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Without Prejudice by Israel Zangwill

Part 5 out of 7

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publishers like to disgorge, but how can he obtain more than the
market-value? Political economy is dead against the possibility. He
cannot, in fact, obtain more than the author may and frequently does
obtain for himself. If a competing publisher offers a larger sum than
will pay him in coin, at any rate he will not offer more than will pay
him in reputation, or in the extension of his _clientčle_ on the lines
indicated above. It is still only the market-value. If the reputation
honourably built up by the labours of years comes to have a monetary
value outside the monetary value of the particular book--a sort of
goodwill value, in fact,--why should the author or his agent be abused
for obtaining it? Will not the publisher in his turn grind down the
unknown man to the lowest possible penny? The prostration of the
publisher before the celebrity is only equalled by his insolence toward
the obscure. Is there any author who has not suffered in his beginnings
from the greed of publishers? Far from making money at the start, how
many authors have got a hearing without having had to pay for it out of
their own pockets? "The wrongs of publishers" is a good red-herring to
draw across the track, a smart counter-cry. But publishers have still the
game in their hands all along the line. Not a few still keep their
accounts secret, still recklessly supply themselves with that opportunity
which, the proverb says, makes even honest men thieves. As for
America--what goes on across that week of ocean who dares conjecture? And
now, what with rumors of wars and free silver--ah me!

In forming a Masters' Union, the publishers have at last abandoned the
pretence of being swayed by any but pecuniary considerations in the
exercise of their high function. There is something refreshing in this
clearing of the air, in this abandonment of the Joseph Surface manner.
And yet, I confess, my heart shelters a regret for the old style of
publisher, as for the old style of author. Something of picturesque
clings even to Jacob Tonson, with "his two left legs." The publisher as
the patron of genius, the nurser of young talent, the re-inspirer of old,
the scholar and gentleman, at once the friend and the banker of his
authors, makes a pleasing figure. It was perhaps more ideal than real,
for even of Murray we read in "Lord Beaconsfield's Letters ": "Washington
Irving demanded a large price. Murray murmured. Irving talked of
posterity and the badness of the public taste, and Murray said that
authors who wrote for posterity must publish on their own account."
Still, if the publisher would live up to this ideal, his would remain an
honorable profession, instead of sinking to a trade. He would rank with
the rare theatrical manager to whom art is dearer than profit--if such a
one still survives. But the trail of business is over the age: the
theatrical manager is a shameless tradesman, and more and more the
publisher will become the mere distributer, if indeed he be not
eliminated by a mechanical organisation. The popular author needs only a
central store to supply the trade with his printed writings, the cost of
production of which is covered by the first day's sales. This is, of
course, to ignore the publisher in his aspect of initiator of series, art
books and encyclopaedias. But to originate is to depart from publishing
proper and to become entitled to the profits of the inventor; nay, almost
to step over into the province of authorship and the dignity thereof.

But if we can forgive the publisher for succumbing to the business spirit
of the age, we cannot as readily acquiesce in the huckstering spirit that
has crept over literature. The "battle of the books" has become one of
account-books, and the literary columns of the newspapers bristle with
pecuniary paragraphs. Even the "chatter about Shelley" was better than
the contemporary gossip about the takings of authors, for the most part
vastly exaggerated. A paragraph which must have inflated him with pride
led to a friend of mine being haled up before the Income Tax
Commissioners. "How long have you been an author?" he was asked in
addition. "Six years," he replied. "And you have only paid income tax for
five!" was the horrified exclamation. Here is the nemesis of all this
foolish fuss about _L. S. D._ The British mind now supposes authorship to
be a trade, like any other. You go into it, and you at once begin to make
a regular income; and, once successful, you go on steadily earning large
sums, automatically. The thing works itself. You are never ill or
uninspired; you are never to let your mind lie fallow, never to travel
and gather new inspiration, never to shut up shop and loaf. You simply go
on making so much a year--for do not the papers say so? And that you
should cherish the immoral sentiments contained in the following stanzas,
as at least two authors of my acquaintance do, is simply incredible to
the envious Philistine.


Thou lord, of bloated syndicates,
Thou master of the mint,
Who payest at the highest rates
And takest without stint,
Go back, go back to wild New York,
Go back across the sea;
Go, corners make in beans and pork,
No corners make in me.

For thou art 'cute and thou art smart,
No dead flies hang on thee;
Thou carest not one jot for Art,
But only _L. S. D._
Go 'back, go back, etc.

Thy aims are low, thy profits high;
Thy mind is only bent,
Whatever live, whatever die,
To scoop in cent per cent.
Go back, go back, etc.

To thee the greatest authors are
Those who most greatly sell;
But he whose soul is as a Star--
Why, he may go to H-ll!
Go back, go back to wild New York,
Go back across the sea;
Go, corners make in beans and pork,
No corners make in me.

An author's income must be indeed difficult to adjudge. He is the
manufacturer of a patent article--which only he can turn out. But he is
also the vendor thereof, and his transactions involve sales of serial--as
well as of book-rights synchronised in two or more countries--a tedious
and delicate task. And a great part of his business--"the tributes that
take up his time," the MSS. he has to read, etc., etc.--must be conducted
entirely without profit, or rather must be run at a loss. Who can
determine what are the working expenses of so complex an industrial
enterprise? An artist subtracts the cost of his models: may an author
subtract the cost of the experiences which supply him with his material,
and, if so, how are they to be estimated? Mr. Conan Doyle and Mr. Anthony
Hope both write historical novels; but while the former buys and studies
large quantities of books, and travels to see castles and battlefields,
the latter professedly works from intuition. Are both these men's incomes
to be treated alike? Goethe deliberately fell in love so as to write
poems when the passion had subsided: how much should be deducted from his
gross returns to cover the working expenses of his love-affairs? And even
when we do not go about it in such cold blood, our art--is it not woven
of our pain and our passion, our "emotions recollected in tranquility"?
Do these emotions cost us nothing? Do they not "wear and tear" our
system, justifying us in writing off 5 per cent. for depreciation in our
machinery? Countless are the problems that arise out of this new view of
authorship as an exact trade. Scientifically speaking, the author is a
pieceworker, whose productiveness is fitful and temporary. However widely
the fame of his business extend, he cannot extend it; he cannot increase
his output by adding new clerks or new branches: every order received
means work for his own brain and his own hands. If he keep other hands
they are called ghosts, and such ghosts are frowned upon even by the
Psychical Society.

No, the more I think of it, the more it is borne in upon me that authors
should be exempted from income tax altogether--if, indeed, the income
itself should not rather be provided for them (free of duty) by a
grateful Government. Carlyle is said to have claimed exemption on the
ground that the earnings of a writer are incalculable: it seems to me
that it is rather the working expenses which are incalculable. "I
sometimes sit and yearn for anything in the shape of an income that would
come in," wrote poor sick Stevenson on a languorous summer afternoon,--by
the way, I hope his doctors' expenses were deducted from his gross
returns, as incurred in order to keep the writing machinery going; or did
he perchance fly to Samoa to escape the tax altogether?--"Mine has all
got to be gone and fished for with the immortal mind of man. What I want
is the income that really comes in of itself, while all you have to do is
just to blossom and exist, and sit on chairs." Poor R. L. S.!--does it
not make you think of "mighty poets in their misery dead"? Does it
not--if you are more prosaic--bring home to you the absurdity of taxing
professional incomes as though they were akin to those which "come in" to
the happy folk who have but "to blossom and exist and sit on chairs"? And
will you not, whoever you are, rejoice that the work done with so much
art and conscience and suffering, obtained, in Stevenson's latter days,
its highest possible money-reward through the much-abhorred Agent? Why do
not millionaires hear of the woes of authors and send them anonymous
bank-notes? Why do not "national testimonials" happen in the author's
lifetime in the shape of purses of gold? They are more digestible than
posthumous stones. Alas! the author's path is thorny enough. And it is
against this jaded, unhappy creature that the publishers have had to make
a Union! Well, well, there will soon be no Authors' Union except the



There is one form of persecution to which celebrity or notoriety is
subject, which Ouida has omitted in her impassioned protest. It is
interviewing carried one step further--from the ridiculous to the sublime
of audacity. The auto-interview, one might christen it, if the
officiating purist would pass the hybrid name. Yon are asked to supply
information about yourself by post, prepaid. The ordinary interview,
whatever may be said against it, is at least painless; and, annoying as
it is to after-reflection to have had your brain picked of its ideas by a
stranger who gets paid for them, still the mechanical vexations of
literature are entirely taken over by the journalist who hangs on your
lips; though, if I may betray the secrets of the prison-house, he often
expects you to supply the questions as well as the answers. But when you
are asked to write your life for a biographical dictionary, or to
communicate particulars about yourself to a newspaper, it is difficult,
however equable your temperament, not to feel a modicum of irritation. It
is not only the labour of writing and the cost of stamps that anger you.
Your innate modesty is outraged. How is it possible for you to say all
those nice things about yourself which you know to be your due, and which
a third person might even exaggerate? What business have editors to
expose you to such inner conflict? A scholar I knew suffered agonies from
this source. He was constantly making learned discoveries which nobody
understood but himself, and so editors were always pestering him to write
leaderettes about them. He got over the difficulty by leaving blanks for
the eulogistic adjectives, which the editors had to fill in. As thus:
"Mr. Theophilus Rogers, the ---- savant, has unearthed another papyrus in
Asia Minor which throws a flood of light on the primitive seismology of
Syria." Once a careless editor forgot to fill in the lacuna, and the
paper lost a lot of subscribers by reason of its improper language,
whilst the friends of Theophilus wanted him to bring an action for libel,
unconscious that it would lie against himself.

But perhaps the climax of irritation is reached when, having troubled to
write down autobiographical details, having wrestled with your modesty
and overthrown it, having posted your letter and prepaid it, the ----
editor rejects your contribution without thanks. This hard fate overtook
me--_moi qui vous parle_--not very long ago. The conductor of a penny
journal, not unconnected with literary tit-bits, honoured me with a
triple interrogatory. This professional Rosa Dartle wanted to know--

(1) The conditions under which you write your novels.

(2) How you get your plots and characters.

(3) How you find your titles.

I was very busy. I was very modest. But the accompanying assurance that
an anxious world was on the _qui vive_ for the information appealed to my
higher self, and I took up my pen and wrote:--

(1) The conditions under which I write my novels can be better
imagined than described.

(2) My plots and characters I get from the MSS, submitted to me by
young authors, whose clever but crude ideas I hate to see wasted. I
always read everything sent to me, and would advise young authors to
encourage younger authors to send them their efforts.

(3) As for my titles, they are the only things I work out myself, and
you will therefore excuse me if I preserve a measure of reticence as
to the method by which I get them.

"What is being interviewed like?" a young lady once asked me, unconscious
she was subjecting me to the process. "It is being asked what you
drink--and not getting it," I explained to her. The curiosity of the
interviewer is indeed boundless. He even asks which is your favourite
author, so that you are forced to advertise some other fellow. And yet
there is another side to the question, which Ouida ignores. There are two
periods in the life of successful persons--the first when they are
anxious to be interviewed, the second when people are anxious to
interview them. With some there thus arrives a third period, in which
they are anxious not to be interviewed, but this is rare. Doubtless there
are superior persons who never craved for fame even in their callow
youth, and possibly Ouida herself may have taken to authorship as an
elaborate means of diverting attention from herself. But the majority of
mortals, being fools by edict of Puck and Carlyle, are pleased to fly
through the lips of men. Even Tennyson, whose horror of the interviewer
almost reached insanity, whose later life was one long "We are observed:
let us dissemble," is said to have been disappointed when the casual
pedestrian took no notice of him at all. A lady in the Isle of Wight told
me that the great poet was wont to put his handkerchief over his face if
he met anybody. Naturally this would make the most illiterate person stop
and gaze and wonder who this merry-andrew might be. Assuredly this is not
the fine simplicity of manners one expects from a great man. "Earl, do
you wear one of these?" asked an American democrat of an English peer at
his table, as he produced a coronet from a cupboard and stuck the
pudding-dish upon the inverted spikes. Tennyson seemed to be always
conscious of his laurel crown. The nobler course had been to deck his
puddings with the sprigs.

Kind hearts are more than laurel crowns,
And simple mien than Saxon song.

Ouida does a public service by insisting that it is presumptuous of the
crowd to judge the conduct of men of genius, whose life is pitched in
quite a different key, and runs very frequently in the melancholy minor
mode. The travail of soul, the workings of the mind, the agonies and the
raptures of genius must be so remote from the common ken, that it is
unjust to apply to it the vulgar meteyard; and so, far be it from me to
blame the inspired singer of "Crossing the Bar," or to imagine that he
could have been other than he was! All the same, it is permissible to
regret that he should have throughout his life pandered to the popular
conception of a poet. There was something of a robuster quality in
Browning, who managed to be a seer and a mystic in despite of afternoon
teas. Ouida beats the tom-tom far too loudly. From one point of view the
post-mortem revelations of great men's friends, which kindle her ire,
perform a public good, even if at the expense of a private wrong. The
attempt to apotheosise human nature, to invest our kindred clay with
theatrical glamour and to drape it from the property-room, this mythical
creation of "a magnified non-natural man," what is it all but the
perpetuation of the false psychology of the past? There is no durable
good in this childish "make-believe." It is time for humanity to outgrow
this puerile self-deception about its powers and characteristics and
limitations. A great man is a man as well as great, and he may be all the
wonderful things that Carlyle claimed without ceasing to be human and
therefore erring. And if he would go about simply and naturally, without
developing a self-consciousness as vast and unhealthy as the liver of a
goose intended for _pâté_, he would be happier and wiser, and secure the
inattention he yearns for. Moreover, while Ouida is rightly intolerant of
the abuse of genius by the bourgeois, the dictionary scarcely affords her
own genius sufficient vituperation for the bourgeois. I am at a loss to
understand by what logic genius gains the right to hate the bourgeois. It
has not the excuse of the bourgeois--stupidity. That the crowd hates
superiority and is venomously anxious to degrade it to its own level, is
one of Ouida's many delusions about life. Discounting vulgar curiosity, a
good deal of the crowd's interest in genius, however annoying and
ridiculous the shapes it takes, springs at bottom from a sense of
reverence and admiration; and surely it is sheer priggishness, if it be
not rank midsummer madness, on the part of genius to regard itself as
persecuted by foolish and malicious persons. Methinks the lady doth
protest too much. Still it would be unjust to deny her perfect seclusion
from the world, if she feels she needs it.

Perhaps the mildest form of persecution is that of the autographomaniacs.
"They send me my own books," one of the most popular authors in England
complained to me pathetically the other day, "and they ask me to write in
them. But to write in them is all that you can do for the books of your
friends. If you do this for strangers, what is there left for your
friends?" Although far less beloved of the book-buyer than the
illustrious novelist, I could yet offer him the sympathy of a minor
fellow-sufferer. It is the American reader who is the main persecutor. He
is not "gentle," forsooth--a very bully, rather. But why do I say "he,"
when it is generally "she"? "You have eluded all my wiles hitherto," she
wrote me the other day: "now I ask you straight out for your autograph."
This honesty would have softened me had I not just had to pay fivepence
on the letter--and for the second time that day! Of course her request
was not accompanied by a stamped envelope either, though, if it had been,
the stamp would have been an American; invalid, a pictorial irony. She
has a trick, moreover, of addressing you--most economically--care of your
American publishers, who expedite the letter with vengeful
_empressement_, so that you pay double at your end of the Atlantic. And
when everything else is in order, her epistle is insufficiently stamped,
and your income is frittered away in futile fivepences. It is too much.
The cup is full. We must no longer bow our necks beneath the oppressor's
yoke, no longer tremble at the postman's knock. _We_ must strike,
instead--we other men of letters. For authors, too, are human: manual
labourers, overworked and underpaid, with no hope of an eight hours' day.
Their pay must not be still further reduced by this monstrous stamp-tax.
Will not some Burns--more poetical than John--raise the banner of revolt?
Perhaps William Morris may reconcile his hitherto contradictory _rôles_
by placing himself at the head of the movement. Henceforward no author is
to despatch his autograph to an admirer, charm she never so cunningly.
Beshrew these admirers! a man's personality is in his books, not in his
scrawl. Whosoever violates this prescription shall be accounted a
blackleg. On one condition only shall autographs be sent--to wit, that
they be paid for.

I do not, indeed, propose that the author shall pocket the money, though
I see no shame in the deed: everything is worth what it can fetch, and if
an adventitious value comes to attach to a signature, the author were
amply justified in pocketing this legitimate supplement to the scanty
rewards of his travail of soul and body--just as he were justified,
should locks of his hair come into demand, in alternating the scissors
and the hair-restorer. But as a suspicion still prevails that authors
live on ambrosia and nectar (carriage paid), that the butcher, the baker,
and the candlestick maker tumble over one another in their eagerness to
offer their goods at the shrine of genius, it may be unwise to shock
one's admirers too much by pocketing their oboli; and I would suggest--in
all seriousness--that a charge be made in the future for all autographs:
each celebrity could fix it according to the special demand, and the
returns should go for charitable purposes. An "Autograph Fund" should be
founded in every profession admitting of notoriety. Among actors the fund
could be devoted to that excellent charity the Dramatic and Musical
Benevolent Fund; among writers, to the support of decayed critics and
neglected novelists. Why not? In days when men cannot bear to see even
Niagara wasting its energies in misdirected roars, why should so prolific
a source of profit as autographomania be neglected? The authors' strike
must be initiated at once: the Autograph Fund demands an instant
Treasurer. I don't mind contributing ten signatures to start it, if
twelve other writers, of equal eminence and illegibility, will guarantee
a like amount.

What profits it to woo the thankless Muse, or to appeal to the
autograph-huntress? In a foolish moment of unpardonable sentimentality, I
suggested that she should pay for her treasure by a charity contribution;
at the very least let her refrain, I prayed, from American stamps. But
she does not read me, alas! though my writings are the sole solace of her
days and nights; there is no way of attracting her attention. Still,
still her stamps flow in. I cry _Oyez, Oyez_, but she is bent over
"Trilby," and I am but the shadow of a name--of a name that is
interesting enough tacked on to my favourite motto or a brief
autobiography, and may serve to round off her autographic alphabet. Will
not Mr. Du Maurier cry aloud to her on behalf of his brother-authors, he
whose housetop is the sun, whose voice reaches from the summits of the
Rockies to the pampas of La Plata, and echoes from the ice-floes of
Labrador to the cliffs of Cape Horn? Will he not tell her that even as
"the crimes of Clapham" are "chaste in Martaban," so the stamps of the
States are the waste-paper of the London mails. Mr. Kipling, whom I have
just quoted, is more fortunate. Breathing the air of Brattleboro',
Vermont, he is supplied with native stamps to carry on his correspondence
withal. For Mr. Kipling--so he has confided to me in an amusing narrative
of his autograph experiences, designed for the warning of
fellow-craftsmen to whom my project may have sounded seductive--had
actually anticipated my plan: he had sent out two hundred circulars to
the admiring crew who ranked him before Shakespeare, proposing that they
should send him a donation for a charity in return for his signature.
Then the flood-gates--not of heaven--were opened. For weeks abuse rained
in upon him, and "thief" seems to have been the mildest rebuke he
received. To be asked for an autograph was an honour (even with the
stamps omitted). He bowed his head beneath the deluge, praying perhaps--

Of the two hundred grant but two
To take a charitable view.

But no, as one man and one woman they cast him out of grace.

And yet he seems to persevere--for 't is indeed an excellent way of
circumventing the wily. In the Chicago _Record_ I read that he wrote to
an autograph-beggar that he would send his autograph on receiving proof
that the autograph-hunter had deposited two and a half dollars in a
certain New York fresh air fund. This is an ingenious variation of the
original scheme, for it puts aside the possibility of personal
peculation; but I doubt whether it answers. Each celebrity must solve for
himself this harassing problem: there be those who simply stick to the
stamps ... great free spirits, these, the Napoleons of the pen, _Jenseits
von Gut und Böse_, whose names it is not for me to bewray. Others, like
myself, stricken with the paralysis of a Puritan conscience, waver and
vex themselves. One ought not to encourage this craze for the external
accidents of greatness--the appeal may be fraudulent--and yet what right
have you to the stamps?--and after all 't is flattering to be adored from
Terra del Fuego; it argues taste--and taste should not go unrecognized in
a Philistine world. _Eureka!_ I have found the solution. Don't stick to
the stamps, but send _them_ to the funds of a charity.

These views of mine on autographs have greatly distressed the unfair sex.
The ladies--God bless them--resent a severely logical view of anything,
and to disturb their small sentimentalities is to be cold-blooded and
cynical. Once, when I wasj imprudent enough to wonder if the "young
person" with the well-known cheek, to which blushes were brought, existed
any longer in this age of neurotic novels written by ladies for
gentlemen, I received a delicious communication from an Australian damsel
informing me that she had been in love with me up till the fatal day on
which she read my cynical conception of her sex,--which reminds me of
another well-meaning young lady who wrote me the other day from America
that her epistle was prompted "neither by love nor admiration." If I hint
that popular lady novelists do not invariably produce masterpieces of
style and syntax, I am accused of inflicting the "tarantulous bites of
envious detractors." I am driven--most reluctantly--to a suspicion that
has long been faintly glimmering in my bosom, a suspicion that ladies
have no sense of humour. It is gravely pointed out to me by incensed
writers of incense-laden letters that the demand for a writer's autograph
is a mark of veneration; that his letter is reverentially handed about on
special occasions quite without a thought of its possible commercial
value and that often--though here the argument itself becomes cunningly
commercial--it becomes the focus of a local hero-worship that expresses
itself outwardly in increased purchases of the author's books. Now, of
course every author is only too aware that requests for his autographs
are manifestations of reverence, and is only too apt to disregard the
supposition of crude curiosity. He knows that it is only natural that
people, forewarned by the scarcity of autographs of Shakespeare, should
be anxious to safeguard posterity against a similar calamity. But that
any author should have humour enough to see the absurdity of the
autograph mania, this is what his fair _clientčle_ has not humour enough
to understand. Anthony Hope--who, by the way, told me he had received a
letter from an unknown lady, the object of which was to abuse _me_ for my
heresy on this heart-burning question--says that if to write his name on
slips of paper adds to the sum of the world's pleasure, he is ready to do
it. This is a noble attitude; but the good people do not always do the
most good. Ought one to pamper this interest in mere externals? Here are
the man's books, pictures, symphonies: if these have profited you, be
content--you have had enough. He has shown you his soul,--why should he
show you his hand? One knows into what this sort of thing
degenerates--into the exploitation of celebrities by smart American
journalists, to whom genius and notoriety are equally alike mere
possibilities of sensational copy with screaming head-lines. A. Z. has
written the opera of the century: the public is dying to know the cut of
his trousers and the proportion of milk in his _café au lait_. X. Y. has
murdered his uncle and vivisected his grandmother: how interesting to
ascertain his favourite novel, and whether he approves of the bicycle for
ladies! For one person who knows anything of the artistic output of the
day there are ten who know all about the producers and how much money
they are making. Even when our interest in artistic work is intellectual,
we are more likely to read criticisms of it than to place ourselves
_vis-ŕ-vis_ with the work. Not the truest criticism, not the subtlest
misinterpretation, can give us anything like the sensation or the
stimulus that results from direct contact with the work itself. As well
enjoy the "Moonlight Sonata" through a technical analysis of its form.
But this is a venial vice compared with taking your Sonata through the
medium of a paragraph about Beethoven's shoe-buckles.

The autograph craze is, I maintain, only another aspect of this modern
mania for irrelevant gossip; just as the tit-bits breed of papers is but
the outer manifestation of an inner disgrace. We no longer tackle great
works and ordered trains of thought: everything must be snappy and spicy;
and we open our books and papers, awaiting, like the criminal in "The
Mikado," "the sensation of a short sharp shock." To possess a man's
autograph may as easily become a substitute for studying his work as an
incentive to purchasing it. The critique displaces the book itself: the
autograph may displace even the critique. All this without reference to
the trouble and expense entailed by an aggregation of the trivial
taskwork of signing one's name, addressing envelopes, sticking on stamps,
and occasionally paying for them, and not infrequently defraying the
extra postage on insufficiently stamped admiration. Henry James, in his
latest story in "The Yellow Book," says deliciously: "Lambert's novels
appeared to have brought him no money: they had only brought him, so far
as I could make out, tributes that took up his time." The earnings of the
most popular authors are, I fear me, sadly exaggerated, and their own
anticipations seldom realised. As the other American novelist--Mr.
Howells--humourously puts it: "I never get a cheque from my publisher
without feeling distinctly poorer." The average author is indeed very
much in the position of a cabman surveying a shilling. And the even less
substantial "tributes," be it noted, are not limited to aspirations after
autographs. That would be little to grumble at. But everybody knows that
the demands made upon a celebrity--and especially upon an author--are
"peculiar and extensive." He is expected to be not only an author--and
even, according to the more high-minded among the unsuccessful critics,
to be that without fee or reward--but also to officiate gratuitously as
publisher's reader to the universe at large--unprinted; as author's
agent, hawking unknown MSS. about among his friends the publishers, and
placing unknown young men on the staff of the leading journals; as
dramatic agent, introducing plays and players to his friends the
managers--who will not produce his own works; and, in fine, to act as
general adviser to aspirants of every species. Nay, was not Hall Caine
recently asked by a lady admirer in poor health, about to visit the Isle
of Man, to find lodgings for her? Heavens! who knows what scandal might
have arisen had the author of "The Manxman" inconsiderately turned
himself into a house-agent! The famous tale of the Nova Scotian sheep in
"The School for Scandal" might have been eclipsed by the sequel. Now, the
poor lady meant well enough: she may even have thought to show how deep
her faith in the novelist's domestic genius and financial impeccability!
It simply did not occur to her that she was not the only call upon Mr.
Caine's time; and she may have felt as resentful at his reluctance as the
beggar who stigmatises Rothschild as niggard because he cannot wheedle a
share in his bounty. It may be that I am incapable of envisaging this
whole matter fairly, because--to make a clean breast of it--I am one of
those Philistine persons who shock Americans by never having been to
Stratford-on-Avon. It is true that I have read Shakespeare--and even his
commentators, which gives me the pull over Shakespeare himself; it is
true that I agree with the persons who haven't read him that he is the
greatest poet the world has ever seen or is likely to see; it is true
that Shakespeare is part of my life and thought; but somehow my interest
in him does not extend to his second-best bed, and I do not greatly yearn
to see the room in which Bacon was not born. I do not even care whether
Shakespeare was written by Shakespeare or "by another man of the same
name." Do you remember that poem of Amy Levy's, telling of how she sat
listening to people chattering about a dead, poet they had known, his
looks and ways, and thinking to herself--

I, who had never seen your face,
Perhaps I knew you best.

It is this flaw in an otherwise well regulated mind, this "blind spot" in
my spiritual eye, that perhaps makes me attach undue unimportance to the
attraction of autographs. There is an eminent actress who invariably
refuses to send her autograph; but the eminent actor who is her husband
invariably sends a letter of apology to the disappointed correspondent.
Since I am in the mood for confessions, let me candidly admit that my own
attitude has a somewhat similar duality. Though I curse in these pages, I
bless like Balaam when it comes to the point. Never have I omitted to
return a sufficiently stamped, envelope with the coveted
sign-manual--never twice alike. Never have I failed to put my name in a
birthday book under a specific date--never twice alike. And though I hate
to answer applications for autographs, I should be still more annoyed not
to receive them. And as for sneering at the ladies, they have, I vow, no
more constant admirer. I could, indeed, desire that when they are next
angry with me they would read me before they criticise me; that they
would base their denunciations on my text, and my whole text, rather than
on some paper's mistaken comment upon another paper's inaccurate extract.
But nothing that they can say of me, however harsh, shall, I protest,
abate a jot of my respect for them or myself.



Between three and four of the morning the last words of the book were
written, and, putting down my pen--without falling asleep, as I should
have done had my task been to read the book, instead of to write it--I
began to muse on the emotions I ought to have felt, and on the emotions
other and greater authors had felt. There was a time, "in the days that
were earlier," when the writing of a book was a rare and solemn task, to
be approached--like the writing of "Paradise Lost"--after years of devout
and arduous preparation, under the "great Taskmaster's eye." Now it is
all a rush and a fever and a fret, and the mad breathlessness of the New
York newspaper office has spread from journalism to literature, and
novelists cheerfully contract to write books in the next century, quite
unregardful of whether there will be any books in them by then. That was
a very leisurely prescription in the Old Testament: "When a man taketh a
new wife he shall not go out in the host, neither shall he be charged
with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer his
wife which he hath taken." Delightful honeymoon of those pastoral days!
Now the honeymoon has dwindled to a week, or in the case of actors and
actresses to a matinee (for they appear at night as usual), and few of us
possess sufficient oxen and sheep and manservants and maidservants to
strike work for a year. If only our authors would produce but one book a
year, instead of yielding two or three harvests to make hay withal while
the sun shines! Nor do they do these things much better in France. From
the patient parturition of a Flaubert--the father of the Realists--we
have come down to the mechanical annual crop of his degenerate
descendant, Zola. Perhaps the age of great works--like the age of great
folios--is over, so that none will ever have again those fine sensations
that made Gibbon chronicle how he finished his monumental history between
the hours of eleven and twelve at night in the summer-house at Lausanne,
or that dictated the stately sentiment of Hallam's wind-up of his
"Introduction to the Literature of Europe": "I hereby terminate a work
which has furnished, the occupation of not very few years.... I cannot
affect to doubt that I have contributed something to the general
literature of my country, something to the honourable estimation of my
own name and to the inheritance of those, if it is for me still to
cherish that hope, to whom I have to bequeath it."

Thackeray must have felt something of this fine glow when he finished
"Vanity Fair," despite his genial simulation of "Come, children, let us
shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out." Dickens,
who had not humour enough for such self-mockery, took his endings very
seriously indeed, and even in the middle of his books had all the
emotions of parting when some favourite character had to quit the stage,
some poor Dombey or Little Nell. You remember what he wrote in the
preface to "David Copperfield" of "how sorrowfully the pen is laid down
at the close of a two-years' imaginative task, or how an author feels as
if he were dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world,
when a crowd of the creatures of his brain are going from him for ever."
And contrast his superfluously solemn asseveration, "No one can ever
believe this narrative in the reading more than I believed it in the
writing," with the whimsical melancholy of the "Vanity Fair" preface, the
references to the Becky doll and the Amelia puppet. One feels that
Thackeray was the greater Master, in that he took himself less seriously,
and had the finer sense of proportion. But that he lived with his
characters quite as much as his great contemporary may be seen from that
charming Roundabout Paper "De Finibus," where he describes the loneliness
of his study after all those people had gone who had been boarding and
lodging with him for twenty months. They had plagued him and bored him at
all sorts of uncomfortable hours, and yet now he would be almost glad if
one of them would walk in and chat with him as of yore--"an odd,
pleasant, humourous, melancholy feeling." In how much more solemn a mood
Dickens finishes "Our Mutual Friend," congratulating himself on having
been saved--with Mr. and Mrs. Boffin and the Lammles, with Bella Wilfer
and Rogue Riderhood--from a destructive railway accident, so that he
cannot help thinking of the time when the words with which he closes the
book will be written against his life--"The End." Thackeray needed no
railway accident to remind him of "The End," and two lines before the
close of "Vanity Fair" we find him writing--in the prime of his life,
"Ah, _vanitas vanitatum_! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us
has his desire, or, having it, is satisfied?" That thought occurred to
Gibbon, too, for he had not taken many turns under the silver moon in
that coveted walk of acacias, enjoying the spectacle of the lake and the
mountains, and the recovery of his freedom and the establishment of his
fame, before a sober melancholy was spread over his mind by the idea that
he "had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion, and
that whatsoever might be the future fate of his history, the life of the
historian must be short and precarious." When George Eliot put the last
stroke to "Romola," the book which "ploughed into her more than any of
her books," which she "began as a young woman and finished as an old
woman," she exclaimed in her diary--"_Ebenezer!_" O unpredictable
ejaculation! _Ebenezer!_ 'T is true the erudite Miss Evans had Hebrew an
knew that it meant "a stone of help." And in the evening she went to her
"La Gazza Ladra." Let us hope that some false persuasion of the
immortality of "Romola" counteracted that bodily malaise and suffering of
which she complained to Sara Hennell. Such pleasant persuasion buoyed up
Fielding, as he wrote the beginning of the end of "Tom Jones,"--that
almost endless epic,--for with a last fling at the critics he cries: "All
these works, however, I am well convinced, will be dead long before this
page shall offer itself to thy perusal; for however short the period may
be of my own performances, they will most probably outlive their own
infirm author, and the weakly productions of his abusive cotemporaries."

But it is rather the tradition of Trollope that rules to-day--Trollope,
that canny craftsman who wrote every day for a stated number of hours,
and who, if he finished a novel twenty minutes before the end of his
term, would take up a clean sheet of paper and commence another. Did I
say the canny Trollope? Nay, this is rather uncanny, unearthly, unhuman.
What! You have lived with your characters day and night for months and
months, have thought their thoughts and been racked by their passions,
and you can calmly wind up their affairs and turn instanter to a new
circle of acquaintances? 'T is the very coquetry of composition, the
heartless flirtation of fiction-mongering. Thackeray, indeed, confesses
to liking to begin another piece of work after one piece is out of hand,
were it only to write half a dozen lines; but "that is something towards
Number the Next," not towards Book the Next, for these old giants wrote
from hand to mouth. I have always figured to myself Trollope's novels as
all written on a long endless scroll of paper rolled on an iron axis,
nailed up in his study. The publishers approach to buy so many yards of
fiction, and shopman Anthony, scissors in hand, unrolls the scroll and
snips it off at the desired point. This counter-jumping conception of the
Muses prevails with the customers to-day, with the editors who buy
fiction at so much a thousand words. Carlyle--Heaven preserve me from
finishing a book as he did his "French Revolution," to lose it and write
it all over again!--had the truer idea when he suggested that authors
should be paid by what they do _not_ write. But it was reserved for the
libraries to reach the lowest conception of literature. Their clients
enjoy the privilege of having so many books at a time, a book being a
book just as an orange is an orange. If the book the reader wants is not
there, why, there is another book for him to take; by which beautiful
system the good writer reaps very little advantage over the mediocre, for
indifferent books are forced upon the public as the conjuror forces cards
on people who think they are choosing them. It is a wonder the libraries
do not purvey their literature by the pound.



[The following pages are not intended as a substitute for Baedeker or
Murray. Nor can I solicit your interest on the ground of new places and
strange discoveries. To the philosophic tourist all places are equally
good to soliloquise in; and in inviting you to accompany my excursions I
need scarcely explain that the route is not according to Bradshaw but to
the A. B. C., and that you may break the journey at any point.]


Critics of London allow too little for the charm of irregularity and
historical association--for odd bits and queer views coming unexpectedly
round the corner to meet one, for strange ancient gardens and fragments
of field in the backways of Holborn, for quaint waterside alleys and
old-world churches in out-of-the-way turnings--for everything, in fact,
that has the charm of natural growth. If I had my way, I would not give
up Booksellers' Row for a thousand improvements in the Strand. Where
shall you find a more piquant peace than in the shady quadrangles that
branch out of the bustle of Fleet Street, and flash a memory of Oxford
spires or Cambridge gardens on the inner eye? What spot in the world has
inspired a nobler sonnet than Wordsworth's on Westminster Bridge? Who
would exchange our happy incongruity for the mechanical regularity of the
mushroom cities of the States? Paris has, no doubt, made herself
beautiful; but she could have afforded not to be, much better than she
can afford to be. The theorist holds up Glasgow as a model city--a
pioneer--and the splendour of its municipal buildings is as the justice
of Aristides. But if an ugly woman does not dress well, who should? With
all its civic spirit, Glasgow remains grey, prosaic, intolerable--the
champion platitude of commercial civilisation. Aberdeen would have been a
far finer example of the schematic city of which theorists dream. There
is something heroic about the spaciousness of its streets, the loftiness
of the buildings, and the omnipresence of granite--a Tyrtaean spirit,
which finds its supreme embodiment in the noble statue of Wallace poised
on rough craglets of unpolished granite, and of General Gordon with his
martial cloak around him. If Edinburgh be the Athens of Scotland,
Aberdeen is its Sparta. And yet after a while Aberdeen becomes a
weariness and an abomination. For you discover that it is one endless
series of geometrical diagrams. The pavements run in parallel lines, the
houses are rectilineal, the gardens are squares or oblongs; if by chance
the land sprawls in billocks and hollows, nevertheless is it partitioned
in rigid lines. The architecture is equally austere. The very curves
demonstrate the theorem that a curve is made up of little straight lines,
the arches are stiff and unbending, and wherever a public building
demands an ornament, a fir-shaped cone of straight lines rises in stoic
severity. In vain one seeks for a refuge from Euclid--for an odd turning
or a crooked by-way. To match the straight-ness of their streets and the
granite of their structures the Aberdonians are hard-headed,
close-fisted, and logical (there is a proverb that no Jew can settle
among them), and when they die they are laid out neatly in a rectangular
cemetery with parallel rows of graves. Even when they stand about
gossiping they fall naturally into geometric figures: if two disconnected
men are smoking silently in the roadway, they trisect it; and if another
man arrives he converts the company into an equilateral triangle. I am
convinced the moon shrinks from appearing in Union Street except it is in
perfect quarters, and hides timidly behind a cloud unless its arcs are
presentable. Professor Bain was born in Aberdeen. This accounts for much
in our British metaphysics. Aberdeen produced the man who vivisected
Shelley's "Skylark," and explained away the human mind and all that is
therein; Aberdeen educated him, graduated him, married him, gave him the
chair of Logic in her University, and finally made him Lord Rector. Bain
thinks entirely in straight lines. He is the apotheosis of the
Aberdonian. Which is a warning against regular cities.

According to the Rev. W. A. Cornaby in "The Contemporary Review," the
straight line is an abomination to the Chinese; they avoid it by curves
and zigzags, and they think in curves and zigzags. Hence it seems the
Chinese suffer from a spurious idealism, just as my Aberdonians suffer
from a spurious materialism. If only the maidens of Aberdeen would marry
the mandarins of the too Flowery Land, what a perfect race we might


This is the era of Exhibitions. An epidemic of Exhibitions traverses the
world, breaking out now at Paris, now at Chicago, now at Antwerp. To
visit them is our modern Pilgrimage; they force us to make the Grand
Tour, as our little wars teach us geography. They are supposed to give a
fillip to the prosperity of their town, and to nourish the pride and
pocket of the citizens. What other function they fulfil is dubious. Time
was when "the long laborious miles" of the Crystal Palace were acclaimed
as the dawn of the Golden Age, when swords should be turned into the most
improved substitute for pruning-hooks, and each man

find his own in all men's good,
And all men work in noble brotherhood.

Unhappily, that millennial vision is still far away,--

Far, how far, no tongue can say,

as the canny Tennyson did not forget, even in his rapt prophetic strain.
And we have grown chiller. We no longer raise the song of praise because
manufacturers of all nations send specimens of their work to a common
centre in quest of medals. The world is already federated by the chains
of commerce; international barter is an inseparable part of the movement
of life, and infinite intertangled threads of union stretch across the
seas from shipping office to shipping office. Wherefore the millennium is
as likely to arrive _viâ_ Bayreuth or Lourdes, or any other centre of
Pilgrimage, as by way of an International Exhibition. No, we must take
our Exhibitions more humbly: they are amusing and instructive; they earn
dividends or lose capital; they stimulate orders for the goods on view,
and they end in a shower of medals. In France, according to Mark Twain,
few men escape the Legion of Honor. Is there any artificial product that
has escaped a medal at some Exhibition or the other? I cannot recall
eating or drinking anything undecorated. They grow on every bush, those
medals, copious as the Queen's Arms over the shop-windows of the High
Street. No store, however lowly, but the Queen deals there; no article,
however poor, but has earned golden opinions, or at least silver and
bronze. For the industrial or Gradgrind mind an Exhibition is doubtless a
riot, an orgy; for the exhibitors it is a sensational battle-field; for
the average spectator it is as exciting as a walk through Whiteley's, or
a stroll down Oxford Street. From the Antwerp Exhibition proper I bear
away nothing but an impression of a wonderful paper-making machine, at
one end of which the paper enters as liquid pulp, to issue at the other
as a solid sheet. A pity the process was not carried one step farther, to
the printed newspaper stage--so that what went in as rags should come out
as mendacity. Such success as the Antwerp Exhibition has won is a success
of side-shows; a panorama of camels and dancing-girls defiles before my
eyes, my ears are yet ringing with the barbarous music and incantations
of the Orient. Old Antwerp rises picturesque, with its burghers and
warriors; the glorious picture galleries stretch away, overladen with
artistic treasure; the mimic elephant mounts, mammoth-like, to the skies;
the grounds and the façades of the buildings gleam fairy-like in the soft
night air, with a million illuminations; and lo! there in the German
restaurant the beautiful daughters of the Fatherland smile, in coifs and
tuckers and short skirts, Katti and Luisa and Nina, dulciferous names
that trip off the tongue as the gentle creatures trip from table to table
with flasks of Rhenish wine; the mellifluous voice of Sarah cries
cigarettes at her booth in the Rue du Caire--Sarah, the Egyptian Jewess,
whose ancestors went back to the land of Pharaoh in defiance of Rabbinic
decree--Sarah, with the charm of her eighteen summers and her graceful
virginal figure and her sweet unconscious coquetry, as different from the
barmaid's as Rosalind's from Audrey's; and Sarah's brother, briskest of
business boys, resurges with his polyglot solicitations to buy nougat: a
mannish swashbuckler without, a cherubic infant within: I see the Congo
negroes, mere frauds from the States, in your opinion, daintiest of
American friends, who came all the way from Paris to meet me. But soft!
what has all this to do with the Industrial Exhibition?

_Rien, absolument rien._ Give us these things anywhere, give us lights
and gardens and music, give us dances and damsels, give us Congo
encampments and "_ballons dirigeables_," and thither will we troop to
make us merry. Ah! but the incurable conscientiousness of the human race
insists on pills with its jam. Or is it that it has never yet dawned upon
humanity that jam may be taken without pills? There was a time--it lasted
seventy thousand ages according to the Chinese manuscript which Elia
saw--when mankind ate their meat raw. Then, one day, as every schoolboy
knows, Bo-bo carelessly set his father's cottage on fire, and, burning
the litter of new-farrowed pigs it held, accidentally invented
_crackling_. So delicious was burnt pig discovered to be that everybody
fell to setting his house on fire to obtain it. "Thus this custom of
firing houses continued, till in process of time a sage arose, like our
Locke, who made a discovery that the flesh of swine, or indeed of any
other animal, might be cooked (_burnt_, as they called it) without the
necessity of consuming a whole house to dress it.... By such slow degrees
do the most useful and seemingly the most obvious arts make their way
among mankind." For seventy thousand ages mankind did without _al fresco_
entertainments. Then some one invented Exhibitions, and mankind found it
delicious to promenade the grounds amid twinkling lights and joyous
music. But no Locke has yet discovered that musical promenades may be had
without elevating a whole Exhibition in the background. At Earl's Court
they still keep up a pretence of Industrial Exhibition, though we have
long since lost interest in the pretext, and no longer inquire whether
the painted scenery that walls in the grounds is called the Alps or the
Apennines or the Champs-Elysées. And yet methinks mankind did discover
the open-air entertainment, as perchance roast pig was known and
forgotten again long centuries before Bo-bo. For what was Ranelagh, what
Vauxhall? Were not the gardens of Vauxhall "made illustrious by a
thousand lights finely disposed," or, as Thackeray puts it, by a "hundred
thousand _extra_ lamps, which were always lighted"? Were not "concerts of
musick" given nightly by fiddlers in cocked hats, ensconced in a "gilded
cockleshell," and was not the price of admission a shilling? "Vauxhall
must ever be an estate to its proprietor," wrote Boswell, "as it is
peculiarly adapted to the taste of the English nation; there being a
mixture of curious show--gay exhibition--music, vocal and instrumental,
not too refined for the general ear; and, though last not least, good
eating and drinking for those who choose to purchase that regale." But
Boswell prophesied ill. Public gardens were always distasteful to English
Puritanism, because they lent themselves to rendezvous; and though
Boswell, in protesting against the rise of price to two shillings,
certifies to the elegance and innocence of the entertainment, and though
Mr. Osborne and Miss Amelia walked unharmed in its groves and glades, and
it was not Rebecca Sharp's fault that Jos. Sedley got drunk on the bowl
of rack punch, still Vauxhall, like Ranelagh and Cremorne, has come down
to us with tainted reputation. It died in the odour of brimstone, and
only in the magical ink-pool of literature can we still behold the
heralded gallants in the boxes junketing with low-bodiced ladies of
quality whose patches show piquantly on their damask cheeks. Rosherville
remains in ignoble respectability, the place to spend an h-less day, our
one uninstructive institution, for even "Constantinople" and "Venice"
have a specious background of geographical and even of industrial
information: Rosherville, which only once flowered into poetry, and then
under another name,--when Mr. Anstey's barber wedded the Tinted Venus
with a ring.

And in the magical ink-pool I see you and me still sitting, O
Transatlantic Parisienne, as we sat that sunny afternoon--three hundred
years ago--in ancient Antwerp, in _oud Antwerpen_, niched in the
windowseat of that quaint hostelry which gives on the great market-place,
and watching the festive procession. Do you remember the gorgeous
costumes of our fellow-burghers, and the trappings of their prancing
chargers in those days when life was not plain, but coloured, and
existence was one vast fancy-dress ball? How glad we were to welcome the
Archduke Martinias of Austria, our sovereign elect, or was it François
Sonnius, our first Bishop, coming to be installed in our glorious
Cathedral, amid the joyous carillons of its bells! Can you not still see
the Angels hovering over the Virgin, and the Golden Calf,
flower-wreathed, and the Flight into Egypt, on that naďve donkey, and
"the Flying Dutchman," tugged by a horse, and the gilded galley rowed in
make-believe by little children in their Sunday clothes, catching crabs
in air, and the incongruous camels bestridden by Arab sheikhs with
African pages, and the Persians on ponies, and the Crusaders in their
fine foolish coats-of-mail, and the gay courtiers, with clanking swords,
and the halberdiers, and the particoloured arquebusiers, and the archers
in green and red, and the spearsmen in sugarloaf hats, and the cherubs
riding on dolphins? Can you not hear the beating of the drum, and the Ave
Maria of the white-robed chorus-boys, and the irrelevant strains of the
Danish national anthem, and the japes of the jester with his cap and
bells? What happy times for butchers and bakers and candlestick-makers
when, instead of working, they could go in processions, bearing aloft the
insignia of their guilds, and when middle-class girls, ignorant of the
New Womanhood, could loll on triumphal cars with roses in their hair! Do
you remember how the topmost divinity smiled to me from her perilous
perch, too high to rouse your jealousy, and how the little cherub that
sat up aloft besprinkled us mischievously with eau de cologne? Ah, shall
we ever again be as happy as we were three hundred years ago? will the
wine be ever as red, the potato salad as appetising, or the cheese (did
they really enjoy Gorgonzola and Camembert in the sixteenth century?) as
delicious as in that ancient Flemish hostelry with its Lutheran motto:

Wie nikt mint Wijn, Wijf en Sangh,
Blijft een Geck sijn Leven langh!

Was it from its inscribed beams that Shelley borrowed his famous lyric
"Love's Philosophy"? for did we not read:

Den Hemel drinckt, en d'Aerde drinckt:
Waerom souden wij niët drinckt?

("Heaven drinks, and earth drinks: why shouldn't we drink?") At any rate
it pleased us to recall the delectable lines:

And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;
What are all these kissings worth
If thou kiss not me?

But what does it matter what one did three hundred years ago?

Or, what does it matter what one did that dim Arabian night when we set
out with the cavalcade of camels in the marriage procession, and the
bride cowered veiled in her corner of the coach, and the plump mother
smiled archly at us, and the brother and the bridegroom, mounted on Arab
steeds, smacked each other's faces in ceremonial solemnity, exactly like
"the two Macs" in the music-hall? Was it then, or in the nineteenth
century, that we rode the camel together, I on the hindmost peak? "Oh,
the oont, oh, the oont, oh, the gawdforsaken oont!" as the poet of the
barrack-room sings. He seems to double up like a garden-chair to receive
one; then his knees unfold and the rider shoots up; then the camel rises
to his full height, and one ducks instinctively for fear of striking the
stars. "_Salaam Aleikhoom_," I cried to the drivers, airing my Arabic,
which I make by mispronouncing Hebrew; and they answered effusively,
"Yankee Doodle! Chicago!" Alas for the glamour of the Orient! They had
all come from the greater fair, perhaps spent their lives in traveling
from fair to fair, mercenaries of some latter-day Barnum.

There was a fine stalwart Egyptian, who stood beating a gong to summon
the faithful to improper dances. I gave him a cup of coffee, and he held
it on high, and with gratitude effusing from every pore of his dusky
face, cried, "Columbus!" Then he mounted a flight of stairs and shouted
beamingly, "1492!"

He took a sip, and then his wife called him chidingly, and he fled to
her. But he returned to drain the cup in my presence, crying between each
sip "Columbus" or "1492." Never before have I bought so much gratitude
for ten centimes. Henceforward I found "Columbus" a watchword, and "1492"
a magic talisman, causing dusky eyes to kindle and turbaned heads to nod

The town-barber of _Alt Antwerpen_, who was wont to shave me in the
sixteenth century, had a beautiful motto:--

I am Hair-dresser, Barber, and Surgeon,
I shave with, soap and much delight,
Although there are barbers who do it
As though they were in a fright.

But it is surpassed by a hundred delightful things in "The Visitor's
Handybook," which the touts in New Antwerp, ignorant of its treasures,
press upon the traveller gratis. It opens auspiciously: "The opening
pages of our little guide we have devoted to a short review of the city
of Antwerp, the streets of which still contain elegant specimens of those
quaint and handsome edifices of the Netherlands are truly famous, and
which in Antwerp, perhaps more than in any other city, seem to abound."
Here are some more gems: "Visitors will be naturally anxious to secure a
comfortable apartment, in selecting which the following list will be
found of service:--see advertisements, all of which can be strongly
recommended." "Facing you is the King's Palace; not a very attractive
one; however, as a rule, not open to the public, but admission may
sometimes be obtained although at great trouble during the absence of the
King." "It was formally inaugurated by the presence of the Queen,
Princess Beatrice, and a numerous compagny representing the European
Benches and Pairs." "A wonderfully painted ceiling, in which the
attendant can point out some marvellous effects." "The Visitor's
Handybook" is in its thirteenth free edition, and is worth double the
price. Antwerp is very strong linguistically. The _quatre
langues_--Flemish, French, English, and German--make a universal
confusion of tongues, and the whole town is nothing but a huge open
Flemish--French dictionary, every shop-sign or street-name being
translated. A few sturdy burghers stick to the old tongue, and sometimes
English rules the roast. "The Welsh Harp" (which is Antwerp way) is a
sailor's cabaret near the quay. There is even a trace of Irish influence
in the etymology of Antwerp as given in the official handbook; for
Antigon, the giant who used to cut off the hand of any shipman that
refused him tribute, and whose throwing it (_Handwerpen_) into the river
gave the name to the city, is stated beforehand to have lived in the
castle of Antwerp. They are not destitute of wit, the Belgians, if I may
judge by some specimens I heard. It is a local joke to refer to the
famous "_dirigeable_" balloon, which burst in the latter days of the
Exhibition, as the "_déchirable_" balloon. "They pooh-pooh the past
nowadays," said a tram-conductor to me, "but when I look at the Cathedral
and Rubens' 'Descent from the Cross' I think our forefathers were _assez
malins_." A seedy vendor of lottery-tickets declared that every one of
them would draw a prize. "Wherefore, then, my friend," quoth I, "do you
not keep them?" "_Je ne suis pas égoďste_," he said, with a shrug. To
defend myself against his masterful solicitousness, I stated solemnly
that lotteries were illegal in England, and that if I returned thither
with a lottery-ticket the British Government would throw me into prison.
But he was not daunted: "_Appuyez-vous sur moi_," he replied


A story is current in the Clubs that Mr. Henry James innocently went to
Ramsgate, in order to possess his soul in peace. 'T was the height of the
rougher Ramsgate season, and there is something irresistibly incongruous
in the juxtaposition of the rarefied American novelist and the roaring
sands of Albion. In the which juxtaposition the story leaves him; and we
are ignorant of whether he turned tail and fled back to quieter London,
or whether he stayed on to collect unexpected material. Our analytical
cousin's stippling methods are, it is to be feared, but poorly adapted
for the painting of holiday crowds, which require the scene-painter's
brush, and lend themselves reluctantly to nuances. The colours have not
that dubiety so dear to the artist of the penumbra; the sands are as
yellow as the benches are red; and the niggers are quite as black as they
are burnt-corked. The love-making, too, is devoid of subtlety. When you
see--as I saw last Bank Holiday on Ramsgate beach--Edwin and Angelina
asleep in each other's arms, the situation strikes you as too simple for
analysis. It is like the loves of the elements, or the propensity of
carbon to combine with oxygen. An even more idyllic couple I came upon
prone amid the poppies on the cliff hard by, absorbing the peace and the
sunshine, steeping themselves in the calm of Nature after the finest
Wordsworthian manner. But presently there is the roll of a drum, and the
scream of a fife in distress rises from below, and Angelina pricks up her
ears. "I wish they'd come up 'ere," she murmurs wistfully; "I'd jump up
like steam; I could just do a dance."

Yet all the same their seclusion among the wild flowers on the edge of
the cliff showed a glimmering of soul. Not theirs the hankering for that
strip of sand near the stone pier, which a worthy dame of my acquaintance
once compared to a successful fly-paper. Scientific investigation shows
the congestion at this particular spot to be due to the file of
bathing-machines which blocks the view of the sea from half the beach. To
the bulk of the visitors this yellow patch _is_ Ramsgate, just as a
small, cocoanut-bearing area of Hampstead woodland is the Heath, most of
whose glorious acres have never felt the tread of a donkey or a cheap
tripper. Not that there are many other attractions in Ramsgate, which is
administered by councillors more sleepy than sage. Having literally
defaced their town by a railway-station, built a harbour which will not
hold water, constructed a promenade pier in the least accessible quarter,
and provided a band which plays mainly "intervals," they naturally refuse
to venture on further improvements, such as refuges on the parade, or
trees in the shadeless streets, and, in the excess of their zeal, have
even, so I hear, declined the railway company's offer to give them a lift
(from sands to cliff), and Mr. Sebag Montefiore's offer to allow the
public gardens to be continued right through his estate on towards
Dumpton. Even so, these worthy burghers have more of my regard than their
brethren of Margate, who have sacrificed their trust to the Moloch of
advertisement. Stand on Margate Parade and look seaward, and the main
impression is Pills. Sail towards Margate Pier and look landward, and the
main impression is Disinfectant Powder.

Baby Broadstairs has known better how to guard its dignity and its
beauty; so that Dickens might still look from Bleak House on as dainty a
scene as in the days when he lounged on the dear old, black,
weather-beaten pier. I spent a week at Broadstairs in the height of a
Dynamite Mystery. We were very proud of the Mystery, we of Broadstairs,
and of the space we filled in the papers. Ramsgate, with its
contemporaneous murder sensation, we turned up our noses at, till
Ramsgate had a wreck and redressed the balance. For the rest, we made
sand-pies, and bathed and sailed, and listened to a band that went wheezy
on Bank Holiday. Broadstairs boasts of one drunkard, who does odd jobs as
well. He is tall, venerable, and melancholy, and has the air of a
temperance orator. "Joe's one of the best chaps on the pier when he's
sober," said his mate to me sorrowfully; "but when he's drunk he makes a
fool of himself." This was not quite true; for Joe was not always
foolish. Why, when two gentlemen came down from London in a gipsy caravan
to teach us Theosophy, and all Broadstairs fluttered towards their
oil-lamp, leaving the band to tootle to the sad sea waves, I could not
get him to mount the Cheap Jack rostrum in opposition! The most I could
spur him to was an indignant defence of London against the lecturer's
denunciation of it as an immoral city, a pit of unrighteousness. "'T
ain't true!" he thundered raucously. "Many's the gent from Lunnon as has
behaved most liberal to me." One day there was an attempt to disturb
Joe's monopoly as drunkard, and I am afraid I had a hand in it. A human
caricature in broken boots addressed me as I lay on the beach (writing
with a stylographic pen and blotting the sheets with the sand), and
besought me to buy sprigs of lavender. He proved to me by ocular
demonstration that he had no money in his pockets; whereupon I proved to
him by parity of reasoning that I had none in mine either. However, I
remembered me of a penny postage-stamp (unlicked), and tendered it
diffidently, and he received it with disproportionate benedictions. Later
in the day he reappeared under my window, hurling up maudlin abuse. He
had got drunk on my postage-stamp!

I told him to get along with him, which he did. For some time he
staggered about Broadstairs in search of its policeman. He came across
him at last, and was straightway clapped into an open victoria and driven
across the sunny fields to Ramsgate. Meantime, Broadstairs was left
unprotected--perhaps Joe kept an eye on it.

Broadstairs has also a jolly old waterman, who paddles about apparently
to pick up exhausted bathers. One morning as I was swimming past his boat
he warned me back. "Any danger?" I asked. "Ladies," he replied,
ambiguously enough. It thus transpired that his function is to preserve a
scientific frontier between the sexes. Considering that the ladies one
meets at sea are much more clothed than the ladies whose diaphanous
drapery one engirdles in ball-rooms, this prudery is amusing. It is
consoling to remember that the Continental practice prevails in many a
quaint nook along our coasts, and that the ladies are sensible enough to
walk to and from their bathing tents, clothed and unashamed. Strange to
say, Broadstairs has placed its ladies' machines nearest the pier, for
the benefit of loungers armed with glasses; and I must not forget to
mention that the boatman himself holds a daily _levée_ of mermaidens, who
make direct for his boat and gambol around the prow. If anything needs
reforming in our marine manners, it is rather the male costume. Why we
men are allowed to go about like savages, clothed only in skins (and
those our own), is to me one of the puzzles of popular ethics. What is
sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose. At Folkestone, where the
machine-people are dreadfully set against ladies and gentlemen using the
same water, promiscuous bathing flourishes more nakedly than anywhere on
the Continent; and the gentlemen have neither tents nor costumes. In
Margate and Deal the machines are of either sex, and the gentlemen are
clad in coloured pocket-handkerchiefs. At Birchington I bathed from a
boat which was besieged by a bevy of wandering water-nymphs, begging me
to let them dive from it. And they dived divinely!

Though the _profanum vulgus_ takes possession of our strands, and Edwin
and Angelina are common objects of the sea-shore, yet I cannot help
thinking that there is many a vulgar British beach that would ravish us
did we light upon it in other lands. Oh, how picturesque! What a gay
grouping of colour! What an enchanting medley of pink parasols and golden
sand and chintz tents and white bathing-machines, and blue skies and
black minstrels and green waters, and creamy flannels and gauzy dresses!
And--_ciel!_ what cherubic children! and--_corpo di Bacco!_--what pretty
women! What frank _abandon_ to the airy influences of the scene! What
unconventionality! What unrestraint! See how that staid old _signor_
allows himself to be buried and excavated by the _bambino_. Watch that
charming _maman_ unblushingly bathing _bébé_. Note that portly _matrona_
careering upon the _asino_! What cares she for her dignity? Listen to the
babel--"[Greek: hokae pokae, hokae pokae]" "Drei shies a pfennig!" "Your
photograph, _seńorita?_" Look! the coquettish _contadina_ is slapping the
face of the roguish _vetturino_! How the good-natured crowd, easily
pleased, gathers round the Ethiopian troubadour, trolling in unison his
amorous catches!--

_Daisy, Daisy, donne-moi ta réponse._

And hark! Do you not hear in the distance the squeak of _Puncinello_? Ah!
why have we none of this happy carelessness in England?--we who take our
pleasures _moult tristement_--why have we not this lightheartedness, this
_camaraderie_ of enjoyment? Why cannot we throw aside our insular
stiffness, our British hauteur, and be natural?

I journeyed to Broadstairs, late at night, riding in a three-horsed brake
with many a jocund passenger. And then something happened. Something
ineffably trivial, and yet a matter of life and death. We were bowling
merrily along the country lanes in the fragrant air. It was a dark,
starless night, but so warm that the easterly sea-breeze fanned us like a
zephyr. And through the gloom a flash-light leaped and waned, flickered
and died and gleamed again with electric brilliance--"the Winnaker(?)
light from France," a garrulous inhabitant assured us; a rare phenomenon
to be seen only once in a decade, when an east wind clarifies the
atmosphere, and allows the rays to pierce through two dozen miles of
strait. It seemed like La Belle France winking amicably to us across the
waters. And a little to the left twinkled "The Green Man"--no friendly
public-house, but a danger-signal from behind the Goodwin Sands, likewise
visible but by miracle.

And as we marvelled at these jewels of the night, that shamed the
absentee stars, the brake stood still with a jolt and a shock that threw
our gay company into momentary alarm. But it was nothing. Only a horse
fallen down dead! One of our overworked wheelers had suddenly sunk upon
the earth, a carcase. Dust to dust! Who shall tell of the daylong agony
of the dumb beast as he plodded pertinaciously through the heat,
ministering to the pleasures of his masters? Had he been a man, how we
should have praised him, belauded the beauty of his end, telling one
another sanctimoniously that he had died in harness. As it was we merely
stripped him of his harness and deposited it in the brake! We unhitched
the leader and put him between the shafts, side by side with the other
horse, both incurious and indifferent, wasting nor glance nor nasal rub
upon their defunct comrade. We men feign better. And then we drew him to
the edge of the track, a rigid, lumbering mass; and the garrulous
inhabitant discussed the value of the carcase, and the driver cracked his
whip, and the living horses stirred their haunches, and in a moment we
were spanking along, leaving our fellow-creature to darkness and
solitude. Only the flash-light from France glimmered upon the poor dead
beast, coming all the way to cheer him; only the green eye from beyond
the Goodwins blinked upon his unheaving flanks.

And from far ahead came back to his deaf ears with ever-diminishing
intensity our noisy madrigal--most music-hall, most melancholy--his only

Mary Jane was a farmer's daughter,
Mary Jane did what she oughter.
She fell in love but all in vain.
O poor Mary! O poor Jane!


The Millennial Exhibition of Budapest--for which the Directors gave me a
season ticket as soon as they heard I was leaving--professes to celebrate
the foundation of Hungary; but 896 is a very long time ago, and the event
does not seem to have been reported in the newspapers of the period.
However, as a Hungarian explained to me, when you are counting by
thousands you are not particular to a year or two, so perhaps it was not
precisely ten centuries ago that the foundation of Hungary was
inaugurated by a national assembly that created "the Constitution of
Pusztaszer." After all, have not those irrepressible German savants
discovered that Christ was born in the year 6 B.C.? At any rate, there is
no doubt that the Magyars did steal a country some time or other in the
remote past, or in more political language, did obtain a footing in
Europe by ousting the Slav tribes that peopled the great plain bounded by
the Carpathians and the Danube and the Tisza. They came from Central
Asia, on a late wave of that big "Westward ho!" movement of the Eastern
peoples, a race of shepherds changed into an army of mounted archers, and
pitched their tents first in Galieia, uniting their seven tribes under
the great chief Arpád; but, harassed continually by local tribes with
unpronounceable names, they moved farther westwards to their present
quarters, where, after a vain but spirited attempt to annex Europe
generally, they settled down to comfort and civilisation, ceased to offer
white horses to idols, and embraced Christianity.

It seems that land-thieves are called conquerors; and after a thousand
years of possession of their stolen goods, the glamour of a divine
sanctity gets over the past, and high-minded natives live and die for the
country which seems to have been theirs from time immemorial, and in
which their holiest feelings are enrooted. What makes national robberies
moral is the fact that there is honour among the thieves. The morality of
crowds is, in fact, as different from that of individuals as "the
psychology of crowds" which has just engaged the attention of an
ingenious scientist. Into the original conquerors of a country a
miscellaneous assortment of other races always gets absorbed, as the
Franks by the Gauls, the Turkish Bulgarians by the Slavs. The Hungarians
absorbed into themselves Italians, Germans, and Czechs, and the modern
Hungarian is, according to Arminius Vambery, a typical product of the
fusion of Europe and Asia, Turanian and Aryan. And that is the sort of
way in which after a few centuries we get the chauvinistic cries:
"Germany for the Germans," "Poland for the Polish," "Hungary for the
Hungarians." In truth, no nation has a right to anything it cannot hold
by might. And who shall determine what a nation is? Who are the
Americans? Who are the English? "Norman and Saxon and Dane are we." And
once upon a time some of us threw up our country and sailed away in the
_Mayflower_. For patriotism is not the only bond of brotherhood. Men may
be the sons of an idea as well as of a soil. There was a Hungarian girl
selling silver at a stall, who had spent four years in Chicago. Never
have I heard better American, except it be from a Budapest man who had
come back to revisit his native town, and was disgusted with its
smallness and slowness. _Per contra_, I met an American girl in
Switzerland who had lived much in Germany, and whose English had such a
Teutonic intonation that it was difficult to realise she was not speaking
German. And language is but typical of the rest. All other national
characteristics are imbibed as subtly. What makes a nation is a certain
common spirit,--_Volksgeist_, as the German psychologists have christened
it,--and this spirit exercises a hypnotic effect over all that comes
within its range, moulding and transforming. There is action and
reaction. The nation makes the national spirit, and the national spirit
makes the nation. The flag, the constitution, the national anthems, the
national prejudices, the language, the proverbs--these are the product of
the people they produce.

I am inclined to allow more importance to education and environment than
to actual birth in a country, and to believe that for a "native," birth
is only an etymological necessity. Natives are made as well as born. The
"born" native has merely the advantage of prior arrival, and if the
"foreign" immigrant is only of a plastic age he may come to love the
step-mother-country more than one of her own sons, educated abroad. This
consideration would solve every _Uitlander_ question: is the national
spirit strong enough to suck in the foreigners? Can the nation digest
them, to vary the metaphor--assimilate them to its own substance? I once
proposed to a biologist--who flouted it--that a definition of Life might
be "the power of converting foreign elements, taken in as food, to one's
own substance." Thus, a plant sucks up chemical elements and makes
flowers; a man turns them to flesh. Here is a piece of meat: eaten by a
dog it runs to tail and teeth, for a cat it makes fur and whiskers, for a
bird feathers, for a woman a lovable face. And so the test of life in a
nation would be its power of transforming its immigrants into patriots.
Only a dead nation is afraid of foreigners.

The figure has its limits, however: one cannot gulp down too large a
piece of meat. And there are things inedible--substances which no stomach
can digest. The Americans will never make Yankees of their Chinese. On
the other hand, nowhere have I found more ardent patriots than among the
Jews. Englishmen in England, Americans in America, Italians in Italy,
Frenchmen in France, and only not Russians in Russia because they are not
allowed to be, they are rabid Hungarians in Hungary; and if I have caught
any enthusiasm for Hungary it is from the lips of a young and brilliant
Jew, Vidor Emil, who piloted me about Budapest, and who, under Marmorek
Oszkár, another young Jew, built "Old Buda," perhaps the most interesting
feature of the Millennial Exhibition. This Jewish patriotism, which loves
at once Israel and some other nation, may appear curious and
contradictory; but human nature is nothing if not curious and
contradictory, and this dual affection has been aptly compared to that of
a mother for her different children. And besides, in a contest the love
of Israel goes down before the more local patriotism. French and German
Jews fought each other in the Franco-German war, and probably it is only
persecution that accentuates the consciousness of Jewish brotherhood.
Wherever the Jews have perfect equality and have been tempted out of the
Ghetto, there the beginnings of disintegration are manifest. And who
shall say how much Jewish blood dilutes the nations of the Occident, for
all their chauvinistic talk!

Mr. Du Maurier, in his unmentionable novel, suspects, like Lowell, that a
drop of it has lurked in every artistic temperament. And, in sober truth,
the drain from Israel throughout the centuries has been immense. In every
age, in every country, Jews have been sucked up into the more brilliant
life around them, exchanging contempt and danger for consideration and
peace. I know an English gentleman who goes about in fear and trembling
lest it transpire that he is of the race of the apostles, and he be
driven out of decent Christian society. _Cherchez le Juif_ is, indeed,
no empty cry, whenever a new artistic or journalistic planet swims into
our ken. That the Jew rules over the Continental press is not quite so
untrue as most anti-Semitic cries. "Have you any Christians on your
staff?" I said to the editor of the great Budapest newspaper, "Pesther
Lloyd," a fine figure of a man, long-bearded and benevolent, like an
ancient sage. He pondered. "I think we have one," he said. On the other
hand, there are many German and Austrian papers on which there is only
one Jew. And in any case the real meaning of the cry is ludicrously

For the Jew by no means uses his power to help Jews indiscriminately:
there is no secret brotherhood of the synagogue. The Jewish journalists
have probably never been in a synagogue, except perhaps as children; they
are divorced in thought and temper from the body proper. And the only
sense in which their pen can be said to have a Jewish bias is in that
complimentary sense which makes the Jew synonymous with the champion of
sweetness and light, of liberty and reason. In this sense it is true that
the Jew is wielding an insidious influence throughout Europe, like the
old apostles among the heathen.

"Oh yes, the Jews are very well off in Hungary," said one of the staff of
the "Pesther Lloyd." "There are 150,000 Jews in Budapest; they enter all
the professions, and supply two members to the House of Magnates, and
nine to the Chamber of Deputies, and there are two State Councillors; and
you know with us every member of Parliament 'thous' every other in
private as an equal. For the laws, liberal as they are, are not so
liberal as the spirit of society. I, mere journalist as I am, have the
most friendly talks with the Prime Minister, and am a member of the
swellest political clubs. We are a good deal like England, by the way:
our middle-classes produce our leaders, our aristocracy lacks eloquence
and talent, and has only a court influence. Our House of Commons is the
most fashionable club. We have no censor, whereas Austria has an
oppressive censorship as well as anti-Semitism. In fact, the influence of
Vienna has caused a decline in our own tolerant spirit, and at the best
of times a Jew needed to have three times the talent of a Christian to
make equal progress in any career." A consideration which sufficiently
accounts for the superiority of the Jewish remnant. Intolerance and
persecution are furnaces which, when they do not destroy, temper and
anneal and strengthen. It is as with the bare-footed, half-clad, underfed
children of the slums: those that do survive are strong indeed. Let my
patriotic cicerone, the Jewish architect, testify. First in all his
examinations, a violinist, a bicyclist, a gymnast, he was to be gazetted
a premier lieutenant as soon as he had completed his military service. He
was a linguist, too (as every travelled Hungarian must be, for Hungarian
will carry him nowhere), speaking excellent English and reading our
magazines regularly. _Humani nihil a me alienum puto_ might have been his
motto. Kossuth himself is said to have had a Jewish grandmother. The Jews
are largely responsible for the prosperity of Budapest, as they were for
that of Vienna, which now turns round upon them. Fancy a country
quarrelling with its coal and iron! And the true wealth of a country is
even more in its population than in its dead products. I found the
Viennese comic papers full of the old anti-Semitic jokes, hashed up, I
have little doubt, by the same journalists who are supposed to judaize
the press of Europe. Even so in America, are not the Jewish caricatures
in _Puck_ often done by a brother of M. de Blowitz? In something of the
same spirit, when the notorious Lueger, whose platform was the extinction
of the Jews of Vienna, was up for election as Burgomaster of that town, a
poor Jew took a bribe of a couple of florins to vote for him. "God will
frustrate him," said the pious Jew. "Meantime I have his money."

The chief surprise of Hungary is its language. Though one knows that
Jokaď writes in the strange tongue which sticks its verb into the middle
of its noun, yet one vaguely thinks of it as of Gaelic or
Welsh--something archaic, kept for Eisteddfods and Renaissances--and it
is not till one arrives in Hungary that one realises that it is a living,
disconcerting reality. The great European languages have affinities with
one another: Latin puts one on bowing terms with French and Spanish,
Italian and Portuguese; English is not entirely unrelated to German,
Dutch, and even Norwegian; old Greek is the key to modern. But in Hungary
one comes face to face with an absolutely new language, in which even
guesswork is impossible. When "Levelezö-Lap" means a postcard, and "ára
egy napra" means price per day, you feel that it is all up. The nearest
relatives of Hungarian are Turkish and Finnish, the Asiatic ancestors of
the race having lived between Finns and Turks; and it bears traces of
their migrations, and of the great Mongol invasion of Europe by Djingis

With a language thus handicapped, it was a mistake to have scarcely a
word of any other tongue in an Exhibition designed to attract Europe. The
only scrap of English I saw was in the "French Theatre," in the show of
"Living Pictures," the (London) director of which had forgotten to alter
the titles printed beneath the frames. Even in giving the names of
foreign authors the Hungarians preserve their habit of placing the
Christian name second; so that I saw in the booksellers' windows works by
Eliot George, Kock Paul, and Black William.

Hungary is still in the flush of youth, high-spirited, brilliant,
enthusiastic, and a little out of perspective in its national
consciousness. But who would ever do anything if he saw his true place in
the cosmos? The rapid rise of Budapest--unprecedented save in the gold
countries--into a capital of European importance, has shed a buoyant
optimism, refreshing enough in this jaded century, over the inhabitants
of that beautiful city. "We are the Vienna of the future," cried my
cicerone, "and already Vienna is feeling our rivalry. The retired Jewish
merchants who went there to spend their fortunes are now coming to us;
the anti-Semitism of Vienna is at once the cause and the effect of bad
business. And Vienna is on the downward grade; we are on the upward.
Vienna has never been the capital of Austria,--which is a mere federation
of races,--as Budapest is the capital of Hungary. The German is proud of
Vienna, yes; but the Czech looks to Prague, the Pole to Cracow, the
Austro-Italian swears by Trieste."

He also complained that there is rather a tendency to think of Hungary as
subject to Austria, instead of an associated state; and that this
tendency is fomented by the Austrian papers, whose references to Hungary
insinuate this conception. The Hungarian papers, whose tone would
counteract it, not being in German, are not read by the rest of Europe.
Hungary had always beaten Austria. She had never been defeated save by
allies of Austria. But Hungary, which is so mettlesome and restive in her
patriotism, whose great son, Kossuth, would never even accept the
compromise with the House of Hapsburg, has yet no compunction in
dominating inferior races, in grinding Serbs, Croats and Roumanians into
her own pattern. The Hungarians, who are in the minority, are yet
moulding these alien nationalities to their own will. But _que
voulez-vous?_ The inhabitants of many nations have adopted Christianity,
the nations themselves never. Perhaps the next step for the Christian
missionaries is to found international Christianity.

Still the Hungarians have the qualities of their defects. Unlike the
Turks, their neighbours, they are a race with a future, and Budapest is
from one point of view one of the sightliest capitals of Europe. What
town has a fairer situation? With Parisian Pesth sitting stately on one
bank of the Danube, and Turkish Buda climbing up the hills in a series of
hanging gardens crowned by gilt domes and cupolas on the other, the two
joined by wonderful bridges, she exhibits an unsurpassed contrast; and at
night, when the long stretch of the river is a-twinkle with lights
reflected as shining spears, she may even vie with Venice or the Thames
Embankment. From the Andrassy Avenue, a beautiful Boulevard, with its
cafés and book-shops, and pleasant interludes of flower-beds and
fountains, you may get, in a few minutes--crossing the Danube on a great
steamer, and ascending the heights of Buda by a funicular railway--to a
spot where, seated in an avenue of chestnut trees and looking on the
villa-strewn slopes of sleeping hills, or watching the sun set in
splendour behind them, you may forget that you are living in a bustling
modern town, and one with an Exhibition to boot.

You may dream of the picturesque days when, as shown in Ujváry's great
panorama of the sister towns in 1680, Buda was by far "the better half,"
and Pesth was a tiny spot. You may visit the tomb of Gul Baba, father of
the roses, a shrine of pilgrimage to all good Turks. You may find a good
quarter of an hour in the Church of St. Matthias, whose spire comes up
white amid the green as you turn a corner; a curious monument, that was
three centuries a-building; its interior suffused, like St. Mark's, by a
golden glow, its coloured windows original in shape, and no two pillars
or capitals alike in design, yet all contributing to a quaint unity and
harmony. And it is at Buda that the chief national buildings stand,
usually flanked by chestnut trees, and the statues in memory of the wars.
Here is the War-Office of the Territorial Army (which is distinct from
the joint Austro-Hungarian army); here are the Premier's Palace, the
Houses of Parliament, and the King's Palace of many windows set on a
breezy hill, and now being enlarged at a cost of thirty million florins.
Fortunate Francis Joseph, to command such a panorama from his bedroom
window: his hanging gardens, that slope towards the Danube, flowing with
molten sparkle, spanned by the great suspension bridge and the railway
bridges; and broken by the beautiful Margaret Island; the spires and
chimneys and cupolas of Pesth, and the mountains of Buda.

Margaret Island is the "Pearl of the Danube," a charming retreat in
spring and autumn, when the heat does not force Fashion to the mountains,
and famous for its mineral springs, hot and cold. It belongs to the
King's cousin, Prince Joseph, and is a white elephant. The cost of
gardening this beautiful island is colossal, and though the Prince has
just drained a portion which used to be a swamp, the Danube is a standing
danger. It is scarcely surprising that he cannot find a purchaser at
three million florins. One of the walls of his private garden (which
produces celebrated roses) is the remnant of an old cloister. A tramcar
runs through the island, giving one tantalising vistas of glorious
stretches of woodland. Altogether Budapest would be an ideal place for a
honeymoon but for the beauty of the women, which might make the
bridegroom dissatisfied.

But the Pesth part of Budapest is a disappointment. One expects to feel
the first breath of the East, and one gets a modern, a Western, almost an
American town, with an electric underground railway and a telephonic
newspaper which reads itself out all day long to whosoever will clap the
cups to his ears--the old town crier in terms of modern science. But it
rounds off the day, poetically enough, with music, so that when I sought
to hear the latest news, I was treated to Handel's "Hallelujah." How much
more soothing than our own "extra special," with its final crop of
horrors! Music, indeed, is ever resounding: the gipsy bands are
everywhere playing--Hungarian, not gipsy music, as Liszt imagined, for
they never play to "the white men." The splendid "Rákóczi" March, which
Berlioz introduced into his "Faust," is, however, of gipsy origin, having
been invented, says tradition, by Cinka Panna, the faithful gipsy girl of
Rákóczi II., after his defeat. There are also Betjár melodies, the songs
of the brigand cavaliers, the romantic robbers who took from the rich to
give to the poor, like our Robin Hood.

The Exhibition, which I fear will be a financial failure, is only one of
the many celebrations of the Millennium, which include the erection of
statues and an Arc de Triomphe, the opening of a canal, the construction
of two new bridges, of three or four great public buildings, the
inauguration of the splendid new Houses of Parliament--situated like our
own on the river-side,--international congresses, historical cortčges,
and the opening of five hundred new primary schools! This programme is a
sufficient guarantee that the Exhibition itself is similarly
thorough-going, that it represents every side and department of the
national life; and if much of it does not differ from other Exhibitions,
or even from Whiteley's Stores, this can only be the more gratifying to
the Hungarians, inasmuch as it proves that they have indeed come into
step with the general march of European civilisation. For my part I am
not sure that I do not prefer Arpád's Hungarians, who believed in one God
and one wife, and roved about Europe in the four-wheeled waggons they had
invented. And I am certain that in the Exhibition I preferred the
beautiful aquarium in the cool dim grotto, which has nothing to do with
Hungary, to all the splendours of the Historical Group of Buildings, to
the great model steamer, the naval and military pavilions, the very new
and very glaring native pictures, and even the wonderful models of the
town and the steamer-laden Danube. One great lack in the Exhibition is
lavatories. Even at my hotel--a place of gilded saloons--they charged two
florins (about 3_s_. 4_d_.) for a plain bath, as if in sheer surprise. In
"Old Buda" I could only get a bucket from an old woman in which to wash.
And the next day, when I repaired confidently in search of this bucket,
there was nothing but a tiny saucepan, the contents of which she poured
over my hands, watering a garden-plot at the same time. After the first
jet I moved my hands away and said that would do. "No, no," she cried:
"if you wash, you must wash properly." And I had to stand still and be
poured upon till she was satisfied.

Perhaps the most interesting exhibit is the "ethnographic village,"
designed to represent the life of the Hungarian provinces, though made
rather ridiculous by the rigidity of the waxwork figures, arranged about
the quaint and impossibly clean houses in their various occupations, but
having the air of "tableaux morts" rather than of "tableaux vivants." The
best group was _al fresco_, representing half-naked gipsy-like creatures
with coal-black hair squatting outside tents and mud-houses, the women
smoking pipes. And this exhibition of unrealities brings me on to the
most original feature of the Exhibition, which seems to have escaped all
the reporters--to wit, the exhibition of realities. For the committee
have hit on a most ingenious notion. The peasants of Hungary marry, and
they marry picturesquely. Why should this picturesqueness be wasted, or
only be reproduced artificially in comic operas? When a marriage is to be
celebrated in any village, let the scene be shifted to the capital: let
the wedding-party come up to the Exhibition. Free transit is provided on
the railway for the happy couple, the wedding-guests, and all the
stage-properties. And so they come up to Budapest,--from Toroczkó,
Szabolcs, Krassó-Szörény, and who knows what outlandish places, glad of
the opportunity of seeing the great capital,--and they gather in the
Exhibition grounds, the lads with flower-wreathed hats and streamers of
many-coloured ribbons, the lasses with gay skirts and tall black combs,
the old women with lace head-shawls, carrying bundles of house-linen and
stockings for the bride; and the sheepish pair are made one, and the
peasants dance and then go in procession to the strains of the Rákóczi
March, and are photographed with odd spectators (like myself) tacked on,
and they sit down to the wedding-dinner under the trees, and the viands
are heaped high on the white table-cloths, sun-dappled with the shadows
of the moving leaves. And then they visit themselves in waxwork, and go
into ecstacies over the stolid representations of their life and their
furniture, and they walk about the town--a sort of grown-up
school-procession--and go home to thrill the wide-eyed village with tales
of the wonderful city.

But the other instance of converting realities into spectacles is not so
commendable. In the supplementary exhibition of "Old Buda" stands a
reproduction of an Old Buda mosque, built of stone, majolica and wood, in
a mixture of Turkish and European architecture, with minaret and cupolas,
and a small kiosk in the Indian style for a sleeping fakir. Here Moslems
and Dervishes assemble to say or dance their prayers; and for a florin
you may ascend the gallery and watch them below. The mosque opened on the
holy night of Bairam, the most solemn feast of the Mohammedan year, and
quite a crowd planked down their silver to listen to the pious
worshippers. Is it not shameful? I am happy to say I did not pay for my
seat. Even in Budapest I was a _persona gratis_. 'T was certainly a
remarkable scene, its solemnity emphasized by the thunder without, that
drowned the voice of the muëddin calling to prayer, and by the lightning
and rain-torrents that sent the pretty little _al fresco_ waitresses
scudding about with their serviettes on their heads to tend the few
parties in the leafy square that dined on regardless of diluted wine or
under the protection of umbrellas. How the Turks further wetted
themselves by complex ablutions in the tank (meydiäh) in the courtyard
without, how they removed their shoes and, entering the mosque, knelt on
their carpets facing towards Mecca, and turning their backs on me, a
serried array of long-robed figures swaying and falling forward with
automatic regularity, and showing pairs of heels not always clean, while
the Imam chanted heart-breaking dirges overhead, I shall not detail, for
everybody has read of Moslem services. But I do not remember to have come
across any accurate description of a service of Dancing Dervishes such as
followed the more orthodox ceremonial.

All the mere Mussulmans having retired, the Dervishes sat around
cross-legged, forming an oval. Presently they began to say some phrase,
presumably Turkish (it sounded like _es "klabbam vivurah"_), which they
repeated and repeated and repeated with the same endless, uniform,
monotonous intonation, swaying from right to left and from left to right,
till I felt the whole universe was this phrase, and nothing else would
happen till the end of the world, and the world would never end. At last,
when I had reconciled myself to living for ever and ever with this sound
in my ears, they broke into a pleasant melody with rhyming stanzas and a
refrain of _Hazlee_. Then they started on another word with endless
iteration, and then they repeated _Allah, Allah, Allah_, swaying and
swaying till the universe began to reel. I became aware that their chief,
who was seated on a special red carpet, was counting on a rosary, and I
drew relief from the deduction that an end would come. It did, but worse
remained behind; for the Dervishes got up and formed a ring round their
chief, and began swaying right and left and backwards and forwards,
unrestingly, remorselessly, getting quicker and quicker, till there was
nothing in the world but swayings this way and that way, back and forth.

At last the movements began to slow down and to sweep over larger curves,
and suddenly they stopped altogether, only to recommence as the fanatics
started singing a joyous hymn. Alas! thought I, one half the world is a
laughing-stock to the other half, if indeed not rather a source of tears.
For now the chief, whose fine gloomy Eastern face still haunts me, was
bowing to his men, and they were responding with strange raucous cries
compounded of the roars of wild beasts and the pants of locomotives. _Hu!
Hu!_ they roared in savage unison, _Hu! Hu!_ monotonously, endlessly,
making strange motions. Hoarser and more bestial grew the frightful
roars, wilder and wilder grew the movements, the head-gear falling off,
faces growing black, the chief standing silent with his hand on his
breast, but in his pale face a tense look of ever-gathering excitement.
And then two of the Dervishes held out a curved sword, and the roars
redoubled and the chests heaved with wilder breaths; and suddenly the
Chief, throwing off his stocking-wraps, jumped on the blade with his
naked feet and balanced himself upon it, the muscles of his face rigid,
his teeth clenched. Four times he stood upon the bare sword-edge amid
this hellish howling and this mad swaying, the perspiration running down
the foreheads of the devotees, some of them foaming at the mouth. And
then they moved round in a circle to the right, howling _He! He!_ an
Armenian Dervish in a tall brown hat varying it by _Ho! Ho!_ and another
worshipper singing in a high voice.

The chief bared his breast, and twirling a heavy-hafted dagger, plunged
it into his side. When this had been repeated three or four times,
pandemonium ceased. The Holy Man, with an air of supreme exhaustion and
supreme ecstasy, reclad himself in his white mantle, and the faithful
ones wiped their brows, and re-squatting on the ground exultantly
vociferated _Allah_ about a hundred times, nodding their heads, and
finally changing their cry into _Bou! Bou!_ After a little singing and a
shouting of _Din! Din!_ they pressed their foreheads to the ground with a
shout of _Bou!_ and suddenly rose and decamped. Other nights other
services, and the hysterical worship sometimes embraces a sort of
serpentine skirt-dancing with frenzied twirling. There was no blood from
the chief's wounds, but the performance does not seem to me to be
jugglery. It seems rather akin to hypnotism. The wild cries and gyrations
induce a state of anesthesia, just as by the excitement of battle the
soldier is so wrought up that he does not feel his wounds. Even in a sham
fight a soldier told me he got to such a pitch that he could have done or
suffered anything. As for the blood not running from the wounds, I
conjecture that the places had become insensitive by frequent stabbing in
the same spot. And this is the miracle that testifies to the saintliness
of the Dervish and to the truth of his doctrines! I suspect that much of
"the wisdom of the East" is of this character: ancient discoveries of the
shady side of human psychology, the grotesque aberrations, trances,
hypnotic impressionability, double personalities, ghosts, second-sight,
what not. And these being misunderstood have always been supposed to
trench on the divine. For what is not normal is not human, and what is
not human is superhuman. So runs the simple logic. But hysteria can never
be a foundation for a creed, and a true religion must always appeal to
the common central facts of human experience.

There was another Exhibition going on, as it always goes on, in the town,
for the People's Park has very little verdure and consists almost
entirely of side-shows and open-air restaurants. I saw swings and
merry-go-rounds, a circus, and a marionette theatre, and heard Punch and
Judy discussing their domestic differences in Hungarian, and Toby barking
in the same uncouth tongue. The joy with which the public greeted each
crack on the head administered by Herr Punch's stick showed me how
hopeless it was to write literary plays. For the primitive emotions will
always be the most captivating. A fight must ever beat the most subtle
psychology; and indeed those writers for whom the drama is the art of
manufacturing excitement and suspense must find it difficult to compete
with a lottery drawing, a prize-fight, or a horse-race, where the issue
is known not even to the organiser of the excitement. And this
consideration will show why some books are very successful, the art of
which is very little. Nothing is harder in real life than to put your
back against the wall on a dark staircase and keep three armed men at bay
with your whirling sword. But nothing is easier than for the romantic
writer to dip his pen in ink and say that his hero did that. And nothing
is more stimulating and exciting for the reader than to imagine the hero
doing it; and in his gratitude to the giver of all this beautiful
breathlessness he is likely, unless he is an analytical person, to
mistake a cheap effect for precious art. But the bulk of humanity must
always remain at the Punch-and-Judy stage of art. If only the critics
would outgrow it! The clowns in the circus who came on with red noses
were a further proof of the sempiternal simplicity of our race; and I
could have wished for the heart of that urchin whom I saw trying to peer
in under the canvas, and whom, with a reminiscence of the young
Gradgrinds, I was about to pay for, when he suddenly produced a florin
and many coppers and went in like a man. Sitting in the front row, I had
a curious presentiment that the daring bare-backed rider would be thrown
at my feet; and sure enough he was, and, as I picked him up, I saw by the
perspiration what toil his graceful feats concealed. Poor cavalier! I am
sure his pride was more hurt than his person, and he excelled himself in
galloping round poised on one toe. When he was recalled after his exit,
he tumbled his thanks, giving us complex somersaults in lieu of bows. I
sometimes fancy he was a holier person than the Chief of the Dancing


The function and value of literature are curiously illustrated by the
passing away of the Great White Elephant. The criticisms by spectators of
the World's Fair have not been so comprehensive as the Fair itself, and I
feel that I ought to supplement them by the impressions it made upon one
who did not see it. For, despite the assurance of the official programme,
that I delivered an address in the Parliament of Religions, I was in
England, so far as I know, the whole time. The first impression the Fair
made upon me was one of sublimity--but of what Sir William Hamilton calls
"the material sublime," scarcely at all of "the moral sublime," which was
supposed to be its _raison d'ętre_. I was, of course, aware that great
spiritual facts underlay the physical grandeurs; but spiritual emotion is
difficult to get at a distance. One requires the actual objects to
impinge on the soul, the architectural glories and industrial splendours
to touch through bodily vision. One realises it so vaguely, and fails to
get the half-aesthetic, half-religious, uplifting that concrete
visualisation should supply. It is, perhaps, a pity that Whitman did not
live to see the spectacle, he whose inspiration came so often from
synthesis, from a vision of the ALL. The cosmopolitan cataloguer, the man
who made inventories almost epical, is the one man to whom the Fair would
have been a magnificent inspiration. Judging from the Fair, Whitman would
seem justified in claiming to be the voice of America. The Fair was like
him both in its moral broadness and its material all-inclusiveness. In
his absence no poet has risen "to the height of this great argument," so
that now the insubstantial pageant is faded, now that "the cloud-capp'd
towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples," have dissolved, "like
the baseless fabric of a vision," they have left not a rack of real
literature behind. And to what but literature can one look for a
permanent conservator of the eternal lesson of an ephemeral exhibition?
Truly, as the Latin poet said, literature is more durable than monuments
and dynasties. Except as an object-lesson in the unity and federation of
mankind, the Fair had no valuable _raison d'ętre_, and, unfortunately,
the school-term was short and the number of pupils comparatively limited.

America is a long way from everywhere, even from itself, and the moral
heat dissipates in crossing the ocean to the Old World. The Congress of
Religions in whose voluminous report the Fair has still a chance of
surviving itself, was the most patently spiritual side of the Exposition,
and was, undoubtedly, a most valuable index of the progress of human
catholicism. That the sects are as narrow as they are numerous, is still
largely true, and half the world is still ignorant of how the other half
prays, though by a happy accident of birth all the world inherits the one
true religion. The greatest force in the universe is the "_vis
inertiae_," and the forces already at work must "dree their weird." To
those who are outside all the sects without even circumscribing them, the
World's Fair must bring home at once the greatness and vanity of man's
life--man who lives like the angels and dies like the brutes--the mortal
paradox that has puzzled all thinkers from the Psalmist to Pascal. For
the unbeliever this must ever be the ugly reverse of all glories that are
merely material, though the sensuous optimist need not allow the skeleton
at the feast to spoil his appetite.

The last impression made by the World's Fair upon me was one of
sadness--sadness at not having seen it.


Till I went to Edinburgh I did not know what "The Evergreen" was.
Newspaper criticisms had given me vague misrepresentations of a Scottish
"Yellow Book" calling itself a "Northern Seasonal." But even had I seen a
copy myself I doubt if I should have understood it without going to
Edinburgh and even had I gone to Edinburgh I should still have been in
twilight had? I not met Patrick Geddes, Professor of Botany at the
University of Dundee. For Patrick Geddes is the key to the Northern
position in life and letters. "The Evergreen" was not established as an
antidote to the "Yellow Book," though it might well seem a colour
counter-symbol--the green of spring set against the yellow of decadent
leaves. It is, indeed, an antidote but undesigned; else had not yellow
figured so profusely upon the cover. "The Evergreen" of to-day professes
to be inspired by "The Evergreen" which Allan Ramsay published in 1724,
to stimulate a return to local and national tradition and living nature.
Patrick Geddes and Colleagues, who publish it and other books--on a new
system of giving the author all the profits, as certified by a chartered
accountant--inherit Ramsay's old home. That is to say, they are located
in a sort of "University Settlement," known as Ramsay Garden, a charming
collection of flats, overlooking from its eastled hill the picturesque
city, and built by the many-sided Professor of Botany, and they aspire
also to follow in "the gentle shepherd's" footsteps as workers and
writers, publishers and builders. In fact, their aim is synthesis,
construction, after our long epoch of analysis, destruction. They would
organise life as a whole, expressing themselves through educational and
civic activities, through art and architecture, and make of Edinburgh the
"Cité du Bon Accord" dreamed of by Elisée Reclus. They feel acutely the
"need of fresh readings in life, of fresh groupings in science, both now
mainly from the humanist's side, as lately from the naturalist's side."
In this University Settlement the publishing and writing department is to
represent the scriptorium of the ancient monasteries. Of the local and
national traditions this new Scottish school is particularly concerned to
foster the so-called "Celtic renascence," and--what is more interesting
to outsiders--the revival and development of the old Continental
sympathies of Scotland. The ancient league with France has deeply marked
Scotch history, and even moulded Scotch architecture. As Disraeli said in
his inaugural address on his institution as Lord Rector of the University
of Glasgow, "it is not in Scotland that the name of France will ever be
mentioned without affection." So, among the endless projects of the
effervescent Professor, is one for reviving the Scotch college in
Paris--the original building happening still to survive--and for making
it a centre for Scottish students and Scottish culture in the gay city.

Thus, while the men of "The Evergreen" would renew local feeling and
local colour, they "would also express the larger view of Edinburgh as
not only a National and Imperial but a European city--the larger view of
Scotland, again as in recent, in mediaeval, most of all in ancient times,
one of the European Powers of Culture--as of course far smaller countries
like Norway are to-day." An aspiration with which all intelligent men
must sympathise. The quest at once of local colour and cosmopolitanism is
not at all self-contradictory. The truest cosmopolitanism goes with the
intensest local colour, for otherwise you contribute nothing to the human
treasury and make mankind one vast featureless monotony. Harmonious
diversity is the true cosmopolitan concept, and who will not applaud this
desire of Edinburgh to range itself again amongst the capitals of
culture? Why should it take its tone from London? That centripetal force
which draws villages to towns and towns to capitals everywhere tends to
concentrate in one city a country's culture, and to brand as provincial
that which is not of the centre. But the centre is corrosive of
originality, and if now and then a great man does abide therein, it is
because he has the gift of solitude amid crowds, and is not obnoxious to
the contagion of the common thought. The Scotch School, though its effort
to emancipate itself from the intellectual thraldom of London is to be
commended, does not escape the dangers that lie in wait for all schools,
which upset one convention by another. Still, a school of thought which
is also a school of action has in itself the germs of perpetual

Yes, there can be little danger of sinking into barren formulae, into
glib aesthetic prattle about Renascence, in a movement of which one
expression is the purification of those plaguy, if picturesque, Closes,
which are the foul blot upon the beautiful Athens of the North. Those
sunless courts, entered by needles' eyes of apertures, congested with
hellish, heaven-scaling barracks, reeking with refuse and evil odours,
inhabited promiscuously by poverty and prostitution, worse than the worst
slums of London itself--how could they have been left so long to pollute
the fairest and well-nigh the wealthiest city in the kingdom? "Do you
wonder Edinburgh is renowned for its medical schools?" asked the
Professor grimly, as he darted in and out among those foul alleys,
explaining how he was demolishing this and reconstructing that--at once a
Destroying Angel and a Redeemer. Veritable ghettoes they seemed, these
blind alleys of gigantic habitations, branching out from the High Street,
hidden away from the superficial passer-by faring to Holyrood. They were
the pioneers of the trans-Atlantic sky-builders, were those old burghers,
who, shut in about their castled hill by the two lochs, one of which is
now the enchanting Princes Street, were fain to build heavenwards as
population grew. It was a stormy morning when the mercurial Professor of
Botany, recking naught of the rain that saturated his brown cloak, itself
reluctantly donned, led me hither and thither, through the highways and
byways of old Edinburgh. Everywhere a litter of building operations, and
we trod gingerly many a decadent staircase. Sometimes a double row of
houses had already been knocked away, revealing a Close within a Close,
eyeless house behind blind alley, and even so the diameter of the court
still but a few yards. What human ant-heaps, what histories, farces,
tragedies played out in airless tenebrosity!

The native writers seem to have strangely neglected the artistic wealth
of all this poverty: pathos and humour reside, then, only in villages!
Thrums and Drum-tochty and Galloway exhaust the human tragi-comedy. Ah!
my friends, go to the ant-hill and be wise! The Professor of Botany
(seeming now rather of entomology) explained the principle upon which he
was destroying and rebuilding. One had to be cautious. He pointed out the
head of a boy carved over one of the archways, the one survivor of a
fatal subsidence many years ago, when the ground floor of one of the
gigantic houses was converted into a shop, with plate-glass windows in
lieu of the solid stonework. "Heave awa'!" cried a piping voice amid the
_débris_: "I'm no dead yet."

The Professor's own destruction was conservative in character: it was his
aim to preserve the ancient note in the architecture, and to make a clean
Old Edinburgh of a dirty. Air and light were to be no longer excluded;
outside every house, as flats or storeys are called, a balcony was to
run, giving on sky and open ground. Eminent personages like Lord
Rosebery, ancestrally connected with ancient demesnes, long perverted
into pigsties, had been induced to repurchase them, thus restoring an
archaic flavour of aristocratic prestige to these despised quarters. The
moral effect of grappling with an evil that had seemed so hopeless could
not fail to be inspiring; and, as we plodded through the pouring:
streets, "I will remove this, I will reconstruct that," cried the
enthusiastic Professor, till I almost felt I was walking with the Emperor
of Edinburgh. But whence come the sinews of war? Evidently no professor's
privy purse would suffice. I gathered that the apostle of the sanitary
picturesque had inspired sundry local capitalists with his own patriotic
enthusiasm. What a miracle, this trust in a man over-brimming with ideas,
the brilliant biological theoriser of "The Evolution of Sex" in the
Contemporary Science Series, the patron of fantastic artists like John
Duncan! Obviously it is his architectural faculty that has saved him.
There stand the houses he has built--visible, tangible, delectable;
concrete proofs that he is no mere visionary.

And yet we may be sure the more frigid society of Edina still looks
askance on this dreamer in stone and fresco; for after all Edinburgh, as
Professor Blaekie said, is an "East-windy, west-endy city." Cold and
stately, it sits on its height with something of the austere mournfulness
of a ruined capital. But we did not concern ourselves about the legal and
scholastic quarters, the Professor and I. We penetrated into inhabited
interiors in the Closes, meeting strange female ruins on staircases, or
bonny housewives in bed-sitting-rooms, in one of which a sick husband lay
apologetically abed. And when even the Professor was forced at last to
take refuge from the driving rain, it was in John Knox's house that we
ensconced ourselves--the grim, unlovely house of the great Calvinist, the
doorway of which fanatically baptised me in a positive waterfall, and in
whose dark rooms, as the buxom care-taker declared in explaining the
presence of an empty cage, no bird could live. It is not only in its
Closes, methought, that Scotland needs regen eration. Many a spiritual
blind-alley has still to receive sunshine and air, "sweetness and light."
So let us welcome "The Evergreen" and the planters thereof, stunted and
mean though its growth be as yet; for not only in Scotland may they bring
refreshment, but in that larger world where analysis and criticism have
ended in degeneration and despair.


At Fiesole I just missed a sensation. Two friends of mine were climbing
at midnight the steep hill to the village, when from beneath a dark arch
there dashed down towards them two breathless _carabinieri_, their cloaks
flapping in the moonlight like the wings of the demon-bats of pantomime.
"Is it your way that the murdered man lies?" they panted. "Murdered man!"
At once a hundred shadowy reminiscences stirred in my friends' minds:
Prosper Mérimée's novels, stories of vendettas, plots of plays, _morceaux
d'opéras_, even of comic operas; and it was with a feeling in which the
latter element predominated that they answered that they had come across
no corpse. The police-officers thanked them and hurried off, so my
friends soon understood, as far as possible from the scene of the event;
for, passing through the arch, the _Inglesi_ came upon a track of blood,
black and clotted in the moonlight. But it did not seem real to
them--they still had a consciousness of comic opera, a consciousness
which was intensified rather than lessened when they emerged upon a group
of excited villagers discussing the crime, and learnt its cause. Two
rival bands, one from a neighbouring village, had been performing at a
local _concerto_, and the two rival trumpeters had continued to blow
their own trumpets after business hours. "Fancy blowing with that little
mouth!" said one. "I'm glad I haven't your maw (_boccone_)!" retorted the

From words it came to knives, and ere you could say Jacopo Robinson a
trumpeter lay weltering in his blood, or rather in his gore, and the
murderer was flying into the arms of the police, who incontinently turned
and fled the other way. When my friends passed by the house of the
victim, the midnight air was ringing with the horrible curses of his
bereaved sister, whose spasmodic face was visible at a window. But the
cold-blooded artistic English felt no answering throb of sympathy--it was
still a scene in a play to them, still a _coup de théâtre_--they had lost
the primary human instincts, corrupted by a long course of melodrama and
comic opera. To-day I myself saw a carnival procession in the village
piazza--a veritable survival of the Middle Ages; a triumphal car wreathed
in flowers, driven by masquerading mummers and surrounded by Pierrots and
peasant buffoons, a thoroughly naďve and primitive bit of religion. But
it needed a perceptible effort to shake off the sense of the operatic, to
accept the thing as genuine. Ruskin contended (in that _olla podrida_
called "Modern Painters") that the Swiss peasants do not really dance and
sing happily in the market-place; and hence he argued--comically
enough--that the money spent on the stage reproduction of their happiness
should be spent in really promoting their happiness. With my Italian
peasants I feel the opposite: that such excellent picturesque effects
should not be wasted on mere reality, but should be turned to real use
upon the stage. So, too, it is difficult to take a roadside beggar
seriously; he seems to ask, not for alms, but for a frame. Happy the
unlettered and the inartistic, to whom even the picturesque person is a
person, who can think of olive oil when he sees the olive-trees weaving
their graceful patterns above the stone walls, and can watch the sun set
in lurid splendour behind the purple mountains with never a thought of
Turner or Childe Harold!

For modern civilised beings, in incessant relations with the reflections
of life through literature and art, it is difficult to receive any
impressions which do not re-reflect what lies in the mirror of art. And
here is an amusing side-issue. We are presented in plays and books, with
numerous situations in which the ignorance of one of the parties is a
necessary factor in the particular dramatic situation which it is sought
to evolve. But as this person, _ex hypothesi_, belongs to the class of
society which is familiar with this particular plot _ad nauseam_, is it
possible that he or she should go on betraying the same ignorance on
which the plot originally was based? Even Marguerite has seen "Faust"

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