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Impressions And Comments by Havelock Ellis

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For many years I have been accustomed to make notes on random leaves of
the things in Life and Thought which have chanced to strike my attention.
Such records of personal reaction to the outer and inner world have been
helpful to my work, and so had their uses.

But as one grows older the possibilities of these uses become more
limited. One realises in the Autumn that leaves no longer have a vital
function to perform; there is no longer any need why they should cling to
the tree. So let them be scattered to the winds!

It is inevitable that such Leaves cannot be judged in the same way as
though they constituted a Book. They are much more like loose pages from a
Journal. Thus they tend to be more personal, more idiosyncratic, than in a
book it would be lawful for a writer to be. Often, also, they show blanks
which the intelligence of the reader must fill in. At the best they merely
present the aspect of the moment, the flash of a single facet of life,
only to be held in the brain provided one also holds therein many other
facets, for the fair presentation of the great crystal of life. So it
comes about that much is here demanded of the Reader, so much that I feel
it rather my duty to warn him away than to hold out any fallacious lures.

The fact has especially to be reckoned with that such Impressions and
Comments, stated absolutely and without consideration for divergent
Impressions and Comments, may seem, as a friend who has read some of them
points out, to lack explicit reasonableness. I trust they are not lacking
in implicit reasonableness. They spring, even when they seem to contradict
one another, from a central vision, and from a central faith too deeply
rooted to care to hasten unduly towards the most obvious goal. From that
central core these Impressions and Comments are concerned with many
things, with the miracles of Nature, with the Charms and Absurdities of
the Human Worm, that Golden Wire wherefrom hang all the joys and the
mysteries of Art. I am only troubled because I know how very feebly these
things are imaged here. For I have only the medium of words to work in,
only words, words that are flung about in the street and often in the mud,
only words with which to mould all my images of the Beauty and Gaiety of
the World.

Such as they are, these random leaves are here scattered to the winds. It
may be that as they flutter to the earth one or another may be caught by
the hand of the idle passer-by, and even seem worthy of contemplation. For
no two leaves are alike even when they fall from the same tree.



_July 24, 1912_.--I looked out from my room about ten o'clock at night.
Almost below the open window a young woman was clinging to the flat wall
for support, with occasional floundering movements towards the attainment
of a firmer balance. In the dim light she seemed decently dressed in
black; her handkerchief was in her hand; she had evidently been sick.

Every few moments some one passed by. It was quite clear that she was
helpless and distressed. No one turned a glance towards her--except a
policeman. He gazed at her searchingly as he passed, but without stopping
or speaking; she was drunk, no doubt, but not too obtrusively incapable;
he mercifully decided that she was of no immediate professional concern to
him. She soon made a more violent effort to gain muscular control of
herself, but merely staggered round her own escaping centre of gravity and
sank gently on to the pavement in a sitting posture.

Every few moments people continued to pass within a few inches of
her--men, women, couples. Unlike the priest and the Levite in the parable,
they never turned away, but pursued their straight course with callous
rectitude. Not one seemed so much as to see her. In a minute or two,
stimulated perhaps by some sense of the impropriety of her position, she
rose to her feet again, without much difficulty, and returned to cling to
the wall.

A few minutes later I saw a decently-dressed young woman, evidently of the
working class, walk quietly, but without an instant's hesitation, straight
up to the figure against the wall. (It was what, in Moscow, the first
passer-by would have done.) I could hear her speaking gently and kindly,
though of what she said I could only catch, "Where do you live?" No
answers were audible, and perhaps none were given. But the sweet Samaritan
continued speaking gently. At last I heard her say, "Come round the
corner," and with only the gentle pressure of a hand on the other's arm
she guided her round the corner near which they stood, away from the
careless stream of passengers, to recover at leisure. I saw no more.

Our modern civilisation, it is well known, long since transformed
"chivalry"; it was once an offer of help to distressed women; it is now
exclusively reserved for women who are not distressed and clearly able to
help themselves. We have to realise that it can scarcely even be said that
our growing urban life, however it fosters what has been called
"urbanity," has any equally fostering influence on instinctive mutual
helpfulness as an element of that urbanity. We do not even see the
helpless people who go to the wall or to the pavement. This is true of men
and women alike. But when instinctive helpfulness is manifested it seems
most likely to reveal itself in a woman. That is why I would like to give
to women all possible opportunities--rights and privileges alike--for
social service.

_July 27_.--A gentle rain was falling, and on this my first day in Paris
since the unveiling of the Verlaine monument in the Luxembourg Gardens,
immediately after I left Paris last year, I thought there could be no
better moment to visit the spot so peculiarly fit to be dedicated to the
poet who loved such spots--a "coin exquis" where the rain may fall
peacefully among the trees, on his image as once on his heart, and the
tender mists enfold him from the harsh world.

I scarcely think the sculptor quite happily inspired in his conception of
the face of the charming old man I knew of old in his haunts of the
Boulevard Saint-Michel. It is too strong a face, too disdainful, with too
much character. Verlaine was sympathetic, simple, childlike, humble; when
he put on an air of pride it was with a deliberate yet delightful pose, a
child's pose. There is an air of almost military rigidity about the pride
of this bust; I do not find Verlaine in that trait.

Verlaine's strength was not that of character; it was that of Nature. I
could imagine that the Silenus, whom we see with his satellites near by,
might be regarded in its expression, indeed in the whole conception of the
group--with its helpless languor and yet its divine dominance--as the
monument of that divine and helpless poet whom I still recall so well, as
with lame leg and stick he would drift genially along the Boulevard a few
yards away.

_July 31._--At the hotel in Dijon, the flourishing capital of Burgundy, I
was amused to note how curiously my room differed from what I once
regarded as the type of the French room in the hotels I used to frequent.
There is still a Teutonic touch in the Burgundian; he is meticulously
thorough. I had six electric lights in different positions, a telephone,
hot and cold water laid on into a huge basin, a foot-bath, and, finally, a
wastepaper-basket. For the rest, a severely simple room, no ornaments,
nothing to remind one of the brace of glass pistols and all the other ugly
and useless things which filled my room at the ancient hotel in Rouen
where I stayed two years ago. And the "lavabo," as it is here called, a
spacious room with an ostentatiously noisy rush of water which may be
heard afar and awakens one at night. The sanitary and mechanical age we
are now entering makes up for the mercy it grants to our sense of smell by
the ferocity with which it assails our sense of hearing. As usual, what we
call "Progress" is the exchange of one Nuisance for another Nuisance.

_August 5._--It is an idea of mine that a country with a genius for
architecture is only able to show that genius supremely in one style, not
in all styles. The Catalans have a supreme genius for architecture, but
they have only achieved a single style. The English have attempted all
styles of architecture, but it was only in Perpendicular that we attained
a really free and beautiful native style in our domestic buildings and
what one might call our domestic churches. Strassburg Cathedral is
thoroughly German and acceptable as such, but Cologne Cathedral is an
exotic, and all the energy and the money of Germany through a thousand
years can never make it anything but cold, mechanical, and artificial.
When I was in Burgundy I felt that the Burgundians had a genius for
Romanesque, and that their Gothic is for the most part feeble and insipid.
Now, how about the Normans? One cannot say their Romanesque is not fine,
in the presence of William the Conqueror's Abbaye aux Hommes, here at
Caen. But I should be inclined to ask (without absolutely affirming)
whether the finest Norman Romanesque can be coupled with the finest
Burgundian Romanesque. The Norman genius was, I think, really for Gothic,
and not for what we in England call "Norman" because it happened to come
to us through Normandy. Without going to Rouen it is enough to look at
many a church here. The Normans had a peculiar plastic power over stone
which Gothic alone could give free scope to. Stone became so malleable in
their hands that they seem as if working in wood. Probably it really was
the case that their familiarity with wood-carving influenced their work in
architecture. And they possessed so fine a taste that while they seem to
be freely abandoning themselves to their wildest fantasies, the outcome is
rarely extravagant (Flaubert in his _Tentation_ is a great Norman
architect), and at the best attains a ravishing beauty of flowing and
interwoven lines. At its worst, as in St. Sauveur, which is a monstrosity
like the Siamese twins, a church with two naves and no aisles, the general
result still has its interest, even apart from the exquisite beauty of the
details. It is here in Gothic, and not in Romanesque, that the Normans
attained full scope. We miss the superb repose, the majestic strength, of
the Romanesque of Burgundy and the south-west of France. There is
something daring and strange and adventurous in Norman Romanesque. It was
by no accident, I think, that the ogive, in which lay the secret of
Gothic, appeared first in Norman Romanesque.

_August 8._--I have sometimes thought when in Spain that in ancient
university towns the women tend to be notably beautiful or attractive, and
I have imagined that this might be due to the continuous influence of
student blood through many centuries in refining the population, the
finest specimens of the young students proving irresistible to the women
of the people, and so raising the level of the population by sexual
selection. At Salamanca I was impressed by the unusual charm of the women,
and even at Palencia to some extent noticed it, though Palencia ceased to
be the great university of Spain nearly eight centuries ago. At Fecamp I
have been struck by the occasional occurrence of an unusual type of
feminine beauty, not, it seems to me, peculiarly Norman, with dark,
ardent, spiritual eyes, and a kind of proud hierarchical bearing. I have
wondered how far the abbots and monks of this great and ancient abbey of
Benedictines were occupied--in the intervals of more supra-mundane
avocations--in perfecting, not only the ancient recipe of their liqueur,
but also the physical type of the feminine population among which they
laboured. The type I have in mind sometimes rather recalls the face of
Baudelaire, who, by his mother's family from which he chiefly inherited,
the Dufays, belonged, it is held probable, to Normandy.

_August 9._--Typical women of Normandy often have a certain highly-bred
air. They are slender when young, sometimes inclined to be tall, and the
face--of course beautiful in complexion, for they dwell near the sea--is
not seldom refined and distinguished. See the proud, sensitive nostrils of
that young woman sweeping the pavement with her broom in front of the
house this morning; one can tell she is of the same race as Charlotte
Corday. And I have certainly never found anywhere in France women who seem
to me so naturally charming and so sympathetic as the women who dwell in
all this north-western district from Paris to the sea. They are often, as
one might expect, a little English-like (it might be in Suffolk on the
other side of the Channel, and Beauvais, I recall, has something of the
air of old Ipswich), but with a vivacity of movement, and at the same time
an aristocratic precision and subtlety one fails to find in the English.
When a pretty English girl of the people opens her mouth the charm is
often gone. On the contrary, I have often noticed in Normandy that a
seemingly commonplace unattractive girl only becomes charming when she
does open her mouth, to reveal her softness of speech, the
delicately-inflexed and expressive tones, while her face lights up in
harmony with her speech. Now--to say nothing of the women of the south,
whose hard faces and harsh voices are often so distressing--in Dijon,
whence I came to Normandy this time, the women are often sweet, even
angelic of aspect, looking proper material for nuns and saints, but, to me
at all events, not personally so sympathetic as the Norman women, who are
no doubt quite as good but never express the fact with the same air of
slightly Teutonic insipidity. The men of Normandy I regard as of finer
type than the Burgundian men, and this time it is the men who express
goodness more than the women. The Burgundian men, with their big
moustaches turned up resolutely at the points and their wickedly-sparkling
eyes, have evidently set before themselves the task of incorporating a
protest against the attitude of their women. But the Norman men, who allow
their golden moustaches to droop, are a fine frank type of manhood at the
best, pleasantly honest and unspoilt. I know, indeed, how skilful, how
wily, how noble even, in their aristocratic indifference to detail, these
Normans can be in extracting money from the stranger (have I not lunched
simply at the Hostel Guillaume-le-Conquerant in the village of Dives for
the same sum on which I have lived sumptuously for three days at the Hotel
Victoria in the heart of Seville?), but the manner of their activity in
this matter scarcely seems to me to be happily caught by those Parisians
who delight to caricature, as mere dull, avaricious plebeians, "Ces bons
Normands." Their ancient chronicler said a thousand years ago of the
Normans that their unbounded avarice was balanced by their equally
unbounded extravagance. That, perhaps, is a clue to the magnificent
achievements of the Normans, in the spiritual world even more than in the
material world.

_August_ 10.--On leaving France by the boat from Dieppe I selected a seat
close to which, shortly afterwards, three English people--two young women
and a man--came to occupy deck-chairs already placed for them by a sailor
and surrounded by their bags and wraps. Immediately one of the women began
angrily asking her companions why her bag had not been placed the right
side up; _she_ would not have her things treated like that, etc. Her
companions were gentle and conciliatory,--though I noticed they left her
alone during most of the passage,--and the man had with attentive
forethought made all arrangements for his companions' comfort. But,
somehow, I looked in wonder at her discontented face and heard with
surprise her peevish voice. She was just an ordinary stolid nourishing
young Englishwoman. But I had been in France, and though I had been
travelling for a whole fortnight I had seen nothing like this. She lay
back and began reading a novel, which she speedily exchanged for a basin.
I fear I felt a certain satisfaction at the spectacle. It is good for the
English barbarian to be chastised with scorpions.

How pleasant at Newhaven to find myself near another woman, a young
Frenchwoman, with the firm, disciplined, tender face, the
sweetly-modulated voice, the air of fine training, the dignified
self-respect which also involves respect for others. I realised in a flash
the profound contrast to that fellow-countrywoman of mine who had
fascinated my attention on board the boat.

But one imagines a French philosopher, a new Taine, let us suppose,
setting out from Dieppe for the "land of Suffragettes" to write another
_Notes sur l'Angleterre_. How finely he would build a great generalisation
on narrow premises! How acutely he would point out the dependence of the
English "gentleman's" good qualities or the ill-conditioned qualities of
his women-folk!

_August 15._--I enter an empty suburban railway carriage and take up a
common-looking little periodical lying on the seat beside me. It is a
penny weekly I had never heard of before, written for feminine readers and
evidently enjoying an immense circulation. I turn over the pages. One
might possibly suppose that at the present moment the feminine world is
greatly excited, or at all events mildly interested, by the suffrage
movement. But there is not a word in this paper from beginning to end with
the faintest reference to the suffrage, nor is there anything bearing on
any single great social movement of the day in which, it may seem to us,
women are taking a part. Nor, again, is there anything to be found
touching on ideas, not even on religion. There are, on the other hand,
evidently three great interests dominating the thoughts of the readers of
this paper: Clothes, Cookery, Courtship. How to make an old hat look new,
how to make sweetmeats, how to behave when a man makes advances to
you--these are the problems in which the readers of this journal are
profoundly interested, and one can scarcely gather that they are
interested in anything else. Very instructive is the long series of
questions, problems posed by anxious correspondents for the editor to
answer. One finds such a problem as this: Suppose you like a man, and
suppose you think he likes you, and suppose he never says so--what ought
you to do? The answers, fully accepting the serious nature of the
problems, are kindly and sensible enough, almost maternal, admirably
adapted to the calibre and outlook of the readers in this little world.
But what a little world! So narrow, so palaeolithically ancient, so
pathetically simple, so good, so sweet, so humble, so essentially and
profoundly feminine! It is difficult not to drop a tear on the thin,
common, badly-printed pages.

And then, in the very different journal I have with me, I read the
enthusiastic declaration of an ardent masculine feminist--a man of the
study--that the executive power of the world is to-day being transferred
to women; they alone possess "psychic vision," they alone are interested
in the great questions which men ignore--and I realise what those great
questions are: Clothes, Cookery, Courtship.

_August 23._--I stood on the platform at Paddington station as the
Plymouth Express slowly glided out. Leaning out of a third-class
compartment stood the figure that attracted my attention. His head was
bare and so revealed his harmoniously wavy and carefully-tended grey hair.
The expression of his shaven and disciplined face was sympathetic and
kindly, evidently attuned to expected emotions of sorrowful farewell, yet
composed, clearly not himself overwhelmed by those emotions. His right arm
and open hand were held above his head, in an attitude that had in it a
not too ostentatious hint of benediction. When he judged that the gracious
vision was no longer visible to the sorrowing friends left behind he
discreetly withdrew into the carriage. There was a feminine touch about
this figure; there was also a touch of the professional actor. But on the
whole it was absolutely, without the shadow of a doubt, the complete
Anglican Clergyman.

_September_ 2.--Nearly every day just now I have to enter a certain shop
where I am served by a young woman. She is married, a mother, at the same
time a businesslike young woman who is proud of her businesslike
qualities. But she is also pleasant to look upon in her healthy young
maternity, her frank open face, her direct speech, her simple natural
manner and instinctive friendliness. From her whole body radiates the
healthy happiness of her gracious personality. A businesslike person,
certainly, and I receive nothing beyond my due money's worth. But I always
carry away something that no money can buy, and that is even more
nourishing than the eggs and butter and cream she sells.

How few, it seems to me, yet realise the vast importance in civilisation
of the quality of the people one is necessarily brought into contact with!
Consider the vast number of people in our present communities who are
harsh, ugly, ineradically discourteous, selfish, or insolent--the people
whose lives are spent in diminishing the joy of the community in which not
so much Providence as the absence of providence has placed them, in
impeding that community's natural activity, in diminishing its total
output of vital force. Lazy and impertinent clerks, stuck-up shop
assistants, inconsiderate employers, brutal employees, unendurable
servants, and no less unendurable mistresses--what place will be left for
them as civilisation advances?

We have assumed, in the past, that these things and the likes of these are
modifiable by nurture, and that where they cannot be cured they must be
endured. But with the realisation that breeding can be, and eventually
must be, controlled by social opinion, a new horizon has opened to
civilisation, a new light has come into the world, the glimpse of a new
Heaven is revealed.

Animals living in nature are everywhere beautiful; it is only among men
that ugliness flourishes. Savages, nearly everywhere, are gracious and
harmonious; it is only among the civilised that harshness and discord are
permitted to prevail. Henry Ellis, in the narrative of his experiences in
Hudson's Bay in the eighteenth century, tells how a party of Eskimo--a
people peculiarly tender to their children--came to the English
settlement, told heart-brokenly of hardship and famine so severe that one
of the children had been eaten. The English only laughed and the indignant
Eskimo went on their way. What savages anywhere in the world would have
laughed? I recall seeing, years ago, a man enter a railway carriage, fling
aside the rug a traveller had deposited to retain a corner seat and
obstinately hold that seat. Would such a man be permitted to live among
savages? If the eugenic ideals that are now floating before men's eyes
never lead us to any Heaven at all, but merely discourage among us the
generation of human creatures below the level of decent savagery, they
will serve their turn.

_September_ 7.--The music of Cesar Franck always brings before me a man
who is seeking peace with himself and consolation with God, at a height,
above the crowd, in isolation, as it were in the uppermost turret of a
church tower. It recalls the memory of the unforgettable evening when
Denyn played on the carillon at Malines, and from the canal side I looked
up at the little red casement high in the huge Cathedral tower where the
great player seemed to be breathing out his soul, in solitude, among the
stars. Always when I hear the music of Franck--a Fleming, also, it may
well be by no accident--I seem to be in contact with a sensitive and
solitary spirit, absorbed in self-communion, weaving the web of its own
Heaven and achieving the fulfilment of its own rapture.

In this symphonic poem, "Les Djinns," the attitude more tenderly revealed
in the "Variations Symphoniques," and, above all, the sonata in A Major,
is dramatically represented. The solitary dreamer in his tower is
surrounded and assailed by evil spirits, we hear the beating of their
great wings as they troop past, but the dreamer is strong and undismayed,
and in the end he is left in peace, alone.

_September 10_.--It was an overture by Elgar, and the full solemn sonorous
music had drawn to its properly majestic close. Beside me sat an artist
friend who is a lover of music, and regularly attends these Promenade
Concerts. He removed the cigarette from his lips and chuckled softly to
himself for some moments. Then he replaced the cigarette and joined in the
tempestuous and prolonged applause. I looked at him inquiringly. "It is a
sort of variation of the theme," he said, "that he sometimes calls the
Cosmic Angels Working Together or the Soul of Man Striving with the Divine
Essence." I glanced at the programme again. The title was "Cockaigne."

_September_ 17.--It has often seemed to me that the bearing of musical
conductors is significant for the study of national characteristics, and
especially for the difference between the English and the Continental
neuro-psychic systems. One always feels inhibition and suppression (such
as a Freudian has found characteristic of the English) in the movements of
the English conductor, some psychic element holding the nervous play in
check, and producing a stiff wooden embarrassed rigidity or an
ostentatiously languid and careless indifference. At the extreme remove
from this is Birnbaum, that gigantic and feverishly active spider, whose
bent body seems to crouch over the whole orchestra, his magically
elongated arms to stretch out so far that his wand touches the big drum.
But even the quietest of these foreign conductors, Nikisch, for example,
gives no impression of psychic inhibition, but rather of that refined and
deliberate economy of means which marks the accomplished artist. Among
English conductors one may regard Wood (_lucus a non lucendo!_) as an
exception. Most of the rest--I speak of those of the old school, since
those of the new school can sometimes be volatile and feverish
enough--seem to be saying all the time: "I am in an awkward and
embarrassing position, though I shall muddle through successfully. The
fact is I am rather out of my element here. I am really a Gentleman."

_October_ 2.--Whenever I come down to Cornwall I realise the curious
contradiction which lies in this region as at once a Land of Granite and a
Land of Mist. On the one hand archaic rocks, primitive, mighty,
unchanging, deep-rooted in the bases of the world. On the other hand,
iridescent vapour, for ever changing, one moment covering the land with
radiant colour, another enveloping it in a pall of gloom.

I can also see two contradictory types of people among the inhabitants of
this land. On the one hand, a people of massive and solid build, a
slow-moving people of firm, primitive nature, that for all their calm
stolidity may give out a fiery ring if struck, and will fearlessly follow
the lure of Adventure or of Right. On the other hand, a race of soft and
flexible build, of shifting and elusive mind, alert to speak and slow to
act, of rainbow temperament, fascinating and uncertain. Other types there
may be, but certainly these two, whatever their racial origin, Children of
the Granite and Children of the Mist. _October_ 3.--It has often
interested me to observe how a nation of ancient civilisation differs from
a nation of new civilisation by what may be called the ennoblement of its
lower classes. Among new peoples the lower classes--whatever fine
qualities they may possess--are still barbarians, if not savages. Plebeian
is written all over them, in their vulgar roughly-moulded faces, in their
awkward movements, in their manners, in their servility or in their
insolence. But among the peoples of age-long culture, that culture has had
time to enter the blood of even the lowest social classes, so that the
very beggars may sometimes be fine gentlemen. The features become firmly
or delicately moulded, the movements graceful, the manners as gracious;
there is an instinctive courtesy and ease, as of equal to equal, even when
addressing a social superior. One has only to think of the contrast
between Poland and Russia, between Spain and Germany.

I am frequently reminded of that difference here in Cornwall. Anywhere in
Cornwall you may see a carter, a miner, a fisherman, a bricklayer, who
with the high distinction of his finely cast face, the mingling in his
manner of easy nonchalance and old-world courtesy, seems only to need a
visit to the tailor to add dignity to a Pall Mall club. No doubt England
is not a new country, and the English lower social classes have become in
a definite degree more aristocratic than those of Russia or even Germany.
But the forefathers of the Cornish were civilised when we English were a
horde of savages. One may still find humble families with ancient surnames
living in the same spot as lived, we find, if we consult the Heralds'
Visitations, armigerous families of the same name in the sixteenth
century, already ancient, and perhaps bearing, it is curious to note, the
same Christian names as the family which has forgotten them bears to-day.

So it is that in that innate ennoblement which implies no superiority
either of the intellect or of the heart, but merely a greater refinement
of the nervous tissue, the Cornish have displayed, from the earliest
period we can discern, a slight superiority over us English. Drake, a man
of this district if not a Cornish-man, when sailing on his daring
buccaneering adventures, dined and supped to the music of violins, a
refinement which even his Pole-hunting successors of our own day scarcely
achieved. Raleigh, partly a Cornishman, still retains popular fame as the
man who flung his rich cloak in the mud for the Queen to step on. To-day a
poet of Cornish race when introduced in public to Sarah Bernhardt, the
goddess of his youthful adoration, at once kissed her hand and declared to
her that that was the moment he had all his life been looking for. But we
English are not descended from the men who wrote the _Mabinogian_; our
hearts and souls are expressed in _Beowulf_ and _Havelok_, and more
remotely in the _Chanson de Roland_. We could not imitate the Cornish if
we would; and sometimes, perhaps, we would not if we could.

_October_ 4.--I lay with a book on the rocks, overlooking a familiar
scene, the great expanse of the sands at low tide. In the far distance
near the river was a dim feminine figure in a long coat, accompanied by
three dogs. Half an hour later, when I glanced up from my book, I chanced
to notice that the slender feminine figure was marching down to the sea,
leaving a little pile of garments on the middle of the sands, just now
completely deserted. The slender figure leisurely and joyously disported
itself in the water. Then at length it returned to the little pile,
negligently guarded by the dogs, there was a faint radiance of flesh, a
white towel flashed swiftly to and fro for a few moments. Then with
amazing celerity the figure had resumed its original appearance, and,
decorously proceeding shorewards, disappeared among the sand dunes on the
way to its unknown home.

In an age when savagery has passed and civilisation has not arrived, it is
only by stealth, at rare moments, that the human form may emerge from the
prison house of its garments, it is only from afar that the radiance of
its beauty--if beauty is still left to it--may faintly flash before us.

Among pseudo-Christian barbarians, as Heine described them, the Olympian
deities still wander homelessly, scarce emerging from beneath obscure
disguises, and half ashamed of their own divinity.

_October_ 5.--I made again to-day an observation concerning a curious
habit of birds and small mammals which I first made many years ago and
have frequently confirmed. If when I am walking along near banks and
hedges, absorbed in my own thoughts, and chance suddenly to stand still,
any wild creature in covert near the spot will at once scuttle hastily and
noisily away: the creature which had awaited the approaching tramp in
quiet confidence that the moment of danger would soon be overpast if only
he kept quiet and concealed, is overcome by so sudden a panic of terror at
the arrest of movement in his neighbourhood that he betrays his own
presence in the impulse to escape. The silence which one might imagine to
be reassuring to the nervous animal is precisely the cause of his terror.
It is a useful adaptation to the ways of the great enemy Man, whether it
is an adaptation resulting from individual experience or acquired by
natural selection. From the stand-point of wild animality it is the
Silence of Man that is ominous.

_October_ 11.--When I come, as now, from Cornwall to West Suffolk, I feel
that I have left behind a magic land of sea and sky and exquisite
atmosphere. But I have entered a land of humanity, and a land whose
humanity--it may be in part from ancestral reasons--I find peculiarly
congenial. Humanity is not the chief part of the charm of Cornwall, though
sometimes it may seem the very efflorescence of the land. It often seems
almost a parasite there. It cannot mould the barren and stubborn soil to
any ideal human shapes, or develop upon it any rich harmonious human life,
such as I inhale always, with immense satisfaction, in this reposeful and
beautifully wrought land of Suffolk.

On this evening of my arrival in the charming old town by the quiet river,
how delicious--with remembrance still fresh of the square heavy little
granite boxes in which the Cornish live--to find once more these ancient,
half-timbered houses reminiscent of the Norman houses, but lighter and
more various, wrought with an art at once so admirable and so homely, with
such delicate detail, the lovely little old windows with the soft light
shining through to reveal their pattern.

The musically voiced bells sound the hour from the great church, rich in
beauty and tradition, and we walk across the market-place, this side the
castle hill--the hill which held for six hundred years the precious
jewelled crucifix, with the splinter of the "True Cross" in its secret
recess, a careless English queen once lost from her neck--towards our
quiet inn, a real museum of interesting things fittingly housed, for
supper of Suffolk ham and country ale, and then to bed, before the long
walk of the morrow.

_October_ 14.--The Raphaels and the Peruginos are now ranged side by side
along a great wall of the National Gallery. I am able more clearly than
ever to realise how much more the early master appeals to me than his
greater pupil. I well remember how, as a boy of fifteen, in the old
National Gallery, I would linger long before Raphael's "St. Catherine."
There was no picture in the whole gallery that appealed to my youthful
brain as that picture appealed, with its seductive blend of feminine grace
and heavenly aspiration. But a little later the glory of Rubens suddenly
broke on my vision. I could never look again with the same eyes on
Raphael. By an intellectual effort I can appreciate the gracious plenitude
of his accomplishment, his copious facility, his immense variety, the
beauty of his draughtsmanship, and the felicity of his decorative design.
But all this self-conscious skill, this ingenious affectation, this
ostentatious muscularity, this immense superficiality--I feel always now a
spiritual vacuity behind it which leaves me cold and critical. Every
famous achievement of Raphael's, when I come upon it for the first time,
repels me with a fresh shock of disillusionment. I am unpleasantly
reminded of Andrea del Sarto and even of lesser men; I see the frescoes of
Vasari in the distance. It is all the work of a divinely gifted youth who
swiftly ran to waste, carrying with him all the art of his day and land to
the same fatal abyss.

But the art of Perugino is still solid and beautiful, immutably serene. It
radiates peace and strength. I neither criticise nor admire; my attitude
is much more nearly that of worship, not of Perugino's images, but of a
far-away ineffable mystery, which he in his time humbly sought to make a
little more symbolically visible to men than any that came before him. For
here we are in the presence of a great tradition which a long series of
artists have in succession wrought, each adding a little that expressed
the noblest insight of his own soul at its highest and best moments, and
the newest acquirement of his technical skill. Raphael broke up painting,
as later on Beethoven broke up music. Not that that blow destroyed the
possibility of rare and wonderful developments in special directions. But
painting and music alike lost for ever the radiant beauty of their prime
and its unconscious serenity.

In a certain sense, if one thinks, it is the ripeness of Raphael's
perfection which falls short of Perfection. In all Perfection that
satisfies we demand the possibility of a Beyond which enfolds a further
Perfection. It is not the fully blown rose which entrances us, but rather
that which in its half-blown loveliness suggests a Perfection which no
full-blown rose ever reached. In that the rose is the symbol of all
vitally beautiful things. Raphael is the full-blown rose; the only Beyond
is Dissolution and the straggling of faded petals.

_October_ 17.--"War, that simple-looking word which lightly comes tripping
from the lips of unthinking men, and even women." So writes a famous
war-correspondent, a man in the midst of war and telling of war as it
really is. Now hear a woman war-correspondent, writing about this same
war: "I was so proud to see the first gun fired on Wednesday. ... I liked
to hear the shells swishing. ... To women keen on this war it seems almost
too good to be true." That is not an extract from one of the poignant
satires of Janson. This woman, who writes of war as a girl might write of
her first long frock, is an actual woman, a war-correspondent, with a
special permit to be at the front. We are told, moreover, that she is, at
the same time, actively nursing the wounded in the hospital.

To those psychologists who like large generalisations, how this figure
must appeal as a type of the ancient conventional conception of what women
are supposed to be--Incarnate Devils, Angels of Mercy, blended together.

_October_ 18.--Stanley Hall has lately pointed out how much we have lost
by eliminating the Devil from our theology. He is the inseparable
Companion of God, and when faith in the Devil grows dim God fades away.
Not only has the Devil been the Guardian of innocent pleasure, of the
theatre, of dancing, of sports, Hall observes, but he preserved the
virility of God. "Ought not we to rehabilitate and reinstall the Devil?"

There is much psychological truth in this contention, even for those who
are not concerned, with Stanley Hall, for the maintenance of orthodox
Christian theology. By eliminating one of the Great Persons from our
theology we not only emasculate, we dissolve it. We cannot with impunity
pick and choose what we will dispense with and what we will preserve in
our traditional myths. Let us take another sacred myth, as it may well
have been, "Jack and the Bean Stalk." Suppose that our refined civilised
impulses lead us to reject Jack, the reckless, mischievous, and
irresponsible youth, who, after a brief but discreditable career on earth,
climbed up into the clouds and fraudulently deprived the Great Giant in
the sky of his most precious possessions. But if the revolted moral sense
rejects Jack, is it likely that even the Great Giant himself will much
longer retain our faith?

In any case it must still be said that mere grandeur, creativeness, the
apotheosis of virtue and benevolence, fail to constitute an adequate
theological symbol for the complex human animal. Man needs to deify not
only his moments of moral subjection and rectitude, but his moments of
orgy and revolt. He has attained the height of civilisation, not along the
one line only, but along both lines, and we cannot even be sure that the
virtue line is the most important. Even the Puritan Milton ("a true poet
and of the Devil's party without knowing it," as Blake said) made Satan
the real hero of his theological epic, while the austere Carducci
addressed a famous ode to Satan as the creator of human civilisation. And
if you suspect that European culture may be only an eccentric aberration,
then let us wander to the other side of the world, and we find, for
instance, that the great Hawaiian goddess Kapo had a double life--now an
angel of grace and beauty, now a demon of darkness and lust. Every
profound vision of the world must recognise these two equally essential
aspects of Nature and of Man; every vital religion must embody both
aspects in superb and ennobling symbols. A religion can no more afford to
degrade its Devil than to degrade its God.

That is the error Christianity fell into at last. There can be no doubt
that the Christian Devil had grown quite impossible, and his disappearance
was imperative. Neither Milton nor Carducci could keep him alive. His
palmy days were in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries,
before the Renaissance had grown powerful enough to influence European
life. Even during those palmy days he exercised a power that for the most
part was not virile, but crushing and inhuman. It has been set forth in
Dr. Paul Carus's _History of the Devil_. In the light of such a history as
that I doubt much whether even Professor Stanley Hall himself would lift a
finger to bring the Devil back among us again.

_October_ 22.--Gaby Deslys is just now a great attraction at the Palace
Theatre. One is amused to note how this very Parisian person and her very
Parisian performance are with infinite care adapted to English needs, and
attuned to this comfortably respectable, not to say stolidly luxurious,
house. We are shown a bedroom with a bed in it, and a little dressing-room
by the side. Her task is to undress and go to bed. It is the sort of scene
that may be seen anywhere in any music-hall all over Europe. But in the
capital city of British propriety, and in a music-hall patronised by
Royalty, this delicate task is surrounded and safeguarded by infinite
precautions. One seems to detect that the scene has been rehearsed before
a committee of ambiguously mixed composition. One sees the care with which
they determined the precise moment at which the electric light should be
switched off in the dressing-room; one realises their firm decision that
the lady must, after all, go to bed fully clothed. One is conscious
throughout of a careful anxiety that every avenue to "suggestiveness"
shall be just hinted and at once decently veiled. There is something
unpleasant, painful, degrading in this ingenious mingling of prurience and
prudery. The spectators, if they think of it at all, must realise that
throughout the whole trivial performance their emotions are being basely
played upon, and yet that they are being treated with an insulting
precaution which would be more in place in a lunatic asylum than in a
gathering of presumably responsible men and women. In the end one is made
to feel how far more purifying and ennobling than this is the spectacle of
absolute nakedness, even on the stage, yes, even on the stage.

And my thoughts go back to the day, less than two years ago, when for the
first time this was clearly brought home to me by a performance--like this
and yet so unlike--in a very different place, the simple, bare, almost
sordid Teatro Gayarre. Most of the turns were of the same ordinary sort
that might be seen in many another music-hall of the long Calle Marques
del Duero. But at the end came on a performer who was, I soon found, of
altogether another order. The famous Bianca Stella, as the programme
announced, shortly to start on her South American tour, was appearing for
a limited number of nights. I had never heard of Bianca Stella. She might,
to look at, be Austrian, and one could imagine, from some of her methods,
that she was a pupil of Isadora Duncan. She was certainly a highly trained
and accomplished artist; though peculiarly fitted for her part by Nature,
still an artist, not a child of Nature.

Of fine and high type, tall and rather slim, attractive in face, almost
faultless in proportion and detail, playing her difficult part with
unfailing dignity and grace, Bianca Stella might in general type be a
Bohemian out of Stratz's _Schoenheit des weiblichen Koerpers_, or even an
aristocratic young Englishwoman. She comes on fully dressed, like Gaby
Deslys, but with no such luxurious environment, and slowly disrobes,
dancing all the while, one delicate garment at a time, until only a gauzy
chemise is left and she flings herself on the bed. Then she rises, fastens
on a black mantle which floats behind concealing nothing, at the same
moment removing her chemise. There is now no concealment left save by a
little close-fitting triangular shield of spangled silver, as large as the
palm of her hand, fastened round her waist by an almost invisible cord,
and she dances again with her beautiful, dignified air. Once more, this
time in the afternoon, I went to see Bianca Stella dance. Now there was a
dark curtain as a background. She came on with a piece of simple white
drapery wound round her body; as she dances she unfolds it, holds it
behind her as she dances, finally flings it away, dancing with her
fleckless and delicately proportioned body before the dark curtain.
Throughout the dances her dignity and grace, untouched by voluptuous
appeal and yet always human, remained unfailing. Other dancers who came on
before her, clothed dancers, had been petulantly wanton to their hearts'
desire. Bianca Stella seemed to belong to another world. As she danced,
when I noted the spectators, I could see here and there a gleam in the
eyes of coarse faces, though there was no slightest movement or gesture or
look of the dancer to evoke it. For these men Bianca Stella had danced in
vain, for--it remains symbolically true--only the pure in heart can see
God. To see Bianca Stella truly was to realise that it is not desire but a
sacred awe which nakedness inspires, an intoxication of the spirit rather
than of the senses, no flame of lust but rather a purifying and exalting
fire. To feel otherwise has merely been the unhappy privilege of men
intoxicated by the stifling and unwholesome air of modern artificiality.
To the natural man, always and everywhere, even to-day, nakedness has in
it a power of divine terror, which ancient men throughout the world
crystallised into beautiful rites, so that when a woman unveiled herself
it seemed to them that thunderstorms were silenced, and that noxious
animals were killed, and that vegetation flourished, and that all the
powers of evil were put to flight. That was their feeling, and, absurd as
it may seem to us, a right and natural instinct lay beneath it. Some day,
perhaps, a new moral reformer, a great apostle of purity, will appear
among us, having his scourge in his hand, and enter our theatres and
music-halls to purge them. Since I have seen Bianca Stella I know
something of what he will do. It is not nakedness that he will cast out.
It will more likely be clothes.

So it is that when I contemplate Gaby Deslys or her sort, it is of Bianca
Stella that I think.

_November_ 1.--"The way to spiritual life," wrote George Meredith in one
of his recently published letters, "lies in the complete unfolding of the
creature, not in the nipping of his passions. ... To the flourishing of
the spirit, then, through the healthy exercise of the senses!"

Yes, all that is very good, I heartily subscribe. And yet, and yet, there
lingers a certain hesitation; one vaguely feels that, as a complete
statement of the matter, it hardly satisfies all the demands of to-day.
George Meredith belonged to the early Victorian period which had encased
its head in a huge bonnet and girdled its loins with a stiff crinoline.
His function was to react vitally to that state of things, and he
performed his function magnificently, evoking, of course, from the _Ordeal
of Richard Feverel_ onwards, a doubtless salutary amount of scandal and
amazement. The time demanded that its preachers should take their text
from the spiritually excessive Blake: "Damn braces, bless relaxes." On
that text, throughout his life, Meredith heroically and eloquently

But nowadays that seems a long time ago. The great preacher of to-day
cannot react against the attraction to braces, for it no longer exists. We
are all quite ready to "damn braces." The moralist, therefore, may now
legitimately hold the balance fair and firm, without giving it a little
pressure in one direction for wholesome ends of admonition.

When we so look at the matter we have to realise that, biologically and
morally alike, healthy restraint is needed for "the flourishing of the
spirit" quite as much as healthy exercise; that bracing as well as
relaxing is part of the soul's hygiene; that the directive force of a fine
asceticism, exerted towards positive and not towards negative ends, is an
essential part of life itself.

You might say that a fountain that leaps largely and exquisitely up
towards the sky only needs freedom and space. But no, it also needs
compression and force, a mighty restrained energy at its roots, of which
it is the gay and capricious flower. That, you may say, is not really a
vital thing. But take a real flower, the same mechanism is still at work.
The flexible convolvulus that must cling to any support from which to
expand its delicate bells needs not only freedom to expand but much more
the marvellous energy that was wound up and confined, like a spring, in
the seed. It will find its own freedom, but it will not find its own

Therefore let us hold the moral balance fair and firm. The utmost freedom,
the utmost restraint, we need them both. They are two aspects of the same
thing. We cannot have freedom in any triumphant degree unless we have
restraint. The main point is, that we should not fossilise either our
freedoms or our restraints. Every individual needs--harmoniously with the
needs of other individuals--the freedoms and restraints his own nature
demands. Every age needs new freedoms and new restraints. In the making of
New Freedoms and New Restraints lies the rhythm of Life.

_November_ 11.--The psychology of the crowd is interesting, even when it
is an educated and well-fed crowd. I take up the newspaper and see the
announcement of a "momentous" declaration by the Premier at a Lord Mayor's
banquet at the Guildhall. I have the curiosity to read, and I find it to
be that the "victors are not to be robbed of the fruits which have cost
them so dear." This declaration was followed by "loud and prolonged
cheers," as evidently the speaker, being a sagacious lawyer, knew it would
be when he chose to put his declaration into this cynical shape, as an
appeal to mob feeling, rather than in the form of a statement concerning
the rights of the case, whatever the rights may be. Yet not one of those
rapturous applauders would for a moment have tolerated that doctrine if it
had been proposed to apply it to his own possessions. As a mob they
applaud what as individuals they would disclaim with such moral energy as
they might be capable of. The spectacle of the big robber is always
impressive, and the most respectable of mobs is carried away by it. "Who
was ever a pirate for millions?" as Raleigh protested to Bacon.

If we imagine the "victors" in this case to have been on a rather smaller
scale the enthusiasm of the Guildhall mob would have been considerably
damped. Let us imagine they were a band of burglars who had broken in the
night before and carried off the materials for the forthcoming banquet,
leaving one of the band behind dead and two wounded. When the guests
seated at the bare board heard the emphatic declaration that the victors
are not to be robbed of "the fruits which have cost them so dear," would
they have raised quite such "loud and prolonged cheers"?

_November_ 12.--The Divine Ironist who surely rules the world seldom
leaves Himself without witness. On Lord Mayor's Day this witness appeared
in the form of an ignorant ruffian. Within a few yards of the Mansion
House, within a few hours of that "momentous declaration" which followed
the turtle soup, in Liverpool Street--a street crowded not with ruffians
but with business people and bankers' clerks, all the people who carry on
the daily routine of civilisation--a man of the people smashed a
jeweller's window and flung the jewelry into the street, shouting "Help
yourselves." And they helped themselves. In a brief terrific scramble
several hundred pounds' worth of jewelry was seized. Two men only of this
respectable crowd brought what they had secured into the shop; the rest
decamped with the booty. They had scarcely had time to read the "momentous
declaration." But they agreed with it. They were not to be "robbed of the
fruits which had cost them so dear."

Clearly, again, the Premier had rightly gauged the moral capacities of the
mob. We sometimes think that the fundamental instincts of the crowd are,
after all, sound; leave them to themselves and they will do the right
thing. But, on the other hand, those who despise and contemn the mob will
always have a sadly large amount of evidence to support their case, even
in the most "respectable" centres of civilisation.

_November_ 20.--The Archbishop of Canterbury, I understand, has publicly
expressed his approval of the application of the lash to those persons who
are engaged in the so-called "White Slave Traffic." There is always a
certain sociological interest in the public utterances of an Archbishop of
Canterbury. He is a great State official who automatically registers the
level of the public opinion of the respectable classes. The futility for
deterrence or reform of the lash or other physical torture as applied to
adults has long been a commonplace of historical criminology, and Collas,
the standard historian of flagellation, pointing out that the lash can at
best only breed the virtues of slavery, declares that "the history of
flagellation is that of a moral bankruptcy." Moreover, criminals who are
engaged in low-grade commercial affairs, with the large lure that makes
them worth while, can usually arrange that the lash should fall on a
subordinate's shoulders. It has been ascertained that the "capitalised
value" of the average prostitute is nearly four times as great as that of
the average respectable working-girl; how many lashes will alter that? But
the sadistic impulse, in all its various degrees, is independent of facts.
Of late it appears to have been rising. Now it has reached that percentage
of the respectable population which automatically puts the archiepiscopal
apparatus in motion. For an Archbishop of Canterbury has a public function
to perform (has not Sydney Smith described a "foolometer"?) altogether
independent of such reasonable and human functions as he may privately

Is this love of torture, by the way, possibly one of the fruits of Empire?
We see it in the Roman Empire, too, and how vigorously it was applied to
Christians and other criminals. _Christianos ad leones!_ But it was a
disastrously unsuccessful policy--or we should not have an Archbishop of
Canterbury with us now.

No disrespect for Archbishops of Canterbury is involved in this
recognition of their public function, and I have no wish to be (as Laud
wrote of one of my ancestors) "a very troublesome man" to archbishops.
They act automatically for the measurement of society, merely in the same
sense as an individual is automatically acting for the measurement of
himself when he states how profoundly he admires Mendelssohn or R. L.
Stevenson. He thereby registers the particular degree of his own spiritual
state. And when an Archbishop of Canterbury, with all that sensitiveness
to the atmosphere which his supreme office involves, publicly Professes an
Opinion, he is necessarily registering a particular degree in the
Spiritual State of Society. It is an important function which was never
vouchsafed to his Master.

One wonders how many centuries it is since an Archbishop of Canterbury was
known to express any public opinion on non-ecclesiastical affairs which
was not that of the great majority of Respectable People. Of course in
ecclesiastical matters, and in political matters which are ecclesiastical,
he is professionally bound, and Beckett and Sudbury and Laud--though one
was a victim to the hostility of a King, another to the hostility of the
lower class, and the third to the middle class--were all faithful to the
death to their profession and their class, as an Archbishop is bound to be
even when his profession and his class are in a minority; I speak of the
things to which he is not so bound. I have no doubt that at some recent
period an Archbishop has archiepiscopally blessed the Temperance Movement.
He is opposed to drunkenness, because we all are, even Licensed
Victuallers, and because drunkenness is fast dying out. But imagine an
Archbishop of Canterbury preaching Temperance in the eighteenth century
when nearly every one was liable to be drunk! He would have been mistaken
for a Methodist. I must confess it would be to me a great satisfaction to
find an Archbishop of Canterbury earnestly pleading in the House of Lords
in favour of gambling, or the unrestricted opening of public-houses on
Sunday, or some relaxation in the prosecution of pornographic literature.
Not by any means that I should agree with his point of view. But the
spectacle offered of a morally courageous and intellectually independent
Archbishop of Canterbury would be so stimulating, the presence of a Live
Person at the head of the Church instead of a glorified Penny-in-the-Slot
Machine would be so far-reaching in its results, that all questions of
agreement and disagreement would sink into insignificance.

_December_ 5.--I think we under-estimate our ancestors' regard for ease.
Whenever I have occasion to go to my "Jacobean" chest of drawers (chests
of this type are said really to belong to the end of the seventeenth
century) the softness and ease with which the drawers run always gives me
a slight thrill of pleasure. They run on grooves along the side of each
drawer, so that they can never catch, and when one examines them one finds
that grease, now black with age, had been applied to the grooves. (In
chests which have passed through the dealers' hands it is not usually easy
to find traces of this grease.) The chests of modified "Jacobean"
type--belonging, one may suppose, to the early eighteenth century--still
show these grooves for the drawers to run on. And then, as the eighteenth
century advances, they are no longer found. But that by no means meant
that the eighteenth-century craftsman had resolved to be content with such
articles of furniture as millions of our patient contemporaries tug and
push and more or less mildly curse at. No, the eighteenth-century
craftsman said to himself: I have gone beyond those "Jacobean" fellows; I
can make drawers so accurately, so exquisitely fitted, that they no longer
need grooves, and move as well as though they had them. And he was
justified. A beautiful eighteenth-century chest of drawers really is
almost as easy to manipulate as my "Jacobean" chest. One realises that the
device of grooves, ingenious and successful as it was, rested on an
imperfection; it was evidently an effort to overcome the crude and heavy
work of earlier imperfect craftsmen.

There is evolution in the vital progress of furniture as in all other
vital progress. The Jacobean chest with its oak substance and its panels
and its great depth is apparently massive; this is an inherited ancestral
trait due to the fact that it developed out of the earlier coffers that
really were massive; in reality it is rather light. The later modified
Jacobean chest shows only an attenuated appearance of massiveness, and the
loss is real, for there are no fresh compensating qualities. But the
developed eighteenth-century walnut chest is the unmistakable expression
of a new feeling in civilisation, a new feeling of delicacy and
refinement, a lovely superficiality such as civilisation demands, alike in
furniture and in social intercourse. There is not even the appearance of
massiveness now; the panels have gone and the depth has been notably
reduced. The final goal of development was reached, and nothing was left
to the nineteenth century but degeneration.

An interesting evolution in details is instructive to note. In the
Jacobean chest, while the drooping loops of the handles are small and
simple, the keyholes are elaborately adorned with beautiful brass
scroll-work, the hereditary vestige of mediaeval days when the chest was a
coffer, and the key, insistently demanded for security, was far more
important than handles, which then indeed had no existence. In the
unsatisfactory transitional stage of the later Jacobean chest the keyhole
is less beautifully adorned, but the handles remain of similar type. Here,
again, the eighteenth-century craftsman shows the fine artist he was. He
instinctively felt that the handles must be developed, for not only were
they more functionally important than the lock had become, but in
dispensing with the grooves for the drawers to run on he had made
necessary a somewhat firmer grip. So he made his handles more solid and
fastened them in with beautifully-cut fingers of brass. Then he realised
that the keyhole with all its fine possibilities must be sacrificed
because it clashed with his handles and produced a distracting confusion.
He contented himself with a simple narrow rim of brass for his keyholes,
and the effect is perfectly right.

Furniture is the natural expression of the civilisation producing it. I
sometimes think that there is even an intimate relation between the
furniture of an epoch and its other art forms, even its literary style.
The people who delighted in Cowley used these Jacobean chests, and in his
style there is precisely the same blending of the seemingly massive and
the really light, a blending perhaps more incongruous in poetry than in
furniture. And the eighteenth-century chests were made for people who had
been penetrated by the spirit of the _Spectator_; their craftsmen put into
furniture precisely that exquisite superficiality, that social amenity,
that fine conventionism which Addison and Steele put into their essays. I
find it hard not to believe that delicate feminine hands once stored away
the _Spectator_ in these drawers, and sometimes think I have seen those
hands on the canvases of Gainsborough and Romney.

_December_ 7.--One is perhaps too easily disquieted by the incompetence
and disaster of our typically modern things. Rotten aeroplanes for fools
to ride to destruction, motorcars for drunkards and imbeciles to use as
the ancient war-chariots were used, telephones and a thousand other
devices which are always out of order--our civilisation after all is not
made up of these. I take up _Le Rire_ and I gaze at its coloured pictures
again and again. One realises that these are the things that people will
turn to when they think of the twentieth century. Our aeroplanes and our
motor-cars and our telephones will no doubt be carefully displayed in a
neglected cellar of their museums. But here are things they will cherish
and admire, and as one gazes at them one grows more at peace with one's
own time.

It is easy to detect the influence of Rowlandson and of Hiroshige and the
other Japanese designers in the methods of these French artists of to-day,
and there could be no better influences. Rowlandson's _Dr. Syntax_ was the
delight of my childhood, and is equally a solace to-day when I am better
able to understand what that great artist accomplished; Hiroshige's daring
and lovely visions of some remote Japanese fairyland are always consoling
to take out and gaze at when one is weary or depressed or disgusted. There
could be no better influences.

But while it is not difficult to detect such influences in _Le Hire's_
best artists at their best moments,--not so very often attained,--they are
yet always themselves and true to their own spirit and vision, or they
would have no message to deliver. These pictures have their supreme value
because, whether or not they are a true picture of French life, they are a
true presentation of the essential French spirit, so recklessly gay and so
daringly poignant, so happily exquisite in its methods, and so
relentlessly direct in its moral. For some people, who take what they are
able to receive, the French spirit seems trivial and superficial, merely
wanton and gay, chiefly characterised by that Lubricity which worried the
pedagogic Matthew Arnold. The French spirit is more specifically
distinguished by its profundity and its seriousness. Without profundity
and seriousness, indeed, gaiety and wantonness have no significance. If
the Seven Sins had not been Deadly, the Christian Church could never have
clothed them in garments of tragic dignity. Unless you cut deep into life,
wantonness and gaiety lose their savour and are not fit for the ends of
art. The French spirit is not only embodied in Rabelais and Montaigne and
Moliere--if these are your superficial men!--but also in Pascal. Was there
so great a gulf between Pascal and Daumier? And I find not only the spirit
of Pascal in some of these pictures in _Le Rire_, but sometimes even his
very phrases used as the titles of them.

_December_ 9.--The Australians, it appears, have been much worried over
Chidley. Here was a man who would not fit into their conventional moulds.
He was stern, resolute, inflexible, convinced that he carried a Gospel
which Australia and the world at large needed. It was a Gospel so
eccentrically related to the accepted scheme of things that only he
himself could accept it in its entirety. His method of preaching this
gospel, moreover, was as eccentric as the gospel itself. It seemed to him
that men need to live closer to Nature, that a simpler diet is necessary
to salvation, and less clothing, and greater sexual continence. He
approved his gospel by being a model of physical muscular fitness. As I
have sometimes seen a Rifian from the hills, with bare magnificent limbs,
striding down from the heights carolling a song, to enter the
bastardly-civilised city of Tangier, so, it would seem, Chidley descended
on to the city of Sydney. Having written a book in which to contain the
pith of his message, he proceeded to clothe himself in a sort of scanty
bathing dress, to lecture the public in the most fashionable streets of
the city, and to sell his book to those who might desire it.

Three centuries ago a man of the same type as Chidley, the eminent Quaker,
Solomon Eccles, who had his gospel too, would now and then come to
Westminster Hall, "very civilly tied about the privities to avoid scandal"
(as Pepys, a great stickler for propriety, noted with satisfaction), to
call to repentance the wicked generation of Charles II.'s day. But the
people of that day were not altogether without wisdom. They let the
strenuous Quaker alone. He was doubtless the better, and they were none
the worse.

Nowadays, it seems, we need more than a loincloth to protect our
hyperaesthetic eyes from the Splendour of Nature. The Australians,
afflicted by our modern nervous fussiness, could not leave Chidley alone.
The police moved him on, worried him as well as they could, invented
reasons for locking him up now and then, and finally, by what seemed a
masterstroke, they persuaded the doctors to shut him up in the Asylum.
That, however, proved to be too much for Australian popular opinion. The
voice of the people began to be heard in the press; there were long
debates in Parliament; the Premier sent to the Asylum to inquire on what
grounds Chidley had been placed there, and the doctors, who really had no
evil intent in the matter, though their mental equilibrium had been
momentarily disturbed by this unique Chidley, honourably opened the Asylum
doors, and Chidley has returned to preach the Gospel in George Street
until new reasons can be puzzled out for harassing him, neurotic, without
doubt, but now hall-marked sane.

Like the Athenians of old, the Australians are not averse to hearing some
new thing, and they have bought Chidley's book by the thousand. But the
Athenians, notwithstanding their love of novelty, offered the cup of
hemlock to Socrates. Chidley, if not exactly the Australian Socrates,
clearly resembles his disciples, those great Cynics who in the Greek
market-places were wont to preach and to practise a philosophy of stern
simplicity, often akin to his own. The Athenians killed Socrates, but they
produced a Plato to idealise and even to immortalise him. The Australians
have drawn the line at killing Chidley. So he still awaits his Plato.

_December_ 15.--Like a Gargantuan _casserole_ outside, but modelled on a
kettle inside, the Albert Hall, more or less filled with people, is often
to me a delightful spectacle. It is so at this Sunday afternoon concert,
when the lights are blended, and the bottom of the kettle is thickspread
with humanity, and sprinkled with splashes of dusky crimson or purple on
women's hats, while the sides are more slightly spread with the same
humanity up to the galleries. The spectacle so fascinates me sometimes
that I cannot listen to the music. At such moments the Albert Hall faintly
recalls a miniature Spanish bull-ring. It is a far-off resemblance, even
farther than the resemblance of St. Paul's Cathedral, with its enclosed
dome and its worrying detail, to the simple and superb strength of the
Pantheon, which lives in memory through the years as a great consoling
Presence, but it often comes to me and brings with it an inspiring sense
of dignity and colour and light before which the actual spectacle grows

_January_ 3, 1913.--I chanced to walk along the village street behind two
little girls of the people, evidently sisters, with ribbons round their
uncovered heads, filleting the hair which fell in careless ringlets on
their backs. It was hair of the bright flaxen sort, which the poets have
conventionally called "golden," the hair one sees so often on the angels
of the Italian primitive painters--though not so often on living Italians.
It is the hair which always seems to me more beautiful than any other, and
I felt as if I wanted to follow these plain commonplace children as the
rats followed the Pied Piper.

The vision brought to my mind the fact I have so often had occasion to
realise, that aesthetic attraction has nothing to do with erotic
attraction, however at their origins, it may have been, the two
attractions were identical or sprang from the same source, and though they
have constantly reacted on, and sometimes deflected, each other.
Aesthetically this hair fascinates me; it is an exhilarating delight
whenever I meet it. But I have never felt any personal attraction in
association with this hair, or any great personal interest in the people
it belonged to.

What one aesthetically craves is the outcome of one set of influences, due
to one's special vision, one's traditions, one's training and environment,
influences that are no doubt mainly objective and impersonal, operative on
most of one's fellows. But what one personally craves is the outcome of
another set of influences, due to one's peculiar and instinctive organic
constitution; it is based on one's individual instinctive needs and may
not be precisely the same for any two persons.

The Aestheticians are not here indeed altogether in harmony. But it would
seem that, while the aesthetic and the sexual must frequently and
legitimately overlap, they are definitely separate, that it is possible to
distinguish the aesthetically-from the sexually-attractive in different
persons and even in different features of the same person, that while it
is frequently natural and right to love a "beautiful" woman, to love a
woman because she is beautiful is as unreasonable as to fall in love with
a beautiful statue. The aesthetically-attractive and the
sexually-attractive tend to be held apart. They are two different
"substances," as the mediaeval metaphysician would have said. From the
standpoint of clear thinking, and also of social well-being, the confusion
of them is, in theological language, damnable. In so far as Beauty is a
personal lust it is unfit for wholesome social ends. Only in so far as it
is lifted above personal desire is it fitted to become a social

_January_ 10.--Yesterday I waited for a friend at a London Underground
railway station. She was delayed, and I stood for a quarter of an hour at
the bottom of a flight of steps, watching the continuous stream of
descending passengers, mostly women, and generally young. Some among the
less young were swollen, heavy, and awkward; most were slack, drooping,
limp, bony, or bent; a few were lithe and lissom; one or two had the
emotional vivacity and muscular tone of abounding vitality. Not one
plainly indicated that, stripped of her clothing, she would have
transformed those Underground steps into the Golden Stairway of Heaven.

"The average civilised woman sags." That is the conclusion lately reached
by Dickinson and Truslow after the examination of a very large number of
American women, and it is a conclusion which applies without doubt far
beyond the limits of the United States. Her breasts droop down, these
investigators assert, her buttocks sweep low, her abdomen protrudes. While
these defects are general, the modern woman has cultivated two extreme and
opposite defects of physical carriage which Dickinson and Truslow
picturesquely describe as the Kangaroo Type and the Gorilla Type. In the
kangaroo type of civilised woman the upper part of the trunk is carried
too much in front of the line of gravity, and the lower part too much
behind that line. In the gorilla type of woman, on the contrary, the upper
part of the body is carried too much behind the line of gravity, and the
lower part too much in front. So far Dickinson and Truslow.

If this were a purely aesthetic matter, though it would still have its
importance, it would only intrude to a slight degree into the moral and
social sphere. We should simply have to recognise that these defects of
the modern woman must be a frequent cause of depression to her more
intimate friends, and that that may have its consequences.

There is more in it than that. All such defects of tone and posture (as
indeed Dickinson and Truslow realise) have their inevitable reaction on
the nervous system: they produce a constant wearing stress, a perpetual
liability to pain. The women who have fallen into these habits are
inadequate to life, and their inadequacy is felt in all that they are and
in all that they attempt to do. Each of them is a stone flung into the
social pool to disperse around it an ever-widening circle of disturbance
and irritation.

It may be argued that one has seen women--working women especially--whose
breasts were firm bowls of beauty, whose buttocks were exquisitely curved,
whose bellies would have satisfied the inspired author of _The Song of
Songs_, and yet the women who owned such physical graces have not
conspicuously possessed the finer spiritual graces. But we do not enhance
one half of human perfection by belittling the other half. And we rarely
conceive of any high perfection on one side without some approach to it on
the other. Even Jesus--though the whole of his story demands that his
visage should be more marred than any man's--is always pictured as
beautiful. And do you suppose that the slave girl Blandina would have gone
into the arena at Lyons to present her white body as the immortal symbol
of the love of Jesus if her breasts had drooped down, and her buttocks
swept low, and her abdomen protruded? The human heart is more subtly
constructed. Those romantic Christian hagiologists saw to that. And--to
come nearer to the point--could her fine tension of soul have been built
up on a body as dissolute and weak as a candle in the sun?

We need to-day a great revival of the sense of responsibility, not only in
the soul but in the body. We want a new sort of _esprit de corps_. We need
it especially for women, for women, under modern conditions, even less
than men, have no use for sagging bodies or sagging souls. It is only by
the sanction of nakedness that this can be achieved. "Take this hint from
the dancer," a distinguished American dancer has said, "the fewer clothes
the better; woman is clumsy because she is overweighted with clothes."
With whatever terror we may view any general claim to the right of
nakedness, the mere liability to nakedness, the mere freedom to be naked,
at once introduces a new motive into life. It becomes a moralising force
of the most strenuous urgency. Clothes can no more be put before us as a
substitute for the person. The dressmaker can no longer arrogate the
functions of a Creator. The way is opened for the appearance in
civilisation of a real human race.

_January_ 11.--There seem to be two extreme and opposed styles of writing:
the liquid style that flows, and the bronze or marmoreal style that is
moulded or carved. Thus there is in English the style of Jeremy Taylor and
Newman and Ruskin, and there is the style of Bacon and Landor and Pater,
the lyrically-impetuous men and the artistically-deliberate men.

One may even say that a whole language may fall into one or the other of
these two groups, according to the temper of the people which created it.
There is the Greek tongue, for instance, and there is the Latin tongue.
Greek is the embodiment of the fluent speech that runs or soars, the
speech of a people which could not help giving winged feet to its god of
art. Latin is the embodiment of the weighty and concentrated speech which
is hammered and pressed and polished into the shape of its perfection, as
the ethically-minded Romans believed that the soul also should be wrought.
Virgil said that he licked his poems into shape as a she-bear licks her
cubs, and Horace, the other supreme literary artist of Rome, compared the
writing of poems to working in bronze. No Greek could have said these
things. Whether Plato or Aristophanes or even Thucydides, the Greek's feet
touched the earth, touched it lovingly, though it might only be with the
pressure of a toe, but there were always wings to his feet, he was always
the embodiment of all that he symbolised in Hermes. The speech of the
Greek flies, but the speech of the Roman sinks. The Roman's word in art,
as in life, was still _gravitas_, and he contrived to infuse a shade of
contempt into the word _levis_. With the inspired Greek we rise, with the
inspired Roman we sink. With the Greek poet, it may be any poet of the
Anthology, I am uplifted, I am touched by the breath of rapture. But if it
is a Latin poet--Lucretius or Catullus, the quintessential Latin poets--I
am hit by something pungent and poignant (they are really the same word,
one notes, and that a Latin word) which pierces the flesh and sinks into
the heart.

One resents the narrow and defective intelligence of the spirit embodied
in Latin, its indifference to Nature, its refusal to hallow the freedom
and beauty and gaiety of things, its ever-recurring foretaste of
Christianity. But one must not refuse to recognise the superb and eternal
morality of that spirit, whether in language or in life. It consecrates
struggle, the conquest of brute matter, the perpetual and patient effort
after perfection. So Rome is an everlasting challenge to the soul of Man,
and the very stones of its city the mightiest of inspirations.

_January_ 13.--An American physician, we are told, paid a visit to the
famous dog-kennels on the Vanderbilt estate. He was surprised at the
intelligence and gentleness of the animals. "Have you no vicious animals
at all?" he asked. And the keeper in surprise answered him: "Do you
suppose we would be so foolish as to permit vicious animals to breed?"

Human beings ought surely to be worth more to us than dogs. Yet here in
England-and I do not know in what "civilised" country any different order
prevails--we gather together all our physical and moral defectives, we
bring them into our Workhouses to have babies, under the superintendence
of Boards of Guardians, and every one knows that these babies are born in
the image of their parents, and will perpetuate the same cycle of misery.
Yet, so far as I know, not one of these "Guardians" ever so much as
attempts to make clear to those hapless mothers why and how they should
avoid having other children. And no one proposes to shut up as dangerous
lunatics these precious Guardians of Private Misery and Public Incapacity!

We look down with lofty moral superiority on our ancestors in these
islands who were accustomed to eat their fellow-creatures. We do not eat
them. We only torture them. That is what we call Progress. At all events
we are laying up a bountiful supply of moral superiority for our own
descendants. It is not probable that they will be able to read in their
newspaper (if newspaper they will still possess) as we can in ours: "At an
inquest at Dudley yesterday on a woman who was fatally scalded whilst in a
fit, it was stated that she had been an epileptic for years, and that her
seven children had all been epileptics, and all had died when young."

_January_ 14.--There are few things that make one so doubtful about the
civilising power of England as our indifference to the smoke problem in
London. If we were Neapolitan ragamuffins, who could lie in the sun with
bare limbs, sucking oranges, there would be nothing to say; under such
conditions indolence might be pardonable, almost justified. But we English
are feverishly active, we run over the whole world, and we utilise all
this energy to build up the biggest and busiest city in the world. Yet we
have never created an atmosphere for our great city. Mist is beautiful,
with its power of radiant transformation, and London could never, under
any circumstances, and need never, be absolutely without mist; it is part
of the physical genius of our land, and even perhaps of the spiritual
genius of our people. But the black fogs of London are mist soaked with
preventable coal smoke; their evils have been recognised from the first.
Evelyn protested against this "hellish and dismal cloud of sea-coal," and
Charles II. desired Evelyn to prepare a Bill on this nuisance to put
before Parliament. But there the matter rested. For three centuries we
have been in the position of the Russian gentleman who could not prevent
his dilapidated roof from letting in the rain; for, as he pointed out, in
wet weather it was quite impossible to effect any repairs, and in dry
weather there was really nothing to complain of. In the meanwhile this
"cloud of sea-coal" has continued to produce not only actual death and
injury in particular cases, but a general diminution of human vitality and
the wholesale destruction of plant life. It eats away our most beautiful
public buildings; it covers everything and everybody with soot; it is
responsible, directly and indirectly, for a financial loss so vast and
manifold as to be incalculable.

Yesterday Lord Curzon delivered an address at the Mansion House on the
Beautiful London of the Future. He dwelt eloquently on its noble buildings
and its long embankments, and its wide streets and its finely placed
statues. But of the smoke which nullifies and destroys all these things,
not a word! Yet, as he was speaking, outside the Mansion House the people
of London were almost feeling their way about, scarce knowing where they
were, timidly crawling across motor-infested roads with their hearts in
their mouths, all the time permanently ingraining their lungs with black
filth. An able man, Lord Curzon, skilful to gauge the British Idealist,
ever so absorbed in his own dream of comfort or of cash that he is even
blind to the world he lives in, "pinnacled dim in the intense inane" in
another sense than the poet intended.

If we were mediaeval monks, who spent our time chanting the rhyme of
Bernard of Morlaix, there might seem to be a reason in our madness. To
make a Hell of earth is doubtless a useful method of rendering more joyous
the transition to Heaven, and less overwhelming the transition to
Purgatory. Yet the mediaeval monks burnt no coal and were careful to live
in beautiful sites and fine air. The prospect of Purgatory made them
epicures in the fine things of Earth. Now we, apparently, care not a snap
for any Hereafter. It is therefore a curious psychological problem why we
should have chosen to take up our cross in this peculiarly repulsive
shape. Apparently our traditions are too strong for us, we cannot dispense
with Hell; if robbed of it in the future we must have it Here and Now.

_January_ 15.--When English days are dark and dreary, and the rain falls,
and cold winds blow, then it is that memory brings back the full joy of
ancient beauty and sunshine. (How could Dante have written "Nessun maggior
dolore"! But he had to write of Hell, and Hell were no longer Hell if the
lovely memory of Earth still cheered its inmates.) Especially I love to
think of that two days' brief journey-the most delightful journey there
can be in the world, it sometimes seems--which separates me from Spain. I
think of it as it is in early Spring, in the April month, when Browning
longed to be in England and most people long to be out of it. I think of
the swift passage across the Channel, of the ever-new impression of the
light-toned greenery of France and the subtle difference of the beautiful
trees, of Paris, of the Quai d'Orsay early next morning, of the mediaeval
cities that flash into view on their ancient hills, of the vast stretch of
beautiful and varied French land, of Limoges, the last outpost of the
Northern French, whom it is sad to leave even when one is bound for Spain,
of Rocamadour (and I think of that fantastic old-world shrine, with the
legendary blade of Roland's Durandel still struck into its walls, and of
the long delicious day on the solitary brooding height over the exquisite
ravine), the night at Toulouse at the Hotel Bayard, and the sour bread
that marks the Puritanic Southern French, the keen winds and the dreary
rain that comes from Provence,--delicious to leave behind. Then
Carcassonne and the momentary vision of its turrets, the embodiment of
one's dream of the past; lunch at Narbonne with the unfailing cold
asparagus of the south, Perpignan, where now at last one is haunted by the
fragrance of a city that once was Spanish. Then creeping along by the
broken coast, and the rocky creeks up to the outermost edge of the
Pyrenees, leaving to the north the ancient path which Pompey and Caesar
climbed, and feeling the winds that descend mysteriously from its gorges:

Le vent qui vient a travers la montagne
Me rendra fou.

Lo, at once a new Heaven and a new Earth and a new People. A sky that is
ever soft and radiant; a land on which strange and fragrant plants
flourish, and lakes of crimson poppies glimmer afar; men and women into
whose veins seems to have passed something of the lazy sunshine of their
sky, something of the rich colour of their earth. Then at last the great
city of Barcelona, where work and play are mingled as nowhere else so
harmoniously in the whole European world; and, beyond, the sacred height
of Montserrat; and, beyond that, all the magic of Spain at my feet.

_January_ 19.--"For three days I have observed two large pictures in solid
frames hanging on the wall before me, supported by a cord fastened
horizontally behind the frames; these pictures have only one point of
support, so that they are sensitive to the slightest movement. The wall
goes from east to west, or the other way about, it makes no difference.
Now, every morning when I wake, I find these works of art a little askew,
the left corner inclined down and the right up!" I came upon that passage
in _Sylva Sylvarum_, the first book of Strindberg's I ever read, and it
pleased me so much that I believe I read no further.

I am reminded of it now when Strindberg's fame has grown so great in

It really seems to me that that fantastic image is an excellent symbol of
Strindberg himself. For his picture of the world fails to swing
concordantly with the world. He has lagged behind in the cosmic rhythm, he
has fallen out of the dance of the stars. So that the whole universe is to
him an exquisitely keen jar of the nerves, and he hangs awry. That may
well make him an extraordinarily interesting person, and, indeed, perhaps
he is thereby an index of the world's vital movement, registering it by
not moving with it. We have to read Strindberg, but to read him _a

So I experience some amusement when I see to-day the solemn statement in
an American journal which claims--I do not say with no reason--to be
portentously clever and superior, that Strindberg is destined to become in
America the voice of the masculine reaction in favour of "the corrective
influence of a matter-of-fact attitude towards woman." One wonders by what
strange fatality Strindberg-the most fantastic genius that ever lived--can
appeal to an American as "matter-of-fact." And one wonders why Americans,
anyway, should go to this distinguished Swede for such a "corrective,"
when in their own country, to mention but a single name, they have a
writer like Robert Herrick, whose novels are surely so admirably subtle
and profound an analysis of the position of womanhood in America, and
quite reasonably sane. But it is still true, as Jesus sighed two thousand
years ago, that a prophet is no prophet in his own country.

_January_ 29.--For supper, we are told, Milton used often to eat a few
olives. That statement has frequently recurred to my mind. I never grow
weary of the significance of little things. What do the so-called great
things of life count for in the end, the fashion of a man's showing-off
for the benefit of his fellows? It is the little things that give its
savour or its bitterness to life, the little things that direct the
currents of activity, the little things that alone really reveal the
intimate depths of personality. _De minimis non curat lex_. But against
that dictum of human law one may place the Elder Pliny's maxim concerning
natural law: _Nusquam magis quam in minimis tota est Natura_. For in the
sphere of Nature's Laws it is only the minimal things that are worth
caring about, the least things in the world, mere specks on the Walls of
Life, as it seems to you. But one sets one's eyes to them, and, behold,
they are chinks that look out into Infinity.

Milton is one of the "great" things in English life and literature, and
his admirers dwell on his great achievements. These achievements often
leave me a little cold, intellectually acquiescent, nothing more. But when
I hear of these olives which the blind old scholar-poet was wont to eat
for supper I am at once brought nearer to him. I intuitively divine what
they meant to him.

Olives are not the most obvious food for an English Puritan of the
seventeenth century, though olive-oil is said to have been used here even
in the fourteenth century. Milton might more naturally, one supposes, like
his arch-Puritanic foe, Prynne, have "refocillated" his brain with ale and
bread, and indeed he was still too English, and perhaps too wise, to
disdain either.

But Milton had lived in Italy. There the most brilliant and happy days of
his life had been spent. All the rest of his real and inner life was but
an echo of the music he had heard in Italy. For Milton was only on one
side of his nature the austere Latin secretary of Cromwell and the
ferocious opponent of Salmasius. He was also the champion of the tardy
English Renaissance, the grave and beautiful youth whose every fibre
thrilled to the magic of Italy. For two rich months he had lived in
Florence, then the most attractive of Italian cities, with Gaddi, Dati,
Coltellini, and the rest for his friends. He had visited Galileo, then
just grown blind, as he was himself destined to be. His inner sight always
preserved the old visions he had garnered

At evening from the top of Fesole,
Or in Valdarno.

Now at last, in the company of sour and ignorant Puritans who counted him
one of themselves, while a new generation grew up which ignored him and
which he disdained, in this sulphurous atmosphere of London which sickened
and drove away his secretary Ellwood, Milton ate a handful of olives. And
all Italy came to him in those olives.

"What! when the sun rises do you not see a round disc of fire, somewhat
like a guinea?" "Oh no, no, no!" said Blake, "I see an innumerable company
of the heavenly host." And these dull green exotic fruits which the blind
Milton ate bedwards were the heralds of dreams diviner than he freighted
with magnificent verse.

_February_ 3.--"Every well-written novel," I find Remy de Gourmont
stating, "seems immoral." A paradox? By no means; Gourmont, the finest of
living critics, is not a paradox-monger. He is referring to the
prosecution of _Madame Bovary_, a book which Taine said might profitably
be used in Sunday Schools; and he points out that Flaubert--and every
other profoundly original writer--by avoiding the commonplace phrase, the
familiar counter, by deliberately choosing each word, by moulding his
language to a personal rhythm, imparts such novelty to his descriptions
that the reader seems to himself to be assisting for the first time at a
scene which is yet exactly the same as those described in all novels.
Hence inevitable scandal.

One may very well add that in this matter Life follows the same law as
Art. It is the common fate of all creative work (and "non merita nome di
Creatore se non Iddio ed il Poeta"). Whoso lives well, as whoso writes
well, cannot fail to convey an alarming impression of novelty, precisely
because he is in accurate personal adjustment to the facts of his own
time. So he is counted immoral and criminal, as Nietzsche delighted to
explain. Has not Nietzsche himself been counted, in his own playful
phrase, an "immoralist"? Yet the path of life that Nietzsche proposed to
follow was just the same ancient, old-fashioned, in the true sense trivial
path which all the world has trodden. Only his sensitive feet felt that
path so keenly, with such a new grip of the toes on the asperities of it,
that the mob cried: Why, this man cannot possibly be on our good old
well-worn comfortable highway; he must have set off on some new path, no
doubt a very bad and wicked path, where trespassers must be prosecuted.
And it was just the same venerable path that all humanity has travelled,
the path that Adam and Eve scuttled over, in hairy nakedness, through the
jungle of the Garden of Eden!

That is one of the reasons--and there are many of them--why the social
ideal of Herbert Spencer, in which the adjustment of life is so perfect
that friction is impossible, can never be attained. Putting aside the
question of the desirability of such an ideal it is impossible to see how
it could be achieved, either along the line of working at Heredity, or
along the line of working at the Environment. Even the most keenly
intellectual people that ever existed, the most amorous of novelty, the
most supple-minded, could not permit Socrates to live, though all the time
Socrates was going their own way, his feet pressing the same path; they
still could not understand his prosaic way of looking intently where his
feet fell. It must always happen so, and it always means conflict. Even a
flower cannot burst into bloom without conflict, the balance of forces can
never be quite equal and opposite, there must be a breaking down
somewhere, there must always be conflict. We may regulate and harmonise
the conditions, we cannot abolish the conflict. For Conflict is implicit
in Life.

_February_ 5.--I note that Charles Dudley Warner (that splendid type of
American man as I recall him in old age, pacing up and down my room,
pondering out some serious problem of life), when half a century ago he
came over to London for the first time on a visit from Paris, was struck
by the contrast between the light luminosity of one city and the
prevailing gloomy dirt of the other. The contrast may not be so pronounced
to-day. Yet that same dirt--which has its beautiful side no doubt--remains
the note of London, brown dirt all over the streets, black dirt all over
the buildings, yellow dirt all over the sky, and those who live in it
become subdued to what they live in, "like the dyer's hand," even

So the sight of the Cornish coast, the prospect of seeing it, the very
thought of its existence, has the exhilaration of a rapturous prayer.
There--sometimes, at all events--the earth is exquisitely clean, the
bright sea bubbles like champagne, and its mere mists are rainbow-hued
dreams; the sky has flung off its dingy robe and is naked, beautiful,
alive. Profoundly alien to me as I always feel this land of Cornwall to
be, it is much to feel there something of that elemental reality of which
men count God the symbol. Here the city-stained soul may become the
sacramental agent of a Divine Transubstantiation of the elements of earth,
of air, of water, of fire.

_February_ 8.--It was a fine and deep saying of Aristotle's that "the
greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor." That is the mark of
genius, for, said he, it implies an intuitive perception of the similarity
in dissimilars.

All the great thinkers have been masters of metaphor, because all vivid
thinking must be in images, and the philosopher whose metaphors are
blurred or diluted is one whose thinking is blurred and diluted. Thus it
comes about that the thinkers who survive are the thinkers who wrote well
and are most nearly poets. Not that they need have attained to that which
we, individually or collectively, may be pleased to consider "Truth." But
they were alive; they had realised what they meant; they embodied their
thoughts in definite images which are a perpetual challenge to thought for
all who come after. One may agree or disagree with Schopenhauer or with
Nietzsche. But they were vitally and intensely alive; they transformed
their thought into wonderful imagery; or they sang it and they danced it;
and they are alive for ever. People talk of "the passing of Kant." It may
be. But who will talk of the passing of Plato or even of the passing of
Hobbes? No thinker has been so buffeted as Hobbes, and there is no school
to accept his central thesis. It is no matter. Hobbes flung aside all the
armour of tradition and met the giant problem that faced him with his own
sling and any stones out of the brook. It was enough to make him immortal.
His achievement has receded into the past. The _Leviathan_ is now an
ancient tapestry which generations of street urchins have thrown mud at;
and yet it remains radiantly beautiful.

All great thinkers are great masters of metaphor because all thinking of
any kind must be by analogy. It may often be a misleading guide, but it
remains the only guide. To say that thinking is by metaphor is merely the
same thing as to say that the world is an infinite series of analogies
enclosed one within another in a succession of Chinese boxes. Even the
crowd recognises this. The story that Newton first saw the gravitation of
the earth in the fall of an apple in the orchard, which Voltaire has
transmitted to us from a fairly good source, has no first-hand authority.
But the crowd has always accepted it as a gospel truth, and by a sound
instinct. The Milky Way itself is pictured by its latest investigators as
a vague spiral scarcely to be distinguished from the ascending smoke of a

_February_ 10.--A French soprano, and it is the first time she has sung on
an English platform. She walks on slowly and stands statuesquely
motionless while the preliminary bars are being played. One notes her
elegant Parisian costume, clinging and very low-cut, every detail of her
appearance carefully thought out, constituting a harmony in itself, though
not perhaps a harmony with this negligent Sunday afternoon environment in
which the singer finds herself. Her voice is finely trained and under
complete control, she enters into the spirit of the operatic scene she
sings, dramatically, yet with restraint, with modulated movements, now of
her arms, now of her whole supple body. In her voice, as in her body,
there is always a reserve of energy, a dignified self-respect; there is
never any self-abandonment. She has sung first in French, now she comes on
in an Italian air, and afterwards is not too coyly reticent in taking an
encore which is in English, to a piano accompaniment, and when that is
over she hastens to bring the accompanist by the hand to her side before
the audience, and bows, sweetly and graciously, with a gesture of the
whole body, yet again with a certain reserve, not, as one may see some
great singers, symbolically clasping her arms round the public and kissing
it with humble gratitude. She is a complete success with her audience.

Yet she is really, one divines, a fairly commonplace person. And she is
not beautiful. And even her voice has no marvellous original quality. She
has on her side a certain quality of nervous texture to mould
artistically, but that is not a personal possession but merely a quality
of her race. She has laboriously wrought this ductile nervous tissue to
her own ends. By force of long training, discipline, art, she has made
herself what she desired to be. She has become all that she had in her to
be. She has given to the world all that the world has any right to ask of

That is all. But this training and this discipline, the ability to be
oneself and to impart graciously to others the utmost that they have any
right to demand--is not that the whole Art of Living and the entire Code
of Morality?

_February_ 15.--"There is no Excellent Beauty that hath not some
Strangeness in the Proportion." That saying of Bacon's--one of the
profoundest of human utterances--is significant not only for all life but
for all art. In the sphere of literature, for instance, it makes
impossible the use of counters.

The counter or the _cliche_--no doubt it is better known for what it is to
good French writers--is the word or the phrase which has lost the original
contour of its mintage and become a mere featureless coin, having still,
as it were, its metallic meaning but no longer its fresh beauty and
expressiveness. The young novelist whose hero "wends his way," and the
journalist for whom a party of fifteen persons may be "literally
decimated," are both adepts in the use of the counter. They use ancient
worn words, such as leap first into the mind, words which are too effaced
to be beautiful, and sometimes too effaced to be accurate. They are just
counters for careless writers to pass on to careless readers, and not
always reliable as counters.

We are all of us using these counters; they are convenient for the
ordinary purposes of life, whenever the search for beauty and rarity and
expressiveness may seem uncalled for. Even the master of style uses them
unquestioned, so long as he uses them consciously, deliberately, of set
purpose, with a sense of their just value for his purpose. When they are
used, as sometimes happens, heedlessly and helplessly, by writers who are
dealing with beautiful and expressive things, they become jarring
vulgarisms which set the teeth on edge. Even a poet of real inspiration,
like Francis Thompson, may seek to carry, "hiddenly," as he would express
it, beneath the cloak of his rapture, all sorts of absurd archaisms,
awkwardly conventional inversions, hideous neologisms like false antiques,
all mere counters. A born writer with a personal instinct for expression,
like Arthur Symons, is not apt to resort to the use of counters, even when
he is seemingly careless; a carefully trained artist in the use of words,
like Stevenson, evidently rejects counters immediately; the man who is not
a writer, born or made, sometimes uses nothing but counters.

A casual acquaintance once presented to me an epic he had written in
rhymed couplets, extending to many cantos. He was a man of bright and
vigorous mind, but no poet. So when he set himself to write verse it is
clear that he instinctively tested every word or phrase, and rejected
those that failed to sound smooth, familiar, "poetic," to his reminiscent
ear. The result is that the whole of his book is made up of counters, and
every epithet is studiously obvious. The hero is "dauntless," and his
"steed" is "noble," and the sky at night is a "spangled vault," and "spicy
perfumes load the balmy air." It is thirty years since that epic was
placed in my hands, and I have often since had occasion to think that it
might profitably be used by any teacher of English literature as a text
for an ever needed lesson on the counter. "There is no Excellent Beauty
that hath not some Strangeness in the Proportion." Or, as Aristotle had
said long before, there must be "a certain admixture of unfamiliarity," a
continual slight novelty.

That is the Law of Beauty in Art because it is the Law of Morality in
Life. Our acts so easily become defaced and conventionalised, mere uniform
counters that have been used a thousand times before and rarely with any
special applicability--often, indeed, a flagrant inapplicability--to the
case in hand. The demand upon us in Life is to fling away counters, to
react vitally to the vital circumstances of the situation. All the
teachers of Excellent Beauty in the Moral Life bear witness to the truth
of Bacon's saying. Look at the Sermon on the Mount: no doubt about the
"Strangeness in the Proportion" there! Socrates and Jesus, unlike as they
were, so far as we are able to discern, were yet both marked by the same
horror of counters. Sooner than employ them they would die. And indeed, if
the Moral Life could be reduced to the simplicity of a slot-machine, it
would still be necessary to put real pennies in.

_February_ 23.--Some time ago a navvy working in Sussex came upon a round
object like a cocoa-nut which he flung carelessly out of the way. It would
soon have disappeared for ever. But by an almost miraculous chance a man
of science passed that way and secured the object, easily discernible as a
portion of a human skull. Now that, with all that appertains to it, the
fragment has been investigated, the Sussex navvy's unconscious find is
revealed as perhaps the most precious and interesting thing that has ever
been discovered in the earth, the earliest Charter in the History of Man.

Whenever I read of the chance discovery of fossils or human remains, of
buried cities in Yucatan or Roman pavements beneath Gloucestershire
meadows, or beautiful statues fished out of the Tiber, or mediaeval
treasures dug from below old castles, it grows an ever greater wonder to
me that no one has yet proposed a systematic exploration of the whole
earth beneath our feet. Here is this earth, a marvellous onion, a series
of encapsuled worlds, each successive foliation preserving the intimate
secrets of its own irrecoverable life. And Man the Baby, neglecting the
wonderful Earth he crawls on, has cried for the barren Moon! All science
has begun with the stars, and Early Man seemed to himself merely the
by-play of a great cosmic process. God was first, and Man who had created
Him--out of less than dust--was nowhere. Even in mediaeval days we knew
much more about Heaven and Hell than about Earth. The Earth comes last
into man's view,--even after Heaven and Hell and Purgatory,--but it will
surely be a puzzle for our successors that after a million years, even in
our present little era, we had still not begun to scratch up
systematically the soil we stand on and could scarcely so much as uncover
Pompeii. For though the under-world is not all a buried Pompeii, it is a
vast treasure-house. One cannot so much as put a spade into the
garden-mould of one's cottage-garden without now and then finding ancient
coins and shards of strange pottery; and for all that you know, the clue
to some mystery that has puzzled mankind for ages may at this moment lie a
few inches below your feet.

It would be the task of an International Exfodiation Commission to dig up
the whole earth systematically, leaving no inch of it untouched except on
definitely determined grounds, the depth explored in each region being
duly determined by experts. One might make a beginning with the banks of
the Nile where the task is comparatively easy, and Nature has packed such
fragile treasures in such antiseptic sand. Italy with its soil laden with
marvellous things could be investigated at the same time, with all the
shores of the Mediterranean. The work would take many centuries to
complete and would cost vast sums of money. But when the nations are no
longer engaged in the task of building warships which are obsolete a few
weeks after they are launched, if not before, how vast a sum of money will
be saved! The money which is wasted on the armies and navies of Europe
alone during a single century would furnish a very respectable credit for
the International Exfodiation Commission to begin work with. At the same
time the men now employed in laboriously learning the trade of war, which
they are seldom or never called upon to exercise, could be given something
useful to do. In the meanwhile Exfodiation must wait until what an old
English writer called "the essential oil of democracy" is poured over the
stormy waves of human society. You doubt whether that oil will calm the
waves? But if your essential oil of democracy fails to possess that
elementary property of oil it is hardly worth while to manufacture it.

Once achieved, whenever or however it is achieved, the task will be
achieved for ever. It would be the greatest task man has ever attempted,
and the most inspiring. He would for the first time become fully conscious
of himself. He would know all that he once was, and all that he has ever
accomplished so far as its record survives. He would read clearly in the
earth for the first time the title-deeds that make him the owner of the
world. All that is involved is Exfodiation.

I call this process Exfodiation, because if our descendants happen to be
at all like us they would much rather Exfodiate than Dig. As for us, we
dare not so much as call our bodily organs and functions by their
beautifully common names, and to Dig we are even more ashamed than to Beg.

_March_ 3.--Some one was telling me yesterday how lately in Wales he stood
in a wood by a little stream that ran swiftly over the stones, babbling
and chattering--the poets have wisely said--as children babble and
chatter. "It is certainly the stream," he said to himself; "no, it must be
children; no, it is the stream." And then a band of careless children,
whose voices had mingled with the brook's voice, emerged from amidst the

Children are more than murmuring streams, and women are more than fragrant
flowers, and men are more than walking trees. But on one side they are all
part of the vision and music of Nature, not merely the creators of
pictures and melodies, but even yet more fundamentally themselves the
music and the vision. We cannot too often remember that not only is the
art of man an art that Nature makes, but that Man himself is Nature.
Accordingly as we cherish that faith, and seek to live by it, we vindicate
our right to the Earth, and preserve our sane and vital relations to the
Earth's life. The poets love to see human emotions in the procession of
cosmic phenomena. But we have also to see the force of the sun and the
dust of the earth in the dance of the blood through the veins of Man.

Civilisation and Morals may seem to hold us apart from Nature. Yet the
world has, even literally, been set in our hearts. We are of the Stuff of
the Universe. In comparison with that fact Morals and Civilisation sink
into Nothingness.

_March_ 7.--So fine a critic of art as Remy de Gourmont finds it
difficult, to his own regret, to admire Shakespeare on the stage, at all
events in France in French translations. This is not, he says, what in
France is counted great dramatic art; there is no beginning and there is
no real end, except such as may be due to the slaughter of the characters;
throughout it is possible to interpolate scenes or to subtract scenes. He
is referring more especially to _Macbeth_.

It cannot be denied that there is truth in this plaint. In France, from a
French standpoint,--or, for the matter of that, from a Greek
standpoint,--Shakespeare must always be a barbarian. It is the same
feeling--though not indeed in so great a degree--that one experiences when
one looks at the picturesque disorder and irregularity of English Gothic
churches from the standpoint of the severely ordered majesty of Chartres,
or even of Amiens, which yet has so much about it that recalls its
neighbourhood to England. From the right standpoint, however, English
Gothic architecture is full of charm, and even of art. In the same way I
cannot at all admit that Shakespeare is unsuited for the stage. One has
only to remember that it is the Romantic not the Classic stage. It is the
function of the Shakespearian drama, and of the whole school of which
Shakespeare is the supreme representative (I put aside Marlowe who died in
the making of a greater classic tradition), to evoke a variegated vision
of the tragi-comedy of life in its height and its depth, its freedom, and
its wide horizon. This drama has for the most part little to do with the
operation of the Fate which works itself out when a man's soul is in the
stern clutch of Necessity. We are far here from Euripides and from Ibsen.
Life is always a pageant here, a tragi-comedy, which may lean sometimes
more to comedy, and sometimes more to tragedy, but has in it always, even
in _Lear_, an atmosphere of enlarging and exhilarating gaiety.

Shakespeare is for the stage. But what stage? We were cut off for ever
from the Shakesperian tradition in the very generation after Shakespeare
died, and have not acquired a sound new tradition even yet. The device of
substituting drapery for scenery and relying exclusively on the gorgeous
flow of words for decorative purposes fails to satisfy us, and we fall
back on the foolish trick of submerging Shakespeare in upholstery and

It seems to me that we may discern the beginning of a more rational
tradition in Granville Barker's staging of _Twelfth Night_ at the Savoy.
There is something here of the romantic suggestion and the easy freedom
which are of the essence of the Shakesperian drama. The creamy walls,
possibly an approximation to the courtyard-like theatre of the
Elizabethans, are a perfect background for the play of brilliant figures;
the light curtains furnish precisely the desired suggestion of scenery;
and when at last all the figures wander up the stairway in the background
as the Fool sings his inconsequent song, "With hey ho the wind and the
rain," the whole gracious dream melts away deliriously, as it seemed to
Prospero, and surely to Shakespeare himself, the dream of life in the end
melts away in the wind or the rain of the grave.

Thus conceived, the Shakesperian drama has surely as good a right to exist
on the stage as the drama of Moliere. There cannot be the same perfection
of finish and detail, for this is only an experiment, and there is
inevitably a total difference of method. Yet, as thus presented, _Twelfth
Night_ lingers in my mind with _Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme_ as presented at
the Comedie Francaise, so presented that, by force of tradition wrought
with faultless art, a play becomes an embodied symphony, a visible
manifestation of gracious music.

_March_ 13.--I passed in the village street the exotic figure of a fat man
in a flat cap and a dark blue costume, with very wide baggy trousers down
to the ground. He was reading a newspaper as he walked with an easy
slouch. His fat shaven face was large and round and wrinkled, yet not
flabby. Altogether there was something irresistibly Chinese about him.
Strange that this curious figure should be the typical English sailor, the
legendary Hero of the British People, and the person on whose existence
that of the English nation is held to depend.

_March_ 16.--Two feminine idealists. I read of an English suffragette
trying to address a meeting and pelted with tomatoes by a crowd grown
weary of suffragette outrages. And shortly after I read of a young German
dancer in a small Paris theatre who in the course of her dance is for a
few moments absolutely naked, whereupon the Chief of Police sends for her
and draws up a charge of "outrage aux moeurs." To a journalist she
expresses her indignation at this insult to her art: "Let there be no
mistake; when I remove my chemise to come on the stage it is in order to
bare my soul." Not quite a wise thing to say to a journalist, but it is in
effect what the suffragette also says, and is rewarded with rotten
tomatoes as her sister with a _proces-verbal._

One sees the whole-hearted enthusiasm of both the suffragette and the
dancer. Unwise, no doubt, unable to discern the perspective of life, or to
measure the inevitable social reactions of their time. Yet idealists, even
martyrs, for Art or for Justice, exposed in the arena of the world, as the
Perpetuas and Blandinas of old were exposed out of love for Jesus, all
moved by the Spirit of Life, though, as the ages pass, the Excuses for
Life differ. Many Masks, but one Face and one Arena.

For the Mob, huddled like sheep around this Arena of Life, and with no
vital instinct to play therein any part of their own, it is not for these
to cast contumely. Let them be well content that for a brief moment it is
theirs to gaze at the Spectacle of Divine Gaiety and then be thrust into
outer Darkness.

_March_ 17.--Yet, when one thinks of it, why should the mob in the
galleries not hiss, when they so please, the spectacle they were not made
to take part in? They are what they are born to be and what circumstances
have made them, the legitimate outcome of your Random Procreation, and
your Compulsory Education, your Regulations and By-laws, spread thick over
every inch of Land and Sea and Air. And if they still throw rotten
tomatoes and draw up charge sheets in police stations, why should they not
enjoy their brief moment of Living Action, and be Damned?

We may even go a step further. It has to be remembered that the Actors of
Life, interesting as they are, exist for the audience, and not the
audience for the Actors. The Actors are the abnormal and exceptional
people, born out of due time, at variance with the environment; that is
why they are Actors. This vast inert mass of people, with no definite
individualities of their own, they are normal and healthy Humanity, born
to consume the Earth's fruits, even when these fruits happen to be dancers
and suffragettes. It is thus that harmony is established between Actors
and Spectators; neither could exist without the other. Both are needed in
any Cosmic Arena.

_March 18_.--I always recall with a certain surprise how many years ago a
fine critic who is also a fine writer told me he had no admiration for
Addison, and even seemed to feel a certain disdain. This attitude caused
me no resentment, for Addison makes no personal appeal to me, and I
experience no great interest in the things he writes about. I am content
to read a page of him in bed, and therewith peacefully fall asleep.

Yet surely Addison, and still more Steele, the authors of the _Spectator_
and the _Tatler_, represent the high-water mark of English Speech. The
mere rubbish left by the tide, if you like, for I am not asserting that
the position of Addison and of Steele is necessarily the sole result of
individual desert. They mark a special moment in the vital growth of
language, if only by revealing the Charm of Triviality, and they stood
among a crowd--Defoe, Temple, Swift, and the rest--who at various points
surpassed them. A magnificent growth had preceded them. The superb and
glowing weight of Bacon had become the tumultuous splendour of Milton,
which subsided into the unconscious purity of Bunyan, the delicate
simplicity of Cowley, and the muscular orderliness of Dryden. Every
necessary quality of prose had been separately conquered. An instrument
had been created that contained all the stops, and might be used not only
for the deepest things of life, but equally for the lightest. And then,
suddenly, the whole English world began to use words beautifully, and not
only so, but to spell, to punctuate, to use their capital letters with
corresponding beauty. So it was at the end of the seventeenth century and
during the first quarter of the eighteenth. Addison and Steele stand for
that epoch.

Then the tide began to ebb. That fine equilibrium of all the elements of
speech could not be maintained indefinitely. Its poise and equability
began to grow trivial, its exalted familiarity to become mere vulgarity.
So violent reactions became necessary. Johnson and Johnsonese swept
heavily over the retreating tide and killed what natural grace and
vivacity might have been left in Goldsmith or in Graves. But even had
there been no Johnson the reaction was inevitable. Every great writer
began to be an isolated grandee who lost the art of familiarity, for he
had no one to be familiar with. Consider Gibbon, in his own domain
supreme, but the magnificent fall of his cadences, however fit for his
subject, was fit for no other; and look at Landor, the last great writer
of English, though even he never quite scoured off the lingering dross of
Johnsonese, and at the best has the air of a giant conversing with

Then we come to the nineteenth century, where we find writing that is bad,
indifferent, good, rarely perfect save now and again for a brief moment,
as in Lamb, who incarnated again the old familiar touch on great things
and little things alike, and into that was only driven, likely enough, by
the scourge of madness. Then there was Pater, who was exquisite, even a
magician, yet scarcely great. And there was Stevenson,--prototype of a
vast band of accomplished writers of to-day,--the hollow image of a great

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