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´╗┐Title: Fashionable Philosophy - and Other Sketches
Author: Oliphant, Laurence, 1829-1888
Language: English
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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.

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Transcribed from the 1887 William Blackwood and Sons edition by David


FASHIONABLE PHILOSOPHY AND OTHER SKETCHES


[Title page: title.jpg]

BY LAURENCE OLIPHANT

AUTHOR OF
'PICCADILLY,' 'ALTIORA PETO,' 'MASOLLAM,' ETC.

WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
MDCCCLXXXVII

PRICE ONE SHILLING



PREFACE.


That railway travel is not, as a rule, conducive to serious thought, may
fairly be inferred from the class of literature displayed on the
bookstalls at the stations.  I have therefore refrained from any attempt
to excite the reflective faculties of the reader, excepting in the first
and third of the accompanying sketches, and even in these have only
ventured to suggest ideas, the full scope and pregnancy of which it must
be left to his own idiosyncrasy to appreciate and develop, the more
especially as they bear upon a certain current of investigation which has
recently become popular.

I have to express my thanks to the Editor of the 'Nineteenth Century
Review' for the kind permission he has granted me to reproduce "The
Sisters of Thibet"; and I avail myself of the opportunity thus afforded
of removing the impression which, to my surprise, was conveyed to me by
letters from numerous correspondents, that the article contained any
record of my own personal experiences.  The satire was suggested by the
work of an author whose sincerity I do not doubt, and for whose motives I
have the highest respect, in order to point out what appears to me the
defective morality, from an altruistic and practical point of view, of a
system of which he is the principal exponent in this country, and which,
under the name of Esoteric Buddhism, still seems to possess some
fascination for a certain class of minds.

The other articles originally appeared in 'Blackwood's Magazine,' and I
wish to express my acknowledgments to my publishers for their usual
courtesy in allowing me to republish them in this form.

ATHENAEUM CLUB,
_January_ 1887.

CONTENTS.

Fashionable Philosophy
The Brigand's Bride: a tale of Southern Italy
The Sisters of Thibet
Adolphus: a comedy of affinities



FASHIONABLE PHILOSOPHY.


SCENE--_A London Drawing-room_. TIME--5 _o'clock_ P.M.

_The afternoon tea apparatus in one corner of the room_, _and_ Lady
Fritterly _on a couch in another_.  The Hon. Mrs Allmash _is announced_.

_Lady Fritterly_.  How too kind, dear, of you to come, and so early, too!
I've got such a lot of interesting people coming, and we are going to
discuss the religion of the future.

_Mrs Allmash_.  How quite delightful!  I do so long for something more
substantial than the theologies of the past!  It is becoming quite
puzzling to know what to teach one's children: mine are getting old
enough now to understand about things, and one ought to teach them
something.  I was talking about it to that charming Professor Germsell
last night.

_Lady Fritterly_.  Well, I hope he is coming presently, so you will be
able to continue your conversation.  Then there is Mr Coldwaite, the
celebrated Comtist; and Mr Fussle, who writes those delightful articles
on prehistoric aesthetic evolution; and Mr Drygull, the eminent
theosophist, whose stories about esoteric Buddhism are quite too
extraordinary, and who has promised to bring a Khoja--a most interesting
moral specimen, my dear--who has just arrived from Bombay; and Lord
Fondleton.

_Mrs Allmash_.  Lord Fondleton!  I did not know that he was interested in
such subjects.

_Lady Fritterly_.  He says he is, dear; between ourselves--but this, of
course, is strictly _entre nous_--I rather think that it is I who
interest him: but I encourage him, poor fellow; it may wean him from the
unprofitable life he is leading, and turn his mind to higher things.  Oh!
I almost forgot,---then there is my new beauty!

_Mrs Allmash_.  Your new beauty!

_Lady Fritterly_.  Yes; if you could only have dined with me the other
night, you would have met her.  I had such a perfect little dinner.  Just
think!  A poet, an actor, a journalist, a painter, a wit, and a new
beauty.  I'll tell you how I found her.  She really belongs at present to
Lady Islington and myself; but of course, now we have started her, all
the other people will snap her up.  We found that we both owed that
vulgar upstart, Mrs Houndsley, a visit, and went there together--because
I always think two people are less easily bored than one--when suddenly
the most perfect apparition you ever beheld stood before us;--an old
master dress, an immense pattern, a large hat rim encircling a face, some
rich auburn hair inside, and the face a perfect one.  Well, you know, it
turned out that she was not born in the purple--her husband is just a
clerk in Burley's Bank; but we both insisted on being introduced to
her--for, you see, my dear, there is no doubt about it, she is a ready-
made beauty.  The same idea occurred to Lady Islington, so we agreed as
we drove away that we would bring her out.  The result is, that she went
to Islington House on Tuesday, and came to me on Thursday, and created a
perfect furor on both occasions; so now she is fairly started.

_Mrs Allmash_.  How wonderfully clever and fortunate you are, dear!  What
is her name?

_Lady Fritterly_.  Mrs Gloring.

_Mrs Allmash_.  Oh yes; everybody was talking about her at the Duchess's
last night.  I am dying to see her; but they say that she is rather a
fool.

_Lady Fritterly_.  Pure spite and jealousy.  Yet that is the way these
Christian women of society obey the precept of their religion, and love
their neighbours as themselves.

[Lord Fondleton _is announced_, _accompanied by a stranger_.

_Lord Fondleton_.  How d'ye do, Lady Fritterly?  I am sure you will
excuse my taking the liberty of introducing Mr Rollestone, a very old
friend of mine, to you; he has only just returned to England, after an
absence of so many years that he is quite a stranger in London.

[Lady Fritterly _is_ "_delighted_."  _The rest of the party arrive in
rapid succession_.

_Mrs Allmash_.  Dear Mr Germsell, I was just telling Lady Fritterly what
an interesting conversation we were having last night when it was
unfortunately interrupted.  I shall be so glad if you would explain more
fully now what you were telling me.  I am sure everybody would be
interested.

_Lady Fritterly_.  Oh do, Mr Germsell; it would be quite too nice of you.
And, Mr Drygull, will you ask the Khoja to--

_Mr Drygull_.  My friend's name is Ali Seyyid, Lady Fritterly.

_Lady Fritterly_.  Pray excuse my stupidity, Mr Allyside, and come and
sit near me.  Lord Fondleton, find Mrs Gloring a chair.

_Lord Fondleton_ [_aside to_ Mrs Gloring].  Who's our black friend?

_Mrs Gloring_.  I am sure I don't know.  I think Lady Fritterly called
him a codger.

_Lord Fondleton_.  Ah, he looks like it,--and a rum one at that, as our
American cousins say.

_Mrs Gloring_.  Hush!  Mr Germsell is going to begin.

_Mr Germsell_.  Mrs Allmash asked me last night whether my thoughts had
been directed to the topic which is uppermost just now in so many minds
in regard to the religion of the future, and I ventured to tell her that
it would be found to be contained in the generalised expediency of the
past.

_Mr Fussle_.  Pardon me, but the religion of the future must be the
result of an evolutionary process, and I don't see how generalisations of
past expediency are to help the evolution of humanity.

_Germsell_.  They throw light upon it; and the study of the evolutionary
process so far teaches us how we may evolve in the future.  For instance,
you have only got to think of evolution as divided into moral,
astronomic, geologic, biologic, psychologic, sociologic, aesthetic, and
so forth, and you will find that there is always an evolution of the
parts into which it divides itself, and that therefore there is but one
evolution going on everywhere after the same manner.  The work of science
has been not to extend our experience, for that is impossible, but to
systematise it; and in that systematisation of it will be found the
religion of which we are in search.

_Drygull_.  May I ask why you deem it impossible that our experience can
be extended?

_Germsell_.  Because it has itself defined its limits.  The combined
experience of humanity, so far as its earliest records go, has been
limited by laws, the nature of which have been ascertained: it is
impossible that it should be transcended without violation of the
conclusions arrived at by positive science.

_Drygull_.  I can more easily understand that the conclusions arrived at
by men of science should be limited, than that the experience of humanity
should be confined by those conclusions; but I fail to perceive why those
philosophers should deny the existence of certain human faculties,
because they don't happen to possess them themselves.  I think I know a
Rishi who can produce experiences which would scatter all their
conclusions to the winds, when the whole system which is built upon them
would collapse.

_Mrs Gloring_ [_aside to_ Lord Fondleton].  Pray, Lord Fondleton, can you
tell me what a Rishi is?

_Lord Fondleton_.  A man who has got into higher states, you know--what I
heard Mr Drygull call a transcendentalist the other day, whatever that
may be.  I don't understand much about these matters myself, but I take
it he is a sort of evolved codger.

_Mrs Allmash_.  Oh, how awfully interesting!  Dear Mr Drygull, do tell us
some of the extraordinary things the Rishi can do.

_Drygull_.  If you will only all of you listen attentively, and if Mr
Germsell will have the goodness to modify to some degree the prejudiced
attitude of mind common to all men of science, you will hear him as
plainly as I can at this moment beating a tom-tom in his cottage in the
Himalayas.

[Mr Germsell _gets up impatiently_, _and walks to the other end of the
back drawing-room_.

_Drygull_ [_casting a compassionate glance after him_].  Perhaps it is
better so.  Now please, Lady Fritterly, I must request a few moments of
the most profound silence on the part of all.  You will not hear the
sound as though coming from a distance, but it will seem rather like a
muffled drumming taking place inside your head, scarcely perceptible at
first, when its volume will gradually increase.

_Lord Fondleton_ [_aside to_ Mrs Gloring].  Some bad champagne produced
the same phenomenon in my head last night.

_Lady Fritterly_ [_severely_].  Hush!  Lord Fondleton.

[_There is a dead silence for some minutes_.

_Mrs Gloring_ [_excitedly_].  Oh, I hear it!  It is something like a
woodpecker inside of one.

_Drygull_.  Not a word, my dear madam, if you please.

_Lady Fritterly_ [_after a long pause_].  I imagine I hear a very faint
something; there it goes--boom, boom, boom--at the back of my tympanum.

_Lord Fondleton_.  That's not like a woodpecker.

_Mrs Gloring_.  No; it seems to me more like tic-tic-tic.

_Mrs Allmash_.  How too tiresome!  I can't hear anything.  I suppose it
is on account of the rumble of the carriages.

_Lord Fondleton_ [_whispers to_ Mrs Gloring].  I hear something inside of
me; do you know what?

_Mrs Gloring_.  No; what?

_Lord Fondleton_.  The beating of my own heart.  Can't you guess for
whom?

_Mrs Gloring_.  No.  Perhaps the Rishi makes it beat.

_Lord Fondleton_.  Dear Mrs Gloring, you are the Rishi for whom--

_Mrs Gloring_.  Hush!

_Lady Fritterly_.  There, it is getting louder, like distant artillery,
and yet so near.  Oh, Mr Drygull, what a wonderful man the Rishi must be!

_Drygull_.  Yes; he knew that at this hour to-day I should need an
illustration of his power, and he is kindly furnishing us with one.  This
is an experience which I think our friend over there [_looking towards_
Mr Germsell] would find it difficult to classify.

_Germsell_.  Fussle, have the goodness to step here for a moment--[_points
to a woman beating a carpet in the back-yard of an adjoining house_].
That is the tom-tom in the Himalayas they are listening to.

_Fussle_.  Well, now, do you know, I don't feel quite sure of that.  I
was certainly conscious of a sort of internal hearing of something when
you called me, which was not that; it was as though I had fiddlestrings
in my head and somebody was beginning to strum upon them.

_Germsell_.  Fiddlestrings indeed--say rather fiddlesticks.  I am
surprised at a sensible man like yourself listening to such nonsense.

_Fussle_ [_testily_].  It is much greater nonsense for you to tell me I
don't hear something I do hear, than for me to hear something you can't
hear.  You may be deaf, while my sense of hearing may be evolving.  Can
you hear what Lord Fondleton is saying to Mrs Gloring at this moment?

_Germsell_.  No, and I don't want to.

_Fussle_.  Ah, there it is.  You won't hear anything you don't want to.
Now I can, and he ought not to say it;--look how she is blushing.  Oh, I
forgot you are short-sighted.  Well, you see, I can hear further than
you, and see further than you.  Why should you set a limit on the
evolution of the senses, and say that no man in the future can ever hear
or see further than men have in the past?  How dare you, sir, with your
imperfect faculties and your perfunctory method of research, which can
only cover an infinitesimal period in the existence of this planet,
venture to limit the potentialities of those laws which have already
converted us from ascidians into men, and which may as easily evolve in
us the faculty of hearing tom-toms in the Himalayas while we are sitting
here, as of that articulate speech or intelligent reasoning which, owing
to their operation, we now possess?

_Germsell_.  Pardon me, you do not possess them, Mr Fussle.

_Lady Fritterly_.  Mr Fussle, might I ask you to take this cup of tea to
Mrs Allmash?  Mr Germsell, it would be too kind of you to hand Mrs
Gloring the cake.

_Fussle_ [_savagely_].  We will continue this conversation at the
Minerva.

_Mrs Allmash_ [_apart to the_ Khoja].  Oh, Mr Allyside, I am so glad to
hear that you speak English so perfectly!  I want you to tell me all
about your religion; perhaps it may help us, you know, to find the
religion of the future, which we are all longing for.  And I am so
interested in oriental religions! there is something so charmingly
picturesque about them.  I quite dote on those dear old Shastras, and
Vedas, and Puranas; they contain such a lot of beautiful things, you
know.

_Ali Seyyid_.  I know as little, madam, of the Indian books you mention
as I do of the Bible, which I have always heard was a very good book, and
contained also a great many beautiful things.  I am neither a Hindoo nor
a Buddhist,--in fact, it is forbidden to me by my religion to tell you
exactly what I am.

_Mrs Allmash_.  But indeed I won't tell anybody if you will only confide
in me.  Oh, this mystery is too exquisitely delicious!  Who knows,
perhaps you might make a convert of me?

_Ali Seyyid_ [_with an admiring gaze_].  Madam, you would be a prize so
well worth winning, that you almost tempt me.  The first of our secrets
is that we are all things to all men, until we are quite sure of the
sympathy of the listener; then we venture a step further.

_Mrs Allmash_.  How wise that is! and how unlike the system adopted by
Christians!  You may be sure of my most entire sympathy.

_Ali Seyyid_.  The next principle is--but this is a profound secret,
which you must promise not to repeat--the rejection of all fixed rules of
religion or morality.  It really does not matter in the least what you
do: the internal disposition is the only thing of any value.  Now, as far
as I understand, you have already got rid of the religion, or you would
not be looking for a new one; all you have to do is to get rid of the
morality, and there you are.

_Mrs Allmash_ [_with an expression of horror and alarm_].  Yes, there I
should be indeed.  Oh, Mr Allyside, what a dreadful man you are!  Who
started such an extraordinary doctrine?

_Ali Seyyid_.  Well, his name was Hassan-bin-Saba--commonly known among
Westerns as the "Old Man of the Mountain."  His followers, owing to the
value they attached to murder as a remedial agent, have been known by the
name of the "Assassins."

_Mrs Allmash_.  Oh, good gracious!

_Lady Fritterly_.  My dear Louisa, what is the matter?  You look quite
frightened.

_Ali Seyyid_.  Mrs Allmash is a little alarmed because I proposed a new
morality for the future, as well as a new religion.

_Mr Coldwaite_.  Excuse me; but in discussions of this sort, I think it
is most important that we should clearly understand the meanings of the
terms we employ.  Now I deny that any difference subsists between
religion and morality.  That any such distinction should exist in men's
minds is due to the fact that dogma is inseparably connected with
religion.  If you eliminate dogma, what does religion consist of but
morality?  Substitute the love of Humanity for the love of the
Unknowable--which is the subject of worship of Mr Germsell; or of the
Deity, who is the object of worship of the majority of mankind--and you
obtain a stimulus to morality which will suffice for all human need.  It
is in this great emotion, as it seems to me, that you will find at once
the religion and the morality of the future.

_Germsell_.  From what source do you get the force which enables you to
love humanity with a devotion so intense that it shall elevate your
present moral standard?

_Coldwaite_.  From humanity itself.  I am not going to be entrapped into
getting it from any unknowable source; the love of humanity, whether it
be humanity as existing, or when absorbed by death into the general mass,
is perpetually generating itself.

_Mrs Allmash_.  Then it must produce itself from what was there before;
therefore it must be the same love, which keeps on going round and round.

_Lord Fondleton_.  A sort of circular love, in fact.  I've often felt it:
but I didn't think it right to encourage it.

_Lady Fritterly_.  Lord Fondleton, how can you be so silly?  Don't pay
attention to him, Mr Coldwaite.  I confess I still don't see how you can
get a higher love out of humanity than humanity has already got in it,
unless you are to look to some other source for it.

_Coldwaite_.  Why, mayn't it evolve from itself?

_Germsell_.  How can it evolve without a propulsive force behind it?  The
thing is too palpable an absurdity to need argument.  You can no more fix
limits to the origin of force than you can destroy its persistency.

_Lord Fondleton_ [_aside_].  That seems to me one of those sort of things
no fellow can understand.

_Germsell_.  All you can say of it is that it is a conditioned effect of
an unconditioned cause.  That no idea or feeling arises, save as a result
of some physical force expended in producing it, is fast becoming a
commonplace of science; and whoever duly weighs the evidence will see
that nothing but an overwhelming bias in favour of a preconceived theory
can explain its non-acceptance.  I think my friend Mr Herbert Spencer has
demonstrated this conclusively.

_Coldwaite_.  Pardon me; do I understand you to say that the mental
process which enabled Mr Spencer to elaborate his system of philosophy,
or that the profound emotion which finds its expression in a love for
humanity, are the result of physical force alone?

_Germsell_.  He says so himself, and he ought to know.  His whole system
of philosophy is nothing more nor less than the result of the liberation
of certain forces produced by chemical action in the brain.

_Drygull_.  Then, if I understand you rightly, if the chemical changes
which have been taking place for some years past in his brain had
liberated a different set of forces, we should have had altogether a
different philosophy.

_Germsell_.  The chemical changes would in that case have been different.

_Drygull_.  But the changes must be produced by forces acting on them.

_Germsell_.  Exactly: a force which has its source in the Unknowable
produces a certain chemical action in the brain by which it becomes
converted into thought or emotion, into love or philosophy, into art or
religion, as the case may be: what the nature of that love or philosophy,
or art or religion, may be, must depend entirely on the nature of the
chemical change.

_Lord Fondleton_ [_aside to_ Mrs Gloring].  I feel the most delightful
chemical changes taking place now in my brain, dear Mrs Gloring.  May I
explain to you the exquisite nature of the forces that are being
liberated, and which produce emotions of the most tender character.

_Lady Fritterly_ [_sharply_].  What are you saying, Lord Fondleton?

_Lord Fondleton_.  Ahem--I was saying--ahem--I was saying that we shall
be having some Yankee inventing steam thinking-mills and galvanic loving-
batteries soon.  What a lot of wear and tear it would save!  I should go
about covered with a number of electric love-wires for the force to play
upon.

_Fussle_.  I think this matter wants clearing up, Mr Germsell.  Why don't
you write a book on mental and emotional physics?

_Mr Rollestone_.  I would venture with great diffidence to remark that
the confusion seems to me to arise from the limit we attach to the
meaning of the word employed.  It may be quite true that no idea or
emotion can exist except as the result of physical force; but it is also
true that its effect must be conditioned on the quality of the force.
There is as wide a difference between the physical forces operant in the
brain, and which give rise to ideas, and those which move a steam-engine,
as there is between mind and matter as popularly defined.  Both, as Mr
Germsell will admit, are conditioned manifestations of force; but the one
contains a vital element in its dynamism which the other does not.  You
may apply as much physical force by means of a galvanic battery to a dead
brain as you please, but you can't strike an idea out of it; and this
vital force, while it is "conditioned force," like light and heat,
differs in its mode of manifestation from every other manifestation of
force, even more than they do from each other, in that it possesses a
potency inherent to it, which they have not, and this potency it is which
creates emotion and generates ideas.  The fallacy which underlies the
whole of this system of philosophy is contained in the assumption that
there is only one description of physical force in nature.

_Germsell_.  No more there is.  Why, Mr Spencer says that the law of
metamorphosis which holds among the physical forces, holds equally
between them and the mental forces; but mark you, what is the grand
conclusion at which he arrives?  I happen to remember the passage: "How
this metamorphosis takes place; how a force existing, as motion, heat, or
light, can become a mode of consciousness; how it is possible for aerial
vibrations to generate the sensation we call sound; or for the forces
liberated by chemical changes in the brain to give rise to emotion,--these
are mysteries which it is impossible to fathom."

_Lord Fondleton_ [_aside to_ Mrs Gloring].  What a jolly easy way of
getting out of a difficulty!

_Drygull_.  Of course, if you admit such gross ignorance as to how it is
possible for aerial vibrations "to generate the sensation we call sound,"
I don't wonder at your not hearing the tom-tom in the Himalayas we were
listening to just now.  If you knew a little more about the astral law
under which aerial vibrations may be generated, you would not call things
impossible which you admit to be unfathomable mysteries.  If it is an
unfathomable mystery how a sound is projected a mile, why do you refuse
to admit the possibility of its being projected two, or two hundred, or
two thousand?  Under the laws which govern mysteries, which you say are
unfathomable, if the mystery is unfathomable, so is the law, and you have
no right to limit its action.

_Rollestone_.  To come back to the question of a possible distinction in
the essential or inherent qualities of dynamic or physical forces.  There
is nothing in the hypothesis which may not be reasonably assumed and
tested by experiment; and before any man has a right to affirm that there
is only one quality of physical force in nature, which, by undergoing
transformation and metamorphosis, shall account for all its phenomena, I
have a right to ask whether the hypothesis, that there may be another,
has been experimentally tested.  It would then be time for me to accept
the conclusion that there is only one, and that it is an unfathomable
mystery how this one force should be able to perform all the functions
attributed to it.

_Germsell_.  I admit that the forces called vital are correlates of the
forces called physical, if you choose to call that a distinction; but
their character is conditioned by the state of the brain, and it comes to
the same thing in the end.  The seat of emotion as well as of thought is
the brain, and it entirely depends on its chemical constitution, on its
circulation, and on other causes affecting that organ, what you think,
and feel, and say, and do.  People's characters differ because their
brains do, not because there is any difference in the vital force which
animates them.

_Rollestone_.  You might as well say that sounds differ because their
aerial vibrations differ, but those vibrations only differ because the
force makes them differ which is acting upon them.  They don't generate
tunes, but convey them.  And the result, so far as our hearing is
concerned, depends upon what are called the acoustic conditions under
which the vibrations take place.  Just so the brain possesses no
generating function of its own; it deals with and transmits the ideas and
emotions projected upon it according to the organic conditions by which
it may be affected at the time, whether those ideas and emotions are
produced by external stimuli, or apparently, but only apparently, as I
believe, owe their origin to genesis in the brain itself.  In the one
case the brain is vibrating to the touch of an external force, in the
other to one that is internal and unseen, just as the air does when it
transmits sound, whether you see the cause which produces it or not; and
the mystery which remains to be fathomed, but which I do not admit to be
unfathomable until somebody tries to fathom it, is the nature of those
unseen forces.

_Germsell_.  How would you propose to try and fathom it?

_Rollestone_.  By experiment: I know of no other way.  The forces which
generate emotions and ideas must possess a moral quality: the experiments
must therefore be moral experiments.

_Germsell_.  How do you set to work to experimentalise morally?

_Rollestone_.  As the process must of necessity be a purely personal one,
carried on, if I may use the expression, in one's own moral organism, I
have a certain delicacy in attempting to describe it.  In fact, Lady
Fritterly, if you will allow me to say so, as the whole subject which has
been under discussion this afternoon is the most profoundly solemn which
can engage the attention of a human being, I shrink from entering upon it
as fully as I would do under other circumstances.  I people begin to want
a new religion because it is the fashion to want one, I venture to
predict that they will never find it.  If they want a new religion
because they can't come up to the moral standard of the one they have
got, then I would advise them to look rather to that unseen force within
them, which I have been attempting to describe to Mr Germsell, for the
potency which may enable them to reach it.

_Lady Fritterly_.  Indeed, Mr Rollestone, we are all exceedingly in
earnest.  I never felt so serious in my life.  Of course this London life
must all seem very frivolous to you; but that we can't help, you know.  We
can't all go away and make moral experiments like you.  What we feel is,
that we ought all to endeavour as much as possible to introduce a more
serious tone into society.  We want to get rid of the selfishness, and
the littlenesses, and the petty ambitions and envyings, and the scandals
that go on.  Don't we, Louisa, dear?  And you can't think how grateful I
am to Lord Fondleton for having given me the pleasure of your
acquaintance.  I hope I may often see you; I am sure you would do us all
so much good.  You will always find me at home on Sunday afternoons at
this hour.

_Mrs Allmash_.  It is so refreshing to meet any one so full of
information and earnestness as you are, in this wicked, jaded London.
Please go on, Mr Rollestone; what you were saying was so interesting.
Have you really been experimentalising on your own moral organism?  How
quite too extraordinary!

_Lord Fondleton_ [_aside to_ Mrs Gloring].  By Jove!  I had no idea old
Rollestone could come out in this line.  He is a regular dark horse.  I
should never have suspected it.  He will be first favourite in London
this season, and win in a canter.

_Coldwaite_.  You will excuse me, Mr Rollestone, but I really am
interested, and I really am serious.  It was with no idle curiosity that
I was waiting to hear your answer to Mr Germsell's inquiry, as to the
nature of the moral experiment necessary to test the character of this
unseen force.

_Rollestone_.  I can only say that any experiment which deals with the
affectional and emotional part of one's nature must be painful in the
extreme.  There is, indeed, only one motive which would induce one to
undergo the trials, sufferings, sacrifices, and ordeals which it
involves--and that is one in which you will sympathise: it is the hope
that humanity may benefit by the result of one's efforts.  Indeed, any
lower motive than this would vitiate them.  I will venture to assert to
Mr Germsell, who is so sceptical as to the existence of any other quality
in that force, which he can only fathom so far as to know that it is
physical, that I will put him through a course of experiment which will
cause him more acute moral suffering than his brain could bear, unless it
was sustained by a force which, by that experimental process, will reveal
attributes contained in it not dreamt of in his philosophy.

_Germsell_.  I have no doubt you could strain my mind until it was weak
enough to believe anything, even your fantastic theories.  Thank you, I
would rather continue to experiment with my own microscope and forceps
than let you experiment either upon my affections or my brains.

_Fussle_ [_aside to_ Mr Rollestone].  You could not make anything of them
even if he consented--the former don't exist, and the latter are mere
putty--but I can quite understand your desire to begin _in corpore vili_.

_Lord Fondleton_ [_aside to_ Mrs Gloring].  Allow me freely to offer you
my affections as peculiarly adapted to experiments of this nature.

_Rollestone_.  It has always struck me as strange that men of science,
who don't shrink from testing, for instance, the value of poisons, or the
nature of disease, by heroically subjecting their own external organisms
to their action, should shrink from experimenting on that essential if
remote vitalising force, which can only be reached by moral experiment,
and disorder in which produces not only moral obliquity and mental
alienation, but physical disease as well.

_Fussle_.  Thus a man may die of apoplexy brought on by a fit of passion.
Cure his temper, and you lessen the danger of apoplexy; that, I take it,
is an illustration of what you mean.

_Rollestone_.  In its most external application it is; the question is
where his bad temper comes from, and whether, as Mr Germsell would
maintain, it is entirely due to his cerebral condition, and not to the
moral qualities inherent in the force, which, acting on peculiar cerebral
conditions, causes one man's temper to differ from another's.  It is not
the liberated force which generates the temper.  For that you have to go
farther back; and the reason why research is limited in this direction is
not because it is impossible to go farther back, but because it must
inevitably entail, as I have already said, acute personal suffering.  Nor,
as these experiments must be purely personal, and involve experiences of
an entirely novel kind, is it possible to discuss them except with those
who have participated in them.  One might as well attempt to describe the
emotion of love to a man whose affections had never been called forth.  If
I have alluded to them so fully now, it is because they justify me in
making the assertion, for which I can offer no other proof than they have
afforded to me personally, that a force does exist in nature possessing
an inherent spiritual potency--I use the word spiritual for lack of a
better--which is capable of lifting humanity to a higher moral plane of
daily living and acting than that which it has hitherto attained.  But I
fear I am trespassing on your patience in having said thus much.

_Lady Fritterly_.  Oh no, Mr Rollestone; please go on.  There is
something so delightfully fresh and original in all you are saying, I
can't tell you how much you interest me.

_Germsell_ [_aside_].  I know a milkmaid quite as fresh and rather more
original.  [_Aloud_, _looking at his watch_.]  Bless me! it is past six,
and I have an appointment at the club at six.  So sorry to tear myself
away, dear Lady Fritterly.  I can't tell you how I have enjoyed the
intellectual treat you have provided for me.

_Lady Fritterly_.  I thank you so much for coming.  I hope you will often
look in on our Sundays.  I think, you know, that these little
conversations are so very improving.

_Germsell_.  You may rely upon me; it is impossible to imagine anything
more interesting.  [_Mutters as he leaves the room_.]  No, Lady
Fritterly, this is the last time I enter this house, except perhaps to
dinner.  You don't catch me again making one of your Sunday afternoon
collection of bores and idiots.  What an insufferable prig that
Rollestone is!

_Fussle_ [_aside to_ Drygull].  Thank heaven, that pompous nuisance has
taken himself off!

_Drygull_ [_aside to_ Fussle].  I don't know which I dislike most--the
Pharisee of science or the Pharisee of religion.

_Rollestone_.  If, then, you admit that the human organism not only
cannot generate force, but that the emotions which control the body are
in their turn generated by a force which is behind it, and that this
force is dependent for its manifestation on its own special conditions,
as well as on those of its transmitting organic medium, I venture to
assert that experiment in the direction I have suggested will prove to
our consciousness that the moral or spiritual quality of the original
invading force is a pure one, and that the degree of its pollution in the
human frame is the effect of inherited and other organic conditions; and
the question which presents itself to the experimentalist is, whether by
an effort of the will this same force may not be evoked to change and
purify those conditions.  Indeed the very effort is in itself an
invocation, and if made unflinchingly, will not fail to meet with a
response.  Much that has heretofore been to earnest seekers unknowable
will become knowable, and a love, Mr Coldwaite, higher, if that be
possible, than the love of humanity, yet correlative with and inseparable
from it, will be found pressing with an irresistible potency into those
vacant spaces of the human heart, which have from all time yearned for a
closer contact with the Great Source of all love and of all force.  It is
in this attempt to sever the love of humanity from its Author, that the
Positivist philosophy has failed: it is the worship of a husk without the
kernel, of a body without the soul; and hence it will never satisfy the
human aspiration.  That aspiration is ever the same; it needs, if you
will allow me to say so, Lady Fritterly, no new religion to satisfy its
demands.  If the world is of late beginning to feel dissatisfied with
Christianity, it is not because the moral standard which that religion
proposes is not sufficiently lofty for its requirements, but because,
after eighteen hundred years of effort, its professors have altogether
failed to reach that standard.  Christianity seems a failure because
Christians have failed--have failed to understand its application to
everyday life, have failed to embody it in practice, and have sought an
escape from the apparent impossibility of doing so, by smothering it with
dogmas, and diverting its scope from this world to the next.  It will be
time to look for a new religion, when we have succeeded in the literal
application of the ethics of the one we have got to the social and
economic problems of daily life.  It is not by any intellectual effort or
scientific process that the discovery will be made of how this is to be
done, but by the introduction into the organism of new and unsuspected
potencies of moral force which have hitherto lain dormant in nature,
waiting for the great invocation of wearied and distressed humanity.
There can be no stronger evidence of the approach of this new force,
destined to make the ethics of Christianity a practical social standard,
than the growing demand of society for a new religion.  It is the
inarticulate utterance of the quickened human aspiration, in itself a
proof that these new potencies are already stirring the dry bones of
Christendom, and a sure earnest that their coming in answer to that
aspiration will not be long delayed.

_Drygull_.  Of course, I entirely disagree with you as to any such
necessity in regard to the moral requirements of the world, existing.  You
must have met, in the course of your travels, that more enlightened and
initiated class of Buddhists, with whom I sympathise, who are quite
indifferent to considerations of this nature.

_Rollestone_.  And who were too much occupied with their subjective
prospects in Nirvana, to be affected by the needs of terrestrial
humanity.

_Drygull_.  Quite so.

_Mrs Allmash_.  And, Mr Allyside, I am afraid you are equally
indifferent.

_Ali Seyyid_.  I am certainly not indifferent to the discovery of any
force latent in Christendom which may check the force of its cupidity,
and put a stop to the _exploitation_ and subjugation of Eastern countries
for the sake of advancing its own material interests, under the specious
pretext of introducing the blessings of civilisation.

_Coldwaite_.  You have certainly presented the matter in a light which is
altogether new to me, Mr Rollestone, and upon which, therefore, I am not
now prepared to express an opinion.  I should like to discuss the subject
with you further privately.

_Rollestone_.  It is a subject which should never be discussed except
privately.

_Mrs Allmash_.  Now, I should say, Mr Rollestone, on the contrary, that
it was just a subject you ought to write a book about.  You would have so
much to tell,--all your personal experiments, you know; now do.

_Fussle_.  Take my advice, Mr Rollestone, and don't.  You would have very
few readers, and those who read you would only sneer at what they would
call your crude ideas; and indeed, you will excuse me for saying so, but
I am not sure that they would not be right.

_Lord Fondleton_.  I quite disagree with you, Mr Fussle.  If Rollestone
would write a book which would put a stop to this "religion of the
future" business, he would earn the gratitude of society.  Do you know, I
am getting rather bored with it.

_Fussle_.  Not if he introduced instead a latent force, which should
overturn all existing institutions, and revolutionise society--which it
would inevitably have to do if we were all coerced by it into adopting
literally the ethics of Christianity, instead of merely professing them.
Why, the "Sermon on the Mount" alone, practised to the letter, would
produce a general destruction.  Church and State, and the whole economic
system upon which society is based, would melt away before it like an
iceberg under a tropical sun.  I don't mind discussing the religion of
the future as a subject of interesting speculation; but, depend upon it,
we had better let well alone.  It seems to me that we--at least those of
us who are well off--have nothing to complain of.  Let us trust to the
silent forces of evolution.  See how much they have lately done for us in
the matter of art.  What can be pleasanter than this gentle process of
aesthetic development which our higher faculties are undergoing?  With
due deference to Mr Rollestone, I think we shall be far better employed
in cultivating our taste, than in probing our own organisms in the hope
of discovering forces which may enable us to apply a perfectly
unpractical system of morality, to a society which has every reason to be
satisfied with the normal progress it is making.

_Mrs Gloring_.  Indeed, Mr Rollestone, I agree with you a great deal more
than with Mr Fussle.  I should like to call out a higher moral force in
myself--but I should never have the courage to undergo all the ordeals
you say it would involve; I am too weak to try.

_Lord Fondleton_.  Of course you are,--don't!  You are much nicer as you
are.  Why, Rollestone, you would make all the women detestable if you
could have your way.

_Rollestone_.  I don't think there is any immediate cause for alarm on
that score.

_Mrs Allmash_ [_rising_].  Dearest Augusta, I am afraid I must run away:
thank you _so_ much, for _such_ a treat.  [_All rise_]  Mrs Gloring, we
have all been so deeply interested, that we have scarcely been able to
exchange a word, but I hope we shall see a great deal of each other this
year.  I have a few people coming to me to-morrow evening; do you think
you can spare a moment from your numerous engagements?  Lady Fritterly
and Lord Fondleton are coming; and perhaps, Mr Drygull, you will come,
and bring Mr Allyside.  Mr Fussle, I know it is useless to expect you;
and I cannot venture to ask Mr Rollestone to anything so frivolous.  But
perhaps you will dine with me on Thursday--you will meet some congenial
spirits.

_Rollestone_.  Thank you, but I fear it will be impossible, as I leave
London to-morrow.  Good-bye, Lady Fritterly.  Forgive me, an utter
stranger, for having so far obtruded my experiences upon you, and for
venturing finally to suggest that it is in our own hearts that we should
search for the religion that we need; for is it not written, "The kingdom
of heaven is within you"?



THE BRIGAND'S BRIDE: A TALE OF SOUTHERN ITALY.


The Italian peninsula during the years 1859-60-61 offered a particularly
tempting field for adventure to ardent spirits in search of excitement;
and, attracted partly by my sympathy with the popular movement, and
partly by that simple desire, which gives so much zest to the life of
youth, of risking it on all possible occasions, I had taken an active
part, chiefly as an officious spectator, in all the principal events of
those stirring years.  It was in the spring of 1862 that I found matters
beginning to settle down to a degree that threatened monotony; and with
the termination of the winter gaieties at Naples and the close of the San
Carlo, I seriously bethought me of accepting the offer of a naval friend
who was about to engage in blockade-running, and offered to land me in
the Confederate States, when a recrudescence of activity on the part of
the brigand bands in Calabria induced me to turn my attention in that
direction.  The first question I had to consider was, whether I should
enjoy myself most by joining the brigands, or the troops which were
engaged in suppressing them.  As the former aspired to a political
character, and called themselves patriotic bands fighting for their
Church, their country, and their King--the refugee monarch of Naples--one
could espouse their cause without exactly laying one's self open to the
charge of being a bandit; but it was notorious in point of fact that the
bands cared for neither the Pope nor the exiled King nor their annexed
country, but committed the most abominable atrocities in the names of all
the three, for the simple purpose of filling their pockets.  I foresaw
not only extreme difficulty in being accepted as a member of the
fraternity, more especially as I had hitherto been identified with the
Garibaldians; but also the probability of finding myself compromised by
acts from which my conscience would revolt, and for which my life would
in all likelihood pay the forfeit.  On the other hand, I could think of
no friend among the officers of the Bersaglieri and cavalry regiments,
then engaged in brigand-hunting in the Capitanata and Basilicata, to whom
I could apply for an invitation to join them.

Under these circumstances, I determined to trust to the chapter of
accidents; and armed with a knapsack, a sketch-book, and an air-gun, took
my seat one morning in the Foggia diligence, with the vague idea of
getting as near the scene of operations as possible, and seeing what
would turn up.  The air-gun was not so much a weapon of offence or
defence as a means of introduction to the inhabitants.  It had the
innocent appearance of rather a thick walking-cane, with a little brass
trigger projecting; and in the afternoon I would join the group sitting
in front of the chemist's, which, for some reason or other, is generally
a sort of open-air club in a small Neapolitan town, or stroll into the
single modest _cafe_ of which it might possibly boast, and toy
abstractedly with the trigger.  This, together with my personal
appearance--for do what I would, I could never make myself look like a
Neapolitan--would be certain to attract attention, and some one bolder
than the rest would make himself the spokesman, and politely ask me
whether the cane in my hand was an umbrella or a fishing-rod; on which I
would amiably reply that it was a gun, and that I should have much
pleasure in exhibiting my skill and the method of its operation to the
assembled company.  Then the whole party would follow me to an open
space, and I would call for a pack of cards, and possibly--for I was a
good shot in those days--pink the ace of hearts at fifteen paces.  At any
rate my performances usually called forth plaudits, and this involved a
further interchange of compliments and explanations, and the production
of my sketch-book, which soon procured me the acquaintance of some ladies
and an invitation as an English artist, to the house of some respectable
citizen.

So it happened that, getting out of the diligence before it reached
Foggia, I struck south, and wandered for some days from one little town
to another, being always hospitably entertained, whether there happened
to be an _albergo_ or not, at private houses, seeing in this way more of
the manners and customs of the inhabitants than would have been otherwise
possible, gaining much information as to the haunts of the brigands, the
whereabouts of the troops, and hearing much local gossip generally.  The
ignorance of the most respectable classes at this period was astounding;
it has doubtless all changed since.  I have been at a town of 2000
inhabitants, not one of whom took in a newspaper: the whole population,
therefore, was in as profound ignorance of what was transpiring in the
rest of the world as if they had been in Novaia Zemlia.  I have stayed
with a mayor who did not know that England was an island; I have been the
guest of a citizen who had never heard of Scotland, and to whom,
therefore, my nationality was an enigma: but I never met any one--I mean
of this same class--who had not heard of Palmerston.  He was a mysterious
personage, execrated by the "blacks" and adored by the "reds."  And I
shone with a reflected lustre as the citizen of a country of which he was
the Prime Minister.  As a consequence, we had political discussions,
which were protracted far into the night, for the principal meal of the
twenty-four hours was a 10 o'clock P.M. supper, at which, after the
inevitable macaroni, were many unwholesome dishes, such as salads made of
thistles, cows' udders, and other delicacies, which deprived one of all
desire for sleep.  Notwithstanding which, we rose early, my hostess and
the ladies of the establishment appearing in the early part of the day in
the most extreme deshabille.  Indeed, on one occasion when I was first
introduced into the family of a respectable citizen, and shown into my
bedroom, I mistook one of two females who were making the bed for the
servant, and was surprised to see her hand a little douceur I gave her as
an earnest of attention on her part, to the other with a smile.  She soon
afterwards went to bed: we all did, from 11 A.M. till about 3 P.M., at
which hour I was horrified to meet her arrayed in silks and satins, and
to find that she was the wife of my host.  She kindly took me a drive
with her in a carriage and pair, and with a coachman in livery.

It was by this simple means, and by thus imposing myself upon the
hospitality of these unsophisticated people, that I worked my way by slow
degrees, chiefly on foot, into the part of the country I desired to
visit; and I trust that I in a measure repaid them for it by the stores
of information which I imparted to them, and of which they stood much in
need, and by little sketches of their homes and the surrounding scenery,
with which I presented them.  I was, indeed, dependent in some measure
for hospitality of this description, as I had taken no money with me,
partly because, to tell the truth, I had scarcely got any, and partly
because I was afraid of being robbed by brigands of the little I had.  I
therefore eschewed the character of a _milordo Inglese_; but I never
succeeded in dispelling all suspicion that I might not be a nephew of the
Queen, or at least a very near relative of "Palmerston" in disguise.  It
was so natural, seeing what a deep interest both her Majesty and the
Prime Minister took in Italy, that they should send some one _incognito_
whom they could trust to tell them all about it.

Meantime, I was not surprised, when I came to know the disposition of the
inhabitants, at the success of brigandage.  It has never been my fortune
before or since to live among such a timid population.  One day at a
large town a leading landed proprietor received notice that if he did not
pay a certain sum in black-mail,--I forget at this distance of time the
exact amount,--his farm or _masseria_ would be robbed.  This farm, which
was in fact a handsome country-house, was distant about ten miles from
the town.  He therefore made an appeal to the citizens that they should
arm themselves, and help him to defend his property, as he had determined
not to pay, and had taken steps to be informed as to the exact date when
the attack was to be made in default of payment.  More than 300 citizens
enrolled themselves as willing to turn out in arms.  On the day preceding
the attack by the brigands, a rendezvous was given to these 300 on the
great square for five in the morning, and thither I accordingly repaired,
unable, however, to induce my host to accompany me, although he had
signed as a volunteer.  On reaching the rendezvous, I found the landed
proprietor and a friend who was living with him, and about ten minutes
afterwards two other volunteers strolled up.  Five was all we could
muster out of 300.  It was manifestly useless to attempt anything with so
small a force, and no arguments could induce any of the others to turn
out: so the unhappy gentleman had the satisfaction of knowing that the
brigands had punctually pillaged his place, carrying off all his live
stock on the very day and at the very hour they said they would.  As for
the inhabitants venturing any distance from town, except under military
escort, such a thing was unknown, and all communication with Naples was
for some time virtually intercepted.  I was regarded as a sort of
monomaniac of recklessness, because I ventured on a solitary walk of a
mile or two in search of a sketch,--an act of no great audacity on my
part, for I had walked through various parts of the country without
seeing a brigand, and found it difficult to realise that there was any
actual danger in strolling a mile from a moderately large town.

Emboldened by impunity, I was tempted one day to follow up a most
romantic glen in search of a sketch, when I came upon a remarkably
handsome peasant girl, driving a donkey before her loaded with wood.  My
sudden appearance on the narrow path made the animal shy against a
projecting piece of rock, off which he rebounded to the edge of the path,
which, giving way, precipitated him and his load down the ravine.  He was
brought up unhurt against a bush some twenty feet below, the fagots of
wood being scattered in his descent in all directions.  For a moment the
girl's large fierce eyes flashed upon me with anger; but the impetuosity
with which I went headlong after the donkey, with a view of repairing my
error, and the absurd attempts I made to reverse the position of his
feet, which were in the air, converted her indignation into a hearty fit
of laughter, as, seeing that the animal was apparently uninjured, she
scrambled down to my assistance.  By our united efforts we at last
succeeded in hoisting the donkey up to the path, and then I collected the
wood and helped her to load it again--an operation which involved a
frequent meeting of hands, and of the eyes, which had now lost the
ferocity that had startled me at first, and seemed getting more soft and
beaming every time I glanced at them, till at last, producing my sketch-
book, I ventured to remark, "Ah, signorina, what a picture you would
make!  Now that the ass is loaded, let me draw you before we part, that I
may carry away the recollection of the loveliest woman I have seen."

"First draw the donkey," she replied, "that I may carry away a
recollection of the _galantuomo_ who first upset him over the bank, and
then helped me to load him."

Smiling at this ambiguous compliment, I gave her the sketch she desired,
and was about to claim my reward, when she abruptly remarked--

"There is not time now; it is getting late, and I must not linger, as I
have still an hour to go before reaching home.  How is it that you are
not afraid to be wandering in this solitary glen by yourself?  Do you not
know the risks?"

"I have heard of them, but I do not believe in them," I said; "besides, I
should be poor plunder for robbers."

"But you have friends, who would pay to ransom you, I suppose, if you
were captured?"

"My life is not worth a hundred _scudi_ to any of them," I replied,
laughing; "but I am willing to forego the pleasure of drawing you now,
_bellissima_, if you will tell me where you live, and let me come and
paint you there at my leisure."

"You're a brave one," she said, with a little laugh; "there is not
another man in all Ascoli who would dare to pay me a visit without an
escort of twenty soldiers.  But I am too grateful for your amiability to
let you run such a risk.  _Addio_, Signer Inglese.  There are many
reasons why I can't let you draw my picture, but I am not ungrateful,
see!"--and she offered me her cheek, on which I instantly imprinted a
chaste and fraternal salute.

"Don't think that you've seen the last of me, _carissima_," I called out,
as she turned away.  "I shall live on the memory of that kiss till I have
an opportunity of repeating it."

And as I watched her retreating figure with an artist's eye, I was struck
with its grace and suppleness, combined, as I had observed while she was
helping me to load the donkey, with an unusual degree of muscular
strength for a woman.

The spot at which this episode had taken place was so romantic, that I
determined to make a sketch of it, and the shades of evening were closing
in so fast that they warned me to hurry if I would reach the town before
dark.  I had just finished it, and was stooping to pick up my air-gun,
when I heard a sudden rush, and before I had time to look up, I was
thrown violently forward on my face, and found myself struggling in the
embrace of a powerful grasp, from which I had nearly succeeded in freeing
myself, when the arms which were clasping me were reinforced by several
more pair, and I felt a rope being passed round my body.

"All right, signors!" I exclaimed; "I yield to superior numbers.  You
need not pull so hard; let me get up, and I promise to go with you
quietly."  And by this time I had turned sufficiently on my back to see
that four men were engaged in tying me up.

"Tie his elbows together, and let him get up," said one; "he is not
armed.  Here, Giuseppe, carry his stick and paint-box, while I feel his
pockets.  _Corpo di Baccho_! twelve _bajocchi_," he exclaimed, producing
those copper coins with an air of profound disgust.  "It is to be hoped
he is worth more to his friends.  Now, young man, trudge, and remember
that the first sign you make of attempting to run away, means four
bullets through you."

As I did not anticipate any real danger, and as a prolonged detention was
a matter of no consequence to a man without an occupation, I stepped
forward with a light heart, rather pleased than otherwise with
anticipations of the brigand's cave, and turning over in my mind whether
or not I should propose to join the band.

We had walked an hour, and it had become dark, when we turned off the
road, up a narrow path that led between rocky sides to a glade, at the
extremity of which, under an overhanging ledge, was a small cottage, with
what seemed to be a patch of garden in front.

"Ho!  Anita!" called out the man who appeared to be the leader of the
band; "open!  We have brought a friend to supper, who will require a
night's lodgings."

An old woman with a light appeared, and over her shoulder, to my delight,
I saw the face I had asked to be allowed to paint so shortly before.  I
was about to recognise her with an exclamation, when I saw a hurried
motion of her finger to her lip, which looked a natural gesture to the
casual observer, but which I construed into a sign of prudence.

"Where did you pick him up, Croppo?" she asked carelessly.  "He ought to
be worth something."

"Just twelve _bajocchi_," he answered with a sneering laugh.  "Come,
_amico mio_, you will have to give us the names of some of your friends."

"I am tolerably intimate with his Holiness the Pope, and I have a bowing
acquaintance with the King of Naples, whom may God speedily restore to
his own," I replied in a light and airy fashion, which seemed exceedingly
to exasperate the man called Croppo.

"Oh yes, we know all about that; we never catch a man who does not
profess to be a _Nero_ of the deepest dye in order to conciliate our
sympathies.  It is just as well that you should understand, my friend,
that all are fish who come into our net.  The money of the Pope's friends
is quite as good as the money of Garibaldi's.  You need not hope to put
us off with your Italian friends of any colour: what we want is English
gold--good solid English gold, and plenty of it."

"Ah," said I, with a laugh, "if you did but know, my friend, how long I
have wanted it too.  If you could only suggest an Englishman who would
pay you for my life, I would write to him immediately, and we would go
halves in the ransom.  Hold!" I said, a bright idea suddenly striking me;
"suppose I were to write to my Government--how would that do?"

Croppo was evidently puzzled: my cheerful and unembarrassed manner
apparently perplexed him.  He had a suspicion that I was even capable of
the audacity of making a fool of him, and yet that proposition about the
Government rather staggered him.  There might be something in it.

"Don't you think," he remarked grimly, "it would add to the effect of
your communication if you were to enclose your own ears in your letter?  I
can easily supply them; and if you are not a little more guarded in your
speech, you may possibly have to add your tongue."

"It would not have the slightest effect," I replied, paying no heed to
this threat; "you don't know Palmerston as I do.  If you wish to get
anything out of him you must be excessively civil.  What does he care
about my ears?"  And I laughed with such scornful contempt that Croppo
this time felt that he had made a fool of himself; and I observed the
lovely girl behind, while the corners of her mouth twitched with
suppressed laughter, make a sign of caution.

"_Per Dio_!" he exclaimed, jumping up with fury, "understand, Signor
Inglese, that Croppo is not to be trifled with.  I have a summary way of
treating disrespect," and he drew a long and exceedingly sharp-looking
two-edged knife.

"So you would kill the goose"--and I certainly am a goose, I
reflected--"that may lay a golden egg."  But my allusion was lost upon
him, and I saw my charmer touch her forehead significantly, as though to
imply to Croppo that I was weak in the upper storey.

"An imbecile without friends and twelve _bajocchi_ in his pocket," he
muttered savagely.  "Perhaps the night without food will restore his
senses.  Come, fool!" and he roughly pushed me into a dark little chamber
adjoining.  "Here, Valeria, hold the light."

So Valeria was the name of the heroine of the donkey episode.  As she
held a small oil-lamp aloft, I perceived that the room in which I was to
spend the night had more the appearance of a cellar than a chamber; it
had been excavated on two sides from the bank, on the third there was a
small hole about six inches square, apparently communicating with another
room, and on the fourth was the door by which I had entered, and which
opened into the kitchen and general living-room of the inhabitants.  There
was a heap of onions running to seed, the fagots of firewood which
Valeria had brought that afternoon, and an old cask or two.

"Won't you give him some kind of a bed?" she asked Croppo.

"Bah! he can sleep on the onions," responded that worthy.  "If he had
been more civil and intelligent he should have had something to eat.  You
three," he went on, turning to the other men, "sleep in the kitchen, and
watch that the prisoner does not escape.  The door has a strong bolt
besides.  Come, Valeria."

And the pair disappeared, leaving me in a dense gloom, strongly pervaded
by an odour of fungus and decaying onions.  Groping into one of the
casks, I found some straw, and spreading it on a piece of plank, I
prepared to pass the night sitting with my back to the driest piece of
wall I could find, which happened to be immediately under the airhole, a
fortunate circumstance, as the closeness was often stifling.  I had
probably been dozing for some time in a sitting position, when I felt
something tickle the top of my head.  The idea that it might be a large
spider caused me to start, when stretching up my hand, it came in contact
with what seemed to be a rag, which I had not observed.  Getting
carefully up, I perceived a faint light gleaming through the aperture,
and then saw that a hand was protruded through it, apparently waving the
rag.  As I felt instinctively that the hand was Valeria's, I seized the
finger-tips, which was all I could get hold of, and pressed them to my
lips.  They were quickly drawn away, and then the whisper reached my
ears--

"Are you hungry?"

"Yes."

"Then eat this," and she passed me a tin pannikin full of cold macaroni,
which would just go through the opening.

"Dear Valeria," I said, with my mouth full, "how good and thoughtful you
are!"

"Hush! he'll hear."

"Who?"

"Croppo."

"Where is he?"

"Asleep in the bed just behind me."

"How do you come to be in his bedroom?"

"Because I'm his wife."

"Oh!"  A long pause during which I collapsed upon my straw seat, and
swallowed macaroni thoughtfully.  As the result of my
meditations--"Valeria _carissima_."

"Hush!  Yes."

"Can't you get me out of this infernal den?"

"Perhaps, if they all three sleep in the kitchen; at present one is
awake.  Watch for my signal, and if they all three sleep, I will manage
to slip the bolt.  Then you must give me time to get back into bed, and
when you hear me snore you may make the attempt.  They are all three
sleeping on the floor, so be very careful where you tread; I will also
leave the front door a little open, so that you can slip through without
noise."

"Dearest Valeria!"

"Hush!  Yes."

"Hand me that cane--it is my fishing-rod, you know--through this hole;
you can leave the sketch-book and paint-box under the tree that the
donkey fell against,--I will call for them some day soon.  And, Valeria,
don't you think we could make our lips meet through this beastly hole?"

"Impossible.  There's my hand; heavens!  Croppo would murder me if he
knew.  Now keep quiet till I give the signal.  Oh, do let go my hand!"

"Remember, Valeria, _bellissima_, _carissima_, whatever happens, that I
love you."

But I don't think she heard this, and I went and sat on the onions
because I could see the hole better, and the smell of them kept me awake.

It was at least two hours after this that the faint light appeared at the
hole in the wall, and a hand was pushed through.  I rushed at the finger-
tips.

"Here's your fishing-rod," she said when I had released them, and she had
passed me my air-gun.  "Now be very careful how you tread.  There is one
asleep across the door, but you can open it about two feet.  Then step
over him; then make for a gleam of moonlight that comes through the crack
of the front door, open it very gently and slip out.  _Addio, caro
Inglese_; mind you wait till you hear me snoring."

Then she lingered, and I heard a sigh.  "What is it, sweet Valeria?" and
I covered her hand with kisses.

"I wish Croppo had blue eyes like you."

This was murmured so softly that I may have been mistaken, but I'm nearly
sure that was what she said; then she drew softly away, and two minutes
afterwards I heard her snoring.  As the first sound issued from her
lovely nostrils, I stealthily approached the door, gently pushed it open;
stealthily stepped over a space which I trusted cleared the recumbent
figure that I could not see; cleared him; stole gently on for the streak
of moonlight; trod squarely on something that seemed like an outstretched
hand, for it gave under my pressure and produced a yell; felt that I must
now rush for my life; dashed the door open, and down the path with four
yelling ruffians at my heels.  I was a pretty good runner, but the moon
was behind a cloud, and the way was rocky,--moreover, there must have
been a short cut I did not know, for one of my pursuers gained upon me
with unaccountable rapidity--he appeared suddenly within ten yards of my
heels.  The others were at least a hundred yards behind.  I had nothing
for it but to turn round, let him almost run against the muzzle of my air-
gun, pull the trigger, and see him fall in his tracks.  It was the work
of a second, but it checked my pursuers.  They had heard no noise, but
they found something that they did not bargain for, and lingered a
moment, then they took up the chase with redoubled fury.  But I had too
good a start; and where the path joined the main road, instead of turning
down towards the town, as they expected I would, I dodged round in the
opposite direction, the uncertain light this time favouring me, and I
heard their footsteps and their curses dying away on the wrong track.
Nevertheless I ran on at full speed, and it was not till the day was
dawning that I began to feel safe and relax my efforts.  The sun had been
up an hour when I reached a small town, and the little _locanda_ was just
opening for the day when I entered it, thankful for a hot cup of coffee,
and a dirty little room, with a dirtier bed, where I could sleep off the
fatigue and excitement of the night.  I was strolling down almost the
only street in the afternoon when I met a couple of carabineers riding
into it, and shortly after encountered the whole troop, to my great
delight, in command of an intimate friend whom I had left a month before
in Naples.

"Ah, _caro mio_!" he exclaimed, when he saw me, "well met.  What on earth
are you doing here?--looking for those brigands you were so anxious to
find when you left Naples?  Considering that you are in the heart of
their country, you should not have much difficulty in gratifying your
curiosity."

"I have had an adventure or two," I replied carelessly.  "Indeed that is
partly the reason you find me here.  I was just thinking how I could get
safely back to Ascoli, when your welcome escort appeared; for I suppose
you are going there, and will let me take advantage of it."

"Only too delighted; and you can tell me your adventures.  Let us dine
together tonight, and I will find you a horse to ride on with us in the
morning."

I am afraid my account of the episode with which I have acquainted the
reader was not strictly accurate in all its details, as I did not wish to
bring down my military friends on poor Valeria, so I skipped all allusion
to her and my detention in her home; merely saying that I had had a
scuffle with brigands, and had been fortunate enough to escape under
cover of the night.  As we passed it next morning I recognised the path
which led up to Valeria's cottage, and shortly after observed that young
woman herself coming up the glen.

"Holloa!" I said, with great presence of mind as she drew near, "my
lovely model, I declare!  Just you ride on, old fellow, while I stop and
ask her when she can come and sit to me again."

"You artists are sad rogues,--what chances your profession must give
you!" remarked my companion, as he cast an admiring glance on Valeria,
and rode discreetly on.

"There is nothing to be afraid of, lovely Valeria," I said in a low tone,
as I lingered behind; "be sure I will never betray either you or your
rascally--hem!  I mean your excellent Croppo.  By the way, was that man
much hurt that I was obliged to trip up?"

"Hurt!  Santa Maria, he is dead, with a bullet through his heart.  Croppo
says it must have been magic; for he had searched you, and he knew you
were not armed, and he was within a hundred yards of you when poor Pippo
fell, and he heard no sound."

"Croppo is not far wrong," I said, glad of the opportunity thus offered
of imposing on the ignorance and credulity of the natives.  "He seemed
surprised that he could not frighten me the other night.  Tell him he was
much more in my power than I was in his, dear Valeria," I added, looking
tenderly into her eyes.  "I didn't want to alarm you, that was the reason
I let him off so easily; but I may not be so merciful next time.  Now,
sweetest, that kiss you owe me, and which the wall prevented your giving
me the other night."  She held up her face with the innocence of a child,
as I stooped from my saddle.

"I shall never see you again, Signer Inglese," she said, with a sigh;
"for Croppo says it is not safe, after what happened the night before
last, to stay another hour.  Indeed he went off yesterday, leaving me
orders to follow to-day; but I went first to put your sketch-book under
the bush where the donkey fell, and where you will find it."

It took us another minute or two to part after this; and when I had
ridden away I turned to look back, and there was Valeria gazing after me.
"Positively," I reflected, "I am over head and ears in love with the
girl, and I believe she is with me.  I ought to have nipped my feelings
in the bud when she told me she was his wife; but then he is a brigand,
who threatened both my ears and my tongue, to say nothing of my life.  To
what extent is the domestic happiness of such a ruffian to be respected?"
and I went on splitting the moral straws suggested by this train of
thought, until I had recovered my sketch-book and overtaken my escort,
with whom I rode triumphantly back into Ascoli, where my absence had been
the cause of much anxiety, and my fate was even then being eagerly
discussed.  My friends with whom I usually sat round the chemist's door,
were much exercised by the reserve which I manifested in reply to the
fire of cross-examination to which I was subjected for the next few days;
and English eccentricity, which was proverbial even in this secluded
town, received a fresh illustration in the light and airy manner with
which I treated a capture and escape from brigands, which I regarded with
such indifference that I could not be induced even to condescend to
details.  "It was a mere scuffle; there were only four; and, being an
Englishman, I polished them all off with the 'box,'"--and I closed my
fist, and struck a scientific attitude of self-defence, branching off
into a learned disquisition on the pugilistic art, which filled my
hearers with respect and amazement.  From this time forward the sentiment
with which I regarded my air-gun underwent a change.  When a friend had
made me a present of it a year before, I regarded it in the light of a
toy, and rather resented the gift as too juvenile.  I wonder he did not
give me a kite or a hoop, I mentally reflected.  Then I had found it
useful among Italians, who are a trifling people, and like playthings;
but now that it had saved my life, and sent a bullet through a man's
heart, I no longer entertained the same feeling of contempt for it.  Not
again would I make light of it,--this potent engine of destruction which
had procured me the character of being a magician.  I would hide it from
human gaze, and cherish it as a sort of fetish.  So I bought a walking-
stick and an umbrella, and strapped it up with them, wrapped in my plaid;
and when, shortly after, an unexpected remittance from an aunt supplied
me with money enough to buy a horse from one of the officers of my
friend's regiment, which soon after arrived, I accepted their invitation
to accompany them on their brigand-hunting expeditions, not one of them
knew that I had such a weapon as an air-gun in my possession.

Our _modus operandi_ on these occasions was as follows: On receiving
information from some proprietor that the brigands were threatening his
property,--it was impossible to get intelligence from the peasantry, for
they were all in league with the brigands; indeed they all took a holiday
from regular work, and joined a band for a few weeks from time to
time,--we proceeded, with a force sufficiently strong to cope with the
supposed strength of the band, to the farm in question.  The bands were
all mounted, and averaged from 200 to 400 men each.  It was calculated
that upwards of 2000 men were thus engaged in harrying the country, and
this enabled the _Neri_ to talk of the king's forces engaged in
legitimate warfare against those of Victor Emmanuel.  Riding over the
vast plains of the Capitanata, we would discern against the sky-outline
the figure of a solitary horseman.  This we knew to be a picket.  Then
there was no time to be lost, and away we would go for him helter-skelter
across the plain; he would instantly gallop in on the main body, probably
occupying a _masseria_.  If they thought they were strong enough, they
would show fight.  If not, they would take to their heels in the
direction of the mountains, with us in full cry after them.  If they were
hardly pressed they would scatter, and we were obliged to do the same,
and the result would be that the swiftest horsemen might possibly effect
a few captures.  It was an exciting species of warfare, partaking a good
deal more of the character of a hunting-field than of cavalry
skirmishing.  Sometimes, where the ground was hilly, we had Bersaglieri
with us; and as the brigands took to the mountains, the warfare assumed a
different character.  Sometimes, in default of these active little
troops, we took local volunteers, whom we found a very poor substitute.
On more than one occasion when we came upon the brigands in a farm, they
thought themselves sufficiently strong to hold it against us, and once
the cowardice of the volunteers was amusingly illustrated.  The band was
estimated at about 200, and we had 100 volunteers and a detachment of 50
cavalry.  On coming under the fire of the brigands, the cavalry captain,
who was in command, ordered the volunteers to charge, intending when they
had dislodged the enemy to ride him down on the open; but the volunteer
officer did not repeat the word, and stood stock-still, his men all
imitating his example.

"Charge!  I say," shouted the cavalry captain; "why don't you charge?  I
believe you're afraid!"

"_E vero_," said the captain of volunteers, shrugging his shoulders.

"Here, take my horse--you're only fit to be a groom; and you, men,
dismount and let these cowards hold your horses, while you follow
me,"--and jumping from his horse, the gallant fellow, followed by his
men, charged the building, from which a hot fire was playing upon them,
sword in hand.  In less than a quarter of an hour the brigands were
scampering, some on foot and some on horseback, out of the
farm-buildings, followed by a few stray and harmless shots from such of
the volunteers as had their hands free.  We lost three men killed and
five wounded in this little skirmish, and killed six of the brigands,
besides making a dozen prisoners.  When I say we, I mean my companions;
for having no weapon, I had discreetly remained with the volunteers.  The
scene of this gallant exploit was on the classic battle-field of Cannae.
This captain, who was not the friend I had joined the day after my
brigand adventure, was a most plucky and dashing cavalry officer, and was
well seconded by his men, who were all Piedmontese, and of very different
temperament from the Neapolitans.  On one occasion a band of 250 brigands
waited for us on the top of a small hill, never dreaming that we should
charge up it with the odds five to one against us--but we did; and after
firing a volley at us, which emptied a couple of saddles, they broke and
fled when we were about twenty yards from them.  Then began one of the
most exciting scurries across country it was ever my fortune to be
engaged in.  The brigands scattered--so did we; and I found myself with
two troopers in chase of a pair of bandits, one of whom seemed to be the
chief of the band.  A small stream wound through the plain, which we
dashed across.  Just beyond was a tributary ditch, which would have been
considered a fair jump in the hunting-field: both brigands took it in
splendid style.  The hindmost was not ten yards ahead of the leading
trooper, who came a cropper, on which the brigand reined up, fired a
pistol-shot into the prostrate horse and man, and was off: but the delay
cost him dear.  The other trooper, who was a little ahead of me, got
safely over.  I followed suit.  In another moment he had fired his
carbine into the brigand's horse, and down they both came by the run.  We
instantly reined up, for I saw there was no chance of overtaking the
remaining brigand, and the trooper was in the act of cutting down the man
as he struggled to his feet, when to my horror I recognised the lovely
features of--Valeria.

"Stay, man!" I shouted, throwing myself from my horse; "it's a woman!
touch her if you dare!" and then seeing the man's eye gleam with
indignation, I added, "Brave soldiers, such as you have proved yourself
to be, do not kill women; though your traducers say you do, do not give
them cause to speak truth.  I will be responsible for this woman's
safety.  Here, to make it sure, you had better strap us together."  I
piqued myself exceedingly on this happy inspiration, whereby I secured an
arm-in-arm walk, of a peculiar kind it is true, with Valeria, and indeed
my readiness to sacrifice myself seemed rather to astonish the soldier,
who hesitated.  However, his comrade, whose horse had been shot in the
ditch, now came up, and seconded my proposal, as I offered him a mount on
mine.

"How on earth am I to let you escape, dear Valeria?" I whispered, giving
her a sort of affectionate nudge: the position of our arms prevented my
squeezing hers, as I could have wished, and the two troopers kept behind
us, watching us, I thought, suspiciously.

"It is quite impossible now--don't attempt it," she answered; "perhaps
there may be an opportunity later."

"Was that Croppo who got away?" I asked.  "Yes.  He could not get his
cowardly men to stand on that hill."

"What a bother those men are behind, dearest!  Let me pretend to scratch
my nose with this hand that is tied to yours, which I can thus bring to
my lips."

I accomplished this manoeuvre rather neatly, but parties now came
straggling in from other directions, and I was obliged to give up
whispering and become circumspect.  They all seemed rather astonished at
our group, and the captain laughed heartily as he rode up and called out,
"Who have you got tied to you there, _caro mio_?"

"Croppo's wife.  I had her tied to me for fear she should escape;
besides, she is not bad-looking."

"What a prize!" he exclaimed.  "We have made a tolerable haul this
time,--twenty prisoners in all--among them the priest of the band.  Our
colonel has just arrived, so I am in luck--he will be delighted.  See,
the prisoners are being brought up to him now: but you had better remount
and present yours in a less singular fashion."

When we reached the colonel we found him examining the priest.  His
breviary contained various interesting notes, written on some of the fly-
leaves.  For instance:--

"Administered extreme unction to A---, shot by Croppo's orders: my share
ten _scudi_.

"Ditto, ditto, to R---, hung by Croppo's order; my share two _scudi_.

"Ditto, ditto, to S---, roasted by Croppo's order, to make him name an
agent to bring his ransom: overdone by mistake, and died--so got nothing.

"Ditto, ditto, to P---, executed by the knife by Croppo's order, for
disobedience.

"M--- and F---, and D---, three new members, joined to-day: confessed
them, and received the usual fees."

He was a dark, beetle-browed-looking ruffian, this holy man; and the
colonel, when he had finished examining his book of prayer and crime,
tossed it to me, saying,--"There! that will show your friends in England
the kind of politicians we make war against.  Ha! what have we here?  This
is more serious."  And he unfolded a piece of paper which had been
concealed in the breast of the priest.  "This contains a little valuable
information," he added, with a grim smile.  "Nobody like priests and
women for carrying about political secrets, so you may have made a
valuable capture," and he turned to where I stood with Valeria; "let her
be carefully searched."

Now the colonel was a very pompous man, and the document he had just
discovered on the priest added to his sense of self-importance.  When,
therefore, a large, carefully folded paper was produced from the
neighbourhood of Valeria's lovely bosom, his eyes sparkled with
anticipation.  "Ho, ho!" he exclaimed, as he clutched it eagerly, "the
plot is thickening!" and he spread out triumphantly, before he had
himself seen what it was, the exquisitely drawn portrait of a donkey.
There was a suppressed titter, which exploded into a shout when the
bystanders looked into the colonel's indignant face.  I only was affected
differently, as my gaze fell upon this touching evidence of dear
Valeria's love for me, and I glanced at her tenderly.  "This has a deeper
significance than you think for," said the colonel, looking round
angrily.  "Croppo's wife does not carefully secrete a drawing like that
on her person for nothing.  See, it is done by no common artist.  It
means something, and must be preserved."

"It may have a Biblical reference to the state of Italy.  You remember
Issachar was likened to an ass between two burdens.  In that case it
probably emanated from Rome," I remarked; but nobody seemed to see the
point of the allusion, and the observation fell flat.

That night I dined with the colonel, and after dinner I persuaded him to
let me visit Valeria in prison, as I wished to take the portrait of the
wife of the celebrated brigand chief.  I thanked my stars that my friend
who had seen her when we met in the glen, was away on duty with his
detachment, and could not testify to our former acquaintance.  My meeting
with Valeria on this occasion was too touching and full of tender
passages to be of any general interest.  Valeria told me that she was
still a bride; that she had only been married a few months, and that she
had been compelled to become Croppo's wife against her choice, as the
brigand's will was too powerful to be resisted; but that, though he was
jealous and attached to her, he was stern and cruel, and so far from
winning her love since her marriage, he had rather estranged it by his
fits of passion and ferocity.  As may be imagined, the portrait, which
was really very successful, took some time in execution, the more
especially as we had to discuss the possibilities of Valeria's escape.

"We are going to be transferred to-morrow to the prison at Foggia," she
said.  "If, while we were passing through the market-place, a disturbance
of some sort could be created, as it is market day, and all the country
people know me, and are my friends, a rescue might be attempted.  I know
how to arrange for that, only they must see some chance of success."

A bright thought suddenly struck me; it was suggested by a trick I had
played shortly after my arrival in Italy.

"You know I am something of a magician, Valeria; you have had proof of
that.  If I create a disturbance by magic to-morrow, when you are passing
through the market-place, you won't stay to wonder what is the cause of
the confusion, but instantly take advantage of it to escape."

"Trust me for that, _caro mio_."

"And if you escape, when shall we meet again?"

"I am known too well now to risk another meeting.  I shall be in hiding
with Croppo, where it will be impossible for you to find me, nor while he
lives could I ever dare to think of leaving him; but I shall never forget
you"--and she pressed my hands to her lips--"though I shall no longer
have the picture of the donkey to remember you by."

"See, here's my photograph; that will be better," said I, feeling a
little annoyed--foolishly, I admit.  Then we strained each other to our
respective hearts, and parted.  Now it so happened that my room in the
_locanda_ in which I was lodging overlooked the market-place.  Here at
ten o'clock in the morning I posted myself--for that was the hour, as I
had been careful to ascertain, when the prisoners were to start for
Foggia.  I opened the window about three inches, and fixed it there: I
took out my gun, put eight balls in it, and looked down upon the square.
It was crowded with the country people in their bright-coloured costumes,
chaffering over their produce.  I looked above them to the tall campanile
of the church which filled one side of the square.  I receded a step and
adjusted my gun on the ledge of the window to my entire satisfaction.  I
then looked down the street in which the prison was situated, and which
debouched on the square, and awaited events.  At ten minutes past ten I
saw the soldiers at the door of the prison form up, and then I knew that
the twenty prisoners of whom they formed the escort were starting; but
the moment they began to move, I fired at the big bell in the campanile,
which responded with a loud clang.  All the people in the square looked
up.  As the prisoners entered the square, which they had to cross in its
whole breadth, I fired again and again.  The bell banged twice, and the
people began to buzz about.  Now, I thought, I must let the old bell have
it.  By the time five more balls had struck the bell with a resounding
din, the whole square was in commotion.  A miracle was evidently in
progress, or the campanile was bewitched.  People began to run hither and
thither; all the soldiers forming the escort gaped open-mouthed at the
steeple as the clangour continued.  As soon as the last shot had been
fired, I looked down into the square and saw all this, and I saw that the
prisoners were attempting to escape, and in more than one instance had
succeeded, for the soldiers began to scatter in pursuit, and the country
people to form themselves into impeding crowds, as though by accident,
but nowhere could I see Valeria.  When I was quite sure she had escaped,
I went down and joined the crowd.  I saw three prisoners captured and
brought back; and when I asked the officer in command how many had
escaped, he said three--Croppo's wife, the priest, and another.

When I met my cavalry friends at dinner that evening, it was amusing to
hear them speculate upon the remarkable occurrence which had, in fact,
upset the wits of the whole town.  Priests and vergers and sacristans had
visited the campanile, and one of them had brought away a flattened piece
of lead, which looked as if it might have been a bullet; but the
suggestion that eight bullets could have hit the bell in succession
without anybody hearing a sound, was treated with ridicule.  I believe
the bell was subsequently exorcised with holy water.  I was afraid to
remain with the regiment with my air-gun after this, lest some one should
discover it, and unravel the mystery; besides, I felt a sort of traitor
to the brave friends who had so generously offered me their hospitality,
so I invented urgent private affairs, which demanded my immediate return
to Naples, and on the morning of my departure found myself embraced by
all the officers of the regiment, from the colonel downwards, who, in the
fervour of their kisses, thrust sixteen waxed moustache-points against my
cheeks.

About eighteen months after this, I heard of the capture and execution of
Croppo, and I knew that Valeria was free; but I had unexpectedly
inherited a property, and was engaged to be married.  I am now a country
gentleman with a large family.  My sanctum is stocked with various
mementoes of my youthful adventures, but none awakens in me such
thrilling memories as are excited by the breviary of the brigand priest,
and the portrait of the brigand's bride.



THE SISTERS OF THIBET.


It is now nearly twenty-seven years ago--long before the Theosophical
Society was founded, or Esoteric Buddhism was known to exist in the form
recently revealed to us by Mr Sinnett{81}--that I became the _chela_, or
pupil, of an adept of Buddhist occultism in Khatmandhu.  At that time
Englishmen, unless attached to the Residency, were not permitted to
reside in that picturesque Nepaulese town.  Indeed I do not think that
they are now; but I had had an opportunity during the Indian Mutiny, when
I was attached to the Nepaulese contingent, of forming an intimacy with a
"Guru" connected with the force.  It was not until our acquaintance had
ripened into a warm friendship that I gradually made the discovery that
this interesting man held views which differed so widely from the popular
conception of Buddhism as I had known it in Ceylon--where I had resided
for some years--that my curiosity was roused,--the more especially as he
was in the habit of sinking off gradually, even while I was speaking to
him, into trance-conditions, which would last sometimes for a week,
during which time he would remain without food; and upon more than one
occasion I missed even his material body from my side, under
circumstances which appeared to me at the time unaccountable.  The
Nepaulese troops were not very often engaged with the rebels during the
Indian Mutiny; but when they were, the Guru was always to be seen under
the hottest fire, and it was generally supposed by the army that his
body, so far from being impervious to bullets, was so pervious to them
that they could pass through it without producing any organic
disturbance.  I was not aware of this fact at first; and it was not until
I observed that, while he stood directly in the line of fire, men were
killed immediately behind him, that I ceased to accompany him into
action, and determined, if possible, to solve a mystery which had begun
to stimulate my curiosity to the highest pitch.  It is not necessary for
me to enter here into the nature of the conversations I had with him on
the most important and vital points affecting universal cosmogony and the
human race and its destiny.  Suffice it to say, that they determined me
to sever my connection with the Government of India; to apply privately,
through my friend the Guru, to the late Jung Bahadoor for permission to
reside in Nepaul; and finally, in the garb of an Oriental, to take up my
residence in Khatmandhu, unknown to the British authorities.  I should
not now venture on this record of my experiences, or enter upon the
revelation of a phase hitherto unknown and unsuspected, of that esoteric
science which has, until now, been jealously guarded as a precious
heritage belonging exclusively to regularly initiated members of
mysteriously organised associations, had not Mr Sinnett, with the consent
of a distinguished member of the Thibetan brotherhood, and, in fact, at
his dictation, let, if I may venture to use so profane an expression in
connection with such a sacred subject, "the cat out of the bag."  Since,
however, the _arhats_, or illuminati, of the East, seem to have arrived
at the conclusion that the Western mind is at last sufficiently prepared
and advanced in spiritual knowledge to be capable of assimilating the
occult doctrines of Esoteric Buddhism, and have allowed their pupil to
burst them upon a thoughtless and frivolous society with the suddenness
of a bomb-shell, I feel released from the obligations to secrecy by which
I have hitherto felt bound, and will proceed to unfold a few arcana of a
far more extraordinary character than any which are to be found even in
the pages of the 'Theosophist' or of 'Esoteric Buddhism.'

Owing to certain conditions connected with my _linga sharira_, or "astral
body"--which it would be difficult for me to explain to those who are not
to some extent initiated--I passed through the various degrees of _chela_-
ship with remarkable rapidity.  When I say that in less than fifteen
years of spiritual absorption and profound contemplation of esoteric
mysteries I became a _mahatma_, or adept, some idea may be formed by
_chelas_ who are now treading that path of severe ordeal, of the rapidity
of my progress: indeed, such extraordinary faculty did I manifest, that
at one time the Guru, my master, was inclined to think that I was one of
those exceptional cases which recur from time to time, where a child-body
is selected as the human tenement of a reincarnated adept; and that
though belonging by rights to the fourth round, I was actually born into
the fifth round of the human race in the planetary chain.  "The adept,"
says an occult aphorism, "becomes; he is not made."  That was exactly my
case.  I attribute it principally to an overweening confidence in myself,
and to a blind faith in others.  As Mr Sinnett very properly remarks--

   "Very much further than people generally imagine, will mere confidence
   carry the occult neophyte.  How many European readers who would be
   quite incredulous if told of some results which occult _chelas_ in the
   most incipient stages of their training have to accomplish by sheer
   force of confidence, hear constantly in church, nevertheless, the
   familiar Biblical assurances of the power which resides in faith, and
   let the words pass by like the wind, leaving no impression!"

It is true that I had some reason for this confidence--which arose from
the fact that prior to my initiation into Buddhist mysteries, and before
I left England, I had developed, under the spiritual craze which was then
prevalent in society, a remarkable faculty of clairvoyance.  This gave me
the power not merely of diagnosing the physical and moral conditions of
my friends and acquaintances, and of prescribing for them when necessary,
but of seeing what was happening in other parts of the world; hence my
organism was peculiarly favourable for initiation into occult mysteries,
and naturally--or rather spiritually--prepared for that method in the
regular course of occult training by which adepts impart instruction to
their pupils.

   "They awaken," as we are most accurately informed by Mr Sinnett, "the
   dormant sense in the pupil, and through this they imbue his mind with
   a knowledge that such and such a doctrine is the real truth.  The
   whole scheme of evolution infiltrates into the regular _chela's_ mind,
   by reason of the fact that he is made to see the process taking place
   by clairvoyant vision.  There are no words used in his instruction at
   all.  And adepts themselves, to whom the facts and processes of nature
   are as familiar as our five fingers to us, find it difficult to
   explain in a treatise which they cannot illustrate for us, by
   producing mental pictures in our dormant sixth sense, the complex
   anatomy of the planetary system."

I have always felt--and my conviction on the subject has led to some
painful discussions between myself and some of my _mahatma_ brothers--that
the extreme facility with which I was enabled to perceive at a glance
"the complex anatomy of the planetary system," and the rapid development
of my "dormant sixth sense," was due mainly to the fact that I was
nothing more nor less than what spiritualists call a highly sensitive
medium.  Meantime this premature development of my sixth sense forced me
right up through the obstacles which usually impede such an operation in
the case of a fourth-round man, into that stage of evolution which awaits
the rest of humanity--or rather, so much of humanity as may reach it in
the ordinary course of nature--in the latter part of the fifth round.  I
merely mention this to give confidence to my readers, as I am about to
describe a moral cataclysm which subsequently took place in my sixth
sense, which would be of no importance in the case of an ordinary
_chela_, but which was attended with the highest significance as
occurring to a _mahatma_ who had already attained the highest grade in
the mystic brotherhood.  It was not to be wondered at that when I arrived
at this advanced condition, Khatmandhu, though a pleasant town, was not
altogether a convenient residence for an occultist of my eminence.  In
the first place, the streets were infested with _dugpas_, or red-caps, a
heretical sect, some members of which have _arhat_ pretensions of a very
high order--indeed I am ready to admit that I have met with Shammar
adepts, who, so far as supernatural powers were concerned, were second to
none among ourselves.  But this was only the result of that necromancy
which Buddha in his sixth incarnation denounced in the person of Tsong-
kha-pa, the great reformer.  They even deny the spiritual supremacy of
the Dalai Lama at Lhassa, and own allegiance to an impostor who lives at
the monastery of Sakia Djong.

The presence of these men, and the presumption of their adepts, who
maintained that through subjective or clairvoyant conditions, which they
asserted were higher than ours, they had attained a more exalted degree
of illumination which revealed a different cosmogony from that which has
been handed down to us through countless generations of adepts, were a
perpetual annoyance to me; but perhaps not greater than the proximity of
the English Resident and the officers attached to him, the impure
exhalations from whose _rupas_, or material bodies, infected as they were
with magnetic elements drawn from Western civilisation, whenever I met
them, used to send me to bed for a week.  I therefore strongly felt the
necessity of withdrawal to that isolated and guarded region where the
most advanced adepts can pursue their contemplative existence without
fear of interruption, and prepare their _karma_, or, in other words, the
molecules of their fifth principle, for the ineffable bliss of
appropriate development in _devachan_--a place, or rather "state,"
somewhat resembling Purgatory with a dash of heaven in it; or even for
the still more exquisite sensation which arises from having no sensations
at all, and which characterises _nirvana_, or a sublime condition of
conscious rest in Omniscience.

That I am not drawing upon my imagination in alluding to this mysterious
region, or imposing upon the credulity of my readers, I will support my
assertion by the high authority of Mr Sinnett, or rather of his Guru; and
here I may remark incidentally, that after a long experience of Gurus, I
have never yet met one who would consciously tell a lie.

   "From time immemorial," says Mr Sinnett's Guru, "there has been a
   certain region in Thibet, which to this day is quite unknown to and
   unapproachable by any but initiated persons, and inaccessible to the
   ordinary people of the country, as to any others, in which adepts have
   always congregated.  But the country generally was not in Buddha's
   time, as it has since become, the chosen habitation of the great
   brotherhood.  Much more than they are at present, were the _mahatmas_
   in former times distributed throughout the world.

   "The progress of civilisation engendering the magnetism they find so
   trying, had, however, by the date with which we are now dealing--the
   fourteenth century--already given rise to a very general movement
   towards Thibet on the part of the previously dissociated occultists.
   Far more widely than was held to be consistent with the safety of
   mankind was occult knowledge and power then found to be disseminated.
   To the task of putting it under a rigid system of rule and law did
   Tsong-kha-pa address himself."

Of course, before transferring my material body to this region, I was
perfectly familiar with it by reason of the faculty which, as Mr Sinnett
very truly tells us, is common to all adepts, of being able to flit about
the world at will in your astral body; and here I would remark
parenthetically, that I shall use the term "astral body" to save
confusion, though, as Mr Sinnett again properly says, it is not strictly
accurate under the circumstances.  In order to make this clear, I will
quote his very lucid observations on the subject:--

   "During the last year or two, while hints and scraps of occult science
   have been finding their way out into the world, the expression 'astral
   body' has been applied to a certain semblance of the human form, fully
   inhabited by its higher principles, which can migrate to any distance
   from the physical body--projected consciously and with exact intention
   by a living adept, or unintentionally by the accidental application of
   certain mental forces to his loosened principles by any person at the
   moment of death.  For ordinary purposes, there is no practical
   inconvenience in using the expression 'astral body' for the appearance
   so projected--indeed any more strictly accurate expression, as will be
   seen directly, would be cumbersome, and we must go on using the phrase
   in both meanings.  No confusion need arise; but strictly speaking, the
   _linga sharira_, or third principle, is the astral body, and that
   cannot be sent about as the vehicle of the higher principles."

As, however, "no confusion need arise" from my describing how I went
about in my _linga sharira_, I will continue to use it as the term for my
vehicle of transportation.  Nor need there be any difficulty about my
being in two places at once.  I have the authority of Mr Sinnett's Guru
for this statement, and it is fully confirmed by my own experience.  For
what says the Guru?--"The individual consciousness, it is argued, cannot
be in two places at once.  But first of all, to a certain extent it can."
It is unnecessary for me to add a word to this positive and most correct
statement; but what the Guru has not told us is, that there is a certain
discomfort attending the process.  Whenever I went with my astral body,
or _linga sharira_, into the mysterious region of Thibet already alluded
to, leaving my _rupa_, or natural body, in Khatmandhu, I was always
conscious of a feeling of rawness; while the necessity of looking after
my _rupa_--of keeping, so to speak, my astral eye upon it, lest some
accident should befall it, which might prevent my getting back to it, and
so prematurely terminate my physical or objective existence--was a
constant source of anxiety to me.  Some idea of the danger which attends
this process may be gathered from the risks incidental to a much more
difficult operation which I once attempted, and succeeded, after
incredible effort, in accomplishing; this was the passage of my fifth
principle, or ego-spirit, into the ineffable condition of _nirvana_.

   "Let it not be supposed," says Mr Sinnett,--for it is not his Guru who
   is now speaking,--"that for any adept such a passage can be lightly
   undertaken.  Only stray hints about the nature of this great mystery
   have reached me; but, putting these together, I believe I am right in
   saying that the achievement in question is one which only some of the
   high initiates are qualified to attempt, which exacts a total
   suspension of animation in the body for periods of time compared to
   which the longest cataleptic trances known to ordinary science are
   insignificant; the protection of the physical frame from natural decay
   during this period by means which the resources of occult science are
   strained to accomplish; and withal it is a process involving a double
   risk to the continued earthly life of the person who undertakes it.
   One of these risks is the doubt whether, when once _nirvana_ is
   attained, the ego will be willing to return.  That the return will be
   a terrible effort and sacrifice is certain, and will only be prompted
   by the most devoted attachment, on the part of the spiritual
   traveller, to the idea of duty in its purest abstraction.  The second
   great risk is that of allowing the sense of duty to predominate over
   the temptation to stay--a temptation, be it remembered, that is not
   weakened by the motive that any conceivable penalty can attach to it.
   Even then it is always doubtful whether the traveller will be able to
   return."

All this is exactly as Mr Sinnett has described it.  I shall never forget
the struggle that I had with my ego when, ignoring "the idea of duty in
its purest abstraction," it refused to abandon the bliss of _nirvana_ for
the troubles of this mundane life; or the anxiety both of my _manas_, or
human soul, and my _buddhi_, or spiritual soul, lest, after by our
combined efforts we had overcome our ego, we should not be able to do our
duty by our _rupa_, or natural body, and get back into it.

Of course, my migrations to the _mahatma_ region of Thibet were
accompanied by no such difficulty as this--as, to go with your _linga
sharira_, or astral body, to another country, is a very different and
much more simple process than it is to go with your _manas_, or human
soul, into _nirvana_.  Still it was a decided relief to find myself
comfortably installed with my material body, or _rupa_, in the house of a
Thibetan brother on that sacred soil which has for so many centuries
remained unpolluted by a profane foot.

Here I passed a tranquil and contemplative existence for some years,
broken only by such incidents as my passage into _nirvana_, and disturbed
only by a certain subjective sensation of aching or void, by which I was
occasionally attacked, and which I was finally compelled to attribute,
much to my mortification, to the absence of women.  In the whole of this
sacred region, the name of which I am compelled to withhold, there was
not a single female.  Everybody in it was given up to contemplation and
ascetic absorption; and it is well known that profound contemplation, for
any length of time, and the presence of the fair sex, are incompatible.  I
was much troubled by this vacuous sensation, which I felt to be in the
highest degree derogatory to my fifth principle, and the secret of which
I discovered, during a trance-condition which lasted for several months,
to arise from a subtle magnetism, to which, owing to my peculiar organic
condition, I was especially sensitive, and which penetrated the _mahatma_
region from a tract of country almost immediately contiguous to it in the
Karakorum Mountains, which was as jealously guarded from foreign
intrusion as our own, and which was occupied by the "Thibetan Sisters," a
body of female occultists of whom the Brothers never spoke except in
terms of loathing and contempt.  It is not, therefore, to be wondered at
that no mention is made either of them, or the lovely highland district
they occupy, in Mr Sinnett's book.  The attraction of this feminine
sphere became at last so overpowering, that I determined to visit it in
my astral body; and now occurred the first of many most remarkable
experiences which were to follow.  It is well known to the initiated,
though difficult to explain to those who are not, that in a sense space
ceases to exist for the astral body.  When you get out of your _rupa_,
you are out of space as ordinary persons understand it, though it
continues to have a certain subjective existence.

I was in this condition, and travelling rapidly in the desired direction,
when I became conscious of the presence of the most exquisitely lovely
female astral body which the imagination of man could conceive; and here
I may incidentally remark, that no conception can be formed of the beauty
to which woman can attain by those who have only seen her in her
_rupa_--or, in other words, in the flesh.  Woman's real charm consists in
her _linga sharira_--that ethereal duplicate of the physical body which
guides _jiva_, or the second principle, in its work on the physical
particles, and causes it to build up the shape which these assume in the
material.  Sometimes it makes rather a failure of it, so far as the
_rupa_ is concerned, but it always retains its own fascinating contour
and deliciously diaphanous composition undisturbed.  When my gaze fell
upon this most enchanting object, or rather subject--for I was in a
subjective condition at the time--I felt all the senses appertaining to
my third principle thrill with emotion; but it seemed impossible--which
will readily be understood by the initiated--to convey to her any clear
idea of the admiration she excited, from the fact that we were neither of
us in natural space.  Still the sympathy between our _linga shariras_ was
so intense, that I perceived that I had only to go back for my _rupa_,
and travel in it to the region of the sisterhood, to recognise her in her
_rupa_ at once.

Every _chela_ even knows how impossible it is to make love satisfactorily
in nothing but your _linga sharira_.  It is quite different after you are
dead, and have gone in your fourth principle, or _kama rupa_, which is
often translated "body of desire," into _devachan_; for, as Mr Sinnett
most correctly remarks, "The purely sensual feelings and tastes of the
late personality will drop off from it in _devachan_; but it does not
follow that nothing is preservable in that state, except feelings and
thoughts having a direct reference to religion or spiritual philosophy.
On the contrary, all the superior phases, even of sensuous emotion, find
their appropriate sphere of development in _devachan_."  Until you are
obliged to go to _devachan_--which, in ordinary parlance, is the place
good men go to when they die--my advice is, stick to your _rupa_; and
indeed it is the instinct of everybody who is not a _mahatma_ to do this.
I admit--though in making this confession I am aware that I shall incur
the contempt of all _mahatmas_--that on this occasion I found my _rupa_ a
distinct convenience, and was not sorry that it was still in existence.
In it I crossed the neutral zone still inhabited by ordinary Thibetans,
and after a few days' travel, found myself on the frontiers of "the
Sisters'" territory.  The question which now presented itself was how to
get in.  To my surprise, I found the entrances guarded not by women, as I
expected, but by men.  These were for the most part young and handsome.

"So you imagined," said one, who advanced to meet me with an engaging
air,  "that you could slip into our territory in your astral body; but
you found that all the entrances _in vacuo_"--I use this word for
convenience--"are as well guarded as those in space.  See, here is the
Sister past whom you attempted to force your way: we look after the
physical frontier, and leave the astral or spiritual to the
ladies,"--saying which he politely drew back, and the apparition whose
astral form I knew so well, now approached in her substantial _rupa_--in
fact, she was a good deal stouter than I expected to find her; but I was
agreeably surprised by her complexion, which was much fairer than is
usual among Thibetans--indeed her whole type of countenance was
Caucasian, which was not to be wondered at, considering, as I afterwards
discovered, that she was by birth a Georgian.  She greeted me, in the
language common to all Thibetan occultists, as an old acquaintance, and
one whose arrival was evidently expected--indeed she pointed laughingly
to a bevy of damsels whom I now saw trooping towards us, some carrying
garlands, some playing upon musical instruments, some dancing in lively
measures, and singing their songs of welcome as they drew near.  Then
Ushas--for that was the name (signifying "The Dawn") of the illuminata
whose acquaintance I had first made _in vacuo_--taking me by the hand,
led me to them, and said--

"Rejoice, O my sisters, at the long-anticipated arrival of the Western
_arhat_, who, in spite of the eminence which he has attained in the
mysteries of Esoteric Buddhism, and his intimate connection during so
many years with the Thibetan fraternity, has yet retained enough of his
original organic conditions to render him, even in the isolation of (here
she mentioned the region I had come from) susceptible to the higher
influence of the occult sisterhood.  Receive him in your midst as the
_chela_ of a new avatar which will be unfolded to him under your tender
guidance.  Take him in your arms, O my sisters, and comfort him with the
doctrines of Ila, the Divine, the Beautiful."

Taking me in their arms, I now found, was a mere formula or figure of
speech, and consisted only in throwing garlands over me.  Still I was
much comforted, not merely by the grace and cordiality of their welcome,
but by the mention of Ila, whose name will doubtless be familiar to my
readers as occurring in a Sanscrit poem of the age immediately following
the Vedic period, called the Satapathabrahmana, when Manu was saved from
the flood, and offered the sacrifice "to be the model of future
generations."  By this sacrifice he obtained a daughter named Ila, who
became supernaturally the mother of humanity, and who, I had always felt,
has been treated with too little consideration by the _mahatmas_--indeed
her name is not so much as even mentioned in Mr Sinnett's book.  Of
course it was rather a shock to my spiritual pride, that I, a _mahatma_
of eminence myself, should be told that I was to be adopted as a mere
_chela_ by these ladies; but I remembered those beautiful lines of
Buddha's--I quote from memory--and I hesitated no longer:--

   "To be long-suffering and meek,
   To associate with the tranquil,
   Religious talk at due seasons;
   This is the greatest blessing."

"To be long-suffering"--this was a virtue I should probably have a
splendid opportunity of displaying under the circumstances,--"and meek";
what greater proof of meekness could I give than by becoming the _chela_
of women?  "To associate with the tranquil."  I should certainly obey
this precept, and select the most tranquil as my associates, and with
them look forward to enjoying "religious talk at due seasons."  Thus
fortified by the precepts of the greatest of all teachers, my mind was at
once made up, and, lifting up my voice, I chanted, in the language of the
occult, some beautiful stanzas announcing my acceptance of their
invitation, which evidently thrilled my hearers with delight.  In order
to save unnecessary fatigue, we now transferred ourselves through space,
and, in the twinkling of an eye, I found myself in the enchanting abode
which they called their home, or _dama_.  Here a group of young male
_chelas_ were in waiting to attend to our wants; and the remarkable fact
now struck me, that not only were all the women lovely and the men
handsome, but that no trace of age was visible on any of them.  Ushas
smiled as she saw what was passing in my mind, and said, without using
any spoken words, for language had already become unnecessary between us,
"This is one of the mysteries which will be explained to you when you
have reposed after the fatigues of your journey; in the meantime
Asvin,"--and she pointed out a _chela_ whose name signified
"Twilight,"--"will show you to your room."  I would gladly linger, did my
space allow, over the delights of this enchanting region, and the
marvellously complete and well-organised system which prevailed in its
curiously composed society.  Suffice it to say, that in the fairy-like
pavilion which was my home, dwelt twenty-four lovely Sisters and their
twenty-three _chelas_--I was to make the twenty-fourth--in the most
complete and absolute harmony, and that their lives presented the most
charming combination of active industry, harmless gaiety, and innocent
pleasures.  By a proper distribution of work and proportionment of
labour, in which all took part, the cultivation of the land, the tending
of the exquisite gardens, with their plashing fountains, fragrant
flowers, and inviting arbours, the herding of the cattle, and the heavier
part of various handicrafts, fell upon the men; while the women looked
after the domestic arrangements--cooked, made or mended and washed the
_chelas_' clothes and their own (both men and women were dressed
according to the purest principles of aesthetic taste), looked after the
dairy, and helped the men in the lighter parts of their industries.

Various inventions, known only to the occult sisterhood by means of their
studies in the esoteric science of mechanics, contributed to shorten
these labours to an extent which would be scarcely credited by the
uninitiated; but some idea of their nature may be formed from the fact
that methods of storing and applying electricity, unknown as yet in the
West, have here been in operation for many centuries, while telephones,
flying-machines, and many other contrivances still in their infancy with
us, are carried to a high pitch of perfection.  In a word, what struck me
at once as the fundamental difference between this sisterhood and the
fraternity of adepts with which I had been associated, was that the
former turned all their occult experiences to practical account in their
daily life in this world, instead of reserving them solely for the
subjective conditions which are supposed by _mahatmas_ to attach
exclusively to another state of existence.

Owing to these appliances the heavy work of the day was got through
usually in time for a late breakfast, the plates and dishes being washed
up and the knives cleaned by a mechanical process scarcely occupying two
minutes; and the afternoon was usually devoted to the instruction of
_chelas_ in esoteric branches of learning, and their practical
application to mundane affairs, until the cool of the evening, when
parties would be made up either for playing out-of-door games, in the
less violent of which the women took part, or in riding the beautiful
horses of the country, or in flying swiftly over its richly cultivated
and variegated surface, paying visits to other _damas_ or homes, each of
which was occupied on the same scale and in the same manner as our own.
After a late dinner, we usually had concerts, balls, and private
theatricals.

On the day following my arrival, Ushas explained to me the relationship
in which we were to stand towards each other.  She said that marriage was
an institution as yet unknown to them, because their organisms had not
yet attained the conditions to which they were struggling.  They had
progressed so far, however, that they had discovered the secret of
eternal youth.  Indeed, Ushas herself was 590 years old.  I was not
surprised at this, as something of the same kind has occurred more than
once to _rishis_ or very advanced _mahatmas_.  As a rule, however, they
are too anxious to go to _nirvana_, to stay on earth a moment longer than
necessary, and prefer rather to come back at intervals: this, we all
know, has occurred at least six times in the case of Buddha, as Mr
Sinnett so well explains.  At the same time Ushas announced without
words, but with a slight blush, and a smile of ineffable tenderness, that
from the day of my birth she knew that I was destined to be her future
husband, and that at the appointed time we should be brought together.  We
now had our period of probation to go through together, and she told me
that all the other _chelas_ here were going through the necessary
training preparatory to wedlock like myself, and that there would be a
general marrying all round, when the long-expected culminating epoch
should arrive.

Meantime, in order to enter upon the first stage of my new _chela_-ship,
it became necessary for me to forget all the experiences which I had
acquired during the last twenty years of my life, as she explained that
it would be impossible for my mind to receive the new truths which I had
now to learn so long as I clung to what she called "the fantasies" of my
_mahatma_-ship.  I cannot describe the pang which this announcement
produced.  Still I felt that nothing must impede my search after truth;
and I could not conceal from myself that, if in winning it I also won
Ushas, I was not to be pitied.  Nor to this day have I ever had reason to
regret the determination at which I then arrived.

It would be impossible for me in the compass of this article to describe
all my experiences in the new life to which I dedicated myself, nor
indeed would it be proper to do so; suffice it to say, that I progressed
beyond my Ushas' most sanguine expectations.  And here I would remark,
that I found my chief stimulus to exertion to be one which had been
completely wanting in my former experience.  It consisted simply in this,
that altruism had been substituted for egotism.  Formerly, I made the
most herculean spiritual effort to tide myself over the great period of
danger--the middle of the fifth round.  "That," as Mr Sinnett correctly
says, "is the stupendous achievement of the adept as regards his own
personal interests;" and of course our own interests were all that I or
any of the other _mahatmas_ ever thought of.  "He has reached," pursues
our author, "the farther shore of the sea in which so many of mankind
will perish.  He waits there, in a contentment which people cannot even
realise without some glimmering of spirituality--the sixth
sense--themselves, for the arrival of his future companions."  This is
perfectly true.  I always found that the full enjoyment of this sixth
sense among _mahatmas_ was heightened just in proportion to the numbers
of other people who perish, so long as you were safe yourself.

Here among the Sisters, on the other hand, the principle which was
inculcated was, "Never mind if you perish yourself, so long as you can
save others;" and indeed the whole effort was to elaborate such a system
by means of the concentration of spiritual forces upon earth, as should
be powerful enough to redeem it from its present dislocated and unhappy
condition.  To this end had the efforts of the Sisters been directed for
so many centuries, and I had reason to believe that the time was not far
distant when we should emerge from our retirement to be the saviours and
benefactors of the whole human race.  It followed from this, of course,
that I retained all the supernatural faculties which I had acquired as a
_mahatma_, and which I now determined to use, not for my own benefit as
formerly, but for that of my fellow-creatures, and was soon able--thanks
to additional faculties, acquired under Ushas' tutorship--to flit about
the world in my astral body without inconvenience.

I happened to be in London on business the other day in this ethereal
condition, when Mr Sinnett's book appeared, and I at once projected it on
the astral current to Thibet.  I immediately received a communication
from Ushas to the effect that it compelled some words of reply from the
sisterhood, and a few days since I received them.  I regret that it has
been necessary to occupy so much of the reader's time with personal
details.  They were called for in order that he should understand the
source of my information, and my peculiar qualifications for imparting
it.  It will be readily understood, after my long connection with the
Thibetan brotherhood, how painful it must be to me to be the instrument
chosen not merely of throwing a doubt upon "the absolute truth concerning
nature, man, the origin of the universe, and the destinies toward which
its inhabitants are tending," to use Mr Sinnett's own words, but actually
to demolish the whole structure of Esoteric Buddhism!  Nor would I do
this now were it not that the publication of the book called by that name
has reluctantly compelled the sisterhood to break their long silence.  If
the Thibetan Brothers had only held their tongues and kept their secret
as they have done hitherto, they would not now be so rudely disturbed by
the Thibetan Sisters.

* * * * *

"The Sisters of Thibet," writes Ushas, of course with an astral pen in
astral ink, "owe their origin to a circumstance which occurred in the
time of Sankaracharya, erroneously supposed by the initiated to be an
incarnation of Buddha.  This teacher, who lived more than a century
before the Christian era, dwelt chiefly upon the necessity of pursuing
_gnyanam_ in order to obtain _moksha_--that is to say, the importance of
secret knowledge to spiritual progress, and the consummation thereof.  And
he even went so far as to maintain that a man ought to keep all such
knowledge secret from his wife.  Now the wife of Sankaracharya, whose
name was Nandana, 'she who rejoices,' was a woman of very profound occult
attainments; and when she found that her husband was acquiring knowledges
which he did not impart to her, she did not upbraid him, but laboured all
the more strenuously in her own sphere of esoteric science, and she even
discovered that all esoteric science had a twofold element in
it--masculine and feminine--and that all discoveries of occult mysteries
engaged in by man alone, were, so to speak, lop-sided, and therefore
valueless.  So she conveyed herself secretly, by processes familiar to
her, away from her husband, and took refuge in this region of Thibet in
which we now dwell, and which, with all his knowledges, Sankaracharya was
never able to discover, for they were all subjective, and dealt not with
the material things of this world.  And she associated herself here in
the pursuit of knowledge with a learned man called Svasar, 'he who is
friendly,' who considered secret knowledge merely the means to an end,
and even spiritual progress valuable only in so far as it could be used
to help others; and they studied deep mysteries as brother and sister
together--and he had been a _mahatma_ or _rishi_ of the highest
grade--and, owing to the aid he derived from his female associate, he
discovered that the subjective conditions of _nirvana_ and _devachan_
were the result of one-sided male imaginings which had their origin in
male selfishness; and this conviction grew in him in the degree in which
the Parthivi Mutar, or 'Earth Mother,' became incarnated in Nandana.  Thus
was revealed to him the astounding fact that the whole system of the
occult adepts had originated in the natural brains of men who had given
themselves up to egotistical transcendental speculation--in fact, I
cannot better describe the process than in the words of Mr Sinnett
himself, where he alludes to 'the highly cultivated devotees to be met
with occasionally in India, who build up a conception of nature, the
universe and God, entirely on a metaphysical basis, and who have evolved
their systems by sheer force of transcendental thinking--who will take
some established system of philosophy as its groundwork, and amplify on
this to an extent which only an oriental metaphysician could dream of.'

"This, Mr Sinnett chooses to assume, was not the fact with the Thibet
Brothers; but, in reality, this was just what they did.  The fact that
they have outstripped other similar transcendentalists is due to the
circumstance that the original founders of the system were men of more
powerful will and higher attainments than any who have succeeded them.
And on their death they formed a compact spiritual society in the other
world, impregnating the wills and imaginations of their disciples still
on earth with their fantastic theories, which they still retain there, of
a planetary chain, and the spiral advance of the seven rounds, and the
septenary law, and all the rest of it.  In order for human beings to come
into these occult knowledges, it is necessary, as Mr Sinnett admits, for
the adepts to go into trance-conditions--in other words, to lose all
control of their normal, or as they would probably call them, their
objective faculties.  While in this condition, they are the sport of any
invisible intelligences that choose to play upon them; but fearing lest
they may be accused of this, they erroneously assert that no such
intelligences of a high order have cognisance of what happens in this
world.  The fact that _mahatmas_ have powers which appear supernatural
proves nothing, as Mr Sinnett also admits that innumerable _fakirs_ and
_yojis_ possess these as well, whose authority on occultism he deems of
no account, when he says that 'careless inquirers are very apt to
confound such persons with the great adepts of whom they vaguely hear.'
There can be no better evidence of the falsity of the whole conception
than you are yourself.  For to prove to you that you were the sport of a
delusion, although your own experience as a _mahatma_ in regard to the
secret processes of nature, and the sensations attendant upon subjective
conditions, exactly corresponded to those of all other _mahatmas_, you
have, under my tutelage, at various times allowed yourself to fall into
trance-conditions, when, owing to occult influences which we have brought
to bear, a totally different idea concerning 'nature, man, the origin of
the universe, and the destinies toward which its inhabitants are
tending,' was presented to your sixth sense, which appeared 'absolute
truth' at the time, and which would have continued to seem so, had I not
had the power of intromitting you through trance-conditions into a
totally different set of apparent truths on the same subject, which were
no more to be relied upon than the other.  The fact is, that no seer, be
he Hindoo, Buddhist, Christian, or of any other religion, is to be
depended upon the moment he throws himself into abnormal organic
conditions.  We see best, as you have now learnt, into the deepest
mysteries with all our senses about us.  And the discovery of this great
fact was due to woman; and it is for this reason that _mahatmas_ shrink
from female _chelas_--they are afraid of them.  According to their
philosophy, women play a poor part in the system of the universe, and
their chances of reaching the blissful condition of _nirvana_ are
practically not to be compared with those of the men.

"There is no such thing as subjectivity apart from objectivity.  Mr
Sinnett very properly tells you 'that occult science regards force and
matter as identical, and that it contemplates no principle in nature as
wholly immaterial.  The clue to the mystery involved,' he goes on to say,
'lies in the fact, directly cognisable by occult experts, that matter
exists in other states than those which are cognisable by the five
senses;' but it does not become only cognisable subjectively on that
account.  You know very well, as an old _mahatma_, that you can cognise
matter now with your sixth sense as well as with your five while in a
perfectly normal condition, that you could not cognise except in trance-
conditions before, and which even then you could only cognise
incorrectly.  The much-vaunted sixth sense of _mahatmas_ needs sharpening
as much as their logic, for you can no more separate subjectivity from
objectivity than you can separate mind from matter.  Christians, if they
desire it, have a right to a heaven of subjective bliss, because they
consider that they become immaterial when they go there; but Buddhists,
who admit that they are in a sense material while in _devachan_ or
_nirvana_, and deny that their consciousness in that condition is in the
same sense objective as well as subjective, talk sheer nonsense."  Ushas
used a stronger expression here, but out of consideration for my old
_mahatma_ friends, I suppress it.

"'_Devachan_', says our Guru--speaking through his disciple in order to
escape from this dilemma--'will seem as real as the chairs and tables
round us; and remember that above all things, to the profound philosophy
of occultism, are the chairs and tables, and the whole objective scenery
of the world, unreal and merely transitory delusions of sense.'  If, as
he admits, they are material, why should they be more unreal than the
chairs and tables in _devachan_, which are also material, since occult
science contemplates no principle in nature as wholly immaterial?  The
fact is, that there is no more unreal and transitory delusion of sense
than those 'states' known to the adepts as _devachan_ or _nirvana_; they
are mere dreamlands, invented by metaphysicians, and lived in by them
after death--which are used by them to encourage a set of dreamers here
to evade the practical duties which they owe to their fellow-men in this
world.  'Hence it is possible,' says our author, 'for yet living persons
to have visions of _devachan_, though such visions are rare and only one-
sided, the entities in _devachan_, sighted by the earthly clairvoyant,
being quite unconscious themselves of undergoing such observation.'  This
is an erroneous and incorrect assumption on the Guru's part.  'The spirit
of the clairvoyant,' he goes on, 'ascends into the condition of
_devachan_ in such rare visions, and thus becomes subject to the vivid
delusions of that existence.'  Vivid delusions indeed, the fatal
consequences of which are, that they separate their votaries from the
practical duties of life, and create a class of idle visionaries who,
wrapping themselves in their own vain conceits, would stand by and allow
their fellow-creatures to starve to death, because, as Mr Sinnett frankly
tells us, 'if spiritual existence, vivid subjective consciousness, really
does go on for periods greater than the periods of intellectual physical
existence, in the ratio, as we have seen in discussing the devachanic
condition, of 80 to 1 at least, then surely man's subjective existence is
more important than his physical existence and intellect in error, when
all its efforts are bent on the amelioration of the physical existence.'

"This is the ingenious theory which the Brothers of Thibet have devised
to release them from acknowledging that they have any other Brothers in
this world to whom they are under sacred obligations besides themselves,
and which, owing to the selfish principle that underlies it, has a
tendency to sap the foundations of all morality.  So that we have this
nineteenth-century apostle of Esoteric Buddhism venturing to assert to
his Western readers that 'it is not so rough a question as that--whether
man be wicked or virtuous--which must really, at the final critical
turning-point, decide whether he shall continue to live and develop into
higher phases of existence, or cease to live altogether.'  We, the
Sisters of Thibet, repudiate and denounce in the strongest terms any such
doctrine as the logical outcome either of the moral precepts of Buddha or
of the highest esoteric science.  Let the Brothers of Thibet beware of
any longer cherishing the delusion that the Sisters of Thibet, because
their existence is purely objective, 'are therefore unreal and merely
transitory delusions of sense.'  We also have a secret to reveal--the
result of twenty centuries of occult learning--and we formally announce
to you, the so-called adepts of occult science, that if you persist in
disseminating any more of your deleterious metaphysical compounds in this
world under the name of Esoteric Buddhism, we will not only no longer
refrain, as we have hitherto done, from tormenting you in your subjective
conditions while still in your _rupas_, but, by virtue of the occult
powers we possess, will poison the elements of _devachan_ until
subjective existence becomes intolerable there for your fifth and sixth
principles,--your _manas_ and your _buddhis_,--and _nirvana_ itself will
be converted into hell."



ADOLPHUS: A COMEDY OF AFFINITIES.


_Dramatis personae_.

The HON. ADOLPHUS GRESHAM.

The EARL OF GULES.

ADOLPHUS PLUMPER.

Mr FLAMM.

LADY ELAINE BENDORE.

The COUNTESS OF GULES.

Mrs PLUMPER.

CHARLES.



SCENE I.--A railway carriage.  The Earl and Countess of Gules--Lady
Elaine Bendore--The Hon. Adolphus Gresham.


_Elaine_.  I must really beg of you to stop, Mr Gresham.  You cannot
think how you pain and surprise me.  I am sure I never had the least
idea!  Besides, supposing papa or mamma should hear you.

_Adolphus_.  Lord Gules is asleep, and her ladyship is absorbed in her
novel; besides, you may be sure that I have taken care to ascertain their
sentiments before I venture to say what I have to you.  Oh, Elaine, if I
could but hope!

_Train stops_.  _Guard_ [_looking in_].  All the smoking-carriages are
engaged, gentlemen; but you'll find room in here.

[_Enter_ Adolphus Plumper _and_ Mr Flamm.  Flamm _seats himself opposite_
Elaine, _and_ Plumper _opposite_ Adolphus.

_Flamm_ [_aside to_ Plumper].  By Jove, Plumper! you never told me you
had a twin brother.  Polish up your spectacles, old man--you've made 'em
damp by that race we had to catch the train--and look at your
_vis-a-vis_.

[Plumper _takes off his spectacles with great deliberation, wipes them,
puts them on again, and stares at_ Adolphus.

_Plumper_ [_aside_] _stammering_.  Dud-dud-dud-do you see a likeness?  Dud-
dud-dud-don't see it myself.  He's bab-bab-bab-bald, and he's not sh-sh-
sh-ort-sighted.

_Fl_.  Probably he doesn't stammer either.  I'll try presently.
Positively, if he wore spectacles and a wig of your hair, I shouldn't
know you apart.

_Lady Gules_ [_aside to_ Elaine].  Did you ever see anything more
extraordinary, my dear?  What a horrid caricature of our dear Adolphus
Gresham!

_El_. [_aside_].  I can't say I agree with you, mamma.  I think he has a
more intelligent expression--more soul, I should say.

_Lady G_.  You are quite ridiculous, Elaine.  Half the girls in London
have bean setting their caps at Mr Gresham for the last few seasons, till
they have given him up as invulnerable; and now that you have a chance of
becoming one of the richest peeresses in England, you do nothing but snub
him.  He is as clever and charming as he will be rich when his father
dies, and is certain to become a Cabinet Minister some day.  He's
considered the most rising young man of his party.

_El_.  That he may easily be, considering he is a Conservative.  Oh,
mamma! how can you suppose that I would ever marry a Conservative?

_Lady G_.  I have no patience with you, Elaine; a nice mess your Radicals
have made of it with Egypt and Ireland.  But we won't go into that now;
only remember this, if he proposes, and you don't accept him, your father
and I will be seriously displeased.

_El_. [_sighing_].  I'm sure the gentleman opposite is a friend of the
people.  See! he's reading the 'Pall Mall.'  [_Aside to_ Adolphus.] Mamma
has just been telling me that she sees such a strange likeness between
you and your opposite neighbour.

_Ad_.  Ah!  Plumper--if the name on his hat-box is to be believed; A.
Plumper, too.  I wonder whether A. stands for Adolphus?  I don't feel
flattered.

_El_.  Now that is nothing but Tory prejudice.  I am sure he looks very
distinguished, though his name is Plumper.  I have no doubt he's a self-
made man.

_Pl_.  Pup-pup-pup-pardon me, madam; shall I put the window up?  I see
you feel the dud-dud-dud-draught.

_El_.  Thank you.  No; I prefer it open.  But may I ask you to lend me
your 'Echo'? it's a paper I like so much, and so seldom see.

_Fl_.  Cheap, but not nasty; enjoys a vast circulation among the middle
classes.  The Conservatives are as far behind us in journalistic capacity
as they are in parliamentary eloquence.

_Pl_.  You must make allowances for my friend.  He's on the pup-pup-pup-
press himself, and expects shortly to get into Pup-pup-pup-Parliament.

_El_.  Oh, I do so hope he will!  You don't think there is a reaction
setting in, do you?  Papa says that Mr Gladstone is losing his hold on
the country.

_Lord Gules_ [_awaking with a snort_].  Not, however, before the country
has lost its hold upon him.  He cares no more for his country, sir, than
I do for the Chinese in California.  He's a traitor, sir, to his
principles; he's--

_El_.  Oh, papa, do stop!--here we are at the Victoria--and we have no
right to judge any one so harshly.  I assure you such strong expressions
only make me feel more and more convinced how wrong you must be.  [_To_
Plumper, _handing back his paper_.]  Thank you so much.  I'm so sorry I
have not had time to read it.

_Lady G_.  Good-bye, Mr Gresham; remember that you have promised to dine
with us to-morrow night.  We shall be quite alone; but I am sure you
don't care about a party.

_Ad_.  I need not say with what pleasure I shall look forward to it.  _Au
revoir_, Lady Elaine.  [_Aside_.]  You do not know how you have been
tempting me to abandon all my cherished political convictions for your
sake.  It is to be hoped that the Radicals will not follow up their
success with the caucus by organising the young ladies of their party and
letting them loose on society as propagandists of their Utopian ideas and
political fallacies.

[_Exeunt omnes_.



SCENE II.--Lady Gules's Boudoir.  Elaine and Adolphus.


_Ad_.  Dear Lady Elaine, Lady Gules has given me special permission and
opportunity to explain myself more fully than was possible yesterday.
Please tell me why you were so surprised at what I said, and why you
think me so very objectionable?

_El_.  I don't think you at all objectionable, Mr Gresham, as a member of
society; on the contrary, I think you charming; though I do feel that,
magnetically, we are wide as the poles asunder!  Oh, believe me, we have
no grounds of common sympathy, either in matters of philosophical,
political, or religious thought--and above all, in art!  You seem to lack
that enthusiasm for humanity which could alone constitute an affinity
between us.  I was surprised, because I had hoped to find in you an
intelligent companion; and mortified at the discovery that you could not
rise to higher ground than that of an ordinary admirer,--men in these
days seem to think that women have no other _raison d'etre_ except to be
made love to.

_Ad_.  I do not think that is a new idea, Lady Elaine; but is it
absolutely necessary, in order that you should return the deep affection
I feel for you, that we should agree politically, philosophically,
theologically, and aesthetically?  In old days women did not trouble
themselves on these matters, but trusted to their hearts rather than to
their heads to guide their affections.

_El_.  And so I do now.  I feel instinctively that we are not kindred
spirits; that the mysterious chord of sympathy which vibrates in the
heart of a girl with the first tone of the voice of the man she is
destined to love, does not exist between us.  Oh, indeed, indeed, Mr
Gresham, although I adore Frederic Harrison as a thinker, as much as I
dislike Mr Mallock--though I read every word he writes as a duty--I am
not destitute of romance.  I am a profound believer in the doctrine of
affinity.  Who that accepts, as I do, the marvellous teaching of Comte,
and remembers that the highest ideas which it contains were inspired by a
woman, could fail to be?  But I shall know the man towards whom I am
destined to occupy the relation that Comte's Countess did to him, at a
glance.  No words will need to pass between us to assure us that we are
one in sentiment.  It will be as impossible for him to be indifferent to
elevating the taste of the masses in matters of domestic detail, or be
otherwise wanting in a whole-hearted devotion to the service of humanity,
or to scoff at the theory of evolution, as it would be for him to accept
the errors and superstitions of an obsolete theology, or the antiquated
dogmas of the Conservatives about landed property.

_Ad_.  And if I fulfilled all these conditions, so far as a thorough
philosophical and political sympathy was concerned, would that avail me
nothing to produce this hidden affinity?

_El_.  Absolutely nothing.  In the first place, you could not pretend to
believe and feel what you did not believe and feel; and in the second, if
you could, I should instantly sense the absence of that internal
attraction towards each other which would be irresistible in both.  You
were right, Mr Gresham, when you said the heart and not the head should
be the guide; and I trust it absolutely--so give up a hope which must be
vain.  Believe me, I feel deeply pained at having to speak so decidedly,
but it is better that you should be under no delusion.  Still, do not let
me lose you as a friend whom I shall always esteem.  You will soon get
over it, and will have no difficulty in finding a wife who will suit you
far better than I should ever have done.

_Ad_.  There, believe me, you are mistaken; but it is a point impossible
to discuss.  Good-bye, Lady Elaine.  Thanks for your frankness and
patience with me.  Perhaps I shall get over it, as you say.  I shall take
refuge in my yacht, and try the curative effect of a cruise round the
world.  It will be a year at least before we meet again.  [_Exit_
Adolphus.

_El_.  Poor Adolphus! how absolutely impossible is love, where the hidden
sympathy of soul is wanting!--and yet how nice he is [_sighs_], and how
manfully he accepted his fate!  What philosophy can really explain the
mystery of that magnetic affinity called love, which so unaccountably
exercises its attracting influences over the whole animal creation, and
most probably over plants?  If it is a latent potentiality of matter, how
did it get there?  Now for a scene with mamma.

[_Exit_ Elaine.



SCENE III.--The Countess of Gules's Boudoir.  Lady Gules and Lady Elaine
reading.  Enter Charles with card and letter.


_El_. [_reading card_].  Mr Adolphus Plumper!  Is the gentleman coming up-
stairs, Charles?

_Charles_.  No, my lady; he only left the card and this letter, and said
he would call again. [_Exit_ Charles.

_El_. [_opening letter_].  From Mr Gresham, mamma, dated Naples.
[_Reads_.]  "DEAR ELAINE,--I felt so much touched by the kindness of your
last words to me when we parted, that I venture to hope that it may
interest you to know, as a friend, how it has fared with me since I left
England.  The curative process does not seem to have fairly set in yet,
but I am going to try the effect of a little mild excitement by joining
the demonstrating fleets at Alexandria.  For a month past I have been
idling here; and curiously enough, the first person I stumbled upon in
the Chiaja Gardens was Mr Adolphus Plumper--our railway companion on the
only journey I ever had the happiness to take with you, and who seated
himself by my side on a bench to which I had resorted for a quiet cigar.
As there are few foreigners here at this season, we have been thrown
almost daily together, and I have been quite delighted to find how very
much superior he is to what I thought he _looked_ when you honoured me by
pointing out our resemblance.  I ought to speak highly of him, for he
saved my life.  I took him a cruise in my yacht, and the gig in which we
were landing one day was upset in some breakers.  I had been stunned, and
should have been drowned had he not come to the rescue; and I really feel
that for this and some other reasons which I will explain when we meet, I
owe him a debt of gratitude that I can never hope to repay.  Although he
is too retiring by nature to say so, I could see, when I made some
laughing allusions to the occasion of our first meeting, that he would be
glad to continue to make the acquaintance of Lord and Lady Gules--in
other words, to continue the political discussion he then commenced with
you.  Singular to state, he is an admirer of Congreve and all that
school, so I am sure you will have plenty of topics in common.  Mr
Plumper has made an enormous fortune as a contractor, and now chiefly
occupies himself with works of charity and benevolence.  One of his
special hobbies is the introduction of the aesthetic principle into
_Kindergartens_.  I have given him a hint not to introduce his vulgar
friend Flamm--pardon me the expression, though he is a Radical.  I have
given Plumper a few lines to Lady Gules.  Please do all you can to
overcome the prejudice against him which both she and Lord Gules are sure
to entertain; and believe me, yours faithfully,

"ADOLPHUS GRESHAM."

_Lady G_.  A Radical, a plutocrat, and an infidel!  That is a mixture
that ought to suit you, Elaine.

_El_.  Quite as well as a Tory, a spendthrift, and a bigot, which is the
one I usually meet in society, mamma.  But please do not let us quarrel.
I always try to be polite to your mixtures.  For Mr Gresham's sake, be
civil to mine.

_Lady G_.  For Mr Gresham's sake, indeed!  What have you done for Mr
Gresham's sake that puts me under an obligation to him?  However, I
suppose we must ask the man to dinner.  Is there any address on his card?

_El_.  20 Heavitree Gardens.

_Lady G_.  One of those millionaire palaces, I suppose, in the back
regions of South Kensington.  The carriage is waiting, so I shall leave
you to write the invitation.  You had better ask him for Tuesday, when we
have got some people coming to dinner.

[_Exit_ Lady Gules.

_El_. [_taking up the letter, reads_].  "Now chiefly occupies himself
with works of charity and benevolence.  One of his special hobbies is the
introduction of aesthetic principles into _Kindergartens_."  How
refreshing to meet a man at last who takes a living interest in the
welfare of his fellow-creatures!  I am sure I shall like him. [ _Writes,
and rings the bell_.]

_Enter_ Charles.

_Lady E_.  Please put this in the post, Charles.  [_Exit_ Charles.]  Now
I must go and get ready to go out riding with papa, and reconcile him to
the dreadful idea of having "a Radical, a plutocrat, and an infidel" at
his dinner-table.  [_Exit_ Elaine.

(_A month elapses_.)



SCENE IV.--Lady Gules's Boudoir.  Lord and Lady Gules.


_Lord G_.  I tell you what it is, my dear--we've only known that fellow
Plumper a month, and he has already completely captivated Elaine with his
_Kindergarten_, and his sunflowers, and his hatred of the landed interest
and Irish coercion, and love of the _cloture_ and humanity, and Buddha
and Brahma, and Zoroaster and Mahomet, and all the rest of them.  I must
really take steps to find out whether Gresham was well informed about his
reputed wealth.  I shall ride down and take a look at 20 Heavitree
Gardens to-morrow.  I haven't met a single man at the Club who has ever
heard of him.

_Lady G_.  It's no use: if he should turn out a pauper, or even a
swindler, I am afraid Elaine will marry him.  I saw it in her eye last
night; and so, I should think, did he.  He certainly can't complain of
not receiving encouragement.  I only wonder that he has not yet proposed.
I believe the man to be capable of any act of audacity, in spite of his
languid manner, and his long hair, and short-sightedness, and his
stammer.

_Enter_ Elaine.

_Lord G_.  Are you coming to ride with me, or going out to drive with
your mother, Elaine?

_El_.  Neither, dear papa.  I am too busy finishing a paper I am writing
on the "Chiton; or, Clothing for the masses on the principles of the
ideal of the ancient Greeks," for the next meeting of the Women's Dress
Reform Association.

_Lord G_.  Well, take care you make them put enough on.  Remember the
climate, if you ignore other considerations.

_Lady G_.  And pray do not so far overstep the bounds of maidenly modesty
as to consult your Mr Plumper on the subject.

[_Exit_ Lord _and_ Lady Gules.

_El_. [_sighing_].  My Mr Plumper!  Ah, Adolphus, there is not a fibre in
our bodies or souls--and why should not souls have fibres?--that does not
vibrate in harmony!  We are like AEolian harps that make the same music
to the same airs of the affections, while electrically our brains respond
sympathetically to the same wave-current of idea.  Emotionally,
intellectually, we are one.  Why should I allow an absurd custom of
conventional civilisation, degrading to the sex, to prevent my telling
him so?  What more inherent right can be vested by nature in a woman than
that of telling a man that she loves him, and that, therefore, he belongs
to her?  Hark! his step.  My Adolphus!

_Enter_ Adolphus.

_Ad_.  I have ventured to kuk-kuk-kuk-call, Lady Elaine, with the pap-pap-
pattern I promised of female attire suited to all classes; for why should
we recognise any did-did-distinction between the folds which drape the
form of the aristocrat and the pop-pop-pauper?  It is all in
kuk-kuk-curves and circles; there is not a straight line about it worn
thus.  See how graciously it flows!  [_Puts his head through a hole in
the middle_.]  But allow me; your form will do far more justice to it
than mine.  [_Takes it off and puts it on_ Lady Elaine.]  Ah, how
divinely precious!  [_Gazes with rapture_.  Lady Elaine _sits down in
it_.]

_El_.  Dear Adolphus, why should this strained conventional formality
exist any longer between us?  Can we not read each other's thoughts?  Can
we not feel each other's hearts beating in sweet accord?  Are we not
formed and fashioned for each other?  Let this exquisite garment, which
we have both worn, be the symbol of that internal robe which costumes our
united souls, woven from the texture of our affections.

_Ad_. [_falling on his knees, kisses its hem_].  Sweet symbol of
sanctified intuitions!  Tit-tit-tit-transparent--though it may seem tot-
tot-tolerably thick; for does it not reveal to me the workings of the
soul of my beb-beb-beloved?  Ah, Elaine, how trifling do earthly
treasures seem, compared with those of the affections!  You will be mine,
for ever mine, dud-dud-darling, will you not--even though I may not have
the riches I am supposed to possess?

_El_.  Oh, Adolphus! how can you ask me such a question?  What is the
wealth of the pocket as compared with the wealth of the soul!

_Ad_.  True! oh, quite intensely true!--for how sweetly sings the poet
Oscar on this theme!--

   "As like miners we explore
   Hidden treasures in the soul,
   And we pip-pip-pick the amorous ore
   Firmly bedded in its hole;
   New emotions come to light,
   Flashing in affections' rays,
   Scintillating to the sight,
   With a tit-tit-tit-transcendental bib-bib-bib-blaze,
   Warming us until we burn
   With a glow of sacred fire,
   And as coals to diamonds turn,
   Sparkling in us with did-did-did-desire."

_El_.  Oh, quite, quite too lovely!  Come, Adolphus--why should we linger
here, now that our troths are plighted?  Why should we not at once brave
the world together?  I need the sweet scents of the air, the rustle of
leaves, the singing of birds, the chattering of monkeys, and the hum of
nature.  Let us go, my love, and walk in the Zoo.

_Ad_. [_rising_].  Dud-dud-dud-do you intend to keep that on?

_El_.  What on?

_Ad_.  This mystic garment of kuk-kuk-curves and circles.

_El_.  No; I will keep it for a pattern and a sweet reminiscence.  Now I
will go and put on my Louis Quatorze hat, and be back in a moment, if you
will go and call a hansom.

[_Exit_ Elaine.

[Adolphus _bursts into a fit of uncontrollable laughter_.

[_Exit laughing_.



SCENE V.--The Zoological Gardens.


_El_.  How sweet are these sights and sounds when hallowed by the
consciousness of a beloved presence!  How one glows with affection
towards every object in nature!  Adolphus, dear, don't you feel, with me,
that our hearts warm towards the hippopotamus?

_Ad_.  Mine is positively beating with the violence of my affection for
him.  If he was not so wet and bib-bib-big, I could throw my arms round
him.  Dear hippop-pop-pop-pop-otamoms!

_El_.  Oh, look! there is that gentleman who got into the train with you
on the blessed day that we first met.  Mr Flamm, I think Mr Gresham said
his name was.

_Enter_ Flamm.

_Flamm_.  Ah, Plumper, how are you, old man?  I was looking for you
everywhere.  Why, what have you done with Mrs Plumper and the children?

_Ad_.  My mother and her little grandchildren, you mean.  I was not aware
that they were to come here to-day.

_Fl_.  Your mother! and grandchildren!  Why, what the dev---  Oh, ah,
ahem!  [_Aside_.]  I see--mum's the word.  Oh fie! sly dog!  Naughty,
naughty!--but so nice!  [_Whispers_.]  You are quite safe with me.
[_Aloud_.]  Yes, dear old lady--she's getting too old to walk much now.
[_Aside_.]  I only hope we shan't meet the young one.  A jolly row
there'll be!

_El_.  I hope soon to have the pleasure of being introduced to Mr
Plumper's mother.  I am sure I shall like her.

_Fl_.  Oh, I am sure you will; she is the dearest, most delightful old
lady!  [_Aside_.]  At least I hope she is by this time, for she was a
horrid old cat up to the day of her death, ten years ago.  By Jove! here
come Mrs Plumper and the young uns.  Now for it!

_Enter_ Mrs Plumper.

_Mrs Plumper_.  Why, Adolphus, where have you been?  Excuse me, madam; I
did not see that you were upon my husband's arm.  Perhaps he'll have the
goodness to present his wife to you.

_El_.  His wife! her husband!  [_Screams--faints_.]

_Mrs P_.  Yes, madam.  You may well scream, "His wife! her husband!" and
then pretend to faint.  Who else's wife do you suppose I am?

_Ad_.  I am sorry I have no time for explanation now, as I must attend to
this young lady; but if you will have the kindness to hold my hat, Mr
Flamm.  [_Hands his hat to_ Flamm.]  And you, madam, to take care of
these.  [_Takes off his wig and spectacles and hands them to_ Mrs
Plumper.]  Your own senses will explain a good deal.  As you may have
already discovered, I am not Mr Plumper at all; in fact, I perceive him
approaching.  Help me to hold her head a little higher, please Mr Flamm;
and Mrs Plumper, kindly undo the back of her dress, or her stays, or her
_chiton_, or whatever is underneath, and let go everything generally, so
as to give her a chance of breathing.

_Enter_ Plumper.

_Fl_.  Here, Plumper, you're a medical man, just come in the nick of
time.  This gentleman here has been personating you for some reason or
other, and the discovery caused the young lady to faint.  Mysterious,
isn't it?

_Ad_.  Not at all, when you come to know the circumstances.  Here is my
card; and you will find me ready to make any apology or offer you any
satisfaction you may require.  Meantime, Dr Plumper, let me implore you
to assist me in bringing her to.

_Pl_.  There now, my gug-gug-good lady, take a smell of this.  There now,
we are beginning to feel beb-beb-better already.  [_Aside_.] Most
extraordinary coincidence, Flamm: this is the same lady and gentleman we
travelled up to town with a kuk-kuk-couple of months ago; and you
remarked upon our wonderful resemblance to each other.  Horrid bob-bob-
bore, a fellow's being so like you; he can pip-pip-play all sorts of
tricks upon you.  Just a chance he did not get me into a did-did-devil of
a scrape with Jemima.

_Fl_. [_aside_].  Well, you can always pay him off in his own coin--that
is, if you shave your head, and throw away your spectacles, and give up
stammering.

_Pl_. [_aside_].  But I can't--that's where he has the pup-pup-pull over
me.  [_Aloud_.]  There now, one or two bib-bib-breaths, and we are all
right.  Now, dud-dud-don't go off again; it can be all satisfactorily
explained.  [_Aside_.]  Hang me if I know how!

_El_. [_opens her eyes while_ Plumper _is bending over her--screams_].
Oh, Adolphus!--[_shuts them again_]

_Pl_.  There, there, my gug-gug-good lady, I'm not Adolphus; at least I
am Adolphus, bub-bub-but not your Adolphus.  Here, Mr Gresham, if you're
her Ad-dod-dod-dod-ol-phus, you'd better take her.

_El_. [_opens her eyes, sees_ Adolphus _bending over her--screams_].  Oh,
where am I?--[_shuts them again_.]

_Pl_.  In the arms of your Adolphus.  We're bub-bub-both Adolphuses.  I
suppose, if you'll rouse yourself a little, you'll soon fif-fif-find out
which is the right one.

_Ad_.  Lady Elaine, pardon me, and I will explain all.  I am Adolphus
Gresham.  I came back from Naples a month ago, and have deceived you by
disguising myself as Dr Plumper.  I shall never forgive myself unless you
forgive me.

_El_.  Oh, this is too horrible!  [_Shrinks from him, and bursts into a
violent fit of weeping_.]

_Pl_.  There, that's capital!  Nothing like a hearty fit of tears to kuk-
kuk-comfort a woman when she finds herself in a mess.  Now Flamm, if you
call a kuk-kuk-cab, we'll put her in and send her home.

[_Exit_ Flamm.

_Ad_.  If you'll have the kindness, Dr Plumper, to give me your address,
and allow me to call upon you to-morrow, I think I shall be able to give
both Mrs Plumper and yourself a complete explanation of what must appear
most extraordinary conduct on my part.

_Re-enter_ Flamm.

_Fl_.  The cab is ready.

_Ad_.  Now, Lady Elaine, if you will allow Dr Plumper and myself to
assist you, we will accompany you home.  [_Exeunt omnes_.



SCENE VI.--Lady Gules's Boudoir.  Lord and Lady Gules--Adolphus.


_Lord G_.  Ha, ha, ha!  Oh, wait a moment, my dear Gresham, or you'll
kill me with laughing.  It's the best joke I ever heard in my life, and
most cleverly executed.  So you caught the Radical, Comtist, aesthetic
little minx in her own trap.  Oh, excellent!  I can't say how thoroughly
Lady Gules and I congratulate you on the success of your ruse, and how
happy you have made us.  My lady there is too pleased with the probable
result to quarrel about the means.  But how you did take us all in!  I
give you my word I never suspected you for a moment.  Your stammer and
wig were both admirable.  As for Elaine, she's torturing her brain with
metaphysical doubts as to the nature of love, and says she will never
love again.  She tells her mother that her Adolphus was an ideal
personage who has no longer existence, and that her love is buried with
him; but here she comes, so we will leave you to fight your own battle.

[_Exeunt_ Lord _and_ Lady Gules.

_Enter_ Elaine.

_Ad_.  Dear Elaine.

_El_.  Sir!

_Ad_.  Nay, rather Adolphus than sir.

_El_.  How can I say Adolphus? there is no Adolphus.

_Ad_.  Indeed there is--[_producing wig and spectacles_]--pup-pup-pardon
me while I put them on.  If it was only my wig and spectacles you cared
about, did-did-dearest, I will wear them and stammer through life fuf-fuf-
for your sake.

_El_.  Oh, Mr Gresham, how can you be so heartless?  You know very well I
loved you--at least I didn't love you,--I mean, I thought I loved
Adolphus--at least I was sure of it at the time; but I'm sure I don't
now.  Oh, how cruel of you!

_Ad_.  But if it was not my wig and spectacles and stammer for which you
felt a magnetic affinity, I want to know exactly what it was you did
love; because I am precisely the same human being without them as with
them.  What about me struck that mysterious chord of sympathy which
vibrated in your affections when I was Plumper, which failed to strike it
as Gresham?  Why should not our hearts still beat in sweet accord without
my wig?  Why should not "this exquisite garment, which we have both
worn--[_takes up the dress, which is lying on a chair in the corner_]--be
the symbol of that internal robe which costumes our united souls, woven
from the texture of our affections," without my spectacles?

_El_.  Mr Gresham, how dare you talk such nonsense?  The texture of our
affections indeed! mine are dead--basely, foully murdered.  Oh, was ever
woman so cruelly humiliated?

_Ad_.  Nay, Elaine, I merely wished to prove to you that your aversion
for me was entirely unfounded.  You have proved to me that your love for
Adolphus, in the abstract, is as baseless and unsubstantial.  I am not
sorry under the circumstances that it should have been murdered, for it
was a poor exotic.  Let us not attempt to analyse the mysterious nature
of that passion which is too precious a plant to tear up by the roots in
order to discover the origin of its existence, but learn rather from this
lesson, so painful to us both, that there are more things in heaven and
earth than are dreamt of even in the philosophy of Comte, the doctrines
of the aesthete, or the politics of Mr Gladstone.  And now, Elaine,
farewell,--this time you need not fear my coming back from Naples.
[_Moves towards the door and lingers_.]

[Elaine _puts her face between her hands and sobs convulsively_.

_Ad_.  Elaine, dear Elaine [_returns softly and takes her hand_], do you
wish me to go?

[Elaine _shakes her head_.

_Ad_.  Do you wish me to stay?

[Elaine _shakes her head_.

_Ad_.  What do you wish me to do?  I must do either one or the other.
Shall I stay and go alternately, or shall we make a fresh start, without
prejudice, as the lawyers say?

_El_.  Oh, how heartlessly you talk!  What do I care what the lawyers
say?  Can't you see how miserable I am, and how hollow everything seems
all at once?  I don't believe in any one, and I don't feel as if I knew
anything, except that love is an inexplicable phenomenon of matter.  I
shall become an agnostic.

_Re-enter_ Lord _and_ Lady Gules.

_Lord G_.  Well, have you two young people come to an understanding?  Take
my word for it, Elaine, an ounce of practice is worth a pound of theory
in love-affairs, and be thankful if the man is willing to become your
husband, who has had sufficient common-sense to teach you the lesson.
Holloa! whom have we here?

_Enter_ Charles _with cards_.

_Lord G_. [_reads_].  "Dr and Mrs Plumper and Mr Flamm, to inquire for
Lady Elaine Bendore."  Oho! our friend Plumper seems to know the
difference between theory and practice at any rate, and is evidently
anxious to extend the latter.  [_To_ Charles.]  Show them up.

_Ad_.  I called upon the Plumpers this morning, and explained the whole
affair to the entire satisfaction of the worthy couple.

[Adolphus _and_ Lady Elaine _whisper apart_.

_Lord G_.  I have to thank you, Dr Plumper, for the timely assistance you
rendered my daughter--first, in nearly sending her into a fit, and then
in bringing her out of it; and am glad of this opportunity of expressing
my sense of the obligation I am under to Mrs Plumper and Mr Flamm.

_Dr P_.  Oh, don't mention it, my lord; I am sure I was only too gug-gug-
glad to be of any assistance to Mr Gresham by being so like him as to
frighten the young lady into a fif-fif-fit.  And as for bringing her to--I
always take the sal-volatile in my pup-pup-pup-pocket on Mrs Plumper's
account.

_Ad_.  And you'll accept me, Elaine, as your husband, even though I don't
abandon my political aspirations, or introduce aesthetic principles into
_Kindergartens_, or adopt the philosophy of Comte?

_El_. [_giving him her hand_].  Oh, Adolphus, you have convinced me that
the loftiest of all aspirations, the purest of all principles, the
supremest of all philosophies, is--

_Ad_.  A-dod-dod-dolphus!



Footnotes:


{81}  Esoteric Buddhism.  By A. P. Sinnett, President of the Simla
Eclectic Theosophical Society.

PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS.





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