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´╗┐Title: Ceres' Runaway and Other Essays
Author: Meynell, Alice Christiana Thompson, 1847-1922
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 "Ceres' Runaway and Other Essays" ***

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Transcribed from the 1909 Constable & Co. Ltd. edition by David Price,

Ceres' Runaway & Other Essays


Ceres' Runaway
A Vanquished Man
A Northern Fancy
Harlequin Mercutio
The Little Language
Anima Pellegrina!
The Sea Wall
The Daffodil
The Audience
The Tow Path
The Tethered Constellations
Popular Burlesque
Dry Autumn
The Plaid
Two Burdens
The Unready
The Child of Tumult
The Child of Subsiding Tumult


One can hardly be dull possessing the pleasant imaginary picture of a
Municipality hot in chase of a wild crop--at least while the charming
quarry escapes, as it does in Rome.  The Municipality does not exist that
would be nimble enough to overtake the Roman growth of green in the high
places of the city.  It is true that there have been the famous
captures--those in the Colosseum, and in the Baths of Caracalla; moreover
a less conspicuous running to earth takes place on the Appian Way, in
some miles of the solitude of the Campagna, where men are employed in
weeding the roadside.  They slowly uproot the grass and lay it on the
ancient stones--rows of little corpses--for sweeping up, as at Upper
Tooting; one wonders why.  The governors of the city will not succeed in
making the Via Appia look busy, or its stripped stones suggestive of a
thriving commerce.  Again, at the cemetery within the now torn and
shattered Aurelian wall by the Porta San Paolo, they are often mowing of
buttercups.  "A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread,"
says Shelley, whose child lies between Keats and the pyramid.  But a
couple of active scythes are kept at work there summer and spring--not
that the grass is long, for it is much overtopped by the bee-orchis, but
because flowers are not to laugh within reach of the civic vigilance.

Yet, except that it is overtaken and put to death in these accessible
places, the wild summer growth of Rome has a prevailing success and
victory.  It breaks all bounds, flies to the summits, lodges in the sun,
swings in the wind, takes wing to find the remotest ledges, and blooms
aloft.  It makes light of the sixteenth century, of the seventeenth, and
of the eighteenth.  As the historic ages grow cold it banters them alike.
The flagrant flourishing statue, the haughty facade, the broken pediment
(and Rome is chiefly the city of the broken pediment) are the
opportunities of this vagrant garden in the air.  One certain church,
that is full of attitude, can hardly be aware that a crimson snapdragon
of great stature and many stalks and blossoms is standing on its furthest
summit tiptoe against its sky.  The cornice of another church in the fair
middle of Rome lifts out of the shadows of the streets a row of
accidental marigolds.  Impartial to the antique, the mediaeval, the
Renaissance early and late, the newer modern, this wild summer finds its
account in travertine and tufa, reticulated work, brick, stucco and
stone.  "A bird of the air carries the matter," or the last sea-wind,
sombre and soft, or the latest tramontana, gold and blue, has lodged in a
little fertile dust the wild grass, wild wheat, wild oats!

If Venus had her runaway, after whom the Elizabethans raised hue and cry,
this is Ceres'.  The municipal authorities, hot-foot, cannot catch it.
And, worse than all, if they pause, dismayed, to mark the flight of the
agile fugitive safe on the arc of a flying buttress, or taking the place
of the fallen mosaics and coloured tiles of a twelfth-century tower, and
in any case inaccessible, the grass grows under their discomfited feet.
It actually casts a flush of green over their city _piazza_--the wide
light-grey pavements so vast that to keep them weeded would need an army
of workers.  That army has not been employed; and grass grows in a small
way, but still beautifully, in the wide space around which the tramway
circles.  Perhaps a hatred of its delightful presence is what chiefly
prompts the civic government in Rome to the effort to turn the _piazza_
into a square.  The shrub is to take the place not so much of the
pavement as of the importunate grass.  For it is hard to be beaten--and
the weed does so prevail, is so small, and so dominant!  The sun takes
its part, and one might almost imagine a sensitive Municipality in tears,
to see grass running, overhead and underfoot, through the "third" (which
is in truth the fourth) Rome.

When I say grass I use the word widely.  Italian grass is not turf; it is
full of things, and they are chiefly aromatic.  No richer scents throng
each other, close and warm, than these from a little hand-space of the
grass one rests on, within the walls or on the plain, or in the Sabine or
the Alban hills.  Moreover, under the name I will take leave to include
lettuce as it grows with a most welcome surprise on certain ledges of the
Vatican.  That great and beautiful palace is piled, at various angles, as
it were house upon house, here magnificent, here careless, but with
nothing pretentious and nothing furtive.  And outside one lateral window
on a ledge to the sun, prospers this little garden of random salad.
Buckingham Palace has nothing whatever of the Vatican dignity, but one
cannot well think of little cheerful cabbages sunning themselves on any
parapet it may have round a corner.

Moreover, in Italy the vegetables--the table ones--have a wildness, a
suggestion of the grass, from lands at liberty for all the tilling.
Wildish peas, wilder asparagus--the field asparagus which seems to have
disappeared from England, but of which Herrick boasts in his
manifestations of frugality--and strawberries much less than half-way
from the small and darkling ones of the woods to the pale and corpulent
of the gardens, and with nothing of the wild fragrance lost--these are
all Italian things of savage savour and simplicity.  The most cultivated
of all countries, the Italy of tillage, is yet not a garden, but
something better, as her city is yet not a town but something better, and
her wilderness something better than a desert.  In all the three there is
a trace of the little flying heels of the runaway.


Haydon died by his own act in 1846, and it was not, in the event, until
1853 that his journal was edited, not by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, as
he wished, but by Tom Taylor.  Turning over these familiar and famous
volumes, often read, I wonder once more how any editor was bold to "take
upon himself the mystery of things" in the case of Haydon, and to assign
to that venial moral fault or this the ill-fortune and defeat that beset
him, with hardly a pause for the renewal of the resistance of his
admirable courage.

That he made a mere intellectual mistake, gave thanks with a lowly and
lofty heart for a genius denied him, that he prepared himself to answer
to Heaven and earth for the gift he had not, to suffer its reproach, to
bear its burden, and that he looked for its reward, is all his history.
There was no fault of the intellect in his apprehension of the thing he
thought to stand possessed of.  He conceived it aright, and he was just
in his rebuke of a world so dull and trivial before the art for which he
died.  He esteemed it aright, except when he deemed it his.

His editor, thinking himself to be summoned to justify the chastisement,
the destruction, the whole retribution of such a career, looks here and
there for the sins of Haydon; the search is rewarded with the discovery
of faults such as every man and woman entrusts to the common generosity,
the general consciousness.  It is a pity to see any man conning such
offences by heart, and setting them clear in an editorial judgement
because he thinks himself to hold a trust, by virtue of his biographical
office, to explain the sufferings and the failure of a conquered man.

What, in the end, are the sins which are to lead the reader, sad but
satisfied, to conclude with "See the result of--", or "So it ever must be
with him who yields to--," or whatever else may be the manner of
ratifying the sentence on the condemned and dead?  Haydon, we hear,
omitted to ask advice, or, if he asked it, did not shape his course
thereby unless it pleased him.  Haydon was self-willed; he had a wild
vanity, and he hoped he could persuade all the powers that include the
powers of man to prosper the work of which he himself was sure.  He did
not wait upon the judgement of the world, but thought to compel it.

Should he, then, have waited upon the judgement of such a world?  He was
foremost in the task of instructing, nay, of compelling it when there was
a question of the value of the Elgin Marbles, and when the
possession--which was the preservation--of these was at stake.  There he
was not wrong; his judgement, that dealt him, in his own cause, the
first, the fatal, the final injury--the initial subtle blow that sent him
on his career so wronged, so cleft through and through, that the mere
course and action of life must ruin him--this judgement, in art, directed
him in the decision of the most momentous of all public questions.  Haydon
admired, wrote, protested, declaimed, and fought; and in great part, it
seems, we owe our perpetual instruction by those judges of the Arts which
are the fragments of the Elgin sculptures, to the fact that Haydon
trusted himself with the trust that worked his own destruction.  Into the
presence especially of those seated figures, commonly called the Fates,
we habitually bring our arts for sentence.  He lent an effectual hand to
the setting-up of that Tribunal of headless stones.

The thing we should lament is rather that the world which refused,
neglected, forgot him--and by chance-medley was right, was right!--had no
possible authority for anything that it did against him, and that he
might have sent it to school, for all his defect of genius; moreover,
that he was mortally wounded in the last of his forty years of battle by
this ironic wound: among the bad painters chosen to adorn the Houses of
Parliament with fresco, he was not one.  This affront he took at the
hands of men who had no real distinctions in their gift.  He might well
have had, by mere chance, some great companion with whom to share that
rejection.  The unfortunate man had no such fortuitous fellowship at
hand.  How strange, the solitude of the bad painter outcast by the worst,
and capable of making common cause indomitably with the good, had there
been any such to take heart from his high courage!

There was none.  There were ranged the unjust judges with their blunders
all in good order, and their ignorance new dressed, and there was no
artist to destroy except only this one, somewhat better than their
favoured, their appointed painters in fresco; one uncompanioned, and a
man besides through whose heart the public reproach was able to cut

Is this sensibility to be made a reproach to Haydon?  It has always
seemed to me that he was not without greatness--yet he was always without
dignity--in those most cruel passages of his life, such as that of his
defeat, towards the close of his war, by the show of a dwarf, to which
all London thronged, led by Royal example, while the exhibition of his
picture was deserted.  He was not betrayed by anger at this end of hopes
and labours in which all that a man lives for had been pledged.  Nay, he
succeeded in bearing what a more inward man would have taken more hardly.
He was able to say in his loud voice, in reproach to the world, what
another would have barred within: one of his great pictures was in a
cellar, another in an attic, another at the pawnbroker's, another in a
grocer's shop, another unfinished in his studio; the bills for frames and
colours and the rent were unpaid.  Some solace he even found in stating a
few of these facts, in French, to a French official or diplomatic visitor
to London, interested in the condition of the arts.  Well, who shall live
without support?  A man finds it where he can.

After these offences of self-will and vanity Tom Taylor finds us some
other little thing--I think it is inaccuracy.  Poor Haydon says in one
phrase that he paid all his friends on such a day, and in another soon
following that the money given or lent to him had been insufficient to
pay them completely; and assuredly there are many revisions,
after-thoughts, or other accidents to account for such a slip.  His
editor says the discrepancy is "characteristic," but I protest I cannot
find another like it among those melancholy pages.  If something graver
could but be sifted out from all these journals and letters of frank
confession, by the explainer!  Here, then, is the last and least: Haydon
was servile in his address to "men of rank."  But his servility seems to
be very much in the fashion of his day--nothing grosser; and the men who
set the fashion had not to shape their style to Haydon's perpetual
purpose, which was to ask for commissions or for money.

Not the forsaken man only but also the fallen city evokes this exercise
of historical morality, until a man in flourishing London is not afraid
to assign the causes of the decay of Venice; and there is not a watering
place upon our coasts but is securely aware of merited misfortune on the

Haydon was grateful, and he helped men in trouble; he had pupils, and
never a shilling in pay for teaching them.  He painted a good thing--the
head of his Lazarus.  He had no fault of theory: what fault of theory can
a man commit who stands, as he did, by "Nature and the Greeks"?  In
theory he soon outgrew the Italians then most admired; he had an honest

But nothing was able to gain for him the pardon that is never to be
gained, the impossible pardon--pardon for that first and last mistake--the
mistake as to his own powers.  If to pardon means to dispense from
consequence, how should this be pardoned?  Art would cease to be itself,
by such an amnesty.


"I remember," said Dryden, writing to Dennis, "I remember poor Nat Lee,
who was then upon the verge of madness, yet made a sober and witty answer
to a bad poet who told him, 'It was an easy thing to write like a
madman.'  'No,' said he, ''tis a very difficult thing to write like a
madman, but 'tis a very easy thing to write like a fool.'"  Nevertheless,
the difficult song of distraction is to be heard, a light high note, in
English poetry throughout two centuries at least, and one English poet
lately set that untethered lyric, the mad maid's song, flying again.

A revolt against the oppression of the late sixteenth and early
seventeenth centuries--the age of the re-discovery of death; against the
crime of tragedies; against the tyranny of Italian example that had made
the poets walk in one way of love, scorn, constancy, inconstancy--may
have caused this trolling of unconsciousness, this tune of innocence, and
this carol of liberty, to be held so dear.  "I heard a maid in Bedlam,"
runs the old song.  High and low the poets tried for that note, and the
singer was nearly always to be a maid and crazed for love.  Except for
the temporary insanity so indifferently worn by the soprano of the now
deceased kind of Italian opera, and except that a recent French story
plays with the flitting figure of a village girl robbed of her wits by
woe (and this, too, is a Russian villager, and the Southern author may
have found his story on the spot, as he seems to aver) I have not met
elsewhere than in England this solitary and detached poetry of the treble
note astray.

At least, it is principally a northern fancy.  Would the steadfast
Cordelia, if she had not died, have lifted the low voice to that high
note, so delicately untuned?  She who would not be prodigal of words
might yet, indeed, have sung in the cage, and told old tales, and laughed
at gilded butterflies of the court of crimes, and lived so long in the
strange health of an emancipated brain as to wear out

   Packs and sects of great ones
   That ebb and flow by the moon.

She, if King Lear had had his last desire, might have sung the merry and
strange tune of Bedlam, like the slighter Ophelia and the maid called

It was surely the name of the maid who died singing, as Desdemona
remembers, that lingered in the ear of Wordsworth.  Of all the songs of
the distracted, written in the sanity of high imagination, there is
nothing more passionate than that beginning "'Tis said that some have
died for love."  To one who has always recognized the greatness of this
poem and who possibly had known and forgotten how much Ruskin prized it,
it was a pleasure to find the judgement afresh in _Modern Painters_,
where this grave lyric is cited for an example of great imagination.  It
is the mourning and restless song of the lover ("the pretty Barbara
died") who has not yet broken free from memory into the alien world of
the insane.

Barbara's lover dwelt in the scene of his love, as Dryden's Adam entreats
the expelling angel that he might do, protesting that he could endure to
lose "the bliss, but not the place."  (And although this dramatic
"Paradise Lost" of Dryden's is hardly named by critics except to be
scorned, this is assuredly a fine and imaginative thought.)  It is
nevertheless as a wanderer that the crazed creature visits the fancy of
English poets with such a wild recurrence.  The Englishman of the far
past, barred by climate, bad roads, ill-lighted winters, and the
intricate life and customs of the little town, must have been generally a
home-keeper.  No adventure, no setting forth, and small liberty, for him.
But Tom-a-Bedlam, the wild man in patches or in ribbons, with his wallet
and his horn for alms of food or drink, came and went as fitfully as the
storm, free to suffer all the cold--an unsheltered creature; and the
chill fancy of the villager followed him out to the heath on a journey
that had no law.  Was it he in person, or a poet for him, that made the
swinging song: "From the hag and the hungry goblin"?  If a poet, it was
one who wrote like a madman and not like a fool.

Not a town, not a village, not a solitary cottage during the English
Middle Ages was unvisited by him who frightened the children; they had a
name for him as for the wild birds--Robin Redbreast, Dicky Swallow,
Philip Sparrow, Tom Tit, Tom-a-Bedlam.  And after him came the "Abram
men," who were sane parodies of the crazed, and went to the fairs and
wakes in motley.  Evelyn says of a fop: "All his body was dressed like a
maypole, or a Tom-a-Bedlam's cap."  But after the Civil Wars they
vanished, and no man knew how.  In time old men remembered them only to
remember that they had not seen any such companies or solitary wanderers
of late years.

The mad maid of the poets is a vagrant too, when she is free, and not
singing within Bedlam early in the morning, "in the spring."  Wordsworth,
who dealt with the legendary fancy in his "Ruth," makes the crazed one a
wanderer in the hills whom a traveller might see by chance, rare as an
Oread, and nearly as wild as Echo herself:-

   I too have passed her in the hills
   Setting her little water-mills.

His heart misgives him to think of the rheumatism that must befall in
such a way of living; and his grave sense of civilization, _bourgeois_ in
the humane and noble way that is his own, restores her after death to the
company of man, to the "holy bell," which Shakespeare's Duke remembered
in banishment, and to the congregation and their "Christian psalm."

The older poets were less responsible, less serious and more sad, than
Wordsworth, when they in turn were touched by the fancy of the maid
crazed by love.  They left her to her light immortality; and she might be
drenched in dews; they would not desire to reconcile nor bury her.  She
might have her hair torn by the bramble, but her heart was light after
trouble.  "Many light hearts and wings"--she had at least the bird's
heart, and the poet lent to her voice the wings of his verses.

There is nothing in our poetry less modern than she.  The vagrant woman
of later feeling was rather the sane creature of Ebenezer Elliott's fine
lines in "The Excursion"--

   Bone-weary, many-childed, trouble-tried!
   Wife of my bosom, wedded to my soul!

Trouble did not "try" the Elizabethan wild one, it undid her.  She had no
child, or if there had ever been a child of hers, she had long forgotten
how it died.  She hailed the wayfarer, who was more weary than she, with
a song; she haunted the cheerful dawn; her "good-morrow" rings from
Herrick's poem, fresh as cock-crow.  She knows that her love is dead, and
her perplexity has regard rather to the many kinds of flowers than to the
old story of his death; they distract her in the splendid meadows.

All the tragic world paused to hear that lightest of songs, as the
tragedy of Hamlet pauses for the fitful voice of Ophelia.  Strange was
the charm of this perpetual alien, and unknown to us now.  The world has
become once again as it was in the mad maid's heyday, less serious and
more sad than Wordsworth; but it has not recovered, and perhaps will
never recover, that sweetness.  Blake's was a more starry madness.
Crabbe, writing of village sorrows, thought himself bound to recur to the
legend of the mad maid, but his "crazed maiden" is sane enough, sorrowful
but dull, and sings of her own "burning brow," as Herrick's wild one
never sang; nor is there any smile in her story, though she talks of
flowers, or, rather, "the herbs I loved to rear"; and perhaps she is the
surest of all signs that the strange inspiration of the past centuries
was lost, vanished like Tom-a-Bedlam himself.  It had been wholly
English, whereas the English eighteenth century was not wholly English.

It is not to be imagined that any hard Southern mind could ever have
played in poetry with such a fancy; or that Petrarch, for example, could
so have foregone the manifestation of intelligence and intelligible
sentiment.  And as to Dante, who put the two eternities into the
momentary balance of the human will, cold would be his disregard of this
northern dream of innocence.  If the mad maid was an alien upon earth,
what were she in the Inferno?  What word can express her strangeness
there, her vagrancy there?  And with what eyes would they see this dewy
face glancing in at the windows of that City?


Times have been, it is said, merrier than these; but it is certain
nevertheless that laughter never was so honoured as now; were it not for
the paradox one might say, it never was so grave.  Everywhere the joke
"emerges"--as an "elegant" writer might have it--emerges to catch the
attention of the sense of humour; and everywhere the sense of humour
wanders, watches, and waits to honour the appeal.

It loiters, vaguely but perpetually willing.  It wears (let the violent
personification be pardoned) a hanging lip, and a wrinkle in abeyance,
and an eye in suspense.  It is much at the service of the vagrant
encounterer, and may be accosted by any chance daughters of the game.  It
stands in untoward places, or places that were once inappropriate, and is
early at some indefinite appointment, some ubiquitous tryst, with the
compliant jest.

All literature becomes a field of easy assignations; there is a constant
signalling, an endless recognition.  Forms of approach are remitted.  And
the joke and the sense of humour, with no surprise of meeting, or no
gaiety of strangeness, so customary has the promiscuity become, go up and
down the pages of the paper and the book.  See, again, the theatre.  A
somewhat easy sort of comic acting is by so much the best thing upon our
present stage that little else can claim--paradox again apart--to be
taken seriously.

There is, in a word, a determination, an increasing tendency away from
the Oriental estimate of laughter as a thing fitter for women, fittest
for children, and unfitted for the beard.  Laughter is everywhere and at
every moment proclaimed to be the honourable occupation of men, and in
some degree distinctive of men, and no mean part of their prerogative and
privilege.  The sense of humour is chiefly theirs, and those who are not
men are to be admitted to the jest upon their explanation.  They will not
refuse explanation.  And there is little upon which a man will so value
himself as upon that sense, "in England, now."

Meanwhile, it would be a pity if laughter should ever become, like
rhetoric and the arts, a habit.  And it is in some sort a habit when it
is not inevitable.  If we ask ourselves why we laugh, we must confess
that we laugh oftenest because--being amused--we intend to show that we
are amused.  We are right to make the sign, but a smile would be as sure
a signal as a laugh, and more sincere; it would but be changing the
convention; and the change would restore laughter itself to its own
place.  We have fallen into the way of using it to prove something--our
sense of the goodness of the jest, to wit; but laughter should not thus
be used, it should go free.  It is not a demonstration, whether in logic,
or--as the word demonstration is now generally used--in emotion; and we
do ill to charge it with that office.

Something of the Oriental idea of dignity might not be amiss among such a
people as ourselves containing wide and numerous classes who laugh
without cause: audiences; crowds; a great many clergymen, who perhaps
first fell into the habit in the intention of proving that they were not
gloomy; but a vast number of laymen also who had not that excuse; and
many women who laugh in their uncertainty as to what is humorous and what
is not.  This last is the most harmless of all kinds of superfluous
laughter.  When it carries an apology, a confession of natural and genial
ignorance, and when a gentle creature laughs a laugh of hazard and
experiment, she is to be more than forgiven.  What she must not do is to
laugh a laugh of instruction, and as it were retrieve the jest that was
never worth the taking.

There are, besides, a few women who do not disturb themselves as to a
sense of humour, but who laugh from a sense of happiness.  Childish is
that trick, and sweet.  For children, who always laugh because they must,
and never by way of proof or sign, laugh only half their laughs out of
their sense of humour; they laugh the rest under a mere stimulation:
because of abounding breath and blood; because some one runs behind them,
for example, and movement does so jog their spirits that their legs fail
them, for laughter, without a jest.

If ever the day should come when men and women shall be content to signal
their perception of humour by the natural smile, and shall keep the laugh
for its own unpremeditated act, shall laugh seldom, and simply, and not
thrice at the same thing--once for foolish surprise, and twice for tardy
intelligence, and thrice to let it be known that they are amused--then it
may be time to persuade this laughing nation not to laugh so loud as it
is wont in public.  The theatre audiences of louder-speaking nations
laugh lower than ours.  The laugh that is chiefly a signal of the
laugher's sense of the ridiculous is necessarily loud; and it has the
disadvantage of covering what we may perhaps wish to hear from the
actors.  It is a public laugh, and no ordinary citizen is called upon for
a public laugh.  He may laugh in public, but let it be with private
laughter there.

Let us, if anything like a general reform be possible in these times of
dispersion and of scattering, keep henceforth our sense of humour in a
place better guarded, as something worth a measure of seclusion.  It
should not loiter in wait for the alms of a joke in adventurous places.
For the sense of humour has other things to do than to make itself
conspicuous in the act of laughter.  It has negative tasks of valid
virtue; for example, the standing and waiting within call of tragedy
itself, where, excluded, it may keep guard.

No reasonable man will aver that the Oriental manners are best.  This
would be to deny Shakespeare as his comrades knew him, where the wit "out-
did the meat, out-did the frolic wine," and to deny Ben Jonson's "tart
Aristophanes, neat Terence, witty Plautus," and the rest.  Doubtless
Greece determined the custom for all our Occident; but none the less
might the modern world grow more sensible of the value of composure.

To none other of the several powers of our souls do we so give rein as to
this of humour, and none other do we indulge with so little
fastidiousness.  It is as though there were honour in governing the other
senses, and honour in refusing to govern this.  It is as though we were
ashamed of reason here, and shy of dignity, and suspicious of temperance,
and diffident of moderation, and too eager to thrust forward that which
loses nothing by seclusion.


The first time that Mercutio fell upon the English stage, there fell with
him a gay and hardly human figure; it fell, perhaps finally, for English
drama.  That manner of man--Arlecchino, or Harlequin--had outlived his
playmates, Pantaleone, Brighella, Colombina, and the Clown.  A little of
Pantaleone survives in old Capulet, a little in the father of the Shrew,
but the life of Mercutio in the one play, and of the subordinate Tranio
in the other, is less quickly spent, less easily put out, than the
smouldering of the old man.  Arlecchino frolics in and out of the tragedy
and comedy of Shakespeare, until he thus dies in his lightest, his
brightest, his most vital shape.

Arlecchino, the tricksy and shifty spirit, the contriver, the busybody,
the trusty rogue, the wonder-worker, the man in disguise, the mercurial
one, lives on buoyantly in France to the age of Moliere.  He is officious
and efficacious in the skin of Mascarille and Ergaste and Scapin; but he
tends to be a lacquey, with a reference rather to Antiquity and the Latin
comedy than to the Middle Ages, as on the English stage his mere memory
survives differently to a later age in the person of "Charles, his
friend."  What convinces me that he virtually died with Mercutio is
chiefly this--that this comrade of Romeo's lives so keenly as to be fully
capable of the death that he takes at Tybalt's sword-point; he lived
indeed, he dies indeed.  Another thing that marks the close of a career
of ages is his loss of his long customary good luck.  Who ever heard of
Arlecchino unfortunate before, at fault with his sword-play, overtaken by
tragedy?  His time had surely come.  The gay companion was to bleed;
Tybalt's sword had made a way.  'Twas not so deep as a well nor so wide
as a church-door, but it served.

Some confusion comes to pass among the typical figures of the primitive
Italian play, because Harlequin, on that conventional little stage of the
past, has a hero's place, whereas when he interferes in human affairs he
is only the auxiliary.  He might be lover and bridegroom on the primitive
stage, in the comedy of these few and unaltered types; but when
Pantaloon, Clown, and Harlequin play with really human beings, then
Harlequin can be no more than a friend of the hero, the friend of the
bridegroom.  The five figures of the old stage dance attendance; they
play around the business of those who have the dignity of mortality;
they, poor immortals--a clown who does not die, a pantaloon never far
from death, who yet does not die, a Columbine who never attains
Desdemona's death of innocence or Juliet's death of rectitude and
passion--flit in the backward places of the stage.

Ariel fulfils his office, and is not of one kind with those he serves.  Is
there a memory of Harlequin in that delicate figure?  Something of the
subservient immortality, of the light indignity, proper to Pantaleone,
Brighella, Arlecchino, Colombina, and the Clown, hovers away from the
stage when Ariel is released from the trouble of human things.

Immortality, did I say?  It was immortality until Mercutio fell.  And if
some claim be made to it still because Harlequin has transformed so many
scenes for the pleasure of so many thousand children, since Mercutio
died, I must reply that our modern Harlequin is no more than a
_marionnette_; he has returned whence he came.  A man may play him, but
he is--as he was first of all--a doll.  From doll-hood Arlecchino took
life, and, so promoted, flitted through a thousand comedies, only to be
again what he first was; save that, as once a doll played the man, so now
a man plays the doll.  It is but a memory of Arlecchino that our children
see, a poor statue or image endowed with mobility rather than with life.

With Mercutio, vanished the light heart that had given to the serious
ages of the world an hour's refuge from the unforgotten burden of
responsible conscience; the light heart assumed, borrowed, made
dramatically the spectator's own.  We are not serious now, and no heart
now is quite light, even for an hour.


Dialect is the elf rather than the genius of place, and a dwarfish master
of the magic of local things.

In England we hardly know what a concentrated homeliness it nourishes;
inasmuch as, with us, the castes and classes for whom Goldoni and Gallina
and Signor Fogazzaro have written in the patois of the Veneto, use no
dialect at all.

Neither Goldoni nor Gallina has charged the Venetian language with so
much literature as to take from the people the shelter of their almost
unwritten tongue.  Signor Fogazzaro, bringing tragedy into the homes of
dialect, does but show us how the language staggers under such a stress,
how it breaks down, and resigns that office.  One of the finest of the
characters in the ranks of his admirable fiction is that old manageress
of the narrow things of the house whose daughter is dying insane.  I have
called the dialect a shelter.  This it is; but the poor lady does not
cower within; her resigned head erect, she is shut out from that homely
refuge, suffering and inarticulate.  The two dramatists in their several
centuries also recognized the inability of the dialect.  They laid none
but light loads upon it.  They caused it to carry no more in their homely
plays than it carries in homely life.  Their work leaves it what it
was--the talk of a people talking much about few things; a people like
our own and any other in their lack of literature, but local and all
Italian in their lack of silence.

Common speech is surely a greater part of life to such a people than to
one less pleased with chatter or more pleased with books.  I am writing
of men, women, and children (and children are not forgotten, since we
share a patois with children on terms of more than common equality) who
possess, for all occasions of ceremony and opportunities of dignity, a
general, national, liberal, able, and illustrious tongue, charged with
all its history and all its achievements; for the speakers of dialect, of
a certain rank, speak Italian, too.  But to tamper with their dialect, or
to take it from them, would be to leave them houseless and exposed in
their daily business.  So much does their patois seem to be their refuge
from the heavy and multitudinous experiences of a literary tongue, that
the stopping of a fox's earth might be taken as the image of any act that
should spoil or stop the talk of the associated seclusion of their town,
and leave them in the bleakness of a larger patriotism.

The Venetian people, the Genoese, and the other speakers of languages
that might all have proved right "Italian" had not Dante, Petrarch and
Boccaccio written in Tuscan, can neither write nor be taught hard things
in their dialect, although they can live, whether easy lives or hard, and
evidently can die, therein.  The hands and feet that have served the
villager and the citizen at homely tasks have all the lowliness of his
patois, to his mind; and when he must perforce yield up their employment,
we may believe that it is a simple thing to die in so simple and so
narrow a language, one so comfortable, neighbourly, tolerant, and
compassionate; so confidential; so incapable, ignorant, unappalling,
inapt to wing any wearied thought upon difficult flight or to spur it
upon hard travelling.

Not without words is mental pain, or even physical pain, to be undergone;
but the words that have done no more than order the things of the narrow
street are not words to put a fine edge or a piercing point to any human
pang.  It may even well be that to die in dialect is easier than to die
in the eloquence of Manfred, though that declaimed language, too, is
doubtless a defence, if one of a different manner.

These writers in Venetian--they are named because in no other Italian
dialect has work so popular as Goldoni's been done, nor so excellent as
Signor Fogazzaro's--have left the unlettered local language in which they
loved to deal, to its proper limitations.  They have not given weighty
things into its charge, nor made it heavily responsible.  They have added
nothing to it; nay, by writing it they might even be said to have made it
duller, had it not been for the reader and the actor.  Insomuch as the
intense expressiveness of a dialect--of a small vocabulary in the mouth
of a dramatic people--lies in the various accent wherewith a southern
citizen knows how to enrich his talk, it remains for the actor to restore
its life to the written phrase.  In dialect the author is forbidden to
search for the word, for there is none lurking for his choice; but of
tones, allusions, and of references and inferences of the voice, the
speaker of dialect is a master.  No range of phrases can be his, but he
has the more or the less confidential inflection, until at times the
close communication of the narrow street becomes a very conspiracy.

Let it be borne in mind that dialect properly so called is something all
unlike, for instance, the mere jargon of London streets.  The difference
may be measured by the fact that Italian dialects have a highly organized
and orderly grammar.  The Londoner cannot keep the small and loose order
of the grammar of good English; the Genoese conjugates his patois verbs,
with subjunctives and all things of that handsome kind, lacked by the
English of Universities.

The middle class--the _piccolo mondo_--hat shares Italian dialect with
the poor are more strictly local in their manners than either the opulent
or the indigent of the same city.  They have moreover the busy
intelligence (which is the intellect of patois) at its keenest.  Their
speech keeps them a sequestered place which is Italian, Italian beyond
the ken of the traveller, and beyond the reach of alteration.  And--what
is pretty to observe--the speakers are well conscious of the characters
of this intimate language.  An Italian countryman who has known no other
climate will vaunt, in fervent platitudes, his Italian sun; in like
manner he is conscious of the local character of his language, and tucks
himself within it at home, whatever Tuscan he may speak abroad.  A
properly spelt letter, Swift said, would seem to expose him and Mrs
Dingley and Stella to the eyes of the world; but their little language,
ill-written, was "snug."

Lovers have made a little language in all times; finding the nobler
language insufficient, do they ensconce themselves in the smaller?
discard noble and literary speech as not noble enough, and in despair
thus prattle and gibber and stammer?  Rather perhaps this departure from
English is but an excursion after gaiety.  The ideal lovers, no doubt,
would be so simple as to be grave.  That is a tenable opinion.
Nevertheless, age by age they have been gay; and age by age they have
exchanged language imitated from the children they doubtless never
studied, and perhaps never loved.  Why so?  They might have chosen broken
English of other sorts--that, for example, which was once thought amusing
in farce, as spoken by the Frenchman conceived by the Englishman--a
complication of humour fictitious enough, one might think, to please
anyone; or else a fragment of negro dialect; or the style of telegrams;
or the masterly adaptation of the simple savage's English devised by Mrs
Plornish in her intercourse with the Italian.  But none of these found
favour.  The choice has always been of the language of children.  Let us
suppose that the flock of winged Loves worshipping Venus in the Titian
picture, and the noble child that rides his lion erect with a background
of Venetian gloomy dusk, may be the inspirers of those prattlings.  "See
then thy selfe likewise art lyttle made," says Spenser's Venus to her

Swift was the best prattler.  He had caught the language, surprised it in
Stella when she was veritably a child.  He did not push her clumsily back
into a childhood he had not known; he simply prolonged in her a childhood
he had loved.  He is "seepy."  "Nite, dealest dea, nite dealest logue."
It is a real good-night.  It breathes tenderness from that moody and
uneasy bed of projects.


Every language in the world has its own phrase, fresh for the stranger's
fresh and alien sense of its signal significance; a phrase that is its
own essential possession, and yet is dearer to the speaker of other
tongues.  Easily--shall I say cheaply?--spiritual, for example, was the
nation that devised the name _anima pellegrina_, wherewith to crown a
creature admired.  "Pilgrim soul" is a phrase for any language, but
"pilgrim soul!" addressed, singly and sweetly to one who cannot be over-
praised, "pilgrim-soul!" is a phrase of fondness, the high homage of a
lover, of one watching, of one who has no more need of common flatteries,
but has admired and gazed while the object of his praises visibly
surpassed them--this is the facile Italian ecstasy, and it rises into an
Italian heaven.

It was by chance, and in an old play, that I came upon this impetuous,
sudden, and single sentence of admiration, as it were a sentence of life
passed upon one charged with inestimable deeds; and the modern editor had
thought it necessary to explain the exclamation by a note.  It was, he
said, poetical.

_Anima pellegrina_ seems to be Italian of no later date than
Pergolese's airs, and suits the time as the familiar phrase of the more
modern love-song suited the day of Bellini.  But it is only Italian,
bygone Italian, and not a part of the sweet past of any other European
nation, but only of this.

To the same local boundaries and enclosed skies belongs the charm of
those buoyant words:-

   Felice chi vi mira,
   Ma piu felice chi per voi sospira!

And it is not only a charm of elastic sound or of grace; that would be
but a property of the turn of speech.  It is rather the profounder
advantage whereby the rhymes are freighted with such feeling as the very
language keeps in store.  In another tongue you may sing, "happy who
looks, happier who sighs"; but in what other tongue shall the little
meaning be so sufficient, and in what other shall you get from so weak an
antithesis the illusion of a lovely intellectual epigram?  Yet it is not
worthy of an English reader to call it an illusion; he should rather be
glad to travel into the place of a language where the phrase _is_
intellectual, impassioned, and an epigram; and should thankfully for the
occasion translate himself, and not the poetry.

I have been delighted to use a present current phrase whereof the charm
may still be unknown to Englishmen--"_piuttosto bruttini_."  See what
an all-Italian spirit is here, and what contempt, not reluctant, but
tolerant and familiar.  You may hear it said of pictures, or works of art
of several kinds, and you confess at once that not otherwise should they
be condemned.  _Brutto_--ugly--is the word of justice, the word for any
language, everywhere translatable, a circular note, to be exchanged
internationally with a general meaning, wholesale, in the course of the
European concert.  But _bruttino_ is a soothing diminutive, a diminutive
that forbears to express contempt, a diminutive that implies innocence,
and is, moreover, guarded by a hesitating adverb, shrugging in the
rear--"rather than not."  "Rather ugly than not, and ugly in a little way
that we need say few words about--the fewer the better;" nay, this
paraphrase cannot achieve the homely Italian quality whereby the printed
and condemnatory criticism is made a family affair that shall go no
further.  After the sound of it, the European concert seems to be
composed of brass instruments.

How unlike is the house of English language and the enclosure into which
a traveller hither has to enter!  Do we possess anything here more
essentially ours (though we share it with our sister Germany) than our
particle "un"?  Poor are those living languages that have not our use of
so rich a negative.  The French equivalent in adjectives reaches no
further than the adjective itself--or hardly; it does not attain the
participle; so that no French or Italian poet has the words "unloved",
"unforgiven."  None such, therefore, has the opportunity of the gravest
and the most majestic of all ironies.  In our English, the words that are
denied are still there--"loved," "forgiven": excluded angels, who stand
erect, attesting what is not done, what is undone, what shall not be

No merely opposite words could have so much denial, or so much pain of
loss, or so much outer darkness, or so much barred beatitude in sight.
All-present, all-significant, all-remembering, all-foretelling is the
word, and it has a plenitude of knowledge.

We have many more conspicuous possessions that are, like this, proper to
character and thought, and by no means only an accident of untransferable
speech.  And it is impossible for a reader, who is a lover of languages
for their spirit, to pass the words of untravelled excellence, proper to
their own garden enclosed, without recognition.  Never may they be
disregarded or confounded with the universal stock.  If I would not so
neglect _piuttosto bruttini_, how much less a word dominating
literature!  And of such words of ascendancy and race there is no great
English author but has abundant possession.  No need to recall them.  But
even writers who are not great have, here and there, proved their full
consciousness of their birthright.  Thus does a man who was hardly an
author, Haydon the painter, put out his hand to take his rights.  He has
incomparable language when he is at a certain page of his life; at that
time he sate down to sketch his child, dying in its babyhood, and the
head he studied was, he says, full of "power and grief."

This is a phrase of different discovery from that which reveals a local
rhyme-balanced epigram, a gracious antithesis, taking an intellectual
place--_Felice chi vi mira_--or the art-critic's phrase--_piuttosto
bruttini_--of easy, companionable, and equal contempt.

As for French, if it had no other sacred words--and it has many--who
would not treasure the language that has given us--no, not that has given
us, but that has kept for its own--_ensoleille_?  Nowhere else is the sun
served with such a word.  It is not to be said or written without a
convincing sense of sunshine, and from the very word come light and
radiation.  The unaccustomed north could not have made it, nor the
accustomed south, but only a nation part-north and part-south; therefore
neither England nor Italy can rival it.  But there needed also the senses
of the French--those senses of which they say far too much in every
second-class book of their enormous, their general second-class, but
which they have matched in their time with some inimitable words.  Perhaps
that matching was done at the moment of the full literary consciousness
of the senses, somewhere about the famous 1830.  For I do not think
_ensoleille_ to be a much older word--I make no assertion.  Whatever its
origin, may it have no end!  They cannot weary us with it; for it seems
as new as the sun, as remote as old Provence; village, hill-side,
vineyard, and chestnut wood shine in the splendour of the word, the air
is light, and white things passing blind the eyes--a woman's linen, white
cattle, shining on the way from shadow to shadow.  A word of the sense of
sight, and a summer word, in short, compared with which the paraphrase is
but a picture.  For _ensoleille_ I would claim the consent of all
readers--that they shall all acknowledge the spirit of that French.  But
perhaps it is a mere personal preference that makes _le jour
s'annonce_ also sacred.

If the hymn, "Stabat Mater dolorosa," was written in Latin, this could be
only that it might in time find its true language and incomparable phrase
at last--that it might await the day of life in its proper German.  I
found it there (and knew at once the authentic verse, and knew at once
for what tongue it had been really destined) in the pages of the prayer-
book of an apple-woman at an Innsbruck church, and in the accents of her


A singular love of walls is mine.  Perhaps because of childish
association with mountain-climbing roads narrow in the bright shadows of
grey stone, hiding olive trees whereof the topmost leaves prick above
into the blue; or perhaps because of subsequent living in London, with
its too many windows and too few walls, the city which of all capitals
takes least visible hold upon the ground; or for the sake of some other
attraction or aversion, walls, blank and strong, reaching outward at the
base, are a satisfaction to the eyes teased by the inexpressive peering
of windows, by that weak lapse and shuffling which is the London "area,"
and by the helpless hollows of shop-fronts.

I would rather have a wall than any rail but a very good one of wrought-
iron.  A wall is the safeguard of simplicity.  It lays a long level line
among the indefinite chances of the landscape.  But never more majestic
than in face of the wild sea, the wall, steadying its slanting foot upon
the rock, builds in the serried ilex-wood and builds out the wave.  The
sea-wall is the wall at its best.  And fine as it is on the strong coast,
it is beautiful on the weak littoral and the imperilled levels of a
northern beach.

That sea wall is low and long; sea-pinks grow on the salt grass that
passes away into shingle at its foot.  It is at close quarters with the
winter sea, when, from the low coast with its low horizon, the sky-line
of sea is jagged.  Never from any height does the ocean-horizon show thus
broken and battered at its very verge, but from the flat coast and the
narrow world you can see the wave as far as you can see the water; and
the stormy light of a clear horizon is seen to be mobile and shifting
with the buoyant hillocks and their restless line.

Nowhere in Holland does there seem to be such a low sea-wall as secures
many a mile of gentle English coast to the east.  The Dutch dyke has not
that aspect of a lowly parapet against a tide; it springs with a look of
haste and of height; and when you first run upstairs from the encumbered
Dutch fields to look at the sea, there is nothing in the least like
England; and even the Englishman of to-day is apt to share something of
the old perversity that was minded to cast derision upon the Dutch in
their encounters with the tides.

There has been some fault in the Dutch, making them subject to the slight
derision of the nations who hold themselves to be more romantic, and, as
it were, more slender.  We English, once upon a time, did especially
flout the little nation then acting a history that proved worth the
writing.  It may be no more than a brief perversity that has set a number
of our writers to cheer the memory of Charles II.  Perhaps, even, it is
no more than another rehearsal of that untiring success at the expense of
the bourgeois.  The bourgeois would be more simple than, in fact, he is
were he to stand up every time to be shocked; but, perhaps, the image of
his dismay is enough to reward the fancy of those who practise the wanton
art.  And, when all is done, who performs for any but an imaginary
audience?  Surely those companies of spectators and of auditors are not
the least of the makings of an author.  A few men and women he achieves
within his books; but others does he create without, and to those figures
of all illusion makes the appeal of his art.  More candid is the author
who has no world, but turns that appeal inwards to his own heart.  He has
at least a living hearer.

This is by the way.  Charles II has been cheered; the feat is done, the
dismay is imagined with joy.  And yet the Merry Monarch's was a dismal
time.  Plague, fire, the arrears of pension from the French King
remembered and claimed by the restored throne of England, and the Dutch
in the Medway--all this was disaster.  None the less, having the vanity
of new clothes and a pretty figure, did we--especially by the mouth of
Andrew Marvell--deride our victors, making sport of the Philistines with
a proper national sense of enjoyment of such physical disabilities, or
such natural difficulties, or such misfavour of fortune, as may beset the

Especially were the denials of fortune matter for merriment.  They are so
still; or they were so certainly in the day when a great novelist found
the smallness of some South German States to be the subject of unsating
banter.  The German scenes at the end of "Vanity Fair," for example, may
prove how much the ridicule of mere smallness, fewness, poverty (and not
even real poverty, privation, but the poverty that shows in comparison
with the gold of great States, and is properly in proportion) rejoiced
the sense of humour in a writer and moralist who intended to teach
mankind to be less worldly.  In Andrew Marvell's day they were even more
candid.  The poverty of privation itself was provocative of the sincere
laughter of the inmost man, the true, infrequent laughter of the heart.
Marvell, the Puritan, laughed that very laughter--at leanness, at hunger,
cold, and solitude--in the face of the world, and in the name of
literature, in one memorable satire.  I speak of "Flecno, an English
Priest in Rome," wherein nothing is spared--not the smallness of the
lodging, nor the lack of a bed, nor the scantiness of clothing, nor the

   "This basso-rilievo of a man--"

personal meagreness is the first joke and the last.

It is not to be wondered at that he should find in the smallness of the
country of Holland matter for a cordial jest.  But, besides the
smallness, there was that accidental and natural disadvantage in regard
to the sea.  In the Venetians, commerce with the sea, conflict with the
sea, a victory over the sea, and the ensuing peace--albeit a less instant
battle and a more languid victory--were confessed to be noble; in the
Dutch they were grotesque.  "With mad labour," says Andrew Marvell, with
the spirited consciousness of the citizen of a country well above ground
and free to watch the labour at leisure, "with mad labour" did the Dutch
"fish the land to shore."

   How did they rivet with gigantic piles,
   Thorough the centre, their new-catched miles,
   And to the stake a struggling country bound,
   Where barking waves still bait the forced ground;
   Building their watery Babel far more high
   To reach the sea than those to scale the sky!

It is done with a jolly wit, and in what admirable couplets!

   The fish oft-times the burgher dispossessed,
   And sat, not as a meat, but as a guest.

And it is even better sport that the astonished tritons and sea-nymphs
should find themselves provided with a capital _cabillau_ of shoals of
pickled Dutchmen (heeren for herring, says Marvell); and it must be
allowed that he rhymes with the enjoyment of irony.  There is not a smile
for us in "Flecno," but it is more than possible to smile over this
"Character of Holland"; at the excluded ocean returning to play at leap-
frog over the steeples; at the rise of government and authority in
Holland, which belonged of right to the man who could best invent a
shovel or a pump, the country being so leaky:-

   Not who first sees the rising sun commands,
   But who could first discern the rising lands.

We have lost something more than the delighted laughter of Marvell, more
than his practical joke, and more than the heart that was light in so
burly a frame--we have lost with these the wild humour that wore so well
the bonds of two equal lines, and was wild with so much order, invention,
malice, gaiety, polish, equilibrium, and vitality--in a word, the
Couplet, the couplet of the past.  We who cannot stand firm within two
lines, but must slip beyond and between the boundaries, who tolerate the
couplets of Keats and imitate them, should praise the day of Charles II
because of Marvell's art, and not for love of the sorry reign.  We had
plague, fire, and the Dutch in the Medway, but we had the couplet; and
there were also the measures of those more poetic poets, hitherto called
somewhat slightingly the Cavalier poets, who matched the wit of the
Puritan with a spirit simpler and less mocking.

It was against an English fortress, profoundly walled, that some
remembered winter storms lately turned their great artillery.  It was a
time of resounding nights; the sky was so clamorous and so close, up in
the towers of the seaside stronghold, that one seemed to be indeed
admitted to the perturbed counsels of the winds.  The gale came with an
indescribable haste, hooting as it flew; it seemed to break itself upon
the heights, yet passed unbroken out to sea; in the voice of the sea
there were pauses, but none in that of the urgent gale with its hoo-hoo-
hoo all night, that clamoured down the calling of the waves.  That lack
of pauses was the strangest thing in the tempest, because the increase of
sound seemed to imply a lull before.  The lull was never perceptible, but
the lift was always an alarm.  The onslaught was instant, where would it
stop?  What was the secret extreme to which this hurry and force were
tending?  You asked less what thing was driving the flocks of the storm
than what was drawing them.  The attraction seemed the greater violence,
the more irresistible, and the more unknown.  And there were moments when
the end seemed about to be attained.

The wind struck us hasty blows, and unawares we borrowed, to describe it,
words fit for the sharp strokes of material things; but the fierce gale
is soft.  Along the short grass, trembling and cowering flat on the
scarped hill-side, against the staggering horse, against the flint walls,
one with the rock they grasp, the battery of the tempest is a quick and
enormous softness.  What down, what sand, what deep moss, what elastic
wave could match the bed and cushion of the gale?

This storm tossed the wave and the stones of the sea-wall up together.
The next day it left the waters white with the thrilling whiteness of
foam in sunshine.  It was only the Channel; and in such narrow waters you
do not see the distances, the wide levels of fleeting and floating foam,
that lie light between long wave and long wave on a Mediterranean coast,
regions of delicate and transitory brightness so far out that all the
waves, near and far, seem to be breaking at the same moment, one beyond
the other, and league beyond league, into foam.  But the Channel has its
own strong, short curl that catches the rushing shingle up with the
freshest of all noises and runs up with sudden curves, white upon the
white sea-wall, under the random shadow of sea-gulls and the light of a
shining cloud.


To travel eastwards and breast the sun, to sail towards the watershed and
breast the floods, to go north and breast the winter--fresh and warm are
the energies of such bracing action; but more animating still is it to
live so as to breast the stress of time.

Man and woman may, like the child, or almost like him, fill the time and
enlarge the capacity of the day--our poor day that so easily shrinks and
dwindles in the careless possession of idle minds.  The date, every first
of March, for example, may sweep upon a large curve and come home
annually after a swinging flight.  To the infinite variety of natural
days may be entrusted half the work of strengthening the flight against
time, but the other half must be the task of the vehement heart.  Nature
assuredly does not fail.  Days, seasons, and years are as wide asunder as
the unforeseen can set them, and a crowd of children is not more various.
But the resisting heart seems of late to be somewhat lacking.  We are
inclined to turn our heel upon the East, upon the watershed, upon the
gates of the wind, and to go the smooth road.

We are even precipitate, and whip our way faster on the time-killing
course than the natural event would take us.  It is not enough that we
should run helplessly, we outstrip the breeze and outsail the current
with the ease of our untimely luxuries.  Our daffodils are no longer to
have the praise of their daring, for we no longer relate them to the
lagging swallow.  By the time the barely budding woods give a poor man's
lodging to the cold daffodil--a scanty kind taking the wind with a short
stalk and giving it but small petals to buffet--we have already said
farewell to the tall and splendid green-house daffodil that never braved
the cold.  We gave to this our untimely welcome long before the snowdrop
came, and the golden name of daffodil has lost its vernal sound.  And
when we part with the improved creature, lofty and enlarged, we hardly
know or care whether the starveling is yet mustering in hollows of
woodlands, or whether it is over or to come.  We are attending to a
yellower tulip, no doubt, when the only daffodil that Shakespeare knew is
opening in the chilly wood.

The reproach is a commonplace, but perhaps we have generally accused
ourselves of the impatience rather than of the listlessness, and have not
noted how we shorten the disarranged seasons and lay up for ourselves
memories confused and undefined.  Late springs and early, gentle and
hard, are compelled to yield the same colours; haste has its way and its
revenges.  If we are resolved to live quickly, why, nothing is easier.
There are no such brief days as those that are indistinct; and the
sliding on the way of time is, of all habits, the most tyrannously
careless.  It is first a laxity, then a habit, and next a folly; and when
we keep neither Ash Wednesday nor the birthday of daffodils, and have
hardly felt the cold, and do not know where the sun rises, we are already
on the way of least resistance, the friction of life is gone; and in our
last old age the past will seem to dwindle even like the dwindled present
of our decline.

There has been one unconscious operation of the love of life, one single
grasp after variety, intended to save the year, to face it, to meet it,
to compel it to show a unique face and bear a name of its own; and this
is travel.  It is the finest and most effectual flight against time of
all.  What elastic days are those wherein I make head against a
travelling landscape, meet histories and boundaries, hail frontiers, face
a new manner of building, cross the regions of silver roofs and of heavy
Alpine stone, and bring with me the late light upon billowy gables and
red eaves!  And how buoyant the week in which I anticipate the sun upon
the roofless east!  How serried are the days with forests, how enlarged
by plains, how thronged by cities, how singled by the pine, how newly
audible by a new sea!  Far was the sunrise from the sunset, and noon is
one memorable midday with shortened shadows upon some solitary road.

Our fathers had friction of another kind: hardship at home, winters and
nights that were dark with a darkness we have abolished; springs that
brought an infinite releasing, illumination, and recolouring.  None of us
has seen the sight, or breathed the air, or heard those emancipated
voices.  The bloom, the birds, the ifted sky!  Bright nights and glowing
houses have surely robbed us of that variety, and all these untimely
fruits and flowers have suppressed even the small privations of a winter
in disguise.

In those days Englishmen had to breast the times as they were.  They had
the privilege of their latitude--vigorous and rigorous seasons.  They had
a year full of change--their time was stretched whether with impatience
or with patience, with conflict or with felicity.  Their salt meats were
not the worst of it; there was the siege of darkness, the captivity of
cold, the threat of storm, and the labour to close with the closing
enemy, to break ways and save animals alive, and keep the laws in force
in the street in the long and secret nights.  From such a season of
winter at home, winter well known, men broke free to hail their
daffodils.  They found them, short, strong, and shivering, in the still
open and undefended woods.  In the springs before Chaucer, and earlier
than the day of the first spring lyric, in the same places grew the keen
wild flowers as now; but they assuredly were marked with another welcome;
they made memories; this year's wild harvest was not confused with that
of last year, or of half-a-score of years gone by.  Distance of vital
time set the springs far apart, and made the daffodils strangers.

They were greeted with the courtesy due to strangers, so fresh must have
been the senses of the villager, and of the citizen of the village town.
Suburbs divide a city from the fields as walls did never.  He of old went
from a little town, close and serried as a new box of toys, with one step
into the unsmirched country, carrying an unsated heart.  Refreshed with
the animating compulsion of changeful life were man and woman, and much
like their child in a constant capacity for unique experiences, unique
days, years that are separate, known, and distinguishable, and not only
separate but long.

Indeed, some of us who travel hardly know how to remedy our fugitive,
resembling, hastening, and collapsing seasons, even by means of this
sovereign remedy of travel.  It is to be feared that a modern journey is
not always to us so bracing a manner of living as was the untravelled
journey of hard days at home to the ancient islander.  To journey as he
did, keeping his feet, with a moving heart against the moving seasons, to
resist, to withstand, widened the hours; but his posterity are taking all
means to narrow their own, even on the railway.  To go the same way every
year, for instance, is to lose, when a few such years are gone, nearly
all the gain to life.  To take no heed at all of the way, but merely to
be by any means at the end of the travelling, to sleep or go by night,
and to calculate Europe by hours, half-hours, junctions, and dining-cars,
is but to close up the time as though you closed a telescope.  A long
railway journey and a long motor journey may be taken with the flight of
time as well as against it, and the habit of summaries can use these too
to its own end.  Precipitate, unresisting, are the day in the train and
the heedless night.  We love to reproach ourselves with living at too
great a speed, having, perhaps, no sense of the second meaning of the
phrase.  Medicine may, perhaps, fulfil her promise of giving us a few
more years, but habit derides her by making each year a scanty gift.

Much, too, of the spirit of time is lost to us because we will not let
the sun rule the day.  He would see to it that our hours were various;
but we have preferred to his various face the plain face of a clock, and
the lights without vicissitudes of our nights without seasons.


Not free from some ignominious attendance upon the opinion of the world
is he who too consciously withdraws his affairs from its judgements.  He
is indebted to "the public."  He is at least indebted to it for the fact
that there is, yonder, without, a public.  Lacking this excluded
multitude his fastidiousness would have no subject, and his singularity
no contrast.  He would, in his grosser moods, have nothing to refuse, and
nothing, in his finer, to ignore.

He, at any rate, is one, and the rest are numerous.  They minister to him
popular errors.  But if they are nothing else in regard to himself, they
are many.  If he must have distinction, it is there on easy terms--he is

Well for him if he does not contract the heavier debt shouldered by the
man who owes to the unknown, un-named, and uncounted his pleasure in
their conjectured or implicit envy; who conceives the jealousy they may
have covertly to endure, enjoys it, and thus silently begins and ends
within his own morosity the story of his base advantage.

Vanity has indignity as its underside.  And how shall even the pleasure
in beauty be altogether without it?  For since beauty, like other human
things, is comparative, how shall the praise, or the admiration, thereof
be free from (at least) some reference to the unbeautiful?  Or from some
allusion to the less beautiful?  Yet this, if inevitable, is little; it
may be negligible.  The triumph of beauty is all but innocent.  It is
where no beauty is in question that lurks the unconfessed appeal to envy.
That appeal is not an appeal to admiration--it lacks what is the genial
part of egoism.  For who, except perhaps a recent writer of articles on
society in America, really admires a man for living in the approved part
of Boston?

The vanity of addresses is as frequent with us as on the western side of
the Atlantic.  It is a vanity without that single apology for
vanity--gaiety of heart.  The first things that are, in London,
sacrificed to it are the beautiful day and the facing of the sky.  There
are some amongst us whose wives have constrained them to dwell
underground for love of an address.  Modern and foolish is that contempt
for daylight.  To the simple, day is beautiful; and "beautiful as day" a
happy proverb.

Over all colour, flesh, aspect, surface, manifestation of vitality,
dwells one certain dominance.  And if One, vigilant for the dues of His
vicegerent, should ask us whose is the image and superscription?  We
reply, The Sun's.

The London air shortens and clips those beams, and yet leaves daylight
the finest thing we know.  Beauty of artificial lights is in our streets
at night, but their chief beauty is when, just before night, they adorn
the day.  The late daylight honours them when it so easily and sweetly
subdues and overcomes them, giving to the electric lamp, to the taper, to
the hearth fire, and to the spark, a loveliness not their own.

With the unpublished desire to be envied, whereto here and there amongst
us is sacrificed the sky, abides the desire for an object of unconfessed
contempt.  Both are contrary to that more authentic, that essential
solitariness wherein a few men have the grace to live, and wherein all
men are compelled to die.  Both are unpublished even now, even in our
days, when it costs men so little to manifest the effrontery of their

The difference between our worldliness and the New-worldliness is chiefly
that here we are apt to remove, by a little space, the distinction
brought about by riches, to put it back, to interpose, between it and our
actual life, a generation or two, an education or two.  Obviously, it was
riches that made the class differences, if not now, then a little time
ago.  Therefore the New England citizen should not be reproved by us for
anything except his too great candour.  A social guide-book to some city
of the Republic is in my hands.  I note how the very names of streets
take a sound of veneration or of cheerful derision from the writer's pen.
It is evident that the names are almost enough.  They have an expression.
He is like a _naif_ teller of humorous anecdotes, who cannot keep his own
smiles in order till he have done.

This social writer has scorn, as an author should, and he wreaks it upon
parishes.  He turns me a phrase with the northern end of a town and makes
an epigram of the southern.  He caps a sarcasm with an address.

In truth, we too might write social guide-books to the same effect, had
we the same simplicity.  It is to be thought that we too hold an address,
be it a good one, so closely that if Fortune should see fit to snatch it
from us, she must needs do so with violence.  Such unseemly violence, in
this as in other transactions, is ours in the clinging and not hers in
the taking.  For equal is the force of Fortune, and steady is her grasp,
whether she despoil the great of their noble things or strip the mean of
things ignoble, whether she take from the clutching or the yielding hand.

Strange are the little traps laid by the Londoner so as to capture an
address by the hem if he may.  You would think a good address to be of
all blessings the most stationary, and one to be either gained or missed,
and no two ways about it.  But not so.  You shall see it waylaid at the
angles of squares, with no slight exercise of skill, delayed, entreated,
detained, entangled, intricately caught, persuaded to round a corner,
prolonged beyond all probability, pursued.

One address there will in the future be for us, and few will visit there.
It will bear the number of a narrow house.  May it avow its poverty and
be poor; for the obscure inhabitant, in frigid humility, shall have no
thought nor no eye askance upon the multitude.


The long laugh that sometimes keeps the business of the stage waiting is
only a sign of the exchange of parts that in the theatre every night
takes place.  The audience are the players.  Their audience on the stage
are bound to watch them, to understand them, to anticipate them, and to
divine them.  But once known and their character established in relation
to a particular play, the audience--what is called the audience--need
give no further trouble.  They themselves cannot alter; they are fixed
and compelled by the tremendous force of averages.  The most inexorable
of laws, and the most irresistible of necessities are upon them; they
cannot do otherwise; they are out of the reach of accidents; they are
made fast in their own mediocrity.  They are a thousand London people;
and no genius, or no imbecility, amongst them has any effect upon that
secure sovereignty of a number.

The long laugh generally means that the house--by its unalterable
majority--has laughed at one joke three times.  The stage waits upon the
audience, and the audience rehearses its collective and inevitable laugh.
It performs.  It communicates itself, and art is a communication.  A
small and chosen party is made up, behind the footlights, to see a
thousand people, given helpless into the hands of destiny and subject to
averages, so express themselves.

The audience's audience (the people on the stage) are persuaded into
applauding the laugh too long and too often.  The author is, of course,
one of them, and he applauds by making too many such translations.  They
are perhaps worth making, and even worth renewing in acknowledgement of a
smile; but it is surely to encourage the house unduly to make them so
important.  The actors applaud their audience by repeating--and not once
or only twice--a piece of comic business.  Does the Average laugh so well
as indeed to deserve all this?

The Average does little more than laugh.  It knows that its own truest
talents are indubitably comic.  We have no real tragic audiences.  This
is no expression of regret over legitimate audiences, or audiences of the
old school, or any audiences of that kind, whose day may or may not have
had a date.  It is a mere statement of the fact that audiences have lost,
or never had, a distinguishing perception of emotion, whereas they have
every kind of perception of humour, distinguishing and general.  Their
laugh never fails.  If their friends behind would really care to improve
them, it might be done by exacting from them a little more temperance in
their sense of comedy.  We shall never have a really good school of
audience without the exercise of some such severity.

For obviously when we call an average unchangeable, we mean that it is
unchangeable for its time merely.  There might be a slow upraising of the
level.  It would still be a level, and there would still be a compelling
law upon one thousand that it should do the same thing as another
thousand; but that same thing might become somewhat more intelligent.

When a fine actor does a fine thing, have we such a school of audience as
to merit this admirable supply to their demands?--this applause of their
understanding?  Is there not in the whole excellent piece of work,
something all too independent of their part in the theatre?

If Caligula wished that mankind had but one neck for his knife, and Byron
that all womankind had but one mouth for his kiss, so the audience has
conceived that all arts should have but one mystery for its blundering,
and thus thinks itself interested in acting when it does but admire the
actor as in a drawing.

The time may come when a national school of dramatic audience shall not
accept artifices that could not convince the fool amongst them; when one
brilliant moment of simplicity on the one side of the footlights shall
meet a brilliant simplicity on the other.  Which troupe, which side, to


"It was resolved," said the morning paper, "to colour the borders of the
panels and other spaces of Portland stone with arabesques and other
patterns, but that no paint should be used, as paint would need renewing
from time to time.  The colours, therefore,"--and here is the passage to
be noted--"are all mixed with wax liquefied with petroleum; and the wax
surface sets as hard as marble. . . The wax is left time to form an
imperishable surface of ornament, which would have to be cut out of the
stone with a chisel if it was desired to remove it."  Not, apparently,
that a new surface is formed which, by much violence and perseverance,
could, years hence, be chipped off again; but that the "ornament" is
driven in and incorporate, burnt in and absorbed, so that there is
nothing possible to cut away by any industry.  In this humorous form of
ornament we are beforehand with Posterity.  Posterity is baffled.

Will this victory over our sons' sons be the last resolute tyranny
prepared by one age for the coercion, constraint, and defeat of the
future?  To impose that compulsion has been hitherto one of the strongest
of human desires.  It is one, doubtless, to be outgrown by the human
race; but how slowly that growth creeps onwards, let this success in the
stencilling of St Paul's teach us, to our confusion.  There is evidently
a man--a group of men--happy at this moment because it has been possible,
by great ingenuity, to force our posterity to have their cupola of St
Paul's with the stone mouldings stencilled and "picked out" with niggling
colours, whether that undefended posterity like it or not.  And this is a
survival of one of the obscure pleasures of man, attested by history.

It is impossible to read the Thirty-nine Articles, for example, and not
to recognize in those acts of final, all-resolute, eager, eternal
legislation one of the strongest of all recorded proofs of this former
human wish.  If Galileo's Inquisitors put a check upon the earth, which
yet moved, a far bolder enterprise was the Reformers' who arrested the
moving man, and inhibited the moving God.  The sixteenth century and a
certain part of the age immediately following seem to be times when the
desire had conspicuously become a passion.  Say the middle of the
sixteenth century in Italy and the beginning of the seventeenth in
England--for in those days we were somewhat in the rear.  _There_ is the
obstinate, confident, unreluctant, undoubting, and resolved seizure upon
power.  _Then_ was Rome rebuilt, re-faced, marked with a single sign and
style.  Then was many a human hand stretched forth to grasp the fate of
the unborn.  The fortunes and the thoughts of the day to come were to be
as the day then present would have them, if the dead hand--the living
hand that was then to die, and was to keep its hold in death--could by
any means make them fast.

Obviously, to build at all is to impose something upon an age that may be
more than willing to build for itself.  The day may soon come when no man
will do even so much without some impulse of apology.  Posterity is not
compelled to keep our pictures or our books in existence, nor to read nor
to look at them; but it is more or less obliged to have a stone building
in view for an age or two.  We can hardly avoid some of the forms of
tyranny over the future, but few, few are the living men who would
consent to share in this horrible ingenuity at St Paul's--this petroleum
and this wax.

In 1842 they were discussing the decoration of the Houses of Parliament,
and the efforts of all in council were directed upon the future.  How the
frescoes then to be achieved by the artists of the day should be made
secure against all mischances--smoke, damp, "the risk of bulging," even
accidents attending the washing of upper floors--all was discussed in
confidence with the public.  It was impossible for anyone who read the
papers then to escape from some at least of the responsibilities of
technical knowledge.  From Genoa, from Rome, from Munich especially, all
kinds of expert and most deliberate schemes were gathered in order to
defeat the natural and not superfluous operation of efficient and
effacing time.

The academic little capital of Bavaria had, at about the same date,
decorated a vast quantity of wall space of more than one order of
architecture.  Art revived and was encouraged at that time and place with
unparalleled obstinacy.  They had not the malice of the petroleum that
does violence to St Paul's; but they had instead an indomitable patience.
Under the commands of the master Cornelius, they baffled time and all his
work--refused his pardons, his absolutions, his cancelling indulgences--by
a perseverance that nothing could discourage.  Who has not known somewhat
indifferent painters mighty busy about their colours and varnishes?
Cornelius caused a pit to be dug for the preparation of the lime, and in
the case of the Ludwig Kirche this lime remained there for eight years,
with frequent stirrings.  This was in order that the whole fresco, when
at last it was entrusted to its bed, should be set there for immortality.
Nor did the master fail to thwart time by those mechanical means that
should avert the risk of bulging already mentioned.  He neglected no
detail.  He was provident, and he lay in wait for more than one of the
laws of nature, to frustrate them.  Gravitation found him prepared, and
so did the less majestic but not vain dispensation of accidents.  Against
bulging he had an underplot of tiles set on end; against possible
trickling from an upper floor he had asphalt; it was all part of the
human conspiracy.  In effect, the dull pictures at Munich seem to stand
well.  It would have been more just--so the present age thinks of these
preserved walls--if the day that admired them had had them exclusively,
and our day had been exempt.  The painted cathedrals of the Middle Ages
have undergone the natural correction; why not the Ludwig Kirche?

In 1842, then, the nations were standing, as it were, shoulder to
shoulder against the walk of time and against his gentle act and art.
They had just called iron into their cabal.  Cornelius came from Munich
to London, looked at the walls at Westminster, and put a heart of
confidence into the breast of the Commission.  The situation, he averred,
need not be too damp for immortality, with due care.  What he had done in
the Glyptothek and in the Pinacothek might be done with the best results
in England, in defiance of the weather, of the river, of the mere days,
of the divine order of alteration, and, in a word, of heaven and earth.

Meanwhile, there was that good servant of the law of change, lime that
had not been kept quite long enough, ready to fulfil its mission; they
would have none of it.  They evaded it, studied its ways, and put it to
the rout.  "Many failures that might have been hastily attributed to damp
were really owing to the use of lime in too fresh a state.  Of the
experimental works painted at Munich, those only have faded which are
known to have been done without due attention to the materials.  _Thus,
a figure of Bavaria, painted by Kaulbach, which has faded considerably,
is known to have been executed with lime that was too fresh_."  One
cannot refrain from italics: the way was so easy; it was only to take
a little less of this important care about the lime, to have a
better confidence, to be more impatient and eager, and all had been
well: _not_ to do--a virtue of omission.

This is not a matter of art-criticism.  It is an ethical question
hitherto unstudied.  The makers of laws have not always been obliged to
face it, inasmuch as their laws are made in part for the present, and in
part for that future whereof the present needs to be assured--that is,
the future is bound as a guaranty for present security of person or
property.  Some such hold upon the time to come we are obliged to claim,
and to claim it for our own sakes--because of the reflex effect upon our
own affairs, and not for the pleasure of fettering the time to come.
Every maker of a will does at least this.

Were the men of the sixteenth century so moderate?  Not they.  They found
the present all too narrow for the imposition of their will.  It did not
satisfy them to disinter and scatter the bones of the dead, nor to efface
the records of a past that offended them.  It did not satisfy them to
bind the present to obedience by imperative menace and instant
compulsion.  When they had burnt libraries and thrown down monuments and
pursued the rebels of the past into the other world, and had seen to it
that none living should evade them, then they outraged the future.

Whatever misgivings may have visited those dominant minds as to the
effectual and final success of their measures--would their writ run in
time as well as place, and were the nameless populations indeed their
subjects?--whatever questions may have peered in upon those rigid
counsels and upon those busy vigils of the keepers of the world, they
silenced by legislation and yet more legislation.  They wrote in statute
books; they would have written their will across the skies.  Their hearts
would have burnt for lack of records more inveterate, and of testimonials
that mankind should lack courage to question, if in truth they did ever
doubt lest posterity might try their lock.  Perhaps they did never so
much as foresee the race of the unnumbered and emancipated for whom their
prohibitions and penalties are no more than documents of history.

If the tyrannous day of our fathers had but possessed the means of these
our more diffident times!  They, who would have written their present and
actual will upon the skies, might certainly have written it in petroleum
and wax upon the stone.  Fate did them wrong in withholding from their
hands this means of finality and violence.  Into our hands it has been
given at a time when the student of the race thought, perhaps, that we
had been proved in the school of forbearance.  Something, indeed, we may
have learnt therein, but not enough, as we now find.

We have not yet the natural respect for the certain knowledge and the
probable wisdom of our successors.  A certain reverend official document,
not guiltless of some confusion of thought, lately recommended to the
veneration of the present times "those past ages with their store of
experience."  Doubtless, as the posterity of their predecessors our
predecessors had experience, but, as our ancestors, none--none.
Therefore, if they were a little reverend our own posterity is right
reverend.  It is a flippant and novelty-loving humour that so flatters
the unproved past and refuses the deference due to the burden of years
which is ours, which--grown still graver--will be our children's.


A childish pleasure in producing small mechanical effects unaided must
have some part in the sense of enterprise wherewith you gird your
shoulders with the tackle, and set out, alone but necessary, on the even
path of the lopped and grassy side of the Thames--the side of meadows.

The elastic resistance of the line is a "heart-animating strain," only
too slight; and sensible is the thrill in it as the ranks of the
riverside plants, with their small summit-flower of violet-pink, are
swept aside like a long green breaker of flourishing green.  The line
drums lightly in the ears when the bushes are high and it grows taut; it
makes a telephone for the rush of flowers under the stress of your easy

The active delights of one who is not athletic are few, like the joys of
"feeling hearts" according to the erroneous sentiment of a verse of
Moore's.  The joys of sensitive hearts are many; but the joys of
sensitive hands are few.  Here, however, in the effectual act of towing,
is the ample revenge of the unmuscular upon the happy labourers with the
oar, the pole, the bicycle, and all other means of violence.  Here, on
the long tow-path, between warm, embrowned meadows and opal waters, you
need but to walk in your swinging harness, and so take your friends up-

You work merely as the mill-stream works--by simple movement.  At lock
after lock along a hundred miles, deep-roofed mills shake to the wheel
that turns by no greater stress, and you and the river have the same mere
force of progress.

There never was any kinder incentive of companionship.  It is the bright
Thames walking softly in your blood, or you that are flowing by so many
curves of low shore on the level of the world.

Now you are over against the shadows, and now opposite the sun, as the
wheeling river makes the sky wheel about your head and swings the lighted
clouds or the blue to face your eyes.  The birds, flying high for
mountain air in the heat, wing nothing but their own weight.  You will
not envy them for so brief a success.  Did not Wordsworth want a "little
boat" for the air?  Did not Byron call him a blockhead therefor?
Wordsworth had, perhaps, a sense of towing.

All the advantage of the expert is nothing in this simple industry.  Even
the athlete, though he may go further, cannot do better than you, walking
your effectual walk with the line attached to your willing steps.  Your
moderate strength of a mere everyday physical education gives you the
sufficient mastery of the towpath.

If your natural walk is heavy, there is spirit in the tackle to give it
life, and if it is buoyant it will be more buoyant under the buoyant
burden--the yielding check--than ever before.  An unharnessed walk must
begin to seem to you a sorry incident of insignificant liberty.  It is
easier than towing?  So is the drawing of water in a sieve easier to the
arms than drawing in a bucket, but not to the heart.

To walk unbound is to walk in prose, without the friction of the wings of
metre, without the sweet and encouraging tug upon the spirit and the

No dead weight follows you as you tow.  The burden is willing; it depends
upon you gaily, as a friend may do without making any depressing show of
helplessness; neither, on the other hand, is it apt to set you at naught
or charge you with a make-believe.  It accompanies, it almost
anticipates; it lags when you are brisk, just so much as to give your
briskness good reason, and to justify you if you should take to still
more nimble heels.  All your haste, moreover, does but waken a more
brilliantly-sounding ripple.

The bounding and rebounding burden you carry (but it nearly seems to
carry you, so fine is the mutual good will) gives work to your figure,
enlists your erectness and your gait, but leaves your eyes free.  No
watching of mechanisms for the labourer of the tow-path.  What little
outlook is to be kept falls to the lot of the steerer smoothly towed.
Your easy and efficient work lets you carry your head high and watch the
birds, or listen to them.  They fly in such lofty air that they seem to
turn blue in the blue sky.  A flash of their flight shows silver for a
moment, but they are blue birds in that sunny distance above, as
mountains are blue, and horizons.  The days are so still that you do not
merely hear the cawing of the rooks--you overhear their hundred private
croakings and creakings, the soliloquy of the solitary places swept by

As for songs, it is September, and the silence of July is long at an end.
This year's robins are in full voice; and the only song that is not for
love or nesting--the childish song of boy-birds, the freshest and
youngest note--is, by a happy paradox, that of an autumnal voice.

Here is no hoot, nor hurry of engines, nor whisper of the cyclist's
wheel, nor foot upon a road, to overcome that light but resounding note.
Silent are feet on the grassy brink, like the innocent, stealthy soles of
the barefooted in the south.


It is no small thing--no light discovery--to find a river Andromeda and
Arcturus and their bright neighbours wheeling for half a summer night
around a pole-star in the waters.  One star or two--delicate visitants of
streams--we are used to see, somewhat by a sleight of the eyes, so fine
and so fleeting is that apparition.  Or the southern waves may show the
light--not the image--of the evening or the morning planet.  But this, in
a pool of the country Thames at night, is no ripple-lengthened light; it
is the startling image of a whole large constellation burning in the

These reflected heavens are different heavens.  On a darker and more
vacant field than that of the real skies, the shape of the Lyre or the
Bear has an altogether new and noble solitude; and the waters play a
painter's part in setting their splendid subject free.  Two movements
shake but do not scatter the still night: the bright flashing of
constellations in the deep Weir-pool, and the dark flashes of the vague
bats flying.  The stars in the stream fluctuate with an alien motion.
Reversed, estranged, isolated, every shape of large stars escapes and
returns, escapes and returns.  Fitful in the steady night, those
constellations, so few, so whole, and so remote, have a suddenness of
gleaming life.  You imagine that some unexampled gale might make them
seem to shine with such a movement in the veritable sky; yet nothing but
deep water, seeming still in its incessant flight and rebound, could
really show such altered stars.  The flood lets a constellation fly, as
Juliet's "wanton" with a tethered bird, only to pluck it home again.  At
moments some rhythmic flux of the water seems about to leave the darkly-
set, widely-spaced Bear absolutely at large, to dismiss the great stars,
and refuse to imitate the skies, and all the water is obscure; then one
broken star returns, then fragments of another, and a third and a fourth
flit back to their noble places, brilliantly vague, wonderfully visible,
mobile, and unalterable.  There is nothing else at once so keen and so

The aspen poplar had been in captive flight all day, but with no such
vanishings as these.  The dimmer constellations of the soft night are
reserved by the skies.  Hardly is a secondary star seen by the large and
vague eyes of the stream.  They are blind to the Pleiades.

There is a little kind of star that drowns itself by hundreds in the
river Thames--the many-rayed silver-white seed that makes journeys on all
the winds up and down England and across it in the end of summer.  It is
a most expert traveller, turning a little wheel a-tiptoe wherever the
wind lets it rest, and speeding on those pretty points when it is not
flying.  The streets of London are among its many highways, for it is
fragile enough to go far in all sorts of weather.  But it gets disabled
if a rough gust tumbles it on the water so that its finely-feathered feet
are wet.  On gentle breezes it is able to cross dry-shod, walking the

All unlike is this pilgrim star to the tethered constellations.  It is
far adrift.  It goes singly to all the winds.  It offers thistle plants
(or whatever is the flower that makes such delicate ashes) to the tops of
many thousand hills.  Doubtless the farmer would rather have to meet it
in battalions than in these invincible units astray.  But if the farmer
owes it a lawful grudge, there is many a rigid riverside garden wherein
it would be a great pleasure to sow the thistles of the nearest pasture.


The more I consider that strange inversion of idolatry which is the
motive of Guy Fawkes Day and which annually animates the by-streets with
the sound of processionals and of recessionals--a certain popular version
of "Lest we forget" their unvaried theme; the more I hear the cries of
derision raised by the makers of this likeness of something unworshipful
on the earth beneath, so much the more am I convinced that the national
humour is that of banter, and that no other kind of mirth so gains as
does this upon the public taste.

Here, for example, is the popular idea of a street festival; that day is
as the people will actually have it, with their own invention, their own
material, their own means, and their own spirit.  They owe nothing on
this occasion to the promptings or the subscriptions of the classes that
are apt to take upon themselves the direction and tutelage of the people
in relation to any form of art.  Here on every fifth of November the
people have their own way with their own art; and their way is to offer
the service of the image-maker, reversed in hissing and irony, to some
creature of their hands.

It is a wanton fancy; and perhaps no really barbarous people is capable
of so overturning the innocent plan of original portraiture.  To make a
mental image of all things that are named to the ear, or conceived in the
mind, being an industrious custom of children and childish people which
lapses in the age of much idle reading, the making of a material image is
the still more diligent and more sedulous act, whereby the primitive man
controls and caresses his own fancy.  He may take arms anon,
disappointed, against his own work; but did he ever do that work in
malice from the outset?

From the statue to the doll, images are all outraged in the person of the
guy.  If it were but an antithesis to the citizen's idea of something
admirable which he might carry in procession on some other day, the
carrying of the guy would be less gloomy; but he would hoot at a
suspicion that he might admire anything so much as to make a good-looking
doll in its praise.  There is absolutely no image-making art in the
practice of our people, except only this art of rags and contumely.  Or,
again, if the revenge taken upon a guy were that of anger for a certain
cause, the destruction would not be the work of so thin an annual malice
and of so heartless a rancour.

But the single motive is that popular irony which becomes daily--or so it
seems--more and more the holiday temper of the majority.  Mockery is the
only animating impulse, and a loud incredulity is the only intelligence.
They make an image of some one in whom they do not believe, to deride it.
Say that the guy is the effigy of an agitator in the cause of something
to be desired; the street man and boy have then two motives of mocking:
they think the reform to be not worth doing, and they are willing to
suspect the reformer of some kind of hypocrisy.  Perhaps the guy of this
occasion is most characteristic of all guys in London.  The people,
having him or her to deride, do not even wait for the opportunity of
their annual procession.  They anticipate time, and make an image when it
is not November, and sell it at the market of the kerb.

Hear, moreover, the songs which some nameless one makes for the citizens,
perhaps in thoughtful renunciation of the making of their laws.  These,
too, seem to have for their inspiration the universal taunt.  They are,
indeed, most in vogue when they have no meaning at all--this it is that
makes the _succes fou_ (and here Paris is of one mind with London) of
the street; but short of such a triumph, and when a meaning is
discernible, it is an irony.

Bank Holiday courtship (if the inappropriate word can be pardoned) seems
to be done, in real life, entirely by banter.  And it is the strangest
thing to find that the banter of women by men is the most mocking in the
exchange.  If the burlesque of the maid's tongue is provocative, that of
the man's is derisive.  Somewhat of the order of things as they stood
before they were inverted seems to remain, nevertheless, as a memory;
nay, to give the inversion a kind of lagging interest.  Irony is made
more complete by the remembrance, and by an implicit allusion to the
state of courtship in other classes, countries, or times.  Such an
allusion no doubt gives all its peculiar twang to the burlesque of love.

With the most strange submission these Englishwomen in their millions
undergo all degrees of derision from the tongues of men who are their
mates, equals, contemporaries, perhaps in some obscure sense their
suitors, and in a strolling manner, with one knows not what ungainly
motive of reserve, even their admirers.  Nor from their tongues only;
for, to pass the time, the holiday swain annoys the girl; and if he wears
her hat, it is ten to one that he has plucked it off with a humorous
disregard of her dreadful pins.

We have to believe that unmocked love has existence in the streets,
because of the proof that is published when a man shoots a woman who has
rejected him; and from this also do we learn to believe that a woman of
the burlesque classes is able to reject.  But for that sign we should
find little or nothing intelligible in what we see or overhear of the
drama of love in popular life.

In its easy moments, in its leisure, at holiday time, it baffles all
tradition, and shows us the spirit of comedy clowning after a fashion
that is insular and not merely civic.  You hear the same twang in country
places; and whether the English maid, having, like the antique, thrown
her apple at her shepherd, run into the thickets of Hampstead Heath or
among sylvan trees, it seems that the most humorous thing to be done by
the swain would be, in the opinion in vogue, to stroll another way.
Insular I have said, because I have not seen the like of this fashion
whether in America or elsewhere in Europe.

But the chief inversion of all, proved summarily by the annual inversion
of the worship of images on the fifth of November, is that of a sentence
of Wordsworth's--"We live by admiration."


One who has much and often protested against the season of Autumn, her
pathos, her chilly breakfast-time, her "tints," her decay, and her
extraordinary popularity, saw cause one year to make a partial
recantation.  Autumn, until then, had seemed to be a practitioner of all
the easy arts at once, or rather, she had taken the easy way with the
arts of colour, sentiment, suggestion, and regret.

She had often encouraged and rewarded, also, the ingratitude of a whole
nation for a splendid summer, somewhat officiously cooling, refreshing,
allaying, and comforting the discontent of the victims of an English sun.
She had soothed the fuming citizen, and brought back the fogs of custom,
effaced the skies, to which he had upturned no very attentive eye,
muffled up his chin, and in many other ways curried favour.  Not only did
she fall in with his landscape mood, but she made herself his housemate
by his fireplaces, drew his curtains, shut out her own wet winds in the
streets, and became privy to the commoner comforts of man, like a wild
creature tamed and conniving at human sport and schemes.  "Domesticated"
Gothic itself, or the governesses who daily by advertisement describe
themselves by that same strange modern adjective, could not be more bent
upon the flattery of man in his less heroic moments.

Autumn, for all her show of stormy woods, is apt to be the accomplice of
daily human things that lack dignity, and are, in the now accepted sense
of a once noble word, comfortable.  Besides, her show of stormy forests
is done with an abandonment to the pathos of the moment, with dashings
and underlinings--we all know the sort of letter, for instance, which
answers to the message and proclamation of Autumn, as she usually is in
the outer world.  A complete sentimentalist is she, whether in the open
country or when she looks in at the lighted windows, and goodnaturedly
makes her voice like a very goblin's outside, for the increasing of the
bourgeois' _bien-etre_.

But that year all had been otherwise.  Autumn had borne herself with a
heroism of sunny weather.  Where we had been wont to see signals of
distress, and to hear the voluble outpouring of an excitable temperament,
with the extremity of scattered leaves and desperate damp, we beheld an
aspect of golden drought.  Nothing mouldered--everything was consumed by
vital fires.  The gardens were strewn with smouldering soft ashes of late
roses, late honeysuckle, honey-sweet clematis.  The silver seeds of rows
of riverside flowers took sail on their random journey with a light wind.
Leaves set forth, a few at a time, with a little volley of birds--a
buoyant caravel.  Or, in the stiller weather, the infrequent fall of
leaves took place quietly, with no proclamation of ruin, in the privacy
within the branches.  While nearly all the woods were still fresh as
streams, you might see that here or there was one, with an invincible
summer smile, slowly consuming, in defiance of decay.  Life destroyed
that autumn, not death.

The novelist would be at a loss had we a number of such years.  He would
lose the easiest landscape--for the autumn has among her facile ways the
way of allowing herself to be described by rote.  But there were no
regions of crimson woods and yellow--only the grave, cool, and cheerful
green of the health of summer, and now and then that deep bronzing of the
leaves that the sun brought to pass.  Never did apples look better than
in those still vigorous orchards.  They shone so that lamps would hardly
be brighter.  The apple-gathering, under such a sun, was nearly as warm
and brilliant as a vintage; and indeed it was of the Italian autumn that
you were reminded.  There were the same sunburnt tones, the same brown
health.  There was the dark smile of chestnut woods as among the

For it was chiefly within the woods that the splendid autumn without
pathos gave delight.  The autumn _with_ pathos has a way there of
overwhelming her many fragrances in the general odour of dead leaves
generalized.  That year you could breathe all the several sweet scents,
as discriminated and distinct as those of flowers on the tops of
mountains--warm pine and beech as different as thyme and broom,
unconfused.  Even the Spring, with her little divided breezes of
hawthorn, rose, and lilac, was not more various.

Moreover, while some of the woods were green, none of the fields were so.
In their sunburnt colours were to be seen "autumn tints" of a far
different beauty from that of a gaudy decay.  Dry autumn is a general
lover of simplicity, and she sweeps a landscape with long plain colours
that take their variations from the light.  When the country looks "burnt
up," as they say who are ungrateful for the sun, then are these colours
most tender.  Grass, that had lost its delicacy in the day when the last
hay was carried, gets it again.  For a little time it was--new-reaped--of
something too hard a green; then came dry autumn along, and softened it
into a hundred exquisite browns.  Dry autumn does beautiful things in
sepia, as the water-colour artist did in the early days, and draws divine
brown Turners of the first manner.

The fields and hedgerows must needs fade, and the sun made the fading
quick with the bloom of brown.  For one great meadow so softly gilded, I
would give all the scarlet and yellow trees that ever made a steaming
autumn gorgeous--all the crimson of the Rhine valleys, all the patched
and spotted walnut-leaves of the _muhl-thal_ by Boppard, and the little
trees that change so suddenly to their yellow of decay in groups at the
foot of the ruins of Sternberg and Liebenstein, every one of their
branches disguised in the same bright, insignificant, unhopeful colour.

An autumn so rare should not close without a recorded "hail and
farewell!"  Spring was not braver, summer was not sweeter.  That year's
great sun called upon a great spirit in all the riverside woods.  Those
woods did not grow cold; they yielded to their last sunset.


It is disconcerting to hear of the plaid in India.  Our dyes, we know,
they use in the silk mills of Bombay, with the deplorable result that
their old clothes are dull and unintentionally falsified with
infelicitous decay.  The Hindus are a washing people; and the sun and
water that do but dim, soften, and warm the native vegetable dyes to the
last, do but burlesque the aniline.  Magenta is bad enough when it is
itself; but the worst of magenta is that it spoils but poorly.  No bad
modern forms and no bad modern colours spoil well.  And spoiling is an
important process.  It is a test--one of the ironical tests that come too
late with their proofs.  London portico-houses will make some such ruins
as do chemical dyes, which undergo no use but derides them, no accidents
but caricature them.  This is an old enough grievance.  But the plaid!

The plaid is the Scotchman's contribution to the decorative art of the
world.  Scotland has no other indigenous decoration.  In his most
admirable lecture on "The Two Paths," Ruskin acknowledged, with a passing
misgiving, that his Highlanders had little art.  And the misgiving was
but passing, because he considered how fatally wrong was the art of
India--"it never represents a natural fact.  It forms its compositions
out of meaningless fragments of colour and flowings of line . . . It will
not draw a man, but an eight-armed monster; it will not draw a flower,
but only a spiral or a zig-zag."  Because of this aversion from Nature
the Hindu and his art tended to evil, we read.  But of the Scot we are
told, "You will find upon reflection that all the highest points of the
Scottish character are connected with impressions derived straight from
the natural scenery of their country."

What, then, about the plaid?  Where is the natural fact there?  If the
Indian, by practising a non-natural art of spirals and zig-zags, cuts
himself off "from all possible sources of healthy knowledge or natural
delight," to what did the good and healthy Highlander condemn himself by
practising the art of the plaid?  A spiral may be found in the vine, and
a zig-zag in the lightning, but where in nature is the plaid to be found?
There is surely no curve or curl that can be drawn by a designing hand
but is a play upon some infinitely various natural fact.  The smoke of
the cigarette, more sensitive in motion than breath or blood, has its
waves so multitudinously inflected and reinflected, with such flights and
such delays, it flows and bends upon currents of so subtle influence and
impulse as to include the most active, impetuous, and lingering curls
ever drawn by the finest Oriental hand--and that is not a Hindu hand, nor
any hand of Aryan race.  The Japanese has captured the curve of the
section of a sea-wave--its flow, relaxation, and fall; but this is a
single movement, whereas the line of cigarette-smoke in a still room
fluctuates in twenty delicate directions.  No, it is impossible to accept
the saying that the poor spiral or scroll of a human design is anything
but a participation in the innumerable curves and curls of nature.

Now the plaid is not only "cut off" from natural sources, as Ruskin says
of Oriental design--the plaid is not only cut off from nature, and cut
off from nature by the yard, for it is to be measured off in inorganic
quantity; but it is even a kind of intentional contradiction of all
natural or vital forms.  And it is equally defiant of vital tone and of
vital colour.  Everywhere in nature tone is gradual, and between the
fainting of a tone and the failing of a curve there is a charming
analogy.  But the tartan insists that its tone shall be invariable, and
sharply defined by contrasts of dark and light.  As to colour, it has
colours, not colour.

But that plaid should now go so far afield as to decorate the noble
garment of the Indies is ill news.  True, Ruskin saw nothing but cruelty
and corruption in Indian life or art; but let us hear an Indian maxim in
regard to those who, in cruel places, are ready sufferers: "There," says
the _Mahabharata_, "where women are treated with respect, the very gods
are said to be filled with joy.  Women deserve to be honoured.  Serve ye
them.  Bend your will before them.  By honouring women ye are sure to
attain to the fruition of all things."  And the rash teachers of our
youth would have persuaded us that this generous lesson was first learnt
in Teutonic forests!

Nothing but extreme lowliness can well reply, or would probably be
suffered to reply, to this Hindu profession of reverence.  Accordingly
the woman so honoured makes an offering of cakes and oil to the souls of
her mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law, and great-grandmother-in-law, in
gratitude for their giving her a good husband.  And to go back for a
moment to Ruskin's contrast of the two races, it was assuredly under the
stress of some too rash reasoning that he judged the lovely art of the
East as a ministrant to superstition, cruelty, and pleasure, whether
wrought upon the temple, the sword, or the girdle.  The innocent art of
innocent Hindu women for centuries decked their most modest heads, their
dedicated and sequestered beauty, their child-loving breasts, and
consecrated chambers.


One is on the breast and clings there with arms, and one on the back and
clings with thongs.  The burden of the back bows the body, turns the face
from the sky, narrows the lungs and flattens the foot; takes away the
flight and the dance from the gait of man, and ties him towards the
earth--not only in the way of nature, by means of his arched feet, but by
a heavy lien upon his shoulders and his brows.  It is the fardel that
makes this vital figure to be subject visibly, and at several points, to
that law of gravitation which, in a state of liberty, it uses to
withstand, to countervail, to leap from, to walk with, making the
universal tether elastic.  Bend in two this supple spine that can lift
itself, like a snake erect, with something better than mere balance--with
life and the active will; bend the back, and at once gravitation takes
hold of the loins and grasps the knees, and pulls upon the shoulders, and
the neck feels the weight of an abject head.

Wherever women are told off to hard open-air labour, we shall find among
them a lower class of their own kind--poorer where all are poor, and
straining at their task where all are labouring--who walk the dust with
burdens on their backs.  Loads of field-labour are these, or of the
labour in a fishing-port, and large in proportion to their weight; too
large to be bound close and carried on the head, too wide to be borne on
the shoulder, too unwieldy for the clasp of arms.  Among American
Indians, we are told, the women carry the tent so, and the gear of a
_demenagement_, and the warrior himself, upon his goods, not seldom.  In
the agriculture of the European Continent the women carry the large loads
thus, the refuse is laid upon them, and all that is bound up for burning;
they are the gleaners, not of wheat but of tares.  Or they carry fodder
for the imprisoned cattle, disappearing as they walk, bowed, quenched,
hooded, and hidden with hay.

Women who bear this load do not prosper.  They have a downward look,
albeit not as conspirators; and in them the earth carries a burden like
their own, or but little more buoyant.  Stones off the face of the stony
fields, huge sheaves of stalks and husks after granaries are filled, fuel
and forage--bent from the stature of women, those who bear those bundles
go near the earth that gave them, and breathe her dust.

In Austria, where women carry the hod and climb the ladder; in the
Rhineland, where a cart goes along the valley roads drawn by a woman
harnessed with a cow--even here I think the hardship hardly so great as
where the burden is laid upon the bent back of her whose arms are too
small or too weak to grasp it; for after long use in such carrying, the
figure is no longer fit for habitual erection.  And the use is
established with those women who are so loaded.  It is not that all the
labouring women of such a village or such a sea-port are burdened in
their turn with the burden of the back; it is rather that a class is
formed, a class of the burdened and the bent; and to that class belong
all ages; child-bearing women are in that sisterhood.  No stronger women
can be seen than the upright women of Boulogne; to whom then, but the
bent, are due the many cripples, the many dwarfs, the ill-boned
stragglers of that vigorous population, the many children growing awry,
the many old people shuffling towards misshapen graves?

There is manifestly another burden, familiar and accustomed to the figure
of woman.  This does not bend her back, nor withdraw her eyes from the
distance, nor rank her with the haggard waste of fields.  It is borne in
front, and she breasts the world with it; shoulder-high, and it is her
ballast.  So loaded she stands like the Dresden Raphael, and there is no
bearer of sword and buckler more erect.

It is, by the way, a curious sign of indignity of race--or, if not
indignity, provincialism--in the more extremely Oriental people, that a
Japanese woman carries her child on her back and not upon her arm.  It is
a charming infant, and the mother looks no more than a gentle child; with
the little creature bound to her back she carries a soft lantern in a
mild blue night.  She is not of a classic race, and she shuffles on her
subordinate way, an irresponsible creature, who must not proffer opinions
except by way of quotation, and is scarcely of the inches that measure
the landscape or of the aspect that fronts the sky.

But whence is this now prevalent desire to slip the nobler and bear the
ignobler burden?  It is not long since an American woman wrote a book,
_Women and Economics_, urging equal labour upon women, by the analogy
of animals that know no distinction between a strong sex and a weak, nor
between a free sex and one confined to the pen, or the lair, or the
cover, by the care of little ones.  The reply seems too obvious that the
children of men are more helpless, and are helpless for a longer time,
even in proportion to their longer life, than the off-spring of other
living creatures.  The children of men have to be carried.  This author
complains that women are economically dependent upon men; and she finds
that the world has "misty ideas upon the subject."  If those misty ideas
are to the effect that a woman who keeps house for the service of
herself, her husband, and the other inmates, gives her work in return for
maintenance, and is not a dependent but a colleague, I must wish that
ideas "mistily" held were often so just, and ideas vaguely believed were
often so well founded.  Those who charge the husband with "employing" his
wife choose to neglect the fact that she is mistress and hostess, as well
as "servant" or "housekeeper," ministering to herself and to the guests
in whose company she has pleasure, and to whose respect she has a right.
Our economic author proceeds: "We are the only animal species in which
the sex relation is also an economic factor. . . We have not been
accustomed to face this fact beyond our loose generalization that it was
'natural,' and that other animals did so too."  Has anyone really been so
rash as to aver "that other animals did so too"?  The obvious truth is
that other animals do otherwise, but that, whatever they do, they make no
rule or example for man.  Again: "Whatever the economic value of the
domestic industry of women is, they do not get it.  The women who do the
most work get the least money."  And yet but now they were charged with
"getting it" too dependently, or rather, with having it "got" for them by
man!  Is this writer indeed misled by that mere word "money," which she
here lets slip?

"He nearly persuades me to go on all fours," sighs Voltaire rising--rising
erect reluctantly, one may almost say--from the reading of Rousseau.


It is rashly said that the senses of children are quick.  They are, on
the contrary, unwieldy in turning, unready in reporting, until advancing
age teaches them agility.  This is not lack of sensitiveness, but mere
length of process.  For instance, a child nearly newly born is cruelly
startled by a sudden crash in the room--a child who has never learnt to
fear, and is merely overcome by the shock of sound; nevertheless, that
shock of sound does not reach the conscious hearing or the nerves but
after some moments, nor before some moments more is the sense of the
shock expressed.  The sound travels to the remoteness and seclusion of
the child's consciousness, as the roar of a gun travels to listeners half
a mile away.

So it is, too, with pain, which has learnt to be so instant and eager
with us of later age that no point of time is lost in its touches--direct
as the unintercepted message of great and candid eyes, unhampered by
trivialities; even so immediate is the communication of pain.  But you
could count five between the prick of a surgeon's instrument upon a
baby's arm and the little whimper that answers it.  The child is then too
young, also, to refer the feeling of pain to the arm that suffers it.
Even when pain has groped its way to his mind it hardly seems to bring
local tidings thither.  The baby does not turn his eyes in any degree
towards his arm or towards the side that is so vexed with vaccination.  He
looks in any other direction at haphazard, and cries at random.

See, too, how slowly the unpractised apprehension of an older child
trudges after the nimbleness of a conjurer.  It is the greatest failure
to take these little _gobe-mouches_ to a good conjurer.  His successes
leave them cold, for they had not yet understood what it was the good man
meant to surprise them withal.  The amateur it is who really astonishes
them.  They cannot come up even with your amateur beginner, performing at
close quarters; whereas the master of his craft on a platform runs quite
away at the outset from the lagging senses of his honest audience.

You may rob a child of his dearest plate at table, almost from under his
ingenuous eyes, send him off in chase of it, and have it in its place and
off again ten times before the little breathless boy has begun to
perceive in what direction his sweets have been snatched.

Teachers of young children should therefore teach themselves a habit of
awaiting, should surround themselves with pauses of patience.  The simple
little processes of logic that arrange the grammar of a common sentence
are too quick for these young blunderers, who cannot use two pronouns but
they must confuse them.  I never found that a young child--one of
something under nine years--was able to say, "I send them my love" at the
first attempt.  It will be "I send me my love," "I send them their love,"
"They send me my love"; not, of course, through any confusion of
understanding, but because of the tardy setting of words in order with
the thoughts.  The child visibly grapples with the difficulty, and is

It is no doubt this unreadiness that causes little children to like twice-
told tales and foregone conclusions in their games.  They are not eager,
for a year or two yet to come, for surprises.  If you hide and they
cannot see you hiding, their joy in finding you is comparatively small;
but let them know perfectly well what cupboard you are in, and they will
find you with shouts of discovery.  The better the hiding-place is
understood between you the more lively the drama.  They make a convention
of art for their play.  The younger the children the more dramatic; and
when the house is filled with outcries of laughter from the breathless
breast of a child, it is that he is pretending to be surprised at finding
his mother where he bade her pretend to hide.  This is the comedy that
never tires.  Let the elder who cannot understand its charm beware how he
tries to put a more intelligible form of delight in the place of it; for,
if not, he will find that children also have a manner of substitution,
and that they will put half-hearted laughter in the place of their
natural impetuous clamours.  It is certain that very young children like
to play upon their own imaginations, and enjoy their own short game.

There is something so purely childlike in the delays of a child that any
exercise asking for the swift apprehension of later life, for the flashes
of understanding and action, from the mind and members of childhood, is
no pleasure to see.  The piano, for instance, as experts understand it,
and even as the moderately-trained may play it, claims all the immediate
action, the instantaneousness, most unnatural to childhood.  There may
possibly be feats of skill to which young children could be trained
without this specific violence directed upon the thing characteristic of
their age--their unreadiness--but virtuosity at the piano cannot be one
of them.  It is no delight, indeed, to see the shyness of children, or
anything that is theirs, conquered and beaten; but their poor little
slowness is so distinctively their own, and must needs be physiologically
so proper to their years, so much a natural condition of the age of their
brain, that of all childishnesses it is the one that the world should
have the patience to attend upon, the humanity to foster, and the
intelligence to understand.

It is true that the movements of young children are quick, but a very
little attention would prove how many apparent disconnexions there are
between the lively motion and the first impulse; it is not the brain that
is quick.  If, on a voyage in space, electricity takes thus much time,
and light thus much, and sound thus much, there is one little jogging
traveller that would arrive after the others had forgotten their journey,
and this is the perception of a child.  Surely our own memories might
serve to remind us how in our childhood we inevitably missed the
principal point in any procession or pageant intended by our elders to
furnish us with a historical remembrance for the future.  It was not our
mere vagueness of understanding, it was the unwieldiness of our senses,
of our reply to the suddenness of the grown up.  We lived through the
important moments of the passing of an Emperor at a different rate from
theirs; we stared long in the wake of his Majesty, and of anything else
of interest; every flash of movement, that got telegraphic answers from
our parents' eyes, left us stragglers.  We fell out of all ranks.  Among
the sights proposed for our instruction, that which befitted us best was
an eclipse of the moon, done at leisure.  In good time we found the moon
in the sky, in good time the eclipse set in and made reasonable progress;
we kept up with everything.

It is too often required of children that they should adjust themselves
to the world, practised and alert.  But it would be more to the purpose
that the world should adjust itself to children in all its dealings with
them.  Those who run and keep together have to run at the pace of the
tardiest.  But we are apt to command instant obedience, stripped of the
little pauses that a child, while very young, cannot act without.  It is
not a child of ten or twelve that needs them so; it is the young creature
who has but lately ceased to be a baby, slow to be startled.

We have but to consider all that it implies of the loitering of senses
and of an unprepared consciousness--this capacity for receiving a great
shock from a noise and this perception of the shock after two or three
appreciable moments--if we would know anything of the moments of a baby

Even as we must learn that our time, when it is long, is too long for
children, so must we learn that our time, when it is short, is too short
for them.  When it is exceedingly short they cannot, without an unnatural
effort, have any perception of it.  When children do not see the jokes of
the elderly, and disappoint expectation in other ways, only less
intimate, the reason is almost always there.  The child cannot turn in
mid-career; he goes fast, but the impetus took place moments ago.


A poppy bud, packed into tight bundles by so hard and resolute a hand
that the petals of the flower never afterwards lose the creases, is a
type of the child.  Nothing but the unfolding, which is as yet in the non-
existing future, can explain the manner of the close folding of
character.  In both flower and child it looks much as though the process
had been the reverse of what it was--as though a finished and open thing
had been folded up into the bud--so plainly and certainly is the future
implied, and the intention of compressing and folding-close made

With the other incidents of childish character, the crowd of impulses
called "naughtiness" is perfectly perceptible--it would seem heartless to
say how soon.  The naughty child (who is often an angel of tenderness and
charm, affectionate beyond the capacity of his fellows, and a very
ascetic of penitence when the time comes) opens early his brief campaigns
and raises the standard of revolt as soon as he is capable of the
desperate joys of disobedience.

But even the naughty child is an individual, and must not be treated in
the mass.  He is numerous indeed, but not general, and to describe him
you must take the unit, with all his incidents and his organic qualities
as they are.  Take then, for instance, one naughty child in the reality
of his life.  He is but six years old, slender and masculine, and not
wronged by long hair, curls, or effeminate dress.  His face is delicate
and too often haggard with tears of penitence that Justice herself would
be glad to spare him.  Some beauty he has, and his mouth especially is so
lovely as to seem not only angelic but itself an angel.  He has
absolutely no self-control and his passions find him without defence.
They come upon him in the midst of his usual brilliant gaiety and cut
short the frolic comedy of his fine spirits.

Then for a wild hour he is the enemy of the laws.  If you imprison him,
you may hear his resounding voice as he takes a running kick at the door,
shouting his justification in unconquerable rage.  "I'm good now!" is
made as emphatic as a shot by the blow of his heel upon the panel.  But
if the moment of forgiveness is deferred, in the hope of a more promising
repentance, it is only too likely that he will betake himself to a
hostile silence and use all the revenge yet known to his imagination.
"Darling mother, open the door!" cries his touching voice at last; but if
the answer should be "I must leave you for a short time, for punishment,"
the storm suddenly thunders again.  "There (crash!) I have broken a
plate, and I'm glad it is broken into such little pieces that you can't
mend it.  I'm going to break the 'lectric light."  When things are at
this pass there is one way, and only one, to bring the child to an
overwhelming change of mind; but it is a way that would be cruel, used
more than twice or thrice in his whole career of tempest and defiance.
This is to let him see that his mother is troubled.  "Oh, don't cry!  Oh,
don't be sad!" he roars, unable still to deal with his own passionate
anger, which is still dealing with him.  With his kicks of rage he
suddenly mingles a dance of apprehension lest his mother should have
tears in her eyes.  Even while he is still explicitly impenitent and
defiant he tries to pull her round to the light that he may see her face.
It is but a moment before the other passion of remorse comes to make
havoc of the helpless child, and the first passion of anger is quelled

Only to a trivial eye is there nothing tragic in the sight of these great
passions within the small frame, the small will, and, in a word, the
small nature.  When a large and sombre fate befalls a little nature, and
the stage is too narrow for the action of a tragedy, the disproportion
has sometimes made a mute and unexpressed history of actual life or
sometimes a famous book; it is the manifest core of George Eliot's story
of _Adam Bede_, where the suffering of Hetty is, as it were, the eye of
the storm.  All is expressive around her, but she is hardly articulate;
the book is full of words--preachings, speeches, daily talk, aphorisms,
but a space of silence remains about her in the midst of the story.  And
the disproportion of passion--the inner disproportion--is at least as
tragic as that disproportion of fate and action; it is less intelligible,
and leads into the intricacies of nature which are more difficult than
the turn of events.

It seems, then, that this passionate play is acted within the narrow
limits of a child's nature far oftener than in those of an adult and
finally formed nature.  And this, evidently, because there is unequal
force at work within a child, unequal growth and a jostling of powers and
energies that are hurrying to their development and pressing for exercise
and life.  It is this helpless inequality--this untimeliness--that makes
the guileless comedy mingling with the tragedies of a poor child's day.
He knows thus much--that life is troubled around him and that the fates
are strong.  He implicitly confesses "the strong hours" of antique song.
This same boy--the tempestuous child of passion and revolt--went out with
quiet cheerfulness for a walk lately, saying as his cap was put on, "Now,
mother, you are going to have a little peace."  This way of accepting his
own conditions is shared by a sister, a very little older, who, being of
an equal and gentle temper, indisposed to violence of every kind and
tender to all without disquiet, observes the boy's brief frenzies as a
citizen observes the climate.  She knows the signs quite well and can at
any time give the explanation of some particular outburst, but without
any attempt to go in search of further or more original causes.  Still
less is she moved by the virtuous indignation that is the least charming
of the ways of some little girls.  _Elle ne fait que constater_.
Her equanimity has never been overset by the wildest of his moments, and
she has witnessed them all.  It is needless to say that she is not
frightened by his drama, for Nature takes care that her young creatures
shall not be injured by sympathies.  Nature encloses them in the innocent
indifference that preserves their brains from the more harassing kinds of

Even the very frenzy of rage does not long dim or depress the boy.  It is
his repentance that makes him pale, and Nature here has been rather
forced, perhaps--with no very good result.  Often must a mother wish that
she might for a few years govern her child (as far as he is governable)
by the lowest motives--trivial punishments and paltry rewards--rather
than by any kind of appeal to his sensibilities.  She would wish to keep
the words "right" and "wrong" away from his childish ears, but in this
she is not seconded by her lieutenants.  The child himself is quite
willing to close with her plans, in so far as he is able, and is
reasonably interested in the results of her experiments.  He wishes her
attempts in his regard to have a fair chance.  "Let's hope I'll be good
all to-morrow," he says with the peculiar cheerfulness of his ordinary
voice.  "I do hope so, old man."  "Then I'll get my penny.  Mother, I was
only naughty once yesterday; if I have only one naughtiness to-morrow,
will you give me a halfpenny?"  "No reward except for real goodness all
day long."  "All right."

It is only too probable that this system (adopted only after the failure
of other ways of reform) will be greatly disapproved as one of bribery.
It may, however, be curiously inquired whether all kinds of reward might
not equally be burlesqued by that word, and whether any government,
spiritual or civil, has ever even professed to deny rewards.  Moreover,
those who would not give a child a penny for being good will not hesitate
to fine him a penny for being naughty, and rewards and punishments must
stand or fall together.  The more logical objection will be that goodness
is ideally the normal condition, and that it should have, therefore, no
explicit extraordinary result, whereas naughtiness, being abnormal,
should have a visible and unusual sequel.  To this the rewarding mother
may reply that it is not reasonable to take "goodness" in a little child
of strong passions as the normal condition.  The natural thing for him is
to give full sway to impulses that are so violent as to overbear his

But, after all, the controversy returns to the point of practice.  What
is the thought, or threat, or promise that will stimulate the weak will
of the child, in the moment of rage and anger, to make a sufficient
resistance?  If the will were naturally as well developed as the
passions, the stand would be soon made and soon successful; but as it is
there must needs be a bracing by the suggestion of joy or fear.  Let,
then, the stimulus be of a mild and strong kind at once, and mingled with
the thought of distant pleasure.  To meet the suffering of rage and
frenzy by the suffering of fear is assuredly to make of the little
unquiet mind a battle-place of feelings too hurtfully tragic.  The penny
is mild and strong at once, with its still distant but certain joys of
purchase; the promise and hope break the mood of misery, and the will
takes heart to resist and conquer.

It is only in the lesser naughtiness that he is master of himself.  The
lesser the evil fit the more deliberate.  So that his mother, knowing
herself to be not greatly feared, once tried to mimic the father's voice
with a menacing, "What's that noise?"  The child was persistently crying
and roaring on an upper floor, in contumacy against his French nurse,
when the baritone and threatening question was sent pealing up the
stairs.  The child was heard to pause and listen and then to say to his
nurse, "Ce n'est pas Monsieur; c'est Madame," and then, without further
loss of time, to resume the interrupted clamours.

Obviously, with a little creature of six years, there are two things
mainly to be done--to keep the delicate brain from the evil of the
present excitement, especially the excitement of painful feeling, and to
break the habit of passion.  Now that we know how certainly the special
cells of the brain which are locally affected by pain and anger become
hypertrophied by so much use, and all too ready for use in the future at
the slightest stimulus, we can no longer slight the importance of habit.
Any means, then, that can succeed in separating a little child from the
habit of anger does fruitful work for him in the helpless time of his
childhood.  The work is not easy, but a little thought should make it
easy for the elders to avoid the provocation which they--who should ward
off provocations--are apt to bring about by sheer carelessness.  It is
only in childhood that our race knows such physical abandonment to sorrow
and tears, as a child's despair; and the theatre with us must needs copy
childhood if it would catch the note and action of a creature without


There is a certain year that is winged, as it were, against the flight of
time; it does so move, and yet withstands time's movement.  It is full of
pauses that are due to the energy of change, has bounds and rebounds, and
when it is most active then it is longest.  It is not long with languor.
It has room for remoteness, and leisure for oblivion.  It takes great
excursions against time, and travels so as to enlarge its hours.  This
certain year is any one of the early years of fully conscious life, and
therefore it is of all the dates.  The child of Tumult has been living
amply and changefully through such a year--his eighth.  It is difficult
to believe that his is a year of the self-same date as that of the adult,
the men who do not breast their days.

For them is the inelastic, or but slightly elastic, movement of things.
Month matched with month shows a fairly equal length.  Men and women
never travel far from yesterday; nor is their morrow in a distant light.
There is recognition and familiarity between their seasons.  But the
Child of Tumult has infinite prospects in his year.  Forgetfulness and
surprise set his east and his west at immeasurable distance.  His Lethe
runs in the cheerful sun.  You look on your own little adult year, and in
imagination enlarge it, because you know it to be the contemporary of
his.  Even she who is quite old, if she have a vital fancy, may face a
strange and great extent of a few years of her life still to come--his
years, the years she is to live at his side.

Reason seems to be making good her rule in this little boy's life, not so
much by slow degrees as by sudden and fitful accessions.  His speech is
yet so childish that he chooses, for a toy, with blushes of pleasure, "a
little duck what can walk"; but with a beautifully clear accent he greets
his mother with the colloquial question, "Well, darling, do you know the
latest?"  "The _what_?"  "The latest: do you know the latest?"  And then
he tells his news, generally, it must be owned, with some reference to
his own wrongs.  On another occasion the unexpected little phrase was
varied; the news of the war then raging distressed him; a thousand of the
side he favoured had fallen.  The child then came to his mother's room
with the question: "Have you heard the saddest?"  Moreover the "saddest"
caused him several fits of perfectly silent tears, which seized him
during the day, on his walks or at other moments of recollection.  From
such great causes arise such little things!  Some of his grief was for
the nation he admired, and some was for the triumph of his brother, whose
sympathies were on the other side, and who perhaps did not spare his

The tumults of a little child's passions of anger and grief, growing
fewer as he grows older, rather increase than lessen in their
painfulness.  There is a fuller consciousness of complete capitulation of
all the childish powers to the overwhelming compulsion of anger.  This is
not temptation; the word is too weak for the assault of a child's passion
upon his will.  That little will is taken captive entirely, and before
the child was seven he knew that it was so.  Such a consciousness leaves
all babyhood behind and condemns the child to suffer.  For a certain
passage of his life he is neither unconscious of evil, as he was, nor
strong enough to resist it, as he will be.  The time of the subsiding of
the tumult is by no means the least pitiable of the phases of human life.
Happily the recovery from each trouble is ready and sure; so that the
child who had been abandoned to naughtiness with all his will in an
entire consent to the gloomy possession of his anger, and who had later
undergone a haggard repentance, has his captivity suddenly turned again,
"like rivers in the south."  "Forget it," he had wept, in a kind of
extremity of remorse; "forget it, darling, and don't, don't be sad;" and
it is he, happily, who forgets.  The wasted look of his pale face is
effaced by the touch of a single cheerful thought, and five short minutes
can restore the ruin, as though a broken little German town should in the
twinkling of an eye be restored as no architect could restore it--should
be made fresh, strong, and tight again, looking like a full box of toys,
as a town was wont to look in the new days of old.

When his ruthless angers are not in possession the child shows the growth
of this tardy reason that--quickened--is hereafter to do so much for his
peace and dignity, by the sweetest consideration.  Denied a second
handful of strawberries, and seeing quite clearly that the denial was
enforced reluctantly, he makes haste to reply, "It doesn't matter,
darling."  At any sudden noise in the house his beautiful voice, with all
its little difficulties of pronunciation, is heard with the sedulous
reassurance: "It's all right, mother, nobody hurted ourselves!"  He is
not surprised so as to forget this gentle little duty, which was never
required of him, but is of his own devising.

According to the opinion of his dear and admired American friend, he says
all these things, good and evil, with an English accent; and at the
American play his English accent was irrepressible.  "It's too comic; no,
it's too comic," he called in his enjoyment; being the only perfectly
fearless child in the world, he will not consent to the conventional
shyness in public, whether he be the member of an audience or of a
congregation, but makes himself perceptible.  And even when he has a
desperate thing to say, in the moment of absolute revolt--such a thing as
"I _can't_ like you, mother," which anon he will recant with convulsions
of distress--he has to "speak the thing he will," and when he recants it
is not for fear.

If such a child could be ruled (or approximately ruled, for inquisitorial
government could hardly be so much as attempted) by some small means
adapted to his size and to his physical aspect, it would be well for his
health, but that seems at times impossible.  By no effort can his elders
altogether succeed in keeping tragedy out of the life that is so unready
for it.  Against great emotions no one can defend him by any forethought.
He is their subject; and to see him thus devoted and thus wrung, thus
wrecked by tempests inwardly, so that you feel grief has him actually by
the heart, recalls the reluctance--the question--wherewith you perceive
the interior grief of poetry or of a devout life.  Cannot the Muse,
cannot the Saint, you ask, live with something less than this?  If this
is the truer life, it seems hardly supportable.  In like manner it should
be possible for a child of seven to come through his childhood with
griefs that should not so closely involve him, but should deal with the
easier sentiments.

Despite all his simplicity, the child has (by way of inheritance, for he
has never heard them) the self-excusing fictions of our race.  Accused of
certain acts of violence, and unable to rebut the charge with any effect,
he flies to the old convention: "I didn't know what I was doing," he
avers, using a great deal of gesticulation to express the temporary
distraction of his mind.  "Darling, after nurse slapped me as hard as she
could, I didn't know what I was doing, so I suppose I pushed her with my
foot."  His mother knows as well as does Tolstoi that men and children
know what they are doing, and are the more intently aware as the stress
of feeling makes the moments more tense; and she will not admit a plea
which her child might have learned from the undramatic authors he has
never read.

Far from repenting of her old system of rewards, and far from taking
fright at the name of a bribe, the mother of the Child of Tumult has only
to wish she had at command rewards ample and varied enough to give the
shock of hope and promise to the heart of the little boy, and change his
passion at its height.

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