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Vanishing Roads and Other Essays by Richard Le Gallienne

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gentle face, I thought of Melampus, that old philosopher who loved the
wild things so and had made such friends with them, that they had taught
him their language and told him all their secrets:

With love exceeding a simple love of the things
That glide in grasses and rubble of woody wreck;
Or change their perch on a beat of quivering wings
From branch to branch, only restful to pipe and peck;
Or, bridled, curl at a touch their snouts in a ball;
Or cast their web between bramble and thorny hook;
The good physician, Melampus, loving them all,
Among them walked, as a scholar who reads a book.

As I dipped into the little thick-set wood that surrounds my house,
something stood for a second in one of the openings, then was gone like
a shadow. I was glad to think how full of bracken and hollows, and
mysterious holes and corners of mossed and lichened safety was our old
wood--for the shadow was a fox. I like to think it was the very fox we
had been talking about come to find shelter with me--and, if he stole a
meal out of our hen-roost, I gave it him before he asked it, with all
the will in the world. I hope he chose a good fat hen, and not one of
your tough old capons that sometimes come to table.



I don't know in what corner of the garden his busy little life now takes
its everlasting rest. None of us had the courage to stand by, that
summer morning, when Morris, our old negro man, buried him, and we felt
sympathetic for Morris that the sad job should fall upon him, for Morris
loved him just as we did. Perhaps if we had loved him less, more
sentimentally than deeply, we should have indulged in some sort of
appropriate ceremonial, and marked his grave with a little stone. But,
as I have said, his grave, like that of the great prophet, is a secret
to this day. None of us has ever asked Morris about it, and his grief
has been as reticent as our own. I wondered the other night, as I walked
the garden in a veiled moonlight, whether it was near the lotus-tanks he
was lying--for I remembered how he would stand there, almost by the
hour, watching the goldfish that we had engaged to protect us against
mosquitoes, moving mysteriously under the shadows of the great flat
leaves. In his short life he grew to understand much of this strange
world, but he never got used to those goldfish; and often I have seen
him, after a long wistful contemplation of them, turn away with a sort
of half-frightened, puzzled bark, as though to say that he gave it up.
Or, does he lie, I wonder, somewhere among the long grass of the
salt-marsh, that borders our garden, and in perigee tides widens out
into a lake. There indeed would be his appropriate country, for there
was the happy hunting-ground through which in life he was never tired of
roaming, in the inextinguishable hope of mink, and with the occasional
certainty of a water-rat.

He had come to us almost as mysteriously as he went away; a fox-terrier
puppy wandered out of the Infinite to the neighbourhood of our ice-box,
one November morning, and now wandered back again. Technically, he was
just graduating out of puppyhood, though, like the most charming human
beings, he never really grew up, and remained, in behaviour and
imagination, a puppy to the end. He was a dog of good breed and good
manners, evidently with gentlemanly antecedents canine and human. There
were those more learned in canine aristocracy than ourselves who said
that his large leaf-like, but very becoming, ears meant a bar sinister
somewhere in his pedigree, but to our eyes those only made him
better-looking; and, for the rest of him, he was race--race nervous,
sensitive, refined, and courageous--from the point of his all-searching
nose to the end of his stub of a tail, which the conventional docking
had seemed but to make the more expressive. We had already one dog in
the family when he arrived, and two Maltese cats. With the cats he was
never able to make friends, in spite of persistent well-intentioned
efforts. It was evident to us that his advances were all made in the
spirit of play, and from a desire of comradeship, the two crowning needs
of his blithe sociable spirit. But the cats received them in an attitude
of invincible distrust, of which his poor nose frequently bore the sorry
signature. Yet they had become friendly enough with the other dog, an
elderly setter, by name Teddy, whose calm, lordly, slow-moving ways were
due to a combination of natural dignity, vast experience of life, and
some rheumatism. As Teddy would sit philosophizing by the hearth of an
evening, immovable and plunged in memories, yet alert on the instant to
a footfall a quarter of a mile away, they would rub their sinuous
smoke-grey bodies to and fro beneath his jaws, just as though he were a
piece of furniture; and he would take as little notice of them as though
he were the leg of the piano; though sometimes he would wag his tail
gently to and fro, or rap it softly on the floor, as though appreciating
the delicate attention.

* * * * *

Of Teddy's reception of the newcomer we had at first some slight
misgiving, for, amiable as we have just seen him with his Maltese
companions, and indeed as he is generally by nature, his is the
amiability that comes of conscious power, and is his, so to say, by
right of conquest; for of all neighbouring dogs he is the acknowledged
king. The reverse of quarrelsome, the peace of his declining years has
been won by much historical fighting, and his reputation among the dogs
of his acquaintance is such that it is seldom necessary for him to
assert his position. It is only some hapless stranger ignorant of his
standing that will occasionally provoke him to a display of those
fighting qualities he grows more and more reluctant to employ. Even with
such he is comparatively merciful; stern, but never brutal. Usually all
that is necessary is for him to look at them steadfastly for a few
moments in a peculiar way. This seems to convince them that, after all,
discretion is the better part, and slowly and sadly they turn around in
a curious cowed way, and walk off, apparently too scared to run, with
Teddy, like Fate, grimly at their heels, steadily "pointing" them off
the premises. We were a little anxious, therefore, as to how Teddy would
take our little terrier, with his fussy, youthful self-importance, and
eternal restless poking into other folks' affairs. But Teddy, as we
might have told ourselves, had had a long and varied experience of
terriers, and had nothing to learn from us. Yet I have no doubt that,
with his instinctive courtesy, he divined the wishes of the family in
regard to the newcomer, and was, therefore, predisposed in his favour.
This, however, did not save the evidently much overawed youngster from a
stern and searching examination, the most trying part of which seemed
to be that long, silent, hypnotizing contemplation of him, which is
Teddy's way of asserting his dignity. The little dog visibly trembled
beneath the great one's gaze, his tongue hanging out of his mouth, and
his eyes wandering helplessly from side to side; and he seemed to be
saying, in his dog way: "O yes! I know you are a very great and
important personage--and I am only a poor little puppy of no importance.
Only please let me go on living--and you will see how well I will
behave." Teddy seemed to be satisfied that some such recognition and
submission had been tendered him; so presently he wagged his tail, that
had up till then been rigid as a ramrod, and not only the little
terrier, but all of us, breathed again. Yet it was some time before
Teddy would admit him into anything like what one might call intimacy,
and premature attempts at gamesome familiarity were checked by the
gathering thunder of a lazy growl that unmistakably bade the youngster
keep his place. But real friendship eventually grew between them,
on Teddy's side a sort of big-brother affectionate tutelage and
guardianship, and on Puppy's--for, though we tried many, we never found
any other satisfactory name for him but "Puppy"--a reverent admiration
and watchful worshipping imitation. No great man was ever more anxiously
copied by some slavish flatterer than that old sleepy carelessly-great
setter by that eager, ambitious little terrier. The occasions when to
bark and when not to bark, for example. One could actually see Puppy
studying the old dog's face on doubtful occasions of the kind. Boiling
over, as he visibly was, with the desire to bark his soul out, yet he
could be seen unmistakably restraining himself, till Teddy, after some
preliminary soliloquizing in deep undertones, had made up his mind that
the suspicious shuffling-by of probably some inoffensive Italian workman
demanded investigation, and lumberingly risen to his feet and made for
the door. Then, like a bunch of firecrackers, Puppy was at the heels,
all officious assistance, and the two would disappear like an old and a
young thunderbolt into the resounding distance.

* * * * *

Teddy's friendship had seemed to be definitely won on an occasion which
brought home to one the quaint resemblance between the codes and ways of
dogs and those of schoolboys. When the winter came on, a rather severe
one, it soon became evident that the little short-haired fellow suffered
considerably from the cold. Out on walks, he was visibly shivering,
though he made no fuss about it. So one of the angels in the house
knitted for him a sort of woollen sweater buttoned down his neck and
under his belly, and trimmed it with some white fur that gave it an
exceedingly smart appearance. Teddy did not happen to be there when it
was first tried on, and, for the moment, Puppy had to be content with
our admiration, and his own vast sense of importance. Certainly, a more
self-satisfied terrier never was than he who presently sped out, to air
his new finery before an astonished neighbourhood. But alas! you should
have seen him a few minutes afterwards. We had had the curiosity to
stroll out to see how he had got on, and presently, in a bit of rocky
woodland near by, we came upon a curious scene. In the midst of a clump
of red cedars, three great dogs, our Teddy, a wicked old black
retriever, and a bustling be-wigged and be-furred collie, stood in a
circle round Puppy, seated on his haunches, trembling with fear, tongue
lolling and eyes wandering, for all the world as though they were
holding a court-martial, or, at all events, a hazing-party. The offence
evidently lay with that dandified new sweater. One and another of the
dogs smelt at it, then tugged at it in evident disgust; and, as each
time Puppy made a move to get away, all girt him round with guttural
thunder of disapproval, as much as to say: "Do you call that a thing for
a manly dog to go around in? You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you
miserable dandy."

We couldn't help reflecting that it was all very well for those great
comfortable long-haired dogs to talk, naturally protected as they were
from the cold. Yet that evidently cut no figure with them, and they went
on sniffing and tugging and growling, till we thought our poor Puppy's
eyes and tongue would drop out with fear. Yet, all the time, they
seemed to be enjoying his plight, seemed to be smiling grimly together,
wicked old experienced brutes as they were.

Presently the idea of the thing seemed to occur to Puppy, or out of his
extremity a new soul was born within him, for suddenly an infinite
disgust of his new foppery seemed to take possession of him too, and,
regaining his courage, he turned savagely upon it, ripping it this way
and that, and struggling with might and main to rid himself of the
accursed thing. Presently he stood free, and barks of approval at once
went up from his judges. He had come through his ordeal, and was once
more a dog among dogs. Great was the rejoicing among his friends, and
the occasion having been duly celebrated by joint destruction and
contumely of the offending garment, Teddy and he returned home, friends
for life.

* * * * *

It is to be feared that that friendship, deep and tender as it grew to
be on both sides, perhaps particularly on Teddy's, was the indirect
cause of Puppy's death. I have referred to Teddy's bark, and how he is
not wont to waste it on trivial occasions, or without due thought. On
the other hand, he is proud of it, and loves to practice it--just for
its own sake, particularly on early mornings, when, however fine a bark
it is, most of our neighbours would rather continue sleeping than wake
up to listen to it. There is no doubt at all, for those who understand
him, that it is a purely artistic bark. He means no harm to any one by
it. When the milkman, his private enemy, comes at seven, the bark is
quite different. This barking of Teddy's seems to be literally at
nothing. Around five o'clock on summer mornings, he plants himself on a
knob of rock overlooking the salt marsh and barks, possibly in honour of
the rising sun, but with no other perceptible purpose. So have I heard
men rise in the dawn to practice the cornet--but they were men, so they
ran no risk of their lives. Teddy's practicing, however, has now been
carried on for several years in the teeth of no little peril; and, had
it not been for much human influence employed on his behalf, he would
long since have antedated his little friend in Paradise. When that
little friend, however, came to assist and emulate him in those morning
recitals, adding to his bark an occasional--I am convinced purely
playful--bite, I am inclined to think that a sentiment grew in the
neighbourhood that one dog at a time was enough. At all events, Teddy
still barks at dawn as of old, but our little Puppy barks no more.

Before the final quietus came to him, there were several occasions on
which the Black dog, called Death, had almost caught him in his jaws.
One there was in especial. He had, I believe, no hatred for any living
thing save Italian workmen and automobiles. I have seen an Italian
workman throw his pick-axe at him, and then take to his heels in
grotesque flight. But the pick-axe missed him, as did many another
clumsily hurled missile.

* * * * *

An automobile, however, on one occasion, came nearer its mark. Like
every other dog that ever barked, particularly terriers, Puppy delighted
to harass the feet of fast trotting horses, mockingly running ahead of
them, barking with affected savagery, and by a miracle evading their
on-coming hoofs--which to him, tiny thing as he was, must have seemed
like trip-hammers pounding down from the sky. But horses understand such
gaiety in terriers. They understand that it is only their foolish fun.
Automobiles are different. They have no souls. They see nothing engaging
in having their tires snapped at, as they whirl swiftly by; and, one
day, after Puppy had flung himself in a fine fury at the tires of one of
these soulless things, he gave a sharp yelp--"not cowardly!"--and lay a
moment on the roadside. But only a moment; then he went limping off on
his three sound legs, and hid himself away from all sympathy, in some
unknown spot. It was in vain we called and sought him, and only after
two days was he discovered, in the remotest corner of a great rocky
cellar, determined apparently to die alone in an almost inaccessible
privacy of wood and coal. Yet, when at last we persuaded him that life
was still sweet and carried him upstairs into the great living-room, and
the beautiful grandmother, who knows the sorrows of animals almost as
the old Roman seer knew the languages of beasts and birds, had taken
him in charge and made a cosy nest of comforters for him by the fire,
and tempted his languid appetite--to which the very thought of bones
was, of course, an offence--with warm, savory-smelling soup; then, he
who had certainly been no coward--for his thigh was a cruel lump of pain
which no human being would have kept so patiently to himself--became
suddenly, like many human invalids, a perfect glutton of self-pity; and
when we smoothed and patted him and told him how sorry we were, it was
laughable, and almost uncanny, how he suddenly set up a sort of moaning
talk to us, as much as to say that he certainly had had a pretty bad
time, was really something of a hero, and deserved all the sympathy we
would give him. So far as one can be sure about anything so mysterious
as animals, I am sure that from then on he luxuriated in his little
hospital by the fireside, and played upon the feelings of his beautiful
nurse, and of his various solicitous visitors, with all the histrionic
skill of the spoiled and petted convalescent. Suddenly, however, one
day, he forgot his part. He heard some inspiring barking going on
nearby--and, in a flash, his comforters were thrust aside, and he was
off and away to join the fun. Then, of course, we knew that he was well
again; though he still went briskly about his various business on three
legs for several days.

His manner was quite different, however, the afternoon he had so
evidently come home to die. There was no pose about the little forlorn
figure, which, after a mysterious absence of two days, suddenly
appeared, as we were taking tea on the veranda, already the very ghost
of himself. Wearily he sought the cave of the beautiful grandmother's
skirts, where, whenever he had had a scolding, he was wont always to
take refuge--barking, fiercely, as from an inaccessible fortress, at his

* * * * *

But, this afternoon, there was evidently no bark in him, poor little
fellow; everything about him said that he had just managed to crawl home
to die. His brisk white coat seemed dank with cold dews, and there was
something shadowy about him and strangely quiet. His eyes, always so
alert, were strangely heavy and indifferent, yet questioning and somehow
accusing. He seemed to be asking us why a little dog should suffer so,
and what was going to happen to him, and what did it all mean. Alas! We
could not tell him; and none of us dare say to each other that our
little comrade in the mystery of life was going to die. But a silence
fell over us all, and the beautiful grandmother took him into her care,
and so well did her great and wise heart nurse him through the night
that next morning it almost seemed as though we had been wrong; for a
flash of his old spirit was in him again, and, though his little legs
shook under him, it was plain that he wanted to try and be up at his
day's work on the veranda, warning off the passer-by, or in the garden
carrying on his eternal investigations, or farther afield in the
councils and expeditions of his fellows. So we let him have his way, and
for a while he seemed happier and stronger for the sunshine, and the old
familiar scents and sounds. But the one little tired husky bark he gave
at his old enemy, the Italian workman, passing by, would have broken
your heart; and the effort he made with a bone, as he visited the
well-remembered neighbourhood of the ice-box for the last time, was
piteous beyond telling. Those sharp, strong teeth that once could bite
and grind through anything could do nothing with it now. To lick it
sadly with tired lips, in a sort of hopeless way, was all that was left;
and there was really a look in his face as though he accepted this
mortal defeat, as he lay down, evidently exhausted with his exertions,
on a bank nearby. But once more his spirit seemed to revive, and he
scrambled to his legs again and wearily crawled to the back of the
house, where the beautiful grandmother loves to sit and look over the
glittering salt-marsh in the summer afternoons.

* * * * *

Of course, he knew that she was there. She had been his best friend in
this strange world. His last effort was naturally to be near her again.
Almost he reached that kind cave of her skirts. Only another yard or two
and he had been there. But the energy that had seemed irrepressible and
everlasting had come to its end, and the little body had to give in at
last, and lie down wearily once more with no life left but the love in
its fading eyes.

There are some, I suppose, who may wonder how one can write about the
death of a mere dog like this; and cannot understand how the death of a
little terrier can make the world seem a lonelier place. But there are
others, I know, who will scarce need telling, men and women with little
ghosts of their own haunting their moonlit gardens; strange, appealing,
faithful companions, kind little friendly beings that journeyed with
them awhile the pilgrimage of the soul.

I often wonder if Teddy misses his little busy playfellow and disciple
as we do; if, perhaps, as he barks over the marsh of a morning, he is
sending him a message. He goes about the place with nonchalant greatness
as of old, and the Maltese cats still rub their sinuous smoke-grey
bodies to and fro beneath his jaws at evening. There is no sign of
sorrow upon him. But he is old and very wise, and keeps strange
knowledge to himself. So, who can say?



For the genuine lover of nature, as distinct from the connoisseur of
dainty or spectacular "scenery," nature has always and everywhere some
charm or satisfaction. He will find it no less--some say more--in winter
than in summer, and I have little doubt that the great Alkali Desert is
not entirely without its enthusiasts. The nature among which we spent
our childhood is apt to have a lasting hold on us, in defiance of
showier competition, and I suppose there is no land with soul so dead
that it does not boast itself the fairest under heaven.

I am writing this surrounded by a natural scene which I would not
exchange for the Swiss lakes, yet I presume it is undeniable that
Switzerland has a more universal reputation for natural beauty than
Connecticut. It is, as we say, one of the show places of the earth. So
Niagara Falls, the Grand Canon, the Rockies, and California generally
lord it over America. Italy has such a reputation for beauty that it is
almost unfair to expect her to live up to it. I once ventured to say
that the Alps must be greasy with being climbed, and it says much for
such stock pieces in nature's repertoire, that, in spite of all the wear
and tear of sentimental travellers, the mock-admiration of generations,
the batteries of amateur cameras, the Riviera, the English lakes, the
Welsh mountains, the Highlands of Scotland, and other tourist-trodden
classics of the picturesque, still remain haunts of beauty and joys
forever. God's masterpieces do not easily wear out.

Every country does something supremely well, and England may be said to
have a patent for a certain kind of scenery which Americans are the
first to admire. English scenery has no more passionate pilgrim than the
traveller from the United States, as the visitors' books of its various
show-places voluminously attest. Perhaps it is not difficult, when one
has lived in both countries, to understand why.

While America, apart from its impressive natural splendours, is rich
also in idyllic and pastoral landscape, it has, as yet, but little
"countryside." I say, as yet, because "the countryside," I think I am
right in feeling, is not entirely a thing of nature's making, but
rather a collaboration resulting from nature and man living so long in
partnership together. In England, with which the word is peculiarly, if
not exclusively, associated, God is not entirely to be credited with
making the country. Man has for generations also done his share.

It is perhaps not without significance that the word "countryside"
was not to be found in Webster's dictionary, till a recent edition.
Originally, doubtless, it was used with reference to those rural
districts in the vicinity of a town; as one might say the country side
of the town. Not wild or solitary nature was meant, but nature
humanized, made companionable by the presence and occupations of man; a
nature which had made the winding highway, the farm, and the pasture,
even the hamlet, with its church tower and its ancient inn, one with

The American, speeding up to London from his landing either at Liverpool
or Southampton, always exclaims on the gardenlike aspect, the deep, rich
greenness of the landscape. It is not so much the specific evidences of
cultivation, though those, of course, are plentifully present, but a
general air of ripeness and order. Even the land not visible under
cultivation suggests immemorial care and fertility. We feel that this
land has been fought over and ploughed over, nibbled over by sheep, sown
and reaped, planted and drained, walked over, hunted over, and very much
beloved, for centuries. It is not fanciful to see in it a land to
which its people have been stubbornly and tenderly devoted--still
"Shakespeare's England," still his favoured "isle set in the silver

As seen from the railway-carriage window, one is struck, too, by the
comparative tidiness of the English landscape. There are few loose ends,
and the outskirts of villages are not those distressing dump-heaps
which they too often are in America. Yet there is no excessive air of
trimness. The order and grooming seem a part of nature's processes.
There is, too, a casual charm about the villages themselves, the
graceful, accidental grouping of houses and gardens, which suggests
growth rather than premeditation. The general harmony does not preclude,
but rather comes of, the greatest variety of individual character.

Herein the English village strikingly differs from the typical New
England village, where the charm comes of a prim uniformity, and
individuality is made to give place to a general parking of lawns and
shade-trees in rectangular blocks and avenues. A New England village
suggests some large institution disposed in separate uniform buildings,
placed on one level carpet of green, each with a definite number of
trees, and the very sunlight portioned out into gleaming allotments.
The effect gained is for me one of great charm--the charm of a vivid,
exquisitely ordered, green silence, with a touch of monastic, or
Quakerish, decorum. I would not have it otherwise, and I speak of it
only to suggest by contrast the different, desultory charm of an old
English village, where beauty has not been so much planned, as has just

Of course, this is the natural result of the long occupation of the
land. Each century in succession has had a hand in shaping the
countryside to its present aspect, and English history is literally a
living visible part of English scenery. Here the thirteenth century has
left a church, here the fourteenth a castle, here the sixteenth, with
its suppression of the monasteries, a ruined abbey. Here is an inn where
Chaucer's pilgrims stopped on the way to Canterbury. Here, in a field
covered over by a cow-shed, is a piece of tessellated pavement which was
once the floor of an old country house occupied by one of Caesar's

Those strange grassy mounds breaking the soft sky-line of the rolling
South Downs are the tombs of Saxon chieftains, that rubble of stones at
the top of yonder hill was once a British camp, and those curious ridges
terracing yonder green slope mark the trenches of some prehistoric
battlefield. All these in the process of time have become part and
parcel of the English countryside, as necessary to its "English"
character as its trees and its wild flowers.

How much, too, the English countryside owes for its beauty to the many
old manor-houses, gabled and moated, with their quaint, mossy-walled
gardens and great forestlike parks. Whatever we may think of the English
territorial system as economics, its service to English scenery has been
incalculable. Without English traditionalism we should hardly have had
the English countryside.

The conservation of great estates, entailing a certain conservatism in
the treatment of farm lands from generation to generation, and the
upholding, too, of game-preserves, however obnoxious to the land
reformer, have been all to the good of the nature-lover. We owe no
little of the beauty of the English woodland to the English pheasant;
and with the coming of land nationalization we may expect to see
considerable changes in the English countryside. Meanwhile, in spite of,
or perhaps because of, the feudalistic character of English landlordism,
the Englishman enjoys a right of walking over his native land of which
no capitalist can rob him. Hence results another charming feature of the
English countryside--the footpaths you see everywhere winding over hill
and dale, through field and coppice. The ancient rights of these are
safeguarded to the people forever by statute no wealth can defy; and,
let any _nouveau riche_ of a landlord try to close one of them, and
he has to reckon with one of the pluckiest and most persistent
organizations of English John Hampdens, the society that makes the
protection of these traditional pathways its particular care. So the
rich man cannot lock up his trees and his woodland glades all for
himself, but is compelled to share them to the extent of allowing the
poorest pedestrian to walk through them--which is about all the rich man
can do with them himself.

These footpaths, in conjunction with English lanes, have made the charm
of walking tours in England proverbial. Certain counties particularly
pride themselves on their lands. Surrey and Devonshire are the great
rivals in this respect. We say "Surrey lanes" or "Devonshire lanes,"
as we speak of "Italian skies" or "Southern hospitality." Other
counties--Warwickshire, for example--doubtless have lanes no less
lovely, but Surrey and Devonshire have, so to say, got the decision;
and, if an American traveller wants to see a typical English lane, he
goes to Surrey or Devonshire, just as, if he wants a typical English
pork-pie, he sends to Melton Mowbray.

And the English lane has come honestly by its reputation. You may be
disappointed in Venice, but you will be hard to please if you are not
caught by the spell of an English lane. Of course, you must not expect
to feel that spell if you tear through it in a motor-car. It was made
for the loiterer, as its whimsical twists and turns plainly show. If you
are in a hurry, you had better keep to the king's highway, stretching
swift and white on the king's business. The English lane was made for
the leisurely meandering of cows to and from pasture, for the dreamy
snail-pace of time-forgetting lovers, for children gathering primroses
or wild strawberries, or for the knap-sacked wayfarer to whom time and
space are no objects, whose destination is anywhere and nowhere, whose
only clocks are the rising sun and the evening star, and to whom the way
means more than the goal.

I should not have spoken of it as "made," for, when it is most
characteristic, an English lane has no suggestion of ever having been
man-made like other roads. It seems as much a natural feature as the
woods or meadows through which it passes; and sometimes, as in Surrey,
when it runs between high banks, tunnelling its way under green boughs,
it seems more like an old river-bed than a road, whose sides nature has
tapestried with ferns and flowers. Of all roads in the world it is the
dreamer's road, luring on the wayfarer with perpetual romantic promise
and surprise, winding on and on, one can well believe, into the very
heart of fairy-land. Everything beautiful seems to be waiting for us
somewhere in the turnings of an English lane.

Had I sat down to write of the English countryside two years ago, I
should have done so with a certain amount of cautious skepticism. I
should have said to myself: "You have not visited England for over ten
years. Are you quite sure that your impressions of its natural beauties
are not the rose-coloured exaggerations of memory? Are not time and
distance lending their proverbial enchantment?" In fact, as I set sail
to revisit England, the spring before last, it was in some such mood of
anticipatory disillusion.

After all, I had said to myself, is not the English countryside the work
of the English poets--the English spring, the English wild flowers, the
English lark, the English nightingale, and so forth? That longing of
Browning expressed in the lines,

O to be in England
Now that April's there!

was, after all, the cry of a homesick versifier, thinking "Home
Thoughts, from Abroad"; and are Herrick and Wordsworth quite to be
trusted on the subject of daffodils?

Well, I am glad to have to own that my revisiting my native land
resulted in an agreeable disappointment. With a critical American eye,
jealously on my guard against sentimental superstition, I surveyed the
English landscape and examined its various vaunted beauties and
fascinations, as though making their acquaintance for the first time.
No, my youthful raptures had not been at fault, and the poets were once
more justified. The poets are seldom far wrong. If they see anything, it
is usually there. If we cannot see it, too, it is the fault of our eyes.

Take the English hawthorn, for instance. As its fragrance is wafted to
you from the bushes where it hangs like the fairest of white linen, you
will hardly, I think, quarrel with its praises. Yet, though it is, if I
am not mistaken, of rare occurrence in America, it is not absolutely
necessary to go to England for the hawthorn. Any one who cares to go
a-Maying along the banks of the Hudson, in the neighbourhood of
Peekskill, will find it there. But for the primrose and the cowslip you
must cross the sea; and, if you come upon such a wood as I strayed into,
my last visit, you will count it worth the trip. It was literally
carpeted with clumps of primroses and violets (violets that smell, too)
so thickly massed together in the mossy turf that there was scarcely
room to tread. There are no words rich or abundant enough to suggest the
sense of innocent luxury brought one by such a natural Persian carpet of
soft gold and dewy purple, at once so gorgeous and yet so gentle. In all
this lavish loveliness of English wild flowers there is, indeed, a
peculiar tenderness. The innocence of children seems to be in them, and
the tenderness of lovers.

A lover would not tread
A cowslip on the head--

How appropriately such lines come to mind as one carefully picks one's
way down a green hillside yellow with cowslips, and breathing perhaps
the most delicate of all flowery fragrances. Yet again, as we pass into
another stretch of woodland, another profusion and another fragrance
await us, the winey perfume and the spectral blue sheen of the wild
hyacinth. As one comes upon stretches of these hyacinths in the woods,
they seem at first glance like pools of blue water or fallen pieces of
the sky. Here, for once, the poets are left behind, and, of them all,
Shakespeare and Milton alone have come near to suggesting the
loveliness, at once so spiritual and so warmly and sweetly of the earth,
that belongs to English wild flowers. I know not if Sheffield steel
still keeps its position among the eternal verities, but in an age when
so many of one's cherished beliefs are threatened with the scrap-heap,
I count it of no small importance to be able to retain one's faith in
the English lark and English wild flowers.

But the English countryside is not all greenness and softness, blossomy
lanes, moated granges, and idyllic villages. It by no means always
suggests the gardener, the farmer, or the gamekeeper. It is rich, too,
in wildness and solitude, in melancholy fens and lonely moorlands. To
the American accustomed to the vast areas of his own enormous continent,
it would come as a surprise to realize that a land far smaller than many
of his States can in certain places give one so profound a sense of the
wilderness. Yet I doubt if a man could feel lonelier anywhere in the
world than on a Yorkshire moor or on Salisbury Plain.

After all, we are apt to forget that, even on the largest continent, we
can see only a limited portion of the earth at once. When one is in the
middle of Lake Erie we are as much out of sight of land, as impressed by
the illusion of boundless water, as if we were in the middle of the
Pacific Ocean. So, on Salisbury Plain, with nothing but rolling billows
of close-cropped turf, springy and noiseless to the tread, as far as the
eye can see, one feels as alone with the universe as in the middle of
some Asian desert. In addition to the actual loneliness of the scene,
and a silence broken only by the occasional tinkle of sheep-bells, as a
flock moves like a fleecy cloud across the grass, is an imaginative
loneliness induced by the overwhelming sense of boundless unrecorded
time, the "dim-grey-grown ages," of which the mysterious boulders of
Stonehenge are the voiceless witnesses. To experience this feeling to
the full one should come upon an old Roman road in the twilight,
grass-grown, choked with underbrush, but still running straight and
clearly defined as when it shook to the tread of Roman legions. It is
eery to follow one of these haunted roads, filled with the far-off
thoughts and fancies it naturally evokes, and then suddenly to come out
again into the world of today, as it joins the highway once more, and
the lights of a wayside inn welcome us back to humanity, with perhaps a
touring car standing at the door.

One need hardly say that the English wayside inn is as much a feature of
the English countryside as the English hawthorn. Its praises have been
the theme of essayists and poets for generations, and at its best there
is a cosiness and cheer about it which warm the heart, as its quaintness
and savour of past days keep alive the sense of romantic travel. There
the spirit of ancient hospitality still survives, and, though the
motor-car has replaced the stage-coach, that is, after all, but a
detail, and the old, low-ceilinged rooms, the bay windows with their
leaded panes, the tap-room with its shining vessels, the great kitchen,
the solid English fare, the brass candlesticks at bedtime, and the
lavendered sheets, still preserve the atmosphere of a novel by Fielding
or an essay by Addison.

There still, as in Shakespeare's day, one can take one's ease at one's
inn, as perhaps in the hostelries of no other land. It is the frequency
and excellence of these English inns that make it charmingly possible to
see England, as it is best seen, on foot or on a bicycle. It is not a
country of isolated wonders, with long stretches of mere road between.
Every mile counts for something. But, if the luxury of walking it with
stick and knapsack is denied us, and we must needs see it by motor-car,
we cannot fail to make one observation, that of the surprising variety
of natural scenery packed in so small a space. Between Land's End and
the Tweed the eye and the imagination have encountered every form of the
picturesque. In an area some three hundred and fifty miles long by three
hundred broad are contained the ruggedness of Cornwall, the idyllic
softness of Devon, the dreamy solitudes of the South Downs, with their
billowy, chalky contours, the agricultural fertility of Kent and
Middlesex, the romantic woodlands and hilly pastures of Surrey, the
melancholy fens of Lincolnshire, the broad, bosky levels of the
midlands, the sudden wildness of Wales, with her mountains and glens,
Yorkshire, with its grim, heather-clad moors, Westmoreland, with its
fells and Wordsworthian "Lakes"; every note in the gamut of natural
beauty has been struck, from honeysuckle prettiness to savage grandeur.

Yet, although all these contrasts are included in the English scene, it
is not of solitude or grandeur that we think when we speak of the
English countryside. They are the exceptions to the rule of a gentler,
more humanized natural beauty, in which the village church and the
ivy-clad ruin play their part. Perhaps some such formula as this would
represent the typical scene that springs to the mind's eye with the
phrase "the English countryside": a village green, with some geese
stringing out across it. A straggle of quaint thatched cottages, roses
climbing about the windows, and in front little, carefully kept gardens,
with hollyhocks standing in rows, stocks and sweet-williams and such
old-fashioned flowers. At one end of the village, rising out of a clump
of yews, the mouldering church-tower, with mossy gravestones on one side
and a trim rectory on the other. At the other end of the village a
gabled inn, with a great stable-yard, busy with horses and waggons.
Above the village, the slopes of gently rising pastures, intersected
with footpaths and shadowed with woodlands. A little way out of the
village, an old mill with a lilied mill-pond, a great, dripping
water-wheel, and the murmur of the escaping stream. And winding on
into the green, sun-steeped distance, the blossom-hung English lanes.



I find it an unexpectedly strange experience to be in London again
after ten years in New York. I had no idea it could be so strange. Of
course, there are men to whom one great city is as another--commercial
travellers, impresarios, globe-trotting millionaires. Being none of
these, I am not as much at home in St. Petersburg as in Buda-Pesth, in
Berlin as in Paris, and, while once I might have envied such plastic
cosmopolitanism, I am realizing, this last day or two in London, that,
were such an accomplishment mine, it had been impossible for me to feel
as deeply as I do my brief reincarnation into a city and a country with
which I was once so intimate, and which now seems so romantically
strange, while remaining so poignantly familiar. The man who is at home
everywhere has nowhere any home. My home was once this London--this
England--in which I am writing; but nothing so much as being in London
again could make me realize that my home now is New York, and how long
and how instinctively, without knowing it, I have been an American. It
is not indeed that I love New York and America more than I love London
and England. In fact, London has never seemed so wonderful to me in the
past as she has seemed during these days of my wistful momentary return
to her strange great heart. But this very freshness of her marvel to one
who once deemed that he knew her so well proves but the completeness of
my spiritual acclimatization into another land. I seem to be seeing her
face, hearing her voice, for the first time; while, all the while, my
heart is full with unforgotten memories, and my eyes have scarce the
hardihood to gaze with the decorum befitting the public streets on many
a landmark of vanished hours. To find London almost as new and strange
to me as New York once seemed when I first sighted her soaring morning
towers, and yet to know her for an enchanted Ghost-Land; to be able to
find my way through her streets--in spite of the new Kingsway and
Aldwych!--with closed eyes, and yet to see her, it almost seems, for the
first time: surely it is a curious, almost uncanny, experience.

Do I find London changed?--I am asked. I have been so busy in
rediscovering what I had half-forgotten, in finding engaging novelties
in things anciently familiar, that the question is one which I feel
hardly competent to answer. For instance, I had all but forgotten that
there was so noble a thing in the world as an old-fashioned English
pork-pie. Yesterday I saw one in a window, with a thrill of recognition,
that made a friend with whom I was walking think for a moment that I
had seen a ghost. He knows nothing of the human heart who cannot realize
how tremulous with ancient heart-break may seem an old-fashioned English
pork-pie--after ten years in America.

And, again, how curiously novel and charming seemed the soft and
courteous English voices--with or without aitches--all about one in
the streets and in the shops--I had almost said the "stores." I am
enamoured of the American accent, these many years, and--the calumny of
superficial observation to the contrary--I will maintain, so far as my
own experience goes, that there is as much courtesy broadcast in America
as in any land; more, I am inclined to think than in France. Yet, for
all that, that something or other in the English voice which I had heard
long since and lost awhile smote me with a peculiar pleasure, and,
though I like the comradely American "Cap" or "Professor," and am hoping
soon to hear it again--yet the novelty of being addressed once more as
"Sir" has had, I must own, a certain antiquarian charm.

Wandering in a quaint by-street near my hotel, and reading the names and
signs on one or two of the neat old-world "places of business," I came
on the word "sweep." I believe it was on a brass-plate. For a moment, I
wondered what it meant; and then I realized, with a great gratitude,
that London had not changed so much, after all, since the days of
Charles Lamb. As I emerged into a broader thoroughfare, my ears were
smitten with the sound of minstrelsy. It is true that the tune was
changed. It was unmistakably rag-time. Yet, there was the old
piano-organ, and in a broad circle of spectators, suspended awhile from
their various wayfaring, a young man in tennis flannels was performing a
spirited Apache dance with a quite comely short-skirted young woman, who
rightly enough felt that she had no need to be ashamed of her legs.
Across the extemporized stage, every now and then, taxicabs tooted
cautiously, longing in their hearts to stay; and once a motor
coal-waggon, like a sort of amateur freight-train, thundered across; but
not even these could break the spell that held that ring of enchanted
loiterers, from which presently the pennies fell like rain--the eternal
spell--still operating, I was glad to see, under the protection of the
only human police in the world--of the strolling player in London town.
Just before the players turned to seek fresh squares and alleys new, I
noticed on the edge of the crowd what seemed, in the gathering twilight,
to be a group of uplifted spears. Spears or halberds, were they? It was
a little company of the ancient brotherhood of lamp-lighters, seduced,
like the rest of us, from the strict pursuance of duty by the vagabond

To me this thought is full of reassurance, whatever be the murmurs of
change: London has still her sweeps, her strolling minstrels, and her

Of course, I missed at once the old busses, yet there are far more
horses left than I had dared to hope, and the hansom is far from
extinct. In fact, there seems to be some promise of its renaissance, and
even yet, in the words of the ancient bard, despite the competition of

Like dragon-flies,
The hansoms hover
With jewelled eyes,
To catch the lover.

Further,--the quietude of the Temple remains undisturbed, the lawns of
Gray's Inn are green as of old, the Elizabethanism of Staple Inn is
unchanged, about the cornices of the British Museum the pigeons still
flutter and coo, and the old clocks chime sweetly as of old from their
mysterious stations aloft somewhere in the morning and the evening sky.

Changes, of course, there are. It is easier to telephone in London today
than it was ten years ago--almost as easy as in some little provincial
town in Connecticut. Various minor human conveniences have been
improved. The electric lighting is better. Some of the elevators--I
mean the "lifts"--almost remind one of New York. The problem of "rapid
transit" has been simplified. All which things, however, have nothing to
do with national characteristics, but are now the common property of the
civilized, or rather, I should say, the commercialized, world, and are
probably to be found no less in full swing in Timbuctoo. No one--save,
maybe, the citizens of some small imitative nation--confounds these
things with change, or calls them "progress." The soul of a great old
nation adopts all such contrivances as in the past it has adopted new
weapons, or new modes of conveyance. Only a Hottentot or a Cook's
Tourist can consider such superficial developments as evidences of

There are, of course, some new theatres--though I have heard of no new
great actor or actress. The old "favourites" still seem to dominate the
play-bills, as they did ten years ago. There is Mr. Hammerstein's Opera
House in the Kingsway. I looked upon it with pathos. Yet, surely, it is
a monument not so much of changing London as of that London which sees
no necessity of change.

In regard to the great new roadways, Kingsway, Aldwych, and the
broadening of the Strand, I have been grateful for the temper which
seems to have presided over their making--a temper combining the
necessary readjustment of past and present, with a spirit of sensitive
conservation for those buildings which more and more England will
realize as having a lasting value for her spirit.

So far as I have observed, London has been guilty of no such vandalism
as is responsible for the new Boulevard Raspail in Paris, and similar
heartless destructiveness, in a city which belongs less to France than
to the human soul. Such cities as London and Paris are among the eternal
spiritual possessions of mankind. If only those temporarily in charge of
them could be forced somehow to remember that, when their brief mayoral,
or otherwise official, lives are past, there will be found those who
will need to look upon what they have destroyed, and who will curse them
in their graves.

Putting aside such merely superficial "changes" as new streets, new
theatres, and new conveniences, there does seem to me one change of a
far higher importance for which I have no direct evidence, and which I
can only hint at, even to myself, as "something in the air." It is, of
course, nothing new either to London or to England. It is rather the
reawakening of an old temper to which England's history has so often and
so momentously given expression. I seem to find it in a new alertness in
the way men and women walk and talk in the streets, a braced-up
expectancy and readiness for some approaching development in England's
destiny, a new quickening of that old indomitable spirit that has faced
not merely external dangers, but grappled with and resolved her own
internal problems. London seems to me like a city that has heard a voice
crying "Arise, thou that sleepest!" and is answering to the cry with
girt loins and sloth-purged heart and blithe readiness for some new
unknown summons of a future that can but develop the glory of her past.

England seems to be no more sleepily resting on her laurels, as she was
some twenty years ago. Nor does she seem, on the other hand, to show the
least anxiety that she could ever lose them. She is merely realizing
that the time is at hand when she is to win others--that one more of
those many re-births of England, so to speak, out of her own womb,
approaches, and that once more she is about to prove herself eternally

New countries are apt to speak of old countries as though they are
dying, merely because they have lived so long. Yet there is a longevity
which is one of the surest evidences of youth. Such I seem to feel once
more is England's--as from my window I watch the same old English May
weather: the falling rain and the rich gloom, within which moves always,
shouldering the darkest hour, an oceanic radiance, a deathless principle
of celestial fire.

LONDON, May, 1913.



Were one to tell the proprietors of the very prosperous and flamboyant
restaurant of which I am thinking that it is haunted--yea, that ghosts
sit at its well appointed tables, and lost voices laugh and wail and
sing low to themselves through its halls--they would probably take one
for a lunatic--a servant of the moon.

Certainly, to all appearance, few places would seem less to suggest the
word "haunted" than that restaurant, as one comes upon it, in one of the
busiest of London thoroughfares, spreading as it does for blocks around,
like a conflagration, the festive glare of its electrically emblazoned
facade. Yet no ruined mansion, with the moon shining in through its
shattered roof, the owl nesting in its banqueting hall, and the snake
gliding through its bed chambers, was ever more peopled with phantoms
than this radiant palace of prandial gaiety, apparently filled with the
festive murmur of happy diners, the jocund strains of its vigorous
orchestra, the subdued clash of knives and forks and delicate dishes,
the rustle of women's gowns and the fairy music of women's voices. For
me its portico, flaming like a vortex of dizzy engulfing light, upon
which, as upon a swift current, gay men and women, alighting from motor
and hansom, are swept inward to glittering tables of snow-white napery,
fair with flowers--for me the mouth of the grave is not less dread,
and the walls of a sepulchre are not so painted with dead faces
or so inscribed with elegiac memories. I could spend a night in
Pere-la-Chaise, and still be less aware of the presence of the dead
than I was a short time ago, when, greatly daring, I crossed with a
shudder that once so familiar threshold.

It was twelve years since I had been in London, so I felt no little of a
ghost myself, and I knew too well that it would be vain to look for the
old faces. Yes, gone was the huge good-natured commissionaire, who so
often in the past, on my arrival in company with some human flower, had
flung open the apron of our cab with such reverential alacrity, and on
our departure had so gently tucked in the petals of her skirts, smiling
the while a respectfully knowing benediction on the prospective
continuance of our evening's adventure. Another stood in his place, and
watched my lonely arrival with careless indifference. Glancing through
the window of the treasurer's office to the right of the hall, I could
see that an unfamiliar figure sat at the desk, where in the past so many
a cheque had been cashed for me with eager _bonhomie_. Now I reflected
that considerable identification would be necessary for that once
light-hearted transaction. It is true that I was welcomed with courtesy
by a bowing majordomo, but alas, my welcome was that of a stranger; and
when I mounted the ornate, marble-walled staircase leading to the
gallery where I had always preferred to sit, I realized that my hat and
cane must pass into alien keeping, and that no waiter's face would light
up as he saw me threading my way to the sacred table, withdrawn in a
nook of the balcony, where one could see and hear all, participate in
the general human stir and atmosphere, and yet remain apart.

Ah! no; for the friendly Cockney that once greeted me with an enfolding
paternal kindness was substituted broken English of a less companionable
accent. A polite young Greek it was who stood waiting respectfully for
my order, knowing nothing of all it meant for me--_me_--to be seated at
that table again--whereas, had he been one of half a dozen of the
waiters of yester-year, he would have known almost as much as I of the
"secret memoirs" of that historic table.

In ordering my meal I made no attempt at sentiment, for my mood went far
deeper than sentiment. Indeed, though, every second of the time, I was
living so vividly, so cruelly, in the past, I made one heartbroken
acknowledgment of the present by beginning with the anachronism of a
dry Martini cocktail, which, twelve years previous, was unknown and
unattainable in that haunted gallery. That cocktail was a sort of
desperate epitaph. It meant that I was alone--alone with my ghosts. Yet
it had a certain resurrecting influence, and as I sat there proceeding
dreamily with my meal, one face and another would flash before me, and
memory after memory re-enact itself in the theatre of my fancy. So
much in my actual surroundings brought back the past with an aching
distinctness--particularly the entrance of two charming young people,
making rainbows all about them, as, ushered by a smiling waiter, who was
evidently no stranger to their felicity, they seated themselves at a
neighbouring table with a happy sigh, and neglected the menu for a
moment or two while they gazed, rapt and lost, into each other's eyes.
How well I knew it all; how easily I could have taken the young man's
place, and played the part for which this evening he was so fortunately
cast! As I looked at them, I instinctively summoned to my side the
radiant shade of Aurea, for indeed she had seemed made of gold--gold and
water lilies. And, as of old, when I had called to her, she came swiftly
with a luxurious rustle of fragrant skirts, like the sound of the west
wind among the summer trees, or the swish and sway of the foam about the
feet of Aphrodite. There she sat facing me once more, "a feasting
presence made of light"--her hair like a golden wheat sheaf, her
eyes like blue flowers amid the wheat, and her bosom, by no means
parsimoniously concealed, literally suggesting that the loveliness of
all the water lilies in the world was amassed there within her corset
as in some precious casket. Ours was not one of the great tragic loves,
but I know I shall think of Aurea's bosom on my death-bed. At her coming
I had ordered champagne--we always drank champagne together, because, as
we said, it matched so well with her hair--champagne of a no longer
fashionable brand. The waiter seemed a little surprised to hear it asked
for, but it had been the only _chic_ brand in 19--.

"Look at those two yonder," I said presently, after we had drunk to
each other, smiling long into each other's eyes over the brims of our
glasses. "You and I were once as they. It is their first wonderful
dinner together. Watch them--the poor darlings; it is enough to break
one's heart."

"Do you remember ours?" asked Aurea quite needlessly.

"I wonder what else I was thinking of--dear idiot!" said I, with tender
elegance, as in the old days.

As I said before, Aurea and I had not been tragic in our love. It was
more a matter of life--than death; warm, pagan, light-hearted life. Ours
was perhaps that most satisfactory of relationships between men and
women, which contrives to enjoy the happiness, the fun, even the
ecstasy, of loving, while evading its heartache. It was, I suppose, what
one would call a healthy physical enchantment, with lots of tenderness
and kindness in it, but no possibility of hurt to each other. There was
nothing Aurea would not have done for me, or I for Aurea, except--marry
each other; and, as a matter of fact, there were certain difficulties on
both sides in the way of our doing that, difficulties, however, which I
am sure neither of us regretted.

Yes, Aurea and I understood thoroughly what was going on in those young
hearts, as we watched them, our eyes starry with remembrance. Who better
than we should know that hush and wonder, that sense of enchanted
intimacy, which belongs of all moments perhaps in the progress of a
passion to that moment when two standing tiptoe on the brink of golden
surrender, sit down to their first ambrosial meal together--delicious
adventure!--with all the world to watch them, if it choose, and yet
aloof in a magic loneliness, as of youthful divinities wrapped in a
roseate cloud! Hours of divine expectancy, at once promise and
fulfilment. Happy were it for you, lovers, could you thus sit forever,
nor pass beyond this moment, touched by some immortalizing wand as those
lovers on the Grecian Urn:

Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss.
Though winning near the goal--yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss.
Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

"See," said Aurea presently, "they are getting ready to go. The waiter
has brought the bill, and is looking away, suddenly lost in profound
meditation. Let us see how he pays the bill. I am sure she is anxious."

"Your old test!" said I. "Do you remember?"

"Yes! And it's one that never fails," said Aurea with decision. "When a
woman goes out to dinner with a man for the first time, he little knows
how much is going to depend on his way of paying the bill. If, as with
some men one meets, he studies it through a microscope and adds it
up with anxious brow--meanwhile quite evidently forgetting your
presence--how your heart sinks, sinks and hardens--but you are glad all
the same, and next day you congratulate yourself on your narrow escape!"

"Was I like that?" said I.

"Did we escape?" asked Aurea. Then she added, touching my arm as with a
touch of honeyed fire: "O I'm so glad! He did it delightfully--quite _en
prince_. Just the right nonchalance--and perhaps, poor dear, he's as

"As we often were," I added.

And then through the corners of our eyes we saw the young lovers rise
from the table, and the man enfold his treasure in her opera cloak, O so
reverently, O so tenderly, as though he were wrapping up some holy
flower. And O those deep eyes she gave him, half turning her head as he
did so!

"That look," whispered Aurea, quoting Tennyson, "'had been a clinging
kiss but for the street.'"

Then suddenly they were gone, caught up like Enoch, into heaven--some
little heaven, maybe, like one that Aurea and I remember, high up under
the ancient London roofs.

But, with their going, alas, Aurea had vanished too, and I was left
alone with my Greek waiter, who was asking me what cheese I would

With the coming of coffee and cognac, I lit my cigar and settled down to
deliberate reverie, as an opium smoker gives himself up to his dream. I
savoured the bitter-sweetness of my memories; I took a strange pleasure
in stimulating the ache of my heart with vividly recalled pictures of
innumerable dead hours. I systematically passed from table to table all
around that spacious peristyle. There was scarcely one at which I
had not sat with some vanished companion in those years of ardent,
irresponsible living which could never come again. Not always a woman
had been the companion whose form I thus conjured out of the past, too
often out of the grave; for the noble friendship of youth haunted those
tables as well, with its generous starry-eyed enthusiasms and passionate
loyalties. Poets of whom but their songs remain, themselves by tragic
pathways descended into the hollow land, had read their verses to me
there, still glittering with the dawn dew of their creation, as we sat
together over the wine and talked of the only matters then--and perhaps
even yet--worth talking of: love and literature. Of these but one can
still be met in London streets, but all now wear crowns of varying

Where the oldest bard is as the young,
And the pipe is ever dropping honey,
And the lyre's strings are ever strung.

Dear boon fellows of life as well as literature, how often have we risen
from those tables, to pursue together the not too swiftly flying
petticoat, through the terrestrial firmament of shining streets, aglow
with the midnight sun of pleasure, a-dazzle with eyes brighter far than
the city lamps--passionate pilgrims of the morning star! Ah! we go on
such quests no more--"another race hath been and other palms are won."

No, not always women--but naturally women nearly always, for it was the
time of rosebuds, and we were wisely gathering them while we might--

Through the many to the one--
O so many!
Kissing all and missing none,
Loving any.

Every man who has lived a life worthy the name of living has his own
private dream of fair women, the memory of whom is as a provision laid
up against the lean years that must come at last, however long they may
be postponed by some special grace of the gods, which is, it is good to
remember, granted to some--the years when one has reluctantly to
accept that the lovely game is almost, if not quite at an end, and to
watch the bloom and abundance of fragrant young creatures pass us,
unregarding, by. And, indeed, it may happen that a man who has won what
is for him the fairest of all fair faces, and has it still by his side,
may enter sometimes, without disloyalty, that secret gallery of those
other fair faces that were his before hers, in whom they are all summed
up and surpassed, had dawned upon his life. We shall hardly be loyal to
the present if we are coldly disloyal to the past. In the lover's
calendar, while there is but one Madonna, there must still be minor
saints, to whom it is meet, at certain times and seasons, to offer
retrospective candles--saints that, after the manner of many saints,
were once such charming sinners for our sakes, that utter forgetfulness
of them were an impious boorishness surely unacceptable to the most
jealous of Madonnas. Public worship of them is not, of course,
desirable, but occasional private celebrations are surely more than
permissible--such celebrations as that "night of memory and tears" which
Landor consecrated to Rose Aylmer, or that song which Thackeray
consecrated to certain loves of the long ago--

Gillian's dead, God rest her bier,
How I loved her twenty years syne!
Marian's married, but I sit here,
Alone and merry at forty year,
Dipping my nose in the Gascon wine.

So I, seated in my haunted restaurant, brought the burnt offerings of
several cigars, and poured out various libations to my own private
Gillians and Marians, and in fancy sat and looked into Angelica's eyes
at this table, and caressed Myrtle's opaled hand at that, and read
Sylvia a poem I had just written for her at still another. "Whose names
are five sweet symphonies," wrote Rossetti. Yes, symphonies, indeed, in
the ears of memory are the names of the lightest loves that flittered
butterfly-like across our path in the golden summer of our lives,
each name calling up its human counterpart, with her own endearing
personality distinguishing her from all other girls, her way of
smiling, her way of talking, her way of being serious, all the little
originalities on which she prided herself, her so solemnly held
differentia of tastes and manners--all, in a word, that made you realize
that you were dining with Corinna and not with Chloe. What a service of
contrast each--all unwittingly, need one say--did the other, just in the
same fashion as contrasting colours accentuate the special quality one
of the other. To have dined last night with Amaryllis, with her Titian
red hair and green eyes, her tropic languor and honey-drowsy ways,
was to feel all the keener zest in the presence of Callithoe on
the following evening, with her delicate soul-lit face, and eager
responsiveness of look and gesture--_blonde cendre_, and _fausse
maigre_--a being one of the hot noon, the other a creature of the
starlight. But I disclaim the sultanesque savour of thus writing of
these dear bearers of symphonic names. To talk of them as flowers and
fruit, as colour and perfume, as ivory and velvet, is to seem to forget
the best of them, and the best part of loving them and being loved
again; for that consisted in their comradeship, their enchanted
comradeship, the sense of shared adventure, the snatching of a fearful
joy together. For a little while we had escaped from the drab and
songless world, and, cost what it might, we were determined to take
possession, for a while at least, of that paradise which sprang into
existence at the moment when "male and female created He them." Such
divine foolishness, let discretion warn, or morality frown, or society
play the censorious hypocrite, "were wisdom in the scorn of

"Ah, then," says every man to himself of such hours, as I said to myself
in my haunted restaurant--"ah, then came in the sweet o' the year."

But lovely and pleasant as were the memories over which I thus sat
musing, there was one face immeasurably beyond all others that I had
come there hoping and yet fearing to meet again, hers of whom for years
that seem past counting all the awe and wonder and loveliness of the
world have seemed but the metaphor. Endless years ago she and I had sat
at this table where I was now sitting and had risen from it with
breaking hearts, never to see each other's face, hear each other's voice
again. Voluntarily, for another's sake, we were breaking our hearts,
renouncing each other, putting from us all the rapture and religion
of our loving, dying then and there that another might live--vain
sacrifice! Once and again, long silences apart, a word or two would wing
its way across lands and seas and tell us both that we were still
under the same sky and were still what nature had made us from the
beginning--each other's. But long since that veil of darkness unpierced
of my star has fallen between us, and no longer do I hear the rustle of
her gown in the autumn woods, nor do the spring winds carry me the
sweetness of her faithful thoughts any more. So I dreamed maybe that,
after the manner of phantoms, we might meet again on the spot where we
had both died--but alas, though the wraiths of lighter loving came gaily
to my call, she of the starlit silence and the tragic eyes came not,
though I sat long awaiting her--sat on till the tables began to be
deserted, and the interregnum between dinner and after-theatre supper
had arrived. No, I began to understand that she could no longer come
to me: we must both wait till I could go to her.

And with this thought in my mind, I set about preparing to take my leave,
but at that moment I was startled--almost superstitiously--startled by
a touch on my shoulder. I was not to leave those once familiar halls
without one recognition, after all. It was our old waiter of all
those years ago, who, with an almost paternal gladness, was telling
me how good it was to see me again, and, with consolatory mendacity,
was assuring me that I had hardly changed a bit. God bless him--he
will never know what good it did me to have his honest recognition.
The whole world was not yet quite dead and buried, after all, nor
was I quite such an unremembered ghost as I had seemed. Dear old Jim
Lewis! So some of the old guard were still on deck, after all! And,
I was thinking as I looked at him: "He, too, has looked upon her
face. He it was who poured out our wine, that last time together."
Then I had a whim. My waiter had been used to them in the old days.

"Jim," I said, "I want you to give this half-sovereign to the bandmaster
and ask him to play Chopin's _Funeral March_. There are not many people
in the place, so perhaps he won't mind. Tell him it's for an old friend
of yours, and in memory of all the happy dinners he had here long ago."

So to the strains of that death music, which so strangely blends the
piercing pathos of lost things with a springlike sense of resurrection,
a spheral melody of immortal promise, I passed once more through the
radiant portals of my necropolitan restaurant into the resounding
thoroughfares of still living and still loving humanity.



There never was a shallower or more short-sighted criticism than that
which has held that science is the enemy of romance. Ruskin, with
all the April showers of his rhetoric, discredited himself as an
authoritative thinker when he screamed his old-maidish diatribes against
that pioneer of modern romantic communication, the railroad. Just as
surely his idol Turner proved himself a romantic painter, not by his
rainbows, or his Italian sunsets, but by that picture of _Storm, Rain,
and Speed_--an old-fashioned express fighting its way through wind,
rain, and of course rainbows--in the English National Gallery.

With all his love of that light that never was on sea or land, Turner
was yet able to see the romance of that new thing of iron and steam so
affrighting to other men of his generation. A lover of light in all its
swift prismatic changes, he was naturally a lover of speed. He realized
that speed was one of the two most romantic things in the world. The
other is immobility. At present the two extremes of romantic expression
are the Sphinx and--the automobile. Unless you can realize that an
automobile is more romantic than a stage-coach, you know nothing
about romance. Soon the automobile will have its nose put out by the
air-ship, and we shall not need to be long-lived to see the day when
we shall hear old-timers lamenting the good old easy-going past of
the seventy-miles-an-hour automobile--just as we have heard our
grand-fathers talk of postilions and the Bath "flyer."

Romance is made of two opposites: Change, and That Which Changeth Not.
In spite of foolish sentimentalism, who needs be told that love is one
of those forces of the universe that is the same yesterday, today, and
forever--the same today as when Dido broke her heart, as when Leander
swam the Hellespont? Gravitation is not more inherent in the cosmic
scheme, nor fire nor water more unchangeable in their qualities.

But Love, contrary to the old notion that he is unpractical, is a
business-like god, and is ever on the lookout for the latest modern
appliances that can in anyway serve his purposes. True love is far from
being old-fashioned. On the contrary, true love is always up-to-date.
True love has its telephone, its phonograph, its automobile, and soon it
will have its air-ship. In the telephone alone what a debt love owes to
its supposed enemy, modern science! One wonders how lovers in the old
days managed to live at all without the telephone.

We often hear how our modern appliances wear upon our nerves. But think
how the lack of modern appliances must have worn upon the nerves of our
forefathers, and particularly our foremothers! Think what distance meant
in the Middle Ages, when the news of a battle took days to travel,
though carried by the swiftest horses. Horses! Think again of news being
carried by--horses! And once more think, with a prayer of gratitude to
two magicians named Edison and Bell, and with a due sense of your being
the spoiled and petted offspring of the painful ages, that should your
love be in Omaha this night and you in New York City, you can say
good-night to her through the wall of your apartment, and hear her sigh
back her good-night to you across two thousand miles of the American
flag. Or should your love be on the sea, you can interrupt her
flirtations all the way across with your persistent wireless
conversation. Contrast your luxurious communicativeness with the case of
the lovers of old-time. Say that you have just married a young woman,
and you are happy together in your castle in the heart of the forest.
Suddenly the courier of war is at your gates, and you must up and arm
and away with your men to the distant danger. You must follow the Cross
into the savage Kingdom of the Crescent. The husband must become the
crusader, and the Lord Christ alone knows when he shall look on the
child's face of his wife again. Through goblin-haunted wildernesses he
must go, through unmapped no-man's lands, and vacuum solitudes of the
world's end, and peril and pestilence meet in every form, the face of
his foe the friendliest thing in all his mysterious travel. Not a
pay-station as yet in all the wide world, and fully five hundred years
to the nearest telegraph office!

And think of the young wife meanwhile, alone with her maids and her
tapestry in the dank isolation of her lonely, listening castle. Not a
leaf falls in the wood, but she hears it. Not a footstep snaps the
silence, but her eyes are at the sleepless slit of light which is her
window in the armoured stone of her fortified bridal tower. The only
news of her husband she can hope for in a full year or more will be
the pleasing lies of some flattering minstrel, or broken soldier, or
imaginative pilgrim. On such rumours she must feed her famishing
heart--and all the time her husband's bones may be whitening unepitaphed
outside the walls of Ascalon or Joppa.

There is an old Danish ballad which quaintly tells the tale of such old
long-distance days, with that blending of humour and pathos that forever
goes to the heart of man. A certain Danish lord had but yesterday taken
unto himself a young wife, and on the morrow of his marriage there came
to him the summons to war. Then, as now, there was no arguing with the
trumpets of martial duty. The soldier's trumpet heeds not the soldier's
tears. The war was far away and likely to be long. Months, even years,
might go by before that Danish lord would look on the face of his bride
again. So much might happen meanwhile! A little boy, or a little girl,
might be born to the castle, and the father, fighting far away, know
nothing of the beautiful news. And there was no telephone in the castle,
and it was five hundred years to the nearest telegraph office.

So the husband and wife agreed upon a facetious signal of their own. The
castle stood upon a ridge of hills which could be seen fifty miles away,
and on the ridge the bride promised to build a church. If the child that
was to be born proved to be a boy, the church would be builded with a
tower; if a girl, with a steeple. So the husband went his way, and three
years passed, and at length he returned with his pennons and his
men-at-arms to his own country. Scanning the horizon line, he hurried
impatiently toward the heliographic ridge. And lo! when at last it came
in sight against the rising sun, there was a new church builded stately
there--with two towers.

So it was with the most important of all news in the Middle Ages; and
yet today, as I said, you in New York City have only to knock good-night
on your wall, to be heard by your true love in Omaha, and hear her knock
back three times the length of France; Pyramus and Thisbe--with this
difference: that the wall is no longer a barrier, but a sensitive
messenger. It has become, indeed, in the words of Demetrius in _A
Midsummer Night's Dream_, the wittiest of partitions, and the modern
Pyramus may apostrophize it in grateful earnest:

"Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall ...
Thanks, courteous wall. Jove shield thee well for this!"

So at least I always feel toward the wall of my apartment every time I
call up her whom my soul loveth that dwelleth far away in Massachusetts.
She being a Capulet and I a Montague, it would go hard with us for
communication, were it not for this long-distance wall; and any one
who knows anything of love knows that the primal need of lovers is
communication. Lovers have so deep a distrust of each other's love that
they need to be assured of it from hour to hour. To the philosopher it
may well seem strange that this certitude should thus be in need of
progressive corroboration. But so it is, and the pampered modern lover
may well wonder how his great-grandfather and great-grandmother
supported the days, or even kept their love alive, on such famine
rations as a letter once a month. A letter once a month! They must have
had enormous faith in each other, those lovers of old-time, or they must
have suffered as we can hardly bear to think of--we, who write to each
other twice a day, telegraph three times, telephone six, and transmit a
phonographic record of our sighs to each other night and morn. The
telephone has made a toy of distance and made of absence, in many cases,
a sufficient presence. It is almost worth while to be apart on occasion
just for the sake of bringing each other so magically near. It is the
Arabian Nights come true. As in them, you have only to say a word, and
the jinn of the electric fire is waiting for your commands. The word
has changed. Once it was "Abracadabra." Now it is "Central." But the
miracle is just the same.

One might almost venture upon the generalization that most tragedies
have come about from lack of a telephone. Of course, there are
exceptions, but as a rule tragedies happen through delays in

If there had been a telephone in Mantua, Romeo would never have bought
poison of the apothecary. Instead, he would have asked leave to use his
long-distance telephone. Calling up Verona, he would first cautiously
disguise his voice. If, as usual, the old nurse answered, all well; but
if a bearded voice set all the wires a-trembling, he would, of course,
hastily ring off, and abuse "Central" for giving him the wrong number.
And "Central" would understand. Then Romeo would wait an hour or two
till he was sure that Lord Capulet had gone to the Council, and ring up
again. This time he would probably get the nurse and confide to her his
number in Mantua. Next morning Juliet and her nurse had only to drop in
at the nearest drug store, and confide to Romeo the whole plot which
Balthazar so sadly bungled. All that was needed was a telephone, and
Romeo would have understood that Juliet was only feigning death for the
sake of life with him.

But, as in the case of our Danish knight, there was not a pay-station
as yet in all the wide world, and it was fully five hundred years
to the nearest telegraph office. Another point in this tragedy is
worth considering by the modern mind: that not only would the final
catastrophe have been averted by the telephone, but that those beautiful
speeches to and from Juliet's balcony, made at such desperate risk to
both lovers, had the telephone only been in existence, could have
been made in complete security from the seclusion of their distant

Seriously speaking, there are few love tragedies, few serious historic
crises of any kind, that might not have been averted by the telephone.
Strange indeed, when one considers a little, is that fallacy of
sentimentalism which calls science the enemy of love.

Far from being its enemy, science is easily seen to be its most romantic
servant; for all its strenuous and delicate learning it brings to the
feet of love for a plaything. Not only will it carry the voice of love
across space and time, but it will even bring it back to you from
eternity. It will not only carry to your ears the voices of the living,
but it will also keep safe for you the sweeter voices of the dead. In
fact, it would almost seem as though science had made all its
discoveries for the sake of love.



It is a pity that our language has no other word to indicate that one
has lived seventy, eighty, or ninety years, than the word "old"; for the
word "old" carries with it implications of "senility" and decrepitude,
which many merely chronologically "old" people very properly resent. The
word "young," similarly, needs the assistance of another word, for we
all know individuals of thirty and forty, sometimes even only twenty,
whom it is as absurd to call "young" as it is to call those others of
seventy, eighty, or ninety, "old."

"Youth" is too large and rich a word to serve the limited purpose of
numbering the years of undeveloped boys and girls. It should stand
rather for the vital principle in men and women, ever expanding, and
rebuilding, and refreshing the human organism, partly a physical, but
perhaps in a greater degree a spiritual energy.

I am not writing this out of any compliment to two wonderful "old"
ladies of whom I am particularly thinking. They would consider me a
dunce were they to suspect me of any such commonplace intent. No! I am
not going to call them "eighty years young," or employ any of those
banal euphemisms with which would-be "tactful" but really club-footed
sentimentalists insult the intelligence of the so-called "old." Of
course, I know that they are both eighty or thereabouts, and they know
very well that I know. We make no secret of it. Why should we? Actually
though the number of my years falls short of eighty, I feel so much
older than either of them, that it never occurs to me to think of them
as "old," and often as I contemplate their really glowing energetic
youth, I grow melancholy for myself, and wonder what has become of my

They were schoolgirls together. Luccia married Irene's brother--for they
allow me the privilege of calling them by their Christian names--and
they have been friends all their lives. Sometimes I see them together,
though oftener apart, for Luccia and her white-haired poet husband--no
"older" than herself,--are neighbours of mine in the country, and Irene
lives for the most part in New York--as much in love with its giant
developments as though she did not also cherish memories of that quaint,
almost vanished, New York of her girlhood days; for she is nothing if
not progressive.

But I will tell about Luccia first, and the first thing it is natural to
speak of--so every one else finds too--is her beauty. They say that she
was beautiful when she was young (I am compelled sometimes, under
protest, to use the words "young" and "old" thus chronologically) and,
of course, she must have been. I have, however, seen some of her early
portraits, before her hair was its present beautiful colour, and I must
confess that the Luccia of an earlier day does not compare with the
Luccia of today. I don't think I should have fallen in love with her
then, whereas now it is impossible to take one's eyes off her. She seems
to have grown more flower-like with the years, and while her lovely
indestructible profile has gathered distinction, and a lifelong habit of
thinking beautiful thoughts, and contemplating beautiful things, has
drawn honeyed lines as in silver point about her eyes and mouth, the
wild-roses of her cheeks still go on blooming--like wild-roses in
moonlight. And over all glow her great clear witty eyes, the eyes of a
_grand dame_ who has still remained a girl. Her humour, no doubt, has
much to do with her youth, and I have seen strangers no little
surprised, even disconcerted, at finding so keen a humour in one so
beautiful; for beauty and humour are seldom found together in so
irresistible a combination. Is it to be wondered at that often on summer
days when I feel the need of a companion, I go in search of Luccia, and
take tea with her on the veranda? Sometimes I will find her in the
garden seated in front of her easel, making one of her delicate
water-colour sketches--for she was once a student in Paris and has
romantic Latin-quarter memories. Or I will find her with her magnifying
glass, trying to classify some weed she has come upon in the garden,
for she is a learned botanist; and sometimes we will turn over the pages
of books in which she hoards the pressed flowers gathered by her and her
husband in Italy and Switzerland up till but a year or two ago,
memorials of a life together that has been that flawless romance which
love sometimes grants to his faithful servants.

At other times we will talk politics, and I wish you could hear the
advanced views of this "old" lady of eighty. Indeed, generally speaking,
I find that nowadays the only real progressives are the "old" people. It
seems to be the fashion with the "young" to be reactionary. Luccia,
however, has been a radical and a rebel since her girlhood, and, years
before the word "feminist" was invented, was fighting the battle of
the freedom of woman. And what a splendid Democrat she is, and how
thoroughly she understands and fearlessly faces the problems and
developments of the moment! She is of the stuff the old Chartist women
and the women of the French Revolution were made of, and in her heart
the old faith in Liberty and the people burns as brightly as though she
were some young Russian student ready to give her life for the cause.
When the revolution comes to America, stern masculine authority will be
needed to keep her--her friend Irene too--from the barricades.

"Stern masculine authority"! As I write that phrase, how plainly I can
hear her mocking laughter; for she is never more delightful than when
pouring out her raillery on the magisterial pretensions of man. To hear
her talk! The idea of a mere man daring to assume any authority or
direction over a woman! Yet we who know her smile and whisper to
ourselves that, for all her witty tirades, she is perhaps of all women
the most feminine, and really the most "obedient" of wives--a rebel in
all else save to the mild tyranny of the poet she has loved, honoured,
and yes! obeyed, all these wonderful years.

Perhaps in nothing is the reality of her youthfulness so expressive as
in her adorable gaiety. Like a clear fresh spring, it is ever brimming
up from the heart into her mischief-loving eyes. By her side merely
technically young people seem heavy and serious. And nothing amuses her
more than gravely to mystify, or even bewilderingly shock, some proper
acquaintance, or some respectable strangers, with her carefully designed
mock improprieties of speech or action. To look at the loveliest of
grand-mothers, it is naturally somewhat perplexing to the uninitiated
visitor to hear her talk, with her rarely distinguished manner, of
frivolous matters with which they assume she has long since done.

A short while ago, when I was taking tea with her, she had for visitor a
staid old-maidish lady, little more than half her age, whom she had
known as a girl, but had not seen for some years. In the course of
conversation, she turned to her guest, with her grand air:

"Have you done much dancing this season?" she asked.

"O indeed no," answered the other unsuspiciously, "my dancing days are

"At your age!" commented Luccia with surprise. "Nonsense! You must let
me teach you to dance the tango. I have enjoyed it immensely this

"Really?" gasped the other in astonishment, with that intonation in the
voice naturally so gratifying to the "old" suggesting that the person
talking with them really regards them as dead and buried.

"Of course, why not?" asks Luccia with perfect seriousness. "I dance it
with my grandsons. My husband doesn't care to dance it. He prefers the

Not knowing what to think, the poor old maid--actually "old" compared
with Luccia--looked from her to the beautiful venerable figure of her
polka-dancing husband seemingly meditating over his pipe, a little
withdrawn from them on the veranda, but inwardly shaken with mirth at
the darling nonsense of her who is still the same madcap girl he first
fell in love with so many years ago.

When the guest had departed, with a puzzled, questioning look still
lingering on her face, Luccia turned to me, her eyes bright pools of

"It was quite true, wasn't it? Come, let us try it."

And, nimble as a girl, she was on her feet, and we executed quite a
passable tango up and down the veranda, to the accompaniment of her
husband's--"Luccia! Luccia! what a wild thing you are!"

A certain reputation for "wildness," a savour of innocent Bohemianism,
has clung to Luccia, and Irene too, all through their lives, as a legacy
from that far-off legendary time when, scarcely out of their girlhood,
they were fellow art-students together in Paris. Belonging both to
aristocratic, rather straitlaced New England families, I have often
wondered how they contrived to accomplish that adventure in a day when
such independent action on the part of two pretty young ladies was an
adventure indeed. But it was the time when the first vigorous spring of
feminine revolt was in the air. Rosa Bonheur, George Eliot, Elizabeth
Cady Stanton, and other leaders were setting the pace for the advanced
women, and George Sand was still a popular romancer. As a reminiscence
of George Sand, Luccia to this day pretends that she prefers to smoke
cigars to cigarettes, though, as a matter of fact, she has never smoked
either, and has, indeed, an ultra-feminine detestation of tobacco--even
in the form of her husband's pipe. She only says it, of course, for
the fun of seeming "naughty"; which recalls to my mind her shocking
behaviour one day when I went with her to call on some very prim
cousins in New York. It was a household of an excessively brown-stone
respectability, just the atmosphere to rouse the wickedness in Luccia.
As we sat together in an upright conversation that sounded like the
rustling of dried leaves in a cemetery, why! Luccia, for all her eighty
years, seemed like a young wild-rose bush filling the tomb-like room
with living light and fragrance. I could see the wickedness in her
surging for an outburst. She was well aware that those respectable
connections of hers had always looked upon her as a sort of "artistic"
black sheep in the family. Presently her opportunity came. As our visit
dragged mournfully towards its end, the butler entered, in pursuance of
the early Victorian ritual on such occasions, bearing a tray on which
was a decanter of sherry, some tiny wine-glasses, and some dry biscuits
of a truly early Victorian dryness. This ghostly hospitality was duly
dispensed, and Luccia, who seldom drinks anything but tea, instead of
sipping her sherry with a lady-like aloofness, drained her glass with a
sudden devil-may-care abandon, and, to the evident amazement even of the
furniture, held it out to be refilled. Such pagan behaviour had never
disgraced that scandalized drawing-room before. And when to her action
she added words, the room absolutely refused to believe its ears. "I
feel," she said, with a deep-down mirth in her eyes which only I could
suspect rather than see, "I feel today as if I should like to go on a
real spree. Do you ever feel that way?"

A palpable shudder passed through the room.

"Cousin Luccia!" cried out the three outraged mummies; the brother with
actual sternness, and the sisters in plain fear. Had their eccentric
cousin really gone out of her mind at last?

"Never feel that way?" she added, delighting in the havoc she was
making. "You should. It's a wonderful feeling."

Then she drained her second glass, and to the evident relief of all
three, rose to go. How we laughed together, as we sped away in our
taxicab. "It's as well to live up to one's reputation with such people,"
she said, that dear, fantastic Luccia.

_A propos_ that early Parisian adventure, Rosa Bonheur had been one of
Luccia's and Irene's great exemplars, and one might say, in one
particular connection,--heroes. I refer to the great painter's adoption
of masculine costume. Why two unusually pretty young women should burn
to discard the traditional flower-furniture of their sex, in exchange
for the uncouth envelopes of man, is hard to understand. But it was
the day of Mrs. Bloomer, as well as Rosa Bonheur; and earnest young
"intellectuals" among women had a notion, I fancy, that to shake off
their silks and laces was, symbolically, at all events, to shake off the
general disabilities of their sex, and was somehow an assertion of a
mental equality with man. At all events, it was a form of defiance
against their sex's immemorial tyrant, which seems to have appealed to
the imaginations of some young women of the period. Another woman's
weakness to be sternly discarded was that scriptural "glory" of her
hair. That must be ruthlessly lopped. So it is easy to imagine the
horror of such relatives as I have hinted at when our two beautiful
adventuresses returned from Paris, and appeared before their families in
great Spanish cloaks, picturesque, coquettish enough you may be sure,
veiling with some show of discretion those hideous compromises with
trousers invented and worn by the strong-minded Mrs. Bloomer, and
wearing their hair after the manner of Florentine boys. To face one's
family, and to walk New York streets so garbed, must have needed real
courage in those days; yet the two friends did both, and even for
a while accepted persecution for vagaries which for them had the
dead-seriousness of youth.

Passionate young propagandists as they were, they even preferred to
abandon their homes for a while--rather than their bloomers--and, taking
a studio together in New York, started out to earn their own living by
the teaching of art. Those were the days of the really brave women.

But to return to the less abstract topic of the bloomers, I often tease
Luccia and Irene about them, seeking for further information as to why
they ever came to retrograde from a position so heroically taken, one of
such serious import to human progress, and to condescend once more to
don the livery of feminine servitude, and appear, as they do today, in
delicate draperies which the eye searches in vain for any hint of
sanguinary revolution. Luccia always looks shamefaced at the question.
She still feels guilty, I can see, of a traitorous backsliding and
occasionally threatens to make up for it by a return to masculine
costume--looking the most exquisite piece of Dresden china as she says
it. I have seen that masculine tyrant of hers smiling knowingly to
himself on such occasions, and it has not been difficult to guess why
and when those historic bloomers disappeared into the limbo of lost
causes. There is little doubt that when Love came in by the door, the
bloomers went out, so to speak, by the window.

Irene seems to have held out longer, and, doubtless, scornful of her
more frivolous comrade's defection, steadfastly kept the faith awhile
unsupported, walking the world in bloomered loneliness--till a like
event overtook her. Such is the end of every maid's revolt! But Irene,
to this day, retains more of her student seriousness than her more
worldly-minded friend. Her face is of the round cherubic type, and her
large heavy-lidded eyes have a touch of demureness veiling humour no
less deep than Luccia's, but more reflective, chuckling quietly to
itself, though on occasion I know no one better to laugh with, even
giggle with, than Irene. But, whereas Luccia will talk gaily of
revolution and even anarchy for the fun of it, and in the next breath
talk hats with real seriousness, Irene still remains the purposeful
revolutionary student she was as a girl; while Luccia contents herself
with flashing generalizations, Irene seriously studies the latest
developments of thought and society, reads all the new books, sees all
the new plays and pictures, and has all the new movements of whatever
kind--art, philosophy, and sociology--at her finger ends; and I may add
that her favourite writer is Anatole France. Whenever I need light on
the latest artistic or philosophic nonsense calling itself a movement
(cubism, futurism, Bergsonism, syndicalism, or the like) I go to her,
certain that she will know all about it. Nothing is too "modern" for
this wonderful "old" lady of seventy-nine; and, whenever I am in town,
we always go together to the most "advanced" play in the newest of new

_A propos_ our theatre-going together, I must not forget a story about
her which goes back to that bloomer period. A little while ago, calling
to take tea with her, I found her seated with a fine soldierly
white-haired "old" man, and they were in such merry talk that I felt
that perhaps I was interrupting old memories. But they generously took
me into the circle of their reminiscence. They had been laughing as I
came in--"Shall I tell him, General?" she said, "what we were laughing
about?" Then she did. She and the General had been girl and boy
together, and as they came to eighteen and nineteen had been
semi-serious sweethearts. The embryo General--no doubt because of her
pretty face--had taken all her student vagaries with lover-like
seriousness, and had, on one occasion, assisted in a notable enterprise.
The bloomers had not been definitely donned at that time, but they were
on the way, glimmering ahead as a discussed ideal. Whether it was as a
preliminary experiment, or only in consequence of a "dare," I am not
quite sure. I think it was a little of both, and that the General had
dared Irene to go with him to the opera (in the gallery) dressed in
boy's clothes. She accepted the challenge, borrowing a suit of clothes
from her brother for the purpose. Her figure, according to the General's
account, had looked anything but masculine, and her hair, tucked up
under her boy's hat as best she could, was a peculiar peril. How her
heart had almost stopped beating as a policeman had turned upon the
youthful pair a suspicious scrutiny, how they had taken to their heels
at his glance, how she had crimsoned at the box-office, and hid her face
behind a fat man as they had scurried past the ticket-attendant, and how
during the whole performance a keen-faced woman had glanced at her with
a knowing persistency that seemed to threaten her with imminent exposure
and arrest, and how wonderful the whole thing had been--just to be in
boy's clothes and go in them to the theatre with one's sweetheart. O
youth! youth! youth!

As I looked at the General with his white hair, and Irene with her
quaint little old lady's cap over her girlish face, and visualized for
myself those two figures before me as they had appeared on the night of
that escapade, I realized that the real romance of life is made by
memory, and that for these two old friends to be able thus to recall
together across all those years that laughing freak of their young blood
was still more romantic than the original escapade. But as I went on
looking at Irene, with the bloom of her immortal youth upon her, I grew
jealous of the General's share in that historic night. Well, never mind,
it is I who take her to the theatre nowadays--and, after all, I think I
prefer her to go dressed just as she is.



Christmas already! However welcome its coming, Christmas always seems to
take us by surprise. Is the year really so soon at the end of its
journey? Why, it seems only yesterday that it needed a special effort of
remembrance to date our letters with the new "_anno domini_." And have
you noticed that one always does that reluctantly, with something almost
of misgiving? The figures of the old year have a warm human look, but
those of the new wear a chill, unfamiliar, almost menacing expression.
Nineteen hundred and--we know. It is nearly "all in." It has done its
best--and its worst. Between Christmas Day and New-Year it has hardly
time to change its character. Good or bad, as it may have been, we feel
at home with it, and we are fain to keep the old almanac a little longer
on the wall. But the last leaves are falling, the days are shortening.
There is a smell of coming snow in the air, and for weeks past it has
already been Christmas in the shops.

Yes, however it strikes us, we are a year older. On the first of January
last we had twelve brand-new months of a brand-new year to spend, and
now the last of them is all but spent. We had a new spring to look out
for, like the coming of one's sweetheart, a new summer bounteous in
prospect with inexhaustible wealth of royal sunshine, a new autumn, with
ruddy orchards and the glory of the tapestried woods; and now of the
four new seasons that were to be ours but one remains:

And here is but December left and I,
To wonder if the hawthorn bloomed in May,
And if the wild rose with so fine a flush
Mantled the cheek of June, and if the way
The stream went singing foamed with meadow sweet,
And if the throstle sang in yonder bush,
And if the lark dizzied with song the sky.
I watched and listened--yet so sweet, so fleet,
The mad young year went by!

Strange, that feeling at the end of the year that somehow we have missed
it, have failed to experience it all to the full, taken it too
carelessly, not dwelt sufficiently on its rich, expressive hours. Each
year we feel the same, and however intent we may have been, however we
have watched and listened, sensitively eager to hold and exhaust each
passing moment, when the year-end has come, we seem somehow to have been
cheated after all. Who, at the beginning of each year, has not promised
himself a stricter attentiveness to his experience? This year he will
"load every rift with ore."

This year, I said, when first along the lane
With tiny nipples of the tender green
The winter-blackened hedge grew bright again,
This year I watch and listen; I have seen
So many springs steal profitless away,
This year I garner every sound and sweet.
And you, young year, make not such haste to bring
Hawthorn and rose; nor jumble, indiscreet,
Treasure on treasure of the precious spring;
But bring all softly forth upon the air,
Unhasting to be fair...

Yet, for all our watchfulness, the year seems to have escaped us. We
know that the birds sang, that the flowers bloomed, that the grass was
green, but it seems to us that we did not take our joy of them with
sufficient keenness; our sweetheart came, but we did not look deep
enough into her eyes. If only we live to see the wild rose again! But
meanwhile here is the snow.

Unless we are still numbered among those happy people for whom
Christmas-trees are laden and lit, this annual prematurity of Christmas
cannot but make us a little meditative amid our mirth, and if, while
Santa Claus is dispensing his glittering treasures, our thoughts grow a
little wistful, they will not necessarily be mournful thoughts, or on
that account less seasonable in character; for Christmas is essentially
a retrospective feast, and we may, with fitness, with indeed a proper
piety of unforgetfulness, bring even our sad memories, as it were to
cheer themselves, within the glow of its festivity. Ghosts have always
been invited to Christmas parties, and whether they are seen or not,
they always come; nor is any form of story so popular by the Christmas
fire as the ghost-story--which, when one thinks of it, is rather odd,
considering the mirthful character of the time. Yet, after all, what are
our memories but ghost-stories? Ah! the beautiful ghosts that come to
the Christmas fire!

Christmas too is pre-eminently the Feast of the Absent, the Festival of
the Far-Away, for the most prosperous ingathering of beloved faces about
the Christmas fire can but include a small number of those we would fain
have there; and have you ever realized that the absent are ghosts? That
is, they live with us sheerly as spiritual presences, dependent upon our
faithful remembrance for their embodiment. We may not, with our physical
eyes, see them once a year; we may not even have so seen them for twenty
years; it may be decreed that we shall never see them again; we seldom,
perhaps never, write to each other; all we know of each other is that we
are alive and love each other across space and time. Alive--but how?
Scarce otherwise, surely, than the unforgotten dead are alive--alive in
unforgetting love.

It is rather strange, if you will give it a thought, how much of our
real life is thus literally a ghost-story. Probably it happens with the
majority of us that those who mean most to us, by the necessities of
existence, must be far away, met but now and then in brief flashes
of meeting that often seem to say so much less than absence; our
intercourse is an intercourse of the imagination--yet how real! They
belong to the unseen in our lives, and have all its power over us. The
intercourse of a mother and a son--is it not often like that in a world
which sends its men on the four winds, to build and fight, while the
mother must stay in the old nest? Seldom at Christmas can a mother
gather all her children beneath the wing of her smile. Her big boys are
seven seas away, and even her girls have Christmas-trees of their own.
But motherhood is in its very nature a ghostly, a spiritual, thing, and
the big boys and the old mother are not really divided. They meet
unseen by the Christmas fire, as they meet all the year round in that
mysterious ether of the soul, where space and time are not.

Yes, it is strange to think how small a proportion of our lives we spend
with those we love; even when we say that we spend all our time with
them. Husband and wife even--how much of the nearness of the closest of
human relations is, and must be, what Rossetti has called "parted
presence!" The man must go forth to his labour until the evening. How
few of the twenty-four hours can these two beings who have given their
whole lives to each other really give! Husband and wife even must be
content to be ghosts to each other for the greater part of each day.
As Rossetti says in his poem, eyes, hands, voice, lips, can meet so
strangely seldom in the happiest marriage; only in the invisible home of
the heart can the most fortunate husband and wife be always together:

Your heart is never away,
But ever with mine, forever,
Forever without endeavour,
Tomorrow, love, as today;
Two blent hearts never astray,
Two souls no power may sever,
Together, O my love, forever!

When I said that the absent were ghosts, I don't think you quite liked
the saying. It gave you a little shiver. It seemed rather grimly
fantastic. But do you not begin to see what I meant? Begin to see the
comfort in the thought? begin to see the inner connection between
Christmas and the ghost-story? Yes, the real lesson of Christmas is the
ever presence of the absent through love; the ghostly, that is to say
the spiritual, nature of all human intercourse. Our realities can exist
only in and through our imaginations, and the most important part of our
lives is lived in a dream with dream-faces, the faces of the absent and
the dead--who, in the consolation of this thought, are alike brought

I have a friend who is dead--but I say to myself that he is in New
Zealand; for, if he were really in New Zealand, we should hardly seem
less distant, or be in more frequent communication. We should say that
we were both busy men, that the mails were infrequent, but that between
us there was no need of words, that we both "understood." That is what I
say now. It is just as appropriate. Perhaps he says it too. And--we
shall meet by the Christmas fire.

I have a friend who is alive. He is alive in England. We have not met
for twelve years. He never writes, and I never write. Perhaps we shall
never meet, never even write to each other, again. It is our way, the
way of many a friendship, none the less real for its silence--friendship
by faith, one might say, rather than by correspondence. My dead friend
is not more dumb, not more invisible. When these two friends meet me
by the Christmas fire, will they not both alike be ghosts--both, in a
sense, dead, but both, in a truer sense, alive?

It is so that, without our thinking of it, our simple human feelings one
for another at Christmas-time corroborate the mystical message which
it is the church's meaning to convey by this festival of "peace and
good-will to men"--the power of the Invisible Love; from the mystical
love of God for His world, to the no less, mystical love of mother and
child, of lover and lover, of friend and friend.

And, when you think of it, is not this festival founded upon what,
without irreverence, we may call the Divine Ghost-Story of Christmas?
Was there ever another ghost-story so strange, so full of marvels, a
story with so thrilling a message from the unseen? Taken just as a
story, is there anything in the _Arabian Nights_ so marvellous as this
ghost-story of Christmas? The world was all marble and blood and bronze,
against a pitiless sky of pitiless gods. The world was Rome. No rule
ever stood builded so impregnably from earth to stars--a merciless wall
of power. Strength never planted upon the earth so stern a foot. Never
was tyranny so invincibly bastioned to the cowed and conquered eye.

And against all this marble and blood and bronze, what frail fantastic
attack is this? What quaint expedition from fairy-land that comes so
insignificantly against these battlements on which the Roman helmets
catch the setting sun?

A Star in the Sky. Some Shepherds from Judea. Three Wise Men from the
East. Some Frankincense and Myrrh. A Mother and Child.

Yes, a fairy-tale procession--but these are to conquer Rome, and that
child at his mother's breast has but to speak three words, for all that
marble and bronze to melt away: "Love One Another."

It may well have seemed an almost ludicrous weapon--three gentle words.
So one might attack a fortress with a flower. But Rome fell before them,
for all that, and cruel as the world still is, so cruel a world can
never be again. The history of Christianity from Christ to Tolstoi
is the history of a ghost-story; and as Rome fell before the men it
martyred, so Russia has been compelled at last to open its prison doors
by the passive imperative of the three gentle words. Stone and iron are
terribly strong to the eye and even to the arm of man, but they are as
vapour before the breath of the soul. Many enthroned and magisterial
authorities seem so much more important and powerful than the simple
human heart, but let the trial of strength come, and we see the might of
the delicate invisible energy that wells up out of the infinite mystery
to support the dreams of man.

Christmas is the friendly human announcement of this ghostly truth; its
holly and boar's-head are but a rough-and-tumble emblazonment of that
mystic gospel of--The Three Words; the Gospel of the Unseen Love.

And how well has the church chosen this particular season of the year
for this most subtly spiritual of all its festivals, so subtle because
its ghostly message is so ruddily disguised in human mirth, and thus the
more unconsciously operative in human hearts!

Winter, itself so ghostly a thing, so spiritual in its beauty, was
indeed the season to catch our ears with this ghost-story of the
Invisible and Invincible Love. The other seasons are full of sensuous
charm and seductiveness. With endless variety of form and colour and
fragrance, they weave "a flowery band to bind us to the earth." They are
running over with the pride of sap, the luxury of green leaves, and the
intoxicating fulness of life. The summer earth is like some voluptuous
enchantress, all ardour and perfume, and soft dazzle of moted sunshine.
But the beauty of winter seems a spiritual, almost a supernatural,
thing, austere and forbidding at first, but on a nearer approach found
to be rich in exquisite exhilaration, in rare and lofty discoveries and
satisfactions of the soul. Winter naturally has found less favour with
the poets than the other seasons. Praise of it has usually a strained
air, as though the poet were making the best of a barren theme, like a
portrait-painter reluctantly flattering some unattractive sitter. But
one poet has seen and seized the mysterious beauty of winter with
unforced sympathy--Coventry Patmore, whose "Odes," in particular,
containing as they do some of the most rarely spiritual meditation in
English poetry, are all too little known. In one of these he has these
beautiful lines, which I quote, I hope correctly, from memory:

I, singularly moved
To love the lovely that are not beloved,
Of all the seasons, most love winter, and to trace
The sense of the Trophonian pallor of her face.
It is not death, but plenitude of peace;
And this dim cloud which doth the earth enfold
Hath less the characters of dark and cold
Than light and warmth asleep,
And intermittent breathing still doth keep
With the infant harvest heaving soft below
Its eider coverlet of snow.

The beauty of winter is like the beauty of certain austere classics of
literature and art, and as with them, also, it demands a certain almost
moral strenuousness of application before it reveals itself. The
loftiest masterpieces have something aloof and cheerless about them at
our first approach, something of the cold breath of those starry spaces
into which they soar, and to which they uplift our spirits. When we
first open Dante or Milton, we miss the flowers and the birds and the
human glow of the more sensuous and earth-dwelling poets. But after
awhile, after our first rather bleak introduction to them, we grow aware
that these apparently undecorated and unmusical masterpieces are radiant
and resounding with a beauty and a music which "eye hath not seen nor
ear heard." For flowers we are given stars, for the song of birds the
music of the spheres, and for that human glow a spiritual ecstasy.

Similarly with winter. It has indeed a strange beauty peculiar to
itself, but it is a beauty we must be at some pains to enjoy. The beauty
of the other seasons comes to us, offers itself to us, without effort.
To study the beauty of summer, it is enough to lie under green boughs
with half-closed eyes, and listen to the running stream and the murmur
of a million wings. But winter's is no such idle lesson. In summer we
can hardly stay indoors, but in winter we can hardly be persuaded to
go out. We must gird ourselves to overcome that first disinclination,
else we shall know nothing of winter but its churlish wind and its
ice-in-the-pail. But, the effort made, and once out of doors on a
sunlit winter's morning, how soon are we finding out the mistake we
were making, coddling ourselves in the steam-heat! Indoors, indeed,
the prospect had its Christmas-card picturesqueness; snow-clad roofs,
snow-laden boughs, silhouetted tracery of leafless trees; but we said
that it was a soulless spectacular display, the beauty of death, and
the abhorred coldness thereof. We have hardly walked a hundred yards,
however, before impressions very different are crowding upon us,
among which the impression of cold is forgotten, or only retained as
pleasantly heightening the rest.

Far from the world's being dead, as it had seemed indoors, we are

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