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Title: 'That Very Mab'
Author: Kendall, May, Lang, Andrew, 1844-1912
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "'That Very Mab'" ***

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By May Kendall and Andrew Lang

     'Ah! now I see Queen Mab has been with you'








     'You send out teachers of religion to undermine and ruin the
     people.'--Black Flag Proclamation to the French, 1883.

The moonlight, in wave on wave of silver, flooded all the Sacred Island.
Far away and faint ran the line of the crests of Samoa, like the hills
of heaven in the old ballad, or a scene in the Italian opera. Then came
a voice from the Calling Place, and the smooth sea thrilled, and all the
fishes leaped, and the Sacred Isle itself was moved, and shuddered to
its inmost heart. Again and again came the voice, and now it rose and
fell in the cadences of a magical song (or _Karakia_, if we _must_ have
local colour), and the words were not of this world. Then, behold, the
smooth seas began to break and plash round the foremost cape of the Holy
Island, and to close again behind, like water before the keel and behind
the stern of a running ship, so they plashed, and broke, and fell. Next
the surface was stirred far off with the gambolling and sporting of
innumerable fishes; the dolphin was tumbling in the van; the flying fish
hovered and shone and sank; and clearer, always, and yet more clear came
the words of the song from Samoa. Clearer and louder, moment by moment,
rose the voice of Queen Mab, where she stood on the Calling Place of the
Gods, and chanted to the Islands, and to the sea, and the dwellers in
the sea. It was not that she left her stand, nor came nearer, but the
Sacred Island itself was steering straight, like a magical barque, drawn
by the wonderful song, to the mystic shore of Samoa. Now Queen Mab,
where she stood among her court, with the strange brown fairies of the
Southern Ocean, could behold the Sacred Island, with all its fairy crew.
Beautiful things they seemed, as the sailing isle drew nearer, beautiful
and naked, and brave with purple pan-danus flowers, and with red and
yellow necklets of the scented seed of the pandanus. At last Queen Mab,
the fairy in the fluttering wings of green, clapped her hands, and, with
a little soft shock, the Sacred Island ran in and struck on the haunted
beach of Samoa. What was Queen Mab doing here, so far away from England?
England she had left long ago; when the Puritans arose the Fairies
vanished. When 'Tom came home from labour and Cis from milking rose,'
there was now no more sound of tabor, nor 'merrily went their toes.'
Tom went to the Public House or the Preaching House, and Cis--Cis waited
till Tom should come home and kick her into a jelly (his toes going
merrily enough at that work), or tell her she was, spiritually, in a
parlous case. So the Fairy Queen and all her court had long since fled
from England, and long ago made a home in the undiscovered isles of
the South. Now they all met and mingled in the throng of the Polynesian
fairy folk, and, rushing down into the waters, they revelled all night
on the silvery sand, in the windless dancing places of the deep. Tanê
and Tawhiti came, the Gods of the tides and the shores, and all the
fairies sang to them:

     'Tawhiti, on the sacred beach
     The purple pandanus is thine!
     How soft the breakers come and go,
     How bright the fragrant berries blow,
     The fern-tree scents the shining reach,
     And Tanê dances down the brine!'

Such is the poetry of the Polynesian fairies. It is addicted to frequent
repetitions of the same obvious remark, and it does not contain a
Criticism of Life, so we do not give any more of it. But, such as it
was, it seemed to afford great pleasure to the dancers, probably because
every one of them could compose any amount of it himself, at will,
and every dancer was 'his own poet,' than which nothing can be more
salubrious and delightful.

Thus the dance and the revel swang and swayed through the silver halls
till the green lights began to glow with gold and scarlet and crimson,
burning into dawn. Then came a sudden noise, like thunder, crashing and
roaring through the silence of the sea. Queen Mab clapped her hands,
and, in one moment, the Sacred Isle had flitted back to its place, and
the music stopped, and the dancers vanished.

Then, as the island swiftly receded, came a monstrous wave, and no
wonder, which raised the surface of the sea to a level with the topmost
cliff of the Calling Place. Queen Mab, who had flown to a pine-tree
there, saw the salt water fall back down the steeps like a cataract,
and heard a voice say, 'The blooming reef has bolted.' Another voice
remarked something about 'submarine volcanic action.' These words came
from a level with her head, where the Queen saw, stranded in a huge
tree, a boat with a funnel that poured forth smoke, and with wheels
that still rapidly and automatically revolved in mid air. In fact, a
missionary steamer had been raised by the mighty tidal wave to the level
of the cliff. Then the sailors climbed into the trees, talking freely,
in a speech which Queen Mab knew for English, but not at all the English
she had been accustomed to hear. Also the sailors had among them men
with full, sleek, shining faces, wearing tall hats and long coats, and
carrying little books whose edges flashed in the sun. And Queen Mab did
not like the look of them. Then she heard the sailors and the men in
black coats making straight for the very pine-tree in which she was
sitting. So she fled into a myrtle-bush, and behold, the sailors chopped
every branch of the pine clean away, and changed the beautiful tree
into a bare pole. Then they brought out ropes, and a great piece of thin
cloth, white with red and blue cross marks on it, and they tugged it up,
and it floated from the top of the tree. Then the people from the ship
gathered round it, and sang songs, whereof one repeated,

'Rule Britannia!'

and the other contained the words,

'Every prospect pleases, And only Man is vile.'

Soon some specimens of vile Man, some of the human beings of Samoa, came
round, beautiful women dressed in feathers and leaves, carrying flowers
and fruit, which they offered to the men in black coats and white
neckties. But the men in black coats held up their hands in horror, and
shut their eyes, while some of them ran to the boat and brought bonnets,
and boots, and cotton gowns, and pocket-handkerchiefs, and gave them to
the women. And the women, putting them on anyhow, walked about as proud
as peacocks; while the men in black coats explained that, unless they
wore these things, and did and refrained from many matters, they would
all be punished dreadfully after they were dead. Now, while the women
were crying at such glad tidings, came another awful crash and shock,
which indeed, like the previous noise that had frightened the dancers,
was produced by a ship's gun. And another cloud of black smoke floated
round the point, and another set of sailors got out and cut the branches
off a tree, and ran up a flag which was black and red and yellow. Then
those sailors (who had men with red beards and spectacles among them)
cried _Hock!_ and sang the _Wacht am Rhein_. Thereupon the sailors of
the first steamer, with a horrid yell, rushed on the tree under the new
flag, and were cutting it down, when some of the singers of the _Wacht
am Rhein_ pointed a curious little machine that way and began to turn
a handle. Thereon the most dreadful cracking sounds arose, cracking and
crashing; fire flew, and some of the first set of sailors fell down and
writhed on the sand, while the rest fled to their boat. Several of the
native women also fell down bleeding and dying in their new cotton gowns
and their bonnets, for they had been dancing about while the sailors
were hacking at the tree with the black and red and yellow flag.

Seeing all this, Queen Mab also saw that Samoa was no longer a place for
her. She did not understand what was happening, nor know that a peaceful
English annexation had been disturbed by a violent German annexation,
for which the English afterwards apologised. Queen Mab also conceived
a prejudice against missionaries, which, perhaps, was justified by her
experience. For, in the matter of missionaries, she was unlucky. The
specimens she had observed were of the wrong kind. She might have met
missionaries as learned as Mr. Codrington, as manly as Livingstone, as
brave and pure as Bishop Pattison> who was a martyr indeed, and gave
his life for the heathen people. Yes, Queen Mab was unlucky in her


     'The time is come,' the walrus said,
     'To talk of many things.'
     'Alice in Wonderland.'

It was on April 1, the green young year's beginning, that Mab arrived in
England. She had hired a seagull--no, the seagull offered his services
for nothing; I was forgetting that it was not an English, but a
Polynesian seagull--to take her across. She did not altogether admire
the missionaries, as we have seen, in their proceedings, the fact being
that she had grown used to Polynesians in the course of the centuries
she had spent among them, and the missionaries were such a remarkable
contrast to the Polynesians. But their advent was certainly a source
of mental improvement to her, for fairies as we know, understand things
almost by instinct, and Queen Mab, one evening, chanced to overhear a
good deal of the missionaries' conversation. She learned, for
instance, the precise meanings, and the bearings on modern theology
and metaphysics, of such words as kathenotheism, hagiography,
transubstantiation, eschatology, Positivist, _noumenony begriffy
vorstellung, Paulisimus, wissenschaft_, and others, quite new to her,
and of great benefit in general conversation.

With this additional knowledge she started on the voyage, leaving her
faithful subjects to take care of the island and themselves, till she
came back to tell them whether their return to England would ever be
practicable. She landed in Great Britain, then, on April 1, and the
seagull went across to the Faroe Islands and waited there till the time
which she had appointed for him to come and carry her back to Polynesia.

Queen Mab found England a good deal altered. There were still fairy
circles in the grass; but they were attributed, not to fairy dances, but
to unscientific farming and the absence of artificial phosphates. The
country did not smell of April and May, but of brick-kilns and the
manufacture of chemicals. The rivers, which she had left bright and
clear, were all black and poisonous. Water for drinking purposes was
therefore supplied by convoys from the Apollinaris and other foreign
wells, and it was thought that, if a war broke out, the natives of
England would die of thirst. This was not the only disenchantment of
Queen Mab. She found that in Europe she was an anachronism. She did
not know, at first, what the word meant, but the sense of it gradually
dawned upon her. Now there is always something uncomfortable about being
an anachronism; but still people may become accustomed to it, and even
take a kind of a pride in it, if they are only anachronisms on the right
side--so far in the van of the bulk of humanity, for instance, that the
bulk of humanity considers them not wholly in their right minds. There
must surely be a sense of superiority in knowing oneself a century or
two in front of one's fellow-creatures that counterbalances the sense
of solitude. Queen Mab had no such consolation. She was an anachronism
hundreds of years on the wrong side; in fact, a relic of Paganism.

Of course she was acquainted with the language of all the beasts and
birds and insects, and she counted on their befriending her, however
much men had changed. Her brief experience of modern sailors and
missionaries, whether English or German, had indeed convinced her that
men were, even now, far from perfection. But it was a crushing blow to
find that all the beasts were traitors, and all the insects.

If it had not been for the loyal birds she would have gone back to
Polynesia at once; but they flocked faithfully to her standard, led by
the Owl, the wisest of all feathered things, who had lived too long,
and had too much good feeling to ignore fairies, though he was, perhaps,
just a little of a prig. The insects, however, who, considering the size
of their brains, one might have thought would believe in fairies and in
the supernatural in general, if anybody did, behaved disgracefully, and
the ant was the worst all. She started by saying that _her_ brain was
larger in proportion than the brain of any other insect. Perhaps Queen
Mab was not aware that Sir John Lubbock had devoted a volume to the
faculties and accomplishments of ants, together with some minor details
relating to bees and wasps, of which these insects magnified the
importance. Under _these_ circumstances, it was impossible for her to
countenance a mere vulgar superstition, like faith in fairies. She
begged leave to refer Queen Mab to various works in the International
Scientific Series for a complete explanation of her motives, and
mentioned, casually, that she also held credentials from Mr. Romanes.
Then, explaining that her character with the sluggard was at stake, she
hurried away. Evidently she did not care to be seen talking to a
fairy. It may be mentioned here, however, that Queen Mab's faith in
entomological nature was considerably shaken by the fact that when no
one was looking at her the ant always folded up her work and went to
sleep--though, if surprised in a siesta, she explained that she had only
just succumbed to complete exhaustion, and lamented that mind, though
infinitely superior to, was not yet independent of matter.

The bees hummed much to the same tune. The Queen Bee recommended our
foreigner to read a work on 'Bees and Wasps,' with a few minor details
relating to Ants, by Sir John Lubbock, in the International Scientific
Series. She was not, indeed quite so timid about her reputation as
the ant, and even volunteered to give her visitor an account of the
formation of hexagonal cells by Natural Selection, culled from the pages
of the 'Origin of Species'; but she observed that, though her brain
might be smaller in proportion than the brains of some inferior insects,
it was of finer quality, what there was of it, and that fairies were
merely an outgrowth of the anthropomorphic tendency which had been
noticed by distinguished writers as persisting even in the present day.
Then she departed, humming gaily, to the tune of a popular hymn in the
'Ancient and Modern' collection:

     'And gather honey all the day
     From every opening flower?

But the whole sad history of Queen Mab's failures to enlist sympathy and
protection it would be vain to tell. The fishes, all that were left of
them, took her part; but they lived in the water, and she had never had
very much to do with them. In the birds she found her true allies. They
were not attached to the higher civilisation. The higher civilisation,
so far, had treated them inconsiderately, at sparrow clubs. The Owl
talked a good deal about the low moral tone of the human race in this
respect, and was pessimistic about it, failing to perceive that higher
types of organisms always like to signify their superiority over lower
ones by shooting them, or otherwise making their lives a burden. The
Owl, however, was a very talented bird, and one felt that even his
fallacies were a mark of attainments beyond those common to his race. He
had read and thought a great deal, and could tell Queen Mab about almost
anything she asked him. This was pleasant, and she sat with him on a
very high oak in Epping Forest, above a pond, and made observations.
It was lovely weather, just the weather for sitting on the uppermost
branches of a great oak, and she began to feel like herself again. She
had forgotten to put her invisible cloak on; but as she was only half a
foot high, and dressed in green, no one saw her up there. Having reached
the Forest at night, she had met as yet with few British subjects; but
the Owl explained that she would see hundreds of them before the day was
over, coming to admire Nature.

'The English people,' he observed, 'are great worshippers of Nature, and
write many guide-books about her, some on large paper at ten guineas the
volume. I have sometimes fancied, indeed,' he added, doubtfully,' that
it was their own capacity for admiring Nature that they admired, but
that were a churlish thought. For, do they not run innumerable excursion
trains for the purpose of bowing at her shrine? Epping Forest must be
one of Nature's favourite haunts, from the numbers of people who come
here to worship her, especially on Bank Holidays. Those are her high
festivals, when her adorers troop down, and build booths and whirligigs
and circuses in her honour, and gamble, and ride donkeys, and shy sticks
at cocoanuts before her. Also they partake of sandwiches and many other
appropriate offerings at the shrine, and pour libations of bottled ale,
and nectar, and zoedone, and brandy, and soda-water, and ginger-beer.
They _always_ leave the corks about, and confectionery paper bags, for
the next people to gaze upon who come to worship Nature: you may see
them now, if you look down. I have often thought those corks, and
cigar-ends, and such tokens that the British public always leaves
behind it, must be symbolical of something--offerings to Nature, you
know, an invariable part of the rite, and typical--well, the question
is, of what are they typical?' mused the Owl, getting beyond his depth,
as he had a way of doing.

'However,' he resumed, 'it is certain that their devotion is strong,
and they offer to Nature the sacrifices dearest to their own hearts,
and probably dearest, therefore, to the heart of Nature. They cut
their names all over her shrine, which is, I have no doubt, a welcome
attention; but they do not look at her any more than they can help, for
they stay where the beer is, and they are very warm, and flirt.'

'What is "flirt"?'

'A recreation,' said the Owl decorously; 'a pastime.'

'And does _nobody_ believe in fairies?' sighed Queen Mab.

'No, or at least hardly anyone. A few of the children, perhaps, and a
very, very few grown-up people--persons who believe in Faith-healing and
Esoteric Buddhism, and Thought-reading, and Arbitration, and Phonetic
Spelling, can believe in anything, except what their mothers taught them
on their knees. All of these are _in_ just now.'

'What do you mean by "in"?'

'In fashion; and what is fashionable is to be believed in. Why, you
might be the fashion again,' said the Owl excitedly. 'Why not? and then
people would believe in _you_. What a game it all is, to be sure! But
the fashions of this kind don't last,' the bird added; 'they get snuffed
out by the scientific men.'

'Tell me exactly who the scientific men are,' said the fairy. 'I have
heard so much about them since I came.'

'They are the men.' sighed the Owl, 'who go about with microscopes,
that is, instruments for looking into things as they are not meant to be
looked at and seeing them as they were never intended to be seen. They
have put everything under their microscopes, except stars and First
Causes; but they had to take telescopes to the stars, because they were
so far off; and First Causes they examined by stethoscopes, which each
philosopher applied to his own breast. But, as all the breasts are
different, they now call First Causes no business of theirs. They make
most things their business, though. They have had a good deal of trouble
with the poets, because the poets liked to put themselves and
their critics under their own microscopes, and they objected to the
microscopes of the scientific men. You know what poets are?'

'Yes, indeed,' said Queen Mab, feeling at home on the subject. 'I have
forgotten a good many things, I daresay, with living in Polynesia, but
not about the poets. I remember Shakespeare very well, and Herrick is at
my court in the Pacific.'

'Ah, he was a great man, Shakespeare, almost too large for a
microscope!' said the Owl reflectively. They have put him under a good
many since he died, however, especially German lenses. But we were
talking about the philosophers--another name for the scientific men
--the men who don't know everything.'

'I should have thought they did,' said Queen Mab.

'No,' said the Owl. 'It is the theologians who know everything, or at
least they used to do so. But lately it has become such a mark of mental
inferiority to know everything, that they are always casting it in each
other's teeth. It has grown into a war-cry with both parties: "You think
you know everything," and it is hard for a bird to find out how it all
began and what it is all about. I believe it sprang originally out of
the old microscope difficulty. The philosophers wanted to put theology
under the microscope, and the theologians excommunicated microscopes,
and said theology ought never to be looked at except with the Eye of
Faith. Now the philosophers are borrowing an eye of Faith from the
theologians, and adding it on to their own microscope like another lens,
and they have detected a kind of Absolute, a sort of a Something, the
Higher Pantheism. I could never tell you all about it, and I don't even
know whether they have really put theology under the microscope, or only

'And the people worship St. George still?' asked Queen Mab, who, being
only a fairy, and owning no soul, had private theories of belief, based
merely on observation of popular customs.

'Oh yes, St. George and the Dragon. They have them both together on the
beads of their rosaries--the yellow things they count, and pray with, or
pay with.' said the Owl rather vaguely.

'St. George _and the Dragon!_ Why, St. George killed the Dragon.'

'Ah! the Dragon was not really killed.' said the Owl coolly. 'It was
only syncope, and he kept quiet for a time, and grew seven other heads
worse than the first. Some say St George worships the Dragon now,
himself; but people always are saying unpleasant things, and probably it
isn't true. At all events, the English worship St George and the Dragon
till they don't seem to know which is which.'

'What, has St George grown like the Dragon then?' cried Queen Mab
distractedly, wringing her hands.

'Oh no,' replied the Owl, with some condescending pity for the
foreigner's ignorance. 'But the Dragon has grown vastly like St.

'Is that all they worship?' said Queen Mab.

'Oh no, there are plenty of other patent religions. A hundred religions
and only one sauce--melted butter, as the Frenchman said, but the sauce
has outlived many of the patent religions.'

'I don't understand how religions are patent.' remarked her inquisitive

'We call it a patent religion.' said the Owl, 'when it has only been
recently invented, and is so insufficiently advertised, that it is
only to be found in a very few houses indeed, and is not a commodity in
general request. The Patentees then call themselves a Church, and devote
their energies to advertising the new "Cult," as they generally style
it. For example, you have Esoteric Buddhism, so named because it is not
Buddhism, nor Esoteric. It is imported by an American company with
a manufactory in Thibet, and has had some success among fashionable

'What do the Esoteric Buddhists worship?'

'Teacups and cigarettes, standing where they ought not.' replied the
owl; 'but I believe these things are purely symbolical, and that _au
fond_ the Priestess of Esoteric Buddhism herself adores the Dragon.'

'That is enough about _that_. Are there no patent religions warranted
free from Dragon worship?'

'Well.' said the Owl dubiously, 'there are the Altruists. '_They_
worship humanity. As a rule, you may have noticed that adorers think the
object of adoration better than themselves,--an unexpected instance in
most cases, of the modesty of their species. But the Altruists worship

'And they don't think Humanity better than themselves?'

'Far from it. Their leading idea is that they are the cream of Humanity.
Their principal industry is to scold and lecture Humanity. Whatever
Humanity may be doing--making war or making peace, or making love to its
Deceased Wife's Sister--the Altruists cry out, "Don't do that." And
they preach sermons to Humanity, always beginning, "We think;" and they
publish their remarks in high-class periodicals, and they invariably
show that everyone, and especially Mr. Herbert Spencer, is in the
wrong, and nobody pays the slightest attention to them. In their way the
Altruists do to others as they would have others do to them, To my mind,
while they pretend that Humanity is what they worship, they really want
to be worshipped by Humanity.'

'Are there many of this sect?' asked Mab.

'There were twenty-seven of them.' said the Owl, 'but they quarrelled
about canonising the Emperor Tiberius, and now there are only thirteen
and a half.'

'Where do you get the fraction?' said Mab.

'That is a mystery.' said the Owl. 'Every religion should have its
mystery, and the Altruists possess only this example; it is a cheap one,
but they are not a luxurious sect.'

'Well.' said Mab mournfully at last, 'I must go back to Samoa; there is
too much mystery here for me. But who is that?'

She broke off suddenly, for a new and mysterious object had just entered
the glade, and was advancing towards the pool.

'Hush!' said the Owl. 'Do take care. It is a scientific man--a

It was a tall, thin personage, with spectacles and a knapsack, and what
reminded Queen Mab of a small green landing-net, but was really intended
to catch butterflies. He came up to the pond, and she imagined he was
going to fish; but no, he only unfastened his knapsack and took some
small phials and a tin box out of it Then, bending down to the edge
of the water, he began to skim its surface cautiously with a ladle and
empty the contents into one of his phials. Suddenly a look of delight
came into his face, and he uttered a cry--'Stephanoceros!'

Queen Mab thought it was an incantation, and, trembling with fear,
she relaxed her hold of the bough and fell. Not into the pond! She had
wings, of course, and half petrified with horror though she was, she yet
fluttered away from that stagnant water. But alas, in the very effort
to escape, she had caught the eye of the Professor; he sprang up--pond,
animalcule all forgotten in the chase of this extraordinary butterfly.
The fairy's courage failed her: her presence of mind vanished, and the
wild gyrations of the owl, who, too late, realised the peril of his
companion, only increased her confusion. In another moment she was a
prisoner under the butterfly-net.

Beaming with delight, the philosopher turned her carefully into the tin
box, shut the lid and hastened home, too much enraptured with his prize
even to pause to secure the valuable Stephanoceros.

But Queen Mab had fainted, as even fairies must do at such a terrible
crisis; and perhaps it was as well that she had, for the professor
forbore to administer chloroform, under the impression that his lovely
captive had completely succumbed. He put her, therefore, straight into a
tall glass bottle, and began to survey her carefully, walking round and
round. Truly, he had never seen such a remarkable butterfly.


     'Rough draughts of Man's Beginning God!'

When Queen Mab recovered consciousness she heard the sound of violent
voices in the room before she opened her eyes, which she did half hoping
to find herself the victim of some terrible delusion. But the sight of
the professor, standing not a yard away, brought a fatal conviction to
her heart. It was too true. Was there ever a more undesirable position
for a fairy, accustomed to perfect freedom, and nourished by honey and
nectar, than to be closely confined in a tall bottle, with smooth hard
slippery walls that she could not pierce, and nothing to live upon but
a glass-stopper! It was absurd; but it was also terrible. How fervently
she wished, now, that the missionaries had never come to Polynesia.

But the professor was not alone, two of his acquaintances were there--a
divine veering towards the modern school, and a poet--the ordinary poet
of satire and Mr. Besant's novels, with an eye-glass, who held that
the whole duty of poets at least was to transfer the meanderings of
the inner life, or as much of them as were in any degree capable of
transmission, to immortal foolscap..Unfortunately, as he observed with a
mixture of pride and regret, the workings of his soul were generally so
ethereal as to baffle expression and comprehension; and, he was wont to
say, mixing up metaphors at a great rate, that he could only stand, like
the High Priest of the Delphic oracle, before the gates of his inner
life, to note down such fragmentary utterances as 'foamed up from the
depths of that divine chaos.' for the benefit of inquiring minds with
a preference for the oracular. He added that cosmos was a condition of
grovelling minds, and that while the thoughts, faculties, and emotions
of an ordinary member of society might fitly be summed up in the epithet
'microcosm.' his own nature could be appropriately described only
by that of 'microchaos.' In which opinion the professor always fully

With the two had entered the professor's little boy, a motherless child
of eight, who walked straight up to the bottle.

No sooner did the child's eyes light on the vessel than a curious thing
occurred. He fell down on his knees, bowed his head, and held up his

'Great Heavens!' cried the professor, forgetting himself, 'what do I
behold! My child is praying (a thing he never was taught to do), and
praying to a green butterfly! Hush! hush!' the professor went on,
turning to his friends. 'This is terrible, but most important. The child
has never been allowed to hear anything about the supernatural--his poor
mother died when he was in the cradle--and I have scrupulously shielded
him from all dangerous conversation. There is not a prayer-book in the
house, the maids are picked Agnostics, from advanced families, and I
am quite certain that my boy has never even heard of the existence of a

The poet whistled: the divine took up his hat, and, with a pained look,
was leaving the room.

'Stop, stop!' cried the professor, 'he is doing something odd.'

The child had taken out of his pocket certain small black stones of a
peculiar shape. So absorbed was he that he never noticed the presence of
the men.

He kissed the stones and arranged them in a curious pattern on the
floor, still kneeling, and keeping his eye on Mab in her bottle. At last
he placed one strangely shaped pebble in the centre, and then began to
speak in a low, trembling voice, and in a kind of cadence:

     'Oh! you that I have tried to see,
     Oh! you that I have heard in the night,
     Oh! you that live in the sky and the water;
     Now I see you, now you have come:
     Now you will tell me where you live,
     And what things are, and who made them.
     Oh Dala, these stones are yours;
     These are the goona stones I find,
     And play with when I think of you.
     Oh Dala, be my friend, and never leave me
     Alone in the dark night.'

'As I live, it's a religious service, the worship of a green butterfly!'
said the professor. At his voice the child turned round, and seeing the
men, looked very much ashamed of himself.

'Come here, my dear old man.' said the professor to the child, who came
on being called.

'What were you doing?--who taught you to say all those funny things?'

The little fellow looked frightened.

'I didn't remember you were here.' he said; 'they are things I say when
I play by myself.'

'And who is Dala?'

The boy was blushing painfully.

'Oh, I didn't mean you to hear, it's just a game of mine. I play at
there being somebody I can't see, who knows what I am doing; a friend.'

'And nobody taught you, not Jane or Harriet?'

Now Harriet and Jane were the maids.

'You never saw anybody play at that kind of game before?'

'No,' said the child, 'nobody ever.' 'Then,' cried the professor, in
a loud and blissful voice, 'we have at last discovered the origin of
religion. It isn't Ghosts. It isn't the Infinite. It is worshipping
butterflies, with a service of fetich stones. The boy has returned to
it by an act of unconscious inherited memory, derived from Palaeolithic
Man, who must, therefore, have been the native of a temperate climate,
where there were green lepidoptera. Oh, my friends, what a thing is
inherited memory! In each of us there slumber all the impressions of all
our predecessors, up to the earliest Ascidian. See how the domesticated
dog,' cried the professor, forgetting that he was not lecturing in
Albemarle Street, 'see how the domesticated dog, by inherited memory,
turns round on the hearthrug before he curls up to sleep! He is
unconsciously remembering the long grasses in which his wild ancestors
dwelt. Also observe this boy, who has retained an unconscious
recollection of the earliest creed of prehistoric man. Behold him
instinctively, and I may say automatically, cherishing fetich stones
(instead of marbles, like other boys) and adoring that green insect in
the glass bottle! Oh Science,' he added rapturously, 'what will Mr. Max
Müller say now? The Infinite! Bosh, it's a butterfly!'

'It is my own Dala, come to play with me,' said the boy.

'It is a fairy,' exclaimed the poet, examining Mab through his eyeglass.
This he said, not that he believed in fairies any more than publishers
believed in him, but partly because it was a pose he affected, partly to
'draw' the professor.

The professor replied that fairies were unscientific, and even
unthinkable, and the divine declared that they were too heterodox even
for the advanced state of modern theology, and had been condemned by
several councils, which is true. And the professor ran through all
the animal kingdoms and sub-kingdoms very fast, and proved quite
conclusively, in a perfect cataract of polysyllables, that fairies
didn't belong to any of them. While the professor was recovering breath,
the divine observed, in a somewhat aggrieved tone, that he for his part
found men and women enough for him, and too much sometimes. He also
wished to know whether, if his talented but misguided friend required
something ethereal, angels were not sufficient, without his having
recourse to Pagan mythology; and whether he considered Pagan mythology
suitable to the pressing needs of modern society, with a large surplus
female population, and to the adjustment of the claims of reason and

The poet replied, 'Oh, don't bother me with your theological conundrums.
I give it up. See here, I am going to write a sonnet to this creature,
whatever it is. Fair denizen--!'

'Of a glass bottle!' interrupted the professor somewhat rudely, and the
divine laughed.

'No. Of deathless ether, doomed.'

'And that reminds me,' said the professor, turning hastily, 'I must
examine it under the microscope carefully, while the light lasts.'

'Oh father!' cried the child, 'don't touch it, it is alive!'

'Nonsense!' said the professor, 'it is as dead as a door-nail. Just
reach me that lens.'

He raised the glass stopper unsuspiciously, then turned to adjust his
instrument And even as he turned his captive fled.

'There!' cried the boy.

Like a flash of sunshine, Queen Mab darted upwards and floated through
the open window. They saw her hover outside a moment, then she was
gone--back into her deathless ether.

'I told you so!' exclaimed the poet, startled by this incident into a
momentary conviction of the truth of his own theory.


     'Puis nous fut dit que chose estrange ne leur sembloit estre
     deux contradictoires Vrayes en mode, en figure, et en
     temps.'  Pantagruel, v. xxii.

Moved by an uncontrollable impulse, they all three rushed out into the
garden; and far beyond them, in the sunlight, they did indeed catch one
parting gleam of gauzy wings, as the fairy vanished. When the professor
led the way into the room again, and, rather crestfallen, looked at the
tall empty bottle and the stopper, which in his hurry he had thrown down
upon the floor.

'She is gone!' sobbed the child. 'My beautiful Dala. I shall never see
her again.'

He was right; the professor and the theologian, between them, had scared
Queen Mab away pretty successfully. She would certainly never
revisit that part of the city if she could help it. The divine looked
uncomfortable. In spite of himself he had recognised something strange
and unusual in the appearance of this last capture of his friend's
butterfly-net, and almost unconsciously he began to ponder on the old
theory that the Evil One might occasionally disguise himself as an angel
of light. The poet, meanwhile, was more voluble.

'Your soul is sordid!' he said indignantly to the professor. 'You have
no eyes for the Immaterial, the intangibly Ideal, that lies behind the
shadowy and deceptive veil that we call Matter.'

'My soul,' said the professor with equal indignation, 'that is, if I
have got one, is as good as yours.'

'No, it isn't,' said the poet; 'I am all soul, or nearly all. You are
nothing but a mass of Higher Protoplasm.'

'No one need wish to be anything better. I should like to know,' cried
the professor angrily, 'where we should all be without Protoplasm.'

'My friends,' said the theologian, still rather confused, 'this heat is
both irreverent and irrational. Protoplasm is invaluable, but is it not
also transient? The flight of that butterfly may well remind us--'

'Stop!' interrupted the philosopher. '_Was_ it a butterfly? Now I come
to think of it, I hardly know whether to refer it to the lepidoptera
or not. At all events, it is a striking example of the manner in which
natural and sexual selection, continued through a series of epochs, can
evolve the most brilliant and graceful combinations of tint and plumage,
by simple survival of the favourable variations.'

'It is indeed,' suggested the theologian, 'a remarkable proof of the
intelligent construction of the universe, and of the argument from
design, that this insect should have been framed with such exquisite
perfection of form and colour to delight the eyes of the theologian.'

'Not at all,' said the professor irritably. 'It was to delight the
eyes of butterflies of the opposite sex. It is no more an argument from
design than I am!'

'Do stop that!' said the poet. 'How can a fellow write a sonnet with
you two for ever sparring away at your musty scholasticisms? Haven't we
heard enough about Paley and Darwin? You have frightened away the fairy
between you, and that is plenty of mischief for one day.

'Fair denizen of deathless ether, doomed For one brief hour to languish
and repine.

Entombed? That will do, but I'm afraid there are not many more rhymes
to "doomed." "Loomed," "boomed," "exhumed," "well-groomed." My
thoughts won't flow, hang it all!'

'You _are_ an argument for design,' said the theologian, taking no
notice of the poet, 'though you won't admit it. Why won't you take
up with my scientific religion?--a religion, you know, that can be
expressed with equal facility by emotional or by mathematical terms.
It is as easy, when you once understand it, as the first proposition in
Euclid. You have two points, Faith and Reason, and you draw a straight
line between them. Then you must describe an equilateral triangle--I
mean a scientific religion, on the straight line, F R--between Faith and

'Oh!' said the professor. 'How do you do it?'

'First,' said the theologian hopefully, 'taking F as your centre, F R
as your radius, describe the circle of Theology. Then, taking R as your
centre, F R as your radius, describe the circle of Logic. These two
circles will intersect at Science, indicated in the proposition by the
point S. Join together S F, and then join S R, and you will have the
equilateral triangle of a scientific religion on the line F R S.'

'Prove it,' said the professor grimly.

'Science and Faith,' replied the theologian readily, 'equal Faith and
Reason, because they are both radii of the same circle, Man being the
Radius of the Infinite. Theology--'

'Stop!' ejaculated the professor in the utmost indignation. 'What do you
mean by it? I never in my life listened to such unmitigated nonsense.
Who gave you leave to talk of a scientific religion as an equilateral
triangle? If it is a triangle at all, which there is not the remotest
reason to suppose--but I cannot argue with you? You might as well call
it a dodecahedron, or the cube root of minus nothing.'

'Oh, very well,' said the theologian with exasperating coolness. 'I
thought it possible that even your blind prejudice might not refuse to
listen to a simple mathematical demonstration of the possibility of
a true scientific religion, but I find that I was mistaken. I am not
annoyed--not at all. I prefer to look with lenity upon this outburst of
passion, which might, I admit, have roused the anger of a theologian
of the old school. But, believe me, I personally feel towards you no
enmity--only the profoundest compassion.'

Inarticulate sound from the professor.

'I find in you,' continued the theologian with benevolence, 'much to
tolerate, much even to admire. I regret that, formerly, some of my
predecessors may have been led, by your aggressive and turbulent
spirit, to form unnecessarily harsh judgments of your character, and put
unnecessarily tight thumbscrews on your thumbs; but as for me, I desire
to win you by sympathy and affection and physico-theological afternoon
parties, not to coerce you by vituperation. Your eye of Reason, as I
have often observed, is already sufficiently developed; supplement it
with the eye of Faith, and you will be quite complete. It will then only
remain for you to learn which objects it is necessary to view with which
eye, and carefully to close the other. This takes a little practice
(which must not be attempted in Society), but I am sure that a person
of your attainments will easily master the difficulty. We will then
joyfully receive you into our ranks. No sacrifice on your part will be
required; you will retain the old distinction of F.R.S., of which
you have always been justly proud; but we shall take the liberty of
conferring upon you the additional privilege of the honorary title of

The professor uttered a brief but trenchant observation, on which the
theologian was about to launch down a reply, less brief but equally
trenchant. But the poet, as his fate would have it, struck in, in the
capacity of a lightning conductor, and succeeded in turning the wrath of
both combatants upon his own devoted head.

'If you must quarrel,' he cried, 'pray don't quarrel here. You would
fight on the very peaks of Parnassus. I can't think of a word that will
rhyme except "design." Stop, now I have it:

'Bright messenger of the Celestial Nine, Now in translucent ambience

Celestial Nine is commonplace, but what can a man do in this region of
trivial souls? Soar, my mind! What does "ambience" mean, by the way?
Never mind, if the Sublime is unfettered by literal meaning, all the
better for the Sublime!'

At this the divine and the philosopher turned upon him together, as they
were wont to do every now and then.

'This laxity of terms,' said the professor, 'is unscientific and

'I am a poet,' said the poet, 'I bow to no narrow machinery of
definitions. Words have a gemlike beauty and colour of their own. They
are _not_ merely the signs of ideas--of thoughts.'

'I wish they were!' groaned the professor. 'They are with us.'

'The idea,' continued the poet, 'must conform to the word, when the word
honours the idea by making use of it. What care I for the conventional,
the threadbare significance? My heart recognises, through the outer
vestment of apparent insanity, the inner adaptability. Soar, my mind!'

'And in this way,' said the professor sternly, 'ignoring the great
principles of classification and generalisation, you let a chaos of
disordered ideas abroad upon the universe, destroying all method and
definite arrangement and retarding the great progress of Evolution!'

'A jewel-like word, a transfigured phrase,' replied the poet, 'is
worth all your scientific dictionaries and logic threshing-machines put
together. Ruskin was in error. He tells us that Milton always meant what
he said, and said exactly what he meant.

'This had been an ignoble exactitude. How can a man whose words are
unbounded confine himself within the limits of an intellectual bound?

How can he, that is to say, know exactly what he means, in words, or
mean exactly what, to souls less gloriously chaotic, his words appear to
express? I have always felt this an insuperable difficulty.'

'I have no doubt of it,' said the professor ironically. 'Now,' he went
on, turning to the theologian, 'you see what comes of having too much
soul. It is impossible but that such fixed attention to any one organ
should prove injurious, even if the organ is not there. You really have
a great deal to answer for, in encouraging this kind of monomania.'

'Not a bit of it,' said the theologian indignantly. 'It comes of not
having soul enough, or of allowing the sway the soul should exercise
to fall upon the feeble sceptre of imagination. If our misguided young
friend had been thoroughly grounded in Paley's Evidences and scientific
primers--for these should never be separated--do you think we should
have heard anything about his chaotic soul? Not a bit of it. It would
all have been as clear as an opera-glass, or as Mr. Joseph Cook's
theory of Solar Light. Why didn't his parents give him my "Mathematical
Exposition of Orthodoxy for Children," or my "The Theology of Euclid,"
on his birthdays, instead of Hans Andersen's "Fairy Tales" and the
"Tales from the Norse?" It was very remiss of them.'

'On the contrary,' said the professor, 'I should have recommended the
entire elimination of doctrinal matter from his studies. I should have
guided him to a thorough investigation of the principle of all the
Natural Sciences, with especial devotion to one single branch, as Botany
or Conchology, and an entire mastery of its terminology I should have
urged our gifted but destitute of all scientific method friend to
the observation and definition of objective phenomena, rather than to
subjective analysis, and turned his reflections--'

'Flow, my words!' said the poet dreamily. 'Soar, my mind!'

He had flung himself into the solitary armchair in a graceful and
distraught pose, and with half-closed eyes had fallen into a reverie.
The divine and the professor stood and gazed at him despondently.

'Such,' said the divine, 'are the consequences of the lack of sound
ethical and eclectic principles in our day and generation!'

'Such,' said the professor, 'are the pernicious results of a classical
training, the absence of a spirit of scientific research and a broad and
philosophical mental culture.'

Those readers who have not yet perused the poet's sonnet may recognise
it, of course, by the first line:

     'Fair denizen of deathless ether, doomed.'

It attracted a good deal of attention at the time. The public were
informed, in the 'Athæenum,' that the poet was engaged on a sonnet, and
the literary world was excited, but, not having the key, could not make
out what on earth it meant. Meanwhile the professor's paper in 'Nature,'
which appeared in the course of the same week, being written from a
wholly different standpoint, did not tend to elucidate the mystery. The
latter merely described the locality in which the fairy, or butterfly,
as the professor called it, was found, and the circumstances of its
capture and escape, with such an account of its manifold peculiarities,
and the reasons to suppose it an entirely new genus, that Epping Forest
was as much haunted for the next two or three months by naturalists on
the watch, as by 'Arries making holiday. Our professor himself visited
the fairy's pond several times, in the company of the poet, with whom
he soon patched up a reconciliation. But Queen Mab, in the meantime, had
taken her departure.

The professor also sent to the 'Spectator' an account of the Origin of
Religion, as developed by his little boy, under his very eyes. But the
editor thought, not unnaturally, that it was only the professor's fun,
and declined to publish it, preferring an essay on the Political Rights
of the Domesticated Cat.


     'Geese are swans, and swans are geese,'
     M. Arnold.

At first Mab was so overwhelmed at the nature of her reception by
Science and Theology, that she meditated an immediate return to
Polynesia; but the birds implored her so pathetically to stay longer,
that she yielded, and went with the owl into Surrey. She had seen enough
of Epping Forest.

Surrey was very beautiful, and once pleasantly established in Richmond
Park, she watched the human life that seemed so strange to her with
great interest, taking care nevertheless, for some time, to keep clear
of anything that looked like a scientific man. The owl supported her in
this policy. He was not intimately acquainted with any of the members
of the learned societies, but he had a deeply-rooted and perhaps
overstrained horror of vivisection. Still, being a liberal-minded bird,
he extenuated the professor's conduct as far as possible.

'Perhaps he did not mean to do you any harm,' he suggested. 'He only
wanted to put you under the microscope.'

'He might have had more sense, then?' returned Queen Mab, still ruffled.
'He might have seen that I was a fairy. The child suspected something at

'Ah, he was an exceptional child,' said the Owl. 'Most of the children,
nowadays, don't believe anything. In fact, now that education is
spreading so widely, I don't suppose one of them will in ten years'

'It is very dreadful,' said Queen Mab. 'What are we coming to?'

'I am sure I don't know,' said the Owl. 'But we are being educated up
to a very high point. It saves people the trouble of thinking for
themselves, certainly; they can always get all their thoughts now, ready
made, on every kind of subject, and at extremely low prices. They only
have to make up their minds what to take, and generally they take the
cheapest. There is a great demand for cheap thought just now, especially
when it is advertised as being of superior quality.'

'How do they buy it?' asked Queen Mab. 'I don't quite understand.'

'Well, you know a little about Commerce. Education is another kind
of commerce. The authors and publishers are the wholesale market, and
teachers and schools and colleges are a kind of retail dealers. Of
course, not being human, we can't expect to find it quite clear, but
that is what we _do_ make out. The kingfisher and I were listening
lately to a whole course of lectures on Political Economy; we were on
a skylight in the roof of the building, and we found that Popular
Education was part of the system of co-operation. The people who don't
think, you know, but want thoughts, hand education over to the people
who do think, or who buy up old thoughts cheap, and remake them, and
this class furnishes the community. So that, by division of labour, no
one is obliged to think who doesn't want to think, and this saves any
amount of time and expense. It is really astonishing, I hear, how few
people have to think under this new system. But Thought is in great
demand, as I said, and so is Knowledge--whether there was any difference
between the two we could not quite gather. It is a law that everyone
must buy a certain quantity from the dealers: in other words, education
is compulsory. Eating is _not_ compulsory; you _may_ starve, you
_must_ learn. The Government has founded a large system of retail
establishments, or schools, and up to a certain age all the children are
taught there whose parents do not undertake to have them supplied
with thoughts at other establishments. I say thoughts, but it is facts
principally that they acquire. Of course, some thoughts are necessary to
mix the facts together with; but they generally take as few as
possible, because facts are a cheaper article, and by the principles of
competition and profit, people use the cheapest article that will sell
again for the same price. Some writers say that thoughts at retail
establishments are very inferior, and that customers had better go to
wholesale dealers at once, or else make on the premises; but I don't
know about that. Generally people buy the kind that comes handiest;
they are not half so particular about them as about articles of food and
dress, and the dealers, wholesale or retail, can sell almost anything
they like if they have a good reputation. History, languages, science,
art, theology, are all so many departments. Politics are always in
demand, and there are many great manufacturers who issue supplies at
a penny, every day, all over the kingdom. There is no branch where the
labourers employed have such stirring times as the makers of politics:
we call them statesmen. They seem, however, rather to enjoy it, and I
suppose they get used to the heat, like stokers. I think that the burden
of the whole scheme really falls most heavily on the children. But you
are tired.'

'Tell me about the children,' said Queen Mab. 'I shall understand that

'They have to learn facts, facts, for ever facts,' said the Owl
compassionately. 'It makes one's head ache to think of it. I am a pretty
well educated bird myself, though I say it; but if I had spent my time
in acquiring a quarter of the knowledge those children have to acquire,
then I should certainly never have been able to look at things in the
broadly scientific light in which they should be looked at. It does not
seem to matter what the facts are, so long as they are cheap and plenty
of them; it does not even matter whether they are true, or, at least,
that is of very minor importance. But see! see there! That is an example
of what I have been telling you.'

A child was passing below them with a weary step. Queen Mab trembled at
the sight of him, secure as she was among the broad chestnut leaves, and
her fear was justified, for in another moment the professor himself came
into view. The fairy-had seen the child before, and, as Mr. Trollope
used to say, 'she had been to him as a god'--it was the professor's
little boy. But this time the philosopher was without his butterfly-net,
and she found him much less alarming. He was occupied with the pale,
tired child, and telling him charming stories about coral islands, that
sounded to Queen Mab's astonished ears almost like a real fairy tale.
They sat down, while the professor talked. Wonderful things he told, and
said not a word all the time about generalisation or classification.

'It is like a fairy tale,' said the boy, echoing Queen Mab's thought,
when at last they rose to go. 'Oh, father, how I wish we could see Dala

'Dala, my boy? What, the lepidoptera? Ah, I wish we could! You
will find, as you grow older, Walter, that science is better than a

The boy looked up wistfully, and over the face of the philosopher, too,
came a sudden shadow. When Walter grew older? Hand in hand, the two
passed silently out of sight.

'He is a good man, after all,' said the Owl sententiously. And then
there came by a British manufacturer, in a gold watch-chain and patent
creaking leather boots, warranted to creak everywhere without losing

'Who is that?' asked Queen Mab.

'It is one of the pillars of the Church,' replied the Owl. 'The Dragon's
church, I mean, where he is worshipped by himself. In some places
you may worship St. George and the Dragon together; but in the Stock
Exchange, for instance, you may only worship the Dragon.'

'Is the Dragon very wicked?'

'I don't know,' said the Owl. 'I think he can't be, or else so many
respectable people would not worship him. The professor doesn't, or very
little; but then he doesn't worship St. George either. The people who
worship the Dragon are sometimes called Snobs--not by themselves though;
it is one of the marks of the true Snob that he never knows he is one.
They never call the Dragon by that name either. He has as many other
names as Jupiter used to have, and all the altars, and temples, and
sacrifices are made to him under the other names.'

'Sacrifices!' exclaimed Queen Mab. 'What do they sacrifice?'

'It would be shorter to say what they _don't_ sacrifice,' replied the
Owl. 'Only nobody knows, for many of his worshippers sacrifice anything
and everything. The manufacturer you saw go past--'

'Yes,' said Queen Mab, a good deal impressed, for the owl was speaking

'He is sacrificing the happiness, and even the lives of hundreds of men
and women. Also the playtime of the children and their innocence. As for
his own peace and charity, he sacrificed them long ago. And yet--it is
very strange; he calls himself a worshipper of St. George. You remember,
in very early times there used to be sacrifices to the Dragon.'

'I remember,' said the fairy. 'In wicker baskets. But never anything.
like this!'

'I daresay not,' said the Owl 'We do things on a larger scale now,
sacrifices and all. Everybody prefers, of course, to make sacrifices
of the belongings of other people; but there are certain possessions of
their own that unavoidably go too--as Truth, Sympathy, Justice; abstract
nouns, the names of any quality, property, state or action,' murmured
the Owl, falling unconsciously into his old habit of parsing. 'The
English,' he added, 'are very generous with their abstract nouns, and
will sacrifice or give away any quantity of them. It is a national
characteristic, of which they are justly proud.'

'Do the women worship the Dragon?'

'Certainly!' said the Owl. 'They generally profess a great deal of
veneration for St. George too; but they will worship either to get front
seats. I don't know why the English are so fond of front seats; back
ones are just as comfortable, and one can often hear better in them; but
they don't suit dragon-worshippers. They want front seats anywhere--at
concerts, in the church, in art or literature, or even in subscription
lists. The persons who can't afford front seats generally adore those
who can, and those who can, say that the others ought to be grateful to
Providence for putting them in the gallery or letting them into the free
pews. There is a great deal of veneration in the English, and it shows
itself in this way; they reverence the people with reserved tickets.
That is why they are so fond of a noble lord, and that is why they
admire Abraham, and even Lazarus, because he ultimately got such an
excellent place in the next world. They don't care much about Lazarus in
this, because their souls have not such a natural affinity with his when
he is hanging about anyone's doorstep, or loafing round street-corners
with oranges to sell or a barrel-organ. Sometimes they give him the
crumbs that fall from their tables, and sometimes they don't, because
they are afraid he will take advantage of it to steal the spoons. Or
else they take the lofty patriotic ground, and say that their principles
forbid them to countenance vagrancy, and that Heaven helps those who
help themselves. This is very consoling to Lazarus, and it always gives
him pleasure to hear what good moral principles the Philistines--or
Snobs--have got, even if he hasn't got any himself. From what they
frequently say, you would not think that they looked forward to
seeing him in Heaven. It is part of their great-mindedness--a national
characteristic--that the chords of their nature are more deeply stirred
by sympathy with him when he has got into a good berth. I can fancy
how, in Paradise, a British Snob will edge round to some retired
crossing-sweeper, who was converted by the Salvation Army, and went
straight up among the front row of angels and prophets, and will say:

'"Pardon me; but I remember you _so_ well!" And I can fancy that the
seraph might reply:

'"Ah, yes! I used to sweep a crossing up your street. I asked you for a
copper once, and you told me to go--not where you find me."

'It would be a little awkward for the Snob: things often are; but
he would soon get over it. His sense of locality, you perceive, is
extremely acute. He may not always know at a glance exactly what men are
in themselves, but he can always tell _where_ they are. If you put one
of Madame Tussaud's waxworks into a front seat, or on a Woolsack, or on
a Board of Directors, the English would venerate it more than most real
persons. Their sensibilities are so strong that the merest symbol stirs
them. A noble lord need not do anything remarkable; but he is in the
front row, and if he just radiates ability, that is quite enough. And
he can't help radiating "ability;" it is one of his characteristics, and
has become automatic.'

'What is automatic?'

'Automatic! Oh, it means acting of its own accord, without any effort of
the will to make it work. Automatic actions may go on a very long time
without stopping, sometimes for ever. If I continued in this strain much
longer it might get automatic too: speaking often does, especially with
Members of Parliament. It is as if they were wound up to say similar
things one after the other, like musical-boxes, by reflex action, and
you never know when they will give up. The automatic method has this
advantage, that when you have had some experience of an automaton, you
can always tell--suppose that it is wound up, for instance, to speak
on a motion--what it will probably say next, and certainly how it will
vote, and that gives you a sense of calm peace. It is a method very
common among stump orators, because it comes cheaper in the long run.
But there are other things--novel-writing, for instance. Novelists, many
of them, are wound up at the beginning to write novels periodically, and
the action gradually gets feebler and feebler, till at last it stops. It
does not, however, generally stop till they die, and that is why we have
so many bad novels from some writers. All authors, though, don't write
automatically, any more than all clergymen preach automatically. But it
is a very easy habit to fall into: I have done it myself more than once.
Of course it is very useful, and very inexpensive, and an immense saving
of energy, and one would advise the rising generation to cultivate it
as much as possible, that their years may be long in the land. But one
ought never to allow such a habit as swearing,--or shooting,' added the
Owl gravely, 'to become automatic. Let me see, where did I begin? I was
telling you about the female dragon-worshippers, who dress in symbolical
costumes, like the old priestesses or the Salvation Army captains.
Lately, though, a good many of the women who were brought up to it have
taken "a new departure," and gone off after the wholesale education
establishments at Camford, where they are fed on biscuits and marmalade,
and illuminate the fragments of Sappho on vellum. This may not be very
good: still I think it is better than the Dragon; the worst of it is
that it forces up the educational prices.'

With which remark the Owl began a long series of observations, a mixture
of political economy and his views on popular education, which Queen Mab
found rather tedious. But they inspired her with a few verses, which
she resolved, being the most philanthropic of fairies, and full of
compassion for the dreary state of Great Britain in general, and of
the rising generation in particular, to circulate among the Polynesian
children as soon as she returned home. In this determination,
unfortunately, she either forgot or ignored the fact that she had
left her happy island a prey to the combined effects of annexation,
civilisation, and evangelisation. But the verses ran thus:

     'Upon my childhood's pallid morn
     No tropic summer smiled,
     In foreign lands I was not born,
     A happy, heathen child.

     Alas! but in a colder clime,
     A cultured clime, I dwell
     All in the foremost ranks of time,
     They say: I know it well.

     _You_ never learn geography,
     No grammar makes you wild,
     A book, a slate you never see,
     You happy, heathen child.

     I know in forest and in glade
     Your games are odd but gay,
     Think of the little British maid,
     Who has no place for play.

     When ended is the day's long joy,
     And you to rest have gone,
     Think of the little British boy,
     Who still is toiling on.

     The many things we learn about,
     We cannot understand.
     Ah, send your missionaries out
     To this benighted land!

     You blessed little foreigner,
     In weather fair and mild,
     Think of the tiny Britisher,
     Oh, happy heathen child.

     Ah! highly favoured Pagan, born
     In some far hemisphere,
     Pity the British child forlorn,
     And drop one sorrowing tear!'


     'They will soon be here,
     They are upon the road,'
     John Gilpin.

'I should like,' said Queen Mab one day, 'to go and see the City. Do you
think it would be safe?'

'Yes,' said the Owl, 'if you fly out of the way of the smoke and the
net of overhead wires, and take care not to be suffocated, and not to
go near the Houses of Parliament, nor the Bank, nor St. Paul's, nor the
Exchange, nor any great public building. And if you keep clear of all
the bridges, and the railway stations, and Victoria Embankment, and go
the other way whenever you see a person carrying a black bag.'

'Why?' inquired Queen Mab, a good deal mystified.

'Because all these places,' said the Owl, 'are in danger of being blown
up. If you could get a Home Ruler to take you round now; but I'm afraid
it wouldn't do, as he might put you into an explosion and leave you
there, as likely as not. Besides, I was forgetting, you are immortal,
aren't you? You _couldn't_ be blown up? If so, it is all right.'

'I don't suppose I could,' said Queen Mab a little doubtfully, 'but
still I shouldn't care to try. What is it like?'

'I don't know,' replied her mentor. 'I have never tried it myself. You
had better ask Mr. Bradlaugh, or some eminent popular sciolist Huxley
or Spencer would do. They have been exploding or blowing up popular
theology for a number of years, and popular theology and Mr. Joseph Cook
have been exploding them. As far as I can make out, they both appear
to think it very good fun. But I was going to tell you about the
black bags, which are filled with dynamite, a very explosive
though inexpensive substance indeed, and carried by persons called
"dynamiters." These bags are left at large in public buildings, while
the dynamitards go away, and as soon as their owners turn the corner
the bags explode and blow up the buildings, and anyone who happens to be

'Why do they do it?' exclaimed Queen Mab, breathless.

'Nobody seems to know,' said the Owl. 'It is one of the problems of the
nineteenth century. Even the dynamiters themselves don't appear to have
gone into the whole logic of it I suppose that they are tired of
only blowing things up on paper, and they are people who have a great
objection to things in general. They complain that they can't get
justice from the universe in its present state of preservation, and
therefore they are going to blow as much of it as possible into what
they call _smithereens_, and try to get justice from the smithereens. It
is a new scheme they have hit upon, a kind of scientific experiment.
The theory appears to be, that justice is the product of Nihilism
plus public buildings blown up by dynamite, and that the more public
buildings they blow up the more justice they will obtain. I hear that
they have also started a company for supplying statesmen, and all public
orators except Home Rulers, with nitro-glycerine jujubes to improve the
voice. Nitro-glycerine is a kind of condensed dynamite. A City sparrow
told me--but perhaps it was only his fun--that they were borrowing the
money from the Government, under the pretext of applying it to a fund
for presenting three-and-sixpenny copies of Jevons' "Logic" to Members
of Parliament who can't afford to buy the book for themselves. It is
reported, also, that if the Nihilists can't obtain justice enough by
any less extensive measures, they will lower a great many kegs of
nitro-glycerine to the molten nucleus of the globe, and then--'

'Then?' said Queen Mab, much excited.

'Then the globe will explode, and all the inhabitants, even the
dynamiters themselves; but justice will remain; according to the theory,
that is. But it is rather an expensive experiment.'

'How dreadful!' said the fairy. 'Do you think I had better not go to

'I think you might,' replied the Owl thoughtfully. 'There would be
a little risk certainly; but you could fly high, and remember that
dynamite strikes downwards. You had better take the sparrow, though, for
I'm afraid I should attract too much attention. Otherwise I should like
to go with you.'

'I will make us both invisible,' said Queen Mab. 'That will be easy.'

'Oh, very well, if you do _that!_' And they started.

'After all,' said the Owl an hour later, 'as we _are_ here, and
invisible, we may as well rest on the dome of St. Paul's. Dynamite
does strike downwards, and I don't see any black bags about,' he added,
looking round suspiciously.

'All right,' said the fairy. 'Now you can tell me all about things,' for
they had been flying too fast to exchange many remarks. 'What is this

'It is one of St. George's best churches,' said the Owl.

A burst of melancholy music swelled out below them as he spoke, and
Queen Mab started with delight.

'That is like Fairyland,' she said promptly. 'What is it?'

'It is the organ and the choristers,' said the Owl. 'If you fly down a
moment you can look in; but don't wait long, because of the dynamite. It
would be just like them,' he added pensively, 'to blow it up when we are

Queen Mab obeyed, leaving the owl, still a little nervous, seated
invisible on the dome.

'I have heard the music,' she said when she flew back, 'and seen the
singers, and the great golden pipes the music comes out of. What a
beautiful big place it is! We have nothing like that in Polynesia.'

'No, I should think not,' returned the bird. 'Look round you. That
street where all the people and the vehicles are rushing up and down is

'Why do they all go so fast?' said the fairy.

'Oh, for many reasons. Competition, struggle for existence, and all
that. They are in a normal condition, in that street, of having trains
to catch, and not having any time to catch them in. Besides, they are
dragon-worshippers, most of them, and it is part of their religion to
walk as fast as they can, not only through Cheapside but through life.
The one who can walk fastest, and knock down the greatest number of
other people, gets a prize.'

'Who are the big men in black robes who stand at corners, and look as if
everything belonged to them? Are they the owners of the City?'

'They are policemen,' said the Owl. 'Products,' he went on learnedly,
'of the higher civilisation, evolved to put the lower civilisation into

'What are prisons?'

'A kind of hothouses,' said the Owl, 'for the culture of feeble moral
principles that the Struggle for Existtence has been too much for. They
are a wonderful system. The weak morality is supplied with bread and
water and a cell to develop in, and it is exercised on a treadmill, and
allowed to expand and pick oakum, and so it is turned into a beautiful
plant of virtue.'

'What do they do with it then?'

'Then they let it run wild, unless it comes across a Home Missionary, or
a School Board, or Dr. Barnardo, and gets trained.'

'Oh!' said Queen Mab. 'Are there many of these hothouses?'

'A good many. You see, such a number of the members of the lower portion
of the higher civilisation have moral principles that need training. The
moral principle is the latest product of evolution, or so the professor
says, and evolution has not yet got quite into the way of always turning
it out first class. Like everything else, it wants practice. Some moral
principles are excellent; but others are really bungles, and require
periodical prison culture. At present we need policemen for the
transplanting; but it is hoped that, in the course of an era or two, the
automatic method will be so much further developed that a member of the
higher civilisation who gets very drunk, or steals, will put himself to
prison at once, by reflex action. I told you about that: it is a lengthy
subject; but the kingfisher and I quite mastered it one day, and I
daresay you will. It is much easier than portions of the Thirty-nine

'I know what that is,' said Queen Mab; 'the missionaries were talking
about it once.'

'I have taken a good deal of trouble,' said the Owl, 'but there were
parts of the Thirty-nine Articles I never could make out. They are a
kind of tinned theology, and so much tinned that no one appreciates them
but the theologians.'

'Why is the theology tinned?' asked the Queen. 'Why don't they have it
fresh and fresh?'

'They like it old,' said the Owl. 'They have tried various ways of
treating it, for theology does not keep well in a scientific atmosphere.
Frozen theology has been experimented with by Archdeacon Farrar and
others, and has some vogue. But the popular taste prefers it tinned.
And yet it is very tough, in Articles. I am surprised that no one
has written a simple explanation of them: "Primer of the Thirty-nine
Articles," "The Thirty-nine Articles made Easy," or "Thirty-nine
Articles for Beginners;" but no one ever has. It is a book that is very
much needed, and if I had any influence with the theologians I would ask
them to do it at once. In days like ours, when floods of Nonconformity
and Socialism are pouring in on every hand, the very foundations of
Church and State are being sapped for want of a plain popular guide
ta the Thirty-nine Articles, that a child could understand. A child
couldn't expect to find them clear in their present condensed state,
could he now? But then, when I come to think of it, perhaps there is no
reason why he should.' And the owl fell into a reverie.

After this they departed in search of a more sequestered resting-place,
and ultimately alighted in Kensington Gardens. And there they came
upon a Democrat and an Aristocrat who was also a landholder, and the
Aristocrat was saying:

'What will you do without an aristocracy? What will you look up to?' 'We
shall do,' said the Democrat, 'very well indeed. We shall do, in fact, a
good deal better; for we shall be an aristocracy in ourselves, and look
up to ourselves, and reverence humanity. What, I should like to know,
has the British aristocracy done for us?'

'We have set you an example,' replied his companion impressively.

'We have told you what to do and what not to do. We have employed you;
we have let you vote for us; we have represented you in Church and
State; we have given you a popular education; and a pretty use you have
made of it! We have, in short,' he continued, trying hard to remember
the popular maxim, 'cherished you like a viper, and you turn again and
rend us.'

'All that,' said the Democrat, 'you did because you couldn't help it.'
'We have been,' exclaimed the Aristocrat with deep pathos, 'as lights
in a benighted land. We have improved the breed of horses and cultivated
the fine arts, and literature, and china, and the fashions, and French

'And drinking, and racing, and gambling, and betting, and
pigeon-shooting,' put in the Democrat thoughtfully. 'So you have.'

'We have come to church,' continued the Aristocrat unheeding, 'and you
have surveyed us from the free seats--when you were there. I regret to
say that your attendance at the established places of worship has been
far from satisfactory. We have allowed you to pay us the highest rents
you could afford, solely to develop in you the sense of competition
and a stimulus to progress, and we have daily displayed to you, in our
persons and equipments, the advantages of the higher life. Our wives
and daughters have played the piano, done crewel work, danced, sung and
skated, and painted on plaques for your edification and improvement. We
have trained ourselves, physically, mentally, morally, and aesthetically
to be a thing of beauty in your eyes and a joy for ever. Alas, you
have no vision for the beautiful and intrinsically complete; you can't
appreciate an aristocracy when you see one. We have even flung open our
parks and grounds for your benefit, and let you admire our mansions,
and you knocked down the ornaments, and smudged the tapestry and the
antimacassars, and trod on the flower-beds, and pulled up the young
trees, and threw orange-peel into the fountains, and ridiculed the
statuary. Then you asked us for peasant proprietorship.'

'It wasn't me,' said the Democrat with unusual humility. 'It was the
British public.'

'And what are you,' retorted his companion firmly--for he felt that he
had scored a point--'but a representative of the British public? Alas,
I could weep for your short-sightedness! When the reins of the ship of
State--no, the helm of the chariot of Government, is in the hands of
a semi-barbarous public, what will it do with it? The old aristocratic
ballast once thrown overboard, it will drive that chariot upon the rocks
of anarchy, it will overturn it upon the shores of revolution. And you,
contemptible tool of an infatuated majority, what will you do then?
Ah, then, too late you will cry, "Give me back my aristocracy, the
aristocracy I so madly flung away!" When you have the Church and State
flying about your ears, you will wish you had minded what we said
to you. You will long with remorse unspeakable for the old English
gentleman, the bulwark of the land; but the good old English gentleman
will be no more. He will have gone to the vaults of his fathers, to the
happy hunting-grounds of the noble lord.'

'You are really very eloquent,' said the Democrat, with more politeness
than his wont ('I didn't think he had it in him,' he murmured under his
breath.) 'But you exaggerate our intentions. We are only democrats: we
are not Nihilists. We desire justice.'

'Ah, that is what you all say!' exclaimed the Aristocrat hastily. 'I
have heard enough about justice: I wish it had never been invented.
Never knew any of your fine-sounding phrases yet that did not end in

'You mistake,' said the Democrat severely. 'Our requirements are few and
simple: Universal suffrage, the abolition of the peers, of entail, and
of primogeniture, the overthrow of establishments and armaments equally
bloated, the right to marry the deceased wife's sister, the confiscation
of landed property by the State--'

'Oh lord, yes!' groaned the Aristocrat 'I thought you were coming to
that next. Take our landed property, do--I wish you joy of it! What
with all your Communistic legislation and bad harvests, and backing
good things that don't come off--like an ass as I was--by Jove, I feel
disposed to quit the whole business and compete for a Mandarin's Button
in China. It's the only country for a British Aristocracy to live
comfortably in and be properly appreciated, and you can't come
sneaking about with your red-hot Republicanism, for they are all good
Conservatives. Who ever heard of The Chinese Revolution?'

They parted hastily, the common consequence of all lengthy argument,
and the aristocrat repaired to his club, smoking a cigar to soothe his
ruffled feelings, while the democrat also turned on his heel, and went
to address the British public in Hyde Park. Queen Mab, however, had
heard enough of social problems for one day, and she did not follow
him. The Owl took her, instead, to Westminster Abbey, and offered
explanations after the manner of a verger.

'This is our museum of 'dead celebrities,' he said. 'Here lie our great
men--poets, soldiers, artists, and statesmen. When the British public
feels elevated and sublime it comes here to look at the tombstones, and
it says: "These are my great men: they worked for me. I bought them: I
paid for them!" And it turns away with tears in its eyes.'

'And while they are alive?' asked Mab.

'That is rather a long subject,' replied the Owl.

'In the first place, they set up a great man, like a target, to shoot at
and fight over, and find out whether he is really a great man or only
a "lunatic ritualist," like General Gordon, in the view of Thoughtful
persons. It takes them some time to decide: sometimes they never do
decide till he has gone to his reward, if even then. It is an admirable
quality in him, always, not to mind being shot at. But when the British
public has really made up its mind that a man is a great man, and that
however low they rate him at market value he is sure to be above the
average, they sing a psalm of thanksgiving, and they cry, "Where is his
coffin? Let us drive nails into the coffin of this great man! Let us
show our magnanimity, our respect for the higher life, our reverence for
the lofty soul! Give us the hammer." Then they begin. It is an imposing
ceremony, and lasts during the lifetime of the great man, whoever
he happens to be. He may be a literary great man, a poet, perhaps a
Laureate. This type, according to the notions of the British public,
requires a great quantity of nails, and every class of society almost
brings them to his coffin. The young lady authors come, many troops of
them, all conscious of greatness in their own souls, and all having
made it the dream of their lives to turn their souls inside out for the
benefit of a really great man. Surely, they think, there must be in the
heart of him a natural affinity for the details of their inner lives.
They give him the details of their inner lives: they also bring with
them hammer and nails. There is nerve in those delicate fingers, energy
in those sympathetic souls: the number of nails they contrive to hammer
in is astonishing.

'Then the theologians come, with a doctrinal hammer and many nails, the
lineal descendants of the nail that Jael drove into the head of Sisera
because he fought against the Israelites. They have found out that there
is a want of sound sectarian teaching in the works of the poet, and they
say that in the interests of theology they must drive a nail in. They
drive it: they know how to drive nails, some of the theologians. Good
sound crushing, rending, comfortable nails of doctrine--none of your
airy latitudinarian tin-tacks. Then come the critics: they have been
brought up to it. They have all manner of nails--nails with broad heads,
and narrow heads, and brass heads, and no heads, but all with points.
If a critic ever should drive in a nail without a point he would feel
everlastingly disgraced, but he never does: he sharpens them on the
premises. He can always find a place for another nail, till by-and-by
the coffin is quite covered, and then the great man is thankful to rest
in it. Then the British public sings more psalms.

But it seems to afford them solid comfort and happiness to find out, or
to think they find out, that a great man was really not so great after
all, and that they can look down on him. It is certainly a more piquant
sensation to look down on a great man than on an ordinary mortal, and
makes one feel happier. There is a melancholy, sweet satisfaction--I
have noticed it myself--in pointing out exactly where this or that great
man erred, and where we should not have erred if we had been this
or that great man. There is a calm, blessed sense of the law of
compensation among humans when they murmur over the grave: "Ah! his was
a mighty soul; everybody says so; but his umbrella was only gingham, and
mine has a silver handle." Or, "Yes, his force of mind was gigantic; but
just here he left the beaten track. If I had been in his place at that
moment I should have kept it; I always do." Or, "His morality looks
elegant, but it hasn't got any fibre to it. Now my morality is all
fibre; you never met with such fibrous morality. What did he do with the
fibre out of his? Did he pawn it? did he sell it? did he give it away?
We should like to know all about it--is it in his autobiography? Did he
write an autobiography? If he didn't, why didn't he? We prefer all our
great men to write autobiographies. We like to be well up in them,
and we think it would throw a great deal of light on the study of
psychology, and gratify our sense of reverence, to know the exact
details of the daily life of this great man, and at what hour he dined,
and whether he wrote with a quill or a J pen. Whether the quality of the
pens he used was or was not intimately connected with the quality of his
moral fibre, and whether his ethical degeneration could or could not be
dated from his ceasing to make two fair copies of his manuscripts. We
should also like to be informed whether his studs were gold or gilt,
and, if they were gold, whether it was 18-carat gold, or only 15. If
they were gilt, whether he wore them gilt on principle, or because he
hadn't money enough to buy a better pair; and if, supposing that it was
because he hadn't money enough, _why_ he hadn't, and whether he spent
the money on cigars. Why he was not an anti-tobacconist. Did anyone ever
invite him to join the anti-tobacconists? and if they didn't, why didn't
they? Did he approve of the Blue Ribbon movement? Is it true that he
once got intoxicated, and smashed a blue china teapot? If he did, was
it by way of protest against the demoralising doctrine of Art for Art's
sake? Has anybody written his wife's biography?--if not, why not? We
should like it at once, and also the biographies of all his second
and third cousins, and of his publishers, and of the conductor of the
tramcar he once went into town by. Why did he travel by tram that day,
and what had the twopence he paid for the tramcar to do with the flow
of the hexameters used by him in translating the Æneid? Let us trace the
effects of both on the growth of individuality in his writings, and find
out, if possible, the influence of the twopence as affecting his views
on the opium traffic." But what a long time I have been talking,' said
the Owl, suddenly recollecting himself. 'Automatic action again. Dear

'Yes, you have,' said Queen Mab, whose thoughts had been wandering. 'I
did not suppose you meant to stop. Is it not time for us to go?'

It was indeed growing late, and the Owl was tired after his long
harangue, but though they set out at once on their return journey, the
day's experiences were not quite ended. For behold! the mob, returning
from Hyde Park, with the Democrat at its head, in search of a Cabinet
Minister, a Lord Mayor, a Government, anything administrative and
official that they could lay their hands upon, and to whom they could
make representations. The mob was half-starved; but that, as the Owl
whispered to Queen Mab, was a way it had, and did not amount to much.
It was also able-bodied and unemployed but these too were normal
characteristics, and did not amount to much either. Fortunately, or
unfortunately, it met a Cabinet Minister just at the entrance of Oxford
Street, and the Cabinet Minister, who had been walking gaily, and
twirling his cane, instantly slackened his pace, and, with inherent fine
tact, put on a serious and sympathetic expression. The mob pushed the
Democrat forward, and he confronted the Cabinet Minister.

'What are you going to do for these people?' he said abruptly; 'they are

'No; are they?' said the Cabinet Minister, looking very properly
horrified, at which the mob cheered. 'I am very sorry indeed to hear it.
Let me see if I can find a sixpence.'

He fumbled in all his pockets, and, finally, with some difficulty,
produced a threepenny bit. The mob cheered again.

'I am sorry,' he said, 'that I haven't a sixpence, but perhaps this will
be of use?'

'That won't do,' replied the Democrat roughly, as he pocketed the coin.
'Do you suppose that you are going to feed thousands of starving men,
women, and children on a threepenny bit?'

'I deeply sympathise,' said the Cabinet Minister, without any distinct
impression that he was quoting from 'Alice in Wonderland.' 'In fact, I
may say that I weep for you; but what can I do? Am I not with you? Don't
I hate criticism, and political economy, and Mr. Goschen?'

'You must _act_, returned the Democrat impressively. 'You are in the
Government; 'and there came from the mob a hoarse, funereal echo, 'You
are in the--qualified--Government!'

'Ah, but I am not in that department,' said the Minister, seeing a
way of escape. 'My friends--I may say, indeed, my suffering
fellow-citizens--be reasonable. Don't be vexed with _me_. I am only
a capitalist, a toiler and spinner. Go for dukes and earls, or
better--exercise patience. "The night," says the poet, "is always darkest
just before the dawn." I am not in that department.'

'Hang your departments!' said the Democrat. 'If you are not in that
department, at least you might be expected to know where it is, and
to tell it what to do. Who would give a farthing for departments and
officials who can't join hands at a time like this, to help their
starving countrymen? We shan't stop to quarrel with you how you do it,
if you only lift us out of the mire. Here are these men'--he pointed
to the mob, and the mob hurrahed--'willing to work, eager to work,
perishing for want of food, and not a soul of your benevolent
Governments will lift a finger to set them to work for it. Give them
public buildings to erect and to be blown up, canals to make, railways
to cut; assist them to emigrate, if you have nothing for them to do at
home, but in Heaven's name be sharp about it!'

'It is really very awkward,' said the Cabinet Minister. 'You see I am
not in the Railroad Department, nor in the Canal Department, nor in the
Emigration Department. I am sure you see that!' he continued hopefully,
looking round upon the crowd, who, though they admitted the fact, did
not appear to appreciate its deep and intrinsic force. 'But I am quite
willing at some future opportunity--indeed, I may say I hope at some
opportunity comparatively not distant, to consider the advisability of
representing the matter to the heads of certain departments who might be
able, in the course of the next but one Septennial Parliament, or' (even
more sanguinely) 'I might under favourable circumstances even hope
to say, the _next_ Septennial Parliament, to lay the topic before the
Government. In the meantime, my friends, consider that such means as you
have suggested for alleviating the hardships with which I so profoundly
sympathise are not things to be lightly rushed into. You will agree with
me doubtless. You will show that fine sense of the propriety of your
lots innate in the breast of every Briton, by agreeing with me that
canals, for instance, are not things to be lightly rushed into.
Emigration, my friends, is not a thing to be lightly rushed into. In the
meantime, knowledge, as the good old maxim tells us, never comes amiss,
and whatever be the eventual scheme resolved upon by Government for
relieving your necessities, you cannot better employ your leisure than
in preparatory academic study of the arts of building, railway cutting,
and canal-making, and in acquainting yourselves with the principles and
methods of emigration, the nature of our different colonial settlements,
their situation and productions, during the seven years that must
inevitably elapse--'

He would have proceeded, but a howl, long and loud, drowned his
utterance, and the mob surged forward, driving him back, in a state
of bewildered astonishment, into the premises of a fashionable dealer.
Various tokens of regard followed him in the shape of rotten eggs and
cabbage leaves, which, as the Owl observed in a thoughtful voice, were
doubtless symbolical.

Then the mob broke up and went on its different ways. Mab and the Owl,
following one of its scattered detachments, met another procession, with
a drum and trumpets and other instruments, all working their hardest at
one of Sankey and Moody's hymns, which procession drew up straightway
before the remnant of the mob, and began to convert it.

'What is this?' asked Queen Mab. 'Is it British Polynesians going to a

'No,' replied the Owl. 'It is only the Salvation Army, walking backwards
into glory.'

'Come away,' said Mab. 'They are very noisy, these British Polynesians,
and the mob makes me miserable. Let us go back.'

'I am ready,' said the Owl. 'I don't wonder that London has this effect
on you at first. You are not sufficiently automatic, and a non-automatic
mind has always much to contend with.'


     'Now to the eye of Faith displayed,
     The Prototype is seen,
     In every office, every trade,
     I mark, in human garb arrayed,
     The conquering Machine!

     By careful evolution planned,
     With many a gliding wheel,
     To warn, to comfort, to command,
     Or fly, or drive a four-in-hand,
     Or dance a Highland Reel!

     When, urged no more by Passions gale,
     Or impulse unforeseen,
     Humanity shall faint and fail,
     Upon its ruins will prevail
     The conquering Machine!'

Perhaps the exhibition of machinery-struck Queen Mab with more horror
than any other novelty in this country. The Owl declared that she ought
to develop a stronger automatic principle, and he therefore took her
to an exhibition full of appliances for making the world over again,
if ever, as North-country folk say, it 'happened an accident' All the
different industries of the higher life were represented, and the scene
was calculated to drive a non-automatic mind, as the Owl called Queen
Mab's, entirely out of itself in the course of three-quarters of an

There was machinery, worked by electricity, for beating gold to that
degree of fineness that it could not be seen except through a powerful
microscope, and there was the powerful microscope for seeing it through,
also worked by electricity.

'Why do they want it so fine?' asked Mab.

'In order,' said the Owl, 'that they may be able to take a microscope
to it, and so increase the demand for microscopes. The trades play into
each other's hands. Look at these watches making themselves.'

He pointed to an arrangement of ropes and wheels and pulleys and
electricity, directing the movements of a few human assistants with
admirable dexterity and precision.

'You don't have anything like that in Polynesia!' said the Owl with
pardonable pride.

'No, I should think not,' said Queen Mab. 'Why, we haven't any watches
at all there. We look at the sun.'

'Ah yes,' returned the Owl. 'But the sun is rather unreliable, after
all. He has the Ecliptic to go round, and the whole of the Solar System
to attend to, and one must make allowances for him. But, for purposes
of strict chronology, watches are better, especially these watches! They
wind themselves up punctually every night, and if their owners break the
mainsprings of them, they pack themselves up to go by Parcels Post back
to the Company, and then they direct the parcel--or so I hear. Oh! they
are very intelligent watches!'

'Is that true? 'inquired Mab doubtfully.

'I believe so,' said the Owl.

There seemed to Queen Mab something rather too preternatural about this,
though she could well believe it, as she looked at the wonderful manner
in which the watches turned themselves out. It frightened her, and they
proceeded farther on, and came to much artillery, carefully constructed
by the higher civilisation for the purpose of turning the lower
civilisation, or the non-civilisation, or the alien civilisation, from
the error of its ways.

'These,' said the Owl, pointing at random to a collection of elegantly
polished torpedoes, cannons of superior excellence, gunpowder and
gun-cotton of all descriptions and colours, arranged artistically in
cases, to resemble sugar-candy and other confectionery, 'are the weapons
of our philanthropy, the agents by which we disseminate truth, charity,
and freedom, among tribes and races as yet imperfectly supplied with
cardinal virtues and general ideas. They cost a great deal, but we would
sacrifice anything for such a purpose. There is nothing mean about the
British public. "What are a few bales of gun-cotton,' it cries--" a few
tons of paltry bullets, in comparison with the march of civilisation and
humanity and open markets? We do but give them of our best, our finest
Bessemer steel, our latest thing in torpedo-boats--nothing is too good
for them. What are we, if not magnanimous?' says the British public.
I always like that about it--it never grudges a few millions for war
expenditure in the cause of philanthropy! Considering how very sharply
it looks after its £ s. d. in other directions, this liberality is
especially touching and gratifying.'

But Queen Mab preferred to hurry past these dangerous-looking engines of
Altruism, and they continued their survey. They came next to a company
of umbrellas who were also barometers, and found out when it was going
to rain in time for their masters to take them out. This, Mab said, was
absurd, and, in fact, she was heartily tired of the whole thing before
the Owl had explained to her half-a-dozen ingenious structures. She said
that inanimate objects had no business to be so clever, and that, if the
mechanicians did not take care, they would shortly invent machines that
would conspire together to assassinate them, and then share the profits.

'Let us go away,' she exclaimed finally, 'before we turn into machines
ourselves! Everything is going round and round, and I am afraid of
having to begin to go round and round too.'

'Ah, I knew this would be the place for cultivating the automatic
principle in you,' said the Owl triumphantly. 'We will come again.'

'No, thank you,' said Mab, energetically spreading her wings, and, in
her preoccupation, taking the wrong road and darting into the great
luncheon-room, whither the Owl followed her. The tables were crowded
with people, and numbers of other people who had not yet lunched, were
pacing up and down, looking anxiously for vacant places which were not
there. The invisible spectators recognised the British manufacturer they
had seen in Richmond Park. He was seated at a table; he had been sitting
there since the disappearance of his last glass of claret, half an hour
by the great clock, and for the whole of that half-hour several persons,
standing very near his chair, had been fixing hungry eyes upon him,
and expecting him to get up. Every time his boots creaked they moved
perceptibly nearer, and made swift mental calculations of the chances
each would have to reach the chair; but the worthy manufacturer still
sat on, stolid and complacent, with a sense of comfort the keener by

Queen Mab and the Owl found him uncongenial, and flew away again.

'That is just like him,' said the Owl, when they had reached the outside
of the building at last, and were perched on the roof, enjoying the
fresh air. 'He _will_ get all he can for his money. In him you may see a
typical and beautiful example of the Survival of the Fittest. He
worked his way, by means of native moral superiority and pure chocolate
composed of mortar and molasses tinted with sepia, right from the
gallery into one of the very best reserved seats, and now has little
books written on himself, as exemplifying the reward of virtue, and
exhorts everybody to go in and do likewise. The pamphlets conclude:

'"If your vocation furnishes only the trivial round and the common task;
if it does not fall to your lot to invent a new pure chocolate, you can
at least buy Mr. Tubbs's pure chocolate, and reverence the benefactors
of humanity."

'He sends copies to all the dukes, and earls, and archbishops, and the
result is an immense sale of the pure chocolate. He has never missed a
chance of advertising it; he takes boxes to the meetings of the Church
Missionary Society for propagation among the heathen, and so has managed
to get large profits from the Zunis, and the Thlinkeets, and the Mikado,
and the Shah. He nearly got into difficulty with the Low Church party
once by writing privately to the Pope to solicit orders--not holy
orders; orders for pure chocolate, I mean. I hope he won't carry it too
far. His wife's uncle, who was a wholesale draper, seized one golden
opportunity too many, and never recovered from the effects.'

'How was that?' asked Mab.

'It was an incident that took place in the Strand one day,' said the
Owl with a modest air, 'of which I learned the particulars from two City
sparrows. It struck my fancy, and I wrote a few stanzas upon it. The
kingfisher, in fact, did me the honour to say that I had wedded the
circumstance to immortal verse; but that was his partiality. I will,
however, repeat the little poem to you.' And with becoming diffidence
the Owl recited:

     'The Seraph and the Snob.

     It was a draper eminent,
     A merchant of the land,
     On lofty calculations bent,
     Who raised his eyes, on cent, per cent.

     From pondering, in the Strand.
     He saw a Seraph standing there,
     With aspect bright and sainted,
     Ethereal robe of fabric fair,
     And wings that might have been the pair
     Sir Noel Paton painted.

     A real Seraph met his gaze--
     There was no doubt of that--
     Irradiate with celestial rays.
     Our merchant viewed him with amaze,
     And then he touched his hat.

     I own, before he raised his hand,
     A moment he reflected,
     Because in this degenerate land,
     To meet a Seraph in the Strand
     Was somewhat unexpected.

     Yet there one stood, as wrapt in thought,
     Amid the City's din,
     No other eye the vision caught,
     Not even a stray policeman sought
     To run that Seraph in.

     But on the merchant curious eyes
     Men turned, and mocking finger,
     For well they knew his mien and guise,
     _He_ was not wont, in moonstruck wise,
     About the Strand to linger.

     Mute stood the draper for a space,
     The mystery to probe,
     Alas! in that his hour of grace,
     His eyes forsook the Seraph's face,
     And rested on his robe.

     And wildly did he seek in vain
     To guess the strange material,
     And golden fancies filled his brain,
     And hopes of unimagined gain
     Woke at the sight ethereal.

     Then, suffered not by fate austere
     The impulse to discard,
     He never paused to idly veer
     About the bush; but calm and clear
     He said: 'How much a yard?'

     A bright and tremulous lustre shone
     Through the dull, dingy Strand,
     From parting wings seraphic thrown;
     And then, mute, motionless, alone,
     Men saw the merchant stand.


     In town to-day his memory's cold,
     No more his name on 'Change is,
     Idle his mart, his wares are sold,
     And men forget his fame of old,
     Who now in Earlswood ranges.

     Yet evermore, with toil and care
     He ponders on devices
     For stuffs superlatively rare,
     Celestial fabrics past compare,
     At reasonable prices.

     To him the padded wall and dead
     With gorgeous colour gleams,
     And huge advertisements are spread,
     And lurid placards, orange, red,
     Drive through his waking dreams.'

'Thank you,' said Queen Mab, 'that is very interesting; but I can't
help being sorry for the merchant. For, after all, you know, it was his
nature to. Is it not time, now, for us to go back?'


     'Tweet!' cried the sparrows, 'it is nothing!
     It only looks like something.
     Tweet! that is the beautiful.
     Can you make anything of it?
     I can't?'
     Hans Andersen.

'How exceedingly successful,' observed Queen Mab one day, 'the Permanent
Scarecrows have been!'

'The Permanent Scarecrows?' said the Owl.

The winged and gifted pair had been on another visit to London, and
Mab had found rows on rows of stucco houses, where she had left green
fields, running brooks, and hedges white with may, on the northern side
of the Strand.

'Yes 'said Mab 'you hardly ever see a crow now, where, in my time, the
farmers were so much plagued by the furtive bird. But, as the crows
have been thoroughly frightened off, and as there are now no crops to
protect, I do think they might remove the permanent scarecrows.'

'Your Majesty's meaning,' said the Owl, 'is beginning to dawn on me.
True, in your time there were no statues in London, and the mistake
into which you have fallen is natural. You went away before the great
development of British Art, and British Sculpture, and British worship
of Beauty. The monuments you notice are expressive of our love of
loveliness, our devotion to all that is fair. These objects of which you
complain are not meant to alarm predatory fowls (though well calculated
for that purpose) but to commemorate heroes, often themselves more or
less predatory.'

'Do you mean to tell me?' asked Mab, 'that that big burly scarecrow,
about to mend a gigantic quill with a blunt sword, was a hero?'

'He was indeed,' said the Owl, 'though I admit that you would never have
guessed it from his effigy.'

'And that other scarecrow, all claws and beak, who blocks up the narrow
street where the Dragon worshippers throng? Was _he_ a hero?'

'He is believed by some to be the Dragon himself,' said the Owl; 'but no
one knows for certain, not even the sculptor.'

'And the Barber's Block with the stuffed dog, looking into the Park?'

'He was a poet,' said the Owl, 'and expressed so much contempt for men
that they retorted by that ridiculous caricature. Would you believe it,
English sculptors actually quarrelled among themselves as to who made
that singular and, for its original purpose, most successful scarecrow!'

'I don't wonder,' remarked the Queen, 'that birds of taste are rare in
the Metropolis, and that, on the Embankment especially, a rook would be
regarded as a kind of prodigy. Nowhere has the manufacture of permanent
scarecrows been conducted with more ingenious success. But tell me, my
accomplished fowl, have Britons any other arts? Long ago the men used to
paint themselves blue, but, as far as I have remarked, the women are
now alone in staining their cheeks with a curious purplish dye and their
locks with ginger colour.'

'Among the Arts,' said the Owl, 'the modern English chiefly excel in
painting. To-morrow, by the way, the shrine of Loveliness begins to open
its gates. The successful worshippers, are admitted to varnish their
offerings to Beauty, while the unsuccessful are sent away in disgrace,
with their sacrifices. Suppose we go and examine this curious scene.'

'In Polynesia,' replied Mab, 'no well-meant offering is rejected by the

'The Polynesian gods,' answered the Owl, 'are too indiscriminate.'

On the next morning any one whose eyes were purged with euphrasy and rue
might have observed an owl and a fairy queen fluttering in the smoky air
above Burlington House. Here a mixed multitude of men and women, young
and old, were thronging about the gates, some laughing, some lamenting.
A few entered with proud and happy steps, bearing quantities of varnish
to the goddess; others sneaked away with pictures under their arms,
or hastily concealed the gifts rejected at the shrine of Beauty in the
hospitable shelter of four-wheeled cabs.

'Let us enter,' said the Owl, 'and behold how wisely the Forty Priests
of Beauty (or the Forty Thieves, as their enemies call them) and the
Thirty Acolytes have arranged the gifts of the faithful.

Lightly the unseen pair fluttered past the servants of Beauty, nobly
attired in gold and scarlet. They found themselves in a series of
stately halls, so covered with pictures in all the hues of the aniline
rainbow, that Queen Mab winked, and suffered from an immortal headache.

'How curious it is,' said Queen Mab, 'that of all the many thousand
offerings only a very few, namely, those hung at a certain height from
the floor, are really visible to any one who is neither a fairy nor a

'The pieces which you observe,' remarked the Owl, 'are almost in every
case the work of the Forty Priests of Beauty, of the Thirty Acolytes,
and of their cousins, their sisters, and their aunts. Those other
attempts, almost invisible, as you say, to anyone but a bird or a fairy,
have been produced by other worshippers not yet admitted to the Holy

'Then,' asked the Queen, 'are the Forty Priests by far the most expert
in devising objects truly beautiful, and really worthy of the Goddess of

'On that subject,' said the Owl, 'your Majesty will be able to form an
opinion after you have examined the sacrifices at the shrine.'

Swiftly as Art Critics the winged spectators flew, invisible, round the
galleries, and finally paused, breathless, on the gigantic group of St.
George and the Dragon, then in the Sculpture Room.

'Well, what do you think?' asked the Owl.

'The Forty Priests,' replied Queen Mab, 'are, with few exceptions, men
who seem to have been blinded, perhaps by the Beatific Vision of Beauty.
If the Beatific Vision of Beauty has not blinded them, why are they and
their friends so hopelessly absurd? Why do they have all the best of the
shrine to themselves, while the young worshippers are consigned to holes
and corners, or turned out altogether? Who makes the Forty the Forty?
Does the goddess choose her own Ministers?'

'By no means,' said the Owl, 'they choose themselves. Who else, in the
name of Beauty, would choose them? But you must not think that they are
all blind or stupid; there are some very brilliant exceptions,' and he
pointed triumphantly to the offerings of the High Priest and of five or
six other members of the Fraternity.

'This is all very well, and I am delighted to see it,' said Queen
Mab, 'but tell me how the choosing of the Forty and of the Acolytes is
arranged. 'When one of the Forty dies,' replied the Owl, 'which happens
only at very long intervals, for they belong to the race of Struldbrugs,
several worshippers who have become bald, old, nearly sightless, with
other worshippers' still young and strong, are paraded before the
Thirty-nine. And they generally choose the old men, or, if not, the
young men who come from a strange land in the North, where rain falls
always when it is not snowing, and whither no native ever returns. If
such a man lives in a fine house, and has a cunning cook, then (even
though he can paint) he may be admitted among the Forty, or among the
Thirty who attain not to the Forty. After that he can take his ease;
however ugly his offerings to Beauty, they are presented to the public.'

'Well,' said Queen Mab, 'my curiosity is satisfied, and I no longer
wonder at the permanent scarecrows. But one thing still puzzles me. What
becomes of the offerings of the Forty after the temple closes?'

'They disappear by means of a very clever invention,' said the Owl.
'Long ago a famous priest, named Chantrey, perceived that the country
would be overrun with the offerings to which you allude. He therefore
bequeathed a sum of money, called the Chantrey bequest, to enable the
Forty to purchase each other's pictures.'

'But what do they do with them after they have bought them?' persisted
Mab, who had a very inquiring mind.

'Oh, goodness knows; don't ask _me_,' said the Owl crossly; 'nobody ever
inquires after them again!'


     'Were it not better not to be!'
     Tennyson: The Two Voices.

     'Si tu veux', je te tuerais ici tout franc,
     en sorte que tu rien sentiras rien, et m'en croy,
     car j'en ay bien tué d'autres qui s'en sont bien trouvez'
     Pantagruel, ii. xiv.

'Look there!' said the Owl one day. 'There is a bishop, one of the
higher priests of St. George.'

He was a beautiful bishop, in his mitre, canonicals, and crozier, all
complete--so the Owl said. It strikes one as a novelty for bishops to
wear their rochettes and mitres when they go out walking in Richmond
Park; but one is forced to believe the Owl, he has such a truthful
way with him, like George Washington. By the way, what scope George
Washington had for telling lies, if he had wished it, after that
incident of the cherry-tree, which gave everyone such a high opinion of
his veracity!

The Bishop advanced slowly into full view, and then drew up before
a tree. He did not lean against the tree, for fear of spoiling his
splendours, but he drew up before it, and began to ponder, with a
mild, benevolent expression on his fine features. At the same time, two
hundred yards away, Queen Mab caught sight of the Democrat, walking very
fast, a little out of breath, and looking for the Bishop. He wanted to
explain to him the principles of Church and State, and to talk things
over in a friendly way. The Democrat had great faith in talking things
over, spite of his failure to convince the Aristocrat; he never really
doubted that if he only harangued against obstacles long enough they
would ultimately disappear. The Bishop, for instance, would willingly
rush into nonentity, if once he could be brought to look at his duty in
that light, and the Democrat was eager to begin to put it before him in
that light immediately. But while he was still looking earnestly for
his expected proselyte, someone else advanced with a similar purpose--a
tall, gentlemanly individual, with a pleasing exterior, spotless linen
cuffs, and a black bag. The Owl uttered a cry of horror.

'Come away!' he exclaimed. 'It is a Nihilist, a dynamiter!'

But Queen Mab held her ground, or rather her branch. She was a
courageous fairy, and though she turned a shade paler she spoke

'No!' she said. 'I mean to stay and see what he does with it _You_ may

But the Owl was either too chivalrous to desert her, or he was paralysed
with terror.

'Dynamite strikes downwards,' the fairy heard him murmur with chattering
beak, and that was all he could say. Meanwhile the Nihilist went up to
the Bishop.

'Excuse me!' he murmured politely, and knelt down. The Bishop stretched
out his hands absently, in an attitude of blessing; but the Nihilist
did not look up. He took an American cloth parcel from the black bag and
laid it at the Bishop's feet. Then, gradually withdrawing, he began to
lay the train.

'He is going to blow him up!' whispered Mab, shuddering. But the
Bishop, absorbed in rapt contemplation, heard and saw nothing, till
the Democrat, breaking rudely through some bushes and into his
reverie, roused him effectually. The Democrat was not a person of whose
neighbourhood one could remain unconscious.

'Ah!' he exclaimed, while the Bishop looked upon him with an air of mild
disapprobation. 'I have found you at last! I was anxious to discuss with
you--but what is this?'

For the more observant Democrat had caught sight of the cloth parcel.

'What is this?' he repeated suspiciously.

'I really don't know,' said the Bishop mildly, putting on his spectacles
and gazing down. 'I am a little shortsighted, you know. It is the size
of the quarto edition of--'

'There!' interrupted the Democrat, who had caught a glimpse of the
Nihilist's shadowy figure. He darted after it, while the Bishop, a
little perturbed, moved slowly in the same direction.

'Don't move,' said the Nihilist, raising an abstracted face. 'I will
only be a moment. Just step back there, will you?' and he pointed
towards the parcel with one hand, while the other still scattered the

'What are you doing?' cried the Democrat, shaking him.

'Stop that!' said the Nihilist 'You had better not lay hands on _me_, or
you mayn't like it. It is really inconsiderate,' he continued, appealing
to the Bishop in an injured voice. 'I am only going to blow you up,
and you won't be quiet half a minute together. How _can_ I blow you up
properly, if you will keep walking about?'

'You are going to blow _me_ up!' said the Bishop, awaking to the
situation, and becoming as indignant as his gentle nature would allow
him to be. 'Miserable man! What will you want to blow up next? I utterly
discountenance it. Take your dynamite to the haunts of iniquity and
atheism, if you will. Rather blow up Renan, and Dissenters, and the Rev.
Mr. Cattell; but as for _me_, this is really carrying it too far!'

'Waal,' said the Nihilist, rising with a surprised stare, and in the
astonishment of the moment betraying his nationality, 'I guess things
air come to a pretty pass when a Bishop of the Church of England
refooses to be blown up in the interests of hoomanity!'

He took up the American cloth parcel as he spoke and walked despondently
away, musing over the lack of public spirit displayed by established
orders in general and prelates in particular.

'I would cheerfully consent to be blown up any day,' he murmured
pensively, 'in the interests of hoomanity; but it is not for the
interests of hoomanity--'

'Why did you not arrest him?' said the Bishop reproachfully, when he was
out of sight.

'He is the natural product of the present depraved state of Society
and of the Legislature,' replied the Democrat, shaking his head, 'and
therefore to be pitied rather than condemned. He should be accepted as
a warning, a merciful token sent to all thrones, principalities and
powers, reminding them of the error of their ways and of their latter
end. And besides,' he continued unwillingly, 'he has a whole magazine
of explosives on his person. If I had not been carried away by my
indignation just now I should never have taken him by the collar. I
did remonstrate with him once, on the strength of his political bias. I
said, "Look at us, why can't you profit by our example? We don't wish
to blow up, but gently to 'disintegrate. We are mild, but firm. We
never express a wish for revolution, but for reform. We are as active as
anyone in bringing about the Millennium, but we don't desire to be
shot into it head foremost, like a projectile from one of your infernal
machines. Dynamite, that last infirmity of noble minds, should only be
resorted to when all other modes of conciliation have failed." And what
do you think he replied? He smiled affably and offered me a box. "Thank
you!" he said, "Take a torpedo?"'

'Dear me!' said the Bishop; 'he is really a terrible character. I have
here some of his advertisements, sent to me the other day. Actually
sent by post, to me, a Prelate of the Church of England. I saved them,
intending to deliver a discourse upon the subject.'

He took a handful of papers from his pocket-book, and the Democrat
perused them, while Queen Mab, invisible, looked over his shoulder.

'Home Comfort! Hints to Architects and Builders.

'In the construction of tenements, it is absolutely necessary, for the
safety and convenience of the inmates, to place in the recess at the
back of each fireplace a couple of Donovan's Patent Dynamite Fire
Bricks, warranted. The advantages of this novel and most ingenious
contrivance will be fully appreciated when, for the first time, the
family circle gathers round the cheerful blaze.'

     'To Clergymen.

     'For a pure religious light, suitable to the Liturgy of the
     Church of England, try Donovan's Wax Tapers for Church
     Illumination. Two of these, placed in the sconces, will give
     more light than twenty ordinary candles, and will also
     impart vigour and fervency of tone to the whole of the
     proceedings. Donovan and Co. are so confident of the
     superiority of their manufactures that they are willing to
     refund costs, on receiving the written attestation of the
     Bishop of the diocese that the article has proved
     unsuitable. Try them; you can have no idea of the effects.'

     'Directors of Railway Companies.

     'Take care to have carriages illuminated with Donovan's
     Patent Safety Lamps. These exert a bracing and salutary
     influence, not only on the atmosphere and the spirits of the
     passengers, but on the tunnel walls themselves, which are
     invariably found, after the passage through them of a train
     lighted by Donovan's Patent Safety Lamps, completely
     prostrate with astonishment at the unparalleled effects of
     the same, to the immense convenience of traffic and
     judicious prevention of accidents.'

There were several more advertisements, similar in tone and of
attractive appearance, which the Democrat perused with interest.

'What could possess the fellow to send all these to _you?_' he exclaimed
when he had finished. 'I always said he pushed the thing to an extreme.
He has got dynamite on the brain: he will go off himself some day if he
doesn't take care, like a new infernal machine.'

'I wish he would!' said the Bishop hastily; and then correcting himself,
'I was about to say, "Whatever is, is best."'

'Oh, stow that!' exclaimed the Democrat. 'I mean,' he added
apologetically, on observing the Bishop's startled glance, 'that, of
course, that sounds very well, and it is a pretty thing to say, but
everybody knows it isn't true. I will undertake to prove to you, if
you will allow me'--here the Bishop's face gathered a shade of
melancholy--'that, in fact, there never was a more outrageous falsehood
on the earth. As for the Nihilist, naturally we should be thankful
to get rid of him, either by explosion or otherwise; but he is such a
dangerous fellow to tackle. The fact is, one hardly dare shake hands
with him, for fear of being blown into the middle of next week, and then
one couldn't toil for the benefit of humanity.'

'Act, act in the living Present,' murmured the Bishop.

'Just so,' said his companion approvingly. 'And you can't act in the
living Present when you are in the middle of next week.'

'And yet, you know,' said the Bishop, with a glimpse before him of
some possible advantage in the argument, 'I have often fancied that you

He paused judiciously.

'Oh no!' returned the Democrat promptly, 'we wouldn't do it on any
account. I assure you that our motives are quite unimpeachable.'

'Oh!' said the Bishop. 'And about the House of Lords, for example?
Being a Spiritual Peer oneself, you see, one naturally takes an

'Well, as for that,' said the Democrat, 'it would really be such an
excellent thing for you in all respects to be abolished, that you would
never make any objection, would you now? We have your welfare so deeply
at heart, and long study of your characteristics has convinced us that
a course of judicious abolition would be your salvation, temporal,
spiritual--and eternal.'

'I say!' exclaimed the Bishop, 'isn't _that_ putting it rather strong?
To a Bishop, you know.'

'Ah,' said his companion encouragingly, 'all that feeling will pass
away. The full beauty of true Democracy is not, I admit, at first
wholly apparent to the Conservative mind; but once afford the requisite
culture, and it unfolds new attractions every day. Believe me, we are
acting in this matter solely, or almost solely, with a view to your
ultimate benefit. We are not acting for ourselves--ourselves is a
secondary consideration. But your true fife, as Goethe so beautifully
says, probably with an intentional reference to bishops and noble
lords, must begin with renunciation of yourself. Till you have once been
abolished you can never know how nice it is.

"The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower,"' he
added, quoting the words of the hymn-book, with the firm impression that
they were from some Secularist publication.

'And is it necessary?' said the Bishop somewhat helplessly.

'Absolutely necessary,' replied the Democrat.

'I don't know about that,' said a voice behind them, and Queen Mab
started, seeing the Professor. 'But depend upon it, the fittest will
survive. I think, myself, that it is quite time you were gone; but some
types die out very slowly, especially the lower types; and you may be
said, as regards freedom of intellect and the march of Science, to be a
low type--in fact, a relic of barbarism. There can be no doubt that,
in the economy of Nature, bishops are an unnecessary organ, merely
transmitted by inheritance in the national organism, and that in
the course of time they will become atrophied and degenerate out
of existence. When that time comes you must be content to pass into
oblivion. Study Palæontology.' Now he pronounced it Paleyon-tology,
not having had a classical education. 'Think of the pterodactyles, who
passed away before the end of the Mesozoic ages, and never have appeared
again. What, in the eternal nature of things, are bishops more than

'I wonder,' interrupted the Bishop severely, 'that you dare to speak
of your pernicious teachings under the name of Paleyontology, as if the
First Principles of that revered divine, whose loss we all deplore, were
ever anything like that!'

The Professor only glared, and was going on, but the Democrat stopped
him, by remarking, in a loud and exasperatingly complacent voice:

'You are quite correct. Only upon the wreck of the old order of
existence can arise the New Democracy.'

'Can you never stop talking about yourself?' snapped the Professor
testily. 'One would think, to hear you, that Democracy was the goal of

'So it is,' said the Democrat.

'Not a bit of it. You and your democracies are only a fleeting phase, an
infinitesimal fraction of the aeons to be represented, perhaps, in some
geological record of the future, by a mere insignificant conglomerate
of dust and bones, and ballot-boxes, and letters in the _Spectator_ and
other articles characteristic of this especial period. What a dream of
Science that, interstellary communication established, some being
of knowledge and capacities as infinitely excelling our own as our
faculties excel those of the lowly monad, wandering on this terrestrial
globe, and culling from the imperfect archives of these bygone years a
corkscrew, an opera-glass, or, perchance, a pot of long since petrified
marmalade, preserved intact by some protecting incrustation of
stalagmite from the ravages of time, may dart a penetrating gleam of
intelligence through the dark abysses of innumerable ages, and exclaim:
"This clay, upon which I gaze, was of the human period. This coin, this
meerschaum, this china shepherdess, this prayer-book with gilt edges,
this _Sporting Times_, were the inseparable companions of a fossil
species of Englishmen who once colonised this globe, and minute traces
of whom have been found in its most widely separated regions. Alas that
the action of marine and subaerial denuding agents has deprived us of an
opportunity for closer examination of the habits and idiosyncrasies
of this interesting fossil. Into such small compass are compressed
the pride and wealth of nations and of centuries. O genus humanum! O
tempora! O mores!" Thus will he muse. No democrat! no stump orator
will be that Being of the Future, nor anything of human mould. One's
imagination may well revel in the thought that Evolution, mighty to
conceive and to perform, lias not yet completed her work. What
are vertebrates? Even these are transient. But four classes of
vertebrates--only four!' shouted the Professor in his enthusiasm, wholly
forgetting the Democrat, and the Bishop, who was gazing at him with
a look of blank horror on his venerable countenance. 'Why, it is
preposterous, it is inconceivable that we should stop at four!--fishes,
reptiles, birds, and mammals! Where is the fifth! Cannot Natural
Selection, Struggle for Existence, Variability and Survival of the
Fittest, between them, furnish a fifth class of vertebrates? I demand it
in the name of Science and of Evolution. We have been human long enough.
There we are, ever since the Age of Stone, pinned down to one particular
tribe of mammals. Ah, when shall we begin to move on again? Is not this
a hope beyond the niggardly aspirations of a purblind democrat?'

'What will the future reality be? I care not; but progress demands a new
and conquering organism. For my part, I see no reason why we should not
immediately leave the vertebrates. That would be something like a New

Here the professor stopped suddenly, becoming aware of the eyes of
the Democrat, which were fixed on him with a mixture of contempt and

'I don't understand all that,' he said in an exasperating tone. 'It is
very elevating, I daresay, but what I want is Universal Suffrage. There
is something tangible for you. When we get that, there will be time to
think about the future, and indeed, we shall have it in our own hands,
and can furnish any kind we like, by Ballot. Ballot is better than
Natural Selection. Natural Selection is all very well; but it does not
know what we want. We do.'

'Science may be allowed her dreams as well as Theology,' said the
Professor rather shamefacedly.

'But you can't bring about a new sub-kingdom, or the kingdom of heaven
either, by Act of Parliament.'

'Why not?' returned the Democrat confidently. 'It is only to get a
majority; and there you are, you know!'

'My brethren,' said the Bishop, inspired thereto, as the Owl observed,
by reflex action, 'Perfection is not of this world!'

'It will be though,' replied the Democrat cheerfully,' before we have
done with it. Bless you, Perfection will be upon you before you have
time to turn round! That is the beauty of the New Democracy. You have
merely to be abolished, and then we get a majority, and then, you know,
there we are!'

'What will you do with the minority?' said the Professor grumpily. 'How
about Proportional Representation?'

'Oh, the minority?' said the Democrat. 'Well, it will be all right--you
will see how right it will be if you give us a majority. We have
everybody's interests at heart--deeply at heart!' he added hopefully.
'We first pass a Bill for the manufacture (National Monopoly) of all
the cardinal virtues at reduced prices--may be ordered direct from the
Company, carriage paid; and then a Bill for the repression of all the
Cardinal Crimes, which the Company is also willing to buy up at market
value, for exportation--and then, you see, there we are!'

'Where are you?' said the Professor sharply.

'Where?' replied the Democrat, looking puzzled for a moment, but soon
recovering himself triumphantly. 'Where? oh, we are there, you know.
_There_ we are!'

'Humph!' ejaculated the Professor, turning on his heel. The Bishop
turned away also, saying that he had an engagement, and the Democrat
followed him, talking very fast and bringing forward arguments. When
they reached the gate there was a sad, perplexed look upon the Bishop's
face, and finally shaking off his companion by an effort of the will, he
entered the nearest churchyard and began to meditate upon mortality. The
Democrat, observing in an acrid voice that he had something better to
do with mortality than to meditate upon it, turned away reluctantly
from the gate, and began to compose a popular ode, which had tremendous
success, and of which the rhymes were dubious but the sentiments
unimpeachable. Meanwhile, Queen Mab and the Owl, who had followed
un-perceived, perched upon the tower of the church, and surveyed the
landscape and the Bishop, who, a venerable appropriate figure in his
vestments, had turned naturally to the east, and was standing by a
marble cross.

'What a pleasant place!' said Mab. 'The dead must rest quietly here.'

'I am not sure that they don't keep up class distinctions,' said the Owl
rather misanthropically. 'They would if they could. But, on the whole,
I prefer to think that this place is the goal of the Democrat, where
Equality reigns indeed. If so, it will be consoling to him, for I am
afraid he will never get equality in life. Death, at present, has the
monopoly. Mr. Mallock thinks that Social Equality, if it ever came to
pass, would be ruinous to the welfare of the nation; but happily we are
in no immediate danger of it. Inequality, he says, is the condition of
Progress, and if it is only Inequality that is wanted, Progress ought
to be making rapid strides. Oh yes, we have Social Inequality enough
to carry us on at the rate of a mile a minute. It would be interesting,
would it not, to know in what direction we are progressing--though, of
course, the Progress is the chief thing--from good to better or from bad
to worse?'

'Very interesting,' said Queen Mab. 'I mean to think that we are
progressing from good to better. But do you know that you are a very
dismal bird? Are things really as bad as you say they are?'

'Perhaps I _am_ cynical,' replied the Owl. 'The kingfisher says so. The
kingfisher is an optimist, and he told me I thought it was clever to be
cynical; but that was when we had a few words one day. It is from living
in a belfry, doubtless, that I have contracted a habit of looking at
things on the dark side; but when one has made allowance for the belfry,
the world is not so bad after all. Of course animals can't be expected
to know what it means; they are not social philosophers, and men say so
many different things. Some think the universe is under a dual control,
and some that it is altogether a blunder--a clock running down and
the key lost I don't know about that, I am only a bird; but if it is a
failure, it is a glorious failure. Sometimes, indeed, the theologians
call life a howling wilderness; but that is in comparison with the next
world. For they are immortal.'

'I am immortal too,' said Queen Mab proudly.

'So you are,' returned the Owl. 'I was forgetting. I'm not,' he added
rather doubtfully. 'But I hope you will enjoy it.'

'It is my intention,' said Queen Mab.

The Bishop, from whose face the look of perplexity had departed, leaving
only his old serene, benevolent expression, turned as the bell chimed
out the hour, and walked slowly towards the gate. The east was growing
grey towards sunset, the east that lent the light wherein he lived, for
he was a man of a gentle heart. Far off, in the town, a million lamps
were beginning to burn. Gas lamps, and electric, and matches that struck
only on the box, and not always on that. But the face of the Bishop
shone with another radiance, and a lustre not of this world.


     'Cucullus nonfacit monachum.'

Queen Mab and the Owl were returning, rather tired, from an excursion,
when a procession of the Salvation Army came across them, with drums and
banners, and the General at its head, and,--they could hardly believe
their eyes,--the Nihilist walking by the side of the General and weeping
abundantly. The Salvation Army had brought him to a conviction of his
sins, and he was wringing his hands--at least one of them; the other,
as if automatically, still carried the black bag. The General, on the
contrary, was highly delighted. It was not every day that he converted
a Nihilist, and the thought occurred, small blame to him, that the whole
history of the incident would sound remarkably well in the 'War Cry.' So
it would have done, but for that unfortunate bag.

'You renounce the devil,' said the General confidently, 'and all his

'I renounce him,' said the Nihilist, still clasping the black bag
fervently, in a glow of pious enthusiasm, as if it were a prayer-book.

'Then you are all right,' said the General in an encouraging tone.
'Throw away the black bag, my friend, and shout Hallelujah! Do you feel
your sins forgiven?'

'I do! I do!' exclaimed the Nihilist. 'But I daren't throw it away:
it would make such a noise in the street. I'll tie it on to the next
balloon that comes by empty. They'll assassinate me; but I don't care: I
have peace in my heart!'

'That's the right ring,' said the General, not without conquering a
feeling of repugnance towards the vicinity of the bag. 'Faith without
works, you know. Well, my brother, we must be back to head-quarters.
You'll meet us at the Hall to-night--seven sharp.'

'I will,' cried the Nihilist enthusiastically. 'I must go to one of your
blessed gatherings before my enemies are on my track. Ah, it's true--the
world is vanity. Dynamite is vanity. Torpedoes, nitro-glycerine--they're
dust and ashes, broken cisterns! I renounce them all.'

They had reached an important metropolitan railway station, and the
General's party, entering, began to take tickets for their return
journey. Then, for the first time, the Nihilist noticed that the General
also carried a black bag, in shape and size similar to his own, which he
placed on the floor of the booking-office as he went to take his ticket.
Queen Mab never fully comprehended what happened next. She could only
assert that the expression on the face of the Nihilist was one of
fervent and devoted piety, as, with an ejaculation of 'Hallelujah!' he
absently put down his own bag and took up that of the General. Then he
broke out, as in irrepressible enthusiasm, with a verse of 'Dare to be
a Daniel!' The General, turning round, looked duly edified at this
outburst of ardour, and took up his bag of pamphlets, as he supposed,
without any suspicion of the length to which his friend's devotional
rapture had carried him. The Nihilist then bade a hurried farewell,
observing rather incoherently that the weight of sin was heavy on his
conscience, and he was going to submerge it instantly at St. Paul's
Pier. With this parting statement he rushed from the station, and Queen
Mab, with a sense of misgiving, followed hastily.

A moment after, the city was thrilled by a loud explosion. No one was
killed: above a hundred persons were injured, and the cause of the
disturbance was traced to a bag left by the General on the platform
close to the bookstall. For the next two or three days the station wore
a blackened, distracted, and generally intermingled appearance. The big
drum suffered the most severely, and shreds of parchment were wafted
to a great distance, and gathered up, many of them, by adherents of the
Army, as relics of this unfortunate martyr of Progress and of Nihilism.
Many of the other instruments were shattered, and so great was the force
of the explosion, that a small fragment of a bagpipe was propelled into
St. Paul's Cathedral, where it was discovered next day, on the lectern,
by the Canon who read the lessons. The General, for some time, was
supposed to have disappeared with these instruments; but it was
afterwards asserted, on good authority, that he had been seen the same
evening on board a vessel bound for America; and the most reasonable
conjecture appeared to be, that his native discrimination, at once
perceiving the weight of evidence for the prosecution, had led him,
during the tumult incident on the explosion, to effect an escape.
Certain it is that the Hall at Clapton knew him no more.

Meanwhile, outside the station, amid a medley of blackened officials,
disintegrated portions of railway carriages and book-stalls, Salvation
Army captains, converted reprobates, policemen, cabmen, and orange
vendors, was found a Nihilist! Once a Nihilist, but a Nihilist no
longer. With a threepenny hymn-book in one hand and a black bag in the
other, filled, not with dangerous explosives, but with a whole
arsenal of tracts, 'War Crys,' hymn-books, addresses to swearers
and Sabbath-breakers, and other devotional literature, he was calmly

'Convulsions shake the solid world, My faith shall never yield to fear!'

It may not be amiss, here, to say a few words as regards his subsequent
history, as related by the Owl. After that somewhat untoward incident,
he was not warmly received into the ranks of the Salvation Army. A
coldness sprang up which, though not inexplicable, had the unfortunate
effect of causing our Nihilist to renounce connection with that body.
The influences which they had brought to bear upon him, however, did
not so easily pass away, and it was in the continued glow of pious
enthusiasm that he joined a Dissenting Society, in which respectability
and fervour were happily combined, and which, accusing the Salvation
Army of the fervour without the respectability, regarded the Nihilist as
an interesting martyr of unjust suspicion. For two months he remained
in this society, and rose to the post of deacon, or what corresponded
to deacon in their system; but at the end of that time his native bias
proved too strong for him. With singular injudiciousness he brought to
the Sunday evening service a hymn-book carefully constructed, including
the hymns of the society, and also a small but superlatively powerful
block of explosive material, arranged to go off at the moment in which
the collection was being taken up. So confident was he of the excellent
workmanship of this article that he did not scruple even to write his
name in it, and to leave it in the pew, assured that, once exploded,
no trace of its ownership would remain. He then left before the
collection--a thing which he had been repeatedly known to do before, and
which struck the congregation with no alarm. But, from the pew behind,
an eye was upon him. It was the eye of the Professor. What was the
Professor! doing there? The answer was simple enough. He was writing a
book on 'Competition, and the Survival of the Fittest, as displayed
in Modern Sectarianism,' and he had come to this! dissenting place of
worship in quest; of information. Always ardent in the pursuit of
knowledge, he entered the Nihilist's pew the moment that individual
left it, and began to scan the leaves of the hymn-book. To his infinite
amazement, on turning over page 227, he came upon a cunning piece of
machinery, not a musical-box, like those one comes to unexpectedly in
the midst of photograph albums, but a "chef d'ouvre" of Donovan's
own, smouldering away at a great rate. The time was just up; the
collection-boxes were being handed round; instant destruction seemed
inevitable, when, to the amazement of the congregation, the Professor,
starting up, rushed to the altar, and, with _the cool forethought and
intrepidity_ so eminently characteristic of that gifted man, dropped
the hymn-book into the large font, then full of water. The ignited wick
ceased to smoulder; the peril was averted.

But the Nihilist was sought for in vain by the civil authorities.
Glancing back at the threshold of the building, he had caught sight of
the Professor, and, as if fascinated to the spot, he had watched him
take up the fatal hymn-book. Then, with an instant presentiment of the
consequences, he had rushed away. He has since joined the Parsees, and
the Democrat, visiting America on business, met him the other day in
New York, in the full costume of a Fire-worshipper. His complexion had
assumed a more Eastern appearance, and his turban was pulled low down,
and partially concealed his features; but the Democrat's keen eyes
detected a resemblance, even before the Parsee began to hum, in a
singularly rich and flexible tenor voice, a verse from Omar Khayyam:

     'Ah Love, could you and I with Fate conspire
     To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
     _Would we not shatter it to bits_, and then
     Remould it nearer to the Heart's Desire?'

From the depth of feeling which the Nihilist flung into these words,
the Democrat conjectured that he had at last found his true devotional
sphere, but he did not venture on renewing the acquaintance, judiciously
reflecting that the flowing costume of a Persian magnate was favourable
to the secretion of infernal machines of all sorts and sizes.


     Knowest thou the House where the members elected
     Consider the measure apart from the brand,
     Where Voting by Party is quite unaffected,
     And solely concerned with the good of the land?
     Knowest thou the House of Amendments and Clauses,
     Where Reason may reel but debate never pauses,
     Where words, the grand note of Humanity, reign
     (Oh Müller, Max Müller, expound us the gain!),
     Articulate always, if often insane?


     'Tis the Temple of Justice, the home of M.P.'s,
     Our noble, our own representatives these,
     But endless as sands of the desert, and worse,
     Are the Bills they discuss and the rules they

'What about the Government?' said Queen Mab to the Owl one day. 'Is
there anything that it would do to introduce into Polynesia--that is,
if the Germans and the missionaries have gone away again? If they
haven't--!' and she sighed.

'I think you had better not try,' returned her counsellor, after
considering the point. 'You have got a queen already, and I should
think the Polynesians are hardly ripe for a representative Government No
doubt, in the course of the struggle for existence, they will get into
a good many difficulties, but I rather think that a British constitution
on the top of them would not improve matters. If you could get up a
Witenagemot now!'

'Oh, the gathering of the Wise Men,' said the fairy. 'I remember
that. Has not England got a Witenagemot now, then?' she inquired. Her
historical notions, during her long residence in Polynesia, had got
fearfully mixed up and hazy.

'They don't call it so,' said the Owl gravely. 'I wonder they don't, it
would be very suitable.'

'And what is it for?' asked Mab.

'Chiefly to legislate for the Millennium, I think,' replied the Owl.
'They have been legislating now for a considerable time, but it hasn't
come yet. It is late. We expect, however, that it will arrive when the
New Democracy is in power. There has been a good deal of annoyance with
the Established Church lately for not telegraphing for it sooner, and
people say that but for the Church's neglect the Millennium would have
been here a very long time ago. Therefore, when the New Democracy comes,
it intends, as the Democrat was saying, to be mild but firm, and see
if the Millennium can't be got to travel faster. And the first mild but
firm thing it will do will be to pull down the Established Church of
England and level it with the--with other denominations.'

'What _is_ the Millennium?' said Queen Mab.

'Some think one thing and some another,' returned the Owl. 'Perhaps we
had better not discuss it; it is so easy to be profane on the subject
before you know where you are. But you can hear Parliament legislating
for it any day, and see people living up to it under the gangway.'

'I should like to go and see how they do it,' said Mab, 'just for once.'

'Well, so you can,' said the Owl. 'We can start directly if you like. It
is the safest place in London now that the session is on, because of the
Home Rulers. The dynamiters couldn't very well blow it up with the Irish
members in, and it would look too pointed for them all to be away at the
time of its being blown up. Make me invisible and we will go.'

So Queen Mab made them both invisible, and they flew away to the House
of Commons. There ensconcing themselves on a high beam, they soon forgot
the cobwebs in the interest of the debate. It was a remarkable debate,
and, what is also remarkable, I can find no traces of it in the Hansard
for that year, and it hardly conforms to the latest rules. Sometimes I
am inclined to think that the Owl must have invented it or dreamed it,
but he says that every word is mathematically correct, and I know him
for a most truthful bird, who never told, or at all events never meant
to tell, a lie. The debate was on a Bill introduced by Government for
the colonisation of the lunar world by emigration of the able-bodied
unemployed, and the House was full. All the Home Rulers were present,
a fact which gave the Owl a feeling of pleasant security, and members
generally were wide awake and very attentive.

In a brief speech of three hours the Prime Minister advocated the
principles of the Bill.

'I am not what is vulgarly called a Jingo' (hear, hear!) he said
finally, 'and measures of simple aggrandisement, sir, I have never been
known to advocate.'

'How about Bechuana?' from Mr. Jacob Bright.

'If the rules of courtesy demanded a reply to that interruption,' said
the Prime Minister, 'I would answer,' and he did so for an hour by
Shrewsbury clock. He then proceeded:

'But there is a wide difference between annexation necessary to maintain
the integrity of our glorious realm, as in the case of Bechuana, and
the annexations so often observed in the policy of Continental Powers,
springing from a mere greed of empire. We may deplore, indeed, that
a preceding Administration has involved us in responsibilities almost
beyond the power of statesmen to grapple with successfully; but that is
the habit of preceding Administrations, and now that such measures
are beyond recall we shall not shirk their consequences. The recent
annexation of Mercury by Russia, and the presence in Jupiter of a German
emissary, whose ulterior object, though the Press of that country states
him to have gone there solely for the benefit of his health, cannot
be viewed with too much suspicion, make it incumbent on all parties
to unite in speedy measures for the security of our home and colonial
interests.' (Ministerial cheers.) 'I am at a loss to conceive,' said a
member of the Opposition, rising--and here the irregularity comes in,
for which we can only refer readers to the Owl--'what is the drift of
the remarks we have just listened to. I am no enemy to annexation, as
honourable members know well. We have been annexing ever since we had a
rood of land to make annexations to, and it would be a pity to begin
to stop now. But as for occupying a place like the Moon, without water,
without air, without inhabitants--that, sir, appears to me to be adding
folly to madness. Is the Government not content with the proofs of utter
imbecility'--(order)--'I will say, of excruciating feebleness, it has
given to the public, that it must squander the resources of the nation
for the sake of a wild-goose chase like this? As for the German envoy,
he has gone to Jupiter for the benefit of a settled climate, and
to drink the waters, not to annex a planet which, with the present
indifferent means of communication, could be of no service to his
country. This is the simple explanation, which anybody but an old owl
like the Prime Minister--'

'Order, order!' shouted several voices, and the Speaker, rising gravely,
called upon the honourable member to withdraw the epithet of 'old owl'
as unparliamentary.

'I withdraw it,' said the member readily. 'I should have said, the
gentleman so highly distinguished for youth and sanity, who has plunged
us into oceans of disaster at home and abroad, and, not content with
making the world we live in too hot to hold us, intends to make all the
planets related to us in the Solar System too hot to hold us, as well.
He has determined wantonly to attack a sphere with which we have always
maintained the most cordial relations, to invade its territories, ravage
its villages, and introduce the atrocious benefits of Maxim guns and
Gladstone claret to the Selenites.'

'The honourable member observed a moment ago,' said the Prime Minister
ironically, 'that there were no Selenites.'

'So I did,' returned the Opposition member unabashed. 'I am not ashamed
of that. If the Moon has no inhabitants, you can have no commercial
relations with the Moon; if it has, you can only demoralise an
unsophisticated population. But I refuse to be held responsible for
the opinions I expressed two minutes ago. I am a true Briton, and I
absolutely decline to limit myself to a single contradiction, or to a
dozen, in the course of a quarter of an hour's harangue.'

'We can quite believe _that_!' said the Home Secretary blandly. 'But
till my honourable friend undertakes the management of affairs--before
which may heaven remove me! ("Hear, hear!" from the honourable
friend)--it is the business of competent statesmen to preserve relations
friendly yet firm with foreign Powers terrestrial and celestial, and
we shall do it, sir, if we have to annex the Pleiades (cheers).
To illustrate by a single case the urgency of an action which the
honourable member, in his own choice and happy phraseology, stigmatised
as a wild-goose chase. If a Power which I will not specify is allowed
to occupy that interesting orb which it is our hope to link closely with
our own destinies in national union--_what of the tides_? (Cheers.)
Sir, it has long been our proud boast that Britannia rules the waves.
How much longer, I ask you, would she continue to rule them, if once the
sway with which the studies of our childhood have made us all familiar
passed into the hands of alien and perhaps hostile authorities?
(Prolonged cheers.) Can we doubt that unfriendly arbitration would
eventually turn away all the tides from our hitherto favoured island,
and would divert the current of the Gulf Stream to Powers with whom our
relations are strained, while punctually supplying us with icebergs
and a temperature below zero from the Arctic Zone? Once hemmed in (or
surrounded) by icebergs, what becomes of your carrying trade? Can we
doubt that the trade-winds, too, would be mere playthings in the hands
of a lunar colonial Government, inspired in every action by the malice
of an unfriendly terrestrial Admiralty, and that, in short, by a
terrible reversal of the national motto for which we feel so just a
reverence, Britannia would cease to rule the waves, while the waves
would rule Britannia?' (Loud and prolonged Ministerial cheers, during
which another member of the Opposition rose and inquired the precise
policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the Selenites.)

'I am instructed,' said a Cabinet Minister, 'to inform the honourable
member that the Selenites have no existence. The step contemplated is
therefore a mere peaceful annexation, and war and bloodshed, such as
were pathetically alluded to by the honourable member for Putney, are
out of the question. I may here bring clearly before the minds of
the House the fact that, as the Moon is destitute of any atmosphere,
scientific men have unanimously declared the impossibility of animal
life upon it.'

'I should like to know,' said a member, rising below the gangway,
'whether the Government has given its attention to one point, namely,
that as where there is no atmosphere there can be no inhabitants, where
there can be no inhabitants there can be no representatives of rival
terrestrial Powers. Unless the forces of a certain Power are capable
of living without air, I fail to see that we have anything to apprehend
from their occupation of the Moon. Russians, for instance, are not
personally dear to me; and I should say that the more of them introduce
civilisation to that extinct and uninhabitable sphere the better; but
I utterly decline to go there myself, or to vote for sending even our
convicts there, much less our able-bodied unemployed. I should like this
little difficulty explained, for I confess that, to an unstatesmanlike
mind, this debate seems to be verging on nonsense.' 'I had not thought
it necessary, at this early stage of the debate,' observed the Prime
Minister plaintively, 'to remind the House that no such difficulty as
that present to the mind of the honourable member really exists. Has my
honourable friend below the gangway never heard of a mental or a
moral atmosphere? Is it not one which inevitably surrounds us, in the
incandescent Soudan or in the chill abode of departed Selenites? What he
regards as an insuperable drawback only furnishes me with another reason
for urging the Bill upon you. Would it not be a disgrace to the
British flag, ever the friend of civilisation and of virtue, to allow a
perverted moral atmosphere to be introduced into an orb which has done
so much for us in the way of tidal action, of artistic enjoyment, and,
I will say, of amatory sentiment--(cheers)--as our satellite? Now what
kind of moral atmosphere, I would ask, surrounds the average Russian? Of
a mental atmosphere I will not speak--suffice it to say that that also
is immeasurably inferior; but is it fitting for a nation like ours, in
the van of progress, to suffer a moral atmosphere degraded, pernicious,
and suffocating to circulate in regions to which we could furnish one so
infinitely more salubrious?' (Prolonged Ministerial cheers.)


     'The drivelling of politicians!'
     Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

It is said that the unexpected always happens, and therefore one
may deplore without surprise the fact that schemes set on foot by a
charitable government to relieve the necessities of their starving
fellow-countrymen should frequently have a diametrically opposite
effect. Into the Ministerial cheers that followed the Premier's last
statement broke a sound outside the House, a sound as of much wailing,
the howling of innumerable newsboys, the cries of 'Woe, woe!' the dirge
of an empire _qui s'en va_! With those now familiar noises was mingled,
but at a greater distance, a strain of martial music.

'What is this?' said the Prime Minister through the increasing tumult,
with a vague idea of legions of the able-bodied unemployed coming in
person to state their views on the debate. 'A riot?'

'No,' shouted the member below the gangway, promptly divining, by a
prophetic instinct, the real nature of the case. 'It is a Revolution.'

'Heavens!' said the leader of the Opposition helplessly. 'I hope not. I
had no idea!'

It was too true. The Army was advancing to the House--the broken-down,
ragged, wasted remnant of an Army of Heroes. Sent forth, too late, to
'smash' Prester John, and relieve the Equator, they had all but overcome
the Desert, and had only been defeated by space. Too many of them lay
like the vanished legions of Cambyses, swathed by the sand and lulled
by the music of the night wind. The remnant had returned of their own
motion. It was an impressive spectacle, and the British public, finding
no more appropriate action, cheered vociferously, while the newsboys,
hundreds of them, continued to howl one against another. For the
newspapers had got wind of Something, and it only remained for them
to find out what the Something was. At present they had confused the
facts--an accident which will happen sometimes with the best-regulated
newspapers. But all of them had made shots at the truth, more or less
un-veracious. 'The Banner' asserted that Sir Charles Dilke and the
Democrat, arrayed in costumes of the beginning of the seventeenth
century for effect, were parading the cellars under the House of Lords,
after the manner of Guy Fawkes, laying trains of gunpowder and singing
the well-known lines about the fifth of November. The 'Daily Pulpit,'
on the other hand, declared that Lord Randolph Church-hill had set the
Thames on fire with native genius and a lighted fusee, which, on the
face of it, seemed so extremely probable, that all of the British
public that was not cheering the Army's arrival rushed to the bridges to
investigate the river. Delegates from the 'Holywell Street Gazette,' in
the meantime, were madly interviewing everything and everybody with
such celerity that the British public probably arrived at the truth of
matters somewhere about that journal's fifth edition. Up to this time,
unfortunately, the 'Gazette' had only been able to contradict flatly all
the statements of all its contemporaries in language, to say the least
of it, most emphatic. But at a national crisis one is nothing if not
emphatic. And this was a national crisis. And while the crowd was
rushing and swaying hither and thither, and the light-fingered brigade
was taking advantage of the crowd's absent-mindedness to borrow its
watches and pocket-handkerchiefs, the General, just returned from the
Desert, with the demeanour of a second Cromwell, was marching on the
House of Commons. In the House itself reigned confusion much worse
confounded. There was no time for lengthy recrimination, for in another
moment the General, alone, and with a mien of indignant resolution that
struck a chill to the hearts of the most irrepressible members,
was striding boldly up to the table. The Speaker looked at the
Serjeant-at-Arms, and the Serjeant-at-Arms looked at the Speaker, but
neither of them said a word. This was worse than Mr. Bradlaugh at his

'Behold in this handful of broken and wasted men, returned, not by
_your_ order, but by _mine_, to their native shore,' exclaimed the
General in a voice of stern thunder that reverberated through
the building, 'the result of your imbecile, idiotic, ignominious,
incomprehensible policy and of your absurd "Intelligence" and
"Righteousness!" Call yourselves a Parliament? I tell you, your
Constitution is rotten to the core. Do you think we are to shed our
blood for you, to perish of famine, sword and pestilence, while you sit
here, talking the most delirious nonsense that ever was talked since the
Confusion of Tongues? You never have anything fresh to say; but there
you are, and nothing stops you. If it was the Day of Judgment you would
go on moving resolutions; and you have the insolence to maunder over
your gallant band of heroes, sacrificed to a whim of party rancour or a
struggle for place. We put you here to maintain law and order, to give
justice to your fellow-countrymen, and you sit listening to your own
melodious voices raving of the welfare of the nation, of Political
Economy, Budgets, and Ballots; but so much as the meaning of true
justice the bulk of you never guess. _You_, you turn Parliament into a
club, and your ambition is satisfied by invitations to dinner. But
we have borne enough, and marched enough; now you must march. We have
trudged at your bidding thousands of weary miles, for an end you made
impossible by your word-splitting cowardice. _Your_ turn has come. The
troops are in readiness; we are drilling the unemployed in event of
civil war, and you had better look out. "Obey me,"' added the General,
insensibly sliding into a popular quotation, '"and my nature's ile:
disobey me, and it's still ile, but it's ile of vitriol."'

For the most part honourable members sat stunned and silent; but from
the more rebellious came a few cries of 'Order!' 'Turn him out!' and the
Speaker slowly rose. 'I would remind the gallant General of the Mutiny
Act,' he said.

'An obsolete restriction of free contract,' said the General. He stamped
his foot, and in a second a file of soldiers had appeared.

'Take away that bauble!' exclaimed the General to his aide-decamp in
a severe and terrible tone, as he pointed to the mace. But as he gazed
upon the venerable emblem his frown melted, and his eyes grew dim.
For one instant the victorious warrior, the inexorable avenger of his
country's wrongs, was the dreamy worshipper of Blue China, the aesthetic
adorer of marquetry, and Chippendale.

'Take away that bauble,' he repeated in a low voice of ineffable
sweetness, 'and deposit it in the upper compartment of my bureau. You
know the spot. The bauble has a Chippendale feeling about it.'

Then his fortitude returned; he was once more the dauntless General, the
saviour of society.

'A passing weakness,' he said, smiling sadly. '"Richard's himself

Into the lull that followed his words fell the familiar accents of the
future Dictator, the Member for Woodstock, as he said in a cool aside to
Mr. Goschen:

'The Hour has come.'

And Mr. Goschen, with his usual calm impartiality, replied:

'Yes, Randolph, and the Man!'

Through all the uproar Queen Mab and the Owl had looked on with
breathless interest; but now, at a reiterated mandate from the General,
the members were compelled to disperse, some furious, some alarmed, and
all discomfited. There only remained one policeman, the General, and
the Democrat to fight it out between themselves, and decide whether a
European war would be advisable, or whether they should disband the army
and devote themselves to Home Reform. But by this time Queen Mab and
the Owl had had enough, for the din which still continued outside the
windows was giving them neuralgia. They therefore left the House
and flew away westward over the crowd, where differences of opinion,
expressed in the British public's own graceful and forcible manner,
had become the order of the day. They met Mr. Bradlaugh at a little
distance, hurrying to the scene of combat with the air of 'Under which
king, Bezonian?' and if the locality had not been so extremely noisy
they could not have but turned back to see the fun. The Prime Minister
had unaccountably (though not unexpectedly) disappeared from the
arena, and his adherents were under the impression that he had been
treacherously stowed away in the Tower or some subterranean dungeon. The
fact was, that, as eloquence could have no effect on the House in its
present state of delirium, the temptation to study Hittite inscriptions
in their native home became too strong for him, and he was on his
peaceful way to the shores of the Orontes and the ruins of Megiddo.

Shortly after, the Owl and the Fairy met the Bishop, who had heard of
the catastrophe, and was torn by conflicting emotions; personal
anxiety about his prospects being overclouded by the fear that the
new Government might proceed to pass the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill
immediately. 'And a man who marries his Deceased Wife's Sister,' he
exclaimed pathetically to the air, 'may very soon end in the swamps of
Rationalism!' Only Queen Mab and the Owl heard the words as they flew
overhead. Next they met Mr. Matthew Arnold, smiling a happy smile, and
concocting a 'childlike and bland' article for the 'Nineteenth Century'
on the present crisis. So they flew on westward till, gaining a freer
and fresher neighbourhood, they came upon a wide green lawn, and on
the lawn three old acquaintances, the Poet, the Palæonto-theologist,
and--wholly altered from the pale and dreamy boy of their
recollection--Walter, the Professor's child.

The Professor was a man given to promptitude of speech and action, and,
once awakened to the serious state of Walter's health, physical and
mental, he had resolved, at whatever discomfort to himself, to check the
boy's undue mental precocity and substitute for it mere physical vigour.
He was content with no half-measures, and he sent the lad at once to a
preparatory school for Eton. At Eton he knew Walter's brain would have a
rest. The effect was miraculous. The boy, whom the Palaeonto-theologist
had rashly invited to spend a holiday at his home, was a different
creature. He had become sturdy and robust; he had forgotten his new
religion of Dala, with his science primers, and could no more have
composed a hymn to a fairy than he could have endured a false quantity.
He had forgotten the Goona stones; he had forgotten the dates of the
Kings of England. He said that bogies were all bosh; he said that
Cardinal Wolsey was imprisoned in the Tower for thirteen years and wrote
'Robinson Crusoe' there, and that the Nile rose in Mungo Park. He had
forgotten his father's instructions, and regarded birds, not as products
of Evolution, but as things suitable to shy stones at, and to be treated
with contempt, and catapults. He was incorrigible at Euclid, but he was
excellent at cricket, and on this occasion he had fagged the Poet and
the Palæonto-theologist to bowl to and field out for him. It was beyond
human nature to expect them to enjoy it. The Poet was in the midst of a
sublime stanza when he was peremptorily ordered to come and bowl, and he
went dreamily and reluctantly, to be greeted with a further mandate of
'Look sharp there!' The Palaeonto-theologist was deep in an exhaustive
inventory of the animals in Noah's Ark, and was discussing the
probability of the Mammoth's having been one of its residents. If so,
there came the knotty point of how Noah contrived to stow him and the
Megatherium in comfortably, and whether they never wanted to do away
with the other animals, in which case the Patriarch must have had
stirring times. The Palæonto-theologist was just about to begin the
grand chain of evidence in which he proves conclusively, from careful
study of the original Hebrew manuscripts, and from examination of the
soil of Mount Ararat, whose fossils are abraded to this day where the
Ark rested on them, that the dimensions of the Ark were anything but
what they are said to be, when Walter ordered him to come and field.
There was no help for it; he went and fielded; 'he ran, he fell, he
fielded well.'

While he and the Poet were thus occupied, Mab and the Owl rested on a
great horse-chestnut and watched the game, and Mab, under the impression
that the boy, at sight of her, would be filled with wonder and delight,
slipped off her invisible cloak. For some time he was too much absorbed
in 'crumping the Poet's slows,' as he said, to notice her; but at last,
when the Poet and the Palæonto-theologist were utterly 'collared' (as
Walter put it) and exhausted, and the perspiration stood thick on
their intellectual foreheads, the advent of refreshments gained them
a momentary respite. Walter attacked the fruit and cakes so vigorously
that Queen Mab grew impatient, and descended to a lower branch of the
huge tree, where at last the boy, raising his eyes, beheld her.

'Hi!' he cried, rushing indiscriminately at his companions. 'Get me a
catapult, lower boy, I say! Stones, peashooter, anything. Look alive!
Here goes!'

And he assailed the astonished Mab with a cricket-ball, and next 'it
came to pleats,' as Mrs. Major O'Dowd said; and then he hurled a jampot
and a fruit-knife. Fortunately for the fairy, who at the moment was
too much astonished to move, his aim was rendered inaccurate by his
excitement, and the missiles flew wide. The unhappy fags had started
up, and the Poet, looking round bewildered, with a volley of desperate
expletives un-uttered in his soul, caught sight of Mab.

'Celestial being!' he exclaimed rapturously. 'I again behold thee.
Bright inmate! How did it run?'

'Bother your verses!' cried the boy with utter contempt. 'Shy at it, you
duffer! Oh, what a Butterfly! Get her into the teapot. Blockhead!'

This last disdainfully to himself, for he had hurled the ancient and
valuable teapot at Mab, who was flying to a higher branch, and the
teapot had missed.

'Rash boy!' cried the Palæonto-theologist, shaking him angrily, 'you
have broken my grandfather's teapot.'

'Run for the butterfly-net,' returned the boy unabashed. 'By George,
I'll give you the jolliest licking!'

'Hi, there she goes! Seize her!' he shouted distractedly, and the
unlucky Palæonto-theologist rushed after a butterfly-net, while Queen
Mab, in unutterable indignation, rose slowly into the air, followed
by the bewildered Owl, who had not had time to explain the boy's 'new
departure' to himself on scientific principles. It was not till they
were fully half a mile from the ill-starred spot that the Owl opened his
beak to murmur, with an air of long-suffering melancholy but scientific
delight, the word--


But Queen Mab, after this crowning insult, was fain to depart from
Britain and renounce the higher civilisation. In the Councils of the
New Democracy she had no place. Church and State abjured her: the rising
generation needed no fairies, but was content with football and cricket,
'Treasure Island,' and the Latin Grammar. Education, Philosophy, and
the Philistines had made of the island she once loved well a wilderness
wherein no fairy might henceforth furl its wings.

She said 'good-bye' to the Owl, who shed one tear at parting, and to
all the loyal birds, and went back to Samoa. But alas! Samoa, like
Great Britain, was no longer any place for her. It was annexed: it was
evangelised. The natives of it were going to church; they were going
to Sunday School; they were going to heaven. They were sending their
children to be educated at English colleges: they were translating
Tennyson and Wesley's sermons, and learning the catechism, and reading
the Testament in the original Greek, and wearing high-crowned hats and
paper collars. There was no end of the things they were doing, and they
had no time for fairies.

Queen Mab summoned her Court together in despair, and left for one of
the Admiralty Islands. There, till the civilisation that dogs the steps
of the old folk-lore has driven her thence--with constitutions, and
microscopes, and a higher Pantheism that leaves the older Pantheism
in the lurch, and other advantages of the nineteenth century--she is
secure. We trust that she is also happy, and that the shadow of the
approaching hour when she will be ultimately reduced by scientific
theologians to a symbol of some deeper verity, the conception of men
whose understandings could not cope, like ours, with abstract truth, is
not cast heavily upon her path. For she knows well, now, that her day is
over, that she is too tangible by far for a higher Pantheism, and that
only among the heathen, in some obscure corner of Oceania, she is still
permitted to linger on, till that lagging island too receives its chrism
of intellect, and is caught up into the van of time.

The Owl is yet the wisest of the birds, though he has commenced a course
of psychological research that, it is to be feared, if persisted in,
will seriously injure his brain. For he said, only yesterday, that as he
was conscious of external objects merely through the medium of his own
ego, how was he to know whether or not his own ego was the sole ego in
the universe--in fact, composed the universe? He wished to be informed
whether he could possibly be nothing but an impression or somebody
else's ego; and said finally, in a despondent tone, that it was hopeless
to regard this mundane scheme as anything but a subjective phenomenon,
mere _Schein_ or _maya_, and that he gave it up.

But the Democrat, untroubled by transcendental scruples, goes on his
way, rejoicing in the prospect of the Millennium, now close at hand. He
does not much care what the universe is, but he knows what he wants to
get out of it, and that is sufficient for his purpose. To be sure, he
wants to get what no one ever did or will obtain, but his moments are
impassioned, and his idea is a distraction, like another.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "'That Very Mab'" ***

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