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Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde

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Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde

by Oscar Wilde


Preface by Robert Ross
How They Struck a Contemporary
The Quality of George Meredith
Life in the Fallacious Model
Life the Disciple
Life the Plagiarist
The Indispensable East
The Influence of the Impressionists on Climate
An Exposure to Naturalism
Thomas Griffiths Wainewright
Wainewright at Hobart Town
Cardinal Newman and the Autobiographiers
Robert Browning
The Two Supreme and Highest Arts
The Secrets of Immortality
The Critic and his Material
Dante the Living Guide
The Limitations of Genius
Wanted A New Background
Without Frontiers
The Poetry of Archaeology
The Art of Archaeology
Herod Suppliant
The Tetrarch's Remorse
The Tetrarch's Treasure
Salome anticipates Dr. Strauss
The Young King
A Coronation
The King of Spain
A Bull Fight
The Throne Room
A Protected Country
The Blackmailing of the Emperor
Covent Garden
A Letter from Miss Jane Percy to her Aunt
The Triumph of American 'Humor'
The Garden of Death
An Eton Kit-cat
Mrs. Erlynne Exercises the Prerogative of a Grandmother
Motherhood more than Marriage
The Damnable Ideal
From a Rejected Prize-essay
The Possibilities of the Useful
The Artist
The Doer of Good
The Disciple
The Master
The House of Judgment
The Teacher of Wisdom
Wilde gives directions about 'De Profundis'
Carey Street
Sorrow wears no mask
Vita Nuova
The Grand Romantic
Clapham Junction
The Broken Resolution
Domesticity at Berneval
A visit to the Pope


With the possible exceptions of the Greek Anthology, the "Golden
Treasury" and those which bear the name of E. V. Lucas, no
selections of poetry or prose have ever given complete satisfaction
to anyone except the compiler. But critics derive great
satisfaction from pointing out errors of omission and inclusion on
the part of the anthologist, and all of us have putatively re-
arranged and re-edited even the "Golden Treasury" in our leisure
moments. In an age when "Art for Art's sake" is an exploded
doctrine, anthologies, like everything else, must have a purpose.
The purpose or object of the present volume is to afford admirers of
Wilde's work the same innocent pleasure obtainable from similar
compilations, namely that of reconstructing a selection of their own
in their mind's eye--for copyright considerations would interfere
with the materialisation of their dream.

A stray observation in an esteemed weekly periodical determined the
plan of this anthology and the choice of particular passages. The
writer, whose name has escaped me, opined that the reason the works
of Pater and Wilde were no longer read was owing to both authors
having treated English as a dead language. By a singular
coincidence I had purchased simultaneously with the newspaper a
shilling copy of Pater's "Renaissance," published by Messrs.
Macmillan; and a few days afterwards Messrs. Methuen issued at a
shilling the twenty-eighth edition of "De Profundis." Obviously
either Messrs. Macmillan and Messrs. Methuen or the authority on
dead languages must have been suffering from hallucinations. It
occurred to me that a selection of Wilde's prose might at least
rehabilitate the notorious reputation for common sense enjoyed by
all publishers, who rarely issue shilling editions of deceased
authors for mere aesthetic considerations. And I confess to a hope
that this volume may reach the eye or ear of those who have not read
Wilde's books, or of those, such as Mr. Sydney Grundy, who are
irritated by the revival of his plays and the praise accorded to his
works throughout the Continent.

Wilde's prose is distinguished by its extraordinary ease and
clarity, and by the absence--very singular in his case--of the
preciosity which he admired too much in other writers, and advocated
with over-emphasis. Perhaps that is why many of his stories and
essays and plays are used as English text-books in Russian and
Scandinavian and Hungarian schools. Artifice and affectation, often
assumed to be recurrent defects in his writings by those
unacquainted with them, are comparatively rare. Wilde once boasted
in an interview that only Flaubert, Pater, Keats, and Maeterlinck
had influenced him, and then added in a characteristic way: "But I
had already gone more than half-way to meet them." Anyone curious
as to the origin of Wilde's style and development should consult the
learned treatise {1} of Dr. Ernst Bendz, whose comprehensive
treatment of the subject renders any elucidation of mine
superfluous; while nothing can be added to Mr. Holbrook Jackson's
masterly criticism {2} of Wilde and his position in literature.

In making this selection, with the valuable assistance of Mr. Stuart
Mason, I have endeavoured to illustrate and to justify the critical
appreciations of both Dr. Bendz and Mr. Holbrook Jackson, as well as
to afford the general reader a fair idea of Wilde's variety as a
prose writer. He is more various than almost any author of the last
century, though the act of writing was always a burden to him. Some
critic acutely pointed out that poetry and prose were almost side-
issues for him. The resulting faults and weakness of what he left
are obvious. Except in the plays he has no sustained scheme of
thought. Even "De Profundis" is too desultory.

For the purpose of convenient reference I have exercised the
prerogative of a literary executor and editor by endowing with
special titles some of the pieces quoted in these pages. Though
unlike one of Wilde's other friends I cannot claim to have
collaborated with him or to have assisted him in any of his plays, I
was sometimes permitted, as Wilde acknowledges in different letters,
to act in the capacity of godfather by suggesting the actual titles
by which some of his books are known to the world. I mention the
circumstance only as a precedent for my present temerity. To
compensate those who disapprove of my choice, I have included two
unpublished letters. The examples of Wilde's epistolary style,
published since his death, have been generally associated with
disagreeable subjects. Those included here will, I hope, prove a
pleasant contrast.



There is such a thing as robbing a story of its reality by trying to
make it too true, and The Black Arrow is so inartistic as not to
contain a single anachronism to boast of, while the transformation
of Dr. Jekyll reads dangerously like an experiment out of the
Lancet. As for Mr. Rider Haggard, who really has, or had once, the
makings of a perfectly magnificent liar, he is now so afraid of
being suspected of genius that when he does tell us anything
marvellous, he feels bound to invent a personal reminiscence, and to
put it into a footnote as a kind of cowardly corroboration. Nor are
our other novelists much better. Mr. Henry James writes fiction as
if it were a painful duty, and wastes upon mean motives and
imperceptible 'points of view" his neat literary style, his
felicitous phrases, his swift and caustic satire. Mr. Hall Caine,
it is true, aims at the grandiose, but then he writes at the top of
his voice. He is so loud that one cannot bear what he says. Mr.
James Payn is an adept in the art of concealing what is not worth
finding. He hunts down the obvious with the enthusiasm of a short-
sighted detective. As one turns over the pages, the suspense of the
author becomes almost unbearable. The horses of Mr. William Black's
phaeton do not soar towards the sun. They merely frighten the sky
at evening into violent chromolithographic effects. On seeing them
approach, the peasants take refuge in dialect. Mrs. Oliphant
prattles pleasantly about curates, lawn-tennis parties, domesticity,
and other wearisome things. Mr. Marion Crawford has immolated
himself upon the altar of local colour. He is like the lady in the
French comedy who keeps talking about "le beau ciel d'Italie."
Besides, he has fallen into the bad habit of uttering moral
platitudes. He is always telling us that to be good is to be good,
and that to be bad is to be wicked. At times he is almost edifying.
Robert Elsmere is of course a masterpiece--a masterpiece of the
"genre ennuyeux," the one form of literature that the English people
seems thoroughly to enjoy. A thoughtful young friend of ours once
told us that it reminded him of the sort of conversation that goes
on at a meat tea in the house of a serious Nonconformist family, and
we can quite believe it. Indeed it is only in England that such a
book could be produced. England is the home of lost ideas. As for
that great and daily increasing school of novelists for whom the sun
always rises in the East-End, the only thing that can be said about
them is that they find life crude, and leave it raw.--The Decay of


Ah! Meredith! Who can define him? His style is chaos illumined by
flashes of lightning. As a writer he has mastered everything except
language: as a novelist he can do everything, except tell a story:
as an artist he is everything except articulate. Somebody in
Shakespeare--Touchstone, I think--talks about a man who is always
breaking his shins over his own wit, and it seems to me that this
might serve as the basis for a criticism of Meredith's method. But
whatever he is, he is not a realist. Or rather I would say that he
is a child of realism who is not on speaking terms with his father.
By deliberate choice he has made himself a romanticist. He has
refused to bow the knee to Baal, and after all, even if the man's
fine spirit did not revolt against the noisy assertions of realism,
his style would be quite sufficient of itself to keep life at a
respectful distance. By its means he has planted round his garden a
hedge full of thorns, and red with wonderful roses. As for Balzac,
he was a most remarkable combination of the artistic temperament
with the scientific spirit. The latter he bequeathed to his
disciples. The former was entirely his own. The difference between
such a book as M. Zola's L'Assommoir and Balzac's Illusions Perdues
is the difference between unimaginative realism and imaginative
reality. 'All Balzac's characters;' said Baudelaire, 'are gifted
with the same ardour of life that animated himself. All his
fictions are as deeply coloured as dreams. Each mind is a weapon
loaded to the muzzle with will. The very scullions have genius.' A
steady course of Balzac reduces our living friends to shadows, and
our acquaintances to the shadows of shades. His characters have a
kind of fervent fiery-coloured existence. They dominate us, and
defy scepticism. One of the greatest tragedies of my life is the
death of Lucien de Rubempre. It is a grief from which I have never
been able completely to rid myself. It haunts me in my moments of
pleasure. I remember it when I laugh. But Balzac is no more a
realist than Holbein was. He created life, he did not copy it. I
admit, however, that he set far too high a value on modernity of
form, and that, consequently, there is no book of his that, as an
artistic masterpiece, can rank with Salammbo or Esmond, or The
Cloister and the Hearth, or the Vicomte de Bragelonne.--The Decay of


Art begins with abstract decoration, with purely imaginative and
pleasurable work dealing with what is unreal and non-existent. This
is the first stage. Then Life becomes fascinated with this new
wonder, and asks to be admitted into the charmed circle. Art takes
life as part of her rough material, recreates it, and refashions it
in fresh forms, is absolutely indifferent to fact, invents,
imagines, dreams, and keeps between herself and reality the
impenetrable barrier of beautiful style, of decorative or ideal
treatment. The third stage is when Life gets the upper hand, and
drives Art out into the wilderness. That is the true decadence, and
it is from this that we are now suffering.

Take the case of the English drama. At first in the hands of the
monks Dramatic Art was abstract, decorative and mythological. Then
she enlisted Life in her service, and using some of life's external
forms, she created an entirely new race of beings, whose sorrows
were more terrible than any sorrow man has ever felt, whose joys
were keener than lover's joys, who had the rage of the Titans and
the calm of the gods, who had monstrous and marvellous sins,
monstrous and marvellous virtues. To them she gave a language
different from that of actual use, a language full of resonant music
and sweet rhythm, made stately by solemn cadence, or made delicate
by fanciful rhyme, jewelled with wonderful words, and enriched with
lofty diction. She clothed her children in strange raiment and gave
them masks, and at her bidding the antique world rose from its
marble tomb. A new Caesar stalked through the streets of risen
Rome, and with purple sail and flute-led oars another Cleopatra
passed up the river to Antioch. Old myth and legend and dream took
shape and substance. History was entirely re-written, and there was
hardly one of the dramatists who did not recognise that the object
of Art is not simple truth but complex beauty. In this they were
perfectly right. Art itself is really a form of exaggeration; and
selection, which is the very spirit of art, is nothing more than an
intensified mode of over-emphasis.

But Life soon shattered the perfection of the form. Even in
Shakespeare we can see the beginning of the end. It shows itself by
the gradual breaking-up of the blank-verse in the later plays, by
the predominance given to prose, and by the over-importance assigned
to characterisation. The passages in Shakespeare--and they are
many--where the language is uncouth, vulgar, exaggerated, fantastic,
obscene even, are entirely due to Life calling for an echo of her
own voice, and rejecting the intervention of beautiful style,
through which alone should life be suffered to find expression.
Shakespeare is not by any means a flawless artist. He is too fond
of going directly to life, and borrowing life's natural utterance.
He forgets that when Art surrenders her imaginative medium she
surrenders everything.--The Decay of Lying


We have all seen in our own day in England how a certain curious and
fascinating type of beauty, invented and emphasised by two
imaginative painters, has so influenced Life that whenever one goes
to a private view or to an artistic salon one sees, here the mystic
eyes of Rossetti's dream, the long ivory throat, the strange square-
cut jaw, the loosened shadowy hair that he so ardently loved, there
the sweet maidenhood of 'The Golden Stair,' the blossom-like mouth
and weary loveliness of the 'Laus Amoris,' the passion-pale face of
Andromeda, the thin hands and lithe beauty of the Vivian in
'Merlin's Dream.' And it has always been so. A great artist
invents a type, and Life tries to copy it, to reproduce it in a
popular form, like an enterprising publisher. Neither Holbein nor
Vandyck found in England what they have given us. They brought
their types with them, and Life with her keen imitative faculty set
herself to supply the master with models. The Greeks, with their
quick artistic instinct, understood this, and set in the bride's
chamber the statue of Hermes or of Apollo, that she might bear
children as lovely as the works of art that she looked at in her
rapture or her pain. They knew that Life gains from art not merely
spirituality, depth of thought and feeling, soul-turmoil or soul-
peace, but that she can form herself on the very lines and colours
of art, and can reproduce the dignity of Pheidias as well as the
grace of Praxiteles. Hence came their objection to realism. They
disliked it on purely social grounds. They felt that it inevitably
makes people ugly, and they were perfectly right. We try to improve
the conditions of the race by means of good air, free sunlight,
wholesome water, and hideous bare buildings for the better housing
of the lower orders. But these things merely produce health, they
do not produce beauty. For this, Art is required, and the true
disciples of the great artist are not his studio-imitators, but
those who become like his works of art, be they plastic as in Greek
days, or pictorial as in modern times; in a word, Life is Art's
best, Art's only pupil.--The Decay of Lying


I once asked a lady, who knew Thackeray intimately, whether he had
had any model for Becky Sharp. She told me that Becky was an
invention, but that the idea of the character had been partly
suggested by a governess who lived in the neighbourhood of
Kensington Square, and was the companion of a very selfish and rich
old woman. I inquired what became of the governess, and she replied
that, oddly enough, some years after the appearance of Vanity Fair,
she ran away with the nephew of the lady with whom she was living,
and for a short time made a great splash in society, quite in Mrs.
Rawdon Crawley's style, and entirely by Mrs. Rawdon Crawley's
methods. Ultimately she came to grief, disappeared to the
Continent, and used to be occasionally seen at Monte Carlo and other
gambling places. The noble gentleman from whom the same great
sentimentalist drew Colonel Newcome died, a few months after The
Newcomer had reached a fourth edition, with the word 'Adsum' on his
lips. Shortly after Mr. Stevenson published his curious
psychological story of transformation, a friend of mine, called Mr.
Hyde, was in the north of London, and being anxious to get to a
railway station, took what he thought would be a short cut, lost his
way, and found himself in a network of mean, evil-looking streets.
Feeling rather nervous he began to walk extremely fast, when
suddenly out of an archway ran a child right between his legs. It
fell on the pavement, he tripped over it, and trampled upon it.
Being of course very much frightened and a little hurt, it began to
scream, and in a few seconds the whole street was full of rough
people who came pouring out of the houses like ants. They
surrounded him, and asked him his name. He was just about to give
it when he suddenly remembered the opening incident in Mr.
Stevenson's story. He was so filled with horror at having realised
in his own person that terrible and well-written scene, and at
having done accidentally, though in fact, what the Mr. Hyde of
fiction had done with deliberate intent, that he ran away as hard as
he could go. He was, however, very closely followed, and finally he
took refuge in a surgery, the door of which happened to be open,
where he explained to a young assistant, who happened to be there,
exactly what had occurred. The humanitarian crowd were induced to
go away on his giving them a small sum of money, and as soon as the
coast was clear he left. As he passed out, the name on the brass
door-plate of the surgery caught his eye. It was 'Jekyll.' At
least it should have been.--The Decay of Lying


What is true about the drama and the novel is no less true about
those arts that we call the decorative arts. The whole history of
these arts in Europe is the record of the struggle between
Orientalism, with its frank rejection of imitation, its love of
artistic convention, its dislike to the actual representation of any
object in Nature, and our own imitative spirit. Wherever the former
has been paramount, as in Byzantium, Sicily and Spain, by actual
contact, or in the rest of Europe by the influence of the Crusades,
we have had beautiful and imaginative work in which the visible
things of life are transmuted into artistic conventions, and the
things that Life has not are invented and fashioned for her delight.
But wherever we have returned to Life and Nature, our work has
always become vulgar, common and uninteresting. Modern tapestry,
with its aerial effects, its elaborate perspective, its broad
expanses of waste sky, its faithful and laborious realism, has no
beauty whatsoever. The pictorial glass of Germany is absolutely
detestable. We are beginning to weave possible carpets in England,
but only because we have returned to the method and spirit of the
East. Our rugs and carpets of twenty years ago, with their solemn
depressing truths, their inane worship of Nature, their sordid
reproductions of visible objects, have become, even to the
Philistine, a source of laughter. A cultured Mahomedan once
remarked to us, "You Christians are so occupied in misinterpreting
the fourth commandment that you have never thought of making an
artistic application of the second." He was perfectly right, and
the whole truth of the matter is this: The proper school to learn
art in is not Life but Art.--The Decay of Lying


Where, if not from the Impressionists, do we get those wonderful
brown fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the gas-
lamps and changing the houses into monstrous shadows? To whom, if
not to them and their master, do we owe the lovely silver mists that
brood over our river, and turn to faint forms of fading grace curved
bridge and swaying barge? The extraordinary change that has taken
place in the climate of London during the last ten years is entirely
due to a particular school of Art. You smile. Consider the matter
from a scientific or a metaphysical point of view, and you will find
that I am right. For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who
has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she
quickens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see,
and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us. To
look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not
see anything until one sees its beauty. Then, and then only, does
it come into existence. At present, people see fogs, not because
there are fogs, but because poets and painters have taught them the
mysterious loveliness of such effects. There may have been fogs for
centuries in London. I dare say there were. But no one saw them,
and so we do not know anything about them. They did not exist till
Art had invented them. Now, it must be admitted, fogs are carried
to excess. They have become the mere mannerism of a clique, and the
exaggerated realism of their method gives dull people bronchitis.
Where the cultured catch an effect, the uncultured catch cold. And
so, let us be humane, and invite Art to turn her wonderful eyes
elsewhere. She has done so already, indeed. That white quivering
sunlight that one sees now in France, with its strange blotches of
mauve, and its restless violet shadows, is her latest fancy, and, on
the whole, Nature reproduces it quite admirably. Where she used to
give us Corots and Daubignys, she gives us now exquisite Monets and
entrancing Pissaros. Indeed there are moments, rare, it is true,
but still to be observed from time to time, when Nature becomes
absolutely modern. Of course she is not always to be relied upon.
The fact is that she is in this unfortunate position. Art creates
an incomparable and unique effect, and, having done so, passes on to
other things. Nature, upon the other hand, forgetting that
imitation can be made the sincerest form of insult, keeps on
repeating this effect until we all become absolutely wearied of it.
Nobody of any real culture, for instance, ever talks nowadays about
the beauty of a sunset. Sunsets are quite old-fashioned. They
belong to the time when Turner was the last note in art. To admire
them is a distinct sign of provincialism of temperament. Upon the
other hand they go on.--The Decay of Lying


After all, what the imitative arts really give us are merely the
various styles of particular artists, or of certain schools of
artists. Surely you don't imagine that the people of the Middle
Ages bore any resemblance at all to the figures on mediaeval stained
glass, or in mediaeval stone and wood carving, or on mediaeval
metal-work, or tapestries, or illuminated MSS. They were probably
very ordinary-looking people, with nothing grotesque, or remarkable,
or fantastic in their appearance. The Middle Ages, as we know them
in art, are simply a definite form of style, and there is no reason
at all why an artist with this style should not be produced in the
nineteenth century. No great artist ever sees things as they really
are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. Take an example
from our own day. I know that you are fond of Japanese things.
Now, do you really imagine that the Japanese people, as they are
presented to us in art, have any existence? If you do, you have
never understood Japanese art at all. The Japanese people are the
deliberate self-conscious creation of certain individual artists.
If you set a picture by Hokusai, or Hokkei, or any of the great
native painters, beside a real Japanese gentleman or lady, you will
see that there is not the slightest resemblance between them. The
actual people who live in Japan are not unlike the general run of
English people; that is to say, they are extremely commonplace, and
have nothing curious or extraordinary about them. In fact the whole
of Japan is a pure invention. There is no such country, there are
no such people. One of our most charming painters {3} went recently
to the Land of the Chrysanthemum in the foolish hope of seeing the
Japanese. All he saw, all he had the chance of painting, were a few
lanterns and some fans. He was quite unable to discover the
inhabitants, as his delightful exhibition at Messrs. Dowdeswell's
Gallery showed only too well. He did not know that the Japanese
people are, as I have said, simply a mode of style, an exquisite
fancy of art. And so, if you desire to see a Japanese effect, you
will not behave like a tourist and go to Tokio. On the contrary,
you will stay at home and steep yourself in the work of certain
Japanese artists, and then, when you have absorbed the spirit of
their style, and caught their imaginative manner of vision, you will
go some afternoon and sit in the Park or stroll down Piccadilly, and
if you cannot see an absolutely Japanese effect there, you will not
see it anywhere. Or, to return again to the past, take as another
instance the ancient Greeks. Do you think that Greek art ever tells
us what the Greek people were like? Do you believe that the
Athenian women were like the stately dignified figures of the
Parthenon frieze, or like those marvellous goddesses who sat in the
triangular pediments of the same building? If you judge from the
art, they certainly were so. But read an authority, like
Aristophanes, for instance. You will find that the Athenian ladies
laced tightly, wore high-heeled shoes, dyed their hair yellow,
painted and rouged their faces, and were exactly like any silly
fashionable or fallen creature of our own day. The fact is that we
look back on the ages entirely through the medium of art, and art,
very fortunately, has never once told us the truth.--The Decay of


He was taken back to Newgate, preparatory to his removal to the
colonies. In a fanciful passage in one of his early essays he had
fancied himself 'lying in Horsemonger Gaol under sentence of death'
for having been unable to resist the temptation of stealing some
Marc Antonios from the British Museum in order to complete his
collection. The sentence now passed on him was to a man of his
culture a form of death. He complained bitterly of it to his
friends, and pointed out, with a good deal of reason, some people
may fancy, that the money was practically his own, having come to
him from his mother, and that the forgery, such as it was, had been
committed thirteen years before, which, to use his own phrase, was
at least a circonstance attenuante. The permanence of personality
is a very subtle metaphysical problem, and certainly the English law
solves the question in an extremely rough-and-ready manner. There
is, however, something dramatic in the fact that this heavy
punishment was inflicted on him for what, if we remember his fatal
influence on the prose of modern journalism, was certainly not the
worst of all his sins.

While he was in gaol, Dickens, Macready, and Hablot Browne came
across him by chance. They had been going over the prisons of
London, searching for artistic effects, and in Newgate they suddenly
caught sight of Wainewright. He met them with a defiant stare,
Forster tells us, but Macready was 'horrified to recognise a man
familiarly known to him in former years, and at whose table he had

Others had more curiosity, and his cell was for some time a kind of
fashionable lounge. Many men of letters went down to visit their
old literary comrade. But he was no longer the kind light-hearted
Janus whom Charles Lamb admired. He seems to have grown quite

To the agent of an insurance company who was visiting him one
afternoon, and thought he would improve the occasion by pointing out
that, after all, crime was a bad speculation, he replied: 'Sir, you
City men enter on your speculations, and take the chances of them.
Some of your speculations succeed, some fail. Mine happen to have
failed, yours happen to have succeeded. That is the only
difference, sir, between my visitor and me. But, sir, I will tell
you one thing in which I have succeeded to the last. I have been
determined through life to hold the position of a gentleman. I have
always done so. I do so still. It is the custom of this place that
each of the inmates of a cell shall take his morning's turn of
sweeping it out. I occupy a cell with a bricklayer and a sweep, but
they never offer me the broom!' When a friend reproached him with
the murder of Helen Abercrombie he shrugged his shoulders and said,
'Yes; it was a dreadful thing to do, but she had very thick
ankles.'--Pen, Pencil and Poison


His love of art, however, never deserted him. At Hobart Town he
started a studio, and returned to sketching and portrait-painting,
and his conversation and manners seem not to have lost their charm.
Nor did he give up his habit of poisoning, and there are two cases
on record in which he tried to make away with people who had
offended him. But his hand seems to have lost its cunning. Both of
his attempts were complete failures, and in 1844, being thoroughly
dissatisfied with Tasmanian society, he presented a memorial to the
governor of the settlement, Sir John Eardley Wilmot, praying for a
ticket-of-leave. In it he speaks of himself as being 'tormented by
ideas struggling for outward form and realisation, barred up from
increase of knowledge, and deprived of the exercise of profitable or
even of decorous speech.' His request, however, was refused, and
the associate of Coleridge consoled himself by making those
marvellous Paradis Artificiels whose secret is only known to the
eaters of opium. In 1852 he died of apoplexy, his sole living
companion being a cat, for which he had evinced at extraordinary

His crimes seem to have had an important effect upon his art. They
gave a strong personality to his style, a quality that his early
work certainly lacked. In a note to the Life of Dickens, Forster
mentions that in 1847 Lady Blessington received from her brother,
Major Power, who held a military appointment at Hobart Town, an oil
portrait of a young lady from his clever brush; and it is said that
'he had contrived to put the expression of his own wickedness into
the portrait of a nice, kind-hearted girl.' M. Zola, in one of his
novels, tells us of a young man who, having committed a murder,
takes to art, and paints greenish impressionist portraits of
perfectly respectable people, all of which bear a curious
resemblance to his victim. The development of Mr. Wainewright's
style seems to me far more subtle and suggestive. One can fancy an
intense personality being created out of sin.--Pen, Pencil and


In literature mere egotism is delightful. It is what fascinates us
in the letters of personalities so different as Cicero and Balzac,
Flaubert and Berlioz, Byron and Madame de Sevigne. Whenever we come
across it, and, strangely enough, it is rather rare, we cannot but
welcome it, and do not easily forget it. Humanity will always love
Rousseau for having confessed his sins, not to a priest, but to the
world, and the couchant nymphs that Cellini wrought in bronze for
the castle of King Francis, the green and gold Perseus, even, that
in the open Loggia at Florence shows the moon the dead terror that
once turned life to stone, have not given it more pleasure than has
that autobiography in which the supreme scoundrel of the Renaissance
relates the story of his splendour and his shame. The opinions, the
character, the achievements of the man, matter very little. He may
be a sceptic like the gentle Sieur de Montaigne, or a saint like the
bitter son of Monica, but when he tells us his own secrets he can
always charm our ears to listening and our lips to silence. The
mode of thought that Cardinal Newman represented--if that can be
called a mode of thought which seeks to solve intellectual problems
by a denial of the supremacy of the intellect--may not, cannot, I
think, survive. But the world will never weary of watching that
troubled soul in its progress from darkness to darkness. The lonely
church at Littlemore, where 'the breath of the morning is damp, and
worshippers are few,' will always be dear to it, and whenever men
see the yellow snapdragon blossoming on the wall of Trinity they
will think of that gracious undergraduate who saw in the flower's
sure recurrence a prophecy that he would abide for ever with the
Benign Mother of his days--a prophecy that Faith, in her wisdom or
her folly, suffered not to be fulfilled. Yes; autobiography is
irresistible.--The Critic as Artist


Taken as a whole the man was great. He did not belong to the
Olympians, and had all the incompleteness of the Titan. He did not
survey, and it was but rarely that he could sing. His work is
marred by struggle, violence and effort, and he passed not from
emotion to form, but from thought to chaos. Still, he was great.
He has been called a thinker, and was certainly a man who was always
thinking, and always thinking aloud; but it was not thought that
fascinated him, but rather the processes by which thought moves. It
was the machine he loved, not what the machine makes. The method by
which the fool arrives at his folly was as dear to him as the
ultimate wisdom of the wise. So much, indeed, did the subtle
mechanism of mind fascinate him that he despised language, or looked
upon it as an incomplete instrument of expression. Rhyme, that
exquisite echo which in the Muse's hollow hill creates and answers
its own voice; rhyme, which in the hands of the real artist becomes
not merely a material element of metrical beauty, but a spiritual
element of thought and passion also, waking a new mood, it may be,
or stirring a fresh train of ideas, or opening by mere sweetness and
suggestion of sound some golden door at which the Imagination itself
had knocked in vain; rhyme, which can turn man's utterance to the
speech of gods; rhyme, the one chord we have added to the Greek
lyre, became in Robert Browning's hands a grotesque, misshapen
thing, which at times made him masquerade in poetry as a low
comedian, and ride Pegasus too often with his tongue in his cheek.
There are moments when he wounds us by monstrous music. Nay, if he
can only get his music by breaking the strings of his lute, he
breaks them, and they snap in discord, and no Athenian tettix,
making melody from tremulous wings, lights on the ivory horn to make
the movement perfect, or the interval less harsh. Yet, he was
great: and though he turned language into ignoble clay, he made
from it men and women that live. He is the most Shakespearian
creature since Shakespeare. If Shakespeare could sing with myriad
lips, Browning could stammer through a thousand mouths. Even now,
as I am speaking, and speaking not against him but for him, there
glides through the room the pageant of his persons. There, creeps
Fra Lippo Lippi with his cheeks still burning from some girl's hot
kiss. There, stands dread Saul with the lordly male-sapphires
gleaming in his turban. Mildred Tresham is there, and the Spanish
monk, yellow with hatred, and Blougram, and Ben Ezra, and the Bishop
of St. Praxed's. The spawn of Setebos gibbers in the corner, and
Sebald, hearing Pippa pass by, looks on Ottima's haggard face, and
loathes her and his own sin, and himself. Pale as the white satin
of his doublet, the melancholy king watches with dreamy treacherous
eyes too loyal Strafford pass forth to his doom, and Andrea shudders
as he hears the cousins whistle in the garden, and bids his perfect
wife go down. Yes, Browning was great. And as what will he be
remembered? As a poet? Ah, not as a poet! He will be remembered
as a writer of fiction, as the most supreme writer of fiction, it
may be, that we have ever had. His sense of dramatic situation was
unrivalled, and, if he could not answer his own problems, he could
at least put problems forth, and what more should an artist do?
Considered from the point of view of a creator of character he ranks
next to him who made Hamlet. Had he been articulate, he might have
sat beside him. The only man who can touch the hem of his garment
is George Meredith. Meredith is a prose Browning, and so is
Browning. He used poetry as a medium for writing in prose.--The
Critic as Artist


Life and Literature, life and the perfect expression of life. The
principles of the former, as laid down by the Greeks, we may not
realise in an age so marred by false ideals as our own. The
principles of the latter, as they laid them down, are, in many
cases, so subtle that we can hardly understand them. Recognising
that the most perfect art is that which most fully mirrors man in
all his infinite variety, they elaborated the criticism of language,
considered in the light of the mere material of that art, to a point
to which we, with our accentual system of reasonable or emotional
emphasis, can barely if at all attain; studying, for instance, the
metrical movements of a prose as scientifically as a modern musician
studies harmony and counterpoint, and, I need hardly say, with much
keener aesthetic instinct. In this they were right, as they were
right in all things. Since the introduction of printing, and the
fatal development of the habit of reading amongst the middle and
lower classes of this country, there has been a tendency in
literature to appeal more and more to the eye, and less and less to
the ear which is really the sense which, from the standpoint of pure
art, it should seek to please, and by whose canons of pleasure it
should abide always. Even the work of Mr. Pater, who is, on the
whole, the most perfect master of English prose now creating amongst
us, is often far more like a piece of mosaic than a passage in
music, and seems, here and there, to lack the true rhythmical life
of words and the fine freedom and richness of effect that such
rhythmical life produces. We, in fact, have made writing a definite
mode of composition, and have treated it as a form of elaborate
design. The Greeks, upon the other hand, regarded writing simply as
a method of chronicling. Their test was always the spoken word in
its musical and metrical relations. The voice was the medium, and
the ear the critic. I have sometimes thought that the story of
Homer's blindness might be really an artistic myth, created in
critical days, and serving to remind us, not merely that the great
poet is always a seer, seeing less with the eyes of the body than he
does with the eyes of the soul, but that he is a true singer also,
building his song out of music, repeating each line over and over
again to himself till he has caught the secret of its melody,
chaunting in darkness the words that are winged with light.
Certainly, whether this be so or not, it was to his blindness, as an
occasion, if not as a cause, that England's great poet owed much of
the majestic movement and sonorous splendour of his later verse.
When Milton could no longer write he began to sing.--The Critic as


On the mouldering citadel of Troy lies the lizard like a thing of
green bronze. The owl has built her nest in the palace of Priam.
Over the empty plain wander shepherd and goatherd with their flocks,
and where, on the wine-surfaced, oily sea, [Greek text which cannot
be reproduced], as Homer calls it, copper-prowed and streaked with
vermilion, the great galleys of the Danaoi came in their gleaming
crescent, the lonely tunny-fisher sits in his little boat and
watches the bobbing corks of his net. Yet, every morning the doors
of the city are thrown open, and on foot, or in horse-drawn chariot,
the warriors go forth to battle, and mock their enemies from behind
their iron masks. All day long the fight rages, and when night
comes the torches gleam by the tents, and the cresset burns in the
hall. Those who live in marble or on painted panel, know of life
but a single exquisite instant, eternal indeed in its beauty, but
limited to one note of passion or one mood of calm. Those whom the
poet makes live have their myriad emotions of joy and terror, of
courage and despair, of pleasure and of suffering. The seasons come
and go in glad or saddening pageant, and with winged or leaden feet
the years pass by before them. They have their youth and their
manhood, they are children, and they grow old. It is always dawn
for St. Helena, as Veronese saw her at the window. Through the
still morning air the angels bring her the symbol of God's pain.
The cool breezes of the morning lift the gilt threads from her brow.
On that little hill by the city of Florence, where the lovers of
Giorgione are lying, it is always the solstice of noon, of noon made
so languorous by summer suns that hardly can the slim naked girl dip
into the marble tank the round bubble of clear glass, and the long
fingers of the lute-player rest idly upon the chords. It is
twilight always for the dancing nymphs whom Corot set free among the
silver poplars of France. In eternal twilight they move, those
frail diaphanous figures, whose tremulous white feet seem not to
touch the dew-drenched grass they tread on. But those who walk in
epos, drama, or romance, see through the labouring months the young
moons wax and wane, and watch the night from evening unto morning
star, and from sunrise unto sunsetting can note the shifting day
with all its gold and shadow. For them, as for us, the flowers
bloom and wither, and the Earth, that Green-tressed Goddess as
Coleridge calls her, alters her raiment for their pleasure. The
statue is concentrated to one moment of perfection. The image
stained upon the canvas possesses no spiritual element of growth or
change. If they know nothing of death, it is because they know
little of life, for the secrets of life and death belong to those,
and those only, whom the sequence of time affects, and who possess
not merely the present but the future, and can rise or fall from a
past of glory or of shame. Movement, that problem of the visible
arts, can be truly realised by Literature alone. It is Literature
that shows us the body in its swiftness and the soul in its unrest.-
-The Critic as Artist


Who cares whether Mr. Ruskin's views on Turner are sound or not?
What does it matter? That mighty and majestic prose of his, so
fervid and so fiery-coloured in its noble eloquence, so rich in its
elaborate symphonic music, so sure and certain, at its best, in
subtle choice of word and epithet, is at least as great a work of
art as any of those wonderful sunsets that bleach or rot on their
corrupted canvases in England's Gallery; greater indeed, one is apt
to think at times, not merely because its equal beauty is more
enduring, but on account of the fuller variety of its appeal, soul
speaking to soul in those long-cadenced lines, not through form and
colour alone, though through these, indeed, completely and without
loss, but with intellectual and emotional utterance, with lofty
passion and with loftier thought, with imaginative insight, and with
poetic aim; greater, I always think, even as Literature is the
greater art. Who, again, cares whether Mr. Pater has put into the
portrait of Monna Lisa something that Lionardo never dreamed of?
The painter may have been merely the slave of an archaic smile, as
some have fancied, but whenever I pass into the cool galleries of
the Palace of the Louvre, and stand before that strange figure 'set
in its marble chair in that cirque of fantastic rocks, as in some
faint light under sea,' I murmur to myself, 'She is older than the
rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many
times, and learned the secrets of the grave; and has been a diver in
deep seas, and keeps their fallen day about her: and trafficked for
strange webs with Eastern merchants; and, as Leda, was the mother of
Helen of Troy, and, as St. Anne, the mother of Mary; and all this
has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes, and lives only
in the delicacy with which it has moulded the changing lineaments,
and tinged the eyelids and the hands.' And I say to my friend, 'The
presence that thus so strangely rose beside the waters is expressive
of what in the ways of a thousand years man had come to desire'; and
he answers me, 'Hers is the head upon which all "the ends of the
world are come," and the eyelids are a little weary.'

And so the picture becomes more wonderful to us than it really is,
and reveals to us a secret of which, in truth, it knows nothing, and
the music of the mystical prose is as sweet in our ears as was that
flute-player's music that lent to the lips of La Gioconda those
subtle and poisonous curves. Do you ask me what Lionardo would have
said had any one told him of this picture that 'all the thoughts and
experience of the world had etched and moulded therein that which
they had of power to refine and make expressive the outward form,
the animalism of Greece, the lust of Rome, the reverie of the Middle
Age with its spiritual ambition and imaginative loves, the return of
the Pagan world, the sins of the Borgias?' He would probably have
answered that he had contemplated none of these things, but had
concerned himself simply with certain arrangements of lines and
masses, and with new and curious colour-harmonies of blue and green.
And it is for this very reason that the criticism which I have
quoted is criticism of the highest kind. It treats the work of art
simply as a starting-point for a new creation. It does not confine
itself--let us at least suppose so for the moment--to discovering
the real intention of the artist and accepting that as final. And
in this it is right, for the meaning of any beautiful created thing
is, at least, as much in the soul of him who looks at it, as it was
in his soul who wrought it. Nay, it is rather the beholder who
lends to the beautiful thing its myriad meanings, and makes it
marvellous for us, and sets it in some new relation to the age, so
that it becomes a vital portion of our lives, and a symbol of what
we pray for, or perhaps of what, having prayed for, we fear that we
may receive.--The Critic as Artist


There is no mood or passion that Art cannot give us, and those of us
who have discovered her secret can settle beforehand what our
experiences are going to be. We can choose our day and select our
hour. We can say to ourselves, 'To-morrow, at dawn, we shall walk
with grave Virgil through the valley of the shadow of death,' and
lo! the dawn finds us in the obscure wood, and the Mantuan stands by
our side. We pass through the gate of the legend fatal to hope, and
with pity or with joy behold the horror of another world. The
hypocrites go by, with their painted faces and their cowls of gilded
lead. Out of the ceaseless winds that drive them, the carnal look
at us, and we watch the heretic rending his flesh, and the glutton
lashed by the rain. We break the withered branches from the tree in
the grove of the Harpies, and each dull-hued poisonous twig bleeds
with red blood before us, and cries aloud with bitter cries. Out of
a horn of fire Odysseus speaks to us, and when from his sepulchre of
flame the great Ghibelline rises, the pride that triumphs over the
torture of that bed becomes ours for a moment. Through the dim
purple air fly those who have stained the world with the beauty of
their sin, and in the pit of loathsome disease, dropsy-stricken and
swollen of body into the semblance of a monstrous lute, lies Adamo
di Brescia, the coiner of false coin. He bids us listen to his
misery; we stop, and with dry and gaping lips he tells us how he
dreams day and night of the brooks of clear water that in cool dewy
channels gush down the green Casentine hills. Sinon, the false
Greek of Troy, mocks at him. He smites him in the face, and they
wrangle. We are fascinated by their shame, and loiter, till Virgil
chides us and leads us away to that city turreted by giants where
great Nimrod blows his horn. Terrible things are in store for us,
and we go to meet them in Dante's raiment and with Dante's heart.
We traverse the marshes of the Styx, and Argenti swims to the boat
through the slimy waves. He calls to us, and we reject him. When
we hear the voice of his agony we are glad, and Virgil praises us
for the bitterness of our scorn. We tread upon the cold crystal of
Cocytus, in which traitors stick like straws in glass. Our foot
strikes against the head of Bocca. He will not tell us his name,
and we tear the hair in handfuls from the screaming skull. Alberigo
prays us to break the ice upon his face that he may weep a little.
We pledge our word to him, and when he has uttered his dolorous tale
we deny the word that we have spoken, and pass from him; such
cruelty being courtesy indeed, for who more base than he who has
mercy for the condemned of God? In the jaws of Lucifer we see the
man who sold Christ, and in the jaws of Lucifer the men who slew
Caesar. We tremble, and come forth to re-behold the stars.--The
Critic as Artist


The appeal of all Art is simply to the artistic temperament. Art
does not address herself to the specialist. Her claim is that she
is universal, and that in all her manifestations she is one.
Indeed, so far from its being true that the artist is the best judge
of art, a really great artist can never judge of other people's work
at all, and can hardly, in fact, judge of his own. That very
concentration of vision that makes a man an artist, limits by its
sheer intensity his faculty of fine appreciation. The energy of
creation hurries him blindly on to his own goal. The wheels of his
chariot raise the dust as a cloud around him. The gods are hidden
from each other. They can recognise their worshippers. That is all
. . . Wordsworth saw in Endymion merely a pretty piece of Paganism,
and Shelley, with his dislike of actuality, was deaf to Wordsworth's
message, being repelled by its form, and Byron, that great
passionate human incomplete creature, could appreciate neither the
poet of the cloud nor the poet of the lake, and the wonder of Keats
was hidden from him. The realism of Euripides was hateful to
Sophokles. Those droppings of warm tears had no music for him.
Milton, with his sense of the grand style, could not understand the
method of Shakespeare, any more than could Sir Joshua the method of
Gainsborough. Bad artists always admire each other's work. They
call it being large-minded and free from prejudice. But a truly
great artist cannot conceive of life being shown, or beauty
fashioned, under any conditions other than those that he has
selected. Creation employs all its critical faculty within its own
sphere. It may not use it in the sphere that belongs to others. It
is exactly because a man cannot do a thing that he is the proper
judge of it.--The Critic as Artist


He who would stir us now by fiction must either give us an entirely
new background, or reveal to us the soul of man in its innermost
workings. The first is for the moment being done for us by Mr.
Rudyard Kipling. As one turns over the pages of his Plain Tales
from the Hills, one feels as if one were seated under a palm-tree
reading life by superb flashes of vulgarity. The bright colours of
the bazaars dazzle one's eyes. The jaded, second-rate Anglo-Indians
are in exquisite incongruity with their surroundings. The mere lack
of style in the story-teller gives an odd journalistic realism to
what he tells us. From the point of view of literature Mr. Kipling
is a genius who drops his aspirates. From the point of view of
life, he is a reporter who knows vulgarity better than any one has
ever known it. Dickens knew its clothes and its comedy. Mr.
Kipling knows its essence and its seriousness. He is our first
authority on the second-rate, and has seen marvellous things through
keyholes, and his backgrounds are real works of art. As for the
second condition, we have had Browning, and Meredith is with us.
But there is still much to be done in the sphere of introspection.
People sometimes say that fiction is getting too morbid. As far as
psychology is concerned, it has never been morbid enough. We have
merely touched the surface of the soul, that is all. In one single
ivory cell of the brain there are stored away things more marvellous
and more terrible than even they have dreamed of, who, like the
author of Le Rouge et le Noir, have sought to track the soul into
its most secret places, and to make life confess its dearest sins.
Still, there is a limit even to the number of untried backgrounds,
and it is possible that a further development of the habit of
introspection may prove fatal to that creative faculty to which it
seeks to supply fresh material. I myself am inclined to think that
creation is doomed. It springs from too primitive, too natural an
impulse. However this may be, it is certain that the subject-matter
at the disposal of creation is always diminishing, while the
subject-matter of criticism increases daily. There are always new
attitudes for the mind, and new points of view. The duty of
imposing form upon chaos does not grow less as the world advances.
There was never a time when Criticism was more needed than it is
now. It is only by its means that Humanity can become conscious of
the point at which it has arrived.--The Critic as Artist


Goethe--you will not misunderstand what I say--was a German of the
Germans. He loved his country--no man more so. Its people were
dear to him; and he led them. Yet, when the iron hoof of Napoleon
trampled upon vineyard and cornfield, his lips were silent. 'How
can one write songs of hatred without hating?' he said to Eckermann,
'and how could I, to whom culture and barbarism are alone of
importance, hate a nation which is among the most cultivated of the
earth and to which I owe so great a part of my own cultivation?'
This note, sounded in the modern world by Goethe first, will become,
I think, the starting point for the cosmopolitanism of the future.
Criticism will annihilate race-prejudices, by insisting upon the
unity of the human mind in the variety of its forms. If we are
tempted to make war upon another nation, we shall remember that we
are seeking to destroy an element of our own culture, and possibly
its most important element. As long as war is regarded as wicked,
it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as
vulgar, it will cease to be popular. The change will of course be
slow, and people will not be conscious of it. They will not say 'We
will not war against France because her prose is perfect,' but
because the prose of France is perfect, they will not hate the land.
Intellectual criticism will bind Europe together in bonds far closer
than those that can be forged by shopman or sentimentalist. It will
give us the peace that springs from understanding.--The Critic as


Infessura tells us that in 1485 some workmen digging on the Appian
Way came across an old Roman sarcophagus inscribed with the name
'Julia, daughter of Claudius.' On opening the coffer they found
within its marble womb the body of a beautiful girl of about fifteen
years of age, preserved by the embalmer's skill from corruption and
the decay of time. Her eyes were half open, her hair rippled round
her in crisp curling gold, and from her lips and cheek the bloom of
maidenhood had not yet departed. Borne back to the Capitol, she
became at once the centre of a new cult, and from all parts of the
city crowded pilgrims to worship at the wonderful shrine, till the
Pope, fearing lest those who had found the secret of beauty in a
Pagan tomb might forget what secrets Judaea's rough and rock-hewn
sepulchre contained, had the body conveyed away by night, and in
secret buried. Legend though it may be, yet the story is none the
less valuable as showing us the attitude of the Renaissance towards
the antique world. Archaeology to them was not a mere science for
the antiquarian; it was a means by which they could touch the dry
dust of antiquity into the very breath and beauty of life, and fill
with the new wine of romanticism forms that else had been old and
outworn. From the pulpit of Niccola Pisano down to Mantegna's
'Triumph of Caesar,' and the service Cellini designed for King
Francis, the influence of this spirit can be traced; nor was it
confined merely to the immobile arts--the arts of arrested movement-
-but its influence was to be seen also in the great Graeco-Roman
masques which were the constant amusement of the gay courts of the
time, and in the public pomps and processions with which the
citizens of big commercial towns were wont to greet the princes that
chanced to visit them; pageants, by the way, which were considered
so important that large prints were made of them and published--a
fact which is a proof of the general interest at the time in matters
of such kind.--The Truth of Masks


Indeed archaeology is only really delightful when transfused into
some form of art. I have no desire to underrate the services of
laborious scholars, but I feel that the use Keats made of
Lempriere's Dictionary is of far more value to us than Professor Max
Muller's treatment of the same mythology as a disease of language.
Better Endymion than any theory, however sound, or, as in the
present instance, unsound, of an epidemic among adjectives! And who
does not feel that the chief glory of Piranesi's book on Vases is
that it gave Keats the suggestion for his 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'?
Art, and art only, can make archaeology beautiful; and the theatric
art can use it most directly and most vividly, for it can combine in
one exquisite presentation the illusion of actual life with the
wonder of the unreal world. But the sixteenth century was not
merely the age of Vitruvius; it was the age of Vecellio also. Every
nation seems suddenly to have become interested in the dress of its
neighbours. Europe began to investigate its own clothes, and the
amount of books published on national costumes is quite
extraordinary. At the beginning of the century the Nuremberg
Chronicle, with its two thousand illustrations, reached its fifth
edition, and before the century was over seventeen editions were
published of Munster's Cosmography. Besides these two books there
were also the works of Michael Colyns, of Hans Weigel, of Amman, and
of Vecellio himself, all of them well illustrated, some of the
drawings in Vecellio being probably from the hand of Titian.

Nor was it merely from books and treatises that they acquired their
knowledge. The development of the habit of foreign travel, the
increased commercial intercourse between countries, and the
frequency of diplomatic missions, gave every nation many
opportunities of studying the various forms of contemporary dress.
After the departure from England, for instance, of the ambassadors
from the Czar, the Sultan and the Prince of Morocco, Henry the
Eighth and his friends gave several masques in the strange attire of
their visitors. Later on London saw, perhaps too often, the sombre
splendour of the Spanish Court, and to Elizabeth came envoys from
all lands, whose dress, Shakespeare tells us, had an important
influence on English costume.--The Truth of Masks


Non, non, vous ne voulez pas cela. Vous me dites cela seulement
pour me faire de la peine, parce que je vous ai regardee pendant
toute la soiree. Eh! bien, oui. Je vous ai regardee pendant toute
la soiree. Votre beaute m'a trouble. Votre beaute m'a terriblement
trouble, et je vous ai trop regardee. Mais je ne le ferai plus. Il
ne faut regarder ni les choses ni les personnes. Il ne faut
regarder que dans les miroirs. Car les miroirs ne nous montrent que
des masques . . . Oh! Oh! du vin! j'ai soif . . . Salome, Salome,
soyons amis. Enfin, voyez . . . Qu'est-ce que je voulais dire?
Qu'est-ce que c'etait? Ah! je m'en souviens! . . . Salome! Non,
venez plus pres de moi. J'ai peur que vous ne m'entendiez pas . . .
Salome, vous connaissez mes paons blancs, mes beaux paons blancs,
qui se promenent dans le jardin entre les myrtes et les grands
cypres. Leurs becs sont dores, et les grains qu'ils mangent sont
dores aussi, et leurs pieds sont teints de pourpre. La pluie vient
quand ils crient, et quand ils se pavanent la lune se montre au
ciel. Ils vont deux e deux entre les cypres et les myrtes noirs et
chacun a son esclave pour le soigner. Quelquefois ils volent e
travers les arbres, et quelquefois ils couchent sur le gazon et
autour de l'etang. Il n'y a pas dans le monde d'oiseaux si
merveilleux. Il n'y a aucun roi du monde qui possede des oiseaux
aussi merveilleux. Je suis sur que meme Cesar ne possede pas
d'oiseaux aussi beaux. Eh bien! je vous donnerai cinquante de mes
paons. Ils vous suivront partout, et au milieu d'eux vous serez
comme la lune dans un grand nuage blanc . . . Je vous les donnerai
tous. Je n'en ai que cent, et il n'y a aucun roi du monde qui
possede des paons comme les miens, mais je vous les donnerai tous.
Seulement, il faut me delier de ma parole et ne pas me demander ce
que vous m'avez demande.--Salome


Salome, pensez e ce que vous faites. Cet homme vient peut-etre de
Dieu. Je suis sur qu'il vient de Dieu. C'est un saint homme. Le
doigt de Dieu l'a touche. Dieu a mis dans sa bouche des mots
terribles. Dans le palais, comme dans le desert, Dieu est toujours
avec lui . . . Au moins, c'est possible. On ne sait pas, mais il
est possible que Dieu soit pour lui et avec lui. Aussi peut-etre
que s'il mourrait, il m'arriverait un malheur. Enfin, il a dit que
le jour ou il mourrait il arriverait un malheur e quelqu'un. Ce ne
peut etre qu'e moi. Souvenez-vous, j'ai glisse dans le sang quand
je suis entre ici. Aussi j'ai entendu un battement d'ailes dans
l'air, un battement d'ailes gigantesques. Ce sont de tres mauvais
presages. Et il y en avait d'autres. Je suis sur qu'il y en avait
d'autres, quoique je ne les aie pas vus. Eh bien! Salome, vous ne
voulez pas qu'un malheur m'arrive? Vous ne voulez pas cela.--Salome


Moi, je suis tres calme. Je suis tout e fait calme. Ecoutez. J'ai
des bijoux caches ici que meme votre mere n'a jamais vus, des bijoux
tout e fait extraordinaires. J'ai un collier de perles e quatre
rangs. On dirait des lunes enchainees de rayons d'argent. On
dirait cinquante lunes captives dans un filet d'or. Une reine l'a
porte sur l'ivoire de ses seins. Toi, quand tu le porteras, tu
seras aussi belle qu'une reine. J'ai des amethystes de deux
especes. Une qui est noire comme le vin. L'autre qui est rouge
comme du vin qu'on a colore avec de l'eau. J'ai des topazes jaunes
comme les yeux des tigres, et des topazes roses comme les yeux des
pigeons, et des topazes vertes comme les yeux des chats. J'ai des
opales qui brulent toujours avec une flamme qui est tres froide, des
opales qui attristent les esprits et ont peur des tenebres. J'ai
des onyx semblables aux prunelles d'une morte. J'ai des selenites
qui changent quand la lune change et deviennent pales quand elles
voient le soleil. J'ai des saphirs grands comme des oeufs et bleus
comme des fleurs bleues. La mer erre dedans, et la lune ne vient
jamais troubler le bleu de ses flots. J'ai des chrysolithes et des
beryls, j'ai des chrysoprases et des rubis, j'ai des sardonyx et des
hyacinthes, et des calcedoines et je vous les donnerai tous, mais
tous, et j'ajouterai d'autres choses. Le roi des Indes vient
justement de m'envoyer quatre eventails faits de plumes de
perroquets, et le roi de Numidie une robe faite de plumes
d'autruche. J'ai un cristal qu'il n'est pas permis aux femmes de
voir et que meme les jeunes hommes ne doivent regarder qu'apres
avoir ete flagelles de verges. Dans un coffret de nacre j'ai trois
turquoises merveilleuses. Quand on les porte sur le front on peut
imaginer des choses qui n'existent pas, et quand on les porte dans
la main on peut rendre les femmes steriles. Ce sont des tresors de
grande valeur. Ce sont des tresors sans prix. Et ce n'est pas
tout. Dans un coffret d'ebene j'ai deux coupes d'ambre qui
ressemblent e des pommes d'or. Si un ennemi verse du poison dans
ces coupes elles deviennent comme des pommes d'argent. Dans un
coffret incruste d'ambre j'ai des sandales incrustees de verre.
J'ai des manteaux qui viennent du pays des Seres et des bracelets
garnis d'escarboucles et de jade qui viennent de la ville
d'Euphrate. . . Enfin, que veux-tu, Salome? Dis-moi ce que tu
desires et je te le donnerai. Je te donnerai tout ce que tu
demanderas, sauf une chose. Je te donnerai tout ce que je possede,
sauf une vie. Je te donnerai le manteau du grand pretre. Je te
donnerai le voile du sanctuaire.--Salome


Ah! tu n'as pas voulu me laisser baiser ta bouche, Iokanaan. Eh
bien! je la baiserai maintenant. Je la mordrai avec mes dents comme
on mord un fruit mur. Oui, je baiserai ta bouche, Iokanaan. Je te
l'ai dit, n'est-ce pas? je te l'ai dit. Eh bien! je la baiserai
maintenant . . . Mais pourquoi ne me regardes-tu pas, Iokanaan? Tes
yeux qui etaient si terribles, qui etaient si pleins de colere et de
mepris, ils sont fermes maintenant. Pourquoi sont-ils fermes?
Ouvre tes yeux! Souleve tes paupieres, Iokanaan. Pourquoi ne me
regardes-tu pas? As-tu peur de moi, Iokanaan, que tu ne veux pas me
regarder? . . . Et ta langue qui etait comme un serpent rouge
dardant des poisons, elle ne remue plus, elle ne dit rien
maintenant, Iokanaan, cette vipere rouge qui a vomi son venin sur
moi. C'est etrange, n'est-ce pas? Comment se fait-il que la vipere
rouge ne remue plus? . . . Tu n'as pas voulu de moi, Iokanaan. Tu
m'as rejetee. Tu m'as dit des choses infames. Tu m'as traitee
comme une courtisane, comme une prostituee, moi, Salome, fille
d'Herodias, Princesse de Judee! Eh bien, Iokanaan, moi je vis
encore, mais toi tu es mort et ta tete m'appartient. Je puis en
faire ce que je veux. Je puis la jeter aux chiens et aux oiseaux de
l'air. Ce que laisseront les chiens, les oiseaux de l'air le
mangeront . . . Ah! Iokanaan, Iokanaan, tu as ete le seul homme que
j'ai aime. Tous les autres hommes m'inspirent du degout. Mais,
toi, tu etais beau. Ton corps etait une colonne d'ivoire sur un
socle d'argent. C'etait un jardin plein de colombes et de lis
d'argent. C'etait une tour d'argent ornee de boucliers d'ivoire.
Il n'y avait rien au monde d'aussi blanc que ton corps. Il n'y
avait rien au monde d'aussi noir que tes cheveux. Dans le monde
tout entier il n'y avait rien d'aussi rouge que ta bouche. Ta voix
etait un encensoir qui repandait d'etranges parfums, et quand je te
regardais j'entendais une musique etrange! Ah! pourquoi ne m'as-tu
pas regardee, Iokanaan? Derriere tes mains et tes blasphemes tu as
cache ton visage. Tu as mis sur tes yeux le bandeau de celui qui
veut voir son Dieu. Eh bien, tu l'as vu, ton Dieu, Iokanaan, mais
moi, moi . . . tu ne m'as jamais vue. Si tu m'avais vue, tu
m'aurais aimee. Moi, je t'ai vu, Iokanaan, et je t'ai aime. Oh!
comme je t'ai aime. Je t'aime encore, Iokanaan. Je n'aime que toi
. . . J'ai soif de ta beaute. J'ai faim de ton corps. Et ni le
vin, ni les fruits ne peuvent apaiser mon desir. Que ferai-je,
Iokanaan, maintenant? Ni les fleuves ni les grandes eaux, ne
pourraient eteindre ma passion. J'etais une Princesse, tu m'as
dedaignee. J'etais une vierge, tu m'as defloree. J'etais chaste,
tu as rempli mes veines de feu . . . Ah! Ah! pourquoi ne m'as-tu
pas regardee, Iokanaan? Si tu m'avais regardee tu m'aurais aimee.
Je sais bien que tu m'aurais aimee, et le mystere de l'amour est
plus grand que le mystere de la mort. Il ne faut regarder que


All rare and costly materials had certainly a great fascination for
him, and in his eagerness to procure them he had sent away many
merchants, some to traffic for amber with the rough fisher-folk of
the north seas, some to Egypt to look for that curious green
turquoise which is found only in the tombs of kings, and is said to
possess magical properties, some to Persia for silken carpets and
painted pottery, and others to India to buy gauze and stained ivory,
moonstones and bracelets of jade, sandal-wood and blue enamel and
shawls of fine wool.

But what had occupied him most was the robe he was to wear at his
coronation, the robe of tissued gold, and the ruby-studded crown,
and the sceptre with its rows and rings of pearls. Indeed, it was
of this that he was thinking to-night, as he lay back on his
luxurious couch, watching the great pinewood log that was burning
itself out on the open hearth. The designs, which were from the
hands of the most famous artists of the time, had been submitted to
him many months before, and he had given orders that the artificers
were to toil night and day to carry them out, and that the whole
world was to be searched for jewels that would be worthy of their
work. He saw himself in fancy standing at the high altar of the
cathedral in the fair raiment of a King, and a smile played and
lingered about his boyish lips, and lit up with a bright lustre his
dark woodland eyes.

After some time he rose from his seat, and leaning against the
carved penthouse of the chimney, looked round at the dimly-lit room.
The walls were hung with rich tapestries representing the Triumph of
Beauty. A large press, inlaid with agate and lapis-lazuli, filled
one corner, and facing the window stood a curiously wrought cabinet
with lacquer panels of powdered and mosaiced gold, on which were
placed some delicate goblets of Venetian glass, and a cup of dark-
veined onyx. Pale poppies were broidered on the silk coverlet of
the bed, as though they had fallen from the tired hands of sleep,
and tall reeds of fluted ivory bare up the velvet canopy, from which
great tufts of ostrich plumes sprang, like white foam, to the pallid
silver of the fretted ceiling. A laughing Narcissus in green bronze
held a polished mirror above its head. On the table stood a flat
bowl of amethyst.

Outside he could see the huge dome of the cathedral, looming like a
bubble over the shadowy houses, and the weary sentinels pacing up
and down on the misty terrace by the river. Far away, in an
orchard, a nightingale was singing. A faint perfume of jasmine came
through the open window. He brushed his brown curls back from his
forehead, and taking up a lute, let his fingers stray across the
cords. His heavy eyelids drooped, and a strange languor came over
him. Never before had he felt so keenly, or with such exquisite
joy, the magic and the mystery of beautiful things.

When midnight sounded from the clock-tower he touched a bell, and
his pages entered and disrobed him with much ceremony, pouring rose-
water over his hands, and strewing flowers on his pillow. A few
moments after that they had left the room, he fell asleep.--The
Young King


And when the Bishop had heard them he knit his brows, and said, 'My
son, I am an old man, and in the winter of my days, and I know that
many evil things are done in the wide world. The fierce robbers
come down from the mountains, and carry off the little children, and
sell them to the Moors. The lions lie in wait for the caravans, and
leap upon the camels. The wild boar roots up the corn in the
valley, and the foxes gnaw the vines upon the hill. The pirates lay
waste the sea-coast and burn the ships of the fishermen, and take
their nets from them. In the salt-marshes live the lepers; they
have houses of wattled reeds, and none may come nigh them. The
beggars wander through the cities, and eat their food with the dogs.
Canst thou make these things not to be? Wilt thou take the leper
for thy bedfellow, and set the beggar at thy board? Shall the lion
do thy bidding, and the wild boar obey thee? Is not He who made
misery wiser than thou art? Wherefore I praise thee not for this
that thou hast done, but I bid thee ride back to the Palace and make
thy face glad, and put on the raiment that beseemeth a king, and
with the crown of gold I will crown thee, and the sceptre of pearl
will I place in thy hand. And as for thy dreams, think no more of
them. The burden of this world is too great for one man to bear,
and the world's sorrow too heavy for one heart to suffer.'

'Sayest thou that in this house?' said the young King, and he strode
past the Bishop, and climbed up the steps of the altar, and stood
before the image of Christ.

He stood before the image of Christ, and on his right hand and on
his left were the marvellous vessels of gold, the chalice with the
yellow wine, and the vial with the holy oil. He knelt before the
image of Christ, and the great candles burned brightly by the
jewelled shrine, and the smoke of the incense curled in thin blue
wreaths through the dome. He bowed his head in prayer, and the
priests in their stiff copes crept away from the altar.

And suddenly a wild tumult came from the street outside, and in
entered the nobles with drawn swords and nodding plumes, and shields
of polished steel. 'Where is this dreamer of dreams?' they cried.
'Where is this King who is apparelled like a beggar--this boy who
brings shame upon our state? Surely we will slay him, for he is
unworthy to rule over us.'

And the young King bowed his head again, and prayed, and when he had
finished his prayer he rose up, and turning round he looked at them

And lo! through the painted windows came the sunlight streaming upon
him, and the sun-beams wove round him a tissued robe that was fairer
than the robe that had been fashioned for his pleasure. The dead
staff blossomed, and bare lilies that were whiter than pearls. The
dry thorn blossomed, and bare roses that were redder than rubies.
Whiter than fine pearls were the lilies, and their stems were of
bright silver. Redder than male rubies were the roses, and their
leaves were of beaten gold.

He stood there in the raiment of a king, and the gates of the
jewelled shrine flew open, and from the crystal of the many-rayed
monstrance shone a marvellous and mystical light. He stood there in
a king's raiment, and the Glory of God filled the place, and the
saints in their carven niches seemed to move. In the fair raiment
of a king he stood before them, and the organ pealed out its music,
and the trumpeters blew upon their trumpets, and the singing boys

And the people fell upon their knees in awe, and the nobles sheathed
their swords and did homage, and the Bishop's face grew pale, and
his hands trembled. 'A greater than I hath crowned thee,' he cried,
and he knelt before him.

And the young King came down from the high altar, and passed home
through the midst of the people. But no man dared look upon his
face, for it was like the face of an angel.--The Young King


From a window in the palace the sad melancholy King watched them.
Behind him stood his brother, Don Pedro of Aragon, whom he hated,
and his confessor, the Grand Inquisitor of Granada, sat by his side.
Sadder even than usual was the King, for as he looked at the Infanta
bowing with childish gravity to the assembling counters, or laughing
behind her fan at the grim Duchess of Albuquerque who always
accompanied her, he thought of the young Queen, her mother, who but
a short time before--so it seemed to him--had come from the gay
country of France, and had withered away in the sombre splendour of
the Spanish court, dying just six months after the birth of her
child, and before she had seen the almonds blossom twice in the
orchard, or plucked the second year's fruit from the old gnarled
fig-tree that stood in the centre of the now grass-grown courtyard.
So great had been his love for her that he had not suffered even the
grave to hide her from him. She had been embalmed by a Moorish
physician, who in return for this service had been granted his life,
which for heresy and suspicion of magical practices had been already
forfeited, men said, to the Holy Office, and her body was still
lying on its tapestried bier in the black marble chapel of the
Palace, just as the monks had borne her in on that windy March day
nearly twelve years before. Once every month the King, wrapped in a
dark cloak and with a muffled lantern in his hand, went in and knelt
by her side calling out, 'Mi reina! Mi reina!' and sometimes
breaking through the formal etiquette that in Spain governs every
separate action of life, and sets limits even to the sorrow of a
King, he would clutch at the pale jewelled hands in a wild agony of
grief, and try to wake by his mad kisses the cold painted face.

To-day he seemed to see her again, as he had seen her first at the
Castle of Fontainebleau, when he was but fifteen years of age, and
she still younger. They had been formally betrothed on that
occasion by the Papal Nuncio in the presence of the French King and
all the Court, and he had returned to the Escurial bearing with him
a little ringlet of yellow hair, and the memory of two childish lips
bending down to kiss his hand as he stepped into his carriage.
Later on had followed the marriage, hastily performed at Burgos, a
small town on the frontier between the two countries, and the grand
public entry into Madrid with the customary celebration of high mass
at the Church of La Atocha, and a more than usually solemn auto-da-
fe, in which nearly three hundred heretics, amongst whom were many
Englishmen, had been delivered over to the secular arm to be burned.

Certainly he had loved her madly, and to the ruin, many thought, of
his country, then at war with England for the possession of the
empire of the New World. He had hardly ever permitted her to be out
of his sight; for her, he had forgotten, or seemed to have
forgotten, all grave affairs of State; and, with that terrible
blindness that passion brings upon its servants, he had failed to
notice that the elaborate ceremonies by which he sought to please
her did but aggravate the strange malady from which she suffered.
When she died he was, for a time, like one bereft of reason.
Indeed, there is no doubt but that he would have formally abdicated
and retired to the great Trappist monastery at Granada, of which he
was already titular Prior, had he not been afraid to leave the
little Infanta at the mercy of his brother, whose cruelty, even in
Spain, was notorious, and who was suspected by many of having caused
the Queen's death by means of a pair of poisoned gloves that he had
presented to her on the occasion of her visiting his castle in
Aragon. Even after the expiration of the three years of public
mourning that he had ordained throughout his whole dominions by
royal edict, he would never suffer his ministers to speak about any
new alliance, and when the Emperor himself sent to him, and offered
him the hand of the lovely Archduchess of Bohemia, his niece, in
marriage, he bade the ambassadors tell their master that the King of
Spain was already wedded to Sorrow, and that though she was but a
barren bride he loved her better than Beauty; an answer that cost
his crown the rich provinces of the Netherlands, which soon after,
at the Emperor's instigation, revolted against him under the
leadership of some fanatics of the Reformed Church.--The Birthday of
the Infranta


A procession of noble boys, fantastically dressed as toreadors, came
out to meet her, and the young Count of Tierra-Nueva, a wonderfully
handsome lad of about fourteen years of age, uncovering his head
with all the grace of a born hidalgo and grandee of Spain, led her
solemnly in to a little gilt and ivory chair that was placed on a
raised dais above the arena. The children grouped themselves all
round, fluttering their big fans and whispering to each other, and
Don Pedro and the Grand Inquisitor stood laughing at the entrance.
Even the Duchess--the Camerera-Mayor as she was called--a thin,
hard-featured woman with a yellow ruff, did not look quite so bad-
tempered as usual, and something like a chill smile flitted across
her wrinkled face and twitched her thin bloodless lips.

It certainly was a marvellous bull-fight, and much nicer, the
Infanta thought, than the real bull-fight that she had been brought
to see at Seville, on the occasion of the visit of the Duke of Parma
to her father. Some of the boys pranced about on richly-caparisoned
hobby-horses brandishing long javelins with gay streamers of bright
ribands attached to them; others went on foot waving their scarlet
cloaks before the bull, and vaulting lightly over the barrier when
he charged them; and as for the bull himself, he was just like a
live bull, though he was only made of wicker-work and stretched
hide, and sometimes insisted on running round the arena on his hind
legs, which no live bull ever dreams of doing. He made a splendid
fight of it too, and the children got so excited that they stood up
upon the benches, and waved their lace handkerchiefs and cried out:
Bravo toro! Bravo toro! just as sensibly as if they had been grown-
up people. At last, however, after a prolonged combat, during which
several of the hobby-horses were gored through and through, and,
their riders dismounted, the young Count of Tierra-Nueva brought the
bull to his knees, and having obtained permission from the Infanta
to give the coup de grace, he plunged his wooden sword into the neck
of the animal with such violence that the head came right off, and
disclosed the laughing face of little Monsieur de Lorraine, the son
of the French Ambassador at Madrid.

The arena was then cleared amidst much applause, and the dead
hobbyhorses dragged solemnly away by two Moorish pages in yellow and
black liveries, and after a short interlude, during which a French
posture-master performed upon the tightrope, some Italian puppets
appeared in the semi-classical tragedy of Sophonisba on the stage of
a small theatre that had been built up for the purpose. They acted
so well, and their gestures were so extremely natural, that at the
close of the play the eyes of the Infanta were quite dim with tears.
Indeed some of the children really cried, and had to be comforted
with sweetmeats, and the Grand Inquisitor himself was so affected
that he could not help saying to Don Pedro that it seemed to him
intolerable that things made simply out of wood and coloured wax,
and worked mechanically by wires, should be so unhappy and meet with
such terrible misfortunes.--The Birthday of the Infanta


It was a throne-room, used for the reception of foreign ambassadors,
when the King, which of late had not been often, consented to give
them a personal audience; the same room in which, many years before,
envoys had appeared from England to make arrangements for the
marriage of their Queen, then one of the Catholic sovereigns of
Europe, with the Emperor's eldest son. The hangings were of gilt
Cordovan leather, and a heavy gilt chandelier with branches for
three hundred wax lights hung down from the black and white ceiling.
Underneath a great canopy of gold cloth, on which the lions and
towers of Castile were broidered in seed pearls, stood the throne
itself, covered with a rich pall of black velvet studded with silver
tulips and elaborately fringed with silver and pearls. On the
second step of the throne was placed the kneeling-stool of the
Infanta, with its cushion of cloth of silver tissue, and below that
again, and beyond the limit of the canopy, stood the chair for the
Papal Nuncio, who alone had the right to be seated in the King's
presence on the occasion of any public ceremonial, and whose
Cardinal's hat, with its tangled scarlet tassels, lay on a purple
tabouret in front. On the wall, facing the throne, hung a life-
sized portrait of Charles V. in hunting dress, with a great mastiff
by his side, and a picture of Philip II. receiving the homage of the
Netherlands occupied the centre of the other wall. Between the
windows stood a black ebony cabinet, inlaid with plates of ivory, on
which the figures from Holbein's Dance of Death had been graved--by
the hand, some said, of that famous master himself.

But the little Dwarf cared nothing for all this magnificence. He
would not have given his rose for all the pearls on the canopy, nor
one white petal of his rose for the throne itself. What he wanted
was to see the Infanta before she went down to the pavilion, and to
ask her to come away with him when he had finished his dance. Here,
in the Palace, the air was close and heavy, but in the forest the
wind blew free, and the sunlight with wandering hands of gold moved
the tremulous leaves aside. There were flowers, too, in the forest,
not so splendid, perhaps, as the flowers in the garden, but more
sweetly scented for all that; hyacinths in early spring that flooded
with waving purple the cool glens, and grassy knolls; yellow
primroses that nestled in little clumps round the gnarled roots of
the oak-trees; bright celandine, and blue speedwell, and irises
lilac and gold. There were grey catkins on the hazels, and the
foxgloves drooped with the weight of their dappled bee-haunted
cells. The chestnut had its spires of white stars, and the hawthorn
its pallid moons of beauty. Yes: surely she would come if he could
only find her! She would come with him to the fair forest, and all
day long he would dance for her delight. A smile lit up his eyes at
the thought, and he passed into the next room.

Of all the rooms this was the brightest and the most beautiful. The
walls were covered with a pink-flowered Lucca damask, patterned with
birds and dotted with dainty blossoms of silver; the furniture was
of massive silver, festooned with florid wreaths, and swinging
Cupids; in front of the two large fire-places stood great screens
broidered with parrots and peacocks, and the floor, which was of
sea-green onyx, seemed to stretch far away into the distance. Nor
was he alone. Standing under the shadow of the doorway, at the
extreme end of the room, he saw a little figure watching him. His
heart trembled, a cry of joy broke from his lips, and he moved out
into the sunlight. As he did so, the figure moved out also, and he
saw it plainly.--The Birthday of the Infanta


'The kings of each city levied tolls on us, but would not suffer us
to enter their gates. They threw us bread over the walls, little
maize-cakes baked in honey and cakes of fine flour filled with
dates. For every hundred baskets we gave them a bead of amber.

'When the dwellers in the villages saw us coming, they poisoned the
wells and fled to the hill-summits. We fought with the Magadae who
are born old, and grow younger and younger every year, and die when
they are little children; and with the Laktroi who say that they are
the sons of tigers, and paint themselves yellow and black; and with
the Aurantes who bury their dead on the tops of trees, and
themselves live in dark caverns lest the Sun, who is their god,
should slay them; and with the Krimnians who worship a crocodile,
and give it earrings of green glass, and feed it with butter and
fresh fowls; and with the Agazonbae, who are dog-faced; and with the
Sibans, who have horses' feet, and run more swiftly than horses. A
third of our company died in battle, and a third died of want. The
rest murmured against me, and said that I had brought them an evil
fortune. I took a horned adder from beneath a stone and let it
sting me. When they saw that I did not sicken they grew afraid.

'In the fourth month we reached the city of Illel. It was night-
time when we came to the grove that is outside the walls, and the
air was sultry, for the Moon was travelling in Scorpion. We took
the ripe pomegranates from the trees, and brake them, and drank
their sweet juices. Then we lay down on our carpets, and waited for
the dawn.

'And at dawn we rose and knocked at the gate of the city. It was
wrought out of red bronze, and carved with sea-dragons and dragons
that have wings. The guards looked down from the battlements and
asked us our business. The interpreter of the caravan answered that
we had come from the island of Syria with much merchandise. They
took hostages, and told us that they would open the gate to us at
noon, and bade us tarry till then.

'When it was noon they opened the gate, and as we entered in the
people came crowding out of the houses to look at us, and a crier
went round the city crying through a shell. We stood in the market-
place, and the negroes uncorded the bales of figured cloths and
opened the carved chests of sycamore. And when they had ended their
task, the merchants set forth their strange wares, the waxed linen
from Egypt and the painted linen from the country of the Ethiops,
the purple sponges from Tyre and the blue hangings from Sidon, the
cups of cold amber and the fine vessels of glass and the curious
vessels of burnt clay. From the roof of a house a company of women
watched us. One of them wore a mask of gilded leather.

'And on the first day the priests came and bartered with us, and on
the second day came the nobles, and on the third day came the
craftsmen and the slaves. And this is their custom with all
merchants as long as they tarry in the city.

'And we tarried for a moon, and when the moon was waning, I wearied
and wandered away through the streets of the city and came to the
garden of its god. The priests in their yellow robes moved silently
through the green trees, and on a pavement of black marble stood the
rose-red house in which the god had his dwelling. Its doors were of
powdered lacquer, and bulls and peacocks were wrought on them in
raised and polished gold. The tilted roof was of sea-green
porcelain, and the jutting eaves were festooned with little bells.
When the white doves flew past, they struck the bells with their
wings and made them tinkle.

'In front of the temple was a pool of clear water paved with veined
onyx. I lay down beside it, and with my pale fingers I touched the
broad leaves. One of the priests came towards me and stood behind
me. He had sandals on his feet, one of soft serpent-skin and the
other of birds' plumage. On his head was a mitre of black felt
decorated with silver crescents. Seven yellows were woven into his
robe, and his frizzed hair was stained with antimony.

'After a little while he spake to me, and asked me my desire.

'I told him that my desire was to see the god.'--The Fisherman and
His Soul


'As soon as the man was dead the Emperor turned to me, and when he
had wiped away the bright sweat from his brow with a little napkin
of purfled and purple silk, he said to me, "Art thou a prophet, that
I may not harm thee, or the son of a prophet, that I can do thee no
hurt? I pray thee leave my city to-night, for while thou art in it
I am no longer its lord."

'And I answered him, "I will go for half of thy treasure. Give me
half of thy treasure, and I will go away."

'He took me by the hand, and led me out into the garden. When the
captain of the guard saw me, he wondered. When the eunuchs saw me,
their knees shook and they fell upon the ground in fear.

'There is a chamber in the palace that has eight walls of red
porphyry, and a brass-sealed ceiling hung with lamps. The Emperor
touched one of the walls and it opened, and we passed down a
corridor that was lit with many torches. In niches upon each side
stood great wine-jars filled to the brim with silver pieces. When
we reached the centre of the corridor the Emperor spake the word
that may not be spoken, and a granite door swung back on a secret
spring, and he put his hands before his face lest his eyes should be

'Thou couldst not believe how marvellous a place it was. There were
huge tortoise-shells full of pearls, and hollowed moonstones of
great size piled up with red rubies. The gold was stored in coffers
of elephant-hide, and the gold-dust in leather bottles. There were
opals and sapphires, the former in cups of crystal, and the latter
in cups of jade. Round green emeralds were ranged in order upon
thin plates of ivory, and in one corner were silk bags filled, some
with turquoise-stones, and others with beryls. The ivory horns were
heaped with purple amethysts, and the horns of brass with
chalcedonies and sards. The pillars, which were of cedar, were hung
with strings of yellow lynx-stones. In the flat oval shields there
were carbuncles, both wine-coloured and coloured like grass. And
yet I have told thee but a tithe of what was there.

'And when the Emperor had taken away his hands from before his face
he said to me: "This is my house of treasure, and half that is in
it is thine, even as I promised to thee. And I will give thee
camels and camel drivers, and they shall do thy bidding and take thy
share of the treasure to whatever part of the world thou desirest to
go. And the thing shall be done to-night, for I would not that the
Sun, who is my father, should see that there is in my city a man
whom I cannot slay."

'But I answered him, "The gold that is here is thine, and the silver
also is thine, and thine are the precious jewels and the things of
price. As for me, I have no need of these. Nor shall I take aught
from thee but that little ring that thou wearest on the finger of
thy hand."

'And the Emperor frowned. "It is but a ring of lead," he cried,
"nor has it any value. Therefore take thy half of the treasure and
go from my city."

'"Nay," I answered, "but I will take nought but that leaden ring,
for I know what is written within it, and for what purpose."

'And the Emperor trembled, and besought me and said, "Take all the
treasure and go from my city. The half that is mine shall be thine

'And I did a strange thing, but what I did matters not, for in a
cave that is but a day's journey from this place have, I hidden the
Ring of Riches. It is but a day's journey from this place, and it
waits for thy coming. He who has this Ring is richer than all the
kings of the world. Come therefore and take it, and the world's
riches shall be thine.'--The Fisherman and His Soul


Where he went he hardly knew. He had a dim memory of wandering
through a labyrinth of sordid houses, of being lost in a giant web
of sombre streets, and it was bright dawn when he found himself at
last in Piccadilly Circus. As he strolled home towards Belgrave
Square, he met the great waggons on their way to Covent Garden. The
white-smocked carters, with their pleasant sunburnt faces and coarse
curly hair, strode sturdily on, cracking their whips, and calling
out now and then to each other; on the back of a huge grey horse,
the leader of a jangling team, sat a chubby boy, with a bunch of
primroses in his battered hat, keeping tight hold of the mane with
his little hands, and laughing; and the great piles of vegetables
looked like masses of jade against the morning sky, like masses of
green jade against the pink petals of some marvellous rose. Lord
Arthur felt curiously affected, he could not tell why. There was
something in the dawn's delicate loveliness that seemed to him
inexpressibly pathetic, and he thought of all the days that break in
beauty, and that set in storm. These rustics, too, with their
rough, good-humoured voices, and their nonchalant ways, what a
strange London they saw! A London free from the sin of night and
the smoke of day, a pallid, ghost-like city, a desolate town of
tombs! He wondered what they thought of it, and whether they knew
anything of its splendour and its shame, of its fierce, fiery-
coloured joys, and its horrible hunger, of all it makes and mars
from morn to eve. Probably it was to them merely a mart where they
brought their fruits to sell, and where they tarried for a few hours
at most, leaving the streets still silent, the houses still asleep.
It gave him pleasure to watch them as they went by. Rude as they
were, with their heavy, hob-nailed shoes, and their awkward gait,
they brought a little of a ready with them. He felt that they had
lived with Nature, and that she had taught them peace. He envied
them all that they did not know.

By the time he had reached Belgrave Square the sky was a faint blue,
and the birds were beginning to twitter in the gardens.--Lord Arthur
Savile's Crime


27th May.

My Dearest Aunt,

Thank you so much for the flannel for the Dorcas Society, and also
for the gingham. I quite agree with you that it is nonsense their
wanting to wear pretty things, but everybody is so Radical and
irreligious nowadays, that it is difficult to make them see that
they should not try and dress like the upper classes. I am sure I
don't know what we are coming to. As papa has often said in his
sermons, we live in an age of unbelief.

We have had great fun over a clock that an unknown admirer sent papa
last Thursday. It arrived in a wooden box from London, carriage
paid, and papa feels it must have been sent by some one who had read
his remarkable sermon, 'Is Licence Liberty?' for on the top of the
clock was a figure of a woman, with what papa said was the cap of
Liberty on her head. I didn't think it very becoming myself, but
papa said it was historical, so I suppose it is all right. Parker
unpacked it, and papa put it on the mantelpiece in the library, and
we were all sitting there on Friday morning, when just as the clock
struck twelve, we heard a whirring noise, a little puff of smoke
came from the pedestal of the figure, and the goddess of Liberty
fell off, and broke her nose on the fender! Maria was quite
alarmed, but it looked so ridiculous, that James and I went off into
fits of laughter, and even papa was amused. When we examined it, we
found it was a sort of alarum clock, and that, if you set it to a
particular hour, and put some gunpowder and a cap under a little
hammer, it went off whenever you wanted. Papa said it must not
remain in the library, as it made a noise, so Reggie carried it away
to the schoolroom, and does nothing but have small explosions all
day long. Do you think Arthur would like one for a wedding present?
I suppose they are quite fashionable in London. Papa says they
should do a great deal of good, as they show that Liberty can't
last, but must fall down. Papa says Liberty was invented at the
time of the French Revolution. How awful it seems!

I have now to go to the Dorcas, where I will read them your most
instructive letter. How true, dear aunt, your idea is, that in
their rank of life they should wear what is unbecoming. I must say
it is absurd, their anxiety about dress, when there are so many more
important things in this world, and in the next. I am so glad your
flowered poplin turned out so well, and that your lace was not torn.
I am wearing my yellow satin, that you so kindly gave me, at the
Bishop's on Wednesday, and think it will look all right. Would you
have bows or not? Jennings says that every one wears bows now, and
that the underskirt should be frilled. Reggie has just had another
explosion, and papa has ordered the clock to be sent to the stables.
I don't think papa likes it so much as he did at first, though he is
very flattered at being sent such a pretty and ingenious toy. It
shows that people read his sermons, and profit by them.

Papa sends his love, in which James, and Reggie, and Maria all
unite, and, hoping that Uncle Cecil's gout is better, believe me,
dear aunt, ever your affectionate niece,


PS.--Do tell me about the bows. Jennings insists they are the
fashion.--Lord Arthur Savile's Crime


At half-past ten he heard the family going to bed. For some time he
was disturbed by wild shrieks of laughter from the twins, who, with
the light-hearted gaiety of schoolboys, were evidently amusing
themselves before they retired to rest, but at a quarter past eleven
all was still, and, as midnight sounded, he sallied forth. The owl
beat against the window panes, the raven croaked from the old yew-
tree, and the wind wandered moaning round the house like a lost
soul; but the Otis family slept unconscious of their doom, and high
above the rain and storm he could hear the steady snoring of the
Minister for the United States. He stepped stealthily out of the
wainscoting, with an evil smile on his cruel, wrinkled mouth, and
the moon hid her face in a cloud as he stole past the great oriel
window, where his own arms and those of his murdered wife were
blazoned in azure and gold. On and on he glided, like an evil
shadow, the very darkness seeming to loathe him as he passed. Once
he thought he heard something call, and stopped; but it was only the
baying of a dog from the Red Farm, and he went on, muttering strange
sixteenth-century curses, and ever and anon brandishing the rusty
dagger in the midnight air. Finally he reached the corner of the
passage that led to luckless Washington's room. For a moment he
paused there, the wind blowing his long grey locks about his head,
and twisting into grotesque and fantastic folds the nameless horror
of the dead man's shroud. Then the clock struck the quarter, and he
felt the time was come. He chuckled to himself, and turned the
corner; but no sooner had he done so, than, with a piteous wail of
terror, he fell back, and hid his blanched face in his long, bony
hands. Right in front of him was standing a horrible spectre,
motionless as a carven image, and monstrous as a madman's dream!
Its head was bald and burnished; its face round, and fat, and white;
and hideous laughter seemed to have writhed its features into an
eternal grin. From the eyes streamed rays of scarlet light, the
mouth was a wide well of fire, and a hideous garment, like to his
own, swathed with its silent snows the Titan form. On its breast
was a placard with strange writing in antique characters, some
scroll of shame it seemed, some record of wild sins, some awful
calendar of crime, and, with its right hand, it bore aloft a
falchion of gleaming steel.

Never having seen a ghost before, he naturally was terribly
frightened, and, after a second hasty glance at the awful phantom,
he fled back to his room, tripping up in his long winding-sheet as
he sped down the corridor, and finally dropping the rusty dagger
into the Minister's jack-boots, where it was found in the morning by
the butler. Once in the privacy of his own apartment, he flung
himself down on a small pallet-bed, and hid his face under the
clothes. After a time, however, the brave old Canterville spirit
asserted itself, and he determined to go and speak to the other
ghost as soon as it was daylight. Accordingly, just as the dawn was
touching the hills with silver, he returned towards the spot where
he had first laid eyes on the grisly phantom, feeling that, after
all, two ghosts were better than one, and that, by the aid of his
new friend, he might safely grapple with the twins. On reaching the
spot, however, a terrible sight met his gaze. Something had
evidently happened to the spectre, for the light had entirely faded
from its hollow eyes, the gleaming falchion had fallen from its
hand, and it was leaning up against the wall in a strained and
uncomfortable attitude. He rushed forward and seized it in his
arms, when, to his horror, the head slipped off and rolled on the
floor, the body assumed a recumbent posture, and he found himself
clasping a white dimity bed-curtain, with a sweeping-brush, a
kitchen cleaver, and a hollow turnip lying at his feet!--The
Canterville Ghost


'Far away beyond the pine-woods,' he answered, in a low dreamy
voice, 'there is a little garden. There the grass grows long and
deep, there are the great white stars of the hemlock flower, there
the nightingale sings all night long. All night long he sings, and
the cold, crystal moon looks down, and the yew-tree spreads out its
giant arms over the sleepers.'

Virginia's eyes grew dim with tears, and she hid her face in her

'You mean the Garden of Death,' she whispered.

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