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Miscellaneous Studies: A Series of Essays by Walter Horatio Pater

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descent from Watteau, the old court-painter, one of whose gallant
pieces still hung in one of the rooms--might explain, together with
some other things, a noticeable trimness and comely whiteness about
everything there--the curtains, the couches, the paint on the walls
with which the light and shadow played so delicately; might explain
also the tolerance of the great poplar in the garden, a tree most
often despised by English people, but which French people love,
having observed a certain fresh way its leaves have of dealing with
the wind, making it sound, in never so slight a stirring of the air,
like running water.

The old-fashioned, low wainscoting went round the rooms, and up the
staircase with carved balusters and shadowy angles, landing half-way
up at a broad window, with a swallow's nest below the sill, and the
blossom of an old pear-tree showing across it in late April, against
the blue, below which the perfumed juice of the find of fallen fruit
in autumn was so fresh. At the next turning came the closet which
held on its deep shelves the best china. Little angel [175] faces
and reedy flutings stood out round the fireplace of the children's
room. And on the top of the house, above the large attic, where the
white mice ran in the twilight--an infinite, unexplored wonderland of
childish treasures, glass beads, empty scent-bottles still sweet,
thrum of coloured silks, among its lumber--a flat space of roof,
railed round, gave a view of the neighbouring steeples; for the
house, as I said, stood near a great city, which sent up heavenwards,
over the twisting weather-vanes, not seldom, its beds of rolling
cloud and smoke, touched with storm or sunshine. But the child of
whom I am writing did not hate the fog because of the crimson lights
which fell from it sometimes upon the chimneys, and the whites which
gleamed through its openings, on summer mornings, on turret or
pavement. For it is false to suppose that a child's sense of beauty
is dependent on any choiceness or special fineness, in the objects
which present themselves to it, though this indeed comes to be the
rule with most of us in later life; earlier, in some degree, we see
inwardly; and the child finds for itself, and with unstinted delight,
a difference for the sense, in those whites and reds through the
smoke on very homely buildings, and in the gold of the dandelions at
the road-side, just beyond the houses, where not a handful of earth
is virgin and untouched, in the lack of better ministries to its
desire of beauty.

[176] This house then stood not far beyond the gloom and rumours of
the town, among high garden-wall, bright all summer-time with Golden-
rod, and brown-and-golden Wall-flower--Flos Parietis, as the
children's Latin-reading father taught them to call it, while he was
with them. Tracing back the threads of his complex spiritual habit,
as he was used in after years to do, Florian found that he owed to
the place many tones of sentiment afterwards customary with him,
certain inward lights under which things most naturally presented
themselves to him. The coming and going of travellers to the town
along the way, the shadow of the streets, the sudden breath of the
neighbouring gardens, the singular brightness of bright weather
there, its singular darknesses which linked themselves in his mind to
certain engraved illustrations in the old big Bible at home, the
coolness of the dark, cavernous shops round the great church, with
its giddy winding stair up to the pigeons and the bells--a citadel of
peace in the heart of the trouble--all this acted on his childish
fancy, so that ever afterwards the like aspects and incidents never
failed to throw him into a well-recognised imaginative mood, seeming
actually to have become a part of the texture of his mind. Also,
Florian could trace home to this point a pervading preference in
himself for a kind of comeliness and dignity, an urbanity literally,
in modes of life, which he connected with the pale [177] people of
towns, and which made him susceptible to a kind of exquisite
satisfaction in the trimness and well-considered grace of certain
things and persons he afterwards met with, here and there, in his way
through the world.

So the child of whom I am writing lived on there quietly; things
without thus ministering to him, as he sat daily at the window with
the birdcage hanging below it, and his mother taught him to read,
wondering at the ease with which he learned, and at the quickness of
his memory. The perfume of the little flowers of the lime-tree fell
through the air upon them like rain; while time seemed to move ever
more slowly to the murmur of the bees in it, till it almost stood
still on June afternoons. How insignificant, at the moment, seem the
influences of the sensible things which are tossed and fall and lie
about us, so, or so, in the environment of early childhood. How
indelibly, as we afterwards discover, they affect us; with what
capricious attractions and associations they figure themselves on the
white paper, the smooth wax, of our ingenuous souls, as "with lead in
the rock for ever," giving form and feature, and as it were assigned
house-room in our memory, to early experiences of feeling and
thought, which abide with us ever afterwards, thus, and not
otherwise. The realities and passions, the rumours of the greater
world without, steal in upon us, each by its own special little
passage-way, through the wall of custom [178] about us; and never
afterwards quite detach themselves from this or that accident, or
trick, in the mode of their first entrance to us. Our
susceptibilities, the discovery of our powers, manifold experiences--
our various experiences of the coming and going of bodily pain, for
instance--belong to this or the other well-remembered place in the
material habitation--that little white room with the window across
which the heavy blossoms could beat so peevishly in the wind, with
just that particular catch or throb, such a sense of teasing in it,
on gusty mornings; and the early habitation thus gradually becomes a
sort of material shrine or sanctuary of sentiment; a system of
visible symbolism interweaves itself through all our thoughts and
passions; and irresistibly, little shapes, voices, accidents--the
angle at which the sun in the morning fell on the pillow--become
parts of the great chain wherewith we are bound.

Thus far, for Florian, what all this had determined was a peculiarly
strong sense of home--so forcible a motive with all of us--prompting
to us our customary love of the earth, and the larger part of our
fear of death, that revulsion we have from it, as from something
strange, untried, unfriendly; though life-long imprisonment, they
tell you, and final banishment from home is a thing bitterer still;
the looking forward to but a short space, a mere childish goûter and
dessert of it, before the end, being so great a resource of [179]
effort to pilgrims and wayfarers, and the soldier in distant
quarters, and lending, in lack of that, some power of solace to the
thought of sleep in the home churchyard, at least--dead cheek by dead
cheek, and with the rain soaking in upon one from above.

So powerful is this instinct, and yet accidents like those I have
been speaking of so mechanically determine it; its essence being
indeed the early familiar, as constituting our ideal, or typical
conception, of rest and security. Out of so many possible
conditions, just this for you and that for me, brings ever the
unmistakeable realisation of the delightful chez soi; this for the
Englishman, for me and you, with the closely-drawn white curtain and
the shaded lamp; that, quite other, for the wandering Arab, who folds
his tent every morning, and makes his sleeping-place among haunted
ruins, or in old tombs.

With Florian then the sense of home became singularly intense, his
good fortune being that the special character of his home was in
itself so essentially home-like. As after many wanderings I have
come to fancy that some parts of Surrey and Kent are, for Englishmen,
the true landscape, true home-counties, by right, partly, of a
certain earthy warmth in the yellow of the sand below their gorse-
bushes, and of a certain grey-blue mist after rain, in the hollows of
the hills there, welcome to fatigued eyes, and never seen farther
south; so I think that the sort of [180] house I have described, with
precisely those proportions of red-brick and green, and with a just
perceptible monotony in the subdued order of it, for its
distinguishing note, is for Englishmen at least typically home-life.
And so for Florian that general human instinct was reinforced by this
special home-likeness in the place his wandering soul had happened to
light on, as, in the second degree, its body and earthly tabernacle;
the sense of harmony between his soul and its physical environment
became, for a time at least, like perfectly played music, and the
life led there singularly tranquil and filled with a curious sense of
self-possession. The love of security, of an habitually undisputed
standing-ground or sleeping-place, came to count for much in the
generation and correcting of his thoughts, and afterwards as a
salutary principle of restraint in all his wanderings of spirit. The
wistful yearning towards home, in absence from it, as the shadows of
evening deepened, and he followed in thought what was doing there
from hour to hour, interpreted to him much of a yearning and regret
he experienced afterwards, towards he knew not what, out of strange
ways of feeling and thought in which, from time to time, his spirit
found itself alone; and in the tears shed in such absences there
seemed always to be some soul-subduing foretaste of what his last
tears might be.

And the sense of security could hardly have [181] been deeper, the
quiet of the child's soul being one with the quiet of its home, a
place "inclosed" and "sealed." But upon this assured place, upon the
child's assured soul which resembled it, there came floating in from
the larger world without, as at windows left ajar unknowingly, or
over the high garden walls, two streams of impressions, the
sentiments of beauty and pain--recognitions of the visible, tangible,
audible loveliness of things, as a very real and somewhat tyrannous
element in them--and of the sorrow of the world, of grown people and
children and animals, as a thing not to be put by in them. From this
point he could trace two predominant processes of mental change in
him--the growth of an almost diseased sensibility to the spectacle of
suffering, and, parallel with this, the rapid growth of a certain
capacity of fascination by bright colour and choice form--the sweet
curvings, for instance, of the lips of those who seemed to him comely
persons, modulated in such delicate unison to the things they said or
sang,--marking early the activity in him of a more than customary
sensuousness, "the lust of the eye," as the Preacher says, which
might lead him, one day, how far! Could he have foreseen the
weariness of the way! In music sometimes the two sorts of
impressions came together, and he would weep, to the surprise of
older people. Tears of joy too the child knew, also to older
people's surprise; real tears, once, of relief from long-strung,
[182] childish expectation, when he found returned at evening, with
new roses in her cheeks, the little sister who had been to a place
where there was a wood, and brought back for him a treasure of fallen
acorns, and black crow's feathers, and his peace at finding her again
near him mingled all night with some intimate sense of the distant
forest, the rumour of its breezes, with the glossy blackbirds aslant
and the branches lifted in them, and of the perfect nicety of the
little cups that fell. So those two elementary apprehensions of the
tenderness and of the colour in things grew apace in him, and were
seen by him afterwards to send their roots back into the beginnings
of life.

Let me note first some of the occasions of his recognition of the
element of pain in things--incidents, now and again, which seemed
suddenly to awake in him the whole force of that sentiment which
Goethe has called the Weltschmerz, and in which the concentrated
sorrow of the world seemed suddenly to lie heavy upon him. A book
lay in an old book-case, of which he cared to remember one picture--a
woman sitting, with hands bound behind her, the dress, the cap, the
hair, folded with a simplicity which touched him strangely, as if not
by her own hands, but with some ambiguous care at the hands of
others--Queen Marie Antoinette, on her way to execution--we all
remember David's drawing, meant merely to make her ridiculous. The
face [183] that had been so high had learned to be mute and
resistless; but out of its very resistlessness, seemed now to call on
men to have pity, and forbear; and he took note of that, as he closed
the book, as a thing to look at again, if he should at any time
find himself tempted to be cruel. Again, he would never quite forget
the appeal in the small sister's face, in the garden under the
lilacs, terrified at a spider lighted on her sleeve. He could trace
back to the look then noted a certain mercy he conceived always for
people in fear, even of little things, which seemed to make him,
though but for a moment, capable of almost any sacrifice of himself.
Impressible, susceptible persons, indeed, who had had their sorrows,
lived about him; and this sensibility was due in part to the tacit
influence of their presence, enforcing upon him habitually the fact
that there are those who pass their days, as a matter of course, in a
sort of "going quietly." Most poignantly of all he could recall, in
unfading minutest circumstance, the cry on the stair, sounding
bitterly through the house, and struck into his soul for ever, of an
aged woman, his father's sister, come now to announce his death in
distant India; how it seemed to make the aged woman like a child
again; and, he knew not why, but this fancy was full of pity to him.
There were the little sorrows of the dumb animals too--of the white
angora, with a dark tail like an ermine's, and a face like a [184]
flower, who fell into a lingering sickness, and became quite
delicately human in its valetudinarianism, and came to have a hundred
different expressions of voice--how it grew worse and worse, till it
began to feel the light too much for it, and at last, after one wild
morning of pain, the little soul flickered away from the body, quite
worn to death already, and now but feebly retaining it.

So he wanted another pet; and as there were starlings about the
place, which could be taught to speak, one of them was caught, and he
meant to treat it kindly; but in the night its young ones could be
heard crying after it, and the responsive cry of the mother-bird
towards them; and at last, with the first light, though not till
after some debate with himself, he went down and opened the cage, and
saw a sharp bound of the prisoner up to her nestlings; and therewith
came the sense of remorse,--that he too was become an accomplice in
moving, to the limit of his small power, the springs and handles of
that great machine in things, constructed so ingeniously to play
pain-fugues on the delicate nerve-work of living creatures.

I have remarked how, in the process of our brain-building, as the
house of thought in which we live gets itself together, like some
airy bird's-nest of floating thistle-down and chance straws, compact
at last, little accidents have their consequence; and thus it
happened that, as he [185] walked one evening, a garden gate, usually
closed, stood open; and lo! within, a great red hawthorn in full
flower, embossing heavily the bleached and twisted trunk and
branches, so aged that there were but few green leaves thereon--a
plumage of tender, crimson fire out of the heart of the dry wood.
The perfume of the tree had now and again reached him, in the
currents of the wind, over the wall, and he had wondered what might
be behind it, and was now allowed to fill his arms with the flowers--
flowers enough for all the old blue-china pots along the chimney-
piece, making fête in the children's room. Was it some periodic
moment in the expansion of soul within him, or mere trick of heat in
the heavily-laden summer air?

But the beauty of the thing struck home to him feverishly; and in
dreams all night he loitered along a magic roadway of crimson
flowers, which seemed to open ruddily in thick, fresh masses about
his feet, and fill softly all the little hollows in the banks on
either side. Always afterwards, summer by summer, as the flowers
came on, the blossom of the red hawthorn still seemed to him
absolutely the reddest of all things; and the goodly crimson, still
alive in the works of old Venetian masters or old Flemish tapestries,
called out always from afar the recollection of the flame in those
perishing little petals, as it pulsed gradually out of them, kept
long in the drawers of an old cabinet.

[186] Also then, for the first time, he seemed to experience a
passionateness in his relation to fair outward objects, an
inexplicable excitement in their presence, which disturbed him, and
from which he half longed to be free. A touch of regret or desire
mingled all night with the remembered presence of the red flowers,
and their perfume in the darkness about him; and the longing for some
undivined, entire possession of them was the beginning of a
revelation to him, growing ever clearer, with the coming of the
gracious summer guise of fields and trees and persons in each
succeeding year, of a certain, at times seemingly exclusive,
predominance in his interests, of beautiful physical things, a kind
of tyranny of the senses over him.

In later years he came upon philosophies which occupied him much in
the estimate of the proportion of the sensuous and the ideal elements
in human knowledge, the relative parts they bear in it; and, in his
intellectual scheme, was led to assign very little to the abstract
thought, and much to its sensible vehicle or occasion. Such
metaphysical speculation did but reinforce what was instinctive in
his way of receiving the world, and for him, everywhere, that
sensible vehicle or occasion became, perhaps only too surely, the
necessary concomitant of any perception of things, real enough to be
of any weight or reckoning, in his house of thought. There were
times when he could think of the [187] necessity he was under of
associating all thoughts to touch and sight, as a sympathetic link
between himself and actual, feeling, living objects; a protest in
favour of real men and women against mere grey, unreal abstractions;
and he remembered gratefully how the Christian religion, hardly less
than the religion of the ancient Greeks, translating so much of its
spiritual verity into things that may be seen, condescends in part to
sanction this infirmity, if so it be, of our human existence, wherein
the world of sense is so much with us, and welcomed this thought as a
kind of keeper and sentinel over his soul therein. But certainly, he
came more and more to be unable to care for, or think of soul but as
in an actual body, or of any world but that wherein are water and
trees, and where men and women look, so or so, and press actual
hands. It was the trick even his pity learned, fastening those who
suffered in anywise to his affections by a kind of sensible
attachments. He would think of Julian, fallen into incurable
sickness, as spoiled in the sweet blossom of his skin like pale
amber, and his honey-like hair; of Cecil, early dead, as cut off from
the lilies, from golden summer days, from women's voices; and then
what comforted him a little was the thought of the turning of the
child's flesh to violets in the turf above him. And thinking of the
very poor, it was not the things which most men care most for that he
yearned to give them; [188] but fairer roses, perhaps, and power to
taste quite as they will, at their ease and not task-burdened, a
certain desirable, clear light in the new morning, through which
sometimes he had noticed them, quite unconscious of it, on their way
to their early toil.

So he yielded himself to these things, to be played upon by them like
a musical instrument, and began to note with deepening watchfulness,
but always with some puzzled, unutterable longing in his enjoyment,
the phases of the seasons and of the growing or waning day, down even
to the shadowy changes wrought on bare wall or ceiling--the light
cast up from the snow, bringing out their darkest angles; the brown
light in the cloud, which meant rain; that almost too austere
clearness, in the protracted light of the lengthening day, before
warm weather began, as if it lingered but to make a severer workday,
with the school-books opened earlier and later; that beam of June
sunshine, at last, as he lay awake before the time, a way of gold-
dust across the darkness; all the humming, the freshness, the perfume
of the garden seemed to lie upon it--and coming in one afternoon in
September, along the red gravel walk, to look for a basket of yellow
crab-apples left in the cool, old parlour, he remembered it the more,
and how the colours struck upon him, because a wasp on one bitten
apple stung him, and he felt the passion of [189] sudden, severe
pain. For this too brought its curious reflexions; and, in relief
from it, he would wonder over it--how it had then been with him--
puzzled at the depth of the charm or spell over him, which lay, for a
little while at least, in the mere absence of pain; once, especially,
when an older boy taught him to make flowers of sealing-wax, and he
had burnt his hand badly at the lighted taper, and been unable to
sleep. He remembered that also afterwards, as a sort of typical
thing--a white vision of heat about him, clinging closely, through
the languid scent of the ointments put upon the place to make it

Also, as he felt this pressure upon him of the sensible world, then,
as often afterwards, there would come another sort of curious
questioning how the last impressions of eye and ear might happen to
him, how they would find him--the scent of the last flower, the soft
yellowness of the last morning, the last recognition of some object
of affection, hand or voice; it could not be but that the latest look
of the eyes, before their final closing, would be strangely vivid;
one would go with the hot tears, the cry, the touch of the wistful
bystander, impressed how deeply on one! or would it be, perhaps, a
mere frail retiring of all things, great or little, away from one,
into a level distance?

For with this desire of physical beauty mingled itself early the fear
of death--the fear of death [190] intensified by the desire of
beauty. Hitherto he had never gazed upon dead faces, as sometimes,
afterwards, at the Morgue in Paris, or in that fair cemetery at
Munich, where all the dead must go and lie in state before burial,
behind glass windows, among the flowers and incense and holy candles-
-the aged clergy with their sacred ornaments, the young men in their
dancing-shoes and spotless white linen--after which visits, those
waxen, resistless faces would always live with him for many days,
making the broadest sunshine sickly. The child had heard indeed of
the death of his father, and how, in the Indian station, a fever had
taken him, so that though not in action he had yet died as a soldier;
and hearing of the "resurrection of the just," he could think of him
as still abroad in the world, somehow, for his protection--a grand,
though perhaps rather terrible figure, in beautiful soldier's things,
like the figure in the picture of Joshua's Vision in the Bible--and
of that, round which the mourners moved so softly, and afterwards
with such solemn singing, as but a worn-out garment left at a
deserted lodging. So it was, until on a summer day he walked with
his mother through a fair churchyard. In a bright dress he rambled
among the graves, in the gay weather, and so came, in one corner,
upon an open grave for a child--a dark space on the brilliant grass--
the black mould lying heaped up round it, weighing down the little
jewelled [191] branches of the dwarf rose-bushes in flower. And
therewith came, full-grown, never wholly to leave him, with the
certainty that even children do sometimes die, the physical horror of
death, with its wholly selfish recoil from the association of lower
forms of life, and the suffocating weight above. No benign, grave
figure in beautiful soldier's things any longer abroad in the world
for his protection! only a few poor, piteous bones; and above them,
possibly, a certain sort of figure he hoped not to see. For sitting
one day in the garden below an open window, he heard people talking,
and could not but listen, how, in a sleepless hour, a sick woman had
seen one of the dead sitting beside her, come to call her hence; and
from the broken talk evolved with much clearness the notion that not
all those dead people had really departed to the churchyard, nor were
quite so motionless as they looked, but led a secret, half-fugitive
life in their old homes, quite free by night, though sometimes
visible in the day, dodging from room to room, with no great goodwill
towards those who shared the place with them. All night the figure
sat beside him in the reveries of his broken sleep, and was not quite
gone in the morning--an odd, irreconcileable new member of the
household, making the sweet familiar chambers unfriendly and suspect
by its uncertain presence. He could have hated the dead he had
pitied so, for being [192] thus. Afterwards he came to think of
those poor, home-returning ghosts, which all men have fancied to
themselves--the revenants--pathetically, as crying, or beating with
vain hands at the doors, as the wind came, their cries
distinguishable in it as a wilder inner note. But, always making
death more unfamiliar still, that old experience would ever, from
time to time, return to him; even in the living he sometimes caught
its likeness; at any time or place, in a moment, the faint atmosphere
of the chamber of death would be breathed around him, and the image
with the bound chin, the quaint smile, the straight, stiff feet, shed
itself across the air upon the bright carpet, amid the gayest
company, or happiest communing with himself.

To most children the sombre questionings to which impressions like
these attach themselves, if they come at all, are actually suggested
by religious books, which therefore they often regard with much
secret distaste, and dismiss, as far as possible, from their habitual
thoughts as a too depressing element in life. To Florian such
impressions, these misgivings as to the ultimate tendency of the
years, of the relationship between life and death, had been suggested
spontaneously in the natural course of his mental growth by a strong
innate sense for the soberer tones in things, further strengthened by
actual circumstances; and religious sentiment, that [193] system of
biblical ideas in which he had been brought up, presented itself to
him as a thing that might soften and dignify, and light up as with a
"lively hope," a melancholy already deeply settled in him. So he
yielded himself easily to religious impressions, and with a kind of
mystical appetite for sacred things; the more as they came to him
through a saintly person who loved him tenderly, and believed that
this early pre-occupation with them already marked the child out for
a saint. He began to love, for their own sakes, church lights, holy
days, all that belonged to the comely order of the sanctuary, the
secrets of its white linen, and holy vessels, and fonts of pure
water; and its hieratic purity and simplicity became the type of
something he desired always to have about him in actual life. He
pored over the pictures in religious books, and knew by heart the
exact mode in which the wrestling angel grasped Jacob, how Jacob
looked in his mysterious sleep, how the bells and pomegranates were
attached to the hem of Aaron's vestment, sounding sweetly as he
glided over the turf of the holy place. His way of conceiving
religion came then to be in effect what it ever afterwards remained--
a sacred history indeed, but still more a sacred ideal, a
transcendent version or representation, under intenser and more
expressive light and shade, of human life and its familiar or
exceptional incidents, birth, death, marriage, [194] youth, age,
tears, joy, rest, sleep, waking--a mirror, towards which men might
turn away their eyes from vanity and dullness, and see themselves
therein as angels, with their daily meat and drink, even, become a
kind of sacred transaction--a complementary strain or burden, applied
to our every-day existence, whereby the stray snatches of music in it
re-set themselves, and fall into the scheme of some higher and more
consistent harmony. A place adumbrated itself in his thoughts,
wherein those sacred personalities, which are at once the reflex and
the pattern of our nobler phases of life, housed themselves; and this
region in his intellectual scheme all subsequent experience did but
tend still further to realise and define. Some ideal, hieratic
persons he would always need to occupy it and keep a warmth there.
And he could hardly understand those who felt no such need at all,
finding themselves quite happy without such heavenly companionship,
and sacred double of their life, beside them.

Thus a constant substitution of the typical for the actual took place
in his thoughts. Angels might be met by the way, under English elm
or beech-tree; mere messengers seemed like angels, bound on celestial
errands; a deep mysticity brooded over real meetings and partings;
marriages were made in heaven; and deaths also, with hands of angels
thereupon, to bear soul and body quietly asunder, each to its [195]
appointed rest. All the acts and accidents of daily life borrowed a
sacred colour and significance; the very colours of things became
themselves weighty with meanings like the sacred stuffs of Moses'
tabernacle, full of penitence or peace. Sentiment, congruous in the
first instance only with those divine transactions, the deep,
effusive unction of the House of Bethany, was assumed as the due
attitude for the reception of our every-day existence; and for a time
he walked through the world in a sustained, not unpleasurable awe,
generated by the habitual recognition, beside every circumstance and
event of life, of its celestial correspondent.

Sensibility--the desire of physical beauty--a strange biblical awe,
which made any reference to the unseen act on him like solemn music--
these qualities the child took away with him, when, at about the age
of twelve years, he left the old house, and was taken to live in
another place. He had never left home before, and, anticipating much
from this change, had long dreamed over it, jealously counting the
days till the time fixed for departure should come; had been a little
careless about others even, in his strong desire for it--when Lewis
fell sick, for instance, and they must wait still two days longer.
At last the morning came, very fine; and all things--the very
pavement with its dust, at the roadside--seemed to have a white,
pearl-like lustre in them. They were to travel by a [196] favourite
road on which he had often walked a certain distance, and on one of
those two prisoner days, when Lewis was sick, had walked farther than
ever before, in his great desire to reach the new place. They had
started and gone a little way when a pet bird was found to have been
left behind, and must even now--so it presented itself to him--have
already all the appealing fierceness and wild self-pity at heart of
one left by others to perish of hunger in a closed house; and he
returned to fetch it, himself in hardly less stormy distress. But as
he passed in search of it from room to room, lying so pale, with a
look of meekness in their denudation, and at last through that
little, stripped white room, the aspect of the place touched him like
the face of one dead; and a clinging back towards it came over him,
so intense that he knew it would last long, and spoiling all his
pleasure in the realisation of a thing so eagerly anticipated. And
so, with the bird found, but himself in an agony of home-sickness,
thus capriciously sprung up within him, he was driven quickly away,
far into the rural distance, so fondly speculated on, of that
favourite country-road.


172. *Published in Macmillan's Magazine, Aug. 1878.


[197] WE smile at epitaphs--at those recent enough to be read easily;
smile, for the most part, at what for the most part is an unreal and
often vulgar branch of literature; yet a wide one, with its flowers
here or there, such as make us regret now and again not to have
gathered more carefully in our wanderings a fair average of the like.
Their very simplicity, of course, may set one's thoughts in motion to
fill up the scanty tale, and those of the young at least are almost
always worth while. At Siena, for instance, in the great Dominican
church, even with the impassioned work of Sodoma at hand, you may
linger in a certain dimly lit chapel to spell out the black-letter
memorials of the German students who died here--aetatis flore!--at
the University, famous early in the last century; young nobles
chiefly, far from the Rhine, from Nuremberg, or Leipsic. Note one in
particular! Loving parents and elder brother meant to record [198]
carefully the very days of the lad's poor life--annos, menses, dies;
sent the order, doubtless, from the distant old castle in the
Fatherland, but not quite explicitly; the spaces for the numbers
remain still unfilled; and they never came to see. After two
centuries the omission is not to be rectified; and the young man's
memorial has perhaps its propriety as it stands, with those
unnumbered, or numberless, days. "Full of affections," observed,
once upon a time, a great lover of boys and young men, speaking to a
large company of them:--"full of affections, full of powers, full of
occupation, how naturally might the younger part of us especially
(more naturally than the older) receive the tidings that there are
things to be loved and things to be done which shall never pass away.
We feel strong, we feel active, we feel full of life; and these
feelings do not altogether deceive us, for we shall live for ever.
We see a long prospect before us, for which it is worth while to
work, even with much labour; for we are as yet young, and the past
portion of our lives is but small in comparison of that which
probably remains to us. It is most true! The past years of our life
are absolutely beyond proportion small in comparison with those which
certainly remain to us."

In a very different neighbourhood, here at home, in a remote Sussex
churchyard, you may read that Emerald Uthwart was born on such a
[199] day, "at Chase Lodge, in this parish; and died there," on a day
in the year 18--, aged twenty-six. Think, thereupon, of the years of
a very English existence passed without a lost week in that bloomy
English place, amid its English lawns and flower-beds, its oldish
brick and raftered plaster; you may see it still, not far off, on a
clearing of the wooded hill-side sloping gradually to the sea. But
you think wrong. Emerald Uthwart, in almost unbroken absence from
his home, longed greatly for it, but left it early and came back
there only to die, in disgrace, as he conceived; of which it was he
died there, finding the sense of the place all around him at last,
like blessed oil in one's wounds.

How they shook their musk from them!--those gardens, among which the
youngest son, but not the youngest child, grew up, little considered
till he returned there in those last years. The rippling note of the
birds he distinguished so acutely seemed a part of this tree-less
place, open freely to sun and air, such as rose and carnation loved,
in the midst of the old disafforested chase. Brothers and sisters,
all alike were gardeners, methodically intimate with their flowers.
You need words compact rather of perfume than of colour to describe
them, in nice annual order; terms for perfume, as immediate and
definite as red, purple, and yellow. Flowers there were which seemed
to yield their sweetest in the faint sea-salt, when the loosening
wind [200] was strong from the south-west; some which found their way
slowly towards the neighbourhood of the old oaks and beech-trees.
Others consorted most freely with the wall-fruit, or seemed made for
pot-pourri to sweeten the old black mahogany furniture. The sweet-
pea stacks loved the broad path through the kitchen garden; the old-
fashioned garden azalea was the making of a nosegay, with its honey
which clung to one's finger. There were flowers all the sweeter for
a battle with the rain; a flower like aromatic medicine; another like
summer lingering into winter; it ripened as fruit does; and another
was like August, his own birthday time, dropped into March.

The very mould here, rich old black gardener's earth, was flower-
seed; and beyond, the fields, one after another, through the white
gates breaking the well-grown hedge-rows, were hardly less garden-
like; little velvety fields, little with the true sweet English
littleness of our little island, our land of vignettes. Here all was
little; the very church where they went to pray, to sit, the ancient
Uthwarts sleeping all around outside under the windows, deposited
there as quietly as fallen trees on their native soil, and almost
unrecorded, as there had been almost nothing to record; where
however, Sunday after Sunday, Emerald Uthwart reads, wondering, the
solitary memorial of one soldierly member of his race, who had,--
well! who had not died here [201] at home, in his bed. How wretched!
how fine! how inconceivably great and difficult!--not for him! And
yet, amid all its littleness, how large his sense of liberty in the
place he, the cadet doomed to leave it--his birth-place, where he is
also so early to die--had loved better than any one of them!
Enjoying hitherto all the freedom of the almost grown-up brothers,
the unrepressed noise, the unchecked hours, the old rooms, all their
own way, he is literally without the consciousness of rule. Only,
when the long irresponsible day is over, amid the dew, the odours, of
summer twilight, they roll their cricket-field against to-morrow's
game. So it had always been with the Uthwarts; they never went to
school. In the great attic he has chosen for himself Emerald
awakes;--it was a rule, sanitary, almost medical, never to rouse the
children--rises to play betimes; or, if he choose, with window flung
open to the roses, the sea, turns to sleep again, deliberately,
deliciously, under the fine old blankets.

A rather sensuous boy! you may suppose, amid the wholesome, natural
self-indulgence of a very English home. His days began there: it
closed again, after an interval of the larger number of them,
indulgently, mercifully, round his end. For awhile he became its
centre, old habits changing, the old furniture rearranged about him,
for the first time in many generations, though he left it now with
something like [202] resentment in his heart, as if thrust harshly
away, sent ablactatus a matre; made an effort thereon to snap the
last thread which bound him to it. Yet it would come back upon him
sometimes, amid so different a scene, as through a suddenly opened
door, or a rent in the wall, with softer thoughts of his people,--
there, or not there,--and a sudden, dutiful effort on his part to
rekindle wasting affection.

The youngest of four sons, but not the youngest of the family!--you
conceive the sort of negligence that creeps over even the kindest
maternities, in such case; unless, perhaps, sickness, or the sort of
misfortune, making the last first for the affectionate, that brought
Emerald back at length to die contentedly, interferes with the way of
nature. Little by little he comes to understand that, while the
brothers are indulged with lessons at home, are some of them free
even of these and placed already in the world, where, however, there
remains no place for him, he is to go to school, chiefly for the
convenience of others--they are going to be much away from home!--
that now for the first time, as he says to himself, an old-English
Uthwart is to pass under the yoke. The tutor in the house, meantime,
aware of some fascination in the lad, teaches him, at his own
irregularly chosen hours, more carefully than the others; exerts all
his gifts for the purpose, winning him on almost insensibly to
youthful proficiency in those difficult rudiments.

[203] See him as he stands, seemingly rooted in the spot where he has
come to flower! He departs, however, a few days before the departure
of the rest--some to foreign parts, the brothers, who shut up the old
place, to town. For a moment, he makes an effort to figure to
himself those coming absences as but exceptional intervals in his
life here; he will count the days, going more quickly so; find his
pleasure in watching the sands fall, as even the sands of time at
school must. In fact, he was scarcely ever to lie at ease here
again, till he came to take his final leave of it, lying at his
length so. In brief holidays he rejoins his people, anywhere,
anyhow, in a sort of hurry and makeshift:--Flos Parietis! thus
carelessly plucked forth. Emerald Uthwart was born on such a day "at
Chase Lodge, in this parish, and died there."

See him then as he stands! counting now the hours that remain, on the
eve of that first emigration, and look away next at the other place,
which through centuries has been forming to receive him; from those
garden-beds, now at their richest, but where all is so winsomely
little, to that place of "great matters," great stones, great
memories out of reach. Why! the Uthwarts had scarcely had more
memories than their woods, noiselessly deciduous; or their
prehistoric, entirely unprogressive, unrecording forefathers, in or
before the days of the Druids. Centuries of almost "still" life--of
birth, death, [204] and the rest, as merely natural processes--had
made them and their home what we find them. Centuries of conscious
endeavour, on the other hand, had builded, shaped, and coloured the
place, a small cell, which Emerald Uthwart was now to occupy; a place
such as our most characteristic English education has rightly tended
to "find itself a house" in--a place full, for those who came within
its influence, of a will of its own. Here everything, one's very
games, have gone by rule onwards from the dim old monastic days, and
the Benedictine school for novices with the wholesome severities
which have descended to our own time. Like its customs,--there's a
book in the cathedral archives with the names, for centuries Past, of
the "scholars" who have missed church at the proper times for going
there--like its customs, well-worn yet well-preserved, time-stained,
time-engrained, time-mellowed, the venerable Norman or English stones
of this austere, beautifully proportioned place look like marble, to
which Emerald's softly nurtured being, his careless wild-growth must
now adapt itself, though somewhat painfully recoiling from contact
with what seems so hard also, and bright, and cold. From his native
world of soft garden touches, carnation and rose (they had been
everywhere in those last weeks), where every one did just what he
liked, he was passed now to this world of grey stone; and here it was
always the decisive word [205] of command. That old warrior
Uthwart's record in the church at home, so fine, yet so wretched, so
unspeakably great and difficult! seemed written here everywhere
around him, as he stood feeling himself fit only to be taught, to be
drilled into, his small compartment; in every movement of his
companions, with their quaint confining little cloth gowns; in the
keen, clear, well-authorised dominancy of some, the instant
submission of others. In fact, by one of our wise English
compromises, we still teach our so modern boys the Classics; a lesson
in attention and patience, at the least. Nay! by a double
compromise, with delightful physiognomic results sometimes, we teach
them their pagan Latin and Greek under the shadow of medieval church-
towers, amid the haunts, the traditions, and with something of the
discipline, of monasticism; for which, as is noticeable, the English
have never wholly lost an early inclination. The French and others
have swept their scholastic houses empty of it, with pedantic
fidelity to their theories. English pedants may succeed in doing the
like. But the result of our older method has had its value so far,
at least, say! for the careful aesthetic observer. It is of such
diagonal influences, through complication of influence, that
expression comes, in life, in our culture, in the very faces of men
and boys--of these boys. Nothing could better harmonise present with
past than the sight of them just here, as they [206] shout at their
games, or recite their lessons, over-arched by the work of medieval
priors, or pass to church meekly, into the seats occupied by the
young monks before them.

If summer comes reluctantly to our English shores, it is also apt to
linger with us;--its flora of red and gold leaves on the branches
wellnigh to Christmas; the hot days that surprise you, and persist,
though heralded by white mornings, hinting that it is but the year's
indulgence so to deal with us. To the fanciful, such days may seem
most at home in the places where England has thus preferred to locate
the somewhat pensive education of its more favoured youth. As
Uthwart passes through the old ecclesiastical city, upon which any
more modern touch, modern door or window, seems a thing out of place
through negligence, the diluted sunlight itself seems driven along
with a sparing trace of gilded vane or red tile in it, under the
wholesome active wind from the East coast. The long, finely
weathered, leaden roof, and the great square tower, gravely
magnificent, emphatic from the first view of it over the grey down
above the hop-gardens, the gently-watered meadows, dwarf now
everything beside; have the bigness of nature's work, seated up there
so steadily amid the winds, as rain and fog and heat pass by. More
and more persistently, as he proceeds, in the "Green Court" at last,
they occupy the outlook. He is shown the narrow [207] cubicle in
which he is to sleep; and there it still is, with nothing else, in
the window-pane, as he lies;--"our tower," the "Angel Steeple,"
noblest of its kind. Here, from morning to night, everything seems
challenged to follow the upward lead of its long, bold,
"perpendicular" lines. The very place one is in, its stone-work, its
empty spaces, invade you; invade all who belong to them, as Uthwart
belongs, yielding wholly from the first; seem to question you
masterfully as to your purpose in being here at all, amid the great
memories of the past, of this school;--challenge you, so to speak, to
make moral philosophy one of your acquirements, if you can, and to
systematise your vagrant self; which however will in any case be here
systematised for you. In Uthwart, then, is the plain tablet, for the
influences of place to inscribe. Say if you will, that he is under
the power of an "embodied ideal," somewhat repellent, but which he
cannot despise. He sits in the schoolroom--ancient, transformed
chapel of the pilgrims; sits in the sober white and brown place, at
the heavy old desks, carved this way and that, crowded as an old
churchyard with forgotten names, side by side with sympathetic or
antipathetic competitors, as it may chance. In a delightful, exactly
measured, quarter of an hour's rest, they come about him, seem to
wish to be friends at once, good and bad alike, dull and clever;
wonder a little at the name, and [208] the owner. A family name--he
explains, good-humouredly; tries to tell some story no one could ever
remember precisely of the ancestor from whom it came, the one story
of the Uthwarts; is spared; nay! petulantly forbidden to proceed.
But the name sticks the faster. Nicknames mark, for the most part,
popularity. Emerald! so every one called Uthwart, but shortened to
Aldy. They disperse; flock out into the court; acquaint him hastily
with the curiosities of the Precincts, the "dark entry," the rich
heraldries of the blackened and mouldering cloister, the ruined
overgrown spaces where the old monastery stood, the stones of which
furnished material for the rambling prebends houses, now
"antediluvian" in their turn; are ready also to climb the scaffold-
poles always to be found somewhere about the great church, or dive
along the odd, secret passages of the old builders, with quite
learned explanations (being proud of, and therefore painstaking
about, the place) of architectural periods, of Gothic "late" and
"early," layer upon layer, down to round-arched "Norman," like the
famous staircase of their school.

The reader comprehends that Uthwart was come where the genius loci
was a strong one, with a claim to mould all who enter it to a
perfect, uninquiring, willing or unwilling, conformity to itself. On
Saturday half-holidays the scholars are taken to church in their
surplices, across the [209] court, under the lime-trees; emerge at
last up the dark winding passages into the melodious, mellow-lighted
space, always three days behind the temperature outside, so thick are
the walls;--how warm and nice! how cool and nice! The choir, to
which they glide in order to their places below the clergy, seems
conspicuously cold and sad. But the empty chapels lying beyond it
all about into the distance are a trap on sunny mornings for the
clouds of yellow effulgence. The Angel Steeple is a lantern within,
and sheds down a flood of the like just beyond the gates. You can
peep up into it where you sit, if you dare to gaze about you. If at
home there had been nothing great, here, to boyish sense, one seems
diminished to nothing at all, amid the grand waves, wave upon wave,
of patiently-wrought stone; the daring height, the daring severity,
of the innumerable, long, upward, ruled lines, rigidly bent just at
last, in due place, into the reserved grace of the perfect Gothic
arch; the peculiar daylight which seemed to come from further than
the light outside. Next morning they are here again. In contrast to
those irregularly broken hours at home, the passive length of things
impresses Uthwart now. It develops patience--that tale of hours, the
long chanted English service; our English manner of education is a
development of patience, of decorous and mannerly patience. "It is
good for a man that he bear the yoke in [210] his youth: he putteth
his mouth in the dust, he keepeth silence, because he hath borne it
upon him."--They have this for an anthem; sung however to wonderfully
cheerful and sprightly music, as if one liked the thought.

The aim of a veritable community, says Plato, is not that this or
that member of it should be disproportionately at ease, but that the
whole should flourish; though indeed such general welfare might come
round again to the loyal unit therein, and rest with him, as a
privilege of his individual being after all. The social type he
preferred, as we know, was conservative Sparta and its youth; whose
unsparing discipline had doubtless something to do with the fact that
it was the handsomest and best-formed in all Greece. A school is not
made for one. It would misrepresent Uthwart's wholly unconscious
humility to say that he felt the beauty of the askêsis+ (we need that
Greek word) to which he not merely finds himself subject, but as
under a fascination submissively yields himself, although another
might have been aware of the charm of it, half ethic, half physical,
as visibly effective in him. Its peculiarity would have lain in the
expression of a stress upon him and his customary daily existence,
beyond what any definitely proposed issue of it, at least for the
moment, explained. Something of that is involved in the very idea of
a classical education, at least for such as he; in its seeming
indirectness [211] or lack of purpose, amid so much difficulty, as
contrasted with forms of education more obviously useful or
practical. He found himself in a system of fixed rules, amid which,
it might be, some of his own tendencies and inclinations would die
out of him through disuse. The confident word of command, the
instantaneous obedience expected, the enforced silence, the very
games that go by rule, a sort of hardness natural to wholesome
English youths when they come together, but here de rigueur as a
point of good manners;--he accepts all these without hesitation; the
early hours also, naturally distasteful to him, which gave to actual
morning, to all that had passed in it, when in more self-conscious
mood he looked back on the morning of life, a preponderance, a
disproportionate place there, adding greatly to the effect of its
dreamy distance from him at this later time;--an ideal quality, he
might have said, had he ever used such words as that.

Uthwart duly passes his examination; and, in their own chapel in the
transept of the choir, lighted up late for evening prayer after the
long day of trial, is received to the full privileges of a Scholar
with the accustomed Latin words:--Introitum tuum et exitum tuum
custodiat Dominus! He takes them, not to heart, but rather to mind,
as few, if they so much as heard them, were wont to do; ponders them
for a while. They seem scarcely meant for him--words like those!
[212] increase however his sense of responsibility to the place, of
which he is now more exclusively than before a part--that he belongs
to it, its great memories, great dim purposes; deepen the
consciousness he had on first coming hither of a demand in the world
about him, whereof the very stones are emphatic, to which no average
human creature could be sufficient; of reproof, reproaches, of this
or that in himself.

It was reported, there was a funny belief, at school, that Aldy
Uthwart had no feeling and was incapable of tears. They never came
to him certainly, when, at nights for the most part, the very touch
of home, so soft, yet so indifferent to him, reached him, with a
sudden opulent rush of garden perfumes; came at the rattling of the
window-pane in the wind, with anything that expressed distance from
the bare white walls around him here. He thrust it from him
brusquely, being of a practical turn, and, though somewhat sensuous,
wholly without sentimentality. There is something however in the
lad's soldier-like, impassible self-command, in his sustained
expression of a certain indifference to things, which awakes suddenly
all the sentiment, the poetry, latent hitherto in another--James
Stokes, the prefect, his immediate superior; awakes for the first
time into ample flower something of genius in a seemingly plodding
scholar, and therewith also something of the waywardness popularly
thought to belong to [213] genius. Preceptores, condiscipuli, alike,
marvel at a sort of delicacy coming into the habits, the person, of
that tall, bashful, broad-shouldered, very Kentish, lad; so
unaffectedly nevertheless, that it is understood after all to be but
the smartness properly significant of change to early manhood, like
the down on his lip. Wistful anticipations of manhood are in fact
aroused in him, thoughts of the future; his ambition takes effective
outline. The well-worn, perhaps conventional, beauties of their
"dead" Greek and Latin books, associated directly now with the living
companion beside him, really shine for him at last with their
pristine freshness; seem more than to fulfil their claim upon the
patience, the attention, of modern youth. He notices as never before
minute points of meaning in Homer, in Virgil; points out thus, for
instance, to his junior, one day in the sunshine, how the Greeks had
a special word for the Fate which accompanied one who would come to a
violent end. The common Destinies of men, Moirai,+ Moerae--they
accompanied all men indifferently. But Kêr,+ the extraordinary
Destiny, one's Doom, had a scent for distant blood-shedding; and, to
be in at a sanguinary death, one of their number came forth to the
very cradle, followed persistently all the way, over the waves,
through powder and shot, through the rose-gardens;--where not?
Looking back, one might trace the red footsteps all along, side by
[214] side. (Emerald Uthwart, you remember, was to "die there," of
lingering sickness, in disgrace, as he fancied, while the word glory
came to be softly whispered of them and of their end.) Classic
felicities, the choice expressions, with which James Stokes has so
patiently stored his memory, furnish now a dainty embroidery upon
every act, every change in time or place, of their daily life in
common. He finds the Greek or the Latin model of their antique
friendship or tries to find it, in the books they read together.
None fits exactly. It is of military glory they are really thinking,
amid those ecclesiastical surroundings, where however surplices and
uniforms are often mingled together; how they will lie, in costly
glory, costly to them, side by side, (as they work and walk and play
now, side by side) in the cathedral aisle, with a tattered flag
perhaps above them, and under a single epitaph, like that of those
two older scholars, Ensigns, Signiferi, in their respective
regiments, in hac ecclesiâ pueri instituti,+ with the sapphic stanza
in imitation of the Horace they had learned here, written by their
old master.

Horace!--he was, had been always, the idol of their school; to know
him by heart, to translate him into effective English idiom, have an
apt phrase of his instinctively on one's lips for every occasion.
That boys should be made to spout him under penalties, would have
seemed doubtless to that sensitive, vain, winsome poet, [215] even
more than to grim Juvenal, quite the sorriest of fates; might have
seemed not so bad however, could he, from the "ashes" so persistently
in his thoughts, have peeped on these English boys, row upon row,
with black or golden heads, repeating him in the fresh morning, and
observed how well for once the thing was done; how well he was
understood by English James Stokes, feeling the old "fire" really
"quick" still, under the influence which now in truth quickened,
enlivened, everything around him. The old heathen's way of looking
at things, his melodious expression of it, blends, or contrasts
itself oddly with the everyday detail, with the very stones, the
Gothic stones, of a world he could hardly have conceived, its
medieval surroundings, their half-clerical life here. Yet not so
inconsistently after all! The builders of these aisles and cloisters
had known and valued as much of him as they could come by in their
own un-instructed time; had built up their intellectual edifice more
than they were aware of from fragments of pagan thought, as, quite
consciously, they constructed their churches of old Roman bricks and
pillars, or frank imitations of them. One's day, then, began with
him, for all alike, Sundays of course excepted,--with an Ode, learned
over-night by the prudent, who, observing how readily the words which
send us to sleep cling to the brain and seem an inherent part of it
next morning, kept him under [216] their pillows. Prefects, without
a book, heard the repetition of the Juniors, must be able to correct
their blunders. Odes and Epodes, thus acquired, were a score of days
and weeks; alcaic and sapphic verses like a bead-roll for counting
off the time that intervened before the holidays. Time--that tardy
servant of youthful appetite--brought them soon enough to the point
where they desired in vain "to see one of" those days, erased now so
willingly; and sentimental James Stokes has already a sense that this
"pause 'twixt cup and lip" of life is really worth pausing over,
worth deliberation:--all this poetry, yes! poetry, surely, of their
alternate work and play; light and shade, call it! Had it been,
after all, a life in itself less commonplace than theirs--that life,
the trivial details of which their Horace had touched so daintily,
gilded with real gold words?

Regular, submissive, dutiful to play also, Aldy meantime enjoys his
triumphs in the Green Court; loves best however to run a paper-chase
afar over the marshes, till you come in sight, or within scent, of
the sea, in the autumn twilight; and his dutifulness to games at
least had its full reward. A wonderful hit of his at cricket was
long remembered; right over the lime-trees on to the cathedral roof,
was it? or over the roof, and onward into space, circling there
independently, minutely, as Sidus Cantiorum? A comic poem on it in
Latin, and a pretty one in English, [217] were penned by James
Stokes, still not so serious but that he forgets time altogether one
day, in a manner the converse of exemplary in a prefect, whereupon
Uthwart, his companion as usual, manages to take all the blame, and
the due penalty next morning. Stokes accepted the sacrifice the more
readily, believing--he too--that Aldy was "incapable of pain." What
surprised those who were in the secret was that, when it was over, he
rose, and facing the head-master--could it be insolence? or was it
the sense of untruthfulness in his friendly action, or sense of the
universal peccancy of all boys and men?--said submissively: "And now,
sir, that I have taken my punishment, I hope you will forgive my

Submissiveness!--It had the force of genius with Emerald Uthwart. In
that very matter he had but yielded to a senior against his own
inclination. What he felt in Horace was the sense, original, active,
personal, of "things too high for me!", the sense, not really
unpleasing to him, of an unattainable height here too, in this royal
felicity of utterance, this literary art, the minute cares of which
had been really designed for the minute carefulness of a disciple
such as this--all attention. Well! the sense of authority, of a
large intellectual authority over us, impressed anew day after day,
of some impenetrable glory round "the masters of those who know," is,
of course, one of the effects we [218] look for from a classical
education:--that, and a full estimate of the preponderating value of
the manner of the doing of it in the thing done; which again, for
ingenuous youth, is an encouragement of good manners on its part:--"I
behave myself orderly." Just at those points, scholarship attains
something of a religious colour. And in that place, religion,
religious system, its claim to overpower one, presented itself in a
way of which even the least serious by nature could not be unaware.
Their great church, its customs and traditions, formed an element in
that esprit de corps into which the boyish mind throws itself so
readily. Afterwards, in very different scenes, the sentiment of that
place would come back upon him, as if resentfully, by contrast with
the conscious or unconscious profanities of others, crushed out about
him straightway, by the shadow of awe, the minatory flash, felt
around his unopened lips, in the glance, the changed manner. Not to
be "occupied with great matters" recommends in heavenly places, as we
know, the souls of some. Yet there were a few to whom it seemed
unfortunate that religion whose flag Uthwart would have borne in
hands so pure, touched him from first to last, and till his eyes were
finally closed on this world, only, again, as a thing immeasurable,
surely not meant for the like of him; its high claims, to which no
one could be equal; its reproaches. He would scarcely have proposed
to "enter into" [219] such matters; was constitutionally shy of them.
His submissiveness, you see, was a kind of genius; made him
therefore, of course, unlike those around him; was a secret; a thing,
you might say, "which no one knoweth, saving he that receiveth it."

Thus repressible, self-restrained, always concurring with the
influence, the claim upon him, the rebuke, of others, in the bustle
of school life he did not count even with those who knew him best,
with those who taught him, for the intellectual capacity he really
had. In every generation of schoolboys there are a few who find out,
almost for themselves, the beauty and power of good literature, even
in the literature they must read perforce; and this, in turn, is but
the handsel of a beauty and power still active in the actual world,
should they have the good fortune, or rather, acquire the skill, to
deal with it properly. It has something of the stir and unction--
this intellectual awaking with a leap--of the coming of love. So it
was with Uthwart about his seventeenth year. He felt it, felt the
intellectual passion, like the pressure outward of wings within him--
hê pterou dynamis,+ says Plato, in the Phaedrus; but again, as some do
with everyday love, withheld, restrained himself; the status of a
freeman in the world of intellect can hardly be for him. The sense
of intellectual ambition, ambitious thoughts such as sweeten the toil
of some of those about him, [220] coming to him once in a way, he is
frankly recommended to put them aside, and acquiesces; puts them from
him once for all, as he could do with besetting thoughts and
feelings, his preferences, (as he had put aside soft thoughts of home
as a disobedience to rule) and with a countenance more good-humoured
than ever, an absolute placidity. It is fit he should be treated
sparingly in this matter of intellectual enjoyment. He is made to
understand that there is at least a score of others as good scholars
as he. He will have of course all the pains, but must not expect the
prizes, of his work; of his loyal, incessant, cheerful industry.

But only see him as he goes. It is as if he left music, delightfully
throbbing music, or flowers, behind him, as he passes, careless of
them, unconsciously, through the world, the school, the precincts,
the old city. Strangers' eyes, resting on him by chance, are
deterred for a while, even among the rich sights of the venerable
place, as he walks out and in, in his prim gown and purple-tasselled
cap; goes in, with the stream of sunlight, through the black shadows
of the mouldering Gothic gateway, like youth's very self, eternal,
immemorial, eternally renewed, about those immemorially ancient
stones. "Young Apollo!" people say--people who have pigeon-holes for
their impressions, watching the slim, trim figure with the exercise
books. His very dress seems touched [221] with Hellenic fitness to
the healthy youthful form. "Golden-haired, scholar Apollo!" they
repeat, foolishly, ignorantly. He was better; was more like a real
portrait of a real young Greek, like Tryphon, Son of Eutychos, for
instance, (as friends remembered him with regret, as you may see him
still on his tombstone in the British Museum) alive among the paler
physical and intellectual lights of modern England, under the old
monastic stonework of the Middle Age. That theatrical old Greek god
never took the expressiveness, the lines of delicate meaning, such as
were come into the face of the English lad, the physiognomy of his
race; ennobled now, as if by the writing, the signature, there, of a
grave intelligence, by grave information and a subdued will, though
without a touch of melancholy in this "best of playfellows." A
musical composer's notes, we know, are not themselves till the fit
executant comes, who can put all they may be into them. The somewhat
unmeaningly handsome facial type of the Uthwarts, moulded to a mere
animal or physical perfection through wholesome centuries, is
breathed on now, informed, by the touches, traces, complex influences
from past and present a thousandfold, crossing each other in this
late century, and yet at unity in the simple law of the system to
which he is now subject. Coming thus upon an otherwise vigorous and
healthy nature, an untainted [222] physique, and limited by it, those
combining mental influences leave the firm unconscious simplicity of
the boyish nature still unperplexed. The sisters, their friends,
when he comes rarely upon them in foreign places, are proud of the
schoolboy's company--to walk at his side; the brothers, when he sees
them for a day, more considerate than of old. Everywhere he leaves
behind him an odd regret for his presence, as he in turn wonders
sometimes at the deference paid to one so unimportant as himself by
those he meets by accident perhaps; at the ease, for example, with
which he attains to the social privileges denied to others.

They tell him, he knows it already, he would "do for the army."
"Yes! that would suit you," people observe at once, when he tells
them what "he is to be"--undoubtedly suit him, that dainty, military,
very English kind of pride, in seeming precisely what one is, neither
more nor less. And the first mention of Uthwart's purpose defines
also the vague outlooks of James Stokes, who will be a soldier too.
Uniforms, their scarlet and white and blue, spruce leather and steel,
and gold lace, enlivening the old oak stalls at service time--
uniforms and surplices were always close together here, where a
military garrison had been established in the suburbs for centuries
past, and there were always sons of its officers in the school. If
you stole out of an evening, it was like a stage scene-- [223] nay!
like the Middle Age, itself, with this multitude of soldiers mingling
in the crowd which filled the unchanged, gabled streets. A military
tradition had been continuous, from the days of crusading knights who
lay humbly on their backs in the "Warriors' Chapel" to the time of
the civil wars, when a certain heroic youth of eighteen was brought
to rest there, onward to Dutch and American wars, and to Harry, and
Geoffrey, and another James also, in hac ecclesiâ pueri instituti.
It was not so long since one of them sat on those very benches in the
sixth form; had come back and entered the school, in full uniform, to
say good-bye! Then the "colours" of his regiment had been brought,
to be deposited by Dean and Canons in the cathedral; and a few weeks
later they had passed, scholars and the rest in long procession, to
deposit Ensign--himself there under his flag, or what remained of it,
a sorry, tattered fringe, along the staff he had borne out of the
battle at the cost of his life, as a little tablet explained. There
were others in similar terms. Alas! for that extraordinary,
peculiarly-named, Destiny, or Doom, appointed to walk side by side
with one or another, aware from the first, but never warning him,
till the random or well-considered shot comes.

Meantime however, the University, with work in preparation thereto,
fills up the thoughts, the hours, of these would-be soldiers, of
James [224] Stokes, and therefore of Emerald Uthwart, through the
long summer-time, till the Green Court is fragrant with lime-blossom,
and speech-day comes, on which, after their flower-service and sermon
from an old comrade, Emerald surprises masters and companions by the
fine quality of a recitation; still more when "Scholar Stokes" and he
are found bracketed together as "Victors" of the school, who will
proceed together to Oxford. His speech in the Chapter-house was from
that place in Homer, where the soul of the lad Elpenor, killed by
accident, entreats Ulysses for due burial rites. "Fix my oar over my
grave," he says, "the oar I rowed with when I lived, when I went with
my companions." And in effect what surprised, charmed the hearers
was the scruple with which those naturally graceful lips dealt with
every word, every syllable, put upon them. He seemed to be thinking
only of his author, except for just so much of self-consciousness as
was involved in the fact that he seemed also to be speaking a little
against his will; like a monk, it might be said, who sings in choir
with a really fine voice, but at the bidding of his superior, and
counting the notes all the while till his task be done, because his
whole nature revolts from so much as the bare opportunity for
personal display. It was his duty to speak on the occasion. They
had always been great in speech-making, in theatricals, from before
[225] the days when the Puritans destroyed the Dean's "Great Hall"
because "the King's Scholars had profaned it by acting plays there";
and that peculiar note or accent, as being conspicuously free from
the egotism which vulgarises most of us, seemed to befit the person
of Emerald, impressing weary listeners pleasantly as a novelty in
that kind. Singular!--The words, because seemingly forced from him,
had been worth hearing. The cheers, the "Kentish Fire," of their
companions might have broken down the crumbling black arches of the
old cloister, or roused the dead under foot, as the "Victors" came
out of the Chapter-house side by side; side by side also out of that
delightful period of their life at school, to proceed in due course
to the University.

They left it precipitately, after brief residence there, taking
advantage of a sudden outbreak of war to join the army at once,
regretted--James Stokes for his high academic promise, Uthwart for a
quality, or group of qualities, not strictly to be defined. He
seemed, in short, to harmonise by their combination in himself all
the various qualities proper to a large and varied community of
youths of nineteen or twenty, to which, when actually present there,
he was felt from hour to hour to be indispensable. In fact school
habits and standards had survived in a world not so different from
that of school for those who are faithful to its type. When he
looked back upon [226] it a little later, college seemed to him,
seemed indeed at the time, had he ventured to admit it, a strange
prolongation of boyhood, in its provisional character, the narrow
limitation of its duties and responsibility, the very divisions of
one's day, the routine of play and work, its formal, perhaps pedantic
rules. The veritable plunge from youth into manhood came when one
passed finally through those old Gothic gates, from a somewhat dreamy
or problematic preparation for it, into the world of peremptory
facts. A college, like a school, is not made for one; and as Uthwart
sat there, still but a scholar, still reading with care the books
prescribed for him by others--Greek and Latin books--the contrast
between his own position and that of the majority of his coevals
already at the business of life impressed itself sometimes with an
odd sense of unreality in the place around him. Yet the schoolboy's
sensitive awe for the great things of the intellectual world had but
matured itself, and was at its height here amid this larger
competition, which left him more than ever to find in doing his best
submissively the sole reward of so doing. He needs now in fact less
repression than encouragement not to be a "passman," as he may if he
likes, acquiescing in a lowly measure of culture which certainly will
not manufacture Miltons, nor turn serge into silk, broom-blossom into
verbenas, but only, perhaps not so faultily, leave Emerald Uthwart
and the like of him [227] essentially what they are. "He holds his
book in a peculiar way," notes in manuscript one of his tutors;
"holds on to it with both hands; clings as if from below, just as his
tough little mind clings to the sense of the Greek words he can
English so closely, precisely." Again, as at school, he had put his
neck under the yoke; though he has now also much reading quite at his
own choice; by preference, when he can come by such, about the place
where he finds himself, about the earlier youthful occupants, if it
might be, of his own quaint rooms on the second floor just below the
roof; of what he can see from his windows in the old black front
eastwards, with its inestimable patina of ancient smoke and weather
and natural decay (when you look close the very stone is a composite
of minute dead bodies) relieving heads like his so effectively on
summer mornings. On summer nights the scent of the hay, the wild-
flowers, comes across the narrow fringe of town to right and left;
seems to come from beyond the Oxford meadows, with sensitive, half-
repellent thoughts from the gardens at home. He looks down upon the
green square with the slim, quaint, black, young figures that cross
it on the way to chapel on yellow Sunday mornings, or upwards to the
dome, the spire; can watch them closely in freakish moonlight, or
flickering softly by an occasional bonfire in the quadrangle behind
him. Yet how hard, how forbidding sometimes, under [228] a late
stormy sky, the scheme of black, white, and grey, to which the group
of ancient buildings could attune itself. And what he reads most
readily is of the military life that intruded itself so oddly, during
the Civil War, into these half-monastic places, till the timid old
academic world scarcely knew itself. He treasures then every
incident which connects a soldier's coat with any still recognisable
object, wall, or tree, or garden-walk; that walk, for instance, under
Merton garden where young Colonel Windebank was shot for a traitor.
His body lies in Saint Mary Magdalen's churchyard. Unassociated to
such incident, the mere beauties of the place counted at the moment
for less than in retrospect. It was almost retrospect even now, with
an anticipation of regret, in rare moments of solitude perhaps, when
the oars splashed far up the narrow streamlets through the fields on
May evenings among the fritillaries--does the reader know them? that
strange remnant just here of a richer extinct flora--dry flowers,
though with a drop of dubious honey in each. Snakes' heads, the rude
call them, for their shape, scale-marked too, and in colour like
rusted blood, as if they grew from some forgotten battle-field, the
bodies, the rotten armour--yet delicate, beautiful, waving proudly.
In truth the memory of Oxford made almost everything he saw after it
seem vulgar. But he feels also nevertheless, characteristically,
that such local pride (fastus he terms it) is proper [229] only for
those whose occupations are wholly congruous with it; for the gifted,
the freemen who can enter into the genius, who possess the liberty,
of the place; that it has a reproach in it for the outsider, which
comes home to him.

Here again then as he passes through the world, so delightfully to
others, they tell him, as if weighing him, his very self, against his
merely scholastic capacity and effects, that he would "do for the
army"; which he is now wholly glad to hear, for from first to last,
through all his successes there, the army had still been scholar
Stokes' choice, and he had no difficulty, as the reader sees, in
keeping Uthwart also faithful to first intentions. Their names were
already entered for commissions; but the war breaking out afresh,
information reaches them suddenly one morning that they may join
their regiment forthwith. Bidding good-bye therefore, gladly,
hastily, they set out with as little delay as possible for Flanders;
and passing the old school by their nearest road thither, stay for an
hour, find an excuse for coming into the hall in uniform, with which
it must be confessed they seem thoroughly satisfied--Uthwart quite
perversely at ease in the stiff make of his scarlet jacket with black
facings--and so pass onward on their way to Dover, Dunkirk, they
scarcely know whither finally, among the featureless villages, the
long monotonous lines of the windmills, the poplars, blurred with
cold fogs, but marking the [230] roads through the snow which covers
the endless plain, till they come in sight at last of the army in
motion, like machines moving--how little it looked on that endless
plain!--pass on their rapid way to fame, to unpurchased promotion, as
a matter of course to responsibility also, till, their fortune
turning upon them, they miscarry in the latter fatally. They joined
in fact a distinguished regiment in a gallant army, immediately after
a victory in those Flemish regions; shared its encouragement as fully
as if they had had a share in its perils; the high character of the
young officers consolidating itself easily, pleasantly for them, till
the hour of an act of thoughtless bravery, almost the sole irregular
or undisciplined act of Uthwart's life, he still following his
senior--criminal however to the military conscience, under the actual
circumstances, and in an enemy's country. The faulty thing was done,
certainly, with a scrupulous, a characteristic completeness on their
part; and with their prize actually in hand, an old weather-beaten
flag such as hung in the cathedral aisle at school, they bethought
them for the first time of its price, with misgivings now in rapid
growth, as they return to their posts as nearly as may be, for the
division has been ordered forward in their brief absence, to find
themselves under arrest, with that damning proof of heroism, of
guilt, in their possession, relinquished however along with the
swords they will never handle [231] again--toys, idolised toys of our
later youth, we weep at the thought of them as never to be handled
again!--as they enter the prison to await summary trial next day on
the charge of wantonly deserting their posts while in position of
high trust in time of war.

The full details of what had happened could have been told only by
one or other of themselves; by Uthwart best, in the somewhat matter-
of-fact and prosaic journal he had managed to keep from the first,
noting there the incidents of each successive day, as if in
anticipation of its possible service by way of pièce justificative,
should such become necessary, attesting hour by hour their single-
hearted devotion to soldierly duty. Had a draughtsman equally
truthful or equally "realistic," as we say, accompanied them and made
a like use of his pencil, he might have been mistaken at home for an
artist aiming at "effect," by skilful "arrangements" to tickle
people's interest in the spectacle of war--the sudden ruin of a
village street, the heap of bleeding horses in the half-ploughed
field, the gaping bridges, hand or face of the dead peeping from a
hastily made grave at the roadside, smoke-stained rents in cottage-
walls, ignoble ruin everywhere--ignoble but for its frank expression.

But you find in Uthwart's journal, side by side with those ugly
patches, very precise and unadorned records of their common
gallantry, the more effective indeed for their simplicity; [232] and
not of gallantry only, but of the long-sustained patience also, the
essential monotony of military life, even on a campaign. Peril,
good-luck, promotion, the grotesque hardships which leave them smart
as ever, (as if, so others observe, dust and mire wouldn't hold on
them, so "spick and span" they were, more especially on days of any
exceptional risk or effort) the great confidence reposed in them at
last; all is noted, till, with a little quiet pride, he records a
gun-shot wound which keeps him a month alone in hospital wearily; and
at last, its hasty but seemingly complete healing.

Following, leading, resting sometimes perforce, amid gun-shots,
putrefying wounds, green corpses, they never lacked good spirits, any
more than the birds warbling perennially afresh, as they will, over
such gangrened places, or the grass which so soon covers them. And
at length fortune, their misfortune, perversely determined that
heroism should take the form of patience under the walls of an
unimportant frontier town, with old Vauban fortifications seemingly
made only for appearance' sake, like the work in the trenches--
gardener's work! round about the walls they are called upon to
superintend day after day. It was like a calm at sea, delaying one's
passage, one's purpose in being on board at all, a dead calm, yet
with an awful feeling of tension, intolerable at last for those who
were still all athirst for action. How dumb and [233] stupid the
place seemed, in its useless defiance of conquerors, anxious, for
reasons not indeed apparent, but which they were undoubtedly within
their rights in holding to, not to blow it at once into the air--the
steeple, the perky weathercock--to James Stokes in particular, always
eloquent in action, longing for heroic effort, and ready to pay its
price, maddened now by the palpable imposture in front of him morning
after morning, as he demonstrates conclusively to Uthwart, seduced at
last from the clearer sense of duty and discipline, not by the
demonstrated ease, but rather by the apparent difficulty of what
Stokes proposes to do. They might have been deterred by recent
example. Colonel --, who, as every one knew, had actually gained a
victory by disobeying orders, had not been suffered to remain in the
army of which he was an ornament. It was easy in fact for both,
though it seemed the heroic thing, to dash through the calm with
delightful sense of active powers renewed; to pass into the
beleaguered town with a handful of men, and no loss, after a manner
the feasibility of which Stokes had explained acutely but in vain at
headquarters. He proved it to Uthwart at all events, and a few
others. Delightful heroism! delightful self-indulgence! It was
delayed for a moment by orders to move forward at last, with hopes
checked almost immediately after by a countermand, bringing them
right round their [234] stupid dumb enemy to the same wearisome
position once again, to the trenches and the rest, but with their
thirst for action only stimulated the more. How great the
disappointment! encouraging a certain laxity of discipline that had
prevailed about them of late. They take advantage however of a vague
phrase in their instructions; determine in haste to proceed on their
plan as carefully, as sparingly of the lives of others as may be;
detach a small company, hazarding thereby an algebraically certain
scheme at headquarters of victory or secure retreat, which embraced
the entire country in its calculations; detach themselves; finally
pass into the place, and out again with their prize, themselves
secure. Themselves only could have told the details--the intensely
pleasant, the glorious sense of movement renewed once more; of
defiance, just for once, of a seemingly stupid control; their dismay
at finding their company led forward by others, their own posts
deserted, their handful of men--nowhere!

In an ordinary trial at law, the motives, every detail of so
irregular an act might have been weighed, changing the colour of it.
Their general character would have told in their favour, but actually
told against them now; they had but won an exceptional trust to
betray it. Martial courts exist not for consideration, but for vivid
exemplary effect and prompt punishment. "There is a kind of tribunal
incidental [235] to service in the field," writes another diarist,
who may tell in his own words what remains to be told. "This court,"
he says, "may consist of three staff-officers only, but has the power
of sentencing to death. On the --st two young officers of the --th
regiment, in whom it appears unusual confidence had been placed, were
brought before this court, on the charge of desertion and wantonly
exposing their company to danger. They were found guilty, and the
proper penalty death, to be inflicted next morning before the
regiment marches. The delinquents were understood to have appealed
to a general court-martial; desperately at last, to 'the judgment of
their country'; but were held to have no locus standi whatever for an
appeal under the actual circumstances. As a civilian I cannot but
doubt the justice, whatever may be thought of the expediency, of such
a summary process in regard to the capital penalty. The regiment to
which the culprits belonged, with some others, was quartered for the
night in the faubourg of Saint --, recently under blockade by a
portion of our forces. I was awoke at daybreak by the sound of
marching. The morning was a particularly clear one, though, as the
sun was not yet risen, it looked grey and sad along the empty street,
up which a party of grey soldiers were passing with steady pace. I
knew for what purpose.

"The whole of the force in garrison here [236] had already marched to
the place of execution, the immense courtyard of a monastery,
surrounded irregularly by ancient buildings like those of some
cathedral precincts I have seen in England. Here the soldiers then
formed three sides of a great square, a grave having been dug on the
fourth side. Shortly afterwards the funeral procession came up.
First came the band of the --th, playing the Dead March; next the
firing party, consisting of twelve non-commissioned officers; then
the coffins, followed immediately by the unfortunate prisoners,
accompanied by a chaplain. Slowly and sadly did the mournful
procession approach, when it passed through three sides of the
square, the troops having been previously faced inwards, and then
halted opposite to the grave. The proceedings of the court-martial
were then read; and the elder prisoner having been blindfolded was
ordered to kneel down on his coffin, which had been placed close to
the grave, the firing party taking up a position exactly opposite at
a few yards' distance. The poor fellow's face was deadly pale, but
he had marched his last march as steadily as ever I saw a man step,
and bore himself throughout most bravely, though an oddly mixed
expression passed over his countenance when he was directed to remove
himself from the side of his companion, shaking his hand first. At
this moment there was hardly a dry eye, and several young soldiers
fainted, numberless as must be [237] the scenes of horror which even
they have witnessed during these last months. At length the
chaplain, who had remained praying with the prisoner, quietly
withdrew, and at a given signal, but without word of command, the
muskets were levelled, a volley was fired, and the body of the
unfortunate man sprang up, falling again on his back. One shot had
purposely been reserved; and as the presiding officer thought he was
not quite dead a musket was placed close to his head and fired. All
was now over; but the troops having been formed into columns were
marched close by the body as it lay on the ground, after which it was
placed in one of the coffins and buried.

"I had almost forgotten his companion, the younger and more fortunate
prisoner, though I could scarcely tell, as I looked at him, whether
his fate was really preferable in leaving his own rough coffin
unoccupied behind him there. Lieutenant (I think Edward) Uthwart, as
being the younger of the two offenders, 'by the mercy of the court'
had his sentence commuted to dismissal from the army with disgrace.
A colour-sergeant then advanced with the former officer's sword, a
remarkably fine one, which he thereupon snapped in sunder over the
prisoner's head as he knelt. After this the prisoner's regimental
coat was handed forward and put upon him, the epaulettes and buttons
being then torn off and flung to a distance. This part of [238] such
sentences is almost invariably spared; but, I suppose through
unavoidable haste, was on the present occasion somewhat rudely
carried out. I shall never forget the expression of this man's
countenance, though I have seen many sad things in the course of my
profession. He had the sort of good looks which always rivet
attention, and in most minds friendly interest; and now, amid all his
pain and bewilderment, bore a look of humility and submission as he
underwent those extraordinary details of his punishment, which
touched me very oddly with a sort of desire (I cannot otherwise
express it) to share his lot, to be actually in his place for a
moment. Yet, alas! --no! say rather Thank Heaven! the nearest
approach to that look I have seen has been on the face of those whom
I have known from circumstances to be almost incapable at the time of
any feeling whatever. I would have offered him pecuniary aid,
supposing he needed it, but it was impossible. I went on with the
regiment, leaving the poor wretch to shift for himself, Heaven knows
how, the state of the country being what it is. He might join the

What money Uthwart had about him had in fact passed that morning into
the hands of his guards. To tell what followed would be to accompany
him on a roundabout and really aimless journey, the details of which
he could never afterwards recall. See him lingering for morsels
[239] of food at some shattered farmstead, or assisted by others
almost as wretched as himself, sometimes without his asking. In his
worn military dress he seems a part of the ruin under which he creeps
for a night's rest as darkness comes on. He actually came round
again to the scene of his disgrace, of the execution; looked in vain
for the precise spot where he had knelt; then, almost envying him who
lay there, for the unmarked grave; passed over it perhaps
unrecognised for some change in that terrible place, or rather in
himself; wept then as never before in his life; dragged himself on
once more, till suddenly the whole country seems to move under the
rumour, the very thunder, of "the crowning victory," as he is made to
understand. Falling in with the tide of its heroes returning to
English shores, his vagrant footsteps are at last directed homewards.
He finds himself one afternoon at the gate, turning out of the quiet
Sussex road, through the fields for whose safety he had fought with
so much of undeniable gallantry and approval.

On that July afternoon the gardens, the woods, mounted in flawless
sweetness all round him as he stood, to meet the circle of a flawless
sky. Not a cloud; not a motion on the grass! At the first he had
intended to return home no more; and it had been a proof of his great
dejection that he sent at last, as best he could, for money. They
knew his fate already [240] by report, and were touched naturally
when that had followed on the record of his honours. Had it been
possible they would have set forth at any risk to meet, to seek him;
were waiting now for the weary one to come to the gate, ready with
their oil and wine, to speak metaphorically, and from this time forth
underwent his charm to the utmost--the charm of an exquisite
character, felt in some way to be inseparable from his person, his
characteristic movements, touched also now with seemingly irreparable
sorrow. For his part, drinking in here the last sweets of the
sensible world, it was as if he, the lover of roses, had never before
been aware of them at all. The original softness of his temperament,
against which the sense of greater things thrust upon him had
successfully reacted, asserted itself again now as he lay at ease,
the ease well merited by his deeds, his sorrows. That he was going
to die moved those about him to humour this mood, to soften all
things to his touch; and looking back he might have pronounced those
four last years of doom the happiest of his life. The memory of the
grave into which he had gazed so steadily on the execution morning,
into which, as he feels, one half of himself had then descended, does
not lessen his shrinking from the fate before him, yet fortifies him
to face it manfully, gives a sort of fraternal familiarity to death;
in a few weeks' time this battle too is fought out; it is as if the
thing were ended. [241] The delightful summer heat, the freshness it
enhances--he contrasts such things no longer with the sort of place
to which he is hastening. The possible duration of life for him was
indeed uncertain, the future to some degree indefinite; but as
regarded any fairly distant date, anything like a term of years, from
the first there had been no doubt at all; he would be no longer here.
Meantime it was like a delightful few days' additional holiday from
school, with which perforce one must be content at last; or as though
he had not been pardoned on that terrible morning, but only reprieved
for two or three years. Yet how large a proportion they would have
seemed in the whole sum of his years. He would have liked to lie
finally in the garden among departed pets, dear dead dogs and horses;
faintly proposes it one day; but after a while comprehends the
churchyard, with its white spots in the distant flowery view, as
filling harmoniously its own proper place there. The weary soul
seemed to be settling deeper into the body and the earth it came of,
into the condition of the flowers, the grass, proper creatures of the
earth to which he is returning. The saintly vicar visits him
considerately; is repelled with politeness; goes on his way pondering
inwardly what kind of place there might be, in any possible scheme of
another world, for so absolutely unspiritual a subject. In fact, as
the breath of the infinite world came about him, he clung all [242]
the faster to the beloved finite things still in contact with him; he
had successfully hidden from his eyes all beside.

His reprieve however lasted long enough, after all, for a certain
change of opinion of immense weight to him--a revision or reversal of
judgment. It came about in this way. When peace was arranged, with
question of rewards, pensions, and the like, certain battles or
incidents therein were fought over again, sometimes in the highest
places of debate. On such an occasion a certain speaker cites the
case of Lieutenant James Stokes and another, as being "pessimi
exempli": whereupon a second speaker gets up, prepared with full
detail, insists, brings that incidental matter to the front for an
hour, tells his unfortunate friend's story so effectively,
pathetically, that, as happens with our countrymen, they repent. The
matter gets into the newspapers, and, coming thus into sympathetic
public view, something like glory wins from Emerald Uthwart his last
touch of animation. Just not too late he received the offer of a
commission; kept the letter there open within sight. Aldy, who
"never shed tears and was incapable of pain," in his great physical
weakness, wept--shall we say for the second time in his life? A less
excitement would have been more favorable to any chance there might
be of the patient's surviving. In fact the old gun-shot wound,
wrongly thought to be cured, which had caused [243] the one illness
of his life, is now drawing out what remains of it, as he feels with
a kind of odd satisfaction and pride--his old glorious wound! And
then, as of old, an absolute submissiveness comes over him, as he
gazes round at the place, the relics of his uniform, the letter lying
there. It was as if there was nothing more that could be said.
Accounts thus settled, he stretched himself in the bed he had
occupied as a boy, more completely at his ease than since the day
when he had left home for the first time. Respited from death once,
he was twice believed to be dead before the date actually registered
on his tomb. "What will it matter a hundred years hence?" they used
to ask by way of simple comfort in boyish troubles at school,
overwhelming at the moment. Was that in truth part of a certain
revelation of the inmost truth of things to "babes," such as we have
heard of? What did it matter--the gifts, the good-fortune, its
terrible withdrawal, the long agony? Emerald Uthwart would have been
all but a centenarian to-day.

Postscript, from the Diary of a Surgeon,
August --th, 18--.

I was summoned by letter into the country to perform an operation on
the dead body of a young man, formerly an officer in the army. The
cause of death is held to have been some [244] kind of distress of
mind, concurrent with the effects of an old gun-shot wound, the ball
still remaining somewhere in the body. My instructions were to
remove this, at the express desire, as I understood, of the deceased,
rather than to ascertain the precise cause of death. This however
became apparent in the course of my search for the ball, which had
enveloped itself in the muscular substance in the region of the
heart, and was removed with difficulty. I have known cases of this
kind, where anxiety has caused incurable cardiac derangement (the
deceased seems to have been actually sentenced to death for some
military offence when on service in Flanders), and such mental strain
would of course have been aggravated by the presence of a foreign
object in that place. On arriving at my destination, a small village
in a remote part of Sussex, I proceeded through the little orderly
churchyard, where however the monthly roses were blooming all their
own way among the formal white marble monuments of the wealthier
people of the neighbourhood. At one of these the masons were at
work, picking and chipping in the otherwise absolute stillness of the
summer afternoon. They were in fact opening the family burial-place
of the people who summoned me hither; and the workmen pointed out
their abode, conspicuous on the slope beyond, towards which I bent my
steps accordingly. I was conducted to a large upper [245] room or
attic, set freely open to sun and air, and found the body lying in a
coffin, almost hidden under very rich-scented cut flowers, after a
manner I have never seen in this country, except in the case of one
or two Catholics laid out for burial. The mother of the deceased was
present, and actually assisted my operations, amid such tokens of
distress, though perfectly self-controlled, as I fervently hope I may
never witness again.

Deceased was in his twenty-seventh year, but looked many years
younger; had indeed scarcely yet reached the full condition of
manhood. The extreme purity of the outlines, both of the face and
limbs, was such as is usually found only in quite early youth; the
brow especially, under an abundance of fair hair, finely formed, not
high, but arched and full, as is said to be the way with those
who have the imaginative temper in excess. Sad to think that had he
lived reason must have deserted that so worthy abode of it! I was
struck by the great beauty of the organic developments, in the
strictly anatomic sense; those of the throat and diaphragm in
particular might have been modelled for a teacher of normal
physiology, or a professor of design. The flesh was still almost as
firm as that of a living person; as happens when, as in this case,
death comes to all intents and purposes as gradually as in old age.

This expression of health and life, under my seemingly merciless
doings, together with the mother's distress, touched me to a degree
very [246] unusual, I conceive, in persons of my years and
profession. Though I believed myself to be acting by his express
wish, I felt like a criminal. The ball, a small one, much corroded
with blood, was at length removed; and I was then directed to wrap it
in a partly-printed letter, or other document, and place it in the
breast-pocket of a faded and much-worn scarlet soldier's coat, put
over the shirt which enveloped the body. The flowers were then
hastily replaced, the hands and the peak of the handsome nose
remaining visible among them; the wind ruffled the fair hair a
little; the lips were still red. I shall not forget it. The lid was
then placed on the coffin and screwed down in my presence. There was
no plate or other inscription upon it.


197. *Published in the New Review, June and July 1892, and now
reprinted by the kind permission of the proprietors.

210. +Transliteration: askêsis. Liddel and Scott definition:
"exercise, training."

213. +Transliteration: Moirai. Liddel and Scott definition:
"[singular =] one's portion in life, lot, destiny."

213. +Transliteration: Kêr. Brief Liddel and Scott definition:
"doom, death, destruction."

214. +Translation: "in this church established for boys."

219. +Transliteration: hê pterou dynamis.


[247] THERE are some unworldly types of character which the world is
able to estimate. It recognises certain moral types, or categories,
and regards whatever falls within them as having a right to exist.
The saint, the artist, even the speculative thinker, out of the
world's order as they are, yet work, so far as they work at all, in
and by means of the main current of the world's energy. Often it
gives them late, or scanty, or mistaken acknowledgment; still it has
room for them in its scheme of life, a place made ready for them in
its affections. It is also patient of doctrinaires of every degree
of littleness. As if dimly conscious of some great sickness and
weariness of heart in itself, it turns readily to those who theorise
about its unsoundness. To constitute one of these categories, or
types, a breadth and generality of character is required. There is
another type of character, which is not broad and general, rare,
precious above all to the artist, a character which seems to have
been the supreme moral charm in the Beatrice of the [248] Commedia.
It does not take the eye by breadth of colour; rather it is that fine
edge of light, where the elements of our moral nature refine
themselves to the burning point. It crosses rather than follows the
main current of the world's life. The world has no sense fine enough
for those evanescent shades, which fill up the blanks between
contrasted types of character--delicate provision in the organisation
of the moral world for the transmission to every part of it of the
life quickened at single points! For this nature there is no place
ready in its affections. This colourless, unclassified purity of
life it can neither use for its service, nor contemplate as an ideal.

"Sibi unitus et simplificatus esse," that is the long struggle of the
Imitatio Christi. The spirit which it forms is the very opposite of
that which regards life as a game of skill, and values things and
persons as marks or counters of something to be gained, or achieved,
beyond them. It seeks to value everything at its eternal worth, not
adding to it, or taking from it, the amount of influence it may have
for or against its own special scheme of life. It is the spirit that
sees external circumstances as they are, its own power and tendencies
as they are, and realises the given conditions of its life, not
disquieted by the desire for change, or the preference of one part in
life rather than another, or passion, or opinion. The character we
mean to indicate achieves this [249] perfect life by a happy gift of
nature, without any struggle at all. Not the saint only, the artist
also, and the speculative thinker, confused, jarred, disintegrated in
the world, as sometimes they inevitably are, aspire for this
simplicity to the last. The struggle of this aspiration with a lower
practical aim in the mind of Savonarola has been subtly traced by the
author of Romola. As language, expression, is the function of
intellect, as art, the supreme expression, is the highest product of
intellect, so this desire for simplicity is a kind of indirect self-
assertion of the intellectual part of such natures. Simplicity in
purpose and act is a kind of determinate expression in dexterous
outline of one's personality. It is a kind of moral expressiveness;
there is an intellectual triumph implied in it. Such a simplicity is
characteristic of the repose of perfect intellectual culture. The
artist and he who has treated life in the spirit of art desires only
to be shown to the world as he really is; as he comes nearer and
nearer to perfection, the veil of an outer life not simply expressive
of the inward becomes thinner and thinner. This intellectual throne
is rarely won. Like the religious life, it is a paradox in the
world, denying the first conditions of man's ordinary existence,
cutting obliquely the spontaneous order of things. But the character
we have before us is a kind of prophecy of this repose and
simplicity, coming as it were in the order of grace, not of nature,
by [250] some happy gift, or accident of birth or constitution,
showing that it is indeed within the limits of man's destiny. Like
all the higher forms of inward life this character is a subtle
blending and interpenetration of intellectual, moral and spiritual
elements. But it is as a phase of intellect, of culture, that it is
most striking and forcible. It is a mind of taste lighted up by some
spiritual ray within. What is meant by taste is an imperfect
intellectual state; it is but a sterile kind of culture. It is the
mental attitude, the intellectual manner of perfect culture, assumed
by a happy instinct. Its beautiful way of handling everything that
appeals to the senses and the intellect is really directed by the
laws of the higher intellectual life, but while culture is able to
trace those laws, mere taste is unaware of them. In the character
before us, taste, without ceasing to be instructive, is far more than
a mental attitude or manner. A magnificent intellectual force is
latent within it. It is like the reminiscence of a forgotten culture
that once adorned the mind; as if the mind of one philosophêsas pote
met' erôtos,+ fallen into a new cycle, were beginning its spiritual
progress over again, but with a certain power of anticipating its
stages. It has the freshness without the shallowness of taste, the
range and seriousness of culture without its strain and over-
consciousness. Such a habit may be described as wistfulness of mind,
the feeling that there is "so much to [251] know," rather as a
longing after what is unattainable, than as a hope to apprehend. Its
ethical result is an intellectual guilelessness, or integrity, that
instinctively prefers what is direct and clear, lest one's own
confusion and intransparency should hinder the transmission from
without of light that is not yet inward. He who is ever looking for
the breaking of a light he knows not whence about him, notes with a
strange heedfulness the faintest paleness in the sky. That
truthfulness of temper, that receptivity, which professors often
strive in vain to form, is engendered here less by wisdom than by
innocence. Such a character is like a relic from the classical age,
laid open by accident to our alien modern atmosphere. It has
something of the clear ring, the eternal outline of the antique.
Perhaps it is nearly always found with a corresponding outward
semblance. The veil or mask of such a nature would be the very
opposite of the "dim blackguardism" of Danton, the type Carlyle has
made too popular for the true interest of art. It is just this sort
of entire transparency of nature that lets through unconsciously all
that is really lifegiving in the established order of things; it
detects without difficulty all sorts of affinities between its own
elements, and the nobler elements in that order. But then its
wistfulness and a confidence in perfection it has makes it love the
lords of change. What makes revolutionists is either self-pity, or
indignation [252] for the sake of others, or a sympathetic perception
of the dominant undercurrent of progress in things. The nature
before us is revolutionist from the direct sense of personal worth,
that chlidê,+ that pride of life, which to the Greek was a heavenly
grace. How can he value what comes of accident, or usage, or
convention, whose individual life nature itself has isolated and
perfected? Revolution is often impious. They who prosecute
revolution have to violate again and again the instinct of reverence.
That is inevitable, since after all progress is a kind of violence.
But in this nature revolutionism is softened, harmonised, subdued as
by distance. It is the revolutionism of one who has slept a hundred
years. Most of us are neutralised by the play of circumstances. To
most of us only one chance is given in the life of the spirit and the
intellect, and circumstances prevent our dexterously seizing that one
chance. The one happy spot in our nature has no room to burst into
life. Our collective life, pressing equally on every part of every
one of us, reduces nearly all of us to the level of a colourless
uninteresting existence. Others are neutralised, not by suppression
of gifts, but by just equipoise among them. In these no single gift,
or virtue, or idea, has an unmusical predominance. The world easily
confounds these two conditions. It sees in the character before us
only indifferentism. Doubtless the chief vein of the life of
humanity [253] could hardly pass through it. Not by it could the
progress of the world be achieved. It is not the guise of Luther or
Spinoza; rather it is that of Raphael, who in the midst of the
Reformation and the Renaissance, himself lighted up by them, yielded
himself to neither, but stood still to live upon himself, even in
outward form a youth, almost an infant, yet surprising all the world.
The beauty of the Greek statues was a sexless beauty; the statues of
the gods had the least traces of sex. Here there is a moral
sexlessness, a kind of impotence, an ineffectual wholeness of nature,
yet with a divine beauty and significance of its own.

Over and over again the world has been surprised by the heroism, the
insight, the passion, of this clear crystal nature. Poetry and
poetical history have dreamed of a crisis, where it must needs be
that some human victim be sent down into the grave. These are they
whom in its profound emotion humanity might choose to send. "What,"
says Carlyle, of Charlotte Corday, "What if she had emerged from her
secluded stillness, suddenly like a star; cruel-lovely, with half-
angelic, half-daemonic splendour; to gleam for a moment, and in a
moment be extinguished; to be held in memory, so bright complete was
she, through long centuries!"

Often the presence of this nature is felt like a sweet aroma in early
manhood. Afterwards, as the adulterated atmosphere of the world
assimilates [254] us to itself, the savour of it faints away.
Perhaps there are flushes of it in all of us; recurring moments of it
in every period of life. Certainly this is so with every man of
genius. It is a thread of pure white light that one might disentwine
from the tumultuary richness of Goethe's nature. It is a natural
prophecy of what the next generation will appear, renerved, modified
by the ideas of this. There is a violence, an impossibility about
men who have ideas, which makes one suspect that they could never be
the type of any widespread life. Society could not be conformed to
their image but by an unlovely straining from its true order. Well,
in this nature the idea appears softened, harmonised as by distance,
with an engaging naturalness, without the noise of axe or hammer.

People have often tried to find a type of life that might serve as a
basement type. The philosopher, the saint, the artist, neither of
them can be this type; the order of nature itself makes them
exceptional. It cannot be the pedant, or the conservative, or
anything rash and irreverent. Also the type must be one discontented
with society as it is. The nature here indicated alone is worthy to
be this type. A majority of such would be the regeneration of the

July, 1864.


250. +Transliteration: philosophêsas pote met' erôtos.

252. +Transliteration: chlidê.


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