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The Idler, Volume III., Issue XIII., February 1893 by Various

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that another characteristic of his was the habit of awaking us in the
still watches of the night, for the purpose of imparting his views on
recondite phases of the great Eastern question. But how trivial were
such peccadilloes in a man who was so resolute not to be beaten in
getting my despatch to the telegraph wire, that once, when three
pontoons of the bridge across the Danube were sunk, he crossed the gap
hand over hand by the hand-rope, sloshing down with the current as the
slack of the rope gave to his weight! Andreas became quite an
institution in the Russian camp. When Ignatieff, the Tsar's intimate,
the great diplomatist who has now curiously fizzled out, would honour us
by partaking sometimes of afternoon tea in our tent, he would call
Andreas by his name and call him "Molodetz"--the Russian for "brave
fellow." In the Servian campaign Dochtouroff had got him the Takova
cross, which Andreas sported with great pride, and Ignatieff used to
tell him that the Tsar was seriously thinking of conferring on him the
Cross of St. George, badinage which Andreas took as dead earnest.
MacGahan used gravely to entreat him to take greater care of his
invaluable life, and hint that if any calamity occurred to him, the
campaign would _ipso facto_ come to an end. Andreas knew that MacGahan
was quizzing him, but it was exceedingly droll how he purred and bridled
under the light touch of that genial humourist, whose merits his own
countrymen, to my thinking, have never adequately recognised. The old
story of a prophet having scant honour in his own country.


After the long strain of the desperate but futile attack made by the
Russians on Plevna in the early part of the September of the war, I fell
a victim to the malarial fever of the Lower Danube, and had to be
invalided back to Bucharest. The illness grew upon me, and my condition
became very serious. Worthy Andreas nursed me with great tenderness and
assiduity in the lodgings to which I had been brought, since they would
not accept a fever patient at Brofft's. After some days of wretchedness
I became delirious, and, of course, lost consciousness; my last
recollection was of Andreas wetting my parched lips with lemonade. When
I recovered my senses, and looked out feebly, there was nobody in the
room. How long I had been unconscious I had no idea. I lay there in a
half stupor till evening, unable from weakness to summon any assistance.
In the dusk came the English doctor who had been attending me. "Where is
Andreas?" he asked. I could not tell him. "He was here last night," he
said; "you have been delirious for seven days." The woman of the house
was summoned. She had not seen Andreas since the previous night, but,
busy about her own domestic affairs, had no suspicion until she entered
the room that Andreas was not with me still.

Andreas never returned. It appeared that he had taken away all his
belongings. One day, when gradually mending, I put my hand under the
pillow with intent to find my watch, which was an heirloom, and wind it
up. I could find no watch. No more could I find the bag of ducats which
was alongside the watch before I lost my senses. Search was made
throughout the room without success, and, with whatever reluctance to
believe a thing so utterly unlikely, I could not refrain from the
conviction that Andreas must have carried off both money and watch.
The thought caused a relapse, but at length I attained convalescence,
and was able to drive out. But the doctor was firm that during the now
imminent winter I was not to return to the field. Fortunately, my able
colleagues, MacGahan and Millet, were there; and I was therefore the
less distressed by Dr. ----'s peremptory sentence on me. I was
condemned to return to England as soon as I should be strong enough to

When I had to leave the Plevna front, my colleagues temporarily took
charge of my field equipment. But I had brought back to Bucharest my
best riding horse, and during my illness he had been standing at livery
in the stables of the English Tramway Company. Determining now on the
melancholy necessity of selling an animal which had on many a hard day
and many a long night-ride served me staunchly, I drove to the stables,
and instructed the manager to sell my horse. "Your horse!" he exclaimed,
in evident surprise; "your horse was sold weeks ago! Your man, Andreas,
came here with a message that we were to dispose of it; and I sold it
next day to General Todleben on his way through Bucharest to take the
command before Plevna. It fetched a good price, 105 ducats, more than
you gave for it; Andreas called for the money, and, of course, I gave
it to him."

So Andreas was thief and rogue--deliberate thief and rogue. I was angry,
but I was yet more heart-sorry that so fine and true a native should
have thus fallen. Just as I was leaving Bucharest for England, a letter
came to me from a friend in Galatz, a commercial city of Roumania, near
the mouth of the Danube. Its P.S. only is worth quoting. "So you have
parted with your man, Andreas. I thought from what you had told me that
you would retain him for life. He is here now, I saw him drunk in the
street yesterday. He told Kennedy that he believed you were dead."


I went straight to Galatz, a long half-day's journey. Andreas was not
hard to find; he was smoking in the "Concordia" saloon. I saw him before
he saw me; he had a furtive air, he was pallid and his lips twitched; he
looked to me on the verge of _delirium tremens_. I approached him from
behind, and uttered the one word, "Andreas!" At the word, he started as
if he had been shot, spun round, dropped on his knees, with his hands
raised beseechingly, and cried in a broken voice, "Before God, master, I
thought you were dead, else I should never have done it! I have not had
a happy moment since I threw away my good name--I could not go home!
Kill me, send me to prison, punish me how you choose. I shall rejoice to
suffer!" And the poor wretch grovelled before me on his stomach.

I had meant to punish him; but he was too broken for chastisement. I
could not send to prison the man who had saved my life among the
pine-trees of Djunis. I wonder if he really thought me dead--not that,
if so, his act was thereby materially palliated. And I thought of two
little sentences which my mother taught me when I was a child: "Judge
not that ye be not judged," and "Lead us not into temptation." I pulled
the man on to his feet and grasped his hand, then with the words, "Give
me my father's watch--good-bye, Andreas. I shall remember all the good
in you, and forget those last bad days." I turned from him, and quitted
the "Concordia" with a lump in my throat that I could not swallow down.

* * * * *






"And by the way," continued the Colonel, "a curious thing about this
Josiah Wilson was that he was married for fifteen years and never had
any wife whatever."

The Colonel had begun a story concerning one Josiah Wilson, which
promised to be interesting, but his incidental allusion to Mr. Wilson's
matrimonial experience awakened our curiosity, and we begged him to
interrupt his narrative long enough to tell us how it came to pass that
Josiah was a married man who never had a wife.

[Illustration: "HOWLED FOR HELP."]

"The marriage laws in the United States," said the Colonel, giving his
chair an increased tilt backwards, which was his usual way of beginning
a fresh anecdote, "are as peculiar in their way as are the divorce laws.
You would think to look at them that they would permit anybody to marry
anybody else in any way that either of them might choose, but for all
that they sometimes make it impossible for a man or a woman to get
married. There was a couple who intended to be married in a balloon,
which is a style of lunacy that is quite fashionable in some parts of
the country, though I can't see why a man should want to risk his neck
in a balloon on his wedding day unless it is that it takes so much
courage to be married at all that a man forgets all about such minor
dangers as are connected with ballooning. The bride, the minister, and
two witnesses of assorted sexes went up in the balloon at the appointed
time, and, naturally, the bridegroom intended to go with them, but he
accidentally caught his foot in a neglected guy-rope, and went up head
downwards about twenty feet below the car. The party in the balloon
could not haul him up because they could not get hold of the rope, and
the bride would not consent to give up the trip, because the groom had
always been a little shy, and she was afraid that, if she let him go
this time, she might not be able to land him again. So the parson went
on with the ceremony, and the groom made most of his responses in bad
language, and howled for help when he wasn't swearing. When the ceremony
was over, the aeronaut managed to land the balloon without seriously
damaging the bridegroom, but when, a year or two afterwards, the bride
wanted to get her divorce, the court held that there had never been any
marriage, for the reason that both the groom and the bride had not
appeared together in the presence of the officiating minister, and that,
furthermore, there was no provision in the law which would permit a man
to be married upside down.

[Illustration: "SMITH'S BULL-DOG."]

"But to get back to Josiah Wilson. He lived in Indiana, close to the
boundary line between that State and Illinois, and he courted Melinda
Smith, a young woman who lived a little way up the mountain side with
her father and three brothers. The girl was anxious to be married, but
her family was dead against it. You see Josiah was a Republican and a
Methodist, while the Smiths were Democrats and Baptists, and, naturally,
they hated each other like poison, and one night as old man Smith and
Josiah met on their way to rival prayer meetings, they exchanged
revolver shots, without, however, doing any harm. Then once Josiah had
most of the calf of his leg taken off by the Smiths' bull-dog, and twice
the Smith boys came into the sitting-room where Josiah was calling on
Melinda, and suggested to him with their shot-guns that he had better go
home. Gradually Josiah and Melinda came to the conclusion that her
family was resolved to discourage the match, so they determined to elope
and be married without the knowledge or consent of anybody.

"One dark night Josiah carried a ladder and planted it under Melinda's
window. He had advised her to walk out of the front door, which was
always left unlocked at night, but she refused, saying that if she was
going to elope she should do it in the proper way, and that if Josiah
had no respect for her, she had some little respect for herself. She
climbed down the ladder with a good deal of difficulty, because she
insisted that Josiah should help her, and also that he should stand
forty yards away, for reasons connected with her ankles, and he found it
rather trying to follow out these contradictory orders. However, Melinda
reached the ground at last, and the pair started in a carriage that had
been waiting just around a bend in the road, in company with the
Methodist minister. Their plan was to drive to the next town and there
to be married, but it happened that one of the Smith boys, being
restless, got up in the night, and, looking out of the window, saw the
ladder standing at Melinda's window. In about twenty minutes after the
young people had started, the whole Smith family and their shot-guns
were following the runaways in a waggon, and gaining on them fast.

"The Methodist minister, whose hearing was unusually good, heard the
sound of hoofs before Josiah noticed it, and told the young people that
there was not the least doubt that they were pursued, and would be
overtaken in a very few minutes. 'And then, you know,' he added, 'the
chances are that, being Baptists, they will shoot first, and ask for
explanations afterwards. The only thing for us to do is to get the
marriage ceremony over before they come up. Then they will see that
opposition is of no use, and will listen to reason.'

[Illustration: "THEY WERE MARRIED."]

"Josiah and Melinda at once consented, and the parson, noticing a little
clearing in the woods on the left hand side of the road, and a flat sort
of tombstone standing in the middle of it, said that he would stand on
that stone and marry his young friends so quick that it would make their
hair curl. He was particularly glad to meet with a handy tombstone, for
he said that a tombstone was the next thing to a church, and that to be
married by the side of a tomb would be almost as solemn as to be married
in a minister's study. So the party hastily descended; the parson
mounted the stone; Josiah and Melinda joined hands in front of him, and
they were married, and the parson had kissed the bride and pocketed his
fee just as the Smiths' waggon drove up and the Smith boys cocked their
guns and covered the party. But the parson was wide awake. He had his
revolver out and old man Smith covered before anybody had taken aim at
him, but, instead of shooting, he remarked that he was a minister of the
blessed gospel of peace; that there was no necessity for bloodshed, and
that he would blow a hole through old Smith unless the Smith boys
lowered their weapons and consented to argue the matter. 'The fact is,
Colonel Smith,' said the parson, 'you're too late. The young people are
legally married, and the sooner you accept the situation the better. I
married them not two minutes ago, standing on that identical tombstone.'


"Colonel Smith was a lawyer, and the sharpest one in that part of the
country. He saw the force of the minister's remarks, so he told the boys
to put up their guns, and he shook hands with the minister. Then he
inquired, in a careless sort of way, where Josiah and Melinda had stood
while they were being married. The parson showed the footprints of the
bride and groom, and then Colonel Smith turned to Melinda and said,
'You'll come straight home with me. There hasn't been any marriage yet.
That stone is the boundary mark between Indiana and Illinois, and you
were standing in Indiana and that other idiot was standing in Illinois
when the parson tried to marry you. Nobody can marry in two States at
the same time, and I shan't recognise the pretended marriage till a
court of law compels me to do so, which will be never. I hope this will
teach you the folly of fooling with Methodism. When you want to get
married next time try a Baptist minister, who will know the difference
between a tombstone and a boundary mark.' There were too many Smiths,
and they were too well armed to be reasoned with successfully, so the
upshot was that Melinda went home with her family, and Josiah and the
parson went to see a lawyer.

"The next day Josiah brought a suit for divorce against Melinda. It was
a friendly suit, you understand, and his only object was to test the
question of the validity of his marriage, for, of course, no man can get
a divorce unless he first proves that he is married. Old man Smith
conducted the case on his side, and a lawyer named Starkweather, who is
now a member of the Illinois Legislature, appeared for Josiah Wilson.
Colonel Smith argued that while the parson who conducted the alleged
marriage ceremony could undoubtedly have married a couple in the State
of Indiana, he could not marry a woman in Indiana to a man in Illinois,
for the reason that the man and the woman could not be in the same place
while they were in two different commonwealths, and that hence Josiah
and Melinda had not legally appeared together before the officiating
minister. Furthermore, he argued that the minister at the time of the
pretended marriage was standing neither in Indiana nor in Illinois, but
on the boundary line; that the statute defined the boundary line as 'an
imaginary line' running from such and such a point to such and such a
point, and that a minister who stands in a purely imaginative locality
stands virtually nowhere, and hence cannot perform any function of
his calling.

"On the other hand, Josiah's lawyer claimed that the minister had
married Melinda Smith in the State of Indiana; that consequently she
must have been married to somebody, and that that somebody was
unquestionably Josiah Wilson. As to the point that the minister stood in
an imaginary locality because, as was alleged, he stood on the boundary
line, the lawyer maintained that it was a physical impossibility that a
minister weighing two hundred and fifty pounds could stand in a purely
imaginative place. Moreover, he was prepared to prove that, while
performing the ceremony, at least one of the minister's feet was in the
State of Indiana, which was sufficient to make him legally present in
that State.

"The arguments lasted three days, and the court before which it was
tried, consisting of three judges, took all the third day to deliver its
verdict. It decided that Melinda Smith was legally married to some
person unknown, though not to Josiah Wilson, and that Josiah Wilson was
also married to some unknown woman, who was not Melinda Smith, whoever
else she might be; that no marriage between the plaintiff and the
defendant had ever taken place, and that no divorce could be granted,
but that if either of them married anyone else, he or she would be
guilty of bigamy.

[Illustration: "SHE WAS A GOOD DEAL CAST DOWN."]

"The Smiths, with the exception of Melinda, were delighted with the
decision, for it made it reasonably certain that Josiah could never be
recognised as her husband. She was a good deal cast down about it, for,
like every other Indiana girl, she had looked forward to being married
and divorced as the natural lot of woman. Now it appeared that she was
married, but in such an unsatisfactory way, that she could never have a
husband, and never be divorced from anyone. As for Josiah, he was
furious, but there was no help for it, the law was against him, and, as
a law-abiding man, he was obliged to respect it, especially as he could
not hope to kill off all four of the Smiths, if he decided to make a
family feud of it; he himself having no family whatever, and no one to
help him to keep up his end of the feud.

"For the next fifteen years Josiah lived a single man except in name,
and Melinda mourned her hard fate and kept house for her father and
brothers; but one day Josiah's lawyer, who was by this time in the
Legislature, came to him and offered to have his marriage to Melinda
made legal in all respects for five hundred dollars. The lawyer was so
certain that he could do this that he was willing to wait for his pay
until after he had gained a verdict, and Josiah, after a little
bargaining such as every self-respecting man would have made, in his
place, consented to the lawyer's terms. It seems that the lawyer had
accidentally discovered that there had been a mistake in the survey of
part of the boundary line between Indiana and Illinois, and at the very
place where Josiah and Melinda were married, A rectification of this
mistake would move the line ten feet west, and so place the spot where
the pair stood during their wedding entirely within the state of
Indiana. The proper steps to obtain the rectification of the boundary
were taken, and it was rectified. Then Melinda in her turn began a suit
for divorce against Josiah, and had no difficulty in proving the
marriage and in obtaining a decree. Josiah paid the lawyer his five
hundred dollars, and was overjoyed at being finally able to call his
Melinda his own. But he met with a little disappointment. Now that
Melinda had obtained her divorce she thought she might as well live up
to it, and marry a fresh husband. So she married the Methodist minister,
who had just lost his third wife, and lived happily ever afterwards.


"It was just after this that Josiah, being perhaps made a little
reckless by his disappointment, became involved in the affair that I was
going to tell you about when you interrupted me, and wanted to hear
about his marriage. Matrimony is a mighty curious thing, and you can
never tell precisely how it is going to turn out. That is one reason why
I was never married but once, though I spent ten years of my life in
Chicago, and had friends at bar who stood ready to obtain divorces for
me at any moment and without a dollar of expense."

* * * * *

[Illustration: IDLERS.]

* * * * *





(_Photographs by Messrs. Fraddle and Young and Alfred Ellis._)

[Illustration: MR. GEORGE GROSSMITH.]

A little, slight man, with a thin, clever, mobile, clean-shaven face, a
sharp inquisitive nose surmounted by a perpetual pair of _pince-nez_,
and a rather sarcastic mouth, from which wit and humour as light and
airy as the cigarette smoke which accompanied each remark
continually flowed.

Mr. George Grossmith, the well-known actor and society clown.

He stands on the hearthrug of his own special sanctum in his handsome
house in Dorset Square, with his back to the fire, cigarette in his
mouth, his hands now in his pockets, now waving in the air, as he
vivaciously tells me the story of his busy, energetic and wonderfully
interesting life.

[Illustration: MRS. GEORGE GROSSMITH.]

"I was born," said he, "in 1847. I come of a family of actors and
reciters. My father, whose portrait you see there on the wall, was a
well-known lecturer and entertainer. Sixty or seventy years ago my uncle
created a great sensation as a child actor, and he was commonly known as
the 'celebrated infant Roscius.' Come out into the hall," continued the
lively little entertainer, "and I will show you some old engravings
which represent him in his favourite characters. Then my brother Weedon,
as you know, is, of course, a well-known actor, as well as a clever
artist, and part author with myself of several sketches which have
appeared in _Punch_. My eldest son now begins to display the family
tendency to a most alarming extent. For my own part, I started my career
as a reporter at Bow Street Police Court, a training which I have found
invaluable in many respects ever since. My subsequent history as actor
and society clown is so well known that I need not trouble you with it
any further."

"I suppose you find the taste of your audiences has gone up considerably
within the last twenty years, do you not?"

"Why, yes," he replied. "They wouldn't stand to-day what they used to
roar at then. My music is quite elaborate compared with the two or three
chords which easily satisfied people in the sixties and early seventies.
Listen to this," continued my host, as he sat down to the _piano_ and
struck a couple of very simple chords. Then he glided softly into what
he termed a modern accompaniment. It was all the difference between "Ten
Little Niggers" and a slumber song of Schubert.

[Illustration: MR. GROSSMITH'S HOUSE.]

"And do you find the public very critical?"

"Well," he replied, with a smile, "they are very kind. It is your
professional critic who is severe, though I can honestly say they
invariably treat me well. Criticism up to a certain point is good
enough. Beyond that point it is absolutely disabling to me. My father
was a very severe critic. When we went out together he used to take the
first half-hour, and then go to the back of the hall and criticise me.
But it so hampered me by causing me to think of and consider every pose
that I had to beg of him to desist. And then again, as regards
criticism, I always think--it may be very conceited on my part--that I
know a great deal more what the public want than my critics do. I
declare to you I should have to take everything out of my sketches if I
attempted to carry out all the suggestions that are made to me. I can
absolutely feel the public pulse after so many years upon the platform.
I am almost always right. When I first started 'See me Dance the Polka'
it fell quite flat. I gave it up, although I felt sure it ought to go.
The public then demanded it, and it went with a swing. The public had
changed its mind. Not I."

[Illustration: THE DINING ROOM.]

"And how do you prepare your sketches?" said I, as Mr. Grossmith lit
another cigarette, and took up his position on the hearthrug again.

"Anyhow and anywhere the idea comes to me for a sketch. I am seated in a
railway train, and I think of a sea-side sketch. I close my eyes and try
to recall every single feature of interest on a crowded fashionable
beach in the height of the season. Nothing is too unimportant. The way
in which an old lady settles herself comfortably into her chair, the
manner in which a man, especially a shy man, walks into the room, all
these things, slightly exaggerated, but still true to nature, are
immensely appreciated. First I have the idea, then I elaborate,
sometimes for months, then I produce on the stage, and the people say,
'How remarkable it is you should invent all this on the spur of the
moment!' That, of course, is a great compliment. The song-writing is
always amusing," continued Mr. Grossmith, as he placed in my hand a
little notebook in which were suggestions and elaborations innumerable.
One thing I noticed, which he himself had condemned, but which was
decidedly amusing, although it has never been allowed to see the
light of day:

[Illustration: THE DRAWING-ROOM.]

"I've been engaged to many,
Quite a score of times at least;
I don't think I with safety _can say_
Where I met my first _fiancee_.
Oh! 'tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all;
So I may say I have loved and _lost a lot_,
And my fickleness has _cost a lot_."

"Ah!" said Mr. Grossmith, as he leaned over me and saw what I was
reading; "my better judgment told me that was not good enough for
the public."

Then came a pencilled note in this little book, "You can take a horse to
water, but can't make him drink." "That gave me an idea," cried Mr.
Grossmith, as he sprang to his feet. "You can take a boy to the piano,
but you can't make him play.' Thought I to myself, that would make a
capital sketch. And here is how I set about it," continued he, as he
proceeded to illustrate his remarks. "Imagine a little fellow in the
corner there. I then begin in dumb show to encourage him to come to the
piano. 'Come on, my boy; you know you can play that pretty piece you
played yesterday. Come on, there's a good fellow!' Wonderful what you
can do with persuasion! He refuses. I attempt to lead him to the piano.
He won't budge an inch. I carry him under my arm and seat him in front
of the instrument, the audience roaring all the time. At last his
mistakes are so many and so ridiculous, I lose all patience and catch
him a mighty box upon the ears! Tableau!! Of course there is no boy on
the platform at all, I am quite alone, but I have so thoroughly lost
myself in my imagination that people have declared years after, 'Oh! but
I am quite sure you had a boy with you; why, don't you remember how you
boxed his ears?'"

[Illustration: "I ENCOURAGE HIM."]
[Illustration: "I ATTEMPT TO LEAD HIM."]
[Illustration: "I CARRY HIM."]
[Illustration: "I LOSE ALL PATIENCE."]

No less marvellous than his power of acting is his power of mimicry. "I
will show you how I do Irving," said he, and in a moment the little man
had ruffled his hair, had assumed to the life not only Irving's peculiar
gait, but, even more remarkable still, had managed to secure almost
exactly the very expression of the great tragedian's face.

[Illustration: "HOW I DO IRVING."]

"Then again, I find it a good idea to take up some craze or topic of the
moment. 'The Drama on Crutches' I wrote when the craze first arose
amongst the aristocracy for going on the stage. One of the sketches
which you will find outlined in that little notebook is entitled, 'Is
Music a Failure?' and I endeavoured to answer the question by showing
how popular it is among all classes of the community." I will quote
pretty freely from this outlined sketch, as it will give my readers an
idea, better than anything else would do, of the manner in which Mr.
Grossmith prepares his delightful sketches.

"I am not going to treat the subject seriously," he writes, "but in my
own particular, impertinent way. The question often arises--are we a
musical nation? The foreigners think we are not. But where in the wide,
wide world is there a country where you will hear so many organs and
German bands? Where is the country, excepting ours, that can appreciate
the concertina? Where, except in England, can you hear that delightful
combination of harp and cornet outside a house of refreshment? The
prejudice of other nations is distressing; and as for their ignorance,
why, I don't suppose Italy and Germany have even heard of the ocarino
and the Jew's harp."

And so the sketch runs on, until, in speaking of the universal manner in
which music is appreciated in England by all classes, Mr. Grossmith goes
on to say: "We have made rapid strides, so have our servants. They don't
know how to dust the piano, but they can play it. Everybody plays the
piano, from the Peerage to the School Board. Then look how music has
crept into our homes and social circles. Besides the piano, the mother
and daughters play the banjo, the son plays the first fiddle, and the
father the second fiddle--as usual. I know of a Lord Mayor who plays the
trombone, a clergyman who plays the big drum--that's a nice
unpretentious, giddy instrument!--and I know of any number of members of
Parliament who blow their own trumpets!!" And so the notes go brightly
on through many pages.

[Illustration: THE STUDY.]
[Illustration: MR. WEEDON GROSSMITH.]

"This," explained my host, "is a fair specimen of the method I employ in
preparing a drawing-room sketch. As a rule, my audiences of that class
are capital. I always love a well-dressed audience, it is so cheerful.
You mayn't perhaps get as much applause as you do from the sixpenny
gallery, but then applause often spoils your point. Once, however, I
remember singing at a private house in the country to an odd assortment
of people. I was informed that the party followed a wedding which had
taken place in the morning. If it had followed a funeral it could not
have been more gloomy and depressed than it was. I played the piano and
the fool for three-quarters of an hour, and anything more dismal than
the result it would be impossible to conceive. A temptation seized me
suddenly, and I said: 'Ladies and gentlemen,--I am going to reveal to
you a secret. Pray don't let it go any further. This is supposed to be a
comic entertainment. I don't expect you to laugh at it in the least; but
if, during the next sketch, you would only once oblige me with a society
smile, it would give me a great deal of encouragement.' The audience for
a moment were dumbfounded. They first began to titter, then to laugh,
and actually to roar, and for a time I could not proceed with the
sketch. They were transformed into a capital and enthusiastic audience,
and the hostess told me that both her guests and herself were most
grateful to me. I am sometimes amused with the little eccentricities of
people who wish to secure my services for their parties. A gentleman
once wrote to me to entertain some friends of his, and, added he, 'I
trust that your sketches are strictly _comme il faut_, as I have several
young daughters.' I was so immensely tickled by this that, rightly or
wrongly, I replied that my entertainments _were_ as they should be, for
I was recently married, and hoped myself to have several young
daughters. He wrote thanking me for this assurance, and I was to
consider myself accordingly engaged. There is a story I tell in my book
which will bear repetition: A young gentleman once called upon me. He
explained that he was acting as a sort of ambassador for a friend of
his, Mrs. ----, of Mayfair, who wished me to dine at her house. I
replied that I had not the honour of the lady's acquaintance, and,
though appreciating her kind invitation, I did not see how I could very
well avail myself of it. He said that Prince Somebody or other and La
Comtesse de So-and-so would be dining there, and Mrs. ---- would be so
pleased if I would join the party, and sing a little song after dinner.
'Oh,' I said, 'if Mrs. ---- wishes to engage me professionally, that is
another matter, and if I am at liberty, I will come with much pleasure.'
'Well,' said the ambassador, 'I fancy Mrs. ---- is under the impression
that if she includes you in her dinner party it is an understood thing
that you sing afterwards.' 'I am afraid I do not understand that,' I
said. 'It would not pay me to do so. I only consume about ten shillings
worth of food and wine, and my terms are more than that.' There," said
Mr. Grossmith, "could you have believed that anyone would have been so
inconceivably mean and caddish?"

[Illustration: OLD ENGRAVINGS.]
[Illustration: MR. GEORGE GROSSMITH.]
[Illustration: MR. GEO. GROSSMITH, JUN.]

"I have had some curious experiences on tour," he went on. "That is hard
work, if you like. I have gone a four months' tour without missing a
night. It takes it out of one terribly. But it is very paying work. In
the South of England I have made as much as L300 a week. My friends
tried to frighten me as to the apathy of my Scotch audiences; as a
matter of fact, I have no better audiences anywhere. I like performing
to country audiences. I am never nervous as I am apt to be at St.
James's, where there are a number of my friends. And it is on my country
tours that I have many curious experiences. Amateurs invariably call at
the hotel to see me, and to ask my advice as to their powers of
recitation. Some are quite hopeless, and I haven't the heart to condemn
them utterly, or to go beyond 'I tell you quite candidly, since you ask
me, that I have heard better.' As a rule they are very quiet and modest,
but now and again one encounters some fearful specimens. I remember once
at a country town, which we will call Mudborough, a flashy young cad, in
a very loud suit, called to see me with a parcel under his arm. He had
come, he told me, to learn my opinion of his singing. He further
informed me that he was known as 'the Mudborough Grossmith.' He didn't
have the courtesy to take off his hat; he walked up and down my room,
whistling, singing, and handing me over now and again specimens of his
powers as a water-colour painter. I looked at them. At last, tired of
the idiot and his airs, I said, 'I hope your musical sketches are better
than you water-colour sketches.' Nothing, however, could snub this
fellow. He proceeded straightway to sing me an improved version of 'See
me Dance the Polka.' 'Do your audience like it?' I asked. 'I should
think they did,' he replied; 'I will let you have that last verse if you
like.' I thanked him sarcastically, and at last he withdrew. I have,
however, come across some real talent in this way. For instance, that
admirable actor and entertainer, Eric Lewis, is a _protege_ of mine, and
you could not have a better man than he. Another amusing incident
occurred at Southsea. My secretary was in a shop one day, and he
overheard three ladies discussing the respective merits of Corney Grain
and myself. Two of them were for Corney Grain and one was for me.
Finding at last that the odds were too strong for her, she departed with
this final shot: 'Well, never mind, Mr. Corney Grain can't jump on to a
piano,' referring to my imitation of Minnie Palmer."


Replying to a question I put to him as to his theatrical experiences,
Mr. Grossmith told me that it was in the November of 1877 that he
received the following letter:--

"Beefsteak Club,

"King William Street,

"Tuesday Night.

"Dear Mr. Grossmith,--Are you inclined to go on the stage for a time?
There is a part in the new piece I am doing with Gilbert which I think
you would play admirably. I can't find a good man for it. Let me have a
line, or come to Albert Mansions to-morrow, after 4; or Thursday,
before 2.30.

"Yours sincerely,




"This was a great moment in my life, although at the time my father,
whose good judgment I valued much, was of opinion that I was not very
successful as an actor. Sullivan, however, who had heard me give a
musical sketch at a dinner party, was of the contrary opinion, and felt
sure that I should suit him. It appears he and Arthur Cecil were both
writing letters at the Beefsteak, when the former said, 'I can't find a
fellow for this opera.' Cecil said, 'I wonder if Grossmith--' Before he
had finished the sentence, Arthur Sullivan said, 'The very man!' And so
I was engaged. I am much indebted to these two Arthurs," continued the
bright little man with a laugh. "I reverence the very name of Arthur. I
remember when Gilbert wanted to engage me for the part of _John
Wellington Wells_, though I saw the part would suit me to perfection, I
said to him, 'I should have thought you required a fine man with a fine
voice for the part of a magician.' I can still see Gilbert's humorous
expression as he replied, 'That is just what we _don't_ want.' I played
_Sir Joseph Porter_ in 'Pinafore' every night for nearly two years. Long
runs don't affect the nerves of the actors nearly as much as they affect
the performance. Constant repetition begets mechanism, and that is a
terrible enemy to contend against. I make a point of playing my best to
a bad house; for it is a monstrous thing to slur through one's work
because the stalls are empty, and thereby punish those who _have_ come
for the fault of those who _have not_. Still, I repeat it, constant
repetition is a dreadful thing. Fancy playing 'Pinafore,' as I did, for
700 nights without missing a single performance!"


As he said this Mr. Grossmith led the way out of the room in which we
had been talking, and which he told me was his own special sanctum,
"into which no one is ever allowed to come except my wife, for anyone
rushing in here when I was composing or thinking out a sketch would
inevitably drive every single idea from my head," and we went upstairs
together. Here in the drawing-room he set himself down to a spinet which
bore the date of 1770, and he struck a few exceedingly sweet-sounding,
if slightly tinkling, chords from it. "And this," said he, "is the
oldest _Broadwood_ in England. You can see for yourself the date--1795."
Downstairs he showed me a beautiful model of a steam engine, upon which
he was enabled to ride, and which he could drive himself. "I thoroughly
understand locomotives," said he, as he pointed to a shelf full of all
the works upon the subject which he had been able to discover.

* * * * *




"Left dark among mine enemies."

Long ago, the Fairies often stole children; they chose the prettiest,
and carried them to Fairyland--the Kingdom of Tyrnanoge,--leaving
hideous Changelings instead. In those days no man had call to be ashamed
of his offspring, since it a baby was deformed or idiotic it was known
to be a Changeling.


It is sixty years now since old Mike Lonergan, who lived in a hovel in
Moher Village, was robbed of his child. It was his wife first found out
the theft, for she had seen her unborn son in a dream, and he was
beautiful; so when she saw the sickly and ugly baby, she knew that he
was not hers, and that the Fairies had stolen the child of her dream.
Many advised her to roast the Changeling on the turf-fire, but the White
Witch of Moher said it would be safer to leave him alone. So the child
Andy grew up as a stranger in his father's hovel and had a dreary time
of it, he got little food and no kindness. The Lonergans gave him
neither offence nor welcome, hoping that he might see fit to go home to
Tyrnanoge and yet bear them no grudge. He grew up an odd wizened little
wretch, and everyone shunned him. The children loathed him because they
were afraid of him, so they hooted him from a distance, or stoned him
from behind walls.

Indeed, at this time his only ally was the pig that lived in one corner
of the hovel. The pig was a friendly animal, his front half was a dull
white and the other half black, and this gave him a homely look as if he
was sitting in his shirt-sleeves. Andy would shrink into the corner, and
sit cuddled there with one arm round the pig's neck. Old Mike Lonergan
took to drink, and spent every evening at the Shebeen--small blame to
him--for how could a man be expected to stay at home with a Changeling
sitting in a corner and staring at him?

When the pig was driven to the Fair at Ennistimon, Andy was left
friendless, and then--in all winds and weather--was to be found on the
Cliffs of Moher. Sometimes he stopped out all night, till hunger would
bring him back when the Lonergans were rejoicing at his disappearance.
He knew every inch of the Cliffs, and spent half his time lying on the
edge of the grey precipice, looking down at the sea, six hundred feet
below, or watching the clouds of sea-birds; he found new paths down the
cliff-side and clambered like a goat; he knew where the gulls nested,
but never robbed them, and the caves where the seals lived, and the
seals shouldered their way through the water close by him, looking at
him with soft eyes.

When he was about fourteen, the Famine Year came; fever and "The Hunger"
swept Clare. The fever took Lonergan and his wife, and they were buried
in the dead-pit at Liscannor; it left Andy, but it left him blind. Then
the neighbours began to have their doubts whether he was a Changeling
after all; for the Fairies are faithful, and who ever heard of a
Changeling being left blind and penniless? If he was only mortal he had
been cruelly treated, so to make amends they gave him the fiddle that
had belonged to the "Dark" Man--that is the blind man--of St. Bridget's
Well, who had lately starved. There was still a feeling that he was
unfit for a Holy Well, so he took up a post at the Liscannor
Cross-roads, and there levied a toll on passers with the professional
heart-broken cry:

"Remember the Dark Man! For God's sake, remember the Dark Man!"

* * * * *

For nearly twenty years Andy haunted the Cross-roads, he came to be
honoured as one of the institutions of Moher, though the folk considered
there was much that was uncanny about him, he was so silent, and he
hated the smell of whisky. Now those were the times when Cornelius
Desmond ruled Moher in the old open-handed haphazard way, never
troubling penniless tenants. But "Corney" died and the daisies grew over
him, so the estate was managed by an agent who made short work of
paupers, and evicted "Dark" Andy from his ancestral hovel. Andy did not
seem to know his misfortune. He spent the day of the eviction, as usual,
at the Cross-roads, and came back at night to a ruin. His neighbour,
Larry Ronan the blacksmith, was grieved to see that he took the change
as a matter of course, and that after groping in the four corners of the
cabin he sat on the window-ledge as if unaware that nothing was left of
his home but the walls.

Next day it was rumoured that Bridget McCaura, of Moher Farm, had
sheltered Dark Andy. Bridget was a warm woman, a "woman of three cows,"
a masterful old maid, who in her time had refused many a pretty fellow,
perhaps because she suspected them of hankering after her live stock,
her poultry, and her sixty acres of rocks. Then the old parish priest,
Father Peter Flannery, rode over to see her. Bridget was called out of
her house to speak to him; he was afraid to dismount. She stood in the
narrow gateway in front of her farm, with her arms akimbo, ready to
defend her home against all comers. Peter's heart trembled; he has a
great dread of angry women.

"Is it thrue?" he asked--and was so frightened that he looked even
sterner than usual--"is it thrue what I'm afther hearing, Bridget
McCaura, that ye've taken the Dark Man, Lonergan, to live with ye--to
live in the Farm?"

"Is it thrue? 'Tis so," said Bridget.

"But ye're not going to keep him, are ye now?"

"Keep him? I am that," said Bridget.

Peter screwed up his courage and told her warily, that though it was
well-meant of her, and "'tis you have the kind warm heart, Bridget me
dear," still, that propriety forbade it.

He was afraid to look at her as he spoke. Bridget was purple.

"What! a misfortnit ould omadhaun the likes of that?" she cried.

"I know, I know," said Peter (this is a pet phrase of his and usually
means that he does not know). "I know, I know, but 'tis because ye're a
lone woman, tell me now are ye listening to me? If ye'd been married
now, 'twould have been another thing."

"Married!" cried Bridget with infinite scorn--"Married! If that's all,
I'll marry the craythur to-morrow!"

And so Dark Andy was married to the richest woman in Moher. He seemed
indifferent; as for Bridget, she had made up her mind to shelter him,
and there was an end of it, she took pleasure in astounding her


There was never such excitement in Clare as when those banns were read.
Everyone saw that poor Bridget McCaura--"dacint woman"--had been
bewitched. All the old stories about Dark Andy came to life, there was
no room for doubt now, and the bravest unbelievers trembled before him.
There was many a woman would never hear his name without crossing
herself, and he got the credit of every misfortune between Kilkee and
Kinvarra, though some doubted whether a blind man could have the Evil
Eye. It was felt that he should be asked to give up his post by the
Cross-roads, since it was inconvenient for the neighbours to have to
climb two stone walls to avoid passing him. However, no one could be
found to suggest this to him, so he still sat there daily, for he liked
to feel that he was earning his own livelihood.

* * * * *

One rough afternoon during my first visit to Clare I was caught in a
storm of rain, and took refuge at the Liscannor Cross-roads under a
thick clump of trees that are stunted and bent eastward by cowering from
the sea-wind. As I reached them I heard a shrill cry, "Remember the Dark
Man!" Then I saw the blind beggarman sitting huddled in a ragged
great-coat so much too big for him that till he stood up I did not see
how tiny he was. He had a doleful peaked face, set in a shock of grey
hair. By him sat a little brown dog--the queerest of mongrels--with a
tin can tied round his neck.

Andy was friendly that day, and talked eagerly in a shrill, stammering
voice. I found later that he was wretched in still weather, and loved
the malicious rush of the rain; he was happiest when the wind rattled in
his ears and the rain whipped his face. "Call that rain?" he said, "sure
th' air is flooded, an' ye might as well swim as walk."

Many times after that I went out of my way on my long solitary walks to
pass the Cross-roads, but as often as not he was glum and silent, and
then Bonaparte, sharing his mood, would growl like a small thunderstorm.
The seat was well chosen, for the cowering trees are like a shed over
it, and there is a pleasant landscape in front (though that mattered
little to Andy), a landscape of dim green moors--with brown stains on
them where sedge grows and black shadows where bushes huddle in
clefts--chequered by a grey net of low walls, dotted with the white
gables of cabins, and framed by a wavering line of hills.

Sometimes I found him playing his fiddle to keep himself company, but he
stopped when he heard me, and, to tell the truth, I was glad of it, for
his playing was uncanny. Sometimes I met him shambling along the brink
of the Cliffs--a grotesque little figure, with his old shapeless hat,
his huge coat flapping behind him, and the mighty blackthorn he
carried--he knew the ground so well that he walked as if he could see
(indeed, he saw more than I could, for while to me the breakers were
only streaks of light, he spoke as if he was close to them on the wet
weedy rocks), or I came on him lying by the edge, listening to the
grumbling of the breakers and the cries of the gulls.


Mostly he was unsociable, he shrank from his neighbours because they had
been cruel to him when they were children, and the dislike was more than
returned; yet I think that, but for the loneliness of his whole life, he
would have been friendly enough. No one knew more of folklore--I think
he half believed that he was a Changeling, and found comfort in the
thought of that former life when he was one of the merry "Little Good
People"--and sure old Mike Lonergan and his wife ought to have known
best. He knew the ways of every ghost in the county, and it was even
said that he was on speaking terms with the Headless Man who haunted
Liscannor. Of course he knew all about Fairies. When the fallen leaves
scurried past his feet he knew that the "Little Good People" were
playing football, when the wind whispered in the leaves overhead he
heard them chatting, and when it whined in the creaking bare branches,
heard the poor little folk crying with cold and bewailing the days when
they found shelter by snug firesides and sat there unseen but not
unwelcome. Once, before the world grew hard, they gathered in the
cabins, and the roughest fare grew pleasanter, the saddest hearts
lighter, from their good wishes; but no one cares for them now, and they
cannot rest in unfriendly houses.


As he grew older, he talked more of them, grew more moody and restless,
could not sit quiet while the wind was up, and spent night after night
out of doors. My friend Father Peter Flannery, who is my chief authority
for this history, told me that often, riding on his sick calls in stormy
weather, he met Andy staggering along the rough roads.

Last year on November Eve--the night when the Fairies have power, and
the dead wake and dance reels with them--the blind beggarman started out
from the Farm. An Atlantic gale was shattering seas against the Cliffs,
the air was salt with foam, and throbbed with the pulse of the breakers.
Bridget tried in vain to stop him; he said the "Little Good People" were
calling him. She watched him disappear into the darkness, the whimpering
of his fiddle died into the shrieks of the wind. "'Tis a quare divil, he
is," she said, "God help him!"

Once in the night she thought she heard a snatch of the "Fairies' Reel";
but Andy never came back. Next morning they found Bonaparte whining on
the edge of the Cliffs; there was no sign of his master. He must have
gone over the Cliffs in the darkness, but the waves gave no token.

Some folk in Moher believe that the Fairies took back their child, and
that the old blind fiddler lives now in the Kingdom of Tyrnanoge, and
makes music for their dances in that enchanted country where the old
grow young and the blind see. Some say that he still haunts the
Cross-roads, and only a week ago, Larry Ronan, coming back at night from
Ennistimon Fair, saw a black shadowy figure under the black trees, and
heard a heart-broken voice cry "Remember the Dark Man!" Larry's natural
surprise at this accounted for his being found next morning asleep in
the ditch. But it is agreed in Moher that Andy left life on November
Eve, whether he became the playfellow of the Fairies or the plaything of
the waves.

* * * * *





[Illustration: MR. IRVING AS "HAMLET."
(_From the Portrait by EDWIN LONG._)]


The innumerable reviews of Mr. Irving by literary and artistic experts
have left room enough for an amateur estimate by a man who is accustomed
to regard human life mainly from a religious standpoint. A complete
review of the Stage by the Pulpit could hardly be the work of a single
pen; for my own part, therefore, I can only make a very small
contribution to such a review by indicating a few points which have
occurred to me in the study of one particular actor. At once, however,
the question arises, Is Mr. Irving a man who can be thus summarily
characterised? In a dramatic sense, are there not many Mr. Irvings? When
a man can act "The Two Roses" and "The Dead Heart" with equal effect,
when he can at will be as vulgar as _Robert Macaire_, or as dignified as
_Cardinal Wolsey;_ when he can be either as young as Hamlet or as old as
Lear, the inquiry as to his plurality becomes natural and pertinent. For
my part, I rank Mr. Irving the comedian above Mr. Irving the tragedian,
just as I rank Nature above Art: each may be highest in its own way, yet
the one may have a charm which the other cannot boast. Mr. Irving's
tragedy sometimes requires working up, but his comedy is spontaneous and
immediate. The needful working up of tragedy is no fault of the actor.
Tragedy should hardly ever begin at once. The murder may come too soon.
Premature rage is followed by untimely laughter. _Digby Grant_ begins at
once, and can be his best self in the very first sentence, but _Macbeth_
must move towards his passion by finely-graded ascents. In Mr. Irving's
exquisite representation, _Macbeth's_ anxieties and perturbations, his
rapid alternations of courage and cowardice, make delicate but obvious
record of themselves in deepening the grey of his hair, and ploughing
more deeply the lines of his face. A comedy may be judged scene by
scene, almost sentence by sentence, but a tragedy can be truly estimated
only when viewed in final perspective.

[Illustration: "A LITTLE CHEQUE."

Judged by this test, I have no hesitation in regarding Mr. Irving's
_King Lear_ as the finest creation of his genius. This is an instance in
which the actor creates the piece. Shakespeare is, as a poet and
playwright, at his worst in "King Lear." Yet his accessories are
wonderful in variety and suggestiveness. Only Shakespeare could have
created the heath, and have so ordered the old King's passion, as to
make his madness part of the very thunder and lightning. That was
Shakespeare's magnificent conception, and Mr. Irving's rendering is
worthy of its tempestuous grandeur. How to talk up to the storm, how to
pierce the tumult with the cries of human distress, how to escape the
ridiculous and the incongruous, how to be a King on the desolate heath,
and to make the royalty gleam through the angry darkness, were the
problems, and Mr. Irving solved them one and all, even with redundance
of faculty and skill. At the end of the heath scene the man is more
remembered than the storm. It has been objected that in the first scene
Mr. Irving's _Lear_ is too old and feeble. I venture to think otherwise.
I further venture to think that the King's age and the King's imbecility
have both been accurately appreciated. A man at eighty, a man athirst
for flattery, a man who would pay a kingdom in exchange for adulation,
must have outlived all that is best and strongest in human nature. He
comes upon the stage as a wreck. His vanity has eaten up his sagacity,
so that she, _Goneril_ or _Regan_, who can flatter most, can lie most,
and can play the devil best, shall fare most lavishly at his hands. Is
it not well partly to excuse these excesses of self-valuation by such
mitigations as can be found in the infirmity of old age? Even in an
elderly man they would have been treated with contempt; they could only
be endured in one whose eighty years had been doubled by the hardness of
his life lot.

In "Henry VIII." Mr. Irving had little to do. In that play the labour
and the glory fell upon another, to the infinite delight of the public.
In "Lear," Mr. Irving has everything to do. From beginning to end there
is only one character. Even the fascinating _Cordelia_ is but a silver
cloud on the far horizon. "The King is coming" is the cry of the play.
His madness is more, as to display and effect, than the sense of all the
others. The scene is stiff and cold until his wild hair is observed to
approach the front, and then the whole spectacle is alight with feeling
and purpose. The other actors are not to blame that, to a large extent,
they are thrown into the shade; indeed, they are to be warmly
congratulated upon their self-suppression and their passive sympathy. It
is a hard task to play the part of two heartless and treacherous
daughters, and a pitiful fate to have to represent the villainy of
_Edmund_, yet all this was admirably done. It cannot be an easy thing to
come forward to play the villain well, for the better the dramatic
villain is played the more is the actor compelled to recognise in his
execration the exact degree of his success. So admirably can Mr. Irving
himself play the villain, that it is difficult to believe that any
godparents ever, on his unconscious behalf, renounced the pomps and
vanities of this wicked world.

In many minor parts--or along the subsidiary lines of great parts--Mr.
Irving's subtlest power comes into effective play. Who, for example, can
be more gentle or more graceful with a little child? Who could hug the
"fool" more fondly than old _King Lear_? Then recall his wonderful
recognitions of old friends. When, in "The Dead Heart," he is liberated
from the Bastille, how old times slowly but surely dawn into
consciousness, and how quickly the dawn hastens into the noontide of the
tenderest fellowship and highest festival of joy. It is verily a
resurrection. After eighteen years' entombment this political Lazarus
comes forth to liberty, to leadership, to dominance.

In "Lear," there are two wonderful instances of recognition, the
recognition of _Gloster_ and of _Cordelia_. _Gloster_ is blind and
bandaged. _Cordelia_ has been long out of sight--if not in actual days
yet in depth of feeling--and the King himself is demented. Little by
little things shape themselves in the memory and fancy of the King.
There is something confusedly familiar in the voice of _Gloster_ which,
tone by tone, settles into recognition. In the case of _Cordelia_ the
father gradually subdues the King, and instinct takes the place of
reason; then, in a fine strain, comes the identification:

"Do not laugh at me,
For, as I am a man, I think this lady
To be my child Cordelia."

The utterance of these words by Mr. Irving is simply thrilling. The
tones, the glances, the approach, the embrace, lift up the words into
new light, keen and tender as the brightness of a summer morning. The
words themselves are by no means striking, are, indeed, the merest
commonplace, but, uttered with the natural pathos of a consummate actor,
they carry the play to its most subduing climax. The humanity and the
genius satisfy expectation in its most eager and jealous temper. Failure
at that point would have ruined the play. Which was better, _Lear_ or
_Cordelia_, in that critical action? We must first settle, Which is
better, the star of morning or the morning star?


* * * * *

As I opened this brief review with a reference to the religious
standpoint, it may be well now to ask how the Church is to regard the
Stage as an educational institution? The Stage cannot be put down. It
responds to an instinct which is ineradicable, and which need not be
ignoble. The parables of the New Testament are the sublimest recognition
of that instinct. The drama is older than the theatre. Much of the
greatest preaching has been dramatic, by which I mean that it has
touched human life through the medium of story and parable, coloured and
toned by a living fancy. Sometimes, too truly, the dramatic in preaching
has degenerated into impossible anecdotes, most of them originating in
the Far West of America, yet even such anecdotes testify to the
overpowering force of the dramatic instincts when limited to their most
vulgar conditions. My submission is, that a properly-conducted stage
might be the most powerful ally of the pulpit. I advance upon this
submission, and contend that the function of the preacher is infinitely
superior to the function of the actor. Whatever the preacher has to say
that is distinctive he can trace to what he believes to be a Divine and
authoritative origin. I hold the great preacher to be a spiritual
medium. In his next evolution he will simply tell the people whatever
may have been given him in the same hour to say. This does not mean that
indolence will supersede industry. Through the indolent man God sends no
messages. The true prophet will always be preparing himself. By
learning, by meditation, by self-discipline, the true prophet will
prepare his heart for the incoming of the Eternal Spirit, and the glory
of Heaven will be as a fire on the altar of the honest heart. Art
preachers we have had in too great abundance. Mechanical talkers have
brought upon the pulpit the disrepute of dulness. The age now waits for
the messenger in whose loving heart there is the glow and the radiance
of divinest sympathy. The great actor himself would be the first to
admit that the preacher cannot trace his own public secondariness to the
poverty of his themes. Where the preacher falls behind the actor, it is
because the preacher does not realise the majesty and the tenderness,
the vehemence and the urgency, of his own message.

* * * * *




I was a man born to misfortune. In fact, my first misfortune, the death
of my father, happened three months before I came into the world. When I
did duly appear, and was giving a proper howl of disgust, a fresh
misfortune fell upon me; my mother departed to join my father, leaving
me in the lurch in a vale of unavailing tears. I should have preferred
going with my family to that blessed Utopia where there are neither
births, deaths, marriages, divorces, breaches of promise, nor return
tickets; only, unfortunately, I was not invited. So I became a
posthumous orphan, soothed by Daffy's elixir and the skim-milk of human
kindness. The milk was none too sweet, human kindness did not spare the
rod, and I firmly believe it was Daffy's elixir that turned my hair red.
However, I grew up at length into stand-up collars and tail coats, and
at the age of seventeen springs was adopted (on trial) by a maiden aunt
of seven-and-forty autumns. Like a gleam of sunshine hope flashed into
my loveless life, lighting up my path to fortune. But it was only the
glimmer of an _ignis fatuus_, which led me into a quicksand and snuffed
itself out in a fog.


[Illustration: HIS MAIDEN AUNT.]

My relative had plenty of money, and plenty of other equally good
qualities in the long run, no doubt; but the period of my adoption was
too short to make sure of either the one or the other. If the wealthy
maiden was really a worthy soul she did not let her nephew know it.
Corporeally she was angular and iron-grey, with a summary tongue and
wintry temper, chastened by a fondness for feline favourites. Unluckily,
I was always falling foul of the latter, and my aunt continually fell
foul of me in consequence. Crabbed age and youth could not live together
in our case on account of cats. Age, as represented by the mature
virgin, adored the brutes; youth, in the shape of a sprouting
hobbledehoy, abhorred them altogether, and one evil minded black Tom in
particular. My aunt called him Beauty, in happy ignorance that all her
household called him a Beast. I admire beauty in the abstract; I also
like it in the concrete; and in the concreted form of youthful feminine
humanity I love it. But that feline black Beauty was the most outrageous
misnomer unhanged. I had tried to hang him several times, down in the
cellar in the dead of night; but his patent cast-iron neck set
suspensory science at defiance, and Beauty triumphantly refused to give
up the ghost. At first, he kicked and fought against it lustily, and
yelled murder with all his might; but after a little practice the
malefactor acted more philosophically, regarding the performance quite
as part of his nocturnal programme. He never allowed it to make him late
for breakfast, nor take away his appetite. Each morning, after
execution, the moment the bell rang for prayers, in marched Beauty with
a swollen head well on one side, growling anathemas from somewhere round
the corner all prayer-time; after which the escaped convict devoured
breakfast with the voracity of a stiffnecked cannibal.



Finding the beast utterly unhangable, I determined to try drowning. My
nature is by no means a cruel one, quite the reverse; but Beauty's cup
of iniquity had long been full to the brim, and running over into the
saucer. He had gulped down my canaries like pills, poached my pigeons,
fricasseed my rabbits, and made himself an abominable beast generally;
and had now committed a crime that capped everything.

My cock bantam, which had won first prize at the Slocum-Pogis poultry
show, mysteriously disappeared. Jim, the gardener's boy, and I hunted
everywhere without finding any trace till we sighted Beauty. The beast
was seated on my verbena bed, with fearfully distended stomach, waving
my poor little bantam's tail feathers from between his teeth. Had I been
an ancient Egyptian high priest, and Beauty at the top of the tree of
holy cats, his diabolical godship should have been made into a mummy
instanter. As things were, he had to be drowned forthwith.


At a cabinet council in the coal cellar, composed of the cook, footman,
Jim, and myself, all the executive details were arranged; my aunt being,
of course, kept in happy ignorance of our intentions. As soon as my
respected relative uttered the preliminary snore of her afternoon
siesta, Beauty made an involuntary exit out of the house, all the lower
doors and windows having been carefully fastened. Then commenced a
silent cat-hunt, a serio-comic drama in dumb show, with a crowded
audience breathlessly gazing from the windows. The scenery was a series
of dissolving views, beginning on a flower-decked lawn, and ending at a
mill-pool a mile or so away from the audience. Beauty played leading
actor with considerable activity, notwithstanding the drawback of being
handicapped with an undigested bantam. He flew over dozens of
flower-beds, through all the outhouses, over the stable, out into the
park, up and down all the tallest trees, and all over the country, till
he took refuge in the deserted old mill. There we wriggled him into an
ancient sack, and tied him up in the harmonious company of a couple of
brickbats. Then we committed the body to the deep. The burial service
was short, but hearty. "One--two--three, and away!" sung out in unison,
was the special form for the occasion, accompanied by Beauty's farewell
blessing as we "awayed" him into the silent depths of the mill-dam.
There was a splash, a shrill cry from a frightened moorhen, a short
jubilate from Jim, to which I piously added "amen," and all was over.
Jim ran home with half-a-sovereign in his pocket, while I walked back to
dress for dinner. On the stairs I met my aunt, already in evening array,
and looking hungry. I knew the sign, and stealthily tried to
vanish, vainly.


"Late again, Samuel!" she remarked, with a freezing spectacle-gleam that
fixed me to the stair-carpet--my right foot two steps above the left.
"You have just come in, I suppose. Have you seen Beauty?"

[Illustration: "LATE AGAIN, SAMUEL!"]

Horror! Could she suspect anything? I felt my face growing the colour of
my hair, and my tongue frozen solid.

"Can't you answer?" she went on wrathfully. "And can't you stand up

I pulled my legs together and commenced to stammer.

"I--I saw Beauty out--outside, aunt, in the garden," I managed to mutter.

"Which way was he going?"

"Why, I think he was running towards the house, aunt."

[Illustration: THIRTY MILES AN HOUR.]

And then the remembrance of how he _was_ running--thirty miles an hour,
with tail on end and ears flat to his head, with Jim and my long-legged
self racing in rear--made me choke with laughter I was forced to
swallow. But my aunt's eyes were on me, and her gold-rimmed barnacles
blazed through me, so I suffocated in silence.

"Don't stand making faces like an idiot. Go and dress, and be quick,"
snapped my loving relative, as she marched away downstairs and I flew to
the region above.

My bedroom door was partly open, and I dashed in hastily, pulling off my
things as I went.

[Illustration: DRESSING FOR DINNER.]

My evening clothes were laid out ready on the bed, and--what was that on
my shirt?--a black mass of--something moving!--some animal! Why, heavens
and earth, it was the ghost of--that beast Beauty! It was Beauty
himself! I ran for the poker; Beauty rushed out of the door. Confound
that rotten old sack!

I was late for dinner, and found Beauty seated in my chair, sleek and
dry, with a ravenously whetted appetite. My aunt was so pleased with her
favourite's improved appearance that she became quite affable, even to
me. I was informed that as I had not been looking well lately I might go
for a few days' change to the seaside; the salubrious air of
Muddiford-on-the-Ooze would just suit me. What a blessing! To have
escaped from those ice-gleaming spectacles and from that resuscitated
beast Beauty I would gladly have gone to Jericho, much more to
Muddiford-on-the-Ooze. Then my aunt continued her course of
instructions, with the nearest approach to a smile I had ever seen
on her face.


"You will enjoy yourself, I am sure, Samuel, and you will also be able
to show what pains you can take to please me," she said, sipping her
first glass of Burgundy with approving relish. "There is to be a show at
Muddiford the day after to-morrow, at which I intend exhibiting, and you
will be able to manage everything for me; so mind you are careful to do
your best."

"I shall be most delighted," I declared gushingly. "What show is it? And
what can I have the pleasure of taking charge of for you, my dear aunt?"

"It's the Grand All-England Cat Show, and you will take Beauty; and I
shall be greatly disappointed if you do not bring me back the first
prize. So be on your best behaviour, Samuel, or perhaps you may live to
regret it."

My jaw dropped, and I thought I should have slid under the table. Good
heavens! It was that beast Beauty who was to go for a holiday, while I
was to act as the infernal fiend's keeper! O my prophetic soul--my aunt!
But there was no help for it; I was bound in bonds of gold.

On the following day, Beauty and I were duly driven to the station, the
former being luxuriously nested in a small hamper specially furnished
for the occasion. About half-way on the road, just as we had mounted a
long, steep hill, the cat managed to roll his residence from the stern
of the dog-cart and trundle himself half-way home again. Luckily, he
screeched blue murder at the tip-top of his voice, or we might not have
missed the beast. As it was, his cyclical retrogression made us just too
late for the train, and we had to wait two hours for the next. So I
seated myself on the hamper--like Patience on the proverbial
monument--and beheld the coachman depart homewards, with a sympathetic
hat-touching salute, leaving me with a gloomy conviction of coming
misfortune. The train, when it did arrive, was tolerably empty, and I
secured a vacant first-class. For a time all went happily; then the cat
commenced groaning.


My aunt having solemnly ordered me to give the brute dinner, I now
prepared to stop his mouth with cold chicken. While I was cautiously
unfastening the hamper lid, Beauty remained quiet as a dormouse; and
then he proceeded personally to assist the unfastening, with a
vengeance. There was a bouncing volcanic eruption, a blood-curdling
howl, a mixed-up whirling round the carriage, and then--smash!--bang
through the window went Beauty!--leaving me doubled up on the seat,
holding out half a chicken. It was a forty-feline-power hurricane, while
it lasted; and drops of perspiration trickled down my nose on to the
chicken, at which I sat stupidly staring. After a dazed pause I
staggered to the broken window and looked out. There was Beauty, with a
perpendicular tail like a young fir-tree, going like great guns in
exactly the wrong direction. We had just come through a long tunnel, and
the last I saw of my aunt's pet demon was as he dived headlong into its
Hades-like mouth. And I had to take home first prize for him from the
Grand All-England Cat Show!




When the 4.40 down express arrived at Muddiford-on-the-Ooze station, an
auburn-haired youth limply emerged from a first-class carriage. In his
arms he bore a basket, and his grey-green eyes gleamed with incipient
catalepsy. Yes, such would undoubtedly have been my description had I
posed as the momentary hero of a penny novelette. I forgot all about my
luggage, imbecilely clinging to the late habitation of the lost beast
Beauty, wandering I knew not why nor whither. Outside the station, round
a quiet corner, my steps were arrested by the surprising sight
of--Beauty!--the very identical devil himself! There stood the
unhangable, undrownable, hurricane-creating beast, looking as serene as
a newly-born black cherub, washing his fiendish face! I approached on
tiptoe, breathlessly, with the basket behind my back and the half
chicken extended as a peaceable card of introduction. He scented it
instantly--my aunt always keeping Beauty's tit-bits until sufficiently
gamey to suit his highly epicurean taste.


With a finishing toe-touch to his whiskers, he amicably trotted up to me
and--yes!--actually rubbed against my new trousers! What could have
happened to him! Had his run through the tunnel turned him out virtuous?
And how could he possibly have got here? Experience has shown that a
leopard can change his spots, and a negro can grow spotted; but could a
diabolical cat become even as a sucking dove and fly over twelve miles
all in the space of twenty minutes? Impossible! So I put on a pair of
folder-glasses and scrutinised this new arrival doubtingly. No; it was
_not_ Beauty--not nearly ugly enough. It was a twin, but larger,
blacker, sleeker, a million times more amiable, and very much fatter.
Ah!--ha, ha!--hurrah!--happy thought! Why not? I would. And, thereupon,
I instantly did it.

Placing the basket gently on the ground, I opened the lid and put in the
cold chicken, when lo! in jumped the amiable twin. Half an hour later
that basket, that heaven-descended twin, and that successful chicken,
were safely deposited in custody of the cat-show steward, with the
errant Beauty's entry ticket affixed. If the steward had never seen the
real original he would never discover the difference; and if he did
happen to be acquainted with the genuine article he could but think that
the beast was surprisingly improved, and might even award it first prize
for having turned over such a notable new leaf. And for the same reason,
my aunt ought to be highly delighted at her favourite's favourable
transformation. My heart was lightened of its oppressive troubles, as my
hands were free from their feline load. With a hearty appetite I ate an
excellent dinner at the hotel, went to the theatre, and turned into bed
thankful for all fortune's favours.


During the two following days, carefully steering clear of the cat-show,
I enjoyed my freedom gaily, and had--what our three-thousand-miles-
removed cousins would call--real good time. On the third morning a
letter arrived from my aunt, with an enclosure which for the first
moment I took to be a big cheque--a grateful offering, as I hoped, for
services skilfully performed. However, it proved to be merely a second
letter, in writing that was strange to me, and which with some curiosity
I proceeded to peruse. As I unfolded the sheet, a vision suddenly
crossed my mind of that savage beast Beauty; a chilly shiver shot
through my marrow, and I sent the waiter for soda and brandy. It was an
awful thought of what that unkillable cat might do! There he was,
rampaging over a civilised country populated with children and lambs,
and other unprotected innocents, half mad, perhaps, with hunger, where
neither canaries nor pigeons, rabbits or cold chicken were grabbable.
What desperate murders he might commit! And should I be held
responsible? Here the timely arrival of the waiter helped to raise my
spirits by a strong dose of B. and S., and I began the enclosed letter.


It was headed from the cat-show secretary's office. Why, of course, that
charming twin had got first prize, no doubt. Let us see. "Dear Madam,"
so ran the official note, "I beg to call your attention to what I
imagine must, in some way, have been an oversight. Your cat, described
on the entrance form as 'a black male, named Beauty,' which was, on the
evening of its arrival, placed in the class pertaining to the
descriptive form, was found this morning to have presented us with four
remarkably fine kittens. This, of course, necessitated the family's
removal from the male cat class. I have much pleasure in being able to
inform you that both mother and kittens are in the best of health, and
will be carefully attended upon. If you will kindly forward your
instructions respecting their disposal, I shall be greatly obliged."
That was the note, and wildly did the letters dance before my eyes.


[Illustration: GASPING FOR BREATH.]

Having saved myself from fainting by finishing the B. and S., I sat for
some minutes gasping for breath. Then I rubbed my eyes and reread that
awful epistle. Yes--it was so--in solemn, sober black ink! Beauty's twin
had got four fine kittens! Great Jehoshaphat! How could I ever get over
those confounded kittens! It was too late to murder them. And my
aunt--but stop! Let me read her letter; it might suggest something--some
feline legerdemain method of conjuring four fine kittens into a first
prize black male cat. So here goes. And this is how it went: "I always
considered you to be a fool, Samuel, but nothing worse, until now.
Unless the enclosed letter is immediately fully explained, and the
matter set right, I shall plainly let you know what I do think of you
now, and act accordingly. See the secretary, and telegraph me the result
at once." Not much hope in that, worse luck; only a limited respite.

[Illustration: WENT FISHING.]

Away I went to the show, saw the secretary--from a safe distance--and
immediately telegraphed: "Have seen the secretary. Hard at work setting
matters right. Awfully sorry." Then I hired a boat, and went fishing for
the rest of the day. In the evening I wired: "Beauty must have got
changed. Cats now all going home. Found clue and am following up. All
right shortly." But my aunt's patience had expired. Next morning came a
curt note saying she would at once join me, and either rescue Beauty or
settle that secretary. How could I ever face those searching spectacles!
I fled. From a lonely spot on the wilds of Dartmoor I wired: "Am
following clue sharp. Getting close up. Good news next time." Back came
an answer: "Shall be with you to-morrow at noon." At noon next day, I
boarded the mail packet Tongariro, bound from Plymouth to New Zealand.

[Illustration: OFF TO NEW ZEALAND.]

* * * * *





"You can do nothing by despising the past and its products; you
also can do nothing by being too much afraid of them.... Be
content to be a new 'sect,' 'conventicle,' or what not, so long
as you feel that you are _something_, with a life and purpose
of its own, in this tangle of a world."--_Robert Elsmere_.

* * * * *


Is Love a Practical Reality or a Pleasing Fiction?

[Sidenote: Mrs. Lynn Linton thinks there is no doubt as to Love's

Of the desperate reality of the passion there is no doubt; of the
intrinsic value of the thing beloved there may be many. The passion for
which men and women have died stands like a tower four-square to all the
winds of heaven; but how far that tower has been self-created by fancy,
and how much is objectively real, who is the wise man that can
determine? What is Love? We know nothing of its source. Sense and sex
cannot wholly explain its mystery, else would there be no friendship
left among us; and elective affinity is but a dainty carving on the
chancel stalls. The loveliness which makes that special person the
veritable Rose of the World to us exists but in our imagination. It is
no rose that we adore--only at the best a bedeguar, of which the origin
is a disagreeable little insect. We believe in the exquisite harmony of
those atoms which have arranged themselves to form the thing we love.
And we marry our human ideal, expecting the unbroken continuance of that
harmony. But the discord comes; colours clash; the jarring note spoils
the chord; the idol once accepted as of gold and precious stones, proves
to be only common clay, thinly gilt. The diamonds are paste; the pearls
are beads of glass filled with shining fishes' scales; and the love
which we thought would be a practical reality for life, is nothing but a
pleasing fiction, good for its day, and now dead and done with. The
lover sees nothing as it is. Life is distorted between jealousy and
admiration, and the plain teaching of common-sense is as little
understood as the conditions of the fourth dimension or the poetic
aspirations of the Simian tongue. The adored is not a real person; the
happiness anticipated is not practical nor practicable. Both are on
all-fours with the substantiality of a cloud and the serviceable roadway
of a rainbow. Custom, familiarity, daily habits are the sole tests by
which the reality of the thing beloved can be tried--the reality of the
thing beloved and consequent validity of love. Before these tests are
applied, the whole affair is as a fairy dream born of the perfume and
the mystery of night. With the clear cold breath of morning the dream
vanishes, but--what is left? The sigh of the vanishing god?--a tear on
the cheek of Psyche?--the loathing of the man who finds Melusine a
serpent rather than a woman?--or the peaceful joy of the child who
dreams of angels and wakes in its mother's arms?--of those who sleeping
on the ocean wake to find themselves safe in port?

* * * * *

[Sidenote: "Rita" thinks Love is beautiful and wise.]

At one period of life, love is simply an emotion--the outcome of
attraction, or the effect of that vague mystery which surrounds sex. In
this emotional stage the _feeling_ may be real enough, but the passion
is an illusion. A girl is often more in love with Love than with an
actual lover. The youth who beholds his ideal in the First Woman is in
love with the woman herself who for the time (usually very brief)
embodies that ideal. But to the girl and the youth comes an hour when
they are humiliatingly conscious of study wasted on a prettily-bound
work of fiction that for all use and purpose in life is quite valueless.
The edifice of romance is constructed much on the same plan as a child's
castle of cards, and deservedly shares the same fate. That is to say,
the topmost card overbalances the whole structure. It is usually the
hand of Reason that topples over Love's romantic tenement by crowning it
with the card of Common Sense. When we find Love has become a practical
reality, the discovery is often very unpleasant. We would rather not be
unhappy if we had the choice. Unfortunately, we haven't, and find
ourselves in that condition without exactly knowing how we drifted into
it. Drifters often discover Love to be a very practical reality, because
of unpleasant consequences. It is decidedly humiliating to find
ourselves in the toils of a siren the very reverse of our high ideal of
the personage who is to have the honour and glory of subjugating us.
This is one of Love's amusing little ways of proving that ideals are
really not important. The best and safest test of the reality of Love is
to ask yourself how much you have suffered on account of it. I don't
speak of such trifles as tears, heartaches, sleepless nights, fevers of
jealousy and despair, sacrifices, or discomforts, but of _real_ genuine
self-torment and mental torture which only this passion is capable of
inflicting on its victims. The most sceptical will acknowledge that its
powers in this line are only excelled by its apparent animosity. To
discover the life that completes and contents our own is not given to
many of us poor mortals. Here and there some fortunate individuals have
made that discovery--but they are rare--and not given to boasting on the
subject; yet though worldly wise folk scoff at love as a myth, I
question whether they could name any other passion of the heart which
has occupied so important a place in the world's history, which has
given life to all that is great and divine in art, or inspired such
deeds of heroism, self-sacrifice, and martyrdom. Before its patient
strength men have stood mute and wondering, and proud heads have bent in
reverence, and stern eyes grown dim. For Love is beautiful, despite
faults, and wise, despite follies. It alone of all human emotions can
lift our souls heavenwards, and make even life's thorny path a thing
of beauty.

* * * * *

[Sidenote: John Strange Winter's opinions.]

Love may be classed under several heads. The first, the great, the
unattainable, the one-sided, and the worn-out. They are all real! What
can be more real than the perhaps not very practical passion which first
makes young hearts ache? What agony it is to _her_ when _he_ dances
three times running with that horrid, stuck-up London girl, with her
fashionable jargon, her languorous movements, just a turn or two, and
then stop for as many minutes! First love is not often last love. _He_
thinks _her_ unreasonable to mind those dances, yet when a great love
comes into her life, making her think of him as "just a boy," he suffers
all, or nearly all, the pangs of a great passion. Unavailing pain! _She_
has cast the die of her life, and past loves are shadows compared with
the absorbing power that now grips her heart like a vice. Much may
happen to the great love, but it is very real! A great love may merge
into matrimony, and life may run on oiled wheels, and Darby and Joan may
pass through the world, loving faithfully, and without digression, to
the end. Or something may come between, and the great love may become
the unattainable! It will not be the less real for that.

[Sidenote: The Unattainable.]

The unattainable has more in it of pathos than despair. Romance sweetens
it, and the romance never dies. The tenderness of "what might have been"
gives balm to many a suffering soul! The wife may be unhappy, neglected,
heartsick, she may even loathe him whose name she bears, but she is
often upholden by the thought that _he_ would have been wholly
different! A husband may know that he has married the wrong woman, yet
he bears what is, because he cannot have _her_ who would have made life
all sunshine. Few pity the one-sided love, helpless, hopeless, and
without justification as it is; yet it is very real to the lonely soul.
The worn-out love is the very essence of sadness! It is heart-breaking
to watch the efforts of a foolish heart to keep a love dying or already
dead, to see love, which would once have made a paradise, poured out at
the feet of one who is only bored and not even touched by it. Nothing is
so dead as a dead love--yet, even _that_ is real!

* * * * *

[Sidenote: Miss May Crommelin takes a professional view]

Can any sensible novelist hesitate? Does a shoe-maker depreciate
leather? Would you saw off the tree-branch you sit on? Now, on this
subject, anybody's opinion (full-grown) is as good as another's. Let the
footman bring down word that love is the drawing-room topic, and the
cook will cry out, "What do they know more about it than _us_?" Is it
not a human feeling, call it instinct or no? Surely old Sally Jones has
simpler feelings than the Dowager Countess; as much experience in this.
Love is just as real as a rainbow on a wet day; as--as influenza. The
first may be a "pleysing payne": the latter must be a very displeasing
one. But there is little fiction about either to the victims. Well,
suppose love a mere brain-fantasm; an odd survival when sensible folk
have swept away beliefs in witchcraft, fairies, and the virtue of fire
and faggot for the wicked ones who don't say their prayers the same way
we do. _Still, was it not worth while to have invented it?_ However the
idea was evoluted, just consider the glamour it throws over thorns and
thistles, as we dig through life's long day of toil. As Trollope's stout
widow says, when choosing her second: "It's a whiff of the rocks and the
valleys." (So she had her marriage settlements tightly drawn up, to
enjoy her romance comfortably.) Consider this epitaph--a real one--

"Poorly lived, and poorly died;
Poorly buried, and _nobody cried_."

Broach this subject of love to a circle after dinner, round a good fire.
Everybody laughs! The young men and maidens look conscious. What they
feel is as real to them as pleasure in music they hear; in the taste of
wine. Yes, and far more--while it lasts. Some elders profess scorn,
because their minds are so choked with years' dust of daily cares they
have forgotten how they, too, once believed love real--while it lasted!
Ay! there's the rub. You are told--truthfully--that love is strong as
death: inconstant as every breeze. Some declare, for them--

"In the whole wide world there was but one."

Other as honest souls confess their hearts have known, since first love,
"many other lodgers." This seems clear, love is real to those who _give
it_! Only they who care more to _get it_, call it moonshine and naughty
names. Like figures on an Egyptian monument, each follows one who looks
at another. Never one scorned, but has rejected a third.

"As Pan loved Echo, Echo loved the satyr,
The satyr Lyda--and so the three went weeping."

* * * * *

[Sidenote: Miss Quiller Couch wishes Love were a pleasing fiction.]

"Pleasing fiction," forsooth; would that it were! It is a very real
game, and the rules thereof are practical. I know it, for verily I
myself have suffered. Let it not be understood, however, that it is _as_
a "practical, real lover" that I have suffered. Not at all. It is that
this order of beings walks abroad, and I am not of it, and I meet it,
and I am pained, and I feel sorry. Could Love be but a pleasing fiction,
how comfortable to sit aside and contemplate it--a trifle to talk of, a
dainty to dally with, a joy to the juvenescent, a blessing to the
book-writer, yet never an inconvenience. But it is a practical reality,
and it has great effects. Why, I have seen good, healthy people, quite
nice-tempered people, brought to a shadow by it and churned into so many
pounds of incompetent irritability; _so_ exacting about trifles, so
fidgetty about catching the mail, and so careless of the health of the
uninteresting majority. There was one man I knew down in a village, and
he fell in love with a pretty girl--they mostly do that--but she would
have nothing to say to him; and after every rejected proposal he went
straight home and made a three-legged stool (he was a carpenter by
trade, or perhaps it might have affected him differently). He was what
one might call an importunate man, for he proposed nineteen times in
all, and nineteen three-legged stools stood as silent witnesses of his
importunity. He changed houses after the twelfth, for he found a sad joy
in contemplating his handiwork as he sat at his lonely meals, and his
first sitting-room was only twelve feet by eight. Finally, either
because of his importunity, or because she disliked the thought that the
wordless witnesses might fall into unsympathetic hands, the girl married
the man, and scrubbed the stools nicely with soap and sand, and grew
quite fond of them. And only once did she regret her surrender; and that
was when it flashed across her one day that twenty would have been a
prettier number: but she stifled that pain as years went on, and grew
happy. Then there was Dante's love for Beatrice, which caused him to sit
down and write such a lot. Most remarkable persons seem to have produced
something rather excellent as the outcome of their love. I know a
naturally lazy and slightly dingy boy who endured a nice clean collar
every day, and it cut his neck, and his soul abhorred it, for he told me
so; and he spent from seventy-five to ninety minutes over his toilet
every morning, while he loved, and he knew he could dress in four
minutes and a quarter, for he had done it often. Love was a great
beautifier. In this case I must admit that the lover suffered more than
we outsiders, except that he became irritable in his cleanliness. Love
should not be scorned, even if it is real and sometimes uncomfortably
practical. It is very beautiful, and lovers make a pretty sight. What I
protest is, that all creatures should be lovers--or _none_. It is the
half-and-half state of the world which is irksome.

* * * * *

[Sidenote: Morley Roberts hopes Love will some day be a pleasing

Ah, my gentle cocksure friends, how well you all know Love, and how
ready you are to say what it is, to cut it up, to carve it, to classify
it, and generally to spread it out. We live in a world of lies, and
conventions, the dead leavings of an ignorant past, bind us still. Some
day, perhaps, when men and women are free, Love will be a pleasing
reality. It can never be so in the majority of cases so long as we play
at make-believe, and teach nothing that we have learned. The good man
won't teach his sons; he leaves them to learn in the gutter. The good
woman keeps her daughters ignorant. As it stands it is an evil to love
anyone over-much. And when we love we love over-much, for Love has been
repressed till it has got savage in the race. "La privation radicale
d'une chose cree lexees." All the trouble comes from this--that we men
have partially created women. But Nature had something to do with her
compounding. That is, perhaps, a pity from the social point of view. For
Nature can't be nice and comfortable. She is only kind when we go her
way. Let us remember that Love is the foundation of the world. The very
protoplasmic cells from which we sprang could love. The time will come,
perhaps, when, having chipped away the lies and faced the truth, we
shall find reality a thousand times more pleasing than any fiction. Love
is something real and wonderful, and in a natural world we shall have
passed through the blood-splashed gates of Passion and be calm. Now Love
is tortured, for we love ignorantly. We are like shipwrecked folk on
some strange land--we know not the fruits of the trees of it. We learn
the poisons by experiment, and we let others learn. This is Love the
Fiction. But some day when we awake we shall know what we now dream, and
Love will be always the most precious flower that grows in the garden of
the soul. It has the subtle fragrance of the heaven that is our own if
we walk bravely in the world, desiring truth. Under its influence we
discover ourselves. We build ships for new voyages, and burst into
unknown waters with our Viking shields of victory ablaze in the morning
sun. The air is sharp and keen, not foetid with poisonous lies; the
waters are blue and beautiful; there are shining shores about us, and
marvels of a new nature on every hand. We who were in the night, and of
it, become vivid with the sun. Our atheism banishes the worshipped gods
of evil that are no more extant in our dogmatic creed of joy. For Truth
and Beauty have guided us hand in hand, and all they ask of us is to
throw away the Law of Lies and to acknowledge that the two are one.

* * * * *

[Sidenote: Zangwill reviews the evidence.]

The traces left by Love in life are so numerous and diverse that I am
almost tempted to the hypothesis that it really exists. There seems to
be no other way of accounting for the facts. When you start learning a
new language you always find yourself confronted with the verb "to
love"--invariably the normal type of the first conjugation. In every
language on earth the student may be heard declaring, with more zeal
than discretion, that he and you and they and every other person,
singular or plural, have loved, and do love, and will love. "To love" is
the model verb; expressing the archetype of activity. Once you can love
grammatically there is a world of things you may do without stumbling.
For, strange to say, "to love," which in real life is associated with so
much that is bizarre and violent, is always "regular" in grammar, and
this without barring accidence of any kind. For ancient and modern
tongues tell the same tale--from Hebrew to street-Arabic, from Greek to
the elephantine language that was "made in Germany." Not only is "to
love" deficient in no language (as _home_ is deficient in French, and
_Geist_ in English), but it is never even "defective." No mood or tense
is ever wanting--a proof of how it has been conjugated in every mood and
tense of life, in association with every variety of proper and improper
noun, and every pronoun at all personal. Not merely have people loved
unconditionally in every language, but there is none in which they would
not have loved, or might not have loved, had circumstances permitted;
none in which they have not been loved, or (for hope springs eternal in
the human breast) have been about to be loved. Even woman has an Active
Voice in the matter; indeed, "to love" is so perfect that, compared with
it, "to marry" is quite irregular. For, while "to love" is sufficient
for both sexes, directly you get to marriage you find in some languages
that division has crept in, and that there is one word for the use of
ladies and another for gentlemen only. Turning from the evidence
enshrined in language to the records of history, the same truth meets us
at any date we appoint. Everywhere "'Tis love that makes the world go
round," though more especially in ball-rooms. It is awful to think what
would have happened if Eve had not accepted Adam. What could have
attracted her if it was not love? Surely not his money, nor his family.
For these she couldn't have cared a fig-leaf. Unfortunately, the
daughters of Eve have not always taken after their mother. The
statistics of crime and insanity testify eloquently to the reality of
love, arithmetic teaching the same lesson as history and grammar.
Consider, too, the piles of love at Mudie's! A million story-tellers in
all periods and at all places cannot have told all stories, though they
have all, alas! told the same story. They must have had mole-hills for
their mountains, if not straw for their bricks. There are those who,
with Bacon, consider love a variety of insanity; but it is more often
merely a form of misunderstanding. When the misunderstanding is mutual,
it may even lead to marriage. As a rule Beauty begets man's love, Power
woman's. At least, so women tell me. But then, I am not beautiful. It
must be said for the man that every lover is a species of Platonist--he
identifies the Beautiful with the Good and the True. The woman's
admiration has less of the ethical quality; she is dazzled, and too
often feels, "If he be but true to me, what care I how false he be." The
Romantic Love of the poets and novelists was of late birth; the savage
and many civilisations knew it not, and philosophers explain that it
could not be developed till Roman Law had developed the conception of
Marriage as a Contract. Even to this day it is as rare as large paper
editions of the books about it. Roughly speaking, I should say it would
spring up here and there among all classes of the population, except
poets and novelists. Romantic Love is the rose Evolution has grown on
earthly soil. _Floreat!_

* * * * *

[Sidenote: Burgin thinks it all depends on the people who love.]

One morning the average man gets up, lights his pipe, roams round his
rooms in all the ease of unshaven countenance and dressing-gown-clad
form. Then he goes out, and meets _her_. There may be a hundred women in
the room, or park, or tennis ground, wherever the tragedy (Love is a
tragedy) commences. When the lights are low he comes back, and is low
also. Wonders how men can be such brutes as to want dinner; thinks his
life has been misspent; that he is unworthy to touch her hand; that he
has wallowed in the fleshpots, and here is a way out of them. And if the
man's nature be noble and sweet and true; if he has hitherto drifted
adown the stream of circumstance because his fellows have also drifted;
then, with the deepening tides of his passion, the old spirit of
knight-errantry descends upon him with its mystic mantle of white
samite. And slowly out of this deepening torrent of bewildered impulse
and devotion is born a new man--a man with a soul--a man who can dare
all things, do all things, endure all things, for the sake of the woman
he loves. At the baptism of her touch he becomes whole, and shapes his
life to noble ends. Even if he can't marry her, he is the better for his
passion. Such a love endures until the leaves of the Judgment Book
unroll; for it laughs to scorn the pitiful fools who boast of
infidelity, the "male hogs in armour," as Kingsley calls them, who look
upon women as toys, the sport of an idle moment, rather than the
spiritual force which leavens the world, and makes it an endurable and
joyous dwelling-place.

[Sidenote: And on the woman loved.]

Of course, I was speaking of good women. I once heard a story about a
bad woman--a woman of the world, who was very much amused at being taken
seriously by a boy who loved her. "Tell me all about it," she would say
to him. "Explain what you feel, why you love me, why you believe in me.
Don't you see I'm courted and admired--a social force--that men flock
round me everywhere I go?" "Oh, yes," said the boy, "I see all that. But
you're an angel of goodness, and can't help men liking you. If I lost
faith in you, I'd kill myself." "Ah," she rejoined, "that's what you all
say. You would doubt me, and live on." Then, one afternoon, he had good
cause to doubt, inasmuch as her engagement to another man was announced.
That evening she received a note from him: "Good-bye. If I lived on, I
might doubt; it's better to die and--believe!" They told her of the--the
accident that night, and she wrote a touching little paragraph about it
for the Society papers before dining out.

* * * * *

[Sidenote: Gribble generaliseth confidently.]

In a sense, of course, Love is necessarily a fiction, whether pleasing
or otherwise; for illusion is of the essence of it. The lover, in fact,
is like the artist who sees things through a temperament, and, by
eliminating the irrelevant, builds up the ideal on the foundation of the
real. Tityrus sees more in Amaryllis than his brother shepherds see,
just as Mr. Whistler sees more in a November fog than is visible to the
eye of the casual wayfarer who gets lost in it, and mingles profanity
with his coughs, yet, granting this, the reality and completeness of the
illusion does not admit of doubt. On no alternative hypothesis can the
great majority of marriages be explained. If commonplace people saw each
other as others see them, surely they would remain single all their
lives. Yet most people are commonplace, and most people marry. The
reality--the controlling over-mastering reality--of Love has to be
assumed to make their behaviour intelligible.

[Sidenote: Having hasted from a wedding for the purpose.]

This point struck me forcibly the last time I was present at a wedding.
It was a Jewish wedding, celebrated at the little synagogue behind the
Haymarket. I had no acquaintance with anyone concerned in the ceremony,
but had dropped in quite casually, having heard that Jewish weddings
were picturesque. The one thing that impressed me more than anything
else was the decided undesirability of both the bridegroom and the
bride. That the bride was not comely goes for little. But her forehead
indicated a limited range and low ideals; the corners of her mouth spoke
of an irritable temper; her bearing was vulgar; her voice had a twang
that made one long to take her by the shoulders and shake her violently.
She was also escorted by gaudy female relatives, by looking at whom one
could anticipate the awful possibilities of her maturity. As for the
bridegroom, he was a Hebrew of the florid type. His waistcoat was
protuberant; he had a red face with red whiskers sprawling all over it;
he wore flash jewellery; his hair shone with pomatum; there was that in
his bearing which indicated that he followed some sordid calling, such
as pawnbroking, or the backing of horses on commission. Yet one could
see that these two unattractive persons were really attracted by each
other. A great and beautiful miracle had been performed; and the power
which had performed it was that Love in which some profess to

* * * * *

[Sidenote: Frank Mathew displays his Ignorance.]

Ignorance--says some wiseacre--is the mother of eloquence, and I take it
that the less one knows of Love the easier it is to write of it. I side
with those who hold that the Love described by poets and other wordy
people is mainly fanciful, a flattering picture, that the best school
for such writing is an unhappy affection, and that no man can want
better luck than to have his heart broken, and so be made proof against
lovesickness. An unrequited love runs no risk of being dulled by the
prose of life. A man so fortunate as to be jilted or rejected finds his
Beloved remaining beautiful and young to him when her husband sees her
an unwieldy and wearisome old woman. And when at times he grows
sentimental--a bachelor's privilege--he can feel again the old hopes
that he never found false, and see the old perfections that were never
disproved. He has a life-companion who comes only when she is wanted,
and then with a "smile on her face and a rose in her hair," whose voice
is always gentle, to whom wrinkles are not necessary and bills are
not known.

[Sidenote: And praises ugliness.]

I am one of those who prefer the luckless adorers in novels to the
conquering heroes; and hold that the quality an ideal lover needs most
is ugliness, so that he may honour beauty the more. Once I knew a boy
who was uglier than sin, and who wrote a story--in a sprawling hand and
on ruled paper--a wonderful story, telling how an unlovely but admirable
Knight, worshipping a Princess, rode out to win her by great deeds, and
how when he came back triumphant, the sight of her brought his
unworthiness home to him so that he dared not claim her. And I knew
another boy who was good-looking, and wrote a story (during study-time,
of course, and by stealth) about a handsome hero who went to Court in
fine clothes, and was worshipped by all the girls. I think now that he
was the manlier, but that the first would have made the more devout
lover. But the drawback of luckless adorers is that their constancy has
not been tried by the ordeal of success. Many a fellow who lived loyal
and heart-broken would have made an unfaithful husband.

* * * * *

[Sidenote: 'Q.' is surprised at his sister.]

Love, no doubt, is a subject of popular interest, but a man is always
staggered to find his sister holding an opinion upon it. If I remember
rightly, in the days when Lilian Quiller Couch (then aged seven) did me
the honour of playing Juliet to my Romeo, the interest was mainly
acrobatic, Romeo descending the gardener's ladder head-foremost, while
Juliet tilted her body as far over the nursery window-sill as she could
manage without breaking her neck. We "cut" the love speeches. Two years
later, indeed, my sister schemed to marry me to our common governess.
There was no love on my side; so she turned over the Prayer-book, hoping
to find "A man may not marry his governess" in the table of Forbidden
Degrees. Such a prohibition (she well knew) would be a trumpet-call to
my native spirit of disobedience. But I am convinced that even then the
nature of true affection did not enter into her calculations. She merely
counted on my marital influence to end or mend the French irregular
verbs. I am delighted that, in these later days, she sees Love to be a
"practical reality." For my part, I want a definition. Popular custom
bestows the name of Love on a green sickness which is in fact a part of
Nature's wise economy. I will expound. Almost all young men, say between
the ages of nineteen and twenty-five, incline to consume much meat and
do next to no work. Were there no corrective, it is clear that in a few
years the face of the earth would be eaten bare as by locusts. But at
this season Nature by the simplest stroke--the flush of a commonplace
cheek, the warm touch of a commonplace hand--in a twinkling redresses
the balance. Forthwith the ideal devourer of crops and herbs not only
loses his appetite, but arising, smacks the earth with a hoe till the
clods fly and the fields laugh with harvest. Thereon he mops his
steaming brow, bedecks him with a bunch of white ribbons, and jogs
jovially to church arm in arm with the pretty cause of all this
beneficent disturbance. And the spectacle is mighty taking and
commendable; but you'll excuse me for holding that it is not Love. It
bears about the same relation to Love that Bumble-puppy bears to good
whist. Among the eccentricities that make up the Average Man I find none
more diverting than his complacent belief that he is, or has been, or
will certainly some day be, in love. As a matter of fact, the capacity
to love belongs to one man or woman in ten thousand. Listen to
Matthew Arnold:

"But in the world I learnt, what there
Thou wilt too surely one day prove,
That will, that energy, though rare,
Are yet far, far less rare than love."

I go further and believe it rarer even than Genius. Indeed, the capacity
to love, is a specialised form of genius. You understand that I am not
commending it. Its possessors are often disreputable and almost always
unhappy. Their recompense is that they, and they only, have seen the
splendours of the passion, and vibrated to the shaking inner music of
the sheep-boy's pipe.

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