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On Nothing & Kindred Subjects by Hilaire Belloc

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of womanish tobacco, and just as he struck a match the Protectionist
shouted out, "No you don't! This ain't a smoking compartment. I
object!" The Free Trader said, "O! that's how it is, is it?" The
Protectionist answered in a lower voice and surly, "Yes: that's

They sat avoiding each other's eyes till we got to Grantham. I had
no idea that feeling could run so high, yet neither of them had a
real grip on the Theory of International Exchange.

But by far the most extraordinary conversation and perhaps the most
illuminating I ever heard, was in a train going to the West Country
and stopping first at Swindon.

It passed between two men who sat in corners facing each other.

The one was stout, tall, and dressed in a tweed suit. He had a gold
watch-chain with a little ornament on it representing a pair of
compasses and a square. His beard was brown and soft. His eyes were
very sodden. When he got in he first wrapped a rug round and round
his legs, then he took off his top hat and put on a cloth cap, then
he sat down.

The other also wore a tweed suit and was also stout, but he was not
so tall. His watch-chain also was of gold (but of a different
pattern, paler, and with no ornament hung on it). His eyes also were
sodden. He had no rug. He also took off his hat but put no cap upon
his head. I noticed that he was rather bald, and in the middle of
his baldness was a kind of little knob. For the purposes of this
record, therefore, I shall give him the name "Bald," while I shall
call the other man "Cap."

I have forgotten, by the way, to tell you that Bald had a very large
nose, at the end of which a great number of little veins had
congested and turned quite blue.

CAP (_shuts up Levy's paper, "The Daily Telegraph," and opens
Harmsworth's "Daily Mail," Shuts that up and looks fixedly at_ BALD):
I ask your pardon ... but isn't your name Binder?

BALD (_his eyes still quite sodden_): That is my name. Binder's my
name. (_He coughs to show breeding_.) Why! (_his eyes getting a
trifle less sodden_) if you aren't Mr. Mowle! Well, Mr. Mowle, sir,
how are you?

CAP (_with some dignity_): Very well, thank you, Mr. Binder.
How, how's Mrs. Binder and the kids? All blooming?

BALD: Why, yes, thank you, Mr. Mowle, but Mrs. Binder still has
those attacks (_shaking his head_). Abdominal (_continuing to
shake his head_). Gastric. Something cruel.

CAP: They do suffer cruel, as you say, do women, Mr. Binder
(_shaking his head too--but more slightly_). This indigestion--ah!

BALD (_more brightly_): Not married yet, Mr. Mowle?

CAP (_contentedly and rather stolidly_): No, Mr. Binder. Nor
not inclined to neither. (_Draws a great breath._) I'm a single
man, Mr. Binder, and intend so to adhere. (_A pause to think._)
That's what I call (_a further pause to get the right phrase_)
"single blessedness." Yes, (_another deep breath_) I find life
worth living, Mr. Binder.

BALD (_with great cunning_): That depends upon the liver.
(_Roars with laughter._)

CAP (_laughing a good deal too, but not so much as_ BALD): Ar!
That was young Cobbler's joke in times gone by.

BALD (_politely_): Ever see young Cobbler now, Mr. Mowle?

CAP (_with importance_): Why yes, Mr. Binder; I met him at the
Thersites' Lodge down Brixham way--only the other day. Wonderful
brilliant he was ... well, there ... (_his tone changes_) he
was sitting next to me--(_thoughtfully_)--as, might be here--(_putting
Harmsworth's paper down to represent Young Cobbler_)--and here like,
would be Lord Haltingtowres.

BALD (_his manner suddenly becoming very serious_): He's a
fine man, he is! One of those men I respect.

CAP (_with still greater seriousness_): You may say that, Mr.
Binder. No respecter of persons--talks to me or you or any of them
just the same.

BALD (_vaguely_): Yes, they're a fine lot! (_Suddenly_)
So's Charlie Beresford!

CAP (_with more enthusiasm than he had yet shown_): I say ditto
to that, Mr. Binder! (_Thinking for a few moments of the
characteristics of Lord Charles Beresford._) It's pluck--that's
what it is--regular British pluck (_Grimly_) That's the kind of
man--no favouritism.

BALD: Ar! it's a case of "Well done, Condor!"

CAP: Ar! you're right there, Mr. Binder.

BALD (_suddenly pulling a large flask out of his pocket and
speaking very rapidly_): Well, here's yours, Mr. Mowle. (_He
drinks out of it a quantity of neat whisky, and having drunk it rubs
the top of his flask with his sleeve and hands it over politely to_)

Cap (_having drunk a lot of neat whisky also, rubbed his sleeve
over it, screwed on the little top and giving that long gasp which
the occasion demands_): Yes, you're right there--"Well done.

At this point the train began to go slowly, and just as it stopped
at the station I heard Cap begin again, asking Bald on what occasion
and for what services Lord Charles Beresford had been given his

Full of the marvels of this conversation I got out, went into the
waiting-room and wrote it all down. I think I have it accurately
word for word.

But there happened to me what always happens after all literary
effort; the enthusiasm vanished, the common day was before me. I
went out to do my work in the place and to meet quite ordinary
people and to forget, perhaps, (so strong is Time) the fantastic
beings in the train. In a word, to quote Mr. Binyon's admirable

"The world whose wrong
Mocks holy beauty and our desire returned."


The reason the Dead do not return nowadays is the boredom of it.

In the old time they would come casually, as suited them, without
fuss and thinly, as it were, which is their nature; but when such
visits were doubted even by those who received them and when new and
false names were given them the Dead did not find it worth while. It
was always a trouble; they did it really more for our sakes than for
theirs and they would be recognised or stay where they were.

I am not certain that they might not have changed with the times and
come frankly and positively, as some urged them to do, had it not
been for Rabelais' failure towards the end of the Boer war. Rabelais
(it will be remembered) appeared in London at the very beginning of
the season in 1902. Everybody knows one part of the story or
another, but if I put down the gist of it here I shall be of
service, for very few people have got it quite right all through,
and yet that story alone can explain why one cannot get the dead to
come back at all now even in the old doubtful way they did in the
'80's and early '90's of the last century.

There is a place in heaven where a group of writers have put up a
colonnade on a little hill looking south over the plains. There are
thrones there with the names of the owners on them. It is a sort of

Rabelais was quarrelling with some fool who had missed fire with a
medium and was saying that the modern world wanted positive
unmistakable appearances: he said he ought to know, because he had
begun the modern world. Lucian said it would fail just as much as
any other way; Rabelais hotly said it wouldn't. He said he would
come to London and lecture at the London School of Economics and
establish a good solid objective relationship between the two
worlds. Lucian said it would end badly. Rabelais, who had been
drinking, lost his temper and did at once what he had only been
boasting he would do. He materialised at some expense, and he
announced his lecture. Then the trouble began, and I am honestly of
opinion that if we had treated the experiment more decently we
should not have this recent reluctance on the part of the Dead to
pay us reasonable attention.

In the first place, when it was announced that Rabelais had returned
to life and was about to deliver a lecture at the London School of
Economics, Mrs. Whirtle, who was a learned woman, with a well-deserved
reputation in the field of objective psychology, called it a rumour
and discredited it (in a public lecture) on these three grounds:

(_a_) That Rabelais being dead so long ago would not come back
to life now.

(_b_) That even if he did come back to life it was quite out of
his habit to give lectures.

(_c_) That even if he had come back to life and did mean to
lecture, he would never lecture at the London School of Economics,
which was engaged upon matters principally formulated since
Rabelais' day and with which, moreover, Rabelais' "essentially
synthetical" mind would find a difficulty in grappling.

All Mrs. Whirtle's audience agreed with one or more of these
propositions except Professor Giblet, who accepted all three saving
and excepting the term "synthetical" as applied to Rabelais' mind.
"For," said he, "you must not be so deceived by an early use of the
Inducto-Deductive method as to believe that a sixteenth-century man
could be, in any true sense, synthetical." And this judgment the
Professor emphasized by raising his voice suddenly by one octave.
His position and that of Mrs. Whirtle were based upon that thorough
summary of Rabelais' style in Mr. Effort's book on French
literature: each held a sincere position, nevertheless this cold
water thrown on the very beginning of the experiment did harm.

The attitude of the governing class did harm also. Lady Jane Bird saw
the announcement on the placards of the evening papers as she went
out to call on a friend. At tea-time a man called Wantage-Verneyson,
who was well dressed, said that he knew all about Rabelais, and a
group of people began to ask questions together: Lady Jane herself
did so. Mr. Wantage-Verneyson is (or rather was, alas!) the second
cousin of the Duke of Durham (he is--or rather was, alas!--the son of
Lord and Lady James Verneyson, now dead), and he said that Rabelais
was written by Urquhart a long time ago; this was quite deplorable
and did infinite harm. He also said that every educated man had read
Rabelais, and that he had done so. He said it was a protest against
Rome and all that sort of thing. He added that the language was
difficult to understand. He further remarked that it was full of
footnotes, but that he thought these had been put in later by scholars.
Cross-questioned on this he admitted that he did not see what scholars
could want with Rabelais. On hearing this and the rest of his
information several ladies and a young man of genial expression began
to doubt in their turn.

A Hack in Grub Street whom Painful Labour had driven to Despair and
Mysticism read the announcement with curiosity rather than
amazement, fully believing that the Great Dead, visiting as they do
the souls, may also come back rarely to the material cities of men.
One thing, however, troubled him, and that was how Rabelais, who had
slept so long in peace beneath the Fig Tree of the Cemetery of St.
Paul, could be risen now when his grave was weighed upon by No. 32
of the street of the same name. Howsoever, he would have guessed
that the alchemy of that immeasurable mind had in some way got rid
of the difficulty, and really the Hack must be forgiven for his
faith, since one learned enough to know so much about sites, history
and literature, is learned enough to doubt the senses and to accept
the Impossible; unfortunately the fact was vouched for in eight
newspapers of which he knew too much and was not accepted in the
only sheet he trusted. So he doubted too.

John Bowles, of Lombard Street, read the placards and wrought
himself up into a fury saying, "In what other country would these
cursed Boers be allowed to come and lecture openly like this? It is
enough to make one excuse the people who break up their meetings."
He was a little consoled, however, by the thought that his country
was so magnanimous, and in the calmer mood of self-satisfaction went
so far as to subscribe L5 to a French newspaper which was being
founded to propagate English opinions on the Continent. He may be

Peter Grierson, attorney, was so hurried and overwrought with the
work he had been engaged on that morning (the lending of L1323 to a
widow at 5 1/4 per cent., [which heaven knows is reasonable!] on
security of a number of shares in the London and North-Western
Railway) that he misread the placard and thought it ran "Rabelais
lecture at the London School Economics"; disturbed for a moment at
the thought of so much paper wasted in time of war for so paltry an
announcement, he soon forgot about the whole business and went off
to "The Holborn," where he had his lunch comfortably standing up at
the buffet, and then went and worked at dominoes and cigars for two

Sir Judson Pennefather, Cabinet Minister and Secretary of State for
Public Worship, Literature and the Fine Arts--

But what have I to do with all these; absurd people upon whom the
news of Rabelais' return fell with such varied effect? What have you
and I to do with men and women who do not, cannot, could not, will
not, ought not, have not, did, and by all the thirsty Demons that
serve the lamps of the cavern of the Sibyl, _shall_ not count
in the scheme of things as worth one little paring of Rabelais'
little finger nail? What are they that they should interfere with
the great mirific and most assuaging and comfortable feast of wit to
which I am now about to introduce you!--for know that I take you now
into the lecture-hall and put you at the feet of the past-master of
all arts and divinations (not to say crafts and homologisings and
integrativeness), the Teacher of wise men, the comfort of an
afflicted world, the uplifter of fools, the energiser of the
lethargic, the doctor of the gouty, the guide of youth, the
companion of middle age, the _vade mecum_ of the old, the
pleasant introducer of inevitable death, yea, the general solace of
mankind. Oh! what are you not now about to hear! If anywhere there
are rivers in pleasant meadows, cool heights in summer, lovely
ladies discoursing upon smooth lawns, or music skilfully befingered
by dainty artists in the shade of orange groves, if there is any
left of that wine of Chinon from behind the _Grille_ at four
francs a bottle (and so there is, I know, for I drank it at the last
Reveillon by St. Gervais)--I say if any of these comforters of the
living anywhere grace the earth, you shall find my master Rabelais
giving you the very innermost and animating spirit of all these good
things, their utter flavour and their saving power in the
quintessential words of his incontestably regalian lips. So here,
then, you may hear the old wisdom given to our wretched generation
for one happy hour of just living and we shall learn, surely in this
case at least, that the return of the Dead was admitted and the
Great Spirits were received and honoured.

* * * * *

But alas! No. (which is not a _nominativus pendens_, still less
an anacoluthon but a mere interjection). Contrariwise, in the place
of such a sunrise of the mind, what do you think we were given? The
sight of an old man in a fine red gown and with a University cap on
his head hurried along by two policemen in the Strand and followed
by a mob of boys and ruffians, some of whom took him for Mr. Kruger,
while others thought he was but a harmless mummer. And the
magistrate (who had obtained his position by a job) said these
simple words: "I do not know who you are in reality nor what foreign
name mask under your buffoonery, but I do know on the evidence of
these intelligent officers, evidence upon which I fully rely and
which you have made no attempt to contradict, you have disgraced
yourself and the hall of your kind hosts and employers by the use of
language which I shall not characterise save by telling you that it
would be comprehensible only in a citizen of the nation to which you
have the misfortune to belong. Luckily you were not allowed to
proceed for more than a moment with your vile harangue which (if I
understand rightly) was in praise of wine. You will go to prison for
twelve months. I shall not give you the option of a fine: but I can
promise you that if you prefer to serve with the gallant K. O.
Fighting Scouts your request will be favourably entertained by the
proper authorities."

Long before this little speech was over Rabelais had disappeared,
and was once more with the immortals cursing and swearing that he
would not do it again for 6,375,409,702 sequins, or thereabouts, no,
nor for another half-dozen thrown in as a makeweight.

There is the whole story.

I do not say that Rabelais was not over-hasty both in his appearance
and his departure, but I do say that if the Physicists (and notably
Mrs. Whirtle) had shown more imagination, the governing class a
wider reading, and the magistracy a trifle more sympathy with the
difference of tone between the sixteenth century and our own time,
the deplorable misunderstanding now separating the dead and the
living would never have arisen; for I am convinced that the Failure
of Rabelais' attempt has been the chief cause of it.


My dear little Anglo-Saxons, Celt-Iberians and Teutonico-Latin
oddities---The time has come to convey, impart and make known to you
the dreadful conclusions and horrible prognostications that flow,
happen, deduce, derive and are drawn from the truly abominable
conditions of the social medium in which you and I and all poor
devils are most fatally and surely bound to draw out our miserable

Note, I say "existence" and not "existences." Why do I say
"existence", and not "existences"? Why, with a fine handsome plural
ready to hand, do I wind you up and turn you off, so to speak, with
a piffling little singular not fit for a half-starved newspaper
fellow, let alone a fine, full-fledged, intellectual and well-read
vegetarian and teetotaller who writes in the reviews? Eh? Why do I
say "existence"?--speaking of many, several and various persons as
though they had but one mystic, combined and corporate personality
such as Rousseau (a fig for the Genevese!) portrayed in his
_Contrat Social_ (which you have never read), and such as
Hobbes, in his _Leviathan_ (which some of you have heard of),
ought to have premised but did not, having the mind of a lame,
halting and ill-furnished clockmaker, and a blight on him!

Why now "existence" and not "existences"? You may wonder; you may
ask yourselves one to another mutually round the tea-table putting
it as a problem or riddle. You may make a game of it, or use it for
gambling, or say it suddenly as a catch for your acquaintances when
they come up from the suburbs. It is a very pretty question and
would have been excellently debated by Thomas Aquinas in the
Jacobins of St. Jacques, near the Parloir aux Bourgeois, by the gate
of the University; by Albertus Magnus in the Cordeliers, hard by the
College of Bourgoyne; by Pic de la Mirandole, who lived I care not a
rap where and debated I know not from Adam how or when; by Lord
Bacon, who took more bribes in a day than you and I could compass in
a dozen years; by Spinoza, a good worker of glass lenses, but a
philosopher whom I have never read nor will; by Coleridge when he
was not talking about himself nor taking some filthy drug; by John
Pilkington Smith, of Norwood, Drysalter, who has, I hear, been
lately horribly bitten by the metaphysic; and by a crowd of others.

But that's all by the way. Let them debate that will, for it leads
nowhere unless indeed there be sharp revelation, positive
declaration and very certain affirmation to go upon by way of Basis
or First Principle whence to deduce some sure conclusion and
irrefragable truth; for thus the intellect walks, as it were, along
a high road, whereas by all other ways it is lurching and stumbling
and boggling and tumbling in I know not what mists and brambles of
the great bare, murky twilight and marshy hillside of philosophy,
where I also wandered when I was a fool and unoccupied and lacking
exercise for the mind, but from whence, by the grace of St. Anthony
of Miranella and other patrons of mine, I have very happily
extricated myself. And here I am in the parlour of the "Bugle" at
Yarmouth, by a Christian fire, having but lately come off the sea
and writing this for the edification and confirmation of honest

What, then, of the question, _Quid de quuerendo? Quantum?
Qualiter? Ubi? Cur? Quid? Quando? Quomodo? Quum? Sive an non?_

Ah! There you have it. For note you, all these interrogative
categories must be met, faced, resolved and answered exactly--or you
have no more knowledge of the matter than the _Times_ has of
economics or the King of the Belgians of thorough-Bass. Yea, if you
miss, overlook, neglect, or shirk by reason of fatigue or indolence,
so much as one tittle of these several aspects of a question you
might as well leave it altogether alone and give up analysis for
selling stock, as did the Professor of Verbalism in the University
of Adelaide to the vast solace and enrichment of his family.

For by the neglect of but one of these final and fundamental
approaches to the full knowledge of a question the world has been
irreparably, irretrievably and permanently robbed of the certain
reply to, and left ever in the most disastrous doubt upon, this most
important and necessary matter--namely, _whether real existence
can be predicated of matter._

For Anaxagoras of Syracuse, that was tutor to the Tyrant Machion,
being in search upon this question for a matter of seventy-two
years, four months, three days and a few odd hours and minutes, did,
in extreme old age, as he was walking by the shore of the sea, hit,
as it were in a flash, upon six of the seven answers, and was able
in one moment, after so much delay and vexatious argument for and
against with himself, to resolve the problem upon the points of
_how, why, when, where, how much_, and _in what_, matter might or might
not be real, and was upon the very nick of settling the last little
point--namely, _sive an non_ (that is, whether it _were_ real or no)--when,
as luck would have it, or rather, as his own beastly appetite and senile
greed would have it, he broke off sharp at hearing the dinner-gong or
bell, or horn, or whatever it was--for upon these matters the King was
indifferent (_de minimis non curat rex_), and so am I--and was poisoned
even as he sat at table by the agents of Pyrrhus.

By this accident, by this mere failure upon _one_ of the Seven
Answers, it has been since that day never properly decided whether
or no this true existence was or was not predicable of matter; and
some believing matter to be there have treated it pompously and
given it reverence and adored it in a thousand merry ways, but
others being confident it was not there have starved and fallen off
edges and banged their heads against corners and come plump against
high walls; nor can either party convince the other, nor can the
doubts of either be laid to rest, nor shall it from now to the Day
of Doom be established whether there is a Matter or is none; though
many learned men have given up their lives to it, including
Professor Britton, who so despaired of an issue that he drowned
himself in the Cam only last Wednesday. But what care I for him or
any other Don?

So there we are and an answer must be found, but upon my soul I
forget to what it hangs, though I know well there was some question
propounded at the beginning of this for which I cared a trifle at
the time of asking it and you I hope not at all. Let it go the way
of all questions, I beg of you, for I am very little inclined to
seek and hunt through all the heap that I have been tearing through
this last hour with Pegasus curvetting and prancing and flapping his
wings to the danger of my seat and of the cities and fields below

Come, come, there's enough for one bout, and too much for some. No
good ever came of argument and dialectic, for these breed only angry
gestures and gusty disputes (_de gustibus non disputandum_) and
the ruin of friendships and the very fruitful pullulation of
Dictionaries, textbooks and wicked men, not to speak of
Intellectuals, Newspapers, Libraries, Debating-clubs, bankruptcies,
madness, _Petitiones elenchi_ and ills innumerable.

I say live and let live; and now I think of it there was something
at the beginning and title of this that dealt with a warning to ward
you off a danger of some kind that terrified me not a little when I
sat down to write, and that was, if I remember right, that a friend
had told me how he had read in a book that the damnable Brute
CAPITAL was about to swallow us all up and make slaves of us and
that there was no way out of it, seeing that it was fixed, settled
and grounded in economics, not to speak of the procession of the
Equinox, the Horoscope of Trimegistus, and _Old Moore's
Almanack_. Oh! Run, Run! The Rich are upon us! Help! Their hot
breath is on our necks! What jaws! What jaws!

Well, what must be must be, and what will be will be, and if the
Rich are upon us with great open jaws and having power to enslave
all by the very fatal process of unalterable laws and at the bidding
of Blind Fate as she is expounded by her prophets who live on milk
and newspapers and do woundily talk Jew Socialism all day long; yet
is it proved by the same intellectual certitude and irrefragable
method that we shall not be caught before the year 1938 at the
earliest and with luck we may run ten years more: why then let us
make the best of the time we have, and sail, ride, travel, write,
drink, sing and all be friends together; and do you go about doing
good to the utmost of your power, as I heartily hope you will,
though from your faces I doubt it hugely. A blessing I wish you all.


One cannot do a greater service now, when a dangerous confusion of
thought threatens us with an estrangement of classes, than to
distinguish in all we write between Capitalism--the result of a
blind economic development--and the persons and motives of those who
happen to possess the bulk of the means of Production.

Capitalism may or may not have been a Source of Evil to Modern
Communities--it may have been a necessary and even a beneficent
phase in that struggle upward from the Brute which marks our
progress from Gospel Times until the present day--but whether it has
been a good or a bad phase in Economic Evolution, it is not
Scientific and it is not English to confuse the system with the
living human beings attached to it, and to contrast "Rich" and
"Poor," insisting on the supposed luxury and callousness of the one
or the humiliations and sufferings of the other.

To expose the folly--nay, the wickedness--of that attitude I have
but to take some very real and very human case of a rich man--a very
rich man--who suffered and suffered deeply merely _as_ a man:
one whose suffering wealth did not and could not alleviate.

One very striking example of this human bond I am able to lay before
you, because the gentleman in question has, with fine human
sympathy, permitted his story to be quoted.

The only stipulation he made with me was first that I should conceal
real names and secondly that I should write the whole in as
journalistic and popular a method as possible, so that his very
legitimate grievance in the matter I am about to describe should be
as widely known as possible and also in order to spread as widely as
possible the lesson it contains that _the rich also are men_.

To change all names etc., a purely mechanical task, I easily
achieved. Whether I have been equally successful in my second object
of catching the breezy and happy style of true journalism it is for
my readers to judge. I can only assure them that my intentions are

* * * * *

I have promised my friend to set down the whole matter as it

"The Press," he said to me, "is the only vehicle left by which one
can bring pressure to bear upon public opinion. I hope you can do
something for me.... You write, I believe", he added, "for the

I said I did.

"Well," he answered, "you fellows that write for the newspapers have
a great advantage ...!"

At this he sighed deeply, and asked me to come and have lunch with
him at his club, which is called "The Ragamuffins" for fun, and is
full of jolly fellows. There I ate boiled mutton and greens, washed
down with an excellent glass, or maybe a glass and a half, of
Belgian wine--a wine called Chateau Bollard.

I noticed in the room Mr. Cantor, Mr. Charles, Sir John Ebbsmith,
Mr. May, Mr. Ficks, "Joe" Hesketh, Matthew Fircombe, Lord Boxgrove,
old Tommy Lawson, "Bill", Mr. Compton, Mr. Annerley, Jeremy (the
trainer), Mr. Mannering, his son, Mr. William Mannering, and his
nephew Mr. "Kite" Mannering, Lord Nore, Pilbury, little Jack Bowdon,
Baxter ("Horrible" Baxter) Bayney, Mr. Claversgill, the solemn old
Duke of Bascourt (a Dane), Ephraim T. Seeber, Algernon Gutt,
Feverthorpe (whom that old wit Core used to call "_Feather_thorpe"),
and many others with whose names I will not weary the reader, for he
would think me too reminiscent and digressive were I to add to the list
"Cocky" Billings, "Fat Harry", Mr. Muntzer, Mr. Eartham, dear, courteous,
old-world Squire Howle, and that prime favourite, Lord Mann. "Sambo"
Courthorpe, Ring, the Coffee-cooler, and Harry Sark, with all the
Forfarshire lot, also fell under my eye, as did Maxwell, Mr. Gam----

However, such an introduction may prove overlong for the complaint I
have to publish. I have said enough to show the position my friend
holds. Many of my readers on reading this list will guess at once
the true name of the club, and may also come near that of my
distinguished friend, but I am bound in honour to disguise it under
the veil of a pseudonym or _nom de guerre_; I will call him Mr.

Mr. Quail, then, was off to shoot grouse on a moor he had taken in
Mull for the season; the house and estate are well known to all of
us; I will disguise the moor under the pseudonym or _nom de
guerre_ of "Othello". He was awaited at "Othello" on the evening
of the eleventh; for on the one hand there is an Act most strictly
observed that not a grouse may be shot until the dawn of August
12th, and on the other a day passed at "Othello" with any other
occupation but that of shooting would be hell.

Mr. Quail, therefore, proposed to travel to "Othello" by way of
Glasgow, taking the 9.47 at St. Pancras on the evening of the
10th--last Monday--and engaging a bed on that train.

It is essential, if a full, Christian and sane view is to be had of
this relation, that the reader should note the following details:--

Mr. Quail had _engaged_ the bed. He had sent his cheque for it
a week before and held the receipt signed "T. Macgregor,

True, there was a notice printed very small on the back of the
receipt saying the company would not be responsible in any case of
disappointment, overcrowding, accident, delay, robbery, murder, or
the Act of God; but my friend Mr. Quail very properly paid no
attention to that rubbish, knowing well enough (he is a J.P.) that a
man cannot sign himself out of his common-law rights.

In order to leave ample time for the train, my friend Mr. Quail
ordered dinner at eight--a light meal, for his wife had gone to the
Engadine some weeks before. At nine precisely he was in his carriage
with his coachman on the box to drive his horses, his man Mole also,
and Piggy the little dog in with him. He knows it was nine, because
he asked the butler what time it was as he left the dining-room, and
the butler answered "Five minutes to nine, my Lord"; moreover, the
clock in the dining-room, the one on the stairs and his own watch,
all corroborated the butler's statement.

He arrived at St. Pancras. "If," as he sarcastically wrote to the
company, "your _own clocks_ are to be trusted," at 9.21.

So far so good. He had twenty-six minutes to spare. On his carriage
driving up to the station he was annoyed to discover an enormous
seething mob through which it was impossible to penetrate, swirling
round the booking office and behaving with a total lack of
discipline which made the confusion ten thousand times worse than it
need have been.

"I wish," said Mr. Quail to me later, with some heat, "I wish I
could have put some of those great hulking brutes into the ranks for
a few months! Believe me, conscription would work wonders!" Mr.
Quail himself holds a commission in the Yeomanry, and knows what he
is talking about. But that is neither here nor there. I only mention
it to show what an effect this anarchic mob produced upon a man of
Mr. Quail's trained experience.

His man Mole had purchased the tickets in the course of the day;
unfortunately, on being asked for them he confessed in some
confusion to having mislaid them.

Mr. Quail was too well bred to make a scene. He quietly despatched his
man Mole to the booking office with orders to get new tickets while
he waited for him at an appointed place near the door. He had not been
there five minutes, he had barely seen his man struggle through the
press towards the booking office, when a hand was laid upon his
shoulder and a policeman told him in an insolent and surly tone to
"move out of it." Mr. Quail remonstrated, and the policeman--who, I am
assured, was only a railway servant in disguise--_bodily and physically_
forced him from the doorway.

To this piece of brutality Mr. Quail ascribes all his subsequent
misfortunes. Mr. Quail was on the point of giving his card, when he
found himself caught in an eddy of common people who bore him off
his feet; nor did he regain them, in spite of his struggles, until
he was tightly wedged against the wall at the further end of the

Mr. Quail glanced at his watch, and found it to be twenty minutes to
ten. There were but seven minutes left before his train would start,
and his appointment with his man, Mole, was hopelessly missed unless
he took the most immediate steps to recover it.

Mr. Quail is a man of resource; he has served in South Africa, and
is a director of several companies. He noticed that porters pushing
heavy trollies and crying "By your leave" had some chance of forging
through the brawling welter of people. He hailed one such; and
stretching, as best he could, from his wretched fix, begged him to
reach the door and tell his man Mole where he was. At the same time--as
the occasion was most urgent (for it was now 9.44)--he held out half a
sovereign. The porter took it respectfully enough, but to Mr. Quail's
horror the menial had no sooner grasped the coin than he made off in
the opposite direction, pushing his trolley indolently before him and
crying "By your leave" in a tone that mingled insolence with a coarse

Mr. Quail, now desperate, fought and struggled to be free--there
were but two minutes left--and he so far succeeded as to break
through the human barrier immediately in front of him. It may be he
used some necessary violence in this attempt; at any rate a woman of
the most offensive appearance raised piercing shrieks and swore that
she was being murdered.

The policeman (to whom I have before alluded) came jostling through
the throng, seized Mr. Quail by the collar, and crying "What!
Again?" treated him in a manner which (in the opinion of Mr. Quail's
solicitor) would (had Mr. Quail retained his number) have warranted
a criminal prosecution.

Meanwhile Mr. Quail's man Mole was anxiously looking for him, first
at the refreshment bar, and later at the train itself. Here he was
startled to hear the Guard say "Going?" and before he could reply he
was (according to his own statement) thrust into the train which
immediately departed, and did not stop till Peterborough; there the
faithful fellow assures us he alit, returning home in the early
hours of the morning.

Mr. Quail himself was released with a torn coat and collar, his
eye-glasses smashed, his watch-chain broken, and smarting under a
warning from the policeman not to be caught doing it again.

He went home in a cab to find every single servant out of the house,
junketing at some music-hall or other, and several bottles of wine,
with a dozen glasses, standing ready for them against their return,
on his own study table.

The unhappy story need not be pursued. Like every misfortune it bred
a crop of others, some so grievous that none would expose them to
the public eye, and one consequence remote indeed but clearly
traceable to that evening nearly dissolved a union of seventeen
years. I do not believe that any one of those who are for ever
presenting to us the miseries of the lower classes, would have met a
disaster of this sort with the dignity and the manliness of my
friend, and I am further confident that the recital of his suffering
here given will not have been useless in the great debate now
engaged as to the function of wealth in our community.


There was once a little Whig....

Ugh! The oiliness, the public theft, the cowardice, the welter of
sin! One cannot conceive the product save under shelter and in the
midst of an universal corruption.

Well, then, there was once a little Tory. But stay; that is not a
pleasant thought....

Well, then there was once a little boy whose name was Joseph, and
now I have launched him, I beg you to follow most precisely all that
he said, did and was, for it contains a moral. But I would have you
bear me witness that I have withdrawn all harsh terms, and have
called him neither Whig nor Tory. Nevertheless I will not deny that
had he grown to maturity he would inevitably have been a politician.
As you will be delighted to find at the end of his short biography,
he did not reach that goal. He never sat upon either of the front
benches. He never went through the bitter business of choosing his
party and then ratting when he found he had made a mistake. He never
so much as got his hand into the public pocket. Nevertheless read
his story and mark it well. It is of immense purport to the State.

* * * * *

When little Joseph was born, his father (who could sketch remarkably
well and had rowed some years before in his College boat) was
congratulated very warmly by his friends. One lady wrote to him:
"_Your_ son cannot fail to add distinction to an already famous
name"--for little Joseph's father's uncle had been an Under
Secretary of State. Then another, the family doctor, said heartily,
"Well, well, all doing excellently; another Duggleton" (for little
Joseph's father's family were Duggletons) "and one that will keep
the old flag flying."

Little Joseph's father's aunt whose husband had been the Under
Secretary, wrote and said she was longing to see the _last
Duggleton_, and hinted that a Duggleton the more was sheer gain
to This England which Our Fathers Made. His father put his name down
that very day for the Club and met there Baron Urscher, who promised
every support "if God should spare him to the time when he might
welcome another Duggleton to these old rooms." The baron then
recalled the names of Charlie Fox and Beau Rimmel, that was to say,
Brummel. He said an abusive word or two about Mr. Gladstone, who was
then alive, and went away.

Little Joseph for many long weeks continued to seem much like
others, and if he had then died (as some cousins hoped he would, and
as, indeed, there seemed to be a good chance on the day that he
swallowed the pebble at Bournemouth) I should have no more to write
about. There would be an end of little Joseph so far as you and I
are concerned; and as for the family of Duggleton, why any one but
the man who does Society Notes in the _Evening Yankee_ should
write about them I can't conceive.

Well, but little Joseph did not die--not just then, anyhow. He lived
to learn to speak, and to talk, and to put out his tongue at
visitors, let alone interrupting his parents with unpleasing remarks
and telling lies. It was early observed that he did all these things
with a _je-ne-scais-quoy_ and a _verve_ quite different from the manner
of his little playmates. When one day he moulded out, flattened and
unshaped the waxen nose of a doll of his, it was apparent to all that
it had been very skilfully done, and showed a taste for modelling,
and the admiration this excited was doubled when it was discovered
that he had called the doll "Aunt Garry". He took also to drawing
things with a pencil as early as eight years old, and for this talent
his father's house was very suitable, for Mrs. Duggleton had nice
Louis XV furniture, all white and gold, and a quaint new brown-paper
medium on her walls. Colour, oddly enough, little Joseph could not
pretend to; but he had a remarkably fine ear, and was often heard,
before he was ten years old, singing some set of words or other over
and over again very loudly upon the staircase to a few single notes.

It seems incredible, but it is certainly true, that he even composed
_verses_ at the age of eleven, wherein "land" and "strand",
"more" and "shore" would frequently recur, the latter being commonly
associated with England, to which, his beloved country, the
intelligent child would add the epithet "old".

He was, a short time after this, discovered playing upon words and
would pun upon "rain" and "reign", as also upon "Wales" the country
(or rather province, for no patriot would admit a Divided Crown) and
"Whales"--the vast Oceanic or Thalassic mammals that swim in Arctic

He asked questions that showed a surprising intelligence and at the
same time betrayed a charming simplicity and purity of mind. Thus he
would cross-examine upon their recent movements ladies who came to
call, proving them very frequently to have lied, for he was puzzled
like most children by the duplicity of the gay world. Or again, he
would ask guests at the dinner table how old they were and whether
they liked his father and mother, and this in a loud and shrill way
that provoked at once the attention and amusement of the select
coterie (for coterie it was) that gathered beneath his father's

As is so often the case with highly strung natures, he was morbidly
sensitive in his self-respect. Upon one occasion he had invented
some boyish nickname or other for an elderly matron who was present
in his mother's drawing-room, and when that lady most forcibly urged
his parent to chastise him he fled to his room and wrote a short
note in pencil forgiving his dear mamma her intimacy with his
enemies and announcing his determination to put an end to his life.
His mother on discovering this note pinned to her chair gave way to
very natural alarm and rushed upstairs to her darling, with whom she
remonstrated in terms deservedly severe, pointing out the folly and
wickedness of self-destruction and urging that such thoughts were
unfit for one of his tender years, for he was then barely thirteen.

This incident and many others I could quote made a profound
impression upon the Honourable Mr. and Mrs. Duggleton, who, by the
time of their son's adolescence, were convinced that Providence had
entrusted them with a vessel of no ordinary fineness. They discussed
the question of his schooling with the utmost care, and at the age
of fifteen sent "little Joseph", as they still affectionately called
him, to the care of the Rev. James Filbury, who kept a small but
exceedingly expensive school upon the banks of the River Thames.

The three years that he spent at this establishment were among the
happiest in the life of his father's private secretary, and are
still remembered by many intimate friends of the family.

He was twice upon the point of securing the prize for Biblical
studies and did indeed take that for French and arithmetic. Mr.
Filbury assured his father that he had the very highest hopes of his
career at the University. "Joseph," he wrote, "is a fine, highly
tempered spirit, one to whom continual application is difficult, but
who is capable of high flights of imagination not often reached by
our sturdy English boyhood.... I regret that I cannot see my way to
reducing the charge for meat at breakfast. Joseph's health is
excellent, and his scholarship, though by no means ripe, shows
promise of that ..." and so forth.

I have no space to give the letter in full; it betrays in every line
the effect this gifted youth had produced upon one well acquainted
with the marks of future greatness;--for Mr. Filbury had been the
tutor and was still the friend of the Duke of Buxton, the sometime
form-master of the present Bishop of Lewes and the cousin of the
late Joshua Lambkin of Oxford.

Little Joseph's entry into college life abundantly fulfilled the
expectations held of him. The head of his college wrote to his
great-aunt (the wife of the Under Secretary of State) "... he has
something in him of what men of Old called prophecy and we term
genius ...", old Dr. Biddlecup the Dean asked the boy to dinner, and
afterwards assured his father that little Joseph was the image of
William Pitt, whom he falsely pretended to have seen in childhood,
and to whom the Duggletons were related through Mrs. Duggleton's
grandmother, whose sister had married the first cousin of the
Saviour of Europe.

Dr. Biddlecup was an old man and may not have been accurate in his
historical pretensions, but the main truth of what he said was
certain, for Joseph resembled the great statesman at once in his
physical appearance, for he was sallow and had a turned-up nose: in
his gifts: in his oratory which was ever remarkable at the social
clubs and wines--and alas! in his fondness for port.

Indeed, little Joseph had to pay the price of concentrating in
himself the genius of three generations, he suffered more than
one of the temptations that assault men of vigorous imagination. He
kept late hours, drank--perhaps not always to excess but always
over-frequently--and gambled, if not beyond his means, at least with
a feverish energy that was ruinous to his health. He fell desperately
ill in the fortnight before his schools, but he was granted an
_aegrotat_, a degree equivalent in his case to a First Class in
Honours, and he was asked by one or other of the Colleges to compete
for a Fellowship; it was, however, given to another candidate.

After this failure he went home, and on his father's advice,
attempted political work; but the hurry and noise of an election
disgusted him, and it is feared that his cynical and highly
epigrammatic speeches were another cause of his defeat.

Sir William Mackle, who had watched the boy with the tenderest
interest and listened to his fancied experiences with a father's
patience, ordered complete rest and change, and recommended the
South of France; he was sent thither with a worthless friend or
rather dependent, who permitted the lad to gamble and even to borrow
money, and it was this friend to whom Sir William (in his letter to
the Honourable Mr. Duggleton acknowledging receipt of his cheque)
attributed the tragedy that followed.

"Had he not," wrote the distinguished physician, "permitted our poor
Joseph to borrow money of him; had he resolutely refused to drink
wine at dinner; had he locked Joseph up in his room every evening at
the opening hour of the Casino, we should not have to deplore the
loss of one of England's noblest." Nor did the false friend make
things easier for the bereaved father by suggesting ere twelve short
months had elapsed that the sums Joseph had borrowed of him should
be repaid.

Joseph, one fatal night, somewhat heated by wine, had heard a
Frenchman say to an Italian at his elbow certain very outrageous
things about one Mazzini. The pair were discussing a local
bookmaker, but the boy, whose passion for Italian unity is now well
known, imagined that the Philosopher and Statesman was in question;
he fell into such a passion and attacked these offensive foreigners
with such violence as to bring on an attack from which he did not
recover: his grave now whitens the hillside of the Monte Resorto (in
French Mont-resort).

He left some fifty short poems in the manner of Shelley, Rossetti
and Swinburne, and a few in an individual style that would surely
have developed with age. These have since been gathered into a
volume and go far to prove the truth of his father's despairing cry:
"Joseph," the poor man sobbed as he knelt by the insanitary
curtained bed on which the body lay, "Joseph would have done for the
name of Duggleton in literature what my Uncle did for it in

His portrait may be found in _Annals of the Rutlandshire
Gentry_, a book recently published privately by subscriptions of
two guineas, payable to the gentleman who produced that handsome


If this page does not appal you, nothing will.

If these first words do not fill you with an uneasy presentiment of
doom, indeed, indeed you have been hitherto blessed in an ignorance
of woe.

It is lost! What is lost? The revelation this page was to afford.
The essay which was to have stood here upon page 127 of my book: the
noblest of them all.

The words you so eagerly expected, the full exposition which was to
have brought you such relief, is not here.

It was lost just after I wrote it. It can never be re-written; it is

Much depended upon it; it would have led you to a great and to a
rapidly acquired fortune; but you must not ask for it. You must turn
your mind away. It cannot be re-written, and all that can take its
place is a sort of dirge for departed and irrecoverable things.

"Lugete o Veneres Cupidinesque," which signifies "Mourn oh! you
pleasant people, you spirits that attend the happiness of mankind":
"et quantum est hominum venustiorum," which signifies "and you such
mortals as are chiefly attached to delightful things." _Passer_, etc.,
which signifies my little, careful, tidy bit of writing, _mortuus est_,
is lost. I lost it in a cab.

It was a noble and accomplished thing. Pliny would have loved it who
said: "Ea est stomachi mei natura ut nil nisi merum atque totum
velit," which signifies "such is the character of my taste that it
will tolerate nothing but what is absolute and full." ... It is no
use grumbling about the Latin. The nature of great disasters calls
out for that foundational tongue. They roll as it were (do the great
disasters of our time) right down the emptiness of the centuries
until they strike the walls of Rome and provoke these sonorous
echoes worthy of mighty things.

It was to have stood here instead of this, its poor apologist. It
was to have filled these lines, this space, this very page. It is
not here. You all know how, coming eagerly to a house to see someone
dearly loved, you find in their place on entering a sister or a
friend who makes excuses for them; you all know how the mind grows
blank at the news and all nature around one shrivels. It is a worse
emptiness than to be alone. So it is with me when I consider this as
I write it, and then think of That Other which should have taken its
place; for what I am writing now is like a little wizened figure
dressed in mourning and weeping before a deserted shrine, but That
Other which I have lost would have been like an Emperor returned
from a triumph and seated upon a throne.

Indeed, indeed it was admirable! If you ask me where I wrote it, it
was in Constantine, upon the Rock of Cirta, where the storms come
bowling at you from Mount Atlas and where you feel yourself part of
the sky. At least it was there in Cirta that I blocked out the
thing, for efforts of that magnitude are not completed in one place
or day. It was in Cirta that I carved it into form and gave it a
general life, upon the 17th of January, 1905, sitting where long ago
Massinissa had come riding in through the only gate of the city,
sitting his horse without stirrups or bridle. Beside me, as I wrote,
an Arab looked carefully at every word and shook his head because he
could not understand the language; but the Muses understood and
Apollo, which were its authors almost as much as I. How graceful it
was and yet how firm! How generous and yet how particular! How easy,
how superb, and yet how stuffed with dignity! There ran through it,
half-perceived and essential, a sort of broken rhythm that never
descended to rhetoric, but seemed to enliven and lift up the order
of the words until they were filled with something approaching
music; and with all this the meaning was fixed and new, the order
lucid, the adjectives choice, the verbs strong, the substantives
meaty and full of sap. It combined (if I may say so with modesty)
all that Milton desired to achieve, with all that Bacon did in the
modelling of English.... And it is gone. It will never be seen or
read or known at all. It has utterly disappeared nor is it even
preserved in any human memory--no, not in my own.

I kept it for a year, closely filing, polishing, and emending it
until one would have thought it final, and even then I continued to
develop and to mould it. It grew like a young tree in the corner of
a fruitful field and gave an enduring pleasure. It never left me by
night or by day; it crossed the Pyrenees with me seven times and the
Mediterranean twice. It rode horses with me and was become a part of
my habit everywhere. In trying to ford the Sousseyou I held it high
out of the water, saving it alone, and once by a camp fire I woke
and read it in the mountains before dawn. My companions slept on
either side of me. The great brands of pine glowed and gave me
light; there was a complete silence in the forest except for the
noise of water, and in the midst of such spells I was so entranced
by the beauty of the thing that when I had done my reading I took a
dead coal from the fire and wrote at the foot of the paper: "There
is not a word which the most exuberant could presume to add, nor one
which the most fastidious would dare to erase." All that glory has

I know very well what the cabman did. He looked through the trap-door
in the top of the roof to see if I had left anything behind. It was
in Vigo Street, at the corner, that the fate struck. He looked and
saw a sheet or two of paper--something of no value. He crumpled it up
and threw it away, and it joined the company which men have not been
thought worthy to know. It went to join Calvus and the dreadful books
of the Sibyl, and those charred leaves which were found on the floor
where Chatterton lay dead.

I went three times to Scotland Yard, allowing long intervals and
torturing myself with hope. Three times my hands thought to hold it,
and three times they closed on nothingness. A policeman then told me
that cabmen very rarely brought him written things, but rather
sticks, gloves, rings, purses, parcels, umbrellas, and the crushed
hats of drunken men, not often verse or prose; and I abandoned my

There are some reading this who may think me a trifle too fond and
may doubt the great glory to which I testify here. They will
remember how singularly the things we no longer possess rise upon
the imagination and enlarge themselves, and they will quote that
pathetic error whereby the dead become much dearer to us when we can
no longer smile into their faces or do them the good we desire. They
will suggest (most tenderly) that loss and the enchantment of memory
have lent a thought too much of radiance and of harmony to what was
certainly a noble creation of the mind, but still human and shot
with error.

To such a criticism I cannot reply, I have no longer, alas! the best
of replies, the Thing Itself, the Achievement: and not having that I
have nothing. I am without weapons. Who shall convince of
personality, of beauty, or of holiness, unless they be seen and
felt? So it is with letters, and if I am not believed--or even if I
am--it is of little moment, for the beloved object is rapt away.

Its matter--if one can say that anything so manifold and exalted had
a mere subject--its matter was the effect of the piercing of the
Suez Canal upon coastwise trade in the Mediterranean, but it is
profane to bring before the general gaze a title which can tell the
world nothing of the iridescence and vitality it has lost.

I will not console myself with the uncertain guess that things
perished are in some way recoverable beyond the stars, nor hope to
see and read again the artistry and the result whose loss I have
mourned in these lines; but if, as the wisest men imagine, there is
a place of repose for whatever most deserves it among the shades,
there either I or others worthier may read what will never be read
by living eyes or praised by living lips again. It may be so. But
the loss alone is certain.


There was once a man called Mahmoud. He had other names, such as
Ali, Akbar, and Shmaeil, and so forth, with which I will not trouble
you, because in very short stories it is important not to confuse
the mind. I have been assured of this by many authorities, some of
whom make a great deal of money by short stories, and all of whom
know a great deal about the way in which they ought to be written.

Now I come to think of it, I very much doubt whether this is a short
story at all, for it has no plot so far and I do not see any plot
developing. No matter. The thing is to say what one has to say
humbly but fully. Providence will look after the rest.

So, as I was saying, there was a man called Mahmoud. He lived in a
country entirely made of sand. There were hills which on the maps
were called mountains, but when you came to look at them they were
only a lot more sand, and there was nothing about them except an
aspect of sand heaped up. You may say, "How, then, did Mahmoud build
a house?" He did not. He lived in a tent. "But," you continue, "what
did he do about drinking?" Well, it was Mahmoud's habit to go to a
place where he knew that by scratching a little he would find bad
water, and there he would scratch a little and find it, and, being
an abstemious man, he needed but a drop.

The sun in Mahmoud's country was extremely hot. It stood right up
above one's head and looked like the little thing that you get in
the focus of a burning glass. The sun made it almost impossible to
move, except in the early morning or at evening, and even during the
night it was not particularly cool. It never rained in this place.

There were no rivers and no trees. There was no grass, and the only
animal was a camel. The camel was content to eat a kind of scrub
that grew here and there on the sand, and it drank the little water
Mahmoud could afford it, and was permanently happy. So was Mahmoud.
Beneath him the sand sloped down until it met the sea, which was
tepid on account of the great heat, and in which were a lot of fish,
pearls, and other things. Every now and then Mahmoud would force a
son or domestic of his to go down and hoick out a pearl, and this
pearl he would exchange for something that he absolutely needed,
such as a new tent or a new camel, and then he went on living the
way he had been living before.

Now, one day there came to this part of the world a man called
Smith. He was dressed as you and I are, in trousers and a coat and
boots, and he had a billycock hat on. He had a foolish, anxious
face. He did not keep his word particularly; and he was exceedingly
fond of money. He had spent most of his life accumulating all sorts
of wealth in a great bag, and he landed with this bag in Mahmoud's
country, and Mahmoud was as polite to him as the heat would allow.
Then Mahmoud said to him:

"You appear to be a very rich man."

And Smith said:

"I am," and opened his bag and showed a great quantity of things. So
Mahmoud was pleased and astonished, and fussed a good deal
considering the climate, and got quite a quantity of pearls out of
the sea, and gave them to Smith, who let him have a gun, but a bad
one; and he, Smith, retained a good rifle. Then Smith sat down and
waited for about six months, living on the provisions he had brought
in his bag, until Mahmoud said to him:

"What have you come to do here?"

And Smith said:

"Why, to tell you the honest truth, I have come to protect you."

So Mahmoud thought a long time, smoking a pipe, because he did not
understand a word of what Smith had said. Then Mahmoud said:

"All right, protect away," and after that there was a silence for
about another six months, and nothing had happened.

Mahmoud did not mind being protected, because it made no difference
to him, and after a certain time he had got all he wanted out of
Smith, and was tired of bothering about the pearls. So he and Smith
just lived side by side doing nothing in particular, except that
Smith went on protecting and that Mahmoud went on being protected.
But while Mahmoud was perfectly content to be protected till
Doomsday, being an easy-going kind of fellow, Smith was more and
more put out. He was a trifle irritable by nature. The climate did
not suit him. He drank beer and whisky and other things quite
dangerous under such a sun, and he came out all over like the
measles. He tried to pass the time riding on a camel. At first he
thought it great sport, but after a little he got tired of that
also. He began to write poetry, all about Mahmoud, and as Mahmoud
could not read it did not much matter. Then he wrote poetry about
himself, making out Mahmoud to be excessively fond of him, and this
poetry he read to himself, and it calmed him; but as Mahmoud did not
know about this poetry, Smith got bored with it, and, his irritation
increasing, he wrote more poetry, showing Mahmoud to be a villain
and a serf, and showing himself, Smith, to be under a divine

Now, just when things had come to this unpleasant state Mahmoud got
up and shook himself and began skipping and dancing outside the door
of his tent and running round and round it very fast, and waving his
hands in the air, and shouting incongruous things.

Smith was exceedingly annoyed by this. He had never gone on like
that himself, and he did not see why Mahmoud should. But Mahmoud had
lived there a good deal longer than Smith had, and he knew that it
was absolutely necessary. There were stories of people in the past
who had felt inclined to go on like this and had restrained
themselves with terrible consequences. So Mahmoud went on worse than
ever, running as fast as he could out into the sand, shouting,
leaping into the air, and then running back again as fast as he
could, and firing off his gun and calling upon his god.

Smith, whose nerves were at the last stretch, asked Mahmoud savagely
what he was about. To this Mahmoud gave no reply, save to twirl
round rapidly upon one foot and to fall down foaming at the mouth.
Smith, therefore, losing all patience, said to Mahmoud:

"If you do not stop I will shoot you by way of protecting you
against yourself."

Mahmoud did not know what the word protected meant, but he
understood the word shoot, and shouting with joy, he blew off
Smith's hat with his gun, and said:

"A fight! a fight!"

For he loved fighting when he was in this mood, while Smith detested

Smith, however, remembered that he had come there to protect
Mahmoud; he set his teeth, aimed with his rifle, fired at Mahmoud,
and missed.

Mahmoud was so surprised at this that he ran at Smith, and rolled
him over and over on the ground. Then they unclenched, both very
much out of breath, and Smith said:

"Will you or will you not be protected?"

Mahmoud said he should be delighted. Moreover, he said that he had
given his word that he would be protected, and that he was not a man
to break his word.

After that he took Smith by the hand and shook it up and down for
about five minutes, until Smith was grievously put out.

When they were friends again. Smith said to Mahmoud:

"Will you not go down into the sea and get me some more pearls?"

"No," said Mahmoud, "I am always very exhausted after these

Then Smith sat down by the seashore and began to cry, thinking of
his home and of the green trees and of the North, and he wrote
another poem about the burden that he had borne, and of what a great
man he was and how he went all over the world protecting people, and
how brave he was, and how Mahmoud also was very brave, but how he
was much braver than Mahmoud. Then he said:

"Mahmoud, I am going away back to my distant home, unless you will
get me more pearls."

But Mahmoud said:

"I cannot get you any more pearls because it is too hot, and if only
you will stop you can go on doing some protecting, which, upon my
soul, I do like better than anything in the world."

And even as he said this he began jumping about and shouting strange
things and waving his gun, and Smith at once went away.

Then Mahmoud sat down sadly by the sea, and thought of how Smith had
protected him, and how now all that was passed and the old
monotonous life would begin again. But Smith went home, and all his
neighbours asked how it was that he protected so well, and he wrote
a book to enlighten them, called _How I Protected Mahmoud_.
Then all his neighbours read this book and went out in a great boat
to do something of the same kind. And Smith could not refrain from

Mahmoud, however, by his lonely shore, regretted more and more this
episode in his dull life, and he wept when he remembered the
fantastic Smith, who had such an enormous number of things in his
bag and who had protected him; and he also wrote a poem, which is
rather difficult to understand in connection with the business, but
which to him exactly described it. And the poem went like this;
having no metre and no rhyming, and being sung to three notes and a
quarter in a kind of wail:

"When the jackal and the lion meet it is full moon; it is full moon
and the gazelles are abroad."

"Why are the gazelles abroad when the jackal and the lion meet: when
it is full moon in the desert and there is no wind?"

"There is no wind because the gazelles are abroad, the moon is at
the full, and the lion and the jackal are together."

"Where is he that protected me and where is the great battle and the
shouts and the feasting afterwards, and where is that bag?"

"But we dwell in the desert always, and men do not visit us, and the
lion and the jackal have met, and it is full moon, O gazelles!"

Mahmoud was so pleased with this song that he wrote it down, a thing
he only did with one song out of several thousands, for he wrote
with difficulty, but I think it a most ridiculous song, and I far
prefer Smith's, though you would never know it had to do with the
same business.


One day Peter and Paul--I knew them both, the dear fellows: Peter
perhaps a trifle wild, Paul a little priggish, but that is no matter
--one day, I say, Peter and Paul (who lived together in rooms off
Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, a very delightful spot) were talking
over their mutual affairs.

"My dear Paul," said Peter, "I wish I could persuade you to this
expenditure. It will be to our mutual advantage. Come now, you have
ten thousand a year of your own and I with great difficulty earn a
hundred; it is surprising that you should make the fuss you do.
Besides which you well know that this feeding off packing-cases is
irksome; we really need a table and it will but cost ten pounds."

To all this Paul listened doubtfully, pursing up his lips, joining
the tips of his fingers, crossing his legs and playing the solemn
fool generally.

"Peter," said he, "I mislike this scheme of yours. It is a heavy
outlay for a single moment. It would disturb our credit, and yours
especially, for your share would come to five pounds and you would
have to put off paying the Press-Cutting agency to which you
foolishly subscribe. No; there is an infinitely better way than this
crude idea of paying cash down in common. I will lend the whole sum
of ten pounds to our common stock and we will each pay one pound a
year as interest to myself for the loan. I for my part will not
shirk my duty in the matter of this interest and I sincerely trust
you will not shirk yours."

Peter was so delighted with this arrangement that his gratitude knew
no bounds. He would frequently compliment himself in private on the
advantage of living with Paul, and when he went out to see his
friends it was with the jovial air of the Man with the Bottomless
Purse, for he did not feel the pound a year he had to pay, and Paul
always seemed willing to undertake similar expenses on similar
terms. He purchased a bronze over-mantel, he fitted the rooms with
electric light, he bought (for the common use) a large prize dog for
L56, and he was for ever bringing in made dishes, bottles of wine
and what not, all paid for by this lending of his. The interest
increased to L20 and then to L30 a year, but Paul was so rigorously
honest, prompt and exact in paying himself the interest that Peter
could not bear to be behindhand or to seem less punctual and upright
than his friend. But so high a proportion of his small income going
in interest left poor Peter but a meagre margin for himself and he
had to dine at Lockhart's and get his clothes ready made, which (to
a refined and sensitive soul such as his) was a grievous trial.

Some little time after a Fishmonger who had attained to Cabinet rank
was married to the daughter of a Levantine and London was in
consequence illuminated. Paul said to Peter in his jovial way, "It
is imperative that we should show no meanness upon this occasion. We
are known for the most flourishing and well-to-do pair of bachelors
in the neighbourhood, and I have not hesitated (for I know I had
your consent beforehand) to go to Messrs. Brock and order an immense
quantity of fireworks for the balcony on this auspicious occasion.
Not a word. The loan is mine and very freely do I make it to our
Mutual Position."

So that night there was an illumination at their flat, and the
centre-piece was a vast combination of roses, thistles, shamrocks,
leeks, kangaroos, beavers, schamboks, and other national emblems,
and beneath it the motto, "United we stand, divided we fall: Peter
and Paul," in flaming letters two feet high.

Peter was after this permanently reduced to living upon rice and to
mending his own clothes; but he could easily see how fair the
arrangement was, and he was not the man to grumble at a free
contract. Moreover, he was expecting a rise in salary from the
editor of the _Hoot_, in which paper he wrote "Woman's World",
and signed it "Emily".

At the close of the year Peter had some difficulty in meeting the
interest, though Paul had, with true business probity, paid his on
the very day it fell due. Peter therefore approached Paul with some
little diffidence and hesitation, saying:

"Paul: I trust you will excuse me, but I beg you will be so very
good as to see your way, if possible, to granting me an extension of
time in the matter of paying my interest."

Paul, who was above everything regular and methodical, replied:

"Hum, chrm, chrum, chrm. Well, my dear Peter, it would not be
generous to press you, but I trust you will remember that this money
has not been spent upon my private enjoyment. It has gone for the
glory of our Mutual Position; pray do not forget that, Peter; and
remember also that if you have to pay interest, so have I, so have
I. We are all in the same boat, Peter, sink or swim; sink or
swim...." Then his face brightened, he patted Peter genially on the
shoulder and added: "Do not think me harsh, Peter. It is necessary
that I should keep to a strict, business-like way of doing things,
for I have a large property to manage; but you may be sure that my
friendship for you is of more value to me than a few paltry
sovereigns. I will lend you the sum you owe to the interest on the
Common Debt, and though in strict right you alone should pay the
interest on this new loan I will call half of it my own and you
shall pay but L1 a year on it for ever."

Peter's eyes swam with tears at Paul's generosity, and he thanked
his stars that his lot had been cast with such a man. But when Paul
came again with a grave face and said to him, "Peter, my boy, we
must insure at once against burglars: the underwriters demand a
hundred pounds," his heart broke, and he could not endure the
thought of further payments. Paul, however, with the quiet good
sense that characterised him, pointed out the necessity of the
payment and, eyeing Peter with compassion for a moment, told him
that he had long been feeling that he (Peter) had been unfairly
taxed. "It is a principle" (said Paul) "that taxation should fall
upon men in proportion to their ability to pay it. I am determined
that, whatever happens, you shall in future pay but a third of the
interest that may accrue upon further loans." It was in vain that
Peter pointed out that, in his case, even a thirtieth would mean
starvation; Paul was firm and carried his point.

The wretched Peter was now but skin and bone, and his earning power,
small as it had ever been, was considerably lessened. Paul began to
fear very seriously for his invested funds: he therefore kept up
Peter's spirits as best he could with such advice as the following:--

"Dear Peter, do not repine; your lot is indeed hard, but it has its
silver lining. You are the member of a partnership famous among all
other bachelor-residences for its display of fireworks and its fine
furniture. So valuable is the room in which you live that the
insurance alone is the wonder and envy of our neighbours. Consider
also how firm and stable these loans make our comradeship. They give
me a stake in the rooms and furnish a ready market for the spare
capital of our little community. The interest WE pay upon the fund
is an evidence of our social rank, and all London stares with
astonishment at the flat of Peter and Paul, which can without an
effort buy such gorgeous furniture at a moment's notice."

But, alas! these well-meant words were of no avail. On a beautiful
spring day, when all the world seemed to be holding him to the joys
of living, Peter passed quietly away in his little truckle bed,
unattended even by a doctor, whose fees would have necessitated a
loan the interest of which he could never have paid.

Paul, on the death of Peter, gave way at first to bitter
recrimination. "Is this the way," he said, "that you repay years of
unstinted generosity? Nay, is this the way you meet your sacred
obligations? You promised upon a thousand occasions to pay your
share of the interest for ever, and now like a defaulter you abandon
your post and destroy half the revenue of our firm by one
intempestive and thoughtless act! Had you but possessed a little
property which, properly secured, would continue to meet the claims
you had incurred, I had not blamed you. But a man who earns all that
he possesses has no right to pledge himself to perpetual payment
unless he is prepared to live for ever!"

Nobler thoughts, however, succeeded this outburst, and Paul threw
himself upon the bed of his Departed Friend and moaned. "Who now
will pay me an income in return for my investments? All my fortune
is sunk in this flat, though I myself pay the interest never so
regularly, it will not increase my fortune by one farthing! I shall
as I live consume a fund which will never be replenished, and within
a short time I shall be compelled to work for my living!"

Maddened by this last reflection, he dashed into the street, hurried
northward through-the-now-rapidly-gathering-darkness, and drowned
himself in the Regent's Canal, just where it runs by the Zoological
Gardens, under the bridge that leads to the cages of the larger

Thus miserably perished Peter and Paul, the one in the thirtieth,
the other in the forty-seventh year of his age, both victims to
their ignorance of _Mrs. Fawcett's Political Economy for the
Young_, the _Nicomachean Ethics_, Bastiat's _Economic Harmonies, The
Fourth Council of Lateran on Unfruitful Loans and Usury, The Speeches
of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach and Mr. Brodrick (now Lord Midleton), The
Sermons of St. Thomas Aquinas_, under the head "Usuria,"
Mr. W. S. Lilly's First _Principles in Politics_, and other works
too numerous to mention.


"_Saepe miratus sum_," I have often wondered why men were
blamed for seeking to know men of title. That a man should be blamed
for the acceptance of, or uniformity with, ideals not his own is
right enough; but a man who simply reveres a Lord does nothing so
grave: and why he should not revere such a being passes my

The institution of Lords has for its object the creation of a high
and reverend class; well, a man looks up to them with awe or
expresses his reverence and forthwith finds himself accused! Get rid
of Lords by all means, if you think there should be none, but do not
come pestering me with a rule that no Lord shall be considered while
you are making them by the bushel for the special purpose of being
considered--_ad considerandum_ as Quintillian has it in his
highly Quintillianarian essay on I forget what.

I have heard it said that what is blamed in snobs, _snobinibus
quid reatumst_, is not the matter but the manner of their
worship. Those who will have it so maintain that we should pay to
rank a certain discreet respect which must not be marred by crude
expression. They compare snobbishness to immodesty, and profess that
the pleasure of acquaintance with the great should be so enjoyed
that the great themselves are but half-conscious of the homage
offered them: this is rather a subtle and finicky critique of what
is in honest minds a natural restraint.

I knew a man once--Chatterley was his name, Shropshire his county,
and racing his occupation--who said that a snob was blamed for the
offence he gave to Lords themselves. Thus we do well (said this man
Chatterley) to admire beautiful women, but who would rush into a
room and exclaim loudly at the ladies it contained? So (said this
man Chatterley) is it with Lords, whom we should never forget, but
whom we should not disturb by violent affection or by too persistent
a pursuit.

Then there was a nasty drunken chap down Wapping way who had seen
better days; he had views on dozens of things and they were often
worth listening to, and one of his fads was to be for ever preaching
that the whole social position of an aristocracy resided in a veil
of illusion, and that hands laid too violently on this veil would
tear it. It was only by a sort of hypnotism, he said, that we
regarded Lords as separate from ourselves. It was a dream, and a
rough movement would wake one out of it. Snobbishness (he said) did
violence to this sacred film of faith and might shatter it, and
hence (he pointed out) was especially hated by Lords themselves. It
was interesting to hear as a theory and delivered in those
surroundings, but it is exploded at once by the first experience of
High Life and its solid realities.

There is yet another view that to seek after acquaintance with men
of position in some way hurts one's own soul, and that to strain
towards our superiors, to mingle our society with their own, is
unworthy, because it is destructive of something peculiar to
ourselves. But surely there is implanted in man an instinct which
leads him to all his noblest efforts and which is, indeed, the
motive force of religion, the instinct by which he will ever seek to
attain what he sees to be superior to him and more worthy than the
things of his common experience. It seems to be proper, therefore,
that no man should struggle against the very natural attraction
which radiates from superior rank, and I will boldly affirm that he
does his country a good service who submits to this force.

The just appetite for rank gives rise to two kinds of duty, one or
the other of which each of us in his sphere is bound to regard.
There is first for much the greater part of men the duty of showing
respect and deference to men of title, by which I do not mean only
Lords absolute (which are Barons, Viscounts, Earls, Marquises and
Dukes), but also Lords in gross, that is the whole body of lords,
including lords by courtesy, ladies, their wives and mothers,
honourables and cousins--especially heirs of Lords, and to some
extent Baronets as well. Secondly, there is the duty of those few
within whose power it lies to become Lords, Lords to become, lest
the aristocratic element in our Constitution should decline. The
most obvious way of doing one's duty in this regard if one is
wealthy is to purchase a peerage, or a Baronetcy at the least, and
when I consider how very numerous are the fortunes to which a sum of
twenty or thirty thousand pounds is not really a sacrifice, and how
few of their possessors exercise a tenacious effort to acquire rank
by the disbursement of money, I cannot but fear for the future of
the country! It is no small sign of our times that we should read so
continually of large bequests to public charities made by men who
have had every opportunity for entering the Upper House but who
preferred to remain unnoted in the North of England and to leave
their posterity no more dignified than they were themselves.

There is a yet more restricted class to whom it is open to become
Lords by sheer merit. The one by gallant conduct in the field,
another by a pretty talent for verse, a third by scientific
research. And if any of my readers happen to be a man of this kind
and yet hesitate to undertake the effort required of him, I would
point out that our Constitution in its wisdom adds certain very
material advantages to a peerage of this kind. It is no excuse for a
man of military or scientific eminence to say that his income would
not enable him to maintain such a dignity. Parliament is always
ready to vote a sufficient grant of money, and even were it not so,
it is quite possible to be a Lord and yet to be but poorly provided
with the perishable goods of this world, as is very clearly seen in
the case of no fewer than eighty-two Barons, fourteen Earls, and
three dukes, a list of whom I had prepared for printing in these
directions but have most unfortunately mislaid.

Again, even if one's private means be small, and if Parliament by
some neglect omit to endow one's new splendour, the common sense of
England will come to the help of any man so situated if he is worth
his salt. He will with the greatest ease obtain positions of
responsibility and emolument, notably upon the directorate of public
companies, and can often, if he finds his salary insufficient,
persuade his fellow-directors to increase it, whether by threatening
them with exposure or by some other less drastic and more convivial

If after reading these lines there is anyone who still doubts the
attitude that an honest man should take upon this matter, it is
enough to point out in conclusion how Providence itself appears to
have designed the whole hierarchy of Lords with a view to tempting
man higher and ever higher. Thus, if some reader of this happens to
be a baron, he might think perhaps that it is not worth a further
effort to receive another grade of distinction. He would be wrong,
for such an advance gives a courtesy title to his daughters; one
more step and the same benefit accrues to his sons. After that there
is indeed a hiatus, nor have I ever been able to see what advantage
is held out to the viscount who desires to become a marquis--unless,
indeed, it be marquises that become viscounts. Anyhow, it is the
latter title which is the less English and the less manly and which
I am glad to hear it is proposed to abolish by a short, one-clause
bill in the next Session of Parliament. Above these, the dukes in
the titles of their wives and the mode in which they are addressed
stand alone. There is, therefore, no stage in a man's upward
progress upon this ancient and glorious ladder where he will not
find some great reward for the toil of ascending. In view of these
things, I for my part hope, in common with many another, that the
foolish pledge given some years ago when the Liberal Party was in
opposition, that it would create no more Lords, will be revised now
that it has to consider the responsibilities of office; a revision
for which there is ample precedent in the case of other pledges
which were as rashly made but of which a reconsideration has been
found necessary in practice.

NOTE.--_I find I am wrong upon Viscounts, but as I did not
discover this until my book was in the press I cannot correct it.
The remainder of the matter is accurate enough, and may be relied on
by the student._



The sad and lamentable history of Jack Bull, son of the late John
Bull, India Merchant, wherein it will be seen how this prosperous
merchant left an heir that ran riot with 'Squires, trainbands, Black
men, and Soldiers, and squandered all his substance, so that at last
he came to selling penny tokens in front of the Royal Exchange in
Threadneedle Street, and is now very miserably writing for the

John Bull, whom I knew very well, drove a great trade in tea, cotton
goods, and bombazine, as also in hardware, all manner of cutlery,
good and bad, and especially sea-coal, and was very highly respected
in the City of London, of which he was twice Sheriff and once Lord
Mayor. When he went abroad some begged of him, and to these he would
give a million or so at a time openly in the street, so that a crowd
would gather and cry, "Lord! what a generous fellow is this Mr.
Bull!" Some, again, of better station would pluck his sleeve and
take him aside into Broad Street Corner or Mansion House Court, and
say, "Mr. Bull, a word in your ear. I have more paper about than I
care for in these hard times, and I could pay you handsomely for a
short loan." These always found Mr. Bull willing and ready, sure and
silent, and, withal, cheaper at a discount than any other. For
buying cloth all came to Bull; and for buying other wares his house
was preferred to those of Frog and Hans and the rest, because he was
courteous and ready, always to be found in his office (which was
near the Wool-pack in Leaden Hall Street, next to Mr. Marlow's, the
Methodist preacher), and moreover he was very attentive to little
things. This last habit he would call the soul of business. In such
fashion Mr. Bull had accumulated a sum of five hundred thousand
million pounds, or thereabouts, and when he died the neighbours said
this and that spiteful thing about his son Jack whom he had trained
up to the business, making out that _they knew more than they
cared to say_, that _Jack was not John_, that _they had heard of Pride
going before a fall_, and so much tittle-tattle as jealousy will breed.
But they were very much disappointed in their malice, for this same
Jack went sturdily to work and trod in his father's steps, so that
his wealth increased even beyond what he had inherited, and he had at
last more risks upon the sea in one way and another than any other
merchant in the City. And if you would know how Jack (who was, to
tell the truth, more flighty and ill-informed than his father) came to
go so wisely, it was thus: Old John had left him a few directions writ
up in pencil on the mantelpiece, which ran in this way:---

1. Never go into an adventure unless the feeling of your neighbours
be with you.

2. Spend no more than you earn--nay, put by every year.

3. Put out no money for show in your business but only for use, save
only on the occasion of the Lord Mayor's Show, your taking of an
office, or on the occasion of public holidays, as, when the King's
wife or daughter lies in.

4. Live and let live, for be sure your business can only thrive on
the condition that others do also.

5. Vex no man at your door; buy and sell freely.

6. Do not associate with Drunkards, Brawlers and Poets; and God's
blessing be with you.

Now when Jack was grown to about thirty years old, he came, most
unfortunately, upon a certain Sir John Snipe, Bart., that was a very
scandalous young squire of Oxfordshire, and one that had published
five lyrics and a play (enough to warn any Bull against him), who
spoke to him somewhat in this fashion:---

"La! Jack, what a pity you and I should live so separate! I'll be
bound you're the best fellow in the world, the very backbone of the
country. To be sure there's a silly old-fashioned lot of Lumpkins in
our part that will have it you're no gentleman, but I say, 'Gentle
is as Gentle does,' and fair play's a jewel. I will enter your
counting-house as soon as drink to you, as I do here."

Whereat Jack cried--

"God 'a' mercy, a very kind gentleman! Be welcome to my house. Pray
take it as your own. I think you may count me one of you? Eh? Be
seated. Come, how can I serve you?": and at last he had this
Jackanapes taking a handsome salary for doing nothing.

When Jack's friends would reproach him and say, "Oh, Jack, Jack,
beware this fine gentleman; he will be your ruin," Jack would
answer, "A plague on all levellers," or again, "What if he be a
gentleman? So that he have talent 'tis all I seek," or yet further,
"Well, gentle or simple, thank God he's an honest Englishman."
Whereat Jack added to the firm, Isaacs of Hamburg, Larochelle of
Canada, Warramugga of Van Dieman's Land, Smuts Bieken of the Cape of
Good Hope, and the Maharajah of Mahound of the East Indies that was
a plaguey devilish-looking black fellow, pock-marked, and with a
terrible great paunch to him.

So things went all to the dogs with poor Jack, that would hear no
sense or reason from his father's old friends, but was always seen
arm in arm with Sir John Snipe, Warra Mugga, the Maharajah and the
rest; drinking at the sign of the "Beerage," gambling and dicing at
"The Tape," or playing fisticuffs at the "Lord Nelson," till at last
he quarrelled with all the world but his boon companions and, what
was worse, boasted that his father's brother's son, rich Jonathan
Spare, was of the company. So if he met some dirty dog or other in
the street he would cry, "Come and sup to-night, you shall meet
Cousin Jonathan!" and when no Jonathan was there he would make a
thousand excuses saying, "Excuse Jonathan, I pray you, he has
married a damned Irish wife that keeps him at home"; or, "What!
Jonathan not come? Oh! we'll wait awhile. He never fails, for we are
like brothers!" and so on; till his companions came to think at last
that he had never met or known Jonathan; which was indeed the case.

About this time he began to think himself too fine a gentleman to
live over the shop as his father had done, and so asked Sir John
Snipe where he might go that was more genteel; for he still had too
much sense to ask any of those other outlandish fellows' advice in
such a matter. At last, on Snipe's bespeaking, he went to Wimbledon,
which is a vastly smart suburb, and there, God knows, he fell into a
thousand absurd tricks so that many thought he was off his head.

He hired a singing man to stand before his door day and night
singing vulgar songs out of the street in praise of Dick Turpin and
Molly Nog, only forcing him to put in his name of Jack Bull in the
place of the Murderer or Oyster Wench therein celebrated.

He would drink rum with common soldiers in the public-houses and
then ask them in to dinner to meet gentlemen, saying "These are
heroes and gentlemen, which are the two first kinds of men," and
they would smoke great pipes of tobacco in his very dining-room to
the general disgust.

He would run out and cruelly beat small boys unaware, and when he
had nigh killed them he would come back and sit up half the night
writing an account of how he had fought Tom Mauler of Bermondsey and
beaten him in a hundred and two rounds, which (he would add) no man
living but he could do.

He would hang out of his window a great flag with a challenge on it
"to all the people of Wimbledon assembled, or to any of them
singly," and then he would be seen at his front gate waving a great
red flag and gnawing a bone like a dog, saying that he loved Force
only, and would fight all and any.

When he received any print, newspaper, book or pamphlet that praised
any but himself, he would throw it into the fire in a kind of
frenzy, calling God to witness that he was the only person of
consequence in the world, that it was a horrible shame that he was
so neglected, and Lord knows what other rubbish.

In this spirit he quarrelled with all his fellow-underwriters and
friends and comrades, and that in the most insolent way. For knowing
well that Mr. Frog had a shrew of a wife, he wrote to him daily
asking "if he had had a domestic broil of late, and how his poor
head felt since it was bandaged." To Mr. Hans, who lived in a small
way and loved gardening, he sent an express "begging him to mind his
cabbages and leave gentlemen to their greater affairs." To Niccolini
of Savoy, the little swarthy merchant, he sent indeed a more polite
note, but as he said in it "that he would be very willing to give
him charity and help him as he could" and as he added "for my father
it was that put you up in business" (which was a monstrous lie, for
Frog had done this) he did but offend. Then to Mr. William Eagle,
that was a strutting, arrogant fellow, but willing to be a friend,
he wrote every Monday to say that the house of Bull was lost unless
Mr. Eagle would very kindly protect it and every Thursday to
challenge him to mortal combat, so that Mr. Eagle (who, to tell the
truth, was no great wit, but something of a dullard and moreover
suffering from a gathering in the ear, a withered arm, and poor
blood) gave up his friendship and business with Bull and took to
making up sermons and speeches for orators.

He would have no retainers but two, whose common names were Hocus
and Pocus, but as he hated the use of common names and as no one had
heard of Hocus' lineage (nor did he himself know it) he called him,
Hocus, "Freedom" as being a high-sounding and moral name for a
footman and Pocus (whose name was of an ordinary decent kind) he
called "Glory" as being a good counterweight to Freedom; both these
were names in his opinion very decent and well suited for a
gentleman's servants.

Now Freedom and Glory got together in the apple closet and put it to
each other that, as their master was evidently mad it would be a
thousand pities to take no advantage of it, and they agreed that
whatever bit of jobbing Hocus Freedom should do, Pocus Glory should
approve; and contrariwise about. But they kept up a sham quarrel to
mask this; thus Hocus was for Chapel, Pocus for Church, and it was
agreed Hocus should denounce Pocus for drinking Port.

The first fruit of their conspiracy was that Hocus recommended his
brother and sister, his two aunts and nieces and four nephews, his
own six children, his dog, his conventicle-minister, his laundress,
his secretary, a friend of whom he had once borrowed five pounds,
and a blind beggar whom he favoured, to various posts about the
house and to certain pensions, and these Jack Bull (though his
fortune was already dwindling) at once accepted.

Thereupon Pocus loudly reproached Hocus in the servants' hall,
saying that the compact had only stood for things in reason, whereat
Hocus took off his coat and offered to "Take him on," and Pocus,
thinking better of it, managed for his share to place in the
household such relatives as he could, namely, Cohen to whom he was
in debt, Bernstein his brother-in-law and all his family of five
except little Hugh that blacked the boots for the Priest, and so was
already well provided for.

In this way poor Jack's fortune went to rack and ruin. The clerks in
his office in the City (whom he now never saw) would telegraph to him
every making-up day that there was loss that had to be met, but to
these he always sent the same reply, namely, "Sell stock and scrip to
the amount"; and as that phrase was costly, he made a code-word, to
wit, "Prosperity," stand for it. Till one day they sent word "There
is nothing left." Then he bethought him how to live on credit, but
this plan was very much hampered by his habit of turning in a passion
on all those who did not continually praise him. Did an honest man
look in and say, "Jack, there is a goat eating your cabbages," he
would fly into a rage and say, "You lie, Pro-Boer, my cabbages are
sacred, and Jove would strike the goat dead that dared to eat them,"
or if a poor fellow should touch his hat in the street and say,
"Pardon, sir, your buttons are awry," he would answer, "Off, villain!
Zounds, knave! Know you not that my Divine buttons are the model of
things?" and so forth, until he fell into a perfect lunacy.

But of how he came to selling tokens of little leaden soldiers at a
penny in front of the Exchange, and of how at last he even fell to
writing for the papers, I will not tell you; for, _imprimis_,
it has not happened yet, nor do I think it will, and in the second
place I am tired of writing.


It so happened that one day I was riding my horse Monster in the
Berkshire Hills right up above that White Horse which was dug they
say by this man and by that man, but no one knows by whom; for I was
seeing England, a delightful pastime, but a somewhat anxious one if
one is riding a horse. For if one is alone one can sleep where one
chooses and walk at one's ease, and eat what God sends one and spend
what one has; but when one is responsible for any other being
(especially a horse) there come in a thousand farradiddles, for of
everything that walks on earth, man (not woman--I use the word in
the restricted sense) is the freest and the most unhappy.

Well, then, I was riding my horse and exploring the Island of
England, going eastward of a summer afternoon, and I had so ridden
along the ridge of the hills for some miles when I came, as chance
would have it, upon a very extraordinary being.

He was a man like myself, but his horse, which was grazing by his
side, and from time to time snorting in a proud manner, was quite
unlike my own. This horse had all the strength of the horses of
Normandy, all the lightness, grace, and subtlety of the horses of
Barbary, all the conscious value of the horses that race for rich
men, all the humour of old horses that have seen the world and will
be disturbed by nothing, and all the valour of young horses who have
their troubles before them, and race round in paddocks attempting to
defeat the passing trains. I say all these things were in the horse,
and expressed by various movements of his body, but the list of
these qualities is but a hint of the way in which he bore himself;
for it was quite clearly apparent as I came nearer and nearer to
this strange pair that the horse before me was very different (as
perhaps was the man) from the beings that inhabit this island.

While he was different in all qualities that I have mentioned--or
rather in their combination--he also differed physically from most
horses that we know, in this, that from his sides and clapt along
them in repose was growing a pair of very fine sedate and noble
wings. So habited, with such an expression and with such gestures of
his limbs, he browsed upon the grass of Berkshire, which, if you
except the grass of Sussex and the grass perhaps of Hampshire, is
the sweetest grass in the world. I speak of the chalk-grass; as for
the grass of the valleys, I would not eat it in a salad, let alone
give it to a beast.

The man who was the companion rather than the master of this
charming animal sat upon a lump of turf singing gently to himself
and looking over the plain of Central England, the plain of the
Upper Thames, which men may see from these hills. He looked at it
with a mixture of curiosity, of memory, and of desire which was very
interesting but also a little pathetic to watch. And as he looked at
it he went on crooning his little song until he saw me, when with
great courtesy he ceased and asked me in the English language
whether I did not desire companionship.

I answered him that certainly I did, though not more than was
commonly the case with me, for I told him that I had had
companionship in several towns and inns during the past few days,
and that I had had but a few hours' bout of silence and of

"Which period," I added, "is not more than sufficient for a man of
my years, though I confess that in early youth I should have found
it intolerable."

When I had said this he nodded gravely, and I in my turn began to
wonder of what age he might be, for his eyes and his whole manner
were young, but there was a certain knowledge and gravity in his
expression and in the posture of his body which in another might
have betrayed middle age. He wore no hat, but a great quantity of
his own hair, which was blown about by the light summer wind upon
these heights. As he did not reply to me, I asked him a further
question, and said:

"I see you are gazing upon the plain. Have you interests or memories
in that view? I ask you without compunction so delicate a question
because it is as open to you to lie as it was to me when I lied to
them only yesterday morning, a little beyond Wayland's Cave, telling
them that I had come to make sure of the spot where St. George
conquered the Dragon, though, in truth, I had come for no such
purpose, and telling them that my name was so-and-so, whereas it was
nothing of the kind."

He brightened up at this, and said: "You are quite right in telling
me that I am free to lie if I choose, and I would be very happy to
lie to you if there were any purpose in so doing, but there is none.
I gaze upon this plain with the memories that are common to all men
when they gaze upon a landscape in which they have had a part in the
years recently gone by. That is, the plain fills me with a sort of
longing, and yet I cannot say that the plain has treated me
unjustly. I have no complaint against it. God bless the plain!"
After thinking a few moments, he added: "I am fond of Wantage;
Wallingford has done me no harm; Oxford gave me many companions; I
was not drowned at Dorchester beyond the Little Hills; and the best
of men gave me a true farewell in Faringdon yonder. Moreover, Cumnor
is my friend. Nevertheless, I like to indulge in a sort of sadness
when I look over this plain."

I then asked him whither he would go next.

He answered: "My horse flies, and I am therefore not bound to any
particular track or goal, especially in these light airs of summer
when all the heaven is open to me."

As he said this I looked at his mount and noticed that when he shook
his skin as horses will do in the hot weather to rid themselves of
flies, he also passed a little tremor through his wings, which were
large and goose-grey, and, spreading gently under that effort,
seemed to give him coolness.

"You have," said I, "a remarkable horse."

At this word he brightened up as men do when something is spoken of
that interests them nearly, and he answered: "Indeed, I have! and I
am very glad you like him. There is no such other horse to my
knowledge in England, though I have heard that some still linger in
Ireland and in France, and that a few foals of the breed have been
dropped of late years in Italy, but I have not seen them.

"How did you come by this horse?" said I; "if it is not trespassing
upon your courtesy to ask you so delicate a question."

"Not at all; not at all," he answered. "This kind of horse runs wild
upon the heaths of morning and can be caught only by Exiles: and I
am one.... Moreover, if you had come three or four years later than
you have I should have been able to give you an answer in rhyme, but
I am sorry to say that a pestilent stricture of the imagination, or
rather, of the compositive faculty so constrains me that I have not
yet finished the poem I have been writing with regard to the
discovery and service of this beast."

"I have great sympathy with you," I answered, "I have been at the
ballade of Val-es-Dunes since the year 1897 and I have not yet
completed it."

"Well, then," he said, "you will be patient with me when I tell you
that I have but three verses completed." Whereupon without further

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