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Without Prejudice by Israel Zangwill

Part 6 out of 7

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This suggests an objection to old plots quite apart from their oldness,
for that which started by being probable becomes improbable by age. Even
if it were ever possible for a man to be jealous of a woman because he
saw her kissing a man whom, after long and weary years of superfluous
separation, he discovered to be her brother, it should surely be
impossible to-day. If I saw any man kissing my _fiance_ I should know at
once it was my future brother-in-law--or at any rate I should
inquire--which the old hero never seemed to do. And yet I will wager that
in the course of this year at least a dozen novels and plays will be
built up upon this theme. It is, by the way, a noticeable characteristic
of people in plays never to have read nor to be interested in any but the
petty dramatic matter which is interesting them--and let us hope the
audience--at the moment. It may be replied that the economy of the stage
demands that everything that is not strictly essential should be
eliminated; but yet it ought to be possible, by a few words, to give the
idea that the figures upon the boards are doing more than moving to the
strings of the playwright. Just so the painter of the gulf should suggest
the ocean beyond; the painter of the landscape, the infinity of space and
atmosphere in which it is enisled. What the _plein air_ school contended
for in painting is no less requisite in literature.

This consideration seems to account for the uneasy sense of unreality
which we feel in the modern machine-made Sardou play, in which the
characters have the air of existing entirely to themselves, and for the
sake of the particular play, and do not give that large sense of being
part of the civilised humanity we know that reads and thinks. The men
make love or profess hate, repudiate their wives, or cut off their sons
with shillings, all with the air of its happening for the first time, and
wholly devoid of that sense of the ridiculous which they could not help
feeling if they had been accustomed themselves to read novels and sit in
stalls.

It is, in fact, impossible for us moderns, educated in a long literary
tradition, to live our lives as naturally and navely as the unlettered
of to-day, or the people of the preliterary geological epoch. This is
brought out "ostensively," as Bacon would say, in "Don Quixote," or in
the Russian novel "A Simple Story"--apparently so called because it is so
complex--in which Gontcharov's hero lives in what Alice might call
"behind the looking-glass" of literature. He is a country boy who comes
up to St. Petersburg, and after a course of Russian novels is transformed
into a series of imitations of their heroes. He does nothing, feels
nothing, thinks nothing except after the pattern of these creatures of
the quill.

Well! we are all like that, more or less. Though we may not be as
chivalrously inspired as the Knight of La Mancha, nor run to the extremes
of the simple Russian, we are all to some extent remoulded in imitation
of the Booklanders, and this is the truth in the "decadent" paradox that
nature copies art. There is a drop of ink in the blood of the most
natural of us; we are all hybrids, crossed with literature, and
Shakespeare is as much the author of our being as either of our parents.
The effect of the stage in regulating the poses and costumes of
susceptible souls has not escaped notice; but the effect of novels and
poetry is more insidious. Who ever shuddered with bitter alliterative
kisses before Swinburne, and who has failed to do so since? What poor
little cockney clerk in his first spasms of poetry but has felt, sitting
by his girl in the music hall, that if she walked over the grave in which
he was planted, his "dust would hear her and beat, had he lain for a
century dead" (though how Maud could survive her lover for a century,
Tennyson failed to explain)? _Per contra_, the ingenuous spinster taking
her notions of love from Maupassant's "Bel-Ami," or Gabriele d'Annunzio's
"Trionfo della Morte," becomes a man-hater. Yes, I fear that the artistic
treatment of life has a good deal to answer for. People do not yet
understand that the mirror of art does not reflect life unrefracted. The
great eternal theme of art is love-making; but even artists have to give
up some time to art-making.

But to wind up anent our murderer. He is still at large. The police have
given up the chase in despair. But he has never left the village, and we
villagers all wink at one another as we discuss his whereabouts; and when
we meet him driving his cart or come across him cutting wood in the
forest and he genially gives us _Buon' giorno_ we salute him with
answering politeness. Only in the village band there is a temporary
trumpeter, for even the police might hear of him if he performed in
public loudly enough. But Italian justice, though it does really savour
of comic opera, is not so farcical as it appears on the surface. It is an
unwritten law that the police shall not _pigliare_ him till the sessions
are nigh. He is on parole, so to speak, to come up when called upon; if
he were really to take flight, he would be declared an outlaw, and the
only reason the police cannot find him is that they know where he is. How
sensible! Why board and lodge him gratis for weeks? He has outraged the
community: shall the community reward him with free meals? Even when he
is caught he will be treated with the same economy. Capital punishment
there is none in Italy. Why waste a citizen and a tax-payer? Especially
when one has already been destroyed! No, he will be sentenced to a term
of imprisonment. But he will not serve it. He will escape, or it will be
commuted. And while he is in gaol he will have a good time. He will smoke
and play cards, or, leaning out of his dungeon casement, hold a levee of
his friends. Recently the soldiers at Bergamo mutinied because they were
supplied with worse bread than the denizens of the gaol. I trust the
ringleaders were sent to prison so as to remedy this dietary injustice.

Please do _me_ the justice to remark that I have been in Italy for
several paragraphs without once referring to the Old Masters. But the
fact is that I have not been much at the Masked Balls. Does this saying
seem cryptic? All it means is that the confusion into which our
scientific century has thrown us is worse confounded than usual in the
universe of pictures; that the Galleries appear to be made up of pictures
masquerading under wrong names. Time was when one might go about
comfortably with a Baedeker and a stock of admiration and distribute it
as per instructions. But these good old times are over. The Old Masters
of yesterday are the young apprentices of to-day. It is pitiable to think
how many well-meaning enthusiasts have fallen victims to the careless or
crafty curator. Sometimes it scarcely needs a connoisseur to suspect the
good faith of catalogues. I, myself, a mere babe and suckling, came to
the conclusion, after a visit to the Velasquez Exhibition in London, that
Velasquez must have been very versatile. It is too bad that artists
should be hanged for crimes they never committed. 'T is to be hoped their
ghosts carefully avoid the Galleries. But beshrew your paintings! My eyes
make pictures--not like Coleridge's when they're shut, but when they 're
open. Who would not rather lie with me in the _podere_ in the shade of
the cypress trees, under the blue, blue sky, and behold through a tangle
of olive-boughs the marvellous Dome of Florence, as satisfying as the
sea, or under a starry heaven the loveliest of cities glittering like a
rival firmament with answering constellations? And yet I recant. For if
there is one piece of art which is better than nature, 't is Botticelli's
so-called "Spring," which, long misprised and now worm-riddled, adds the
last magic to the wonderful flower-city. To her that hath shall be given.

GLASGOW

"And what do you think of Glasgow?" said the pretty lady interviewer--I
have the right to say she was pretty because she said in print that I
wasn't. I replied that of course Glasgow wasn't pretty but--and here
would have followed an amiable dissertation upon the municipal
superiority of Glasgow. "But," hastily interrupted the lady interviewer,
"have you seen the fine vista of St. Vincent Street, the Great Western
Road, the finest thoroughfare in Europe, the charming residential
districts of Pollokshields West and Dowanhill, the wide view from the
South Side Park or picturesque Camphill?" I tried to edge in an abashed
"No," for a monosyllable is the most one can hope to secure of the
conversation in an interview; but the pretty lady interviewer went on
reproachfully: "Have you seen that stately hill of the dead, the
Necropolis, from Cathedral Square? It is itself a quaint and beautiful
medley of architecture past and present. Have you seen beautiful
Kelvingrove, through which flows the classic Kelvin? In many world-famous
cities have I been and yet seen nothing more beautiful than the view on
one side of Partick Bridge." I apologised to Glasgow, inwardly
confounding the eminent Scotch _littrateur_ who had assured me that
Glasgow was the most loathsome den north of Tweed, almost the only such
den,--his malison upon Glasgow! But although I feel personally nothing
but gratitude to Glasgow and its noisy University students, I cannot
honestly award it the apple for beauty. After all it is the centre of the
town that one naturally gravitates to, and no charm of suburbs can remove
the general impression of commercial dinginess.

No, Glasgow must be content with its wealth and its public spirit. If it
does not stir the imagination like Edinburgh, it satisfies the brain and
the heart, for it is grappling manfully with many social problems, with
the opening of parks and hospitals, and especially with the housing of
the poor, and is developing an artistic conscience to boot. It owns its
gas and water, and I had the felicity of meeting the Lord Provost at the
very moment when, his glittering insignia heaving with emotion on his
joyous breast, he had to announce to the Town Council that the
fiercely-canvassed step of taking over the tramways had resulted in a
balance to the good. When the Lord Provost had returned to his chair, I
was shown the Councillors themselves at their mahogany tables, in their
beautiful Council-chamber, and I made notes--not of the debate, as the
lynx-eyed reporter, who counted the number of times I sucked my pencil,
imagined--but of the improved appearance of George Square under snow.
Seen through the windows the square stretched away pure and beautiful the
gloomy statues blanched and Prince Albert's horse gleaming proudly with
white trappings. The Municipal Buildings deserve all the praise they have
received. The special staircase, which is used only on state occasions,
presents from point to point a marvellously proportioned medley of arches
and pillars and arcades, with a dominant Corinthian note. It is really
"frozen music." And when adorned with tropical plants and lit up with
electric lights and pretty faces, it must indeed be a superb sight. Very
imposing, too, is the vast Banqueting Hall, from whose platform, to test
the acoustic effect of the rows of wires stretched six inches apart under
the ceiling to break the sound, I addressed vacancy. The panels of this
hall still await their artists. 'T is a rare opportunity for Glasgow to
emulate the Parisian Pantheon; and, indeed, there is so much art-work to
be done in Glasgow that one begins to understand why it is threatening to
become the capital of British Art. The best road in Scotland is no longer
that which leads to England. It was curious for a humble author to walk
these stately halls, convoyed by courteous officers in red swallow-tails,
and to rub shoulders with civic millionaires. An awesome air of wealth
hung over the men and the place, a crushing suggestion of vast
enterprises, of engineering and railway building and the running of
steamers, a subtle aroma of colossal fortunes, wrested from the world by
the leverage of an initial half-crown. I have often gone to places with
only half a crown in my pocket, but it never seemed to lead to anything.
So I surveyed these men with blended reverence and bewilderment,
wondering why they bothered themselves to make all that money, and
whether they ever suspected they were but tools in the hands of destiny,
by whose marvellous alchemy the self-centred ambition of the individual
is transmuted to the service of the world. The genial Bailie Simons, who
was my host--fancy living in daily contact with a Bailie!--informed me
that the grave city fathers are sadly degenerating. Thirty years ago they
did not smoke in public: now there is a smoking-room in the sacred
building itself; and at least one of them has been seen to leave it in a
white hat.

Like the king's daughter, Glasgow is all glorious within, and its inner
artistic aspirations make up for and are perhaps inversely inspired by
its outer unloveliness. The world must not judge Glasgow's taste by the
recent Puritanic rumpus over the nude. The worthy Bailies and the Chief
Constable who drew the line at Leighton and Solomon have overlooked the
interesting nudities in their own Galleries. The affinity of the Scotch
and the French, which has often been noted in history, and which accounts
for their swamping the English in literature, has made Style the
watchword of the Glasgow School of Art. Whistler's "Carlyle" hangs in the
Corporation Galleries, and it was the stylist, Lavery, who secured the
tedious commission to commemorate Her Majesty's opening of the Glasgow
Exhibition by the usual plethora of portraits. It would have made a more
interesting picture had Mr. Lavery perpetuated the fact--so pregnant a
contribution to the philosophy of Exhibitions--that a profit of 10,000
was derived from the switchbacks. The picture would then have made a nice
supplement to Mr. Lavery's famous studies of "Croquet" and "Tennis." The
very slabs of the Corporation staircase are infected with Impressionism,
and their natural veinings body forth, here a charge of cavalry, there a
march of infantry, and yonder a portrait of Sir William Vernon Harcourt
with a prophetic coronet. The stones of Glasgow await their Ruskin. The
Exhibition which I saw at the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts was far more
interesting than the last Academy, though it contained some of the same
pictures. I was able to tell the Scotch artists an anecdote which no one
had heard before, for the simple reason that it was true, and that it
happened to me. It was in Perth that, puzzling over a grimy statue, I was
accosted by a bare-footed newsboy with his raucous cry of "Hair-r-ald,
Glasgow Hair-r-ald!"

"I'll take one," quoth I, "if you'll tell me whose statue that is."

"'T is Rabbie Burns" replied he, on the nail.

"Thank you," said I, taking the paper. "And what did he do, to deserve
the statue?"

My newsboy scratched his head. Perceiving his embarrassment, a party of
his friends down the street called out in stentorian chorus: "Ay, 't is
Babbie Burns."

"But what did he do to deserve the statue?" I thundered back. They hung
their heads. At last my newsboy recovered himself; his face brightened.
"Well?" said I again, "what did he do to deserve this statue?"

"He _deed_!" answered the intelligent little man.

Another newsboy, whom I asked if he had ever read Sir Walter Scott,
replied, "No, he is _ower dreich_ (over dry)."

Talking of statues, I see that Paisley is going to erect a full-sized
figure of the late Thomas Coats, with a bronze high hat under his bronze
arm. The history of the Corporation Art Galleries is curious. The nucleus
of the collection is the bequest of a coach-builder, who seems to have
had a Glaswegian Renaissance all to himself, for it was years after his
death before his legacy was routed out from the lumber-rooms to which it
had been consigned, and ere its many genuine treasures were catalogued by
Mr. James Paton, the learned curator, whose magic-lantern exhibit the
other day of the coach-building connoisseur's face was the first display
of his lineaments to an ungrateful posterity. The Galleries now claim to
contain so many Old Masters that no connoisseur is complete without a
knowledge of them. Except Velasquez, there is scarcely one of the great
painters who is not represented here, even including Giorgione, of whom,
parodying Hegel's remark about the one disciple who understood him ("and
he doesn't understand me!"), it may be said that there are only two
genuine specimens of him in the world, and that both of these are by his
pupils. What Mary Logan would say to these Rembrandts and Rubenses I know
not; but there is much of indisputable value in this collection, to say
nothing of Flaxman's masterpiece--the statue of Pitt,--or the recent
accessions, such as the Whistler, or David Murray's "Fir Faggots," or the
bust of Victor Hugo by Rodin.

Pictorially the hill of the dead was the most interesting part of Glasgow
I saw--a scene which, especially in its simple severe Protestant draping
of snow, might well tempt the artist. At its summit John Knox looks down
upon the Cathedral, whose altars and images were broken during the
Reformation, and whose new stained windows (made in Germany) testify by
their preference for Old Testament subjects to the latent Puritanism of
Caledonia. Especially interesting is the crypt, with its sepulchral
church, whose subterranean service is recorded in "Rob Roy." One of the
pillars of the crypt proper is called the Rob Roy pillar, for behind it
the great outlaw is supposed to have hidden. Near it is the shrine of St.
Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow, who has presumably risen in the hierarchy
now that Glasgow has been made a county. Facing the shrine is a window
decorated with a portrait of Edward Irving, clothed as St. John the
Baptist. The cicerone said it was greatly admired because the eyes
followed you about wherever you walked. This is not the first time I have
been asked to admire as supreme art what is really one of the commonest
of optical delusions. After the Cathedral had closed, it had to be
reopened because I had lost a glove within. After a careful search the
glove was found in the gloomy crypt, pointing its finger at this
miraculous picture, unable to tear itself away. But perhaps the most
characteristic thing I came across in Glasgow was an inscription at the
end of the bridge leading to the picturesque cemetery. "The adjoining
bridge was erected by the Merchants' House of Glasgow to afford a proper
entrance to their new cemetery, combining convenient access to the
grounds with suitable decoration to the venerable Cathedral and
surrounding scenery, to unite the tombs of many generations who have gone
before with the resting-places destined for generations yet unborn, where
the ashes of all shall repose until the rising of the just, when that
which is born a natural body shall be raised a spiritual body, when this
corruptible must put on incorruption, when this mortal must put on
immortality, when death is swallowed up in victory." There you have
Glasgow! An auctioneer's advertisement blent with an edifying sermon, a
happy combination of commerce and Christianity, making the best of this
world and the next.

I left Glasgow in a choking yellow fog. Five minutes from the city the
train steamed into bright sunshine, which continued till five minutes
from London, where a sisterly yellow fog was waiting. As Tennyson sings,
I had gone "from the night to the night."

HASLEMERE

I am up a "B tree." Every schoolboy knows (that is, of course, every
Buddhistic schoolboy) that when the Buddha made "the great renunciation,"
he attained Nirvana by sitting under a "B tree." My "B tree" is a great
oak in the heart of the woods, mounted by a dizzy spiral staircase, at
the summit of which you enter Nirvana by means of the "House on the
Garden," a glass-house floored with boards and furnished with rustic
chairs, a lounge and a writing-table; and here, amid the tree-tops, I
write to the music of thrush and blackbird, with restful glances at the
sailing clouds or at the sunny weald, that circles for miles around and
ends to the south in the "downs" that hide the English Channel. Perhaps
it is because my landscape takes in Tennyson's happy Haslemere home that
my thought runs so much on him to-day, and then runs back to a cold stone
staircase up which I toiled in pitchy blackness to see a great French
poet. Taine, who preferred Alfred de Musset to Tennyson, made of a
contrast between the two men the most telling pages in his history of our
literature, setting in graphic antithesis the dust and flare and fever of
the Boulevards against the

English home, gray twilight poured
On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
Softer than sleep,--all things in order stored,
A haunt of ancient peace,

where the English Laureate brooded over his chiselled verses. How much
more piquant a contrast might be drawn between the jealously-guarded
castle in which Tennyson entrenched himself and the accessible garret in
the Rue St. Jacques where Verlaine held his court in absolute bonhomie
and dshabille.

But, alas! there is no Nirvana on my "B Tree"--at least, not to-day. The
blatancy of a brass band bursts forth on the breeze. A popular waltz
silences the cuckoos. I climb down my spiral staircase and hasten across
the wood to discover what these strange sounds portend. In front of the
creeper-clad house I come upon a scene of comic opera. This is the
village fte day, and here are the festive villagers come to pay
allegiance to the lord of the manor. The majority are Foresters,
and wear green sashes, and carry banners like to the pictorial
pocket-handkerchiefs of Brobdingnag. The music gives over, and my host
addresses them from between the roses of his porch, and they laugh at his
genial jokes with the unanimity of the footlights. There are tiny tots
and old women in the background, and yonder is the Village Beauty--a ripe
maid, i' faith, and a comely. There are other girls in her train; but,
oddsbobs! what have they done with their tights? and why do they delay to
announce her approaching marriage in merry melodic chorus? But I conceal
my surprise and, as the cynical Man from Town (gadzooks!), ogle the Pride
of the Village, to the disgust of her rural swain, who has started
blowing the trombone and dare not desist, though his cheeks get redder
and more explosive each instant. In the next Act we all go down to the
annual dinner, in a long rose-wreathed tent, and the Parson says grace
and the Parson's Clerk "Amen," and the Squire (in corduroy knickerbockers
and leggings) bestows his benediction on all the village, while without,
the happy peasants project sticks at cocoanuts or try their strength with
mallets, and all is virtuous and feudal. In the third Act we are in the
Vicarage Garden--a beautiful set, with real rhododendrons. Sir Roger de
Coverley takes tea i'fackins with the Parson, and the Stalwart Farmer
passes the sugar to the Man from Town, who is gazing out wistfully
towards the Village Green, where the Village Beauty foots it featly with
the Village Idiot. The last Act passes in the Drawing-Boom of "B tree"
House, where the Archdeacon's Daughter touches her tinkling guitar and
warbles a plaintive ballad:--

O give my love to Nancy,
The girl that I adore--
Tell her that she'll never see
Her soldier any more--
Tell her I died in battle
Fighting with the black,
Every inch a soldier,
Beneath the Union Jack.

Dear nave old song, fitting climax of a feudal day, sweet with the
freshness of those simple times, when art for art's sake was a shibboleth
uninvented, and every other man was not diabolically clever! How many
mothers and sisters wept over thy primitive pathos, as they knitted the
Berlin wool-work! how many masculine hearts throbbed more manfully at the
appeal of thy crude patriotism! To-day we analyse ruthlessly thy metre,
proclaiming it the butterwoman's rank to market, and thy sentiment, which
we dub pinchbeck, and we remember that the Union Jack is used only in the
Navy; we are deaf to thy inspiration and dumb at thy chorus; we are
sceptical as to thy soldier's love: Nancy, we know from realistic poets
of the Barrack Room, took up with another young man before her month was
out; and as for the black, he is the object of our devoutest solicitude.
Go to! thou art surely a Gilbertian travesty, a deliciously droll
compound of vulgar patriotism and maudlin pathos. And yet somehow there
are tears on the smiling cheeks of the Man from Town. Let us go out and
hear the nightingales and be sentimental under the moon. Hark how they
precipitate their notes in a fine lyric rapture. This is the same "Jug,
Jug, Jug," that called forth Keats' immortal ode. We cannot hear the
birds' music for itself; it comes to us through melodious chimes of
poetry. Nature has been so filtered through human emotion, so passed and
repassed through the alembic of poetic passion, that she has ceased to be
natural. Little children and fools, on whom, according to the Talmud, the
gift of prophecy devolved when the Temples fell, may still see her naked,
but for the lettered man she is draped in lyric conventions. There is
anthropomorphism in literature as well as in theology: for George Eliot
Nature is steeped in humanity; she cannot see anything for itself. "Our
delight in the sunshine on the deep-bladed grass to-day might be no more
than the faint perception of wearied souls, if it were not for the
sunshine and the grass in the far-off years which still live in us and
transform our perception into love." I wonder if she ever wrote a pure
description of scenery without psychological or mythological allusions.
To a soul saturated with literary prepossessions, nightingales, like love
and most things human, are apt to disappoint and disenchant.

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter.

The cultured American, who has no nightingales at home--not even big
ones--and who arranges to hear an English nightingale between a
performance at Ober-Ammergau and an exploration of the Catacombs of
Paris, often wants his money back after the songster "on yon bloomy
spray" has "warbled at eve when all the woods are still." He has been
expecting something like a song of Patti accompanied on the piano by
Paderewski. It was an American poetess--Mrs. Piatt--who informed the
skylark:

The song thou sang'st to Shelley was not half
So sweet as that which Shelley sang to thee!

After all, birds repeat themselves sadly--they strike one note, like a
minor poet, and live on the reputation of their first success. It is
amusing for a few minutes to hear a clever bird giving imitations of the
cuckoo clock, but the joke palls. The Archdeacon's Daughter has a wider
repertoire. And so? though the nightingales are still singing,
conversation springs up in the copse as if it were a drawing-room and the
singers human. My host discourses of the litter of pigs just arrived from
the Great Nowhere, and dilates upon the fact that of the 3,423,807 pigs
in England no two tails are curled alike. Perhaps even so no two
nightingales curl their phrase identically, and one roulade differeth
from another in glory.

PARIS

Decidedly the Parisian atmosphere is charged with artistic electricity.
The play, the novel and the picture flourish on the same stem, and the
very advertisement posters tell their lies artistically. Paris is the
metropolis of ideas. You may catch them there and set up as a prophet on
the strength of a fortnight's holiday. Maeterlinck says he learnt all he
knows from a man he met in a _brasserie_. Fancy picking up ideas in a
pothouse! In London you could only pick up "h's." The reverse of the
medal is the morbidity that ideas and _brasseries_ engender. In the cafs
of the Boule Miehe, where the decadent movements are hatched and the
fledgling Verlaines come to drown theusorrows in vermouth, you may see
the lacklustre visages and tumbled hair of "diabolical" poets and the
world-weary figures of end-of-the-century youngsters pledging their
mistresses in American grog.

But the great heart of the People, that beats still to the homely old
music, and you shall find no trace of morbidity in the melodramas of the
Porte-St.-Martin or the music-halls of the people's quarter. To-day is
the Gingerbread Fair--_La Foire au Pain d'pices_; and _Tout Paris_--that
is to say, everybody who isn't anybody--is elbowing its way towards the
centre of gaiety. Tramcars deposit their packed freights near the
Bastile[*], and where the women of the Revolution knitted, feeding their
eyes on blood, bonnetless old crones sit drinking red wine in the sun.
The sky is radiantly blue, and there is a music of merry-go-rounds. They
are far more elegant than our English merry-go-rounds, these
_carrousels_, hung with tapestry, and offering you circumambient
palanquins or even elephants. Before a toy stage, on which a mechanical
skirt-dancer disports herself with a tireless smile, an automatic
_chef-d'orchestre_ conducts the revolutionary march (none other than
"Ta-ra-ra-Boom-de-ay") while grotesque figures strike stiffly at bells.
On the pavement an old man has spread for sale a litter of broken dolls,
blind, halt and lame, when not decapitated; and in the roadway the
festive crowd splits to allow the passage of a child's coffin covered
with white flowers. The air thrills with the "ping" of unsuccessful
shots: I take a gun, and by aiming at a ball dancing on a fountain jet,
hit a bull's-eye two yards to the left. I throw flat rings at a sort of
ninepins, five shots for a halfpenny: the first four leave the pins
stolid and the public derisive. I throw the last at random, bring down
half the pins, and stalk off: nonchalantly, the pet of the fickle French
populace. I buy pancakes fried on the stall while you wait--they are
selling like hot cakes--and but for the difficulty of finding one with my
name picked out in pink on the gingerbread, I would buy a pig and hang it
on my breast. Some of the pigs have mottoes instead of names:

De toute la cration
C'est moi le plus cochon.

[* Transcriber's note: So in original.]

Another asserts:

De la tte la queue
Je suis dlicieux.

I ignore the pigs, but I pacify local prejudice by buying two gingerbread
sailors--a Russian and a French--shaking hands in symbolisation of the
Russo-French alliance, and I further prove myself a patriot by throwing
bright wooden balls into the mouth of a great-faced German, for which I
receive the guerdon of a paper rose and a Berlin wool monkey. I purchase
a ticket from a clown standing on a platform begirt by noisy cages, and
partake in a raffle for a live turkey; but fortunately I am spared the
task of carrying it through the Fair, and not wishing to tempt Providence
again, I content myself with trying for soap. A pack of cards is spread
round a wheel with an index: round goes the wheel, and whoever has the
card at which the index stops gets an orange, or if he likes to save up
his oranges exchanges them for a box of soap. You get four cards for two
sous, but I take all the pack. Round goes the wheel imperturbably. It
stops. Amid the breathless anxiety of the crowd I examine my cards, and
invariably find myself the fortunate possessor of the winning one. But,
by some mysterious arithmetic, which amuses the crowd, every time I win I
have to pay several sous. By such roundabout methods I ultimately arrive
at the soap. I have my portrait taken, allured by the "only a franc." My
image has a degenerate air; the photographer informs me it will not stay
unless he fixes it with enamel--which will be another franc. By the time
it is framed it has come up to six francs, and then, as I leave, the
attendant begs I will remember him! I give him the photograph, and
depart, hoping he will remember me. At the Place de la Nation the fun
grows thicker: there is a rain of confetti, and everybody comes out in
coloured spots; the switchback is busy, chairs mount and descend on
ropes, and there is a bunch of balloons; on a platform outside a booth a
showman beats a drum, the riding-master cracks his whip, and ladies of
uncertain ages and exuberant busts smile all day in evening dress; in the
neighbouring Cirque the Ball of the City of Paris is whirling noisily.
Yes, life goes on in the old, old way in the land of equality and
brotherhood; and the "red fool-fury of the Seine" is but a froth on the
surface. The "Twilight of the Peoples" is the morbid vision of a myopic
seer. With which reflection we will leave Sanity Fair.

As I write there is an appalling, long-drawn crash, which brings the
whole Quarter to its doors and windows. "Bombs" are in everybody's mouth,
and I find myself automatically repeating a sentence out of the Latin
exercise-book of my boyhood: "How comes it that thunder is sometimes
heard when the sky is clear?" I irrelevantly remember that "sometimes"
must be translated "not never." In the streets little groups are
gathered, gesticulating and surmising. Some say "The Panthon," others
"The Luxembourg"; others trust it is only a gas explosion. I shock my
group by hoping it is a bomb, so that I may say I have heard it go off.
But I know nothing till I read "Paris Day by Day" next evening in "The
Daily Telegraph," and find that my ambition has been gratified, and that
the chief victim of the explosion is a Decadent Poet. Has any one been
taking seriously Nordau's cry for the extinction of the Degenerates?

The dead have their day in France, but it was not _le jour des morts_
when I bethought myself of visiting the grave of Maupassant. I do not
care for these crowded "at homes,"--I prefer to pay my respects in
solitude. You will not think this remark flippant if you are familiar
with French cemeteries, if you know those great family sepulchres, fitted
up as little chapels, through whose doors, crowned with the black cross,
you may see the great wax tapers in the candelabra at the altar, the
stained-glass windows with the figure of the Madonna and Child, the
eikons of Christ, the praying-stools, the vases, the busts or photographs
of the deceased--worthy people who not only thought life worth living but
death worth dying, and did the one and the other respectably and
becomingly. Maupassant lies in one art-quarter of Paris, just as Heinrich
Heine lies in the other. The cemetery is off the Boulevard Raspail,
within bow-shot of the _ateliers_ of Whistler and Bouguereau, overlooked
by an imposing statue of M. Raspail which sets forth that scientific
citizen's many virtues and services. He proclaimed Universal Franchise in
1830, he proclaimed the Republic in 1848, and his pedestal now proclaims
with equal cocksureness that science is the only religion of the future.
"Give me a cell and I will build you up all organised life," cries the
statue, and its stony hand seems to wave theatrically as in emulation of
the bas-reliefs on its base representing Raspail animating his
_camarades_ to victory. But alas! _tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse_,
and not all the residents of the Boulevard are aware of the origin of
their address. Chateaubriand survives as a steak and Raspail as a
Boulevard.

The cemetery Montparnasse is densely populated, and I wandered long
without finding the author of "Boule de Suif." It was a wilderness of
artificial flowers, great wreaths made of beads. Beads, beads, beads,
black or lavender, and even white and yellow, blooming garishly in all
sizes on every grave and stone, in strange theatrical sentimentality;
complex products of civilisation, making death as unnatural as the
feverish life of the Boulevards. Sometimes the beaded flowers were
protected by glass shades, sometimes they were supplemented by leaden or
marble images. Over one grave I found a little porcelain angel, his wings
blue as with the cold; and under him last year's angel in melancholy
supersession. Elsewhere, most terrible sight of all in this ghastly
place, was a white porcelain urn on which were painted a woman's and a
man's hand clasped, the graceful feminine fingers in artistic contrast
with the scrupulously-cuffed male wrist with the motto, "_ mon mari,
Regrets ternels._" Wondering how soon she remarried, I roved gloomily
among these arcades of bourgeois beads, these fadeless flowers, these
monstrous ever-blacks, relieved to find a touch of humour, as in a
colossal wreath ostentatiously inscribed "_ ma belle-mre._" I peeped
into the great family tombs, irresistibly reminded of "Lo, the poor
Indian," and the tribes who provision their dead; I wondered if the old
ghosts ever turn in their graves (as there is plenty of room for them to
do) when some daughter of their house makes an imprudent alliance. Do
they hold family councils in the chapel, I thought, and lament the
growing scepticism of their grandchildren? Do they sigh to see themselves
so changed from the photographs in the family album that confronts their
hollow orbits? Do they take themselves as seriously in death as they did
in life? But they were all scornfully incommunicative. And at last,
despairing of discovering the goal of my journeyings, I inquired of a
guardian in a peaked blue cap and a blue cloak, who informed me that it
was in the twenty-sixth section of the other cemetery. Wonderfully
precise, red-tape, bureaucratic, symmetrical people, the French, for all
their superficial curvetings! I repaired to the other portion of the
cemetery, to lose myself again among boundless black beads and endless
chapels and funereal urns; and at last I besought another blue-cloaked
guardian to show me the grave of Maupassant. "_Par ii,_" he said
nonchalantly: and eschewing the gravel walks he took a short cut through
a lane of dead maidens--

What's become of all the gold
Used to hang and brush their bosoms?--

and, descending an avenue of estimable _pres de famille_, turned the
corner of an elegant sepulchre, to which only the most fashionable ghosts
could possibly have the entry. Dear, dear, what heart-burnings there must
be among the more snobbish shadows of Montparnasse! My guide made me
pause and admire, and he likewise insisted on the tribute of my tear
before an obelisk to slaughtered soldiers and a handsome memorial to
burnt firemen.

But perceiving my impatience to arrive at the grave of Maupassant,
"_Mais, monsieur_," he protested, "_il n'y a rien d'extraordinaire._"
"_Vraiment!_" said I, "_c'est l l'extraordinaire._" "_Rien du tout
d'extraordinaire_," he repeated doggedly. "_Sauf le cadavre_," I
retorted. He shook his head, "_Trs pauvre la tombe_," he muttered: "_pas
du tout riche._" Another guardian, wall-eyed, here joined him, and
catching the subject of conversation, "_Trs pauvre_," he corroborated
compassionately. But he went with us, accompanied by a very lean young
Frenchman with a soft felt hat, an over-long frock-coat, tweed trowsers,
and a black alpaca umbrella. He looked like a French translation of some
character of Dickens. At last we arrived at the grave. "_C'est l!_" and
both guardians shook their heads dolefully. "_Trs pauvre!_" sighed one.
"_Rien du tout--rien_," sighed the other. And, thank Heaven, they were
right. Nothing but green turf and real flowers, and a name and a date on
a black cross--the first real grave I had come across. No beads, no
tawdry images, nothing but the dignity of death, nothing but "Guy de
Maupassant, 6 Juillet, '93," on the cross, and "Guy de Maupassant,
1850-93," at the foot. The shrubs were few, and the flowers were common
and frost-bitten; but in that desert of bourgeois beads, the simple green
grave stood out in touching sublimity. The great novelist seemed to be as
close to the reality of death as he had been to that of life. Those other
dead seemed so falsely romanticist. It was a beautiful sunny winter
afternoon. There was a feel of spring in the air, of the Resurrection and
the Life. Beyond the bare slim branches of the trees of the other
cemetery, gracefully etched against the sky, the sun was setting in a
beautiful bank of dusky clouds. Life was so alive that day, and death so
dead. Outside the tomb the poem of light and air, and inside the
tomb--what? I thought of the last words of "Une Vie," that fine novel,
which even Tolsto considers great, of the old servant's summing up: "_La
vie, voyez-vous, a n'est jamais si bon ni si mauvais qu'on croit_."
"Perhaps," thought I, "'t is the same with death." "The _Socit des Gens
de Lettres_ had to buy the ground for him," interrupted the wall-eyed
guardian compassionately. The Dickensy Frenchman heaved a great sigh.
"_Vous croyez!_" he said. "Yes," asseverated the other guardian--"he has
it in perpetuity." Ignorant of the customs of death, I wondered if one's
corpse were liable to eviction, and whether the statute of limitations
ought not to apply. "_Je pensais qu'il avait une certaine position_,"
observed the Frenchman dubiously. "_Non_," replied the wall-eyed
guardian, shaking his head, "_Non, il est mort sans le sou_." At the
mention of coin I distributed _pourboire_. The first guardian went away.
I lingered at the tomb, alive now to its more sordid side. Only one row
of bourgeois graves, some occupied, some still _ louer_, separated it
from an unlovely waste piece of ground, bounded by the gaunt brick wall
of the fast-filling cemetery. As I began to muse thereon, I heard a cry,
and perceived my guardian peeping from round the corner of a distant
tomb, and beckoning me with imperative forefinger. I wanted to stay; I
wanted to have "Meditations at the grave of Maupassant," to ponder on the
irony of death, to think of the brilliant novelist, the lover of life,
cut off in his pride, to lie amid perspectives of black and lavender
beads. But my guardian would not let me. "_Il n'y a rien voir_," he
cried almost angrily, and haled me off to see the real treasures of his
cemetery. In vain I persisted that I must not give him trouble, that I
could discover the beauties for myself. "_O monsieur!_" he said
reproachfully. Fearing he might return my _pourboire_, I followed him
helplessly to inspect the pompous bead-covered tombs of the well-to-do,
shocking him by stopping to muse at the rude mound of an anonymous
corpse, remembered only by a little bunch of _immortelles_. One of the
fashionable sepulchres stood open, and was being dusted by a man and a
woman (on a dust _from_ dust principle, apparently). Most of the dust
seemed to be little beads. My keeper exchanged a word with the cleaners,
and I profited by the occasion to escape. I sneaked back to the grave of
Maupassant, but I had barely achieved a single Reflection, when "_Hol,
hol!_" resounded in loud tones from afar. I started guiltily, but in a
moment I realised that it was the cry of expulsion. The sunset was
fading, and the gates were to be locked. I hastened across the cemetery,
evading my guardian's face of reproach, and in another few moments the
paths were deserted, the twilight had fallen, and the dead were left
alone with their beads.

SLAPTON SANDS

After all the world is a large place. At the moment of writing I have
never heard of Home Rule, nor do I care two straws whether the House of
Lords is to be blown up on the fifth of November. What moves my interest,
what stirs my soul, what arouses the politician that lurks in the best of
us, is this question of the crab-pots. Shall the trawlers of Brixham be
allowed to slash at our cords and to send our wicker baskets adrift,
spoiling our marine harvests and making our larders barren against the
winter? They hover about our beautiful bay--these fiends in human shape,
with brown wings outspread--and wantonly lay waste our fishing-pots in
their reckless course, so that our crabs walk backwards into the sea. We
have had gentlefolks down from London about it, men who argue and
palaver, and wear high hats and are said to have long bills, and there is
talk of a Government cutter to protect us, towed by red tape, and the
trawlers are to cast their nets farther asea. But beware of believing
what you read in the Brixham papers,--we have no voice to represent us in
the press, and so these Brixham organs spread falsehoods about us in
every corner of the globe. A pretty pretence, forsooth, that it is the
steamers who plough up our crab-pots. Why, from Michaelmas to Christmas,
when the trawlers are away, not a single pot is disturbed from its
station, though the funnels smoke as usual in the eye of heaven. No, no,
ye hirelings of the press. Turn your mercenary quills elsewhere, beslaver
Mr. Gladstone or belabour him, arbitrate on the affairs of nations, and
throw your weighty influence into the scale of European politics. But do
not confuse the mind of the country on the question of crab-pots.

We do not get the Brixham papers here, but friends in London tell us that
is what they say. It is the same with the crabs--we have to order them
from London. All local products come _vi_ London nowadays: London is
like a central ganglion, through which all sensations must travel before
being felt at the outside points where they were really incurred. This is
the case even with Irish patriots: they are made in Ireland, but if you
want them you have to go to London clubs for them. We have only had one
funeral here since I came, and then we got our material from London. He
had gone up to a London hospital--poor fellow!--and that was the end of
him. The village butcher it was, who thus went the way of all flesh, and
all of us went to his funeral and wept, for want of something else to do.
One cannot always be flippant, even on a holiday. Fortunately the butcher
left an aged father, who announced his intention of carrying on the
business, so we dried our eyes and dined, sure of the future. We thought
of the many creatures the deceased had killed--the Juno-eyed oxen, the
tender lambs, the peaceful pigs--and we did not see why we should be so
sentimental over the human species. We are all murderers, and yet we are
ready to gush over the first corpse that comes along. How I envy the
death-bed of a vegetarian!

We are not vegetarians here, but at least we eschew the six-course dinner
which so few travellers ever succeed in shaking off, even in _Ultima
Thule_. The most of modern travelling is a sort of Cook's Tour.
Everywhere the _menu_ is before you, everywhere waves the napkin, like
the flag of civilisation. Nowhere do we eat ourselves into the real life
of the people; everywhere the same monotonous variety of fare in
kitchen-French. In the remotest Orkneys, in the caves of Iona, in the
fjords of Norway, amid the crevasses of the Alps,--'t is the same tale of
_entres_ and _entremets_. When Dr. Johnson made his tour in the
Highlands, he was allowed to forget he was not taking a walk down Fleet
Street. He interviewed the chiefs in their fastnesses, the cottagers in
their crofts. He broke rye-bread with the shepherd, ate haggis and
porridge with the peasant, and drank a gill of whisky to see "what makes
a Scotchman happy." Behind him he left his dish of tea, and the pet pork
that made the veins of his forehead swell with ecstasy. But to-day the
dinner-gong resounds where Rob Boy's bugle blared, and you may sit behind
your serviette

Where the sun his beacon red
Kindles on Ben Voirlich's head,

or where the monument of a Gaelic poet broods above the heather. The
tyranny of the _table-d'hte_ ceases not even at sea. Every ship bears
these monster meals in its belly--from salami to pineapple--whether it
walk the Boreal waters, or touch the Happy Isles of Mid-Pacific, or
swelter in the Red Sea. Not all the majesties and terrors of naked nature
can dock one _hors d'oeuvre_ from the _menu_. Our stomachs we have always
with us--the traveller's only real _vade mecum_. We change our sky but
not our stomach. When Nansen reaches the North Pole, he will, I am sure,
be able to put up at the local hotel, and have every luxury of the
cosmopolitan cuisine except the ices, which will probably have been all
sent up to the London market. It is this sort of thing that makes foreign
travel merely an expensive delusion. Your common traveller never gets
away from England, fare he never so far. His church, his kitchen and his
company are those he left behind him. To get away from England one must
go to Devonshire or Cornwall. But even here, amid the combes and the
leys, the crags and the quarries, the modern hotel, with its perfect
sanitation and imperfect French, is springing up with the rapidity of
Badraoulbadour's palace. It spoils the primitiveness of the people, and
gives them ideas below their station. They lose their simple manliness
and take tips. They corrupt their autochthonic customs, and drink
champagne cider. The modern hotel is a upas-tree, under whose boughs
poetry withers. One looks to see the ancient ballads lose their blood and
brawn. In time we may expect to find Cornwall producing _vers de
socit_. As thus:--

And shall Trelawney dine?
And shall Trelawney dine?
Then thrice ten thousand Cornish men
Will order in the wine.

In the absence of six-course dinners and newspapers about Home Rule, we
have had to fall back upon literature. We borrowed Zola's latest--from
the rector,--and read it simultaneously, stealing it from one another.
Even the dogs have devoured bits of it. The poodle has taken in most,
being French. She is an elegant, tricksy creature, Miss Plachecki by
name, but called--for short--"Wopsy." Wopsy's back is arranged in beds
like a Dutch garden; she has rosettes of black hair symmetrically
disposed about her hind quarters, and her tail is exactly like a mutton
cutlet in its frill. She belongs to the Woman of the party. Chum belongs
to the Girl. He is a bull-pup, with a frightfully ferocious face, but he
never bites unless he wants to hurt you. Girl says she took him to a
fashionable photographer's, but the artist refused to pose him. In vain
she pointed out that Chum was more paralysed than he; that Chum was
trembling all over (I opine 't was at the sight of the actresses'
portraits--the young dog!). The photographer steadfastly kept the
apparatus between him and the animal, telling Girl a story about a man
who owned a bull-dog with a bad memory. The man, coming home late, and
entering his sitting-room, was met by an ominous growl in the darkness.
Bull-dogs have little smell, and so the man was not recognized. He made a
movement towards the mantelpiece, where the matches were, to strike a
light and convince the dog of its mistake. But unfortunately the dog
guarded the mantelpiece, and every move was answered by a ghastly growl.
More unfortunately still, the man's bedroom was only approached through
the sitting-room, and its door was only approached through the dog. So,
for want of a match, the man passed the night like a Peri at the gates of
Paradise. At last Girl posed Chum, herself, her draperies constituting a
nebulous background; and the artist, walking warily, adjusted his
instrument, and the sun which shines alike on saints and bull-pups,
painted the squatter's portrait. But, alas! a woeful disappointment was
in store. When the proofs arrived, it was found that all that delightful
uncouthness of visage which is Chum's chief charm, all that fascinating
ferocity which makes him a thing of ugliness and a joy for ever, had
vanished--refined away, idealised into a demureness as of domestic tabby,
a platitudinarian peacefulness--nay, a sort of beauty! The camera had
been so accustomed to actresses that it could no longer work naturally.

VENICE

I am reading Nietzsche and Tolsto. Each tells me that the morality of
the day is all wrong, and that he has discovered the one true way of
salvation. Life, cries Nietzsche, strength, sunshine, beauty. Death,
cries Tolsto, abnegation, pity, holiness. 'T is all as old as the hills,
and withal so simple that one wonders why Nietzsche should have needed
eleven volumes to say it in and Tolsto endless pamphlets. I never can
understand the lengths to which some authors go in self-repetition. Half
the books are written to prove that water is dry, and the other half that
it's wet. If you would only stop and think just for one moment, cries
Tolsto, you would at once see what a ridiculous life you are leading and
you would refuse to lead it any longer. Stop and think! Ay, but 't is
difficult thinking to-day.

It will be all over and done with so long--by the time you read
this--that the Triple Alliance may be in three pieces; but for the moment
the complications of European politics alternately startle and depress my
day with furious cannonades of honour from an Italian gunboat and brazen
dronings of national anthems from a German band. For the young man whom
Tolsto has described as the most comic figure in Europe, coming to meet
Umberto I. in Venice, inconsiderately stationed his yacht just outside my
window; and though he is gone at last, _Gott sei Dank_, the echoes of him
still linger in irrelevant cannon-shots that send the pigeons scurrying
in mad swoops; while, as if removed from the oppression of his presence,
the band of the _Hohenzollern_ plays London music-hall tunes all day
long, commencing, significantly enough, with "Oh, Mr. Porter, what a
funny man you are!" I never realised how international is our music-hall
till I heard Italians staggering home at midnight, singing "Two lovely
black eyes" in choice Venetian. A beautiful yacht this _Hohenzollern_, as
large as an Atlantic liner: I suppose an Imperial yacht is like an
Imperial pint. 'T was a great moment when it sailed in round a bend,
slow and serene--a glorious white vessel, radiant with flags, stately and
majestic in its movement as a sonnet of Milton, and about it a black
swarm of gondolas, those of the noble families equipped with half a dozen
gondoliers in green, yellow, or blue liveries, and at the stern of each
boat a trail of silk. And the dense crowds huzzahed, and the band played
"God Save the Queen," only in German, so that it meant, _Heil dir im
Siegeskranz_. And after that came the Italian national air, which isn't
an anthem, but a quick march, and so lacks dignity. The "Wacht am Rhein"
made a half-hearted effort to be present, but in the night we had the
Emperor's own "Sang an Aegir," stuck in the middle of a Wagner programme.
Beyond this, compliment could scarcely go.

This brazen air was the one jar on the poetry of a spectacle possible
only in Venice. Imagine it! Wagner played on a floating fairy-pagoda,
built as of gold flame, and shot with green and red, on the broad bosom
of St. Mark's basin, in the divine night, the stars seen hanging
diversely in free space, not stuck like gold-headed nails in a dark
ceiling; and in the mystery of the darkness, the domes and spires and
palaces of Venice, and the dim creeping boats, and the quivering
reflections of the illuminated Imperial vessel; and across the narrow
track of luminous water made by the Pagoda--that glittered with a
fantastic splendour as of Aladdin and Arabian nights--sudden gondolas
gliding from darkness to darkness, the beautiful curve of the prow
sharply revealed, the gondolier growing semi-transparent and quivering
with light, a strange half-demoniac figure bestriding his black bark.
And, mingled with the music, the hum of multitudes and the tramp of feet
and the silence of the vast night. All as Nietzsche's poem on Venice hath
it--"Gondeln, Lichter, Musik." Yes, they play politics prettily on the
Grand Canal--the finest street in Europe. Does it matter much what is the
game? Cannons and colour, bands and decorations, bread and circuses,
emperors uncovering to us, beautiful queens waving dainty
handkerchiefs--this is what lies behind the dry Treaties of the history
books. A few short weeks back we had been very angry with our King, and
had talked of Republics and what not. But the dead men in Abyssinia are
dead, and we are alive, and the Bengal fire on the palaces is really very
picturesque. If we would only stop and think--just for one moment! But
there's the rub.

It's no use stopping and thinking, unless everybody else will stop and
think at the same time. For you cannot refuse to lead a life that
everybody is leading, unless you are willing to be crushed by the
revolutions of the social machinery. Socialists, for instance, are often
twitted with not "behaving as sich." But socialists say that socialism
should be the law of the land: they do not say that it is practicable for
an odd man here and there to be a socialist in a world of individualists.
Tolsto, to be of effect, would have to move all mankind at once to
renounce its ways, to abjure the lust of the eye and the pride of life.
And he would have to keep on moving it, or back it would roll. Mazzini
and the unification of Italy--what words to conjure with! But Mazzini is
dead, and how much of Italy is alive! 'T is more like a great show-place,
supported by its visitors, than a real, live country. Stop and think! 'T
is perhaps better not to think, for fear we should stop. William II., at
any rate--he is not likely to stop and think. This young man--from all I
have observed since he became my neighbour--lives a highly coloured
dramatic existence, in which there are sixty minutes to every hour and
sixty seconds to every minute, the sort of life that should have pleased
Walter Pater. He must be a disciple of Nietzsche, a lover of the strong
and the splendid, this German gentleman who is just off to Vienna to
prance at the head of fifteen hundred horsemen. While he lived opposite
me, it was all excursions and alarums. As a neighbour an emperor is
distinctly noisy. The local comic papers suggested that, as a universal
genius, Guglielmo II. would at once set about rowing a two-oared sandolo.
But this difficult feat Guglielmo did not essay, being convoyed more
comfortably in a long-boat by a brawny crew. Curious, by the way, that
transformation of William! They announce plays here by G. Shakespeare,
the divine Guglielmo.

'T is all very well for Guglielmo, the gondola of Avon, to invite us to
sit on the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings; and in a
city of departed Doges and lost glories't is easy to moralise over
earthly greatness. But kings are not always dead, and I daresay as
William II. in his cocked hat gazed from the quarter-deck of the
_Hohenzollern_ at the marvellous but untenanted Palace of the ancient
Bridegrooms of the Sea, he felt that a living lion is better than a dead
Doge. And yet it is a strange life, a king's. What an unreal universe of
flags and cannons and phrases must monarchs inhabit! Do they think that
the streets are always gay with streamers and bunting and triumphal
arches, always thunderous with throats of men or guns, always impassable?
Do they imagine their subjects spend their whole lives in packed black
masses, waving hats? Poor kings! I always class them with novelists for
ignorance of real life. And to think that they can only get to know life
from novels! If they would only stop, and think! But even when they do
stop, they never seem to think. Napoleon on St. Helena never faced
realities, aggressively pompous to the end. Then there is Don Carlos,
whom I miss in my afternoon stroll. He who might have dazzled us with
divinity is visibly a feather-less biped. The poor, mock king had to
leave Venice because his brother-sovereigns would not have called upon
him. For Don Carlos still keeps up the form and style of a crowned head,
and remains the last of the Bourbons, a picturesque ruin, reproach to a
blasphemous generation, heedless of the divine right of kings.

And the "divinity that doth hedge a king" can be kept up nowhere so
cheaply as in Venice. Venice is the dress-coat of cities, making all men
equal. Well might Wordsworth dub her "the eldest child of liberty"! For
in the streets of Venice you cannot drive or ride--walk you must. No
gleaming broughams, no spanking steeds: nothing--be you monarch or
mendicant--but your two legs. 'T is strange, in a land of no horses, to
find Venetians styled "Cavalier" for title of honour. They should surely
be called "Gondoliers." For the gondola is your only chance of display.
Rich Americans may flaunt it with four gondoliers and print "Palazzo" on
their visiting-cards. But doctors and lawyers live in Palaces, and even a
moderate purse can keep a horseless carriage. And your St. Mark's Square,
which is the largest drawing-room in the world, is also the most
democratic. Ladies of quality jostle shawled street-walkers, a German
sailor galls the kibe of a beautiful Browning duchess, officers with
showy epaulettes glitter among respectable shopkeepers; helmeted
cuirassiers, Austrian admirals, policemen with coloured tufts like
lamp-cleaners, German baronesses, bouncing bonnes with babies,
garlic-scented workingmen, American schoolgirls, and kings in exile, are
mixed pell-mell, all in perfect freedom and equality, and, though in the
shadow of St. Mark's Church, quite Christian. And an Italian crowd is
also Christian in its freedom from crush. It does not turn a fete into a
fight and a concourse into a competition. Thus, as the Prince Consort was
amused to find we English said of our pleasure-parties, all "passes off
well." Except when there is rain. And the heavens threw unmistakable cold
water on the Triple Alliance. The day of the Emperor's stay was the one
wet day Venice had known for months--so dank and chill, with so sooty a
sky, that my friend the artist, who had just been reading in the London
paper that his work had not caught the glamour and the colour of Venice,
that the South had not yet revealed its passionate secrets to him,
chuckled grimly. What is all this nonsense about an Italian hothouse? At
Florence I was afraid of being snow-bound in the sunny South. For, long
and heavily, though the London meteorologists registered sunshine,

Cadeva dal cielo la neve
Con tutta la sua quiete.

(Down from heaven fell the snow
With all its quietness.)

This perfect description of snowfall--which I found rudely chalked on the
wall of a Venetian alley--could never have been conceived in the Italy of
popular imagination. The superstition about Italian sunshine is like that
about Italian beauty. If the country about Florence is the loveliest in
Europe, surely the plain of Lombardy around Padua is the ugliest--a land
of symmetrical tree-stumps and stony villas flaunting themselves on the
roadway in pompous publicity.

In Venice the Emperor seemed specially to irritate the elements. The
illuminations were extinguished by a terrific torrent that sent the
people pattering away into the black, starless night, gleaming with rain
and fire; and to-night when the imperial band attempted to play "Sang an
Aegir" again, the heavens fell, and audience and orchestra vanished in
the twinkling of a gas-lamp, while the pavement of the Piazza glittered
golden as the facade of St. Mark's with dancing reflections, and the
lights burnt blue in the wind. Yes, though the papers next day said the
Emperor's Song was applauded enthusiastically, Jupiter Pluvius at least
never plays the courtier, and Boreas must be a rude reminder to monarchs
of their essential humanity. Come, let us sit upon the ground and tell
sad stories of the colds of kings. In the daylight I chanced upon a rough
wooden platform, bordered with plush and surrounded by tawdry terraces of
coloured, glass cups. This was the fairy, Aladdin-like Pagoda. And such,
methinks, are kings, on closer acquaintance. How majestic seemed William
II., and Humbert, the Kaiserin and Queen Margherita, when, massed in our
thousands on the Piazza, we clamoured for a glimpse of them: how
inaccessible and star-like when, after much exciting but irrelevant
shadow pantomime, they actually appeared on the balcony of the Palace, as
if to feed us like the pigeons we had displaced! With what tumultuous
rapture did we behold their faces! Stop and think! You cannot stop and
think. Enthusiasm is a microbe, and is independent of its object: even so
we could yawn over Punch and Judy, if the crowd assembled to yawn.
Republicans who came to sneer remained to cheer.

'T is comic this,
And comic that,
And clown on royal pay,
But 't is "Long live _unser Kaiser!_"
When the band begins to play.

And humanity has need of leaders, heroes--'t is a primal instinct. The
Jews had Jehovah himself for sovereign, but nothing would content them
but a real man-king, who should rule them and judge them and go out
before them in war. Kings were leaders once, but in modern days they are
only symbols, just as flags are: the whole force of the nation is behind
them, and they stand for home and country. This it is that gives them
majesty and divinity. 'T is a case of transformation of function, an old
institution adapted to new uses, and valuable partly as giving colour to
life, partly for preventing the evils which Gibbon so pregnantly showed
to be inseparable from any system of primacy not based on an immutable
heredity. The trouble is when the flag wishes to order the march.

An unbroken tradition has kept up the old phrases of loyalty, and so what
wonder if a king sometimes takes them seriously! "_Le roi le veult_" not
unnaturally leads sometimes to a king willing. And also we are not quite
conscious of the transformation; it has come about so gradually that no
one knows when kings ceased to be leaders, and when they became flags,
and so with the new feeling blend confusedly strands of the old. We
English have abolished the sovereign, but we are too loyal to say so. In
Germany the sovereign has refused to be a symbol, and in a country
over-civilised in thought and under-civilised in action, he has had a
pretty good innings. I must confess I do not find this attitude of his
merely ridiculous. It forces clearly upon the modern world the question
of kingship, whether it is to be a sham or a reality. Unpopular as
William II. has made himself by his martinet methods--ridiculous, if you
will--yet there is only one step from the ridiculous to the sublime. In a
flippant age he takes himself seriously, has a sense of a responsible
relation to his people. Have you seen the cartoon he designed to inspire
the nations of the West to league together for the protection of their
ideals against the races of the East? The thought may be trite, the
philosophy leagues behind the doctrines of the Berlin _Aufgeklrter_, but
it shows a soul above card-playing or court-gossip. What a noble chance
there would be for a modern sovereign who should really be the head of
his people, on a par with the culture of his age, in harmony with its
highest ideals, fostering all that is finest in life and character, in
art and thought! Snobbishness would be converted to useful ends, and
courtiers would become philosophers out of sheer flattery. But such a
Platonic king is scarcely to be looked for: the training is so bad.

The presence of kings makes places abnormal and out of character, but in
Venice it rather gives one a sense of the true Venice, she that once held
the gorgeous East in fee. For the Venice of every day only escapes
vulgarity by force of beauty: she lives up to the English and German
tripper, borders her great Piazza with photograph shops, and counts on
the sentimental traveller to feed her pigeons. Oh, that trail of the
tourist over Europe, falsifying the very things he went out for to see!
"Coelum non animum mutant," said the Roman poet long ago of travellers,
but the modern traveller carries his sky with him. Instead of "Venice in
London" 't is London in Venice. Carefully fenced off from the local life
by his _table d'hte_, it is rarely that the Briton comes to understand
that he and not the native is the foreigner, the _forestiere_. Cities on
show are never real; they are like people posturing before a camera,
instead of being taken _au naturel_. And "the season" is the time in
which they are least real. Too many Cooks' tourists spoil the broth.
Cities _en fte_ are masked and prankt, and the spring in Italy is like
one long _Forestieri_ day. At the church of Eremitani in Padua I was
taken to see some Mantegnas at a side-altar while a very devout
congregation was celebrating Eastertide, and the verger unlocked a gate
and pocketed his tip with undiminished piety. How apt an image of life,
these Italian churches--some of us praying and some of us sightseeing! It
must be confusing to the celestial bookkeepers to distinguish the Bibles
from the Baedekers. And while the real Venice is as unreal as the real
Florence or the real Rome, Venice welcoming her king gives one a truer
impression of the Venice of our dreams, the Queen of the seas in the
brave days of old. Let us forget the steamboats and the iron bridges, let
us make believe that the _Hohenzollern_ is the great Bucentaur, in which
the Doge went out to wed the Adriatic and which that arch-Philistine
Napoleon broke up. For the Venice of every day is a dead city, with
nothing left of its ancient glories but wealth. Though the millions be
reckoned in lire, there are over a hundred millionaires in Venice. But of
that mighty artistic and religious impulse which produced countless
churches and palaces, pictures and frescoes, which strewed the very
street walls with spirited sculpture, and warmed even parochial offices
with priceless paintings, there is as little trace as of the indomitable
energy that founded a great Republic on wooden piles and guarded it from
the sea by dykes and from its enemies by the sea. The escutcheons of its
great families are fast becoming archaeological, and Americans and Jews
inhabit their palaces. How great a power Venice was I never realised till
I was permitted to see the Archives. It takes three-quarters of an hour
to walk through these galleries of town records. Miles of memorandums,
wildernesses of reports, acres of ambassadors' letters from every court
in Europe, written in cipher with inter-bound Italian translations. I
tried to find the report of the ambassador at the Court of St. James
anent the execution of Charles I., but gave up hopeless, oppressed by the
musty myriads of volumes, and found comfort in the signature of Queen
Elizabeth, surely the most regal autograph in the world, like some ship
going out against the Armada with swelling canvas and pennants streaming.
There's a woman after Nietzsche's heart--strong, splendid, and
unscrupulous. If Nietzsche had married her, he might have changed his
philosophy. What a diplomatist, this Englishwoman! To this day the
Direttore of the Archives of Venice swears by her. Those awesome
Archives! The reports of the Council of Ten alone stretch away through
vasty halls of death. And then people talk of writing history! How
fortunate that the exact details of royal, political and military events
are as unessential as they are unattainable! Real history consists mainly
of the things that haven't happened--the millions of everyday lives,
sunrise and sunset, ships and harvests, the winds and the rain, and the
bargains in the market-place. The reading of Clio's blood-stained scroll
would be unbearable, were it not for the reflection that all the
important things have been left out--the myriads of sunny mornings that
dawned on the "Dark Ages," and filled creation with the joy of life; the
hopes and loves throbbing in the great obscure mass of humanity; the
individual virtues and victories that co-existed with the decadence of
great empires; the vast ocean of consciousness of which History just
skims the surface. And now all that great Venetian life is over, the
dreaded Council of Ten is as the dust that covers its reports, and the
Doge's Palace is a spectacle for tourists at a franc a head. Great Caesar
dead and turned to show. And those who pay the franc scarcely seem to
reflect that princes and artists did not live and die in Italy to help
young British or German couples over their honeymoon; that Dandolo and
Foscari, Sansovino and Tintoretto, passed away with no suspicion of that
latter-day trinity--Bride, Bridegroom, and Baedeker. Strange that that
which was so real to themselves is so romantic to us! Such is the
transmutation of time, which can colour with poetry things much more
prosaic than life in ancient Venice. Nothing of us that doth fade

But doth, suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

Poets and seers feel the richness and strangeness of the life that is
passing under their very eyes. With Maeterlinck it is the mystery, with
Stevenson the colour, with Wordsworth the divinity. To see the glamour of
the contemporary is the note of your modern. Whitman spent his life
trying to see it in the most unpromising materials. The wondering
perception of steamships and electric-cables has already grown dulled to
us: it requires a Kipling to revivify it. The new photographic process
which enables one to carry out Sydney Smith's desire on a hot day, to
take off one's flesh and sit in one's bones, alone seems wonderful to us;
though to see through a window is just as marvellous as to see through a
brick wall. For if _nil admirari_ be the motto of the sage, _omne
admirari_ is that of the poet, and the poetry which wafts from the past
to the soul of the most commonplace person is seen in the present by him
who hath eyes. The pathos of that which _must_ pass away is no less great
than the pathos of that which _has_ passed away. And what produces the
art-feeling in both cases is the same--the fresh, intense perception of
things for themselves alone: only the ordinary man finds it easier to
detach his own interests from the past than from the present of which he
is part. Romance is not in things, but in the souls that observe. Every
place, however enchanted, is inhabited by prosaic persons who earn their
living there. My chambermaid was born in Padua--Padua, outside which
Donatello could not achieve perfection; Padua, ever dear to us because
Portia feigned to have studied law at its University. Alas! alas! the two
gentlemen of Verona go down to business in tram-cars, and the

Magic casements opening on the foam
Of fary lands in perilous seas forlorn

are cleaned and repaired by some one who sends in the bill. Yet, since
believing is seeing, let us behold, not the chambermaid and the
window-cleaner, but the magic casement and the moonrise. And if to the
commonplace our own age is commonplace, yet our age, like youth, is a
fault that will mend with time. Our politics, and philosophies too, will
crumble and decay, the dust will gather on our books and newspapers,
archaeologists will prize our coins, the fashion of our ugly garments
will grow picturesque, and samples of our streets will be rebuilt in
exhibitions. What is then left to console us for the eternal flux? Only
that posterity shall grow old-fashioned too, while we, like antiquity,
shall have enjoyed that which never grows old--the sunshine and the
stars, love and friendship, the smiles of little children, and the
freshness of flowers, aspiration and achievement, thought and worship,
struggle and self-sacrifice.

These, these are the eternal things--that persist in every age, in every
environment, in old Etruscan villages as in the Paris of to-day: these
are the realities to which "the latest scientific conveniences" are but
padding, and in which we have had no superiority over our ancestors, even
as we shall have no inferiority to our successors, though they riot in
"Vril" and balloons, and go on Cooks' Tours to the constellations. The
network of nerves in which we live and move and have our being is only
capable of a certain quota of sensations, and no invention will really
enlarge our enjoyments except it be of a new set of nerves. Persons whose
lives have known strange vicissitudes have been astonished to find
pleasure and pain about equally distributed in all; and I am optimist
enough to think that no age will be really less unhappy than the present.
Reformers who imagine they improve on the past age do but alter old
institutions to fit new feelings. Reformers are necessary because
otherwise the new feelings would be cramped by the old institutions. But
there is no addition to the sum of pleasure. Progress really means not
lagging behind; and however far we march, the same sunshine will throw
the same shadow of pain across our path. The notion of progress, said
Spinoza, is a futility, because God, of whom the universe is a
manifestation, is always perfect. Later philosophers have found this
doctrine a barren blind-alley, and craved for the notion of a more
energising God. But both notions seem perfectly compatible. Progress may
be just the way perfection manifests itself. The universe moves--and at
each point is perfect. It is as good as it could be--at the moment: it
could not be any better. For if it could have been, it would have been:
it has no interest in being otherwise. That it is not perfect in our
sense of the word matters little to the metaphysician. We have such
limited experiences of universes that we cannot judge what a really good
one should be like; and to say that ours is bad is to foul our own nest.

He had no doubt of the perfection of the universe, that gentle old
Franciscan who lives with his twenty-nine brethren on the islet of St.
Francesco del Deserto, a rarely visited spot off Venice, that somehow
reminded me of the island in Mr. H. A. Jones' "Michael and his Lost
Angel." He had never been to Assisi, where his tutelary saint was born.
"Have you no wish to see it?" I asked. "My only wish is to obey." Dear
old man! He had stopped all his life; but thinking--ah! that is another
matter. It was in this island that St. Francis preached to the birds. He
was saying the Office when all the birds stopped to listen, and St.
Francis took advantage of the opportunity. It was his disciple St. Antony
who preached to the fishes, and there is a delicious picture in Padua
showing all the fishes perking their heads out of the water and listening
in devout dumbness, the very oysters open to conviction. Poor dear
fishes! What a delightful change to receive from the upper world
something else than hooks! What a sweet simple cloister hath this lonely
monastery--a plain stone walk under a red-tiled arcade supported by rough
brick pillars, the walls lined by quaint black-and-white engravings of
saints engaged in miracles. There is a well in the centre which used to
be of sea-water, but St. Bernard of Siena blessed it and it turned sweet.
I have drunk of the water, so I can vouch the story is true. And there is
a beautiful cypress walk. What a tranquil retreat!

O Beata Solitudo!
O Sola Beatitudo!

as the inscription over the lintel hath it. I do not wonder that St.
Francis came here when he was greatly fatigued, "after converting the
Sultan of Egypt," as the old Franciscan navely explained. 'T is the sort
of sanatorium Tolsto would need, after converting the German Emperor!
And despite St. Francis, and his doctrine of brotherhood with birds and
fishes, we go on with our cannibal cookery, and even his own Church still
teaches that animals have no souls, though that is perhaps because they
have no _soldi_. And despite Tolsto and his tracts, the people who stop
will not think and the people who think will not stop. For to convert the
world is the one miracle that the saints have never compassed. Yet is the
sunshine of these sweet souls never lost, and the gentle mien of the old
Franciscan made me feel at peace even with my sandolier when I found him
sound asleep in his boat, wrapped up in my cloak.

And these are the types of character Nietzsche would destroy. They are
degenerative, forsooth! They make against life and the joy thereof. Ah,
but the joy of life is not only the joy of self-assertion: there is the
joy of self-effacement, which is only another form of self-expression,
the assertion of a higher self. That was the secret of Jesus, of Buddha.
Whereas the doctrine of Nietzsche--_c'est le secret de Polichinelle_. The
man in the street needs no encouragement to enjoyment. It is only by the
travail of the centuries that he has been taught to prefer to his own
pleasure somebody else's absence of pain. Human nature is like Venice or
Holland--a province slowly wrested from the sea, and secured by dams and
dykes. Woe to him who makes a breach in the sea-walls! And yet Nietzsche
is to be read, though 't is a pity he is to be translated into English
for the seduction of unripe minds. The desuetude of Latin as a common
language for scholars is to be regretted; it kept the thinkers of Europe
in touch, and kept out the _profanum vulgus_. As I have often pointed
out, a truth grows so stale that it is almost a lie, and to invert any
conventionality is to produce what is almost a truth. Truth is convex as
well as concave.

This method of inversion is Nietzsche's main weapon: as earnest as any of
our pulpiteering Puritans, he wears his morality inside out. He denies
the copy-book, as Luther denied the infallibility of the Pope. He
transposes all moral values, finds virtue often weakness and vice often
strength, girds at all the cloud-spinning philosophers, and is one of the
most brilliant and suggestive of modern writers, full of epigram and
whimsy, and wielding the clumsy German tongue with rare grace and
dexterity. But, as might be expected of the son of a parson, he pursues
his reaction against conventional cant beyond the bounds of legitimate
paradox, replacing the narrow by the narrower. Nietzsche was necessary;
some one had to call a spade a spade. The great forces of modern thought,
which have been gathering for centuries, had to find shameless
expression; and Nietzsche's scorn for those who have tried to patch up
hollow truces with bygone beliefs, and dress up new heresies in old
Sunday clothes, is amply justified. But what is not justified is his
admiration of himself--an admiration so pronounced that it has landed him
in a lunatic asylum. Our systems of chronology ought to be recast, cries
he; and even as men have dated from A.D., so are they to date from A.N.,
the year of Nietzsche. Not that he expects immediate recognition: "Erst
das Uebermorgen gehrt mir. Einige werden posthum geboren." But the bulk
of what he tells us is really involved in all modern conceptions of the
cosmus--it could have been found long ago in Herbert Spencer.

Anti-Christ he calls himself, and beats the drum and invites you to
inspect the greatest philosophy on earth. "Now hold your breath with
awe," he has the air of saying, "or if you are not strong enough to hear
this fearsome truth, go home to the nursery and read Hegel." And after
this fanfaronade, lo! some commonplace that you shall find in a hundred
modern poets or philosophers. 'T is like the clown in the circus who
works himself up with a mighty pother to mount the bare-backed steed, and
then hangs on to the tail. No, no, good Herr Nietzsche, we want our
Saints Francis as well as our Napoleons. The one kind is as much in the
"order of nature" as the other; and pity and humility, if they are the
virtues of "nations in their decline," are preferable to the vices of
nations at their zenith. And, good Count Tolsto, a universe of Saints
Francis would be an intolerable bore. The cowl does not cover all the
virtues, nor the dress-coat all the sins. 'T is a world we live in, not
a monastery; and it is amid the clash of mighty opposites that the music
of the spheres is beaten out.

"Everything in Venice is delivered up to the Evil One now," writes John
Buskin to Father Jacopo of the Armenian monastery; and such has been the
immemorial language of prophets. I sometimes suspect the Evil One
deserves more gratitude than he gets. Where would be the play without the
villain of the piece? No, the devil is not so black as he is painted, nor
the angel so white. And hence these incessant swings of the philosophical
pendulum as one truth or the other is perceived. The true ethics of the
future will give the devil his due, and deduct a discount from the angel.

The Armenian monastery which has posted up Ruskin's letter is
paradoxically proud of its association with Lord Byron, who studied
Armenian there; and visitors come there in consequence, and buy books
that the monks print. So that Satan has his uses, and Scripture can quote
the devil for its own purposes. The book I bought was a charming
collection of Armenian folk-songs, and it contains one delicious poem
whose refrain has haunted me ever since:

ON THE PARTRIDGE.

The sun boats from the mountain's top,
Pretty, pretty.
The partridge comes from her nest:
She was saluted by the flowers,
She flew and came from the mountain's top,
Ah! pretty, pretty,
Ah! dear little partridge!

Only the highest genius--and what is higher than the folk-genius?--would
dare to be so nave:

Ah! pretty, pretty,
Ah! dear little partridge!

VENTNOR

I did not get to Ventnor without a struggle. Everybody that I met held up
hands of horror. "What! Going to Ventnor? You will be roasted before your
time." My friends grieved, my very publishers wrung their hands, my
newsvendor took me aside and besought me to live on a high hill. Yet
through the whole of August I sat coolly writing on a low terrace. There
is a superstition about Ventnor, and none of the people who talk glibly
about its temperature have ever been there. But I think I have discovered
the origin of the great Ventnor myth. The place is a winter resort of
consumptives; and Mr. Frederick Greenwood, who was the chief charm of
Ventnor, told me that you may take coffee on your lawn in November. The
town, then, is warm in winter. The popular mind, with its hasty logic,
thinks that this is tantamount to saying it is broiling hot in summer. I
fancy there is a similar fiction about Bournemouth. But as a rule the
British climate pays no heed to guide-books. By the natives, Ventnor,
though as beautiful as a little Italian town, seems to be regarded as a
good place to go away from, for every other man keeps a coaching
establishment (I don't mean a school), and you cannot walk two yards
without being accosted by a tout, who resents your walking the next two.
Its regatta is a puerile affair, its own boating crews going off by
preference to rival regattas. But in illuminations it comes out far
better than Cowes, whose loyal inhabitants throw all the burden of
fireworks upon the royal and other yachts anchored in the bay. And
besides, Ventnor has a carnival, which I saw in the shop-windows in the
shape of comic masks.

Bonchurch, the suburb of Ventnor, which plumes itself upon a very
artificial pond, furnished in the best style with sycamores, Scotch firs,
elms and swans, is more interesting for containing the old churchyard by
the sea which received the bones of John Sterling and inspired the best
poem of Philip Bourke Marston:--

Do they hear, through the glad April weather,
The green grasses waving above them?
Do they think there are none left to love them,
They have lain for so long there together?
Do they hear the note of the cuckoo,
The cry of gulls on the wing,
The laughter of winds and waters,
The feet of the dancing Spring?

I was married in Ventnor. At least so I gather from the local newspapers,
in whose visitors' lists there figures the entry, "Mr. and Mrs.
Zangwill." I do not care to correct it, because, the lady being my
mother, it is perfectly accurate and leads to charming misconceptions.
"There, that's he," loudly whispered a young man, nudging his sweetheart,
"and there's his wife with him." "That! why, she looks old enough to be
his mother," replied the young lady. "Ah!" said her lover, with an air of
conscious virtue and a better bargain, "they're awfully mercenary, these
literary chaps." The reverse of this happened to a young friend of mine.
He married an old lady who possessed a very large fortune. During the
honeymoon his solicitous attentions to her excited the admiration of
another old lady, who passed her life in a Bath-chair. "Dear me!" she
thought: "how delightful in these degenerate days to see a young man so
attentive to his mother!" and, dying soon after, left him another large
fortune.

SOMEWHERE ELSE

Before I chanced on the great discovery which has made all my holidays
real boons, and pleasure trips quite a pleasure, I used to go through all
the horrors of preliminary indecision, which are still, alas! the lot of
the vast majority. I would travel for weeks in Bradshaw, and end by
sticking a pin at random between the leaves as if it were a Bible, vowing
to go where destiny pointed. Once the pin stuck at London, and so I had
to stick there too, and was defrauded of my holiday. But even when the
pin sent me to Putney, or Coventry, I was invariably disappointed. Like
the inquisitive and precocious infant of the poem, I was always asking
for the address of Peace, but whenever I called I was told that she was
not in, while the mocking refrain seemed to ring in my ears: "Not there,
not there, my child." And at last I asked angrily of the rocks and caves:
"Will no one tell me where Peace may be found? Wherever I go I find she
is somewhere else." Then, at last, one nymph's soft heart grew tender and
pitiful towards me, and Echo, hardly waiting till I had completed my
sentence, answered: "Somewhere Else."

A wild thrill of joy ran through me. At last I had found the solution of
the haunting puzzle. Somewhere Else. That was it. Not Scotland, nor
Switzerland, nor Japan. None of the common places of travel. But
Somewhere Else. Wherever I went, I wished I had gone Somewhere Else.
Then, why not go there at first? What was the good of repining when it
was too late? In future, I would make a bee-line for the abode of
Peace--not hesitate and shilly-shally, and then go to Bournemouth, or
Norway, or Ceylon, only to be sorry I had not gone to Somewhere Else
direct. In a flash, all the glories of the discovery crowded upon me--the
gain of time, temper, money, everything. "A thousand thanks, sweet Echo,"
I cried. "My obedience to thy advice shall prove that I am not
ungrateful." Echo, with cynical candour, shouted "Great fool," but I
cannot follow her in her end-of-the-century philosophy. And I have taken
her advice. I went Somewhere Else immediately, and since then I have gone
there every year regularly. My relatives do not care for it, and suggest
all sorts of conventional places, such as Monte Carlo and Southend, but
wherever they go, be it the most beautiful spot on earth, I remain
faithful to my discovery, and go to Somewhere Else, where Peace never
fails to greet me with the special welcome accorded to an annual visitor.
The place grows upon me with every season. Sometimes, I think I should
like to stay on and die there. No other spot in the wide universe has
half such charm for me, and even when I do die, I don't think I shall go
to where all the other happy idlers go. I shall go to Somewhere Else.

For Cromer may be the garden of sleep, but you shall find sleepier
gardens and more papaverous poppies--Somewhere Else. The mountain-pines
of Switzerland may be tall, and the skies of Italy blue, but there are
taller pines and bluer skies--Somewhere Else. The bay of San Francisco
may be beautiful, and the landscapes of Provence lovely, and the crags of
Norway sublime, but Somewhere Else there are fairer visions and scenes
more majestical--

An ampler setter, a diviner air,
And fields invested with purpureal gleams.

It never palls upon you--Somewhere Else. Every loved landmark grows
dearer to you year by year, and year by year apartments are
cheaper--Somewhere Else. The facilities for getting to it are enormous.
All roads lead to it, far more truly than to Rome. There can be no
accidents on the journey. How often do we read of people setting forth on
their holidays full of life and hope--yea, sometimes even on their
honeymoon--and lo! a signalman nods, or a bridge breaks, and they are
left mangled on the rails or washed into the river. And to think that
they would have escaped if they had only gone to Somewhere Else! Too late
the weeping relatives wring their hands and moan the remark. Henceforth,
among the ten million pleasure-pilgrims, who will be guided by me, there
will be no more tragedies by flood or field. Railway assurance will
become a thing of the past, and a fatal blow will be struck at modern
hebdomadal journalism. To turn to minor matters, your friends can never
utter the irritating "I told you not to go there!" if you have been to
Somewhere Else. And you need not label your luggage; that always goes to
Somewhere Else of itself. Last advantage of Somewhere Else, you may show
your face in it, though you departed last year without paying your bill.
There are no creditors in this blessed haven. Earth's load drops off your
shoulders when you go to Somewhere Else.

I give this counsel in a disinterested spirit. I have not made
speculative purchases of land, I am not booming a generous jerry-builder.
And yet I cannot help reflecting apprehensively on the consequences of my
recommendation. Already I see my sweet retreat the prey of the howling
mob; I hear the German band playing on the stone parade, and catch the
sad strains of the comic singer. Sacrilegious feet tramp the solitudes,
and sandwich papers become common objects of the sea-shore. Shilling
yachts will ply where I watched the skimming curlew, and new villas will
totter on the edge of the ocean and beguile the innocent billows to be
house-breakers. Nay, the place will become the Alsatia of humanity, the
refuge for all those men and women people would rather see Somewhere
Else, and whose travelling expenses they will perchance defray.
Imagination reels before the horror of such an agglomeration of the
unamiable. And the terrible thing about my terrestrial paradise is that
there is no escaping from it. Everything has the defects of its
qualities, and this is the reverse of the dazzling medal--the drawback
which annuls all the advantages of Somewhere Else in the event of its
becoming popular. In vain shall I then endeavour to flee from it. Though
I projected myself from the giant cannon that sent Jules Verne's hero to
the moon, I should inevitably arrive--boomerang-like--at Somewhere Else.

PART III.

AFTER-THOUGHTS: A BUNDLE OF BREVITIES.

[Sidenote: Moonshine]

Certainly the Moon was very charming that soft summer's night, as I
watched its full golden orb gliding nonchalantly in the serene, starry
heaven, and keeping me company as I strode across the silent gorse.
But--to be indiscreet--I had grown aweary of the Moon, and of the stars
also, as of beautiful pictures hung--or should one say, skied?--in a
perpetual Academy. _Caelum non animum mutant_ is only tolerably true. A
derangement of stars is all the change you get by travelling--everywhere
the same golden-headed nails, as Hugo, hard-driven, called them, are
sticking in the firmament. This particular moon was hanging, not over a
church steeple, like De Musset's moon,

Comme un point sur un i,

but like the big yellow dial of the clock in a church tower. An
illuminated clock-face--but blank, featureless, expressionless, useless;
in a word, without hands. Now I could not help thinking that if there had
really been a Providence it would have put hands to the Moon--a big and a
little--and made it the chronometer of the world--nay, of the cosmos--the
universal time-piece, to which all eyes, in every place and planet, could
be raised for information; by which all clocks could be set--moon
time--an infallible monitor and measurer of the flight of the hours;
divinely right, not to be argued with; though I warrant there be some
would still swear by their watches. This were the true cosmopolitanism,
destroying those distressful variations which make your clock vary with
your climate, and which throw the shadow of pyrrhonism over truths which
should be clear as daylight. For if, when it is five o'clock here, it may
be two o'clock there and supper-time yonder, if it is night and day at
the same moment, then is black white, and Pilate right--and
Heraclitus,--and the nonconformist conscience a vain thing.

In supporting correct moral principles, the Moon would be of some use,
instead of staring at us with an idiot face, signifying nothing. The
stars, too, could be better employed than in winking at what goes on here
below. Like ladies' gold watches by the side of Big Ben, they could
repeat the same great eternal truth--that it was half-past nine, or five
minutes to eleven.

Soon as the evening shades prevail
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
While all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the _time_ from pole to pole.

An obvious result of a synchronised universe would be the federation of
mankind, Peace on Earth, and all those other beatitudes at present vainly
sought by World Fairs, and pig-sticking prophets.

Till we have hands to the Moon I shall not look for the Millennium.

[Sidenote: Capital]

Suddenly the Moon went behind a cloud, as if to demonstrate that even
then there would be difficulties. Besides, I remembered it had its
quarter-days. Here my thoughts made a transition to money matters, and,
after the manner of Richard Carstone in "Bleak House," I fell to
reckoning up the sums I had saved of late. It is a calculation I make
almost every week nowadays. I have lost nothing by any of the
Jerry-Building Societies, nothing by any of the great Bank Failures. By
not having any money one saves thousands a year in these unsettled times.
Mr. Hamerton cites with amusement the remark of a wealthy Englishman, who
could not understand "why men are so imprudent as to allow themselves to
sink into money embarrassments." "There is a simple rule that I follow
myself," said he, "and that I have always found a great safeguard: it is,
_never to let one's balance at the banker's fall below five thousand
pounds_." The rich Englishman's rule was quite wrong: the only safeguard
is to have no balance at all. High and dry on the Lucretian tower of
poverty, you may watch with complacency the struggles of the sinking
funds. What a burden capital must be to those anxious to find safe
investments at high rates of interest! It looks as if interest will sink
to freezing point, and capital will have to flow to other planets if that
comical claim for "wages of abstinence" is to be met any longer. Perhaps
it will flow to Mars, the home in exile of the old political economy.
Already a beginning has been made by investments in mines which are not
upon this earth.

[Sidenote: Credit]

Every day makes clearer the evils of our complex credit system--that
Frankenstein creation we have lost control over, that ampulaceous growth
of capital, most of which is merely figures in a book, and which only
exists in virtue of not being asked for, much as the tit-bits on a
restaurant menu are "off" when ordered. The real meaning of National
Debts is that every civilised country is bankrupt, and only goes on
trading because its creditors give it time. To the uncertainties of the
weather, and the chances of cholera, war, and earthquake, we have added
an artificial uncertainty worse than any of these--we have invented a
series of financial cyclones, which sweep round the globe, devastating
all lands, and no more to be predicted--despite theories of sun-spots,
cyclones and financial crises--than wrecks at sea; indeed, far less
predictable, for I believe with the ex-mayor quoted by Bonamy Price, that
finance is a subject which no man can understand in this world, or even
in the next. The infinite ramifications, the endless actions and
reactions, are beyond the grasp of any one but an impostor. The Professor
just mentioned thought he had found the right thread of theory in the
labyrinth of "Currency and Banking," and really did make a most sensible
analysis of what actually went on in financial operations. Only he left
out one great factor--the immense influence on the market of other
people's wrong theories. No, if there is a right thread of theory, it
must be so tangled as to be worse than useless. My friend the business
man tells me that for success in business one requires four things: a
large capital, industry, insight, and caution--and then it's a toss-up. I
am fain to believe this whole system of modern commerce was devised to
please the amateurs of the aleatory.

[Sidenote: The Small Boy]

A plague on both your Houses of Parliament! They legislate day and night,
yet leave our lives unmodified. For our lives revolve on the pivot of
custom, and our everyday movements are not political. The real ruler of
England is the small boy of the streets! And, in truth, is it not so? By
the unphilosophic regarded as akin to vermin, existing for the greater
confusion of theologians, the small boy looms large to the man of
insight, as the true conservator of custom--the one efficient _custos
morum_. He it is who regulates the lengths to which we may go in
eccentricity, and, above all, in hair:

Get your hair cut!

He is particular to a shade about clothes, and has a nice taste in hats.
One wonders how he acquired it. His patriotic proclivity, his hostility
to national costumes other than English, his preference for uncoloured
complexions--this one may understand; but his aesthetic instinct is a
problem for Weismann. As the interpreter of the conventions, he is of a
cast-iron rigidity, for is he not a child of Mrs. Grundy--his mother's
own boy? He has no exceptions--it is "one law and one measure." He is the
scavenger of manners, as the Constantinople street-dog is of gutters; a
natural _police des moeurs_, infinitely more efficient than any
artificial organisation; an all-ramifying association created to keep the
bounds of social order, on duty at every street corner, alert to check
every outbreak of individuality. Do ladies aspire to ride bicycles? Or
wear bloomers? There is the small boy to face. It is a question for him.
Conciliate him, and you may laugh at the pragmatic. His, too, is a
healthy barbarism, beneficent in its action, that thinks scorn of
eyeglasses and spectacles, and leads him to denounce quadruple vision,
as, indeed, all departure from the simplicities of physical perfection. A
human scarecrow he abhors, and will follow such an one through six
streets to express his disapprobation. Extremes of size? whether of
tallness or shortness? offend him equally. Whitman was not kinder to "the
average man." Nor is the small boy's influence limited to sumptuary and
corporeal censorship: by taking up certain songs he "makes" the nation's
ballads, and every one knows what that means. Let me train a nation's
small boys, I care not who makes its laws. O small boy, true sovereign of
England, I take off my hat to thee!--to show thee the maker's name in the
lining, and satify thy anxious inquiries as to where I got it.

[Sidenote: A Day in Town.]

I have often wondered what country children do for a holiday. Do good
people go round collecting to give them a day in London or Liverpool or
Manchester, so that their stunted lives that stretch on from year to year
with never a whiff of town fog, never a glimpse of green 'buses, or
dangerous crossings, or furnace-smoke, may be expanded and elevated? If
not, I beg to move the starting of a Town Fund at once. Nothing can be
more narrowing than rustic existence--there are old yokels whose lives
have always moved within a four-mile radius, women who have grown gray
without ever knowing what lay beyond the blue hills that girdled their
native village. I once knew a chawbacon who came to town and was barked
at by a street-dog. He stooped down to pick up one of the rough stones
lying in the roadway to ward it off withal, but to his astonishment the
stone refused to budge, for it was an integral part of the road. "Danged
if that baint[*] queer!" he exclaimed. "At home the dogs be tied and the
stones be loose. Here the dogs be loose and the stones be tied." Now, if
that man had enjoyed a school excursion to the town when a boy, he would
have deprived me of a good story. A glimpse of the town in youth might
also do good in checking the perpetual urban immigration, which, alas!
removes so many of the rustic population from the soil, and places them
under it. To this end all school excursions to London should take place
in November. Yes, there is a vast future before that fund, and I shall be
happy to start it with five thousand pounds, if two hundred and
sixty-three one-armed Scotchmen of good moral character will bind
themselves to do the same.

[* Transcriber's note: So in original.]

[Sidenote: The Profession of Charity.]

Mr. Labouchere is singularly unfair to a new profession. Beggary has long
been a recognised profession, with its traditions, customs, and
past-masters, and it is time that philanthropy should now be admitted to
an equal status. There is no reason in the world why it should be left in
the hands of amateurs, who muddle away funds by their lack of science and
experience. Supposing a man sees his way to doing good--founding a home
for incurables, or drunkards, or establishing a dispensary, or anything
you please--why should he not make a living by it? What if he does get
five hundred a year, is he not worth it, provided always the institution
fulfils a useful function and is not a sham? Surely he does more for
Society in return for his money than a Treasury clerk! Probably but for
him--but for his wish to earn an income--the charitable institution would
never have come into existence. Political economy already shows us how
the individual's desire for profit brings humanity all its blessings,
opens up new countries for it, and supplies them with wars and railways.
If men did not buy shares with a view to a percentage on their savings,
the march of civilisation would come to a halt. Since the philanthropy of
percentage is so obvious, why should we not recognise the percentage of
philanthropy? Charity has gone into business. Why not?

[Sidenote: The Privileges of Poverty.]

The only people who seem to escape the malady of the century are the
poor. The _Weltschmerz_ touches them not; however great their suffering,
it is always individual. The privileges of poverty are, I fear,
insufficiently appreciated in these grasping times. It is not only
income-tax that the poor man is exempt from. There is a much more painful
tax on income than the pecuniary--it is the thought of those who are
worsted in the struggle for bare existence. _Vae victis!_ Yet those who
achieve the bare existence, who starve not, neither shiver, have surely
enviable compensations. Not theirs the distressful, wearying problems of
sociology. Far from feeling any responsibility for their fellow-beings,
they do not even fulfil their own personal duty to society,--witness the
breeding of babies in back streets. They have no sympathy with the
troubles of any other class--they eat their hard crust and they drink
their bitter beer without a thought of the dyspepsia of the diner-out,
and their appetite is not dulled by any suspicion of heart-sickness in
good society. Starvation other than physical they do not understand, and
spiritual struggles are caviare. The state of the rich does not give them
sleepless nights--they have no yearnings to reform them or amend their
condition. The terrible overcrowding of the upper classes on Belgravian
staircases wakes not a pang; they are untouched by the sufferings of
insufficiently-clad ladies in draughty stalls and royal antechambers; and
the grievances of old army men move them not. Not theirs to ponder
sorrowfully over the lost souls of politicians or the degeneration of
public manners. They live their own lives--and, whatsoever the burden,
they do not bear any one's but their own.

[Sidenote: Salvation for the Seraphim]

Herbert Spencer says he knew a retired naval officer in whose mind God
figured as a transcendently powerful sea-captain; and we have all heard
the story of the English admiral who, when fighting the Dutch, felt sure
God wouldn't desert a fellow-countryman. But this ingenuous
identification of earthly and divine interests has been carried to the
point of imbecility by General Booth in his claim to

"THE LARGEST CIRCULATION."

The _War Cry_, so the General states,
Among the angels circulates,
To Heaven having gone; but, oh,
That it had first expired below!

Which is uglier--the crude spiritualism of the Salvationist or the crude
materialism of the scientist? I receive the same sort of shock when I
peruse Mrs. Spurgeon's fond picture of her departed husband waylaying the
angels at the shining street-corners to preach the gospel to them, as
when I read that woman's poetry is inferior to man's because she exhales
less carbonic acid.

[Sidenote: Truth--Local and Temporal]

The other day I listened to some green-room persiflage between an actress
and an eminent actor-manager. The lady said she had loved him years ago,
and thrown herself at his head, but had never been able to bring him to a
proposal. I asked if she would have been satisfied with the provincial
rights. I am not at all sure that the introduction of this principle of
legal partition would not promote domestic harmony, especially in
theatrical circles, where the practice already prevails in the matter of
plays. Indeed, this principle of partition has already been carried
beyond its original sphere. Do I not remember a theatrical lawsuit four
or five years ago in which the plaintiff sought to restrain the defendant
from styling himself part-author of a piece, on the ground that he (the
defendant) had not done a stroke of the work, and had been paid ten
pounds for it; while the defendant claimed that he had only parted with
his rights as regards London, and that in the provinces he was still
entitled to claim a share of the authorship? Pascal long ago pointed out,
in his "Penses," that virtue and vice were largely dependent on distance
from the equator (a latitudinarianism in morals that does not seem to
have shocked his Port Royal friends). But even he failed to reach this
daring conception of "local fame." The marvel is that when once reached
it should have been let slip again. It seems to me an invaluable remedy
for disputes: absolutely infallible. When Mr. Stuart Cumberland wrote
from India to claim the plot of "The Charlatan," how simple to accord him
the authorship--_in India!_ At once we perceive a _modus vivendi_ for the
followers of Donnelly and the adherents of common-sense. In America Bacon
shall be the author of "Hamlet," but the English rights in the piece
shall go to Shakespeare. In the same spirit of compromise Cruikshank
might have been content to be the author of "Oliver Twist" in the
Hebrides and the second-class saloons of Atlantic steamers. Herman should
be sole author of "The Silver King" in Pall Mall, and Jones in
Piccadilly. Some metropolitan streets belong by one pavement to one
parish, and by the other to another; so that in the case of parochial
celebrities it would be possible for the rival great men to glare at each
other across the road--not, however, daring to cross it, for fear of
losing their reputation. The Frenchman's long-standing assumption of
Parisian rights in the victory of Waterloo would be put upon a legitimate
basis.

By a logical extension of the principle we could allow Homer to be born
in Chios on Mondays, in Colophon on Tuesdays, and so with each of the
seven cities which starved him. They use up the week nicely. On the odd
day of leap year we might concede that he never existed, and allow him to
be resolved into the pieces into which he was torn by Wolf. Had this
pacificatory principle been discovered earlier, "The Letters of Phalaris"
would never have fluttered Europe, and Swift would have had no need to
write "The Battle of the Books." It is never too late to mend, however,
and an academy of leading politicians and ecclesiastics should be at once
formed to draw up an authoritative "Calendar and Topography of Belief,"
fixing once for all the dates and places on or in which it is permissible
to hold any given opinion. Although, when I come to think of it, Science
and Religion have long been tacitly reconciled on this principle,
Religion being true on Sundays and Science on week-days.

[Sidenote: The Creed of Despair.]

I am convinced that optimism is exactly the wrong sort of medicine for
our "present discontents." It is time to try homoeopathy. My suggestion
is that the religion of the future shall consist of the most pessimistic
propositions imaginable; its creed shall be godless and immoral, its
thirty-nine articles shall exhaust the possibilities of unfaith and its
burden shall be _vanitas vanitatum_. Man shall be an automaton, and life
an hereditary disease, and the world a hospital, and truth a dream, and
beauty an optical illusion. These sad tidings of great sorrow shall be
organized into a state church, with bishops and paraphernalia, and shall
be sucked in by the infant at its mother's breast. Men shall be tutored
in unrighteousness, and innocence shall be under ecclesiastical ban.
Faith and Hope shall be of the seven deadly virtues, and unalloyed
despair of man and nature a dogma it were blasphemous to doubt. The good
shall be persecuted and the theists tortured, and those that say there is
balm in Gilead, shall be thrust beyond the pale of decent society.

Then, oh, what a spiritual revival there will be! Every gleam of light
will be eagerly sought for, every ray focussed; every hint of love and
pity and beauty, of significance and divinity, in this infinite and
infinitely mysterious universe, will be eagerly snatched up and thrust
upon an age hide-bound in orthodoxy; every touch and trace of tenderness
that softens suffering and sweetens the bitterness of death, will be
treasured up in secret mistrust of the reigning creed; every noble
thought and deed, every sacred tear, will be thrown into the balance of
heresy with every dear delight of poetry and art, of woods and waters, of
dawns and sunsets; with every grace of childhood and glory of man and
womanhood. And every suppressed doubt of the hideousness of the universe
will sink deep and ferment in darkness, and persecution will sit on every
natural safety valve till at last the pent forces will swell and crack
the sterile soil, and there will be an explosion that shall send a pillar
of living fire towards the heavens of brass. The clerics will be among
the first to feel the stirrings of infidel hope--a few will give up their
livings rather than preach what they do not believe, but the
majority--especially the bishops--will cling to the Church of Despair,
hoping against hope that their despair is true. There will be wonderful
word-spinnings in the reviews, and the dominant pessimism will be
justified by algebraic analogies. But, beneath it all, the church will be
infected to the core with faith, and for the first time in history we
shall get a believing clergy. There will be secret societies founded to
publish the Bible, and Colonel Ingersoll will lecture at the hall of
religion, and the prisons will be crowded with martyred iconoclasts
incredulous of the gospel of science. No, there is nothing so unwise as
your optimistic organized creeds, with their suggestions of officialdom,
red-tape, and back-stairs influence. We shall never be perfectly
religious and moral till we are trained from childhood to ungodly works,
forced to attend long sermons on the error of existence, and badgered
into public impiety by force of opinion.

[Sidenote: Social Bugbears.]

First there were the Radicals, who stood for the apogee of human
villainy, though it now appears they were Conservatives of the mildest
type. Then came the turn of the Atheists, who, for all I have been able
to discover, were very respectable creatures full of religious ardour,
who spelt God with a small "g" and justice with a capital "J." Then the
Socialists had their innings. But "we are all Socialists now," and the
empty mantle of villainy has fallen upon Anarchism, which, as far as I
can make out, is the simplest and most innocent creed ever invented, and
which debars its adherents from exercising any compulsion upon anybody
else, relying upon the natural moral working of the human heart. How this
is compatible with bombs it is for _Messieurs les Anarchistes_ to
explain. Needless to say the assassinous Anarchists are disavowed by
their philosophical brethren.

[Sidenote: Martyrs.]

Although we moderns work harder than our fathers for our opinions, we are
sometimes taunted with not being so ready to die for them. But, as Renan
points out, thinkers have no need to die to demonstrate a theorem. Saints
may die for their faith because faith is a personal matter. Even so we
are still ready to die for our honour. The Christian martyrs did prove
that Christianity was a reality to them; but Galileo's death would have
been irrelevant to the rotation of the earth. There is no _argumentum per
hominem_ possible here; the truth is impersonal. It is only for beliefs
that exclude certainty that a man is tempted to martyrdom. The martyr is
indeed, as the etymology implies, a witness; but his death is not a
witness to the truth of his belief--merely to the truth of his believing.
Blandine at her stake, enduring a hundred horrors unflinchingly, seems in
addition to prove that faith was the first anaesthetic. It is curious to
note how the word "martyr" has been degraded; so that we have to-day
martyrs to the gout instead of to the truth. The idea of suffering has
quite ousted the idea of witnessing. What a pity the word got these
painful associations! There are "martyrs" to the truth--witnesses who
without dying testify to the divine streak in life; and unconscious
"martyrs" who, by their simple sincerity, their unpretentious
unselfishness, prove more than a bookshelf of theology. I have found
"martyrdom" in the grip of a friend's hand, though if I had told him so
he would have apologised for squeezing so hard. And is not every pretty
woman a "martyr"--a revelation of an inner soul of beauty and goodness in
this chaotic universe? There! I have succumbed again to the common
masculine impulse to conceive beauty and goodness as a chemical
combination, subtly inter-related; whereas the slightest practical
experience in the laboratory of life discovers them but a mechanical
mixture, dissociable and not seldom antipathetic.

[Sidenote: The London Season]

I remember being so bored one night at dinner, by the ceaseless chatter
about Burne-Jones, that I asked my fair neighbour: "Who is Burne-Jones?"
Her reply was as smart as it was feminine. "I don't believe you." There
is a moral in this. Why be a slave to the season? Why bother to read all
the newest novels, see all the newest plays, hear all the newest
musicians, remember all the newest "Reminiscences," and believe all the
newest religions, when by pleading ignorance you will pass not only as an
eccentric but a connoisseur? On second thoughts, why not eschew the
season altogether? God made the seasons and man made the season, as
Cowper forgot to say. And a nice mess man has made of it, turning night
into day and heating his rooms in the summer. The London Season, not
Winter, Mr. Cowper, is the true "Ruler of the Inverted Year."

[Sidenote: The Academy]

The Academy has survived Mr. Burne-Jones' desertion of his old
associates, as it would survive art itself. I for one should regret its
disappearance. It is a whetstone for wit, like everything established and
respectable. I am only sorry we have no Academy of Letters. It gives one
such a standing not to be a member--almost as good a standing as to be
one. If you are left out in the cold you loudly pity those asphyxiating
in the heat, and if you have a cozy chair by the fireside you fall asleep
and say nothing. This promotes happiness all round, and makes the
literary man contented with his lot. In England authors have no Academy,
and so have to fall back on the poor publishers: _Hinc illae lachrymae!_

[Sidenote: Portraits of Gentlemen]

Book of the day: