. in contempt for amateurishness. Of the two I prefer A.'s idea because, once he has carried out his painting, his next idea (a very sensible one too) is to sell it; while B. affects indifference and thinks A. has been calculating his possible assets between his brush strokes. This idea is neither just nor relevant. What can be done for us all? We all want to sell our pictures; what need is there for pretence, and why are we at the mercy only of a few members of the "intelligentsia"? After all, I suppose group forming is in a sense a protective instinct against the dealer, though the results are so inadequate. What then is the alternative to group making, the remedy for group breaking?

At the back of my mind I have visions for the future. A huge emporium for pictures, run on business-like lines, and on a scale which will put Mr. Gattie's warehouse scheme completely in the shade. Here each artist may have his work shown in his turn, not one or two isolated pictures disseminated among the exhibits of fifty other artists, but each man's work hung in a group that all may see his development, note his improvement, and criticise his faults. Why not a Selfridge Emporium for the pictorial arts? "Woodcuts, Madame, fourth floor." Orders for drawings and paintings and sculpture might be received, and commissions for decorations undertaken in any possible style. Then imagine the satisfaction of procuring a Lewis or a Nevinson in the Bargain Basement: and the sales! "Things were cheap!" as Little Tich says, especially after the failure of the spring shows.

Mr. Nevinson's Exhibition at the Leicester Galleries

I do not imagine that Sisyphus in Hades ever wantonly let his stone roll down to the bottom of the hill after his laborious ascent, yet this is what Mr. Nevinson appears to have done in his passage up the incline of artistic endeavour. The simile is perhaps not quite applicable because, to be just, his work has seldom shown outward evidence of great stress: perhaps it were better if it had. He seems to have reached with extraordinary ease a position in contemporary art which was entitled to our respect. We are grieved then, rather than angry, to see his descent from that position. If this is his Peace work then give me his War pictures. I suppose we are all conscious that reconstruction is very slow in realising our anticipations; the business of changing from war to peace makes this inevitable, but Mr. Nevinson seems to have rushed, over-hurriedly, from one to the other. I think he has not considered reconstruction enough, for his outlook at present is chaotic and rather vulgar. This might be excused on the ground that he was pulling the public's leg, but the diversion is worn rather threadbare now. There are a few exceptions in the show, and moreover his colouring remains good, even shows improvement, and no one can deny his skill. "See," he cries, "how versatile I am. I have catered for all sorts of people!" Yes, but what sort of people? No, we would speak more in sorrow than in anger; as Ruskin addressed Millais in his decline—"If Mr. Nevinson were to paint nothing but apricots for four years, etc...." But we feel sure his relapse is only temporary.


The London Group

The eleventh exhibition at the Mansard Gallery does not differ greatly from previous exhibitions. Probably most people have ceased to expect any great surprise, pleasant or otherwise, though there may be still a few who mount by lift to the gallery with the feeling rather of an airman approaching some planetary terra incognita. I was assured the other day by a candid friend that "your" London Group was as dull as the Academy. This uncomfortable sort of person must give us a moment's heart-searching, but I think nevertheless that the London Group still holds its own pretty well amongst art exhibitions of to-day. With these hopeful feelings uppermost let us examine the works displayed for our notice. The absence of Charles Ginner's work is to be regretted, and the rather alarming tendency of some artists to fasten on the characteristics of other artists' work and mould them rather obviously to their own use is more marked this year than formerly. I feel sure that several of the members will have to try and throw these ingenious people off their trail, for it is disconcerting to the highest degree to find the plagiarist out-doing the original worker at his own job. One would have thought that Mr. Gertler's apple painting was the last word in that line, but some people appear to differ and you will find many feeble echoes of these rare fruit and many paintings also of the chipped corner variety ad nauseam. I do not really know to whom most sympathy should be extended: to Mr. Gertler for his apples, to Mr. Fry who is very hotly pursued by his admirers, or to the landscape painters who, I think, might almost seek the assistance of the patent law. Mr. Bomberg has returned in great force, and his Barges, No. 31, is indeed an earnest of further excellence; all his paintings have distinction. Mr. Dickey has presented us with a very fine effort in his Kentish Town, a careful and refined painting, very beautiful in colour. Mr. Gertler's paintings at the Goupil Gallery are more interesting than his exhibit here. No. 36, Still Life, by Mr. Coria, is a painting of note, despite its cold flatness of texture. The exhibition deserves more detailed criticism than space permits. There is great character in the two paintings of Caledonian Market, by Therese Lessore, whose exhibition at the Eldar Gallery is now open. Mr. Duncan Grant's pleasant Farmyard painting should not go unmentioned, and there is other good work by A. P. Allinson, Mrs. Bashford, Keith Baynes, Ethelbert White, and Bernard Meninsky.


THE LIFE OF JOHN THOMSON OF DUDDINGSTON. By R. W. Napier, F.R.S.A. Oliver & Boyd. Price 42s.

This is a vast book. Besides the usual foreword and introduction there are six chapters in which Mr. Napier most anxiously assures us that Thomson's evangelical labours and lack of artistic training in no way interfere with the exercise of his genius. This seems a little unnecessary; for we are quite ready to take him on his merits. Then comes the biography proper, and there are also five indices, a three-part appendix, and six separate catalogues of his work, besides numerous illustrations, etc. All this immense labour and care over an artist who I think was not a very significant figure among British painters. Perhaps he was overshadowed by his contemporaries Turner and Constable. He was not free, it appears, from the landscape tradition of Claude and Poussin, which he applied to his own Scottish scenery, and there would also seem to be a strong influence of Richard Wilson in his work. For all this, I think we may call him a "great little man," and Mr. Napier's book will be most valuable to the student of the history of British art.





THE season of opera in English at Covent Garden, which opened at the beginning of November, offers a programme of unusual interest. Tristan and Prince Igor are its oldest classics; Mozart, so it is rumoured, is being held in reserve for a special season of his own. The list contains hardly a single work that is not either a masterpiece or at least a novelty. Wagner is represented only by Tristan and Parsifal, Verdi by Otello and Falstaff. Except for a few Puccini operas on Saturdays, the commonplace popular operas that are obliged to form the backbone of every continental opera-house's repertory have been struck out altogether. It is certainly to London's credit that for so uncompromising a choice the response of the public has been enthusiastic.

As long as Sir Thomas Beecham was fighting the battle of English opera with dogged persistence and unstinted expenditure of material in the face of apathy and indifference, and possibly the hostility of vested interests as well, there was a very general feeling that his courage and high idealism should not be hampered by a too searching criticism of his performances. The Beecham opera has by now become an established institution, and it is inevitable, now that it has taken possession of Covent Garden, that it should be considered in a more impartial spirit. It need not fear comparison with the imported opera of the summer season. It has made its own high standards; but it follows that its performances must be judged in general by the standards of its highest individual achievements.

The present season has so far been something of a disappointment. Several of the operas to be seen have been given over and over again in the provinces if not in London. In the case of an absolutely new opera insufficiency of rehearsal may be pardoned; but it is not a sign of good management when the performance of stock classics is allowed to become slack and indifferent. Sir Thomas has not been seen very often at the conductor's desk, and this is the more to be regretted, since he has a most remarkable genius for pulling through a performance which in other hands would be always trembling on the verge of disintegration. He has very little sympathy with singers, it seems. He always tends to regard the orchestra as the main thing, and the singers as mere adjuncts to it, so that an opera under his beat might easily become a symphony with voices ad libitum unless, as, for instance, in Trovatore, the composer has understood voices and written for them in such a way that nothing could ever dominate them. Mr. Goossens follows in the steps of his master, but with less genius. The performance of Falstaff was instructive on this problem. Compared with that in the other Verdi operas, the treatment of the orchestra is so complex as to make it almost symphonic in character. None the less, it is an opera in which the voices must lead and the band accompany, for if this is not done the work at once becomes patchy and formless. It requires, in fact, that the singers should have a strong symphonic sense, should feel themselves all parts of a continuous vocal ensemble which must be kept going not by the conductor but by their own co-operative efforts. The orchestra can then accompany, and it must also play its part with a sense of vocal expression and individual personality. This is the real difficulty of Falstaff. As it was, the singers had little or no feeling for ensemble. I use the word in a large sense, meaning not merely the passages where several voices are singing simultaneously, but all those in which the phrase of one voice is answered directly, or even at some bars' distance, by another. Mr. Goossens did his best to hold the singers to a249 steady beat, but he allowed the orchestra to get very much out of hand. Mr. Percy Pitt has probably suffered too much from the old conventional Covent Garden routine. He lets the singers do more or less what they like, and allows the orchestra to play Wagner and Rimsky-Korsakov as if their music were no more interesting than that of Bellini and Donizetti. The one salvation of the opera season will be Mr. Albert Coates, who, even considered merely as a concert conductor, is in a different category from any of our English conductors. He adds to this a real knowledge and understanding of the stage, and a personality which has the quality of being able to get the best possible work out of every single person under his control. That quality is as rare as it is important.

The stage-management of the season has been, on the whole, good. Falstaff went with plenty of activity and comic business, if with nothing else. Indeed, there seems to be a pretty general tendency to romping, which might well be put under restraint. Romping may pass with some audiences as a substitute for acting, but it can never, even in English opera, quite take the place of singing. Singers, it must be frankly admitted, are the weak point of the Beecham company. Covent Garden, partly by its own acoustic properties, partly by its traditions, which no one who enters the house can quite forget, shows up vocal deficiency only too severely. Sir Thomas Beecham possesses only one really first-class operatic artist—Mr. Frederick Ranalow. He is a real actor, equally at home in comedy or tragedy, and always a real singer. It is because he is a real singer, singing all the time, that one never misses a single word that he says. He is a musician with a large understanding of the deeper things of music. His Falstaff forms a continuous line; as King Mark he makes what with most singers is a tedious recitative into a perfect song of rare beauty. Mr. Frederick Austin is a good second; but whereas Mr. Ranalow is a singer who is also a musician, Mr. Austin is a musician who also sings. Of the other male singers there is not much to be said. Some have voices, some can sing, a few can act and throw their words out. At the best they may in certain cases do remarkably good work in one or two special parts. Among the ladies the most interesting is Miss Sylvia Nelis. At present she is little more than a singer. As a singer she goes on steadily improving, in accomplishment of technique, in diction, and in quality of tone; indeed, there can be little doubt that if she continues at her present rate of progress she will from about 1970 onwards be annually enrapturing the Albert Hall with Home, Sweet Home. As an actress she has a good deal to learn, but with her intelligence and undoubted capacity for hard work there is no reason why she should not develop in this direction. Sir Thomas Beecham has hitherto confined her almost exclusively to coloratura parts; it would be well to give her a chance in some part that required bright and vivacious acting rather than vocal agility. Miss Agnes Nicholls has worked so hard to become an operatic actress that one regrets bitterly the non-existence of the Beecham company in the days when she made her first appearance. As it is, she has obviously sung too often in oratorio. That is the great fault of English singing. It has only two styles (apart from the ballad concert style)—oratorio or Gilbert-and-Sullivan. Neither of these will take a singer through Falstaff. Miss Nicholls did not happen to be in her best vocal form that evening; but her acting was surprisingly good—indeed, she was the only character on the stage, except Mr. Ranalow and sometimes Mr. Percy Heming as Ford, who gave one a real impression of a Shakespearean character. Miss Rosina Buckman has also improved, but is very unequal in different styles. As Isolde she sang with a firmer sense of rhythm than before, and if she did not act very convincingly, at least looked—in a black dress with a long white veil and a small crown—a figure of so queenly a dignity that it was not surprising to see Mr. Mullings as Tristan keeping a respectful distance even in the most passionate moments.

250 Stravinsky's The Nightingale was the nearest approach to a novelty that has yet appeared. Evidently it had been very inadequately rehearsed. The performance fell far below the level of the Russian production at Drury Lane in 1914. Miss Nelis as the Nightingale seemed to be the only singer who was certain of the notes to be sung, and almost the only singer who was taking the opera seriously. Stravinsky's music is a good deal less bewildering now than it was five years ago. The first act has a good deal of beauty: so has the third. The second seemed merely bizarre—but the performance did not do the composer much justice. A modern opera of such intricate difficulty ought to be staged properly and conscientiously or not at all.

There has not yet been time since the end of the war for foreign artists to visit England in the large numbers which were inevitable five or six years ago. Yet even though the givers of concerts are at the moment almost exclusively natives of this country, or foreigners who have definitely made England their home, the scarcity of concert halls is being very acutely felt. Almost every day there are three concerts at the Æolian and Wigmore Halls, and when operas begin at 7.45 or earlier, music-lovers have often to choose between their first act or their dinner. What is to happen when travelling conditions become easier and the annual foreign invasion reaches its full tide?

A new and very attractive series of Sunday evening concerts has been inaugurated at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, under the direction of Mr. Arthur Bliss. The programmes have been generally of a simple and informal character, with a liberal admixture of seventeenth and eighteenth century music, either for chamber combinations or for what may be called a chamber orchestra. Designed originally to supply the artistic needs of the Hammersmith neighbourhood, these concerts have, as a matter of fact, attracted a great many of the habitual frequenters of the more central concert-rooms. Mr. Bliss intends to continue his concerts after Christmas, and has announced for performance several works, both modern and ancient, which are of exceptional interest.

The Patrons Fund, originally founded by Sir Ernest Palmer, has resumed its concert-giving activities, but on new and much improved lines. Instead of giving performances of new English works at public concerts, the programmes of which contained nothing else but the music of unknown or almost unknown composers, it is proposed to hold a series of semi-private rehearsals in the hall of the Royal College of Music, at which the works selected are tried over and properly studied, as far as is possible within the limits of a single morning. The first of these rehearsals took place on November 13th, and it was very generally agreed that the new system was an undoubted improvement on the old. One could not help feeling that the atmosphere was both more friendly and more genuinely critical. There is undoubtedly a very strong feeling among all lovers of music in this country that the young British composer deserves far more encouragement than he gets, although it must be admitted that the young British composer is actually getting a great deal more than he did twenty or thirty years ago. Rehearsals of this kind are also of great educational value to the representatives of the Press, for in the struggle for publicity it is not always the most serious and genuinely original composers who receive the most attention in this period of violent and natural reaction against the overcharged emotionalism of the last generation.





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Editor—J. C. SQUIRE Assistant-Editor—EDWARD SHANKS

Vol. I No. 3 January 1920


THE first whole year of peace has ended, and it is natural to throw a backward look upon its literary production. It is certain that to the historian it will be a year in which various tendencies continued to act; it is possible that his eye, in long retrospect, will observe in it the appearance, the sudden appearance, of new literary developments and important personalities. But it is, as a rule, only in long retrospect that such portents are recognised as such; and though we think that during the year certain movements which have been for some years in existence have been continued, that there are drifts which are easier to perceive than to analyse, we cannot persuade ourselves that 1919 added more than the normal amount to the existing volume of good English literature. It was, in fact, as a literary year very much like one of the war years. Perhaps it should properly be regarded itself as a war year. The principal physical factor which, in our present relation, operated during the war was the absence on service of the great majority of those young men who would have been beginning to write. These were, with rare exceptions, precluded by sheer force of outer circumstances from literary enterprises of a sustained kind; and, as most of those who survived have left the Army within the last year, we could scarcely expect so soon as this to find them producing large and ambitious books. It may also reasonably be argued that the war-atmosphere still prevails. Peace has come—and it has not yet come universally or conclusively—not suddenly but with the slowness of a northern dawn. Problems from which even the most self-sufficing mind cannot escape harass the intellect and weigh on the spirit of the civilised world. We are not yet in a position to estimate post-war literature, for we have not yet got post-war literature.

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The opinions of intelligent men may differ to some extent as to which were the most remarkable novels of 1919; that they were very few is, we conceive, a matter of general agreement. Of the older novelists, Mr. Conrad258 produced in The Arrow of Gold (a work begun long ago and recently completed) a book which, though not among his masterpieces, was worthy of him. Mr. Wells, in The Undying Fire, a modernisation of the Book of Job, wrote an imaginative, an exciting, and an eloquent book. It was much better shaped and trimmed than has lately been usual with his books, and, for the first time since he abandoned scientific romance, he concentrated entirely on doing what he can do better than other people instead of trying to do what he cannot do. The other elder novelists did nothing that was unexpected and little that was good; and their successors have not appeared. A Fielding or a Dickens is a rare product; but we see no young novelists of whom it can be predicted with any assurance that ten years hence they will occupy places such as are now occupied by Mr. Wells and Mr. Bennett. It seems certain that they will not be found amongst that pre-war group whose merits Henry James examined with such generous consideration, whose defects he indicated with such delicate diffidence, in a famous article which "betrayed" rather than stated his alarm, even his pity, for the English Novel. There have been a few books which have attracted attention by their qualities of construction and detail or by touches of original genius; but of most of their authors we could not be sure that they will become even habitual, much less great, novelists. The book which more than any other appeared to us to be notable, both for its workmanship and for its imaginative power, was Mr. Joseph Hergesheimer's Java Head—and Mr. Hergesheimer is an American. It was not so good a book (we think Java Head was the earlier written) as The Three Black Pennys; but the two books are certainly the work of a born novelist. Miss Romer Wilson, whose Martin Schuler (1918) was a vivid, vigorous, and original book, published another, and a dull, novel, If All These Young Men, the subject and setting of which offered less scope to her peculiar gifts: but she is clearly capable of doing something surprising. Miss Dane's Legend was a remarkable technical achievement; and Mr. Cournos's The Mask, Miss Macaulay's fantasia, What Not, and Mr. Brett Young's The Young Physician were all, in their degrees, notable for a poetic quality.

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Mr. Beerbohm's Seven Men could scarcely be classed with novels. It was Mr. Beerbohm's best book, than which those who appreciate him could pay no higher compliment; but Mr. Beerbohm is an artist who stands outside contemporary movements, literary and other, and one of whose charms arises from that very detachment. "W. N. P. Barbellion's" Journal of a Disappointed Man was a full and poignant record which will probably continue to be read in a narrow circle as Marie Bashkirtseff's memoirs are read; his posthumous essays, Enjoying Life, are even more convincing evidence of what their author might have done had he not been stricken by disease. Amongst works of critical and miscellaneous literature those which will continue to be enjoyed, or—in some cases—used, are Mr. Festing-259Jones's Life of Samuel Butler, Professor Gregory-Smith's Ben Jonson, Mr. Gosse's Diversions of a Man of Letters, the late George Wyndham's Essays in Romantic Literature, certain books on the old Drama (Swinburne's The Contemporaries of Shakespeare, and Mr. J. M. Robertson's study of Hamlet especially), and Miss Ethel Smyth's Impressions that Remained. This last is one of the best autobiographies that have appeared in our time, and Dr. Smyth during a long and active life as a composer has been nursing a rich and racy English style.

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The department—it is difficult in making such a summary to avoid the language of the catalogue—in which life has been healthiest has certainly been poetry. Several of the best and most promising of our living poets published no book in 1919, but what is incontestably a revival has continued. Several poets of established reputation have done better work than ever before. Mr. Hardy has published little, but his Collected Poems, now published, establish once and for all—and, old as he is, he belongs as a poet to this generation—his right to a place among the great poets. Mr. Masefield's Reynard the Fox is as certainly his finest book, as Mr. Herbert Trench's play Napoleon, whatever its defects on the stage, is Mr. Trench's. There is the largeness about this long and ambitious piece that there was about some of his earlier and shorter poems, and supremely in his Requiem of Archangels. Mr. Binyon's The Four Years was a collection of the verses its author had written concerning the war. It contained several poems made beautiful by the straightforward utterance of a noble and suffering spirit. Mr. Yeats's The Wild Swans at Coole it would be affectation to describe as equal in interest to his earlier volumes, but there were one or two lyrics in it which would adorn any anthology of English verse; and in Mr. Kipling's The Years Between there were also flashes of genius. From Mr. Yeats and Mr. Kipling, however, we do not now expect the unexpected. It is in the hands of the young that the immediate future of our literature lies. The most notable volumes by young poets have been (we are tempted to add Mr. Waley's More Translations from the Chinese) Mr. Brett Young's Poems and Mr. John Freeman's Memories of Childhood. But in periodicals and anthologies there has appeared much new and genuine work. A great deal is to be found in the fourth volume of Georgian Poetry, which was reviewed in our last number. Mr. de la Mare's latest poems show that his thought is steadily deepening, whilst he is losing none of that delicacy of music and beauty of phrase that made his early lyrics as lovely as any in the language; and both Mr. Sassoon and Mr. Nichols have done work which makes their future a matter for profound curiosity. Scattered about in other volumes there have been many single good poems: and it is the characteristic of a prolific lyrical age that a few good things are written by many men. We would mention as especially interesting, in that it is one of the few long successful narrative poems of recent years, Mr. Aldous Huxley's Leda; the260 myth was difficult and dangerous, the versification often ungainly, but the poem contained passages of great strength and beauty. We may add finally Captain Scott-Moncrieff's fine translation of the Song of Roland.

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We used the term "a lyrical age." Opinions may and do differ as to the number and quality of good short poems that have been written in the last ten years, but that the prevalent tendency amongst the most intelligent young men is to write poems, and short poems, cannot be disputed. The paucity of good novels, and especially good novels by young writers, is not entirely to be ascribed to the fact that during the war many of those who might have written, and may write, good novels were not in a position to write books at all. The deflation, temporary perhaps, of the Novel has been proceeding for some years; the absence of even tolerable new novelists has been too nearly complete to be attributable to the peculiar war conditions. The novel of "psychology," the novel of minute observation, the propagandist novel are still produced in quantities; but the best literary brains are not going into them. The drift towards poetry was noticeable before the war; the war accelerated it. It is not a mere matter of change of fashion, of a form being worked out and becoming tedious—though we do, in fact, believe that the next revival of the novel will see a new development of the novel. It is a matter of a change in attitude towards life; a return on the broader emotions; a desire to acknowledge and praise the things men love and find beautiful rather than to labour at analysis and at speculation—not to mention sophistry. It is mostly lyric poetry that men are writing; and it is one of the results of the war, which has intensified our awareness of the old familiar things around us, which were in a sense threatened for all, and the loss of which was imminently before millions of individuals, that much of it is poetry of the English landscape and especially of the English landscape as a historic thing.

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Long poetical works, large essays in the poetic drama, are complacently manufactured by mediocre writers in most literary epochs. But it is commonly remarked that in this age men of genius, and particularly young men in whom genius is suspected, are mostly content with "short pieces." It is rash to theorise about such things, as the wind has a way of blowing where it listeth. No one can desire that men should systematically force themselves to literary undertakings which are uncongenial and towards which they feel no inner impulse. If a man agree with that poet who—acutely conscious, it may be, of the nature of his own talent—said that no good poem should or could be longer than a couple of hundred lines, he will serve no useful purpose by manufacturing large patchworks in cold blood. The presumption that any long work is better than any short one by the same hand is made by those (we are referring to intelligent men) who do261 not go to poetry for the quintessence of poetry, the thing peculiar to it: it is from those that we hear most insistently the demand for works on the large scale, and the complaint that modern writers mostly insist (these are the stock, if unjust and inaccurate, phrases) on writing sonnets to their mistresses' eyebrows and carving peach-stones.

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The fact remains that by the common consent of mankind lyrics alone—even the lyrics of a Heine, a Herrick, or a Burns—will not give a man rank with the greatest poetic artists. It may be that in Poe's sense a work of thousands of lines, which maintains the highest level of poetry, is impossible; that what Professor Quiller-Couch calls "the Capital Difficulty of Verse" is insuperable: but this does not invalidate the claim of the Iliad or Paradise Lost to be considered greater than Lycidas or the songs of Meleager. That they share in some measure the defects of The Purple Island and Pharonnida does not prevent The Fairy Queen and Faust being the greatest of their respective authors' works. From a poet as from another we want something beyond "jewels five foot long," the loveliest impressions of the most beautiful particular scenes, reflections of moods, verbal chamber music, momentary vision, sensibility, song. By the common consent of mankind the greatest things in the world are those works which, while full of beautiful details and informed with the poetic spirit, are moulded to a larger conception and attempt a larger picture of the Universe, of the destiny of man, or of the moving life of the world. We can, therefore, to some extent sympathise with those, however broody and disgruntled, who, when they meet a volume of new and exquisite lyrics, complain that the author has not written an epic or a tragedy. Is it likely that the present imaginative revival, assuming it to exist, will produce tragedies or epics, or works on the scale of such?

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To us it is difficult to believe that it will not: unless the nervous unrest, the absence of leisure and of the inclination so to employ leisure, are worse even than we suppose them to be. We see in much of the work of the younger men a vigour, a passion, a catholicity of interest, a zest for all life, that nothing but the most ambitious tasks could satisfy. But when we ask of what nature such works are likely to be we cannot answer. This one observation may be made: the demand for long poems is commonly coupled with a demand for doctrine. The poets are to add to scientific knowledge or to contribute new notions towards political or moral development: they are to dogmatise, to enlighten, to direct. Well, poets have done such things. But not all poets have considered it their business to be religious teachers, political liberators, or contentious intellectuals. The question: What did Shakespeare stand for? is disputed to this day. They have read many theories into him but got very few out of him. That he admired fidelity,262 hated cruelty, believed in honour, and loved his country, might be postulated of him; but the truths he stated there were old truths, and he stated them only incidentally: he did not write his plays with the primary object of illustrating principles, above all principles invented by himself. Milton has been called the poet of Puritanism, and Shelley the poet of Liberalism, but there is no "ism" for Shakespeare, and a very, very small one for Keats. The very persons who most insistently demand "ismatic" poetry are most contemptuous of the didactic, informative and disputatious parts of the works of the late Lord Tennyson, who began as a pure Keatsiam poet. Non omnia possumus omnes: and, over and above this, it is most important to remember that poets, like other men, are affected by the intellectual conditions of their own times. If there is a clear tendency some of the poets will be caught up in it. But the men are very rare who generate their own spiritual revelations in some secluded corner of an antipathetic world. Wordsworth and Shelley were what is called "philosophic poets," but their age was the age of Rousseau and Godwin, of the Libertarian movements that were part cause and part effect of the French Revolution. If the human spirit is moving in one definite direction at this moment we can only say that we do not know what that is. A generation of thorough and often conscienceless scepticism, followed by a breakdown of civilisation, has produced a mental and moral chaos, a welter of doubt amid which numbers of the doubters make random and mutually contradictory affirmations. Something concrete will, if the race is to live, emerge; but we are not yet in a position to see it. Nor are we, as mere holders up of the mirror of nature, in a position as yet to see the vast events in our own material world. For the great philosophic poem we have probably still many years to wait; for the epic of the German war we may have a century to wait; for a great drama we may arguably, owing to the peculiar conditions of the theatre, have to wait for a generally accepted scale of values which does not at present exist. But the imaginative temper is abroad, and the next generation may be a great era in English literature.



THE announcement of a new and especially sumptuous edition of the works of Mr. Thomas Hardy, to be known as the Mellstock, reminds us that there are other authors to whom the same process might be applied with equal benefit to themselves and to their readers. The collected edition presents a writer's career in an orderly shape and in proper perspective: it first permits a sober and probable judgment to be passed on his achievement. We understand that the works of Mr. Joseph Conrad will shortly be collected and issued as a whole; and this will certainly reveal in a definite manner what is now vaguely felt as to his greatness. We believe also that a definitive issue of the writings of Mr. Max Beerbohm is in contemplation. It is to be hoped that it will be found possible to include the full list of his drawings, in some shape not too incompatible with the rest of the volumes. The Collected Poems of Mr. Walter de la Mare have been announced as in preparation; and this will, we think, mark a definite stage in the career of a poet whose real value is not yet fully appreciated. But there are authors, concerning whom no announcement is made, who might be added to the list with advantage. What might be called "selected-collected" editions of Mr. Belloc and Mr. Chesterton would very likely secure for these writers a much higher place in contemporary literature than current opinion is always ready to give them.

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Mr. Chesterton will shortly start for the Holy Land. He intends to write a book about it. The book may, and probably will, be his best, for obvious reasons. It is commonly remarked even by those who think him one of the greatest natural geniuses and, at bottom, one of the wisest men of our time that he has never yet written the books of which he is capable. His best books, such as The Ballad of the White Horse and A Short History of England, are, for all their fine qualities, too slight to give his powers full room for display. As a rule, though he cannot be accused of a lack of energy, he has seemed never to put into a whole book that last effort which is necessary if a work is to be completely satisfactory; he has bothered too little, content to waste his imaginative largesse on hastily-written romances and polemical articles. How good The Flying Inn might have been had a little more trouble been taken with it! In Palestine, away from politics and journalism, with a new and romantic landscape around him, in the home of our religion and on the fields of the Crusades, he may provide the last answer to those who do not see an artist in him.

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Mr. Percy Lubbock's edition of Henry James's letters will, it is expected, be published in the spring. Mr. Edmund Gosse, with the letters as a starting-point, has written his memories of James. These will be published, in two instalments, in the London Mercury.

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It is five years since James Elroy Flecker died and over three since his Collected Poems were published. Some of his other literary remains will probably appear this year. There will be a collected volume of prose studies and critical articles, and another volume containing his play Hassan, which is awaiting production by Mr. Basil Dean. Some of those who have read this play say that it is the best tragedy since Shakespeare. The claim is not so large a one as it may appear at first sight. There are Ford and Webster. There is Venice Preserved and there is The Cenci, which last is not a great264 acting play, though it has magnificent scenes in it and contains sublime poetry. He who reflects on the history of the English drama since the age of Elizabeth and James I will be surprised at the paucity of plays of permanent interest, other than comedies, that have been produced.

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Monsieur Yves Delage has presented before the Académie des Sciences a most interesting note by Monsieur V. Galippe on micro-organisms in paper. It was, of course, known that paper-making materials of all kinds abounded with these low forms of life, but it was generally assumed that they were destroyed by the chemicals and heat employed during the processes of manufacture. Monsieur Galippe's exhaustive experiments prove that this is not the case, and, moreover, the micro-organisms retain their vitality even in printing paper, apparently irrespective of the lapse of time. Ovoid bacilli were found both free in the mass and in the fibres of papers of all ages.

The method of examination employed was the following: The paper was reduced to fragments and steeped in sterilised distilled water, being frequently stirred. The paper was then dried and again steeped for several hours in sterilised water saturated with ether. After once more drying, cultures were taken from the paper.

Eighteenth-century paper thus treated gave positive results within twenty-four hours, microscopic examination revealing large numbers of rodlike organisms as well as ovoid diplo-bacilli. A leaf from a printed book of 1496 gave a quantity of large micrococci, those from the mass being endowed with movement, and those from the fibre remaining immobile, though preserving the faculty of multiplication. Old Chinese manuscripts and Egyptian papyri dating back ten centuries gave similar results. It is to be noted that exposure to light and air does not appear to have the slightest influence on these organisms.

Although the bibliophile is more particularly concerned in problems relating to fox-marks and the ravages of the borer insect, nevertheless these experiments are of great interest. These investigations, if carried further, may well furnish some explanation of the processes leading to the ageing of paper. From such a vantage-point the technologist might possibly go forward to discover a palliative against the decay of documents and printed paper. Pessimists would probably consider this a doubtful blessing, but, on the whole, it would prove a great boon.



A Glimpse from the Train

At nine in the morning there passed a church,
At ten there passed me by the sea,
At twelve a town of smoke and smirch,
At two a forest of oak and birch,
And then, on a platform, she.
Her I could see, though she saw not me:
I queried, "Get out to her do I dare?"
But I kept my seat in my search for a plea,
And the wheels moved on. O could it but be
That I had alighted there!



Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of the tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the dark of the vine verandah)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn't got a penny,
And who weren't paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the Din?
And the Hip! Hop! Hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the twirl and the swirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in——
And the Ting, Tong, Tang of the Guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
Never more;
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar:
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the Halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground.
No sound:
Only the boom
Of the far Waterfall like Doom.


Lines Written in Gallipoli8

8 The author of this poem, a Fellow of All Souls, went out to Gallipoli in the Royal Naval Division with Charles Lister, Rupert Brooke, and Denis Browne. He was afterwards killed in France.

I saw a man this morning
Who did not wish to die,
I ask and cannot answer
If otherwise wish I.
Fair broke the day this morning
Against the Dardanelles,
The breeze blew soft, the morn's cheeks
Were cold as cold sea shells.
But other shells are waiting
Across the Ægean sea,
Shrapnel and high explosive,
Shells and hells for me.
O Hell of ships and cities,
Hell of men like me,
Fatal second Helen,
Why must I follow thee?
Achilles came to Troyland,
And I to Chersonese:
He turned from wrath to battle,
And I from three days' peace.
Was it so hard, Achilles,
So very hard to die?
Thou knowest and I know not,
So much the happier I.
I will go back this morning
From Imbros over the sea.
Stand in the trench, Achilles,
Flame-capped, and shout for me.



As I walk the misty hill
All is languid, fogged and still;
Not a note of any bird,
Nor any motion's hint is heard
Save from soaking thickets round
Trickle or water's rushing sound,
And from ghostly trees the drip
Of runnel dews or whispering slip
Of leaves, which in a body launch
Listlessly from the stagnant branch,
To strew the marl, already strown
With litter sodden as its own.
A rheum, like blight, hangs on the briers,
And from the clammy ground suspires
A sweet frail sick autumnal scent
Of stale frost furring weeds long spent,
And wafted on, like one who sleeps,
A feeble vapour hangs or creeps,
Exhaling on the fungus mould
A breath of age, fatigue and cold.
Oozed from the bracken's desolate track,
By dark rains havocked and drenched black,
A fog about the coppice drifts
Or slowly thickens up and lifts
Into the moist despondent air.
Mist, grief, and stillness everywhere....
And in me, too, there is no sound
Save welling as of tears profound
Where in me cloud, grief, stillness reign,
And an intolerable pain
Rolled on as in a flood there come
Memories of childhood, boyhood, home
And that which, sudden, pangs me most,
Thought of the first-beloved, long lost,
Too easy lost! My cold lips frame
269 Tremulously the familiar name,
Unheard of her upon my breath:
"Elizabeth! Elizabeth!"
No voice answers on the hill.
All is shrouded, sad and still ...
Stillness, fogged brakes and fog on high.
Only in me the waters cry
Who mourn the hours now slipped for ever.
Hours of boding, joy and fever,
When we loved, by chance beguiled,
I a boy and you a child;
Child! But with an angel's air.
Astonished, eager, unaware,
Or elfin, wandering with grace
Foreign to any fireside race;
And with a gaiety unknown
In the light feet and hair back-blown;
And with a sadness yet more strange
In meagre cheeks which knew to change
Or faint or fired more swift than sight,
And forlorn hands and lips pressed white,
And fragile voice and head downcast
To hide tears, lifted at the last
To speed with one pale smile the wise
Glance of the grey immortal eyes.
How strange it was that we should dare
Compound a miracle so rare
As, twixt this pace and Time's next pace,
Each to discern th' elected's face;
Yet stranger that the high sweet fire,
In hearts nigh foreign to desire,
Could burn, sigh, weep and burn again,
As oh, it never has since then!
Most strange of all that we so young
Dared learn but would not speak love's tongue,
Love pledged but in the reveries
Of our sad and dreaming eyes....
Now upon such journey bound me,
Grief, disquiet and stillness round me,
As bids me where I cannot tell,
Turn I and sigh, unseen, farewell:
Breathe the name as soft as mist,
270 Lips, which nor kissed her nor were kissed,
And again—a sigh, a death—
"Elizabeth! Elizabeth!"
No voice answers, but the mist
Glows for a moment amethyst
Ere the hid sun dissolves away,
And dimness, growing dimmer gray,
Hides all ... until I nothing see
But the blind walls enclosing me,
And no sound and no motion hear
But the vague water throbbing near,
Sole voice upon the darkening hill,
Where all is blank and dead and still.


Draft for "A First and Last Song"

Deep in the harvest of the night the sickle of the moon is sweeping,
We have sowed, O my desire, now is the time for reaping!
Turn not your face, O heart, give not your love
To aught of heaven or the stars above,
These dauntless robbers purloined long ago
The crown of Kaous, the belt of Kai Khosro;
And what have we to search for in the skies
Who have the blue pavilion of your eyes?
Or what need of the gold gates flung apart
Having the crimson portals of your heart?
... So shall it be when some day by and by
You mount the glitt'ring ramparts of the sky,
Loud to the wheeling heavens you shall boast:
"O sun and moon and Pleiads at the most
You're worth a wisp of barley or of straw
Unseen, unheeded, on Love's threshing floor:
And God the praises that your angels sing
Are all celestial but can never bring
The simple wonder of a mortal's doubt
Upon those faces upturned and devout
That every blessing of Your work recall,
Nor ever need to ask: What means it all?"
Be peace! The hour is passing. Here or there
The curtain swings to lay life's secret bare.
Ah, when the dawn of ending breaks around,
Be it that in Love's garden I am found.
To immortality I leave but this:
Your head reclining in a swoon of bliss,
Your hand uplifted to pour out the wine,
The minstrels singing this one song of mine.


A Country Mood

Take now a country mood,
Resolve, distil it:
Nine Acre swaying alive,
June flowers that fill it,
Spicy sweetbriar bush,
The uneasy wren
Fluttering from ash to birch
And back again,
Milkwort on its low stem,
Spread hawthorn-tree,
Sunlight patching the wood,
A hive-bound bee,
Girls riding nim-nim-nim.
Ladies, trot-trot,
Gentlemen hard at gallop,
Shouting, steam-hot.
Now over the rough turf
Bridles go jingle,
And there's a well-loved pool
By Fox's Dingle
Where Sweetheart, my brown mare,
Old Glory's daughter,
May loll her leathern tongue
In snow-cool water.



Out of that high pavilion
Where the sick, wind-harassed sun
In the whiteness of the day
Ghostly shone and stole away—
Parchèd with the utter thirst
Of unnumbered Libyan sands,
Thou, cloud-gathering spirit, burst
Out of arid Africa
To the tideless sea, and smote
On our pale, moon-coolèd lands
The hot breath of a lion's throat.
And that furnace-heated breath
Blew into my placid dreams
The heart of fire from whence it came:
Haunt of beauty and of death
Where the forest breaks in flame
Of flaunting blossom, where the flood
Of life pulses hot and stark,
Where a wing'd death breeds in mud
And tumult of tree-shadowed streams—
Black waters, desolately hurled
Through the uttermost, lost, dark,
Secret places of the world.
There, O swift and terrible
Being, wast thou born; and thence,
Like a demon loosed from hell,
Stripped with rending wings the dense
Echoing forests, till their bowed
Plumes of trees like tattered cloud
Were toss'd and torn, and cried aloud
As the wood were rack'd with pain:
Thence thou freed'st thy wings, and soon
From the moaning, stricken plain
In whorlèd eagle-soarings rose
To melt the sun-defeating snows
Of the Mountains of the Moon,
To dull their glaciers with fierce breath,
To slip the avalanches' rein,
To set the laughing torrents free
274 On the tented desert beneath,
Where men of thirst must wither and die
While the vultures stare in the sun's eye;
Where slowly sifting sands are strown
On broken cities, whose bleaching bones
Whiten in moonlight stone on stone
Over their pitiful dust thy blast
Passed in columns of whirling sand,
Leapt the desert and swept the strand
Of the cool and quiet sea,
Gathering mighty shapes, and proud
Phantoms of monstrous, wave-born cloud,
And northward drove this panoply
Till the sky seemed charging on the land....
Yet, in that plumèd helm, the most
Of thy hot power was cooled or lost,
So that it came to me at length,
Faint and tepid and shorn of strength,
To shiver an olive-grove that heaves
A myriad moonlight-coloured leaves,
And in the stone-pine's dome set free
A murmur of the middle sea:
A puff of warm air in the night
So spent by its impetuous flight
It scarce invades my pillar'd closes,—
To waft their fragrance from the sweet
Buds of my lemon-coloured roses
Or strew blown petals at my feet:
To kiss my cheek with a warm sigh
And in the tired darkness die.





IT was the ebbing light of evening that recalled me out of my story to a consciousness of my whereabouts. I dropped my little red book to my knee and glanced out of the narrow and begrimed oblong window. We were skirting the eastern coast of cliffs, to the very edge of which a ploughman, stumbling along behind his two great horses, was driving the last of his dark furrows. In a cleft far down between the rocks a cold and idle sea was soundlessly laying its frigid garlands of foam. I stared over the flat stretch of waters, then turned my head, and looked with a kind of suddenness into the face of my one fellow-traveller.

He had entered the carriage, all but unheeded, yet not altogether unresented, at the last country station. His features were a little obscure in the fading daylight that hung between our four narrow walls, but apparently his eyes had been fixed on my face for some little time.

He narrowed his lids at this unexpected confrontation, jerked back his head, and cast a glance out of his mirky glass at the bit of greenish-bright moon that was struggling into its full brilliance above the dun, swelling uplands.

"It's a queer experience, railway-travelling," he began abruptly, in a low, almost deprecating voice, drawing his hand across his eyes. "One is cast into a passing privacy with a fellow-stranger and then is gone." It was as if he had been patiently awaiting the attention of a chosen listener.

I nodded, looking at him. "That privacy, too," he ejaculated, "all that!" My eyes turned towards the window again: bare, thorned, black January hedge, inhospitable salt coast, flat waste of northern water. Our engine-driver promptly shut off his steam, and we slid almost noiselessly out of sight of sky and sea into a cutting.

"It's a desolate country," I ventured to remark.

"Oh, yes, 'desolate'!" he echoed a little wearily. "But what always frets me is the way we have of arrogating to ourselves the offices of judge, jury, and counsel all in one. For my part, I never forget it—the futility, the presumption. It leads nowhere. We drive in—into all this silence, this—this 'forsakenness,' this dream of a world between her lights of day and night time. Consciousness!... What itching monkeys men are!" He recovered himself, swallowed his indignation with an obvious gulp. "As if," he continued in more chastened tones—"as if that other gate were not for ever ajar, into God knows what of peace and mystery." He stooped forward, lean, darkened, objurgatory. "Don't we make our world? Isn't that our blessed, our betrayed responsibility?"

276 I nodded, and ensconced myself, like a dog in straw, in that basest of all responses to a rare, even if eccentric, candour—caution.

"Well," he continued, a little weariedly, "that's the indictment. Small wonder if it will need a trumpet to blare us into that last 'Family Prayers.' Then perhaps a few solitaries—just a few—will creep out of their holes and fastnesses, and draw mercy from the merciful on the cities of the plain. The buried talent will shine none the worse for the long, long looming of its napery spun from dream and desire.

"Years ago—ten, fifteen, perhaps—I chanced on the queerest specimen of this order of the 'talented.' Much the same country, too. This"—he swept his glance out over a now invisible sea—"this is a kind of dwarf replica of it. More naked, smoother, more sudden and precipitous, more 'forsaken,' moody. Alone! The trees are shorn there, as if with monstrous shears, by the winter gales. The air's salt. It is a country of stones and emerald meadows, of green, meandering, aimless lanes, of farms set in their clifts and valleys like rough time-bedimmed jewels, as if by some angel of humanity, wandering between dark and daybreak.

"I was younger then—in body: the youth of the mind is for men of an age—yours, maybe, and mine. Even then, even at that, I was sickened of crowds, of that unimaginable London—swarming wilderness of mankind in which a poor lost thirsty dog from Otherwhere tastes first the full meaning of that idle word 'forsaken.' 'Forsaken by whom?' is the question I ask myself now. Visitors to my particular paradise were few then—as if, my dear sir, we were not all of us visitors, visitants, revenants, on earth, panting for time in which to tell and share our secrets, roving in search of the marks that shall prove our quest not vain, not unprecedented, not a treachery. But let that be.

"I would start off morning after morning, bread and cheese in pocket, from the bare old house I lodged in, bound for that unforeseen nowhere for which the heart, the fantasy aches. Lingering hot noondays would find me stretched in a state half-comatose, yet vigilant, on the close-flowered turf of the fields or cliffs, on the sun-baked sands and rocks, soaking in the scene and life around me like some pilgrim chameleon. It was in hope to lose my way that I would set out. How shall a man find his way unless he lose it? Now and then I succeeded. That country is large, and its land and sea marks easily cheat the stranger. I was still of an age, you see, when my 'small door' was ajar, and I planted a solid foot to keep it from shutting. But how could I know what I was after? One just shakes the tree of life, and the rare fruits come tumbling down, to rot for the most part in the lush grasses.

"What was most haunting and provocative in that far-away country was its fleeting resemblance to the country of dream. You stand, you sit, or lie prone on its bud-starred heights, and look down; the green, dispersed, treeless landscape spreads beneath you, with its hollows and mounded slopes, clustering farmstead, and scatter of village, all motionless under277 the vast wash of sun and blue, like the drop-scene of some enchanted playhouse centuries old. So, too, the visionary bird-haunted headlands, veiled faintly in a mist of unreality above their broken stones and the enormous saucer of the sea.

"You cannot guess there what you may not chance upon, or whom. Bells clash, boom, and quarrel hollowly on the edge of darkness in those breakers. Voices waver across the fainter winds. The birds cry in a tongue unknown yet not unfamiliar. The sky is the hawks' and the stars'. There one is on the edge of life, of the unforeseen, whereas our cities—are not our desiccated jaded minds ever continually pressing and edging further and further away from freedom, the vast unknown, the infinite presence, picking a fool's journey from sensual fact to fact at the tail of that he-ass called Reason? I suggest that in that solitude the spirit within us realises that it treads the outskirts of a region long since called the Imagination. I assert we have strayed, and in our blindness abandoned——"

My stranger paused in his frenzy, glanced out at me from his obscure corner as if he had intended to stun, astonish me with some violent heresy. We puffed out slowly, laboriously, from a "Halt" at which in the gathering dark and moonshine we had for some while been at a standstill. Never was wedding-guest more desperately at the mercy of ancient mariner.

"Well, one day," he went on, lifting his voice a little to master the resounding heart-beats of our steam-engine—"one late afternoon, in my goal-less wanderings, I had climbed to the summit of a steep grass-grown cart-track, winding up dustily between dense, untended hedges. Even then I might have missed the house to which it led, for, hair-pin fashion, the track here abruptly turned back on itself, and only a far fainter footpath led on over the hill-crest. I might, I say, have missed the house and—and its inmates, if I had not heard the musical sound of what seemed like the twangling of a harp. This thin-drawn, sweet, tuneless warbling welled over the close green grass of the height as if out of space. Truth cannot say whether it was of that air or of my own fantasy. Nor did I ever discover what instrument, whether of man or Ariel, had released a strain so pure and yet so bodiless.

"I pushed on and found myself in command of a gorse-strewn height, a stretch of country that lay a few hundred paces across the steep and sudden valley in between. In a V-shaped entry to the left, and sunwards, lay an azure and lazy tongue of the sea. And as my eye slid softly thence and upwards and along the sharp, green horizon line against the glass-clear turquoise of space, it caught the flinty glitter of a square chimney. I pushed on, and presently found myself at the gate of a farmyard.

"There was but one straw-mow upon its staddles. A few fowls were sunning themselves in their dust-baths. White and pied doves preened and cooed on the roof of an outbuilding as golden with its lichens as if the western sun had scattered its dust for centuries upon the large slate slabs. Just that life and the whispering of the wind, nothing more. Yet even at278 one swift glimpse I seemed to have trespassed upon a peace that had endured for ages; to have crossed the viewless border that divides time from eternity. I leaned, resting, over the gate, and could have remained there for hours, lapsing ever more profoundly into the blessed quietude that had stolen over my thoughts.

"A bent-up woman appeared at the dark entry of a stone shed opposite to me, and, shading her eyes, paused in prolonged scrutiny of the stranger. At that I entered the gate and, explaining that I had lost my way and was tired and thirsty, asked for some milk. She made no reply, but after peering up at me, with something between suspicion and apprehension on her weather-beaten old face, led me towards the house which lay to the left on the slope of the valley, hidden from me till then by plumy bushes of tamarisk.

"It was a low grave house, grey-chimneyed, its stone walls traversed by a deep shadow cast by the declining sun, its dark windows rounded and uncurtained, its door wide open to the porch. She entered the house, and I paused upon the threshold. A deep unmoving quiet lay within, like that of water in a cave renewed by the tide. Above a table hung a wreath of wild flowers. To the right was a heavy oak settle upon the flags. A beam of sunlight pierced the air of the staircase from an upper window.

"Presently a dark long-faced gaunt man appeared from within, contemplating me, as he advanced, out of eyes that seemed not so much to fix the intruder as to encircle his image, as the sea contains the distant speck of a ship on its wide blue bosom of water. They might have been the eyes of the blind; the windows of a house in dream to which the inmate must make something of a pilgrimage to look out upon actuality. Then he smiled, and the long, dark features, melancholy yet serene, took light upon them, as might a bluff of rock beneath a thin passing wash of sunshine. With a gesture he welcomed me into the large, dark-flagged kitchen, cool as a cellar, airy as a belfry, its sweet air traversed by a long oblong of light out of the west.

"The wide shelves of the painted dresser were laden with crockery. A wreath of freshly-gathered flowers hung over the chimney-piece. As we entered, a twittering cloud of small birds, robins, hedge-sparrows, chaffinches fluttered up a few inches from floor and sill and window-seat, and once more, with tiny starry-dark eyes observing me, soundlessly alighted.

"I could hear the infinitesimal tic-tac of their tiny claws upon the slate. My gaze drifted out of the window into the garden beyond, a cavern of clearer crystal and colour than that which astounded the eyes of young Aladdin. Apart from the twisted garland of wild flowers, the shining metal of range and copper candlestick, and the bright-scoured crockery, there was no adornment in the room except a rough frame, hanging from a nail in the wall, and enclosing what appeared to be a faint patterned fragment of blue silk or fine linen. The chairs and table were old and heavy. A low light warbling, an occasional skirr of wing, a haze-like drone of bee and fly—279these were the only sounds that edged a quiet intensified in its profundity by the remote stirrings of the sea.

"The house was stilled as by a charm, yet thought within me asked no questions; speculation was asleep in its kennel. I sat down to the milk and bread, the honey and fruit which the old woman laid out upon the table, and her master seated himself opposite to me, now in a low sibilant whisper—a tongue which they seemed to understand—addressing himself to the birds, and now, as if with an effort, raising those strange grey-green eyes of his to bestow a quiet remark upon me. He asked, rather in courtesy than with any active interest, a few questions, referring to the world, its business and transports—our beautiful world—as an astronomer in the small hours might murmur a few words to the chance-sent guest of his solitude concerning the secrets of Uranus or Saturn. There is another, an inexplorable side to the moon. Yet he said enough for me to gather that he, too, was of that small tribe of the aloof and wild to which our cracked old word 'forsaken' might be applied, hermits, clay-matted fakirs, and such-like, the snowy birds that play and cry amid mid-oceanic surges, the living of an oasis of the wilderness, which share a reality only distantly dreamed of by the time-driven, thought-corroded congregations of man.

"Yet so narrow and hazardous I somehow realised was the brink of fellow-being (shall I call it?) which we shared, he and I, that again and again fantasy within me seemed to hover over that precipice Night knows as fear. It was he, it seemed, with that still embracive contemplation of his, with that far-away yet reassuring smile, that kept my poise, my balance. 'No,' some voice within him seemed to utter, 'you are safe; the bounds are fixed; though hallucination chaunt its decoy, you shall not irretrievably pass over. Eat and drink, and presently return to "life."' And I listened, and, like that of a drowsy child in its cradle, my consciousness sank deeper and deeper, stilled, pacified, into the dream amid which, as it seemed, this soundless house of stone now reared its walls.

"I had all but finished my meal when I heard footsteps approaching on the flags without. The murmur of other voices, distinguishably shrill yet guttural, even at a distance, and in spite of the dense stones and beams of the house which had blunted their timbre, had already reached me. Now the feet halted. I turned my head—cautiously, even perhaps apprehensively—and confronted two figures in the doorway.

"I cannot now guess the age of my entertainer. These children—for children they were in face and gesture and effect, though as to form and stature apparently in their last teens—these children were far more problematical. I say 'form and stature,' yet obviously they were dwarfish. Their heads were sunken between their shoulders, their hair thick, their eyes disconcertingly deep-set. They were ungainly, their features peculiarly irregular, as if two races from the ends of the earth had in them intermingled their blood and strangeness, as if rather animal and angel had connived in their creation.

280 "But if some inward light lay on the still eyes, on the gaunt, sorrowful, quixotic countenance that now was fully and intensely bent on mine, emphatically that light was theirs also. He spoke to them, they answered—in English, my own language, without a doubt: but an English slurred, broken, and unintelligible to me, yet clear as bell, haunting, penetrating, pining as voice of nix or siren. My ears drank in the sound as an Arab parched with desert sand falls on his dried belly and gulps in mouthfuls of crystal water. The birds hopped nearer, as if beneath the rod of an enchanter. A sweet continuous clamour arose from their small throats. The exquisite colours of plume and bosom burned, greened, melted in the level sun-ray, in the darker air beyond.

"A kind of mournful gaiety, a lamentable felicity, such as rings in the cadences of an old folk-song, welled into my heart. I was come back to the borders of Eden, bowed and outwearied, gazing out of dream into dream, homesick, 'forsaken.'

"Well, years have gone by," muttered my fellow-traveller deprecatingly, "but I have not forgotten that Eden's primeval trees and shade.

"They led me out, these bizarre companions, a he and a she, if I may put it as crudely as my apprehension of them put it to me then. Through a broad door they conducted me—if one who leads may be said to be conducted—into their garden. Garden! A full mile long, between undiscerned walls, it sloped and narrowed towards a sea at whose dark unfoamed blue, even at this distance, my eyes dazzled. Yet how can one call that a garden which reveals no ghost of a sign of human arrangement, of human slavery, of spade or hoe?

"Great boulders shouldered up, tessellated, embossed, powdered with a thousand various mosses and lichens, between a flowering greenery of weeds. Wind-stunted, clear-emerald, lichen-tufted trees smoothed and crisped the inflowing airs of the ocean with their leaves and spines, sibilating a thin scarce-audible music. Scanty, rank, and uncultivated fruits hung close their vivid-coloured cheeks to the gnarled branches. It was the harbourage of birds, the small embowering parlour of their house of life, under an evening sky, pure and lustrous as a water-drop. It cried 'Hospital' to the wanderers of the universe.

"As I look back in ever-thinning, nebulous remembrance, on my two companions, hear their voices gutturally sweet and shrill, catch again their being, so to speak, I realise that there was a kind of Orientalism in their effect. Their instant courtesy was not Western, the smiles that greeted me, whenever I turned my head to look back at them, were infinitely friendly, yet infinitely remote. So ungainly, so far from our notions of beauty and symmetry were their bodies and faces, those heads thrust heavily between their shoulders, their disproportioned yet graceful arms and hands, that the children in some of our English villages might be moved to stone them, while their elders looked on and laughed.

"Dusk was drawing near; soon night would come. The colours of the281 sunset, sucking its extremest dye from every leaf and blade and petal, touched my consciousness even then with a vague fleeting alarm.

"I remember I asked these strange and happy beings, repeating my question twice or thrice, as we neared the surfy entry of the valley upon whose sands a tiny stream emptied its fresh waters—I asked them if it was they who had planted this multitude of flowers, many of a kind utterly unknown to me and alien to a country inexhaustibly rich. 'We wait; we wait!' I think they cried. And it was as if their cry woke echo from the green-walled valleys of the mind into which I had strayed. Shall I confess that tears came into my eyes as I gazed hungrily around me on the harvest of their patience?

"Never was actuality so close to dream. It was not only an unknown country, slipped in between these placid hills, upon which I had chanced in my ramblings. I had entered for a few brief moments a strange region of consciousness. I was treading, thus accompanied, amid a world of welcoming and fearless life—oh, friendly to me!—the paths of man's imagination, the kingdom from which thought and curiosity, vexed scrutiny and lust—a lust it may be for nothing more impious than the actual—had prehistorically proved the insensate means of his banishment. 'Reality,' 'Consciousness': had he for 'the time being' unwittingly, unhappily missed his way? Would he be led back at length to that garden wherein cockatrice and basilisk bask, harmlessly, at peace?

"I speculate now. In that queer, yes, and possibly sinister, company, sinister only because it was alien to me, I did not speculate. In their garden, the familiar was become the strange—'the strange' that lurks in the inmost heart, unburdens its riches in trance, flings its light and gilding upon love, gives heavenly savour to the intemperate bowl of passion, and is the secret of our incommunicable pity. What is yet queerer, these beings were evidently glad of my company. They stumped after me (as might yellow men after some Occidental quadruped never before seen) in merry collusion of nods and wreathed smiles at this perhaps unprecedented intrusion.

"I stood for a moment looking out over the placid surface of the sea. A ship in sail hung phantom-like on the horizon. I pined to call my discovery to its seamen. The tide gushed, broke, spent itself on the bare boulders. I was suddenly cold and alone, and gladly turned back into the garden, my companions instinctively separating to let me pass between them. I breathed in the rare, almost exotic heat, the tenuous, honeyed, almond-laden air of its flowers and birds—gull, mandrake, plover, wagtail, finch, robin, which as I half-angrily, half-sadly realised fluttered up in momentary dismay only at my presence, the embodied spectre of their enemy, man. Man? Then who were these?...

"I lost again a way lost early that morning, as I trudged inland at night. The dark came, warm and starry. I was tired, dejected, exhausted beyond words. That night I slept in a barn and was awakened soon after daybreak by the crowing of cocks. I went out, dazed and blinking into the sunlight,282 bathed face and hands in a brook near by, and came to a village before a soul was stirring. So I sat under a thrift-cushioned, thorn-crowned wall in a meadow, and once more drowsed off and fell asleep. When again I awoke, it was ten o'clock. The church clock in its tower knelled out its strokes, and I went into an inn for food.

"A corpulent, blonde woman, kindly and hospitable, with a face comfortably resembling her own sow's, that yuffed and nosed in at the open door as I sat on my stool, served me with what I called for. I described—not without some vanishing shame, as if it were a treachery—my farm, its whereabouts.

"Her small blue eyes 'pigged' at me with a fleeting expression which I failed to translate. The name of the farm, it appeared, was Trevarras. 'And did you see any of the Creatures?' she asked me in a voice not entirely her own. 'The Creatures'! I sat back for an instant and stared at her; then realised that Creature was the name of my host, and Maria and Christus (though here her dialect may have deceived me) the names of my two gardeners. She spun an absurd story, so far as I could tack it together and make it coherent. Superstitious stuff about this man who had wandered in upon the shocked and curious inhabitants of the district and made his home at Trevarras—a stranger and pilgrim, a 'foreigner,' it seemed, of few words, dubious manners, and both uninformative.

"Then there was something (she placed her two fat hands, one of them wedding-ringed, on the zinc of the bar-counter, and peered over at me, as if I were a delectable 'wash'), then there was something about a woman 'from the sea.' In a 'blue gown,' and either dumb, inarticulate, or mistress of only a foreign tongue. She must have lived in sin, moreover, those pig's eyes seemed to yearn, since the children were 'simple,' 'naturals'—as God intends in such matters. It was useless. One's stomach may sometimes reject the cold sanative aerated water of 'the next morning,' and my ridiculous intoxication had left me dry but not yet quite sober.

"Anyhow, this she told me, that my blue woman, as fair as flax, had died and was buried in the neighbouring churchyard (the nearest to, though miles distant from, Trevarras). She repeatedly assured me, as if I might otherwise doubt so sophisticated a fact, that I should find her grave there, her 'stone.'

"So indeed I did—far away from the elect, and in a shade-ridden northwest corner of the sleepy, cropless acre: a slab, scarcely rounded, of granite, with but a name bitten out of the dark rough surface, 'Femina Creature.'"




MEN have always lost their heads over prophets, and prophets have often lost their heads over themselves. The word itself expresses a common misunderstanding. The prophet is not a tipster—if he has any power of foretelling, it is only a part of his wisdom; he is a man in whom the universal man speaks, not the lower or generic or animal universal, but that higher universal to which individuals and societies sometimes attain. You may, of course, disbelieve in it altogether, in which case the prophet is to you merely one who talks nonsense; but he himself is aware of it when it speaks in him, and it makes him vehement, hasty, impatient both of his own medium of language and of all opposition or failure to understand. It is to him an absolute which forces him to utter that, true always and everywhere; but he has to express it in human language, a medium relative to human wants and human conditions. So his expression is always imperfect and cannot be understood except with the goodwill of the hearer. This goodwill he demands, not from egotism, but because he is uttering the universal, and the refusal of it exasperates him. I have piped to you and you have not danced—is always the cry of the prophet. Argument he hates and the dialectic of Dons, because his universal is not to be proved, its convincing power is in itself. It is the truth which, like beauty, is believed when seen; and, if you will not believe it, that is because you refuse to see or hear it. You are like the deaf adder that stoppeth its ears, and you are refusing to see your own truth as well as his; you are refusing to find yourself in the universal. Who are you, says Whitman, that wanted a book to encourage you in your nonsense? Your nonsense is your private opposition to the universal, the obstacle which you set up in yourself to your own wisdom and happiness; and with this the prophet has no patience. He will make no terms with it; he will not attempt a worldly lucidity or even the contrivance of the artist. It is not he who speaks but the universal that speaks in him, often beautifully but careless even of beauty, finding what human words it can; and men must not look this gift-horse in the mouth, must not criticise him, for it is not he who speaks as an individual but—my father that speaketh in me.

So many men, whether they stone the prophet or accept him, misunderstand him always; after they have stoned or ignored him, they worship him as a magician. In the past he was to them one who foretold the future; now they find an equal value in all that he says and does. Any words of his have a biblical authority, and he is the one genuine prophet, compared with whom all others are impostors. They do not know that the chief reason for believing prophets is that they all say the same thing, that this universal of284 theirs is a real universal, quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus. When they assert that their particular prophet has a monopoly of the truth, they are depriving him of his chief authority, turning his universal into a particular; and this they do because they will not be at the pains to seek the universal in his works. It must be recognised by its own quality, and every man must recognise it for himself; but they, flinching from the effort of recognition, seek a gospel made authentic by the name of its author; the prophet has said it and it must be true.

Unfortunately the prophet himself often shares this infirmity and believes that he is always a prophet; he becomes a disciple of himself, and sets himself above criticism, not from mere egotism and conceit so much as because he too flinches from the task of discerning his own universal. The prophetic vehemence becomes a habit with him; and he despises the artist's patience and contrivance; he may even believe that he is a prophet because he himself does not clearly understand what he says; he may mistake the automatism, which lies in wait for everyone who constantly practises any art, for the universal speaking in him and imperiously snatching at language to express itself.

Now Blake was artist as well as prophet, a great artist in two arts; but everything conspired to make him confuse the functions of artist and prophet, which indeed are easily confused. A man is helped to understand himself by the understanding of others; and Blake had no one to understand him, as artist or as prophet. His masters were in the past; his own achievements belonged to the future; he lacked that contemporary education which is best worth having. There was no one even for him to talk to, but only a few listeners who were not sure that he was sane. As artist, he was a prophet in the literal sense; he did what men were going to do as well as what they had done long ago. Naturally he believed that, as artist, he was always right, while Reynolds and the other popular ones of his own time were always wrong. He had a blood-feud with them, and was in love with his own work; he believed that the universal, which sometimes possessed him, possessed him always, because his writing and his drawing were unlike those of other men of his time. So he made a myth about himself to express his lack of criticism, namely, that his works were dictated to him by an angel, they were not his, and it was not his business to improve or judge them.

In his own time he was neglected; but now he is subject to the other kind of misunderstanding. He has disciples who are as uncritical of his works as he was, for whom he is always prophet, never artist, or rather an infallible artist because a prophet. They tell us that, if we enjoy his poems as poems or his pictures as pictures, we have not found the key to them. With the key of his symbolism we can enter a sanctuary beyond beauty in which the secrets of the universe are revealed. But they cannot tell us what these secrets are any more than Blake could; and I would rather believe that he told us all he could by the methods proper to a writer, and that the faults of the artist are not the virtues of the prophet; that where in verse that begins beautifully285 he becomes incoherent, uses catchwords not to be understood except by reference to other writings and often not then, he is himself confusing the artist with the prophet and making the mistake of his disciples.

If you are in danger of believing in the magic of Blake, of treating him as our pious grandparents treated the Hebrew prophets, you may recover your senses by considering his other art; for in that the difference between his artistic failures and successes is plain. I myself believe that Blake was the greatest master of design among all modern artists, that for the shaping imagination you must go back to Tintoret to find his equal. But, whereas in poetry he freed himself easily from all influences foreign to his own character and genius, in his other art he was free only intermittently and blindly. There are two kinds of drawing which I will call rhythmical and constructional, although, of course, there is rhythm in all good constructional drawing and some construction in all good rhythmical drawing. But the difference is one of kind, it is the difference between Cimabue and Michelangelo. Cimabue expresses himself mainly in rhythm to which the descriptive shapes of things are subordinate—it is enough if you can recognise them. Michelangelo's line itself constructs, it tells us how things are made and insists upon their functions. It is the line natural to an age eager for consecutive thought; it is, as it were, an arguing line. Now, Blake was by nature, by conviction, by habit, a rhythmical draughtsman, and all his best work is rhythmical rather than constructive; he is not arguing with us, he is telling us, in line as in words. It is enough for him if we can recognise his shapes for what they are; he expresses his real content in the sway of lines, as if it were a dance or a gesture, and he is most at his ease when his shapes are like flames blown in the wind, almost transformed by his own emotion. And yet he was not often at his ease in drawing, for all his life he was, like Fuseli, haunted by the ghost of Michelangelo, whose actual works he had never seen. Even he was subdued by the prestige of a master whose method was poison to his genius. In poetry he could be inspired by the past art of his own country, and in his earliest poems alone does he speak for a few words, in the language of his time. "And Phœbus fired my vocal rage"; but his drawings are infested by formulæ taken second-hand from Michelangelo. It is only now and then, in the decorations to books which he printed himself, in the magnificent woodcuts for Thornton's Pastorals, in some of the Dante illustrations, that he quite frees himself from a pretence of constructional drawing. If you would excel in that, you must study the particular fact passionately, you must get your construction from the fact, not from your own mind; but Blake, like so many imitators of Michelangelo, did not study the fact; he gives us a pretence of constructional drawing in formulæ often struggling to be rhythmical and failing because they are formulæ of construction. There he is like St. Paul, who sometimes spoils matter that should be prophetic with a pretence of Greek dialectic, who makes a bad argument for the Resurrection out of an image. Even in his most famous design, the Morning Stars of the Book of Job, the rhythm of the wings and garments is286 cramped by the drawing, anatomical without freshness, of the bodies. Compare this with the last drawing but one of the series, where rhythm is master of all, and you will see how Blake, even in his great maturity, only practised his true method by accident, and when there was no association to mislead him; the nude was a snare to him, and seldom could he find a method of his own for it. Often he was merely an inferior Fuseli; and bits of Fuseli obtrude even in his finer works. Nothing could be more tiresome than the drawing of some of his faces, and no one could for a moment suppose that there was any prophetic infallibility in these failures; they are as dull as late Roman sculpture or the efforts of Reynolds in the grand style.

But, if Blake is not infallible as a draughtsman, he is not infallible at all; for he himself would sometimes claim infallibility in all his works; by the common infirmity of prophets, when they cease to be prophetic, he assumed a status different from that of the artist, and so was induced to set down whatever came into his mind, as if an angel were dictating to him or he had command of the pencil of the Holy Ghost. But the artist and the prophet are both what they are by effort not by status; if they rely on status they become bores or charlatans; and that is true of all human beings, of Blake no less than of Habakkuk. If ever he seems to have written nonsense, then we must take it to be nonsense until we find sense in it; we must pay no heed if we are told that the seeming nonsense is symbolism.

Even in his finest poems we must not assume a clearer purpose than we find. Take, for instance, the third verse of the Tiger:

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

We may persuade ourselves that there is some peculiar virtue in the two broken questions of the last line; but the original draft of the poem9 proves that Blake did not at first mean them to be broken questions at all. They were continued in the next stanza:

9 The original draft is given in the excellent Oxford edition of Blake's Poetical Works, published by Mr. Milford, and edited by Mr. John Sampson, at the price, in 1913, of 1s. 6d. net. In spite of the price, it is the most complete edition of the poems, and contains all the shorter Prophetic Books, including the French Revolution, with extracts from the longer ones.

Could fetch it from the furnace deep
And in thy horrid ribs dare steep
In the well of sanguine woe, etc.

Blake seeing, what was obvious, that this did not promise well and was leading nowhere, gave it up and changed the punctuation of the preceding stanza which had run simply—"What dread hand and what dread feet"—to its present form, so as to finish off the stanza to the eye, if not to the mind.

287 It is a masterful way out of a difficulty, but it takes the risk that we shall ask what the dread hand and feet are there to do? The original draft tells us—to fetch the tiger's heart from the furnace deep; but in the poem as we know it we may guess for ourselves, and there is no answer. This is not the dark sublimity of the prophet, but the wilfulness of the poet, who, having hit upon a fine sounding line, prefers it to sense. (There is also another reading which may come from Blake himself—"What dread hand forged thy dread feet?" It is not "prophetic," but it does make sense.)

It does not matter much, for the rhythm of the poem carries one through obscurities of detail; but the broken questions are not an added beauty or sublimity, they are merely Blake's way out of a difficulty that may beset any poet.

So I come, gradually and cautiously, to the Prophetic Books themselves, and to my contention that they too are to be judged, like the works of the Hebrew Prophets, as literature, since they were written for men to read. We must make a reasonable allowance for all mystics; they try to say what is very hard to say, what they have seen as in a glass darkly. If you think them worth reading at all, you believe that they are concerned with a reality men do not perceive naturally and immediately with the senses, a reality that we are aware of, if at all, only by hints and whispers. There are no commonly accepted sense-data for this reality, upon which we can reason as we can reason about the movements of the stars. Men are most fully aware of it when they are in an exalted state of mind—a state which expresses itself in images rather than in syllogisms. You may say, of course, that this state of mind is "purely subjective" and therefore only of artistic value; but the mystic himself denies that. He believes that he is aware of a reality not himself, though himself is a part of it; and aware of it, not by the normal use of the senses, but by a more immediate perception of the spirit. He knows it, perhaps, through sense perceptions, but by means of a faculty beyond them; he knows it with the whole of himself, that self which is not often enough of a unity to attain to this kind of knowledge. This you too must believe, or at least not refuse to believe, if you are to take him seriously; but the mystic, even if he does speak to us of an independent reality, speaks with a personal expression of his own, like the artist. Lâo-tsze has put it better than anyone: "It is the way of Heaven not to speak, but it knows how to obtain an answer." When he says Heaven he implies an independent reality; but men make other men aware of it by the answer they give to it, and this answer is personal to them.

So a man must convince us of his experience of this Heaven, this reality not perceived by the senses, by his own expression of it, his own answer. He must say what moves us by the ordinary means of expression; he must not pretend that he has a secret to tell us which we can understand only if he will play his game with his counters, his symbols, and allegories. If he has seen heaven, then it knows how to obtain an answer from him, exoteric in its power if esoteric in its meaning, and leading men into its meaning by its288 power. The power is in the answer, if the meaning is in the heaven he has seen, and that heaven is to be known by its fruits.

You must, of course, read a mystic with attention; but you should be able to gather his meaning as you read; it is to be found in each sentence and in the whole of each work, not by reference to some other work; for it is the mark of a bad writer not to be able to say what he has to say in the sentence he is writing, to give us always jam yesterday, or jam to-morrow, but never jam to-day. Yet that is what the Blake-fanatics offer us in the Prophetic Books. You cannot understand this unless you know that the key to it is in that. You must grasp Blake's "system" if you are to profit by him. They are like the Gnostics for whom nothing in the Gospels meant what it seemed to mean; they alone could give you the key to Christ's inner meaning.

Master Eckhart says that the eternal birth which God the father bore and bears unceasingly in eternity is now born in time and in human nature. "St. Augustine says this birth is always happening. But, if it happen not in me, what does it profit me? What matters is that it shall happen in me." So what matters for the mystic, and his readers, is that the eternal truth shall happen and be expressed in him, in his actual words. We must not be told that we can find it by turning from one work to another and by piecing them all together. He must utter it sentence by sentence, and it must happen in his sentences, with pain and labour perhaps, but still here and now and in these very words.

In Blake's Prophetic Books sometimes it happens and sometimes it does not, and often Blake by his very method seems to prevent it from happening. He has the weakness of many mystics, the desire for a vast geometrical system equivalent to the reality he believes himself to be aware of. Such a system, if once a man will abandon his mind to it, can unroll itself almost automatically, like a fugue. But many fugues are empty of content; they persuade the composer that he is saying something with the mechanical inevitability of their form; and they may also persuade the hearer. It is the very mechanism that prevents him from saying anything and the hearer from seeing its emptiness. We do not yet understand that automatism of the mind which can produce form without content so easily; the automatism of improvisation in many arts, which you find in some cubist pictures, in much music, and in Prophetic Books of all ages, especially in the Bible. Blake himself speaks of it, with seeming inconsistency, in his preface to Jerusalem: "When this verse was first dictated to me, I considered a monotonous cadence like that used by Milton and Shakespeare, and all writers of English Blank Verse, derived from the modern bondage of Riming, to be a necessary and indispensable part of verse. But I soon found that in the mouth of a true Orator such monotony was not only awkward but as much a bondage as rime itself. I therefore have produced a variety in every line, both of cadences and number of syllables. Every word and every letter is studied and put into its fit place." You may ask how there could be this choice and study where the verse was dictated; but Blake means, no doubt, to describe a process of289 writing half-conscious and half-unconscious, as a composer might choose to write a fugue and then let it write itself. We may use Sheridan's words of this method: "Easy writing makes damned hard reading"; and Jerusalem is not easy to read.

Yet it contains great passages and ideas, of which Messrs. Maclagan and Russell give a very clear account in their edition of it. Like all the great mystics, Blake was a foreteller of the discoveries of modern psychology; he knew the evils of "suppression"—Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires—and his story, in so far as there is one, is the story of the human mind in its effort to reach unity, not by suppression but by