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´╗┐Title: Masques & Phases
Author: Ross, Robert, 1869-1918
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 December 1909 Arthur L. Humphreys edition by David


MASQUES & PHASES


BY
ROBERT ROSS

LONDON:
ARTHUR L. HUMPHREYS
187 PICCADILLY, W.
1909

The author wishes to express his indebtedness, to Messrs. Smith, Elder
for leave to reproduce 'A Case at the Museum,' which appeared in the
_Cornhill_ of October, 1900; to the Editor of the _Westminster Gazette_,
which first published the account of Simeon Solomon; and to the former
proprietors of the Wilsford Press, for kindly allowing other articles to
be here reissued.  'How we Lost the Book of Jasher' and 'The Brand of
Isis' were contributed to two undergraduate publications, _The Spirit
Lamp_ and _The Oxford Point of View_.

_To_ HAROLD CHILD, ESQ.



THE DEDICATION.


MY DEAR CHILD,

It is not often the privilege of a contributor to address his former
editor in so fatherly a fashion; yet it is appropriate because you
justified an old proverb in becoming, if I may say so, my literary
parent.  Though I had enjoyed the hospitality, I dare not say the
welcome, of more than one London editor, you were the first who took off
the bearing-rein from my frivolity.  You allowed me that freedom, of
manner and matter, which I have only experienced in undergraduate
periodicals.  It is not any lack of gratitude to such distinguished
editors as the late Mr. Henley; or Mr. Walter Pollock, who first accorded
me the courtesies of print in a periodical not distinguished for its
courtesy; or Professor C. J. Holmes, who has occasionally endured me with
patience in the _Burlington Magazine_; or Mr. Edmund Gosse, to whom I am
under special obligations; that I address myself particularly to you.  But
I, who am not frightened of many things, have always been frightened of
editors.  I am filled with awe when I think of the ultramarine pencil
that is to delete my ultramontane views.  You were, as I have hinted, the
first to abrogate its use in my favour.  When you, if not Consul, were at
least Plancus, I think the only thing you ever rejected of mine was an
essay entitled 'Editors, their Cause and Cure.'  It is not included, for
obvious reasons, in the present volume, of which you will recognise most
of the contents.  These may seem even to your indulgent eyes a trifle
miscellaneous and disconnected.  Still there is a thread common to all,
though I cannot claim for them uniformity.  There is no strict adherence
to those artificial divisions of literature into fiction, essay,
criticism, and poetry.  Count Tolstoy, however, has shown us that a novel
may be an essay rather than a story.  No less a writer than Swift used
the medium of fiction for his most brilliant criticism of life; his
fables, apart from their satire, are often mere essays.  Plato, Sir
Thomas More, William Morris, and Mr. H. G. Wells have not disdained to
transmit their philosophy under the domino of romance or myth.  Some of
the greatest poets--Ruskin and Pater for example--have chosen prose for
their instrument of expression.  If that theory is true of literature--and
I ask you to accept it as true--how much truer is it of journalism, at
least such journalism as mine; though I see a great gulf between
literature and journalism far greater than that between fiction and essay-
writing.  The line, too, dividing the poetry of Keats from the prose of
Sir Thomas Browne is far narrower, in my opinion, than the line dividing
Pope from Tennyson.  And I say this mindful of Byron's scornful couplet
and the recent animadversions of Lord Morley.

There are essays in my book cast in the form of fiction; criticism cast
in the form of parody; and a vein of high seriousness sufficiently
obvious, I hope, behind the masques and phases of my jesting.  The
and books, on men and situations--such are the themes of these passing
observations.

And though you find them like an old patchwork quilt I hope you will
laugh, in token of your acceptance, if not of the book at least of my
lasting regard and friendship for yourself.

Ever yours,
ROBERT ROSS.

5 _Hertford Street_, _Mayfair_, _W_.



A CASE AT THE MUSEUM.


It is a common error to confuse the archaeologist with the mere collector
of ignoble trifles, equally pleased with an unusual postage stamp or a
scarce example of an Italian primitive.  Nor should the impertinent
curiosity of local antiquaries, which sees in every disused chalk-pit
traces of Roman civilisation, be compared with the rare predilection
requisite for a nobler pursuit.  The archaeologist preserves for us those
objects which time has forgotten and passing fashion rejected; in the
museums he buries our ancient eikons, where they become impervious to
neglect, praise, or criticism; while the collector--a malicious atavist
unless he possess accidental perceptions--merely rescues the mistakes of
his forefathers, to crowd public galleries with an inconsequent lumber
which a better taste has taught as to despise.

In the magic of escaped conventions surely none is more powerful than the
Greek, and even now, though we yawn over the enthusiasm of the
Renaissance mirrored in our more cadenced prose, there are some who can
still catch the delightful contagion which seized the princes and
philosophers of Europe in that Martin's Summer of Middle Age.

Of the New Learning already become old, Professor Lachsyrma is reputed a
master.  Scarcely any one in England holds a like position.  He is sixty,
and, though his youth is said to have been eventful, he hardly looks his
age.  He speaks English with a delightful accent, and there always hangs
about his presence a melancholy halo of mystery and Italy.  His quiet
unassumed familiarity with every museum and library on the Continent
astonishes even the most erudite Teuton.  Among archaeologists he is
thought a pre-eminent palaeographer, among palaeographers a great
archaeologist.  I have heard him called the Furtwangler of Britain.  His
facsimiles and collated texts of the classics are familiar throughout the
world.  He has independent means, and from time to time entertains
English and foreign _cognoscenti_ with elegant simplicity at his
wonderful house in Kensington.  His conversation is more informing than
brilliant.  Yet you may detect an unaccountable melancholy in his voice
and manner, attributed by the irreverent to his constant visits to the
Museum.  Religious people, of course, refer to his loss of faith at
Oxford; for I regret to say the Professor has been an habitual
freethinker these many years.

However it may be, Professor Lachsyrma is sad, and has not yet issued his
edition of the newly discovered poems of Sappho unearthed in Egypt some
time since--an edition awaited so impatiently by poets and scholars.

Some years ago, on retiring from his official appointment, Professor
Lachsyrma, being a married man, searched for some apartment remote from
his home, where he might work undisturbed at labours long since become
important pleasures.  You cannot grapple with uncials, cursives, and the
like in a domestic environment.  The preparation of facsimiles,
transcripts, and palaeographical observations, reports of excavations and
catalogues, demands isolation and complete immunity from the trivialities
of social existence.

In a large Bloomsbury studio he found a retreat suitable to his
requirements.  The uninviting entrance, up a stone staircase leading
immediately from the street, was open till nightfall, the rest of the
house being used for storage by second-hand dealers in Portland Street.
No one slept on the premises, but a caretaker came at stated intervals to
light fires and close the front door; for which, however, the Professor
owned a pass-key, each room having, as in modern flats, an independent
door that might be locked at pleasure.  The general gloom of the building
never tempted casual callers.  The Professor purposely abstained from the
decoration or even ordinary furnishing of his chamber.  The whitewashed
walls were covered with dust-bitten maps, casts of bas-reliefs,
engravings of ruins.  Behind the door were stacked huge packing-cases
containing the harvest of a recent journey to the eastern shores of the
Mediterranean.  Along one wall mutilated statues and torsos were
promiscuously mounted on trestles or temporary pedestals made of inverted
wooden boxes.  Above them a large series of shelves bulging with folios,
manuscript notebooks, pamphlets, and catalogues ran up to the window,
which faced north-east, admitting a strong top-light through panes of
ground glass; the lower sash was hidden by permanent blinds in order to
shut out all view of the opposite houses and the street below.  A long
narrow table occupied the centre of the room.  It was always strewn with
magnifying-glasses, proofs, printers' slips, negatives--the litter of a
palaeographic student.  There were three or four wooden chairs for the
benefit of scholarly friends, and an armchair upholstered in green rep
near the stove.  In a corner stood the most striking, perhaps the only
striking, object in the room--a huge mummy from the Fayyum.  The canopic
jars and outer coffins belonging to it were still unpacked in the freight
cases.  It had been purchased from a bankrupt Armenian dealer in Cairo
along with a number of Graeco-Egyptian antiquities and papyri, of far
greater interest to the Professor than the mummy itself.  As soon as the
interior was examined it was to be presented to the Museum; but more
entertaining and important studies delayed its removal.  For many months,
with a curious grave smile, the face on the shell seemed to look down
with amused and permanent interest on Professor Lachsyrma struggling with
the orthography of some forgotten scribe, and arguing with a friend on
mutilated or corrupt passages in a Greek palimpsest.

Here, late one afternoon, Professor Lachsyrma was deciphering some yellow
leaves of papyrus.  The dusk was falling, and he laid down the pen with
which he was delicately transcribing uncials on sheets of foolscap, in
order to light a lamp on the table.  It was 6.30 by an irritating little
American clock recently presented him by one of his children, noisy
symbol and only indication that he held commune with a modern life he so
heartily despised.  As the housekeeper entered with some tea he took up a
copy of a morning paper (a violent transition from uncials), and glanced
at the first lines of the leader:

   The Trustees of the British Museum announce one of the most
   sensational literary discoveries in recent years, a discovery which
   must startle the world of scholars, and even the apathetic public at
   large.  This is none other than the recovery of the long-lost poems of
   Sappho, manuscripts of which were last heard of in the tenth century,
   when they were burnt at Rome and Byzantium.  We shall have to go back
   to the fifteenth century, to the Fall of Constantinople, to the
   Revival of Learning, ere we can find a fitting parallel to match the
   importance of this recent find.  Not since the spade of the excavator
   uncovered from its shroud of earth the flawless beauty of the Olympian
   Hermes has such a delightful acquisition been made to our knowledge of
   Greek literature.  The name of Professor Lachsyrma has long been one
   to conjure with, and all of us should experience pleasure (where
   surprise in his case is out of the question) on learning that his
   recent tour to Egypt, besides greatly benefiting his health, was the
   means of restoring to eager posterity one of the most precious
   monuments of Hellenic culture.

'Dear me, I had no idea the press could be so entertaining,' thought the
Professor, as a smile of satisfaction spread over his well-chiselled
face.  Archaeologists are not above reading personal paragraphs and
leaders about themselves, though current events do not interest them.  So
absorbing is their pursuit of antiquity that they are obliged to affect a
plausible indifference and a refined ignorance about modern affairs.  Nor
are they very generous members of the community.  Perhaps dealing in dead
gods, perpetually handling precious objects which have ceased to have any
relation to life, or quarrelling about languages no one ever uses, blunts
their sensibilities.  At all events, they have none of that loyalty
distinguishing members of other learned professions.  The canker of
jealousy eats perpetually at their hearts.

Professor Lachsyrma was too well endowed by fortune to grudge his former
colleagues their little incomes or inadequate salaries at the Museum.
Still, his recent discovery would not only enhance his fame in the
learned world and his reputed _flair_ for manuscripts--it would irritate
those rivals in England and Germany who, in the more solemn reviews,
resisted some of his conclusions, canvassed his facts, and occasionally
found glaring errors in his texts.  How jealous the discovery would make
young Fairleigh, for all his unholy knowledge of Greek vases, his
handsome profile, and his predilection for going too frequently into
society!--a taste not approved by other officials.  How it would anger
old Gully!  Professor Lachsyrma drank some more tea with further
satisfaction.  Sappho herself could not have felt more elated on the
completion of one of her odes; we know she was poignant and sensitive.
Thus for a whole hour he idled with his thoughts--rare occupation for so
industrious a man.  He was startled from the reverie by a slight knock at
his door.

'Come in,' he said coldly.  There was a touch of annoyance in his tone.
Visitors, frequent enough in the morning, rarely disturbed him in the
afternoon.

'To whom have I the--duty of speaking?'  He raised his well-preserved
spare form to its full height.  The long loose alpaca coat, velvet skull-
cap, and pointed beard gave him the appearance of an eminent
ecclesiastic.

The subdued light in the room presented only a dim figure on the
threshold, and the piercing eyes of the Professor could only see a
blurred white face against the black frame of the open door.  A strange
voice replied:

'I am sorry to disturb you, Professor Lachsyrma.  I shall not detain you
for more than--an hour.'

'If you will kindly write and state the nature of your business, I can
give you an appointment to-morrow or the day after.  At the present
moment, you will observe, I am busy.  I never see visitors except by
appointment.'

'I am sorry to inconvenience you.  Necessity compels me to choose my own
hours for interviewing any one.'

The Professor then suddenly removed the green cardboard shade from the
lamp.  The discourteous intruder was now visible for his inspection.

He was a fair man of uncertain age, but could not be more than twenty-
eight.  He wore his flaxen hair rather long and ill-kempt; his face might
have been handsome, but the flesh was white and flaccid; the features,
though regular, devoid of character; the blue eyes had so little
expression that a professed physiognomist would have found difficulty in
'placing' their possessor.  His black clothes were shiny with age; his
gait was shuffling and awkward.

'My name, though it will not convey very much to you, is Frank Carrel.  I
am a scholar, an archaeologist, a palaeographer, and--other things
besides.'

'A beggar and a British Museum reader,' was the mental observation of the
Professor.  The other seemed to read his thoughts.

'You think I want pecuniary assistance; well, I do.'

'I fear you have come to the wrong person, at the wrong time, and if I
may say so, in the wrong way.  I do not like to be disturbed at this
hour.  Will you kindly leave me this instant?'

Carrel's manner changed and became more deferential.

'If you will allow me to show you something on which I want your opinion,
something I can leave with you, I will go away at once and come back to-
morrow at any time you name.'

'Very well,' said the Professor, wearily, ready to compromise the matter
for the moment.

From a small bag he was carrying Carrel produced a roll of papyrus.  The
Professor's eyes gleamed; he held out his hands greedily to receive it,
fixing a searching, suspicious glance on Carrel.

'Where did you get this, may I ask?'

'I want your opinion first, and then I will tell you.'

The Professor moved towards the lamp, replaced the cardboard green shade,
sat down, and with a strong magnifying-glass examined the papyrus with
evident interest.  Carrel, appreciating the interest he was exciting,
talked on in rapid jerky sentences.

'Yes.  I think you will be able to help me.  I am sure you will do so.
Like yourself, I am a scholar, and might have occupied a position in
Europe similar to your own.'

The Professor smiled grimly, but did not look up from the table as Carrel
continued:

'Mine has been a strange career.  I was educated abroad.  I became a
scholar at Cambridge.  There was no prize I did not carry off.  I knew
more Greek than both Universities put together.  Then I was cursed not
only with inclination for vices, but with capacity and courage to
practise them--liquor, extravagance, gambling--amusements for rich
people; but I was poor.'

'It is a very sad and a very common story,' said the Professor
sententiously, but without looking up from the table.  'I myself was an
Oxford man.  Your name is quite unfamiliar to me.'

'I fancy if you asked them at Cambridge they would certainly remember
me.'

'I shall make a point of doing so,' said the professor drily.  He
affected to be giving only partial attention to the narrative; but though
he seemed to be sedulous in his examination of the papyrus, he was
listening intently.

'I was a great disappointment to the Dons,' Carrel said with a short
laugh, and he lit a cigarette with all the swagger of an undergraduate.

'And to your parents?' queried Lachsyrma.

'My mother was dead.  I don't exactly know who my father was.  I fear
these details bore you, however.  To-morrow--' he added satirically.

'A very romantic story, no doubt,' said the Professor, rising from his
chair, 'and it interests me--moderately; but before we go on any further,
I will be candid with you.  That papyrus is a forgery--a very clever
forgery, too.  I wonder why the writer tried Euripides; we have almost
enough of him.'

'So do I sometimes,' returned Carrel cheerfully.  The Professor arched
his eyebrows in surprise.

He removed the green cardboard lampshade to keep his equivocal visitor
under strict observation.

'If you knew it was a forgery, why did you waste my time and your own in
bringing it here?  In order to tell me a long story about yourself, which
if true is extraordinarily dull?'

It is almost an established convention for experts to be rude when they
have given an adverse opinion on anything submitted to them.  It gives
weight to their statements.  In the present case, however, the Professor
was really annoyed.

'I wanted to know if you recognised the papyrus,' said Carrel, and he
smiled disingenuously.  The Professor was startled.

'Yes; it was offered to me in Cairo last winter by a German dealer in
antiquities.  I recognised it at once.  May I felicitate the talented
author?'

'No.  You would have been taken in if I were the author.'

Professor Lachsyrma waved a white hand, loaded with scarabs and gems, in
a deprecatory, patronising manner towards Carrel.

'I must apologise if I have wronged you.  I am hardened to these little
amenities between brother palaeographers.  Envy, jealousy, call it what
you will, attacks those in high places.  There may be unrecognised
artists, mute inglorious Miltons, Chattertons, starving in garrets,
Shakespeares in the workhouse, while dull modern productions are
applauded on the silly English stage, and poetasters are crowned by the
Academies; but believe me that in Archaeology, in the deciphering of
manuscripts, the quack is detected immediately.  The science has been
carried to such a state of perfection that, if our knowledge is still
unhappily imperfect, our materials inadequate, the public recognition of
our services quite out of proportion to our labours, there is now no
permanent place for the charlatan or the forger.  The first would do
better as an art critic for the daily papers; the other might turn his
attention to the simple necessary cheque, or the safer and more enticing
Bank of England note.  If you are an honest expert, there is a wide field
for your talents; and if I do not believe you to be anything of the kind,
you have yourself to blame for my scepticism.  You came here without an
introduction, without any warning of your arrival.  You refuse to leave
my room.  You inform me that you want money with a candour unusual among
beggars.  You then ask me to inspect a forged manuscript which you either
know or suspect me to have seen before.  Should you have no explanation
to offer for this outrageous intrusion, may I ask you to leave the
premises immediately?'

As he finished this somewhat pompous harangue he pointed menacingly
towards the door.  He was slightly nervous, for Carrel, who was sitting
down, remained seated, his hands folded, gazing up with an insolent
childish stare.  He might have been listening to an eloquent preacher
whom he thoroughly despised.

'Professor Lachsyrma,' Carrel said in a sweet winning voice, 'I will go
away if you like now, but I have nearly finished my errand and we may as
well dispatch an affair tiresome to both of us, this evening, instead of
postponing it.  I want you to give me 1000_l_.'

The Professor rubbed his eyes.  Was he dreaming?  Was this some elaborate
practical joke?  Was it the confidence trick?  He seemed to lose his self-
possession, gaped on Carrel for some seconds, then controlled himself.

'And why should I give you 1000_l_.?'

'I am a blackmailer.  I am a forger of manuscripts.  I have more Greek in
my little finger than you have in your long body.  I began to tell you my
history.  I thought it might interest you.  I do not propose to burden
you with it any further.  To-night I ask you for 1000_l_., to-morrow I
shall ask you for 2000_l_., and the day after--'

'The Sibyl was scarcely so extortionate when she offered the Tarquin
literary wares that no subsequent research with which I am acquainted has
proved to be spurious.  And you, Mr. Carrel, offer me forgeries--merely
forgeries.'

Fear expressed itself in clumsy satire.  He was thoroughly alarmed.  He
began rapidly to review his own antecedents, and to scrape his memory for
discreditable incidents.  He could think of nothing he need feel ashamed
of, nothing the world might not thoroughly investigate.  There were mean
actions, but many generous ones to balance in the scale.

His knowledge of life was really slight, as his intimacy with Archaeology
(so he told himself) was profound.  One foolish incident, a midsummer
madness, before he went to Oxford, was all he had to blush for.  This, he
frequently confessed, not without certain pride, to his wife, the
daughter of a respectable man of letters from Massachusetts.  He firmly
and privately believed an omission in a catalogue a far greater sin than
a breach of the Decalogue.  But ethics are of little consequence where
conduct is above reproach.  When buying antiquities he would come across
odd people from time to time, but never any one who openly avowed himself
a blackmailer and a forger.  The novel experience was embarrassing and
unpleasant, but there was really little to fear.  In all the delight of a
clear conscience, since Carrel vouchsafed no reply to his sardonic
Sibylline allusion, he said:

'You have advanced no reason why I should hand you to-day or to-morrow
these modest sums you demand.'

'Then I will tell you,' said Carrel, standing up suddenly.  'I fabricated
the poems of Sappho,--yes, the manuscript from which _you_ are reaping so
much credit'--he took up the newspaper--'from the morning press.  When I
take to art criticism, as you kindly suggested a dishonest man might do,
it will be of a livelier description than any to which you are usually
accustomed.  Vain dupe, you think yourself impeccable.  Infallible ass,
there is hardly a museum in Europe where my manuscripts are not carefully
preserved for the greatest and rarest treasures by senile curators, too
ignorant to know their errors or too vain to acknowledge them.  I fancied
you clever; until now I do not know that I ever caught you out, though
you may have bought many of my wares for all I know.  I find you,
however, like the rest--dull, pedantic, and Pecksniffian.  At Cambridge
we were not taught pretty manners, but we knew enough not to give
fellowships to pretentious charlatans like yourself.'

The room swam round Professor Lachsyrma, and the mummy behind the door
grinned.  The plaster casts and the statues seemed to wave their
mutilated limbs with the joy of demoniacal possession.  Dead things were
startled into life.  Sick giddiness permeated his brain.  It was some
horrible nightmare.  Yet his soul's tempest was entirely subjective;
outwardly his demeanour suffered no change.  His tormentor noted with
astonishment and admiration his apparent self-control.  There was merely
a slight falter in his speech.

'What proofs have you?  A blackmailer must have some token--something on
which to base a ridiculous libel.'

'A few minutes ago I handed you a spurious papyrus, which you tell me you
recognise.  In the same lot of rubbish, purporting to come from the
Fayyum, were the alleged poems of Sappho.  You swallowed the bait which
has waited for you so long, and, if it is any consolation to you, I will
admit that in the opinion of the profession, to continue my piscatorial
simile, I have landed the largest salmon.'

'I am deeply sensible of the compliment, but I must point out to you, my
friend, that your coming to tell me that a papyrus I happen to have
purchased from one of your shady friends is counterfeit, does not
necessarily prove it to be so.'

The Professor realised that he must act cautiously, and consider his
position quietly.  Each word must be charged with suppressed meaning.  His
eyes wandered over the room, resting now and again on the majestic,
impassive smile of the mummy.  It seemed to restore his nerve.  He found
himself unconsciously looking towards it over Carrel's head each time he
spoke.  While the blackmailer, seated once more, gazed up to his face
with a defiant, insolent stare, swinging his chair backwards and
forwards, unconcerned at the length of the interview, apparently careless
of its issue.  The Professor brooded on the terrible chagrin, the wounded
vanity of discovering himself the victim of an obviously long-contrived
hoax.  At his asking for a proof, Carrel laughed.

'You are sceptical at last,' he sneered.  'I have the missing portions of
the papyrus here with me.  You can have them for a song.  I was afraid to
leave the roll too complete, lest I should invite detection.  It would be
a pity to let them go to some other museum.  Berlin is longing for a new
acquisition.'

Then he produced from his bag damning evidence of the truth of his
story--deftly confected sheets of papyrus, brown with the months it had
taken to fabricate them, and cracked with forger's inks and acids--ghastly
replicas of the former purchase.  Nervously the Professor replaced the
green cardboard shade over the lamp, as though the glare affected his
eyes.

'But how do you know I have not discovered the forgery already?' he said,
craftily.  Carrel started.  'And see what I am sending to the press this
evening,' he added.

Walking to the end of the table, he picked up a sheet of paper where
there was writing, and another object which Carrel could not see in the
gloom, so quickly and adroitly was the action accomplished.

'Shall I read it to you, or will you read it yourself?'

He advanced again towards the lamp, held the paper in the light, and
beckoned to Carrel, who leant over the table to see what was written.
Then Professor Lachsyrma plunged a long Greek knife into his back.  A
toreador could hardly have done it more skilfully; the bull was pinned
through the heart, and expired instantaneously.

* * * * *

Now he paced the room in deep thought.  For the first time he found
himself an actor in modern life, which hitherto for him meant digging
among excavations, or making romantic restoration for jaded connoisseurs,
of some faultless work of art described by Pausanias and hidden for
centuries beneath the rubbish of modern Greece.  The entire absence of
horror appalled him.  Even the dignity of tragedy was not there.  He was
wrestling with hideous melodrama, often described to him by patrons of
Thespian art at transpontine theatres.  The vulgarity--the
anachronism--made him shudder.  Having till now ignored the issue of the
present, he began to be sceptical about the virtues of antiquity.
Antiquity, his only religion, his god, whose mangled incompleteness
endeared it to him, was crumbling away.  He wondered if there were
friends with whom he might share his ugly secret.  There was young
Fairleigh, who was always so modern, and actually read modern books.  He
might have coped with the blackmailer alive, but hardly with his corpse.
You cannot run round and ask neighbours for coffins, false beards, and
rope in the delightful convention of the _Arabian Nights_, because you
have grazed modern life at a sharp angle, without exciting suspicion or
running the risk of positive refusal.  There was his wife, to whom he
confided everything; but she was a lady from Massachusetts, and her
father was European correspondent to many American papers of the highest
repute.  How could their pure ears be soiled with so sordid a confidence?
Poor Irene! she was to have an 'At Home' the following afternoon.  It
would have to be postponed.  Professor Lachsyrma fell to thinking of such
trivial matters, contemptible in their unimportance, as we do at the
terrible moments of our lives.  He wondered if they would wait dinner for
him.  He often remained at his club--the Serapeum--to finish a discussion
with some erudite antagonist.  His absence would therefore cause no
alarm.  He consulted the little American clock; it had stopped.  How like
America!  The only recorded instance, he would explain to Irene, of an
export from that country being required--the commodity proved inadequate.
No, that would make Irene cry. . . . The folly of hopeless, futile
thoughts jingled on.  Suddenly he heard the cry of a belated newsvendor,
howling some British victory, some horrible scandal in Paris.  Scandal,
exposure, publicity--_there_ was the horror.  He could almost hear the
journalists stropping their pens.  If his thoughts drifted towards any
potential expiation demanded by officialism, he put them aside.  A social
_debacle_ was more fearful and vivid than the dock and its inevitable
consequence. . . . Presently his eyes rested again on the mummy case.  A
brilliant inspiration!  Here, at all events, was a temporary hiding-place
for the corpse of the blackmailer.  If it was putting new wine into old
bottles, circumstances surely justified a violation of the proverb.  Till
now a severe unromantic Hellenist, he held Egyptology in some contempt;
and for Egypt, except in so far as it illustrated the art of Greece or
remained a treasure-house for Greek manuscripts, his distaste was only
surpassed by that of the Prophet Isaiah.  A bias so striking in the
immortal Herodotus is hardly shared by your modern encyclopaedist.  While
the science of Egyptology and its adepts command rather awe and wonder
than sympathy from the uninitiated, who keep their praises for the more
attractive study of Greek art.  Yet some of us still turn with relief
from the serene material masterpieces of Greece, soulless in their very
realism and truth of expression, to the vague and happily unexplained
monsters, the rigid gods and hieratic princes, who are given new names by
each succeeding generation.  A knowledge that behind painted masks and
gilded, tawdry gew-gaws are the remains of a once living person gives
even the mummy a human interest denied to the most exquisite handiwork of
Pheidias.

Professor Lachsyrma at present felt only the impossibility of a situation
that would have been difficult for many a weaker man to face.  Humiliation
overwhelms the strongest.  Modern agencies for the concealment of a body
having failed to suggest themselves, he must needs fall back on the
despised expedient of Egypt.  Palaeography and Greek art were obviously
useless in the present instance.  He understood at last why deplorable
people wanted to abolish Greek from the University curriculum.

The coffin was of varnished sycamore wood, ornamented on the outside with
gods in their shrines and inscriptions relating to the name and titles of
the deceased, painted in red and green.  The face was carved out of a
separate piece of wood, with the conventional beard attached to the chin;
the eyelids were of bronze; the eyes of obsidian; wooden hands were
crossed on the breast.  Inside the lid were pictures of apes in yellow on
a purple background, symbolising the Spirits of the East adoring the Gods
of the Morning and Evening.  The mummy itself was enclosed in a handsome
cartonnage case laced up the back.  The Professor lifted it gently out on
the table, and substituted Carrel's body.  He staunched as he best could
the blood which trickled on to the glaring pictures of the Judgment of
Osiris and the goddess Nut imparting the Waters of Life; then he turned
to examine the former occupant, whom two thousand years, even at such a
moment endowed with a greater interest than could attach to the corpse of
a defunct blackmailer.  It now occurred to him that he might profitably
utilise the mummy cerements along with the coffin for more effectually
concealing Carrel's body until he could arrange for its final disposal.
He hastened to carry his idea into effect.

The cartonnage case, composed of waste papyrus fragments glued together,
was painted with figures of deities.  The face was a gilded mask, on the
headdress were lotus flowers, and the collar was studded to imitate
precious stones.  Over the breast were representations of Horus, Apis,
and Thoth, and lower down the dead man was seen on his bier attended by
Anubis and the children of Horus, while the soul in the form of a hawk
hovered above.  The Professor observed that an earlier method had been
employed for the preservation and protection of the body than is usually
found among Ptolemaic mummies.

Beneath a network of blue porcelain bugles and a row of sepulchral gods
suspended by a wire to the neck was a dusky, red-hued sheet, sewn at the
head and feet and fastened with brown strips of linen.  Under this last
shroud were the bandages which swathed the actual corpse, inscribed with
passages from the Book of the Dead, the mysterious fantastic directions
for the life hereafter.  The symbolism requisite for the external
decoration of the mummy had been scrupulously executed by skilful
artists, and the conscientious method of wrapping again indicated the
pristine mode of embalmment practised when the craft was at its zenith,
long before the Greek conquest of Egypt.

A considerable time was occupied in unrolling the three or four hundred
yards of linen.  Meanwhile a strange fragrance of myrrh, cassia,
cinnamon, the sweet spices and aromatic unguents used in embalming,
filled the room.  Gradually the yellow skin preserved by the natron began
to appear through the cross-hatchings of the bandages.  Attached to a
thick gold wire round the neck and placed over the heart was a scarab of
green basalt, mounted in a gold setting; and on the henna-stained little
finger of the left hand was another of steatite.  As the right arm was
freed from its artificially tightened grasp a peculiar wooden cylinder
rolled on to the floor into the heap of scented mummy dust and bandages.

Languidly inquisitive, Professor Lachsyrma groped for it.  Such objects
are generally found beneath the head.  There was a seal at each end, both
of which he broke.  A roll of papyrus was inside.  He trembled, and with
forced deliberation made for the table, his knees tottering from
exhaustion.  Excitement at this unexpected discovery made him forget
Carrel.  The ghastly events of the evening were for the moment blotted
from his memory.  After all, he was a palaeographer--an archaeologist
first, a murderer afterwards.  Eagerly, painfully, he began to read,
adjusting his spectacles from time to time, the muscles of his face
twitching with anxiety and expectation.  For a long time the words were
strange to him.  Suddenly his glasses became dim.  There were tears in
his eyes; he was reading aloud, unconsciously to himself, the beautiful
verses familiar to all students of Greek poetry:--

   [Greek verse]

and to students of English, in the marvellous, rendering of them by the
late Mr. Rossetti:

   'Like the sweet apple which reddens upon the topmost bough,
   A-top on the topmost twig,--which the pluckers forgot, somehow,--
   Forgot it not, nay, but got it not, for none could get it till now.'

The papyrus was of great length, and contained the poems of Sappho in a
cursive literary handwriting of the third century--the real poems, lost
to the world for over eight hundred years.  It was morning now--a London
spring morning; dawn was creeping through the great north-east light of
the studio; birds were twittering outside.  The murderer sobbed
hysterically.

* * * * *

On referring to 'Euterpe,' the second book of the Histories of Herodotus,
Professor Lachsyrma selected the second method of embalming as less
troublesome and more expeditious.  The whole matter lasted little longer
than the seventy prescribed days.  At the end of which time he was able,
in accordance with his original intention, to deposit in a handsome glass
case at the British Museum the Mummy of Heliodorus, a Greek settler in
Egypt who held some official appointment at the Court of Ptolemy
Philadelphus.  It is described in the catalogue as one of the best
examples of its kind in Europe.  Indeed, it is probably unique.

Professor Lachsyrma often pauses before the case when visiting our gaunt
House of Art.  Even the policeman on duty has noticed this peculiarity,
and smiles respectfully.  The Professor has ceased to ridicule
Egyptology; and his confidence in the resources and sufficiency of
antiquity, so rudely shaken for one long evening, is completely
re-established.

_To_ S. S. SPRIGGE, ESQ., M.D.



THE BRAND OF ISIS.


   'Videant irreligiosi videant et errorem suum recognoscant.  En ecce
   pristinis aerumnis absolutus, Isidis magnae providentia gaudens Lucius
   de sua fortuna triumphat.'  APULEIUS.

   'Her image comes into the gloom
   With her pale features moulded fair,
   Her breathing beauty, morning bloom,
   My heart's delight, my tongue's despair.'  BINYON.

   'An Oxford scholar of family and fortune; but quaint and opinionated,
   despising every one who has not had the benefit of an University
   education.'  RICHARDSON.

   [Greek text].  HERODOTUS.

I once had the good fortune to take down to dinner a young American lady
of some personal attractions.  Her vivacity and shrewdness were racial;
her charm peculiar to herself.  Her conversation consisted in a rather
fierce denunciation of Englishmen, young Oxford Englishmen in particular.
Their thoughts, their dress, their speech, their airs of superiority
offended one brought up with that Batavian type of humanity, the American
youth, to whom we have nothing exactly corresponding in this country
except among drawing-room conjurors.  But I was startled at her keen
observation when I inquired with a smile how she knew I was not an Oxford
man myself.

'Had you been one, you would never have listened to what I have been
saying,' she retorted.  Rather nettled, I challenged her to pick out from
the other guests those on whom she detected the brand of Isis.  A pair of
gloves was the prize for each successful guess.  She won seven; in fact
all the stakes during the course of the evening.  Over one only she
hesitated, and when he mentioned that he had neither the curiosity nor
the energy to cross the Atlantic, she knew he came from Oxford.

Yes, there is something in that manner after all.  It irritates others
besides Americans.  Novelists try to describe it.  We all know the hero
who talks English with a Balliol accent--that great creature who is
sometimes bow and sometimes cox of his boat on alternate evenings; who
puts the weight at the University Sports and conducts the lady home from
a College wine without a stain on her character; is rusticated for a year
or so; returns to win the Newdigate and leaves without taking a degree.
Or that other delightful abstraction--he has a Balliol accent too--with
literary tastes and artistic rooms, where gambling takes place.  He is
invariably a coward, but dreadfully fascinating all the same; though he
scorns women he has an hypnotic influence over them; something in his
polished Oxford manner is irresistible.  Throughout a career of crime his
wonderful execution on the piano, his knowledge of Italian painting, and
his Oxford manner never seem to desert him.  We feel, not for the first
time, how dangerous it must be to allow our simple perky unspoiled
Colonials to associate with such deleterious exotic beings, who, though
in fiction horsewhipped or (if heroes) shot in the last chapter, in real
life are so apt to become prosperous city men or respected college
officials.

The Oxford manner is, alas, indefinable; I was going to say indefensible.
Perhaps it is an attitude--a mental attitude that finds physical
expression in the voice, the gesture, the behaviour.  Oxford, not
conduct, is three-fourths of life to those who acquire the distemper.
Without becoming personal it is not easy to discuss purely social
aspects, and we must seek chiefly in literature for manifestations of the
phenomenon: in the prose of Matthew Arnold for instance--in the poems of
Mr. Laurence Binyon, typical examples where every thought seems a mental
reservation.  Enemies rail at the voice, and the voice counts for
something.  Any one having the privilege of hearing Mr. Andrew Lang speak
in public will know at once what I mean--a pleasure, let me hasten to
say, only equalled by the enjoyment of his inimitable writing, so pre-
eminently Oxonian when the subject is not St. Andrews, Folk Lore, or
cricket.  Though Oxford men have their Cambridge moments, and beneath
their haughty exterior there sometimes beats a Cambridge heart.  Behind
such reserve you would never suspect any passions at all save one of
pride.  Even frankly irreligious Oxford men acquire an ecclesiastical pre-
Reformation aloofness which must have piqued Thackeray quite as much as
the refusal of the city to send him to Westminster.  He complains
somewhere that the undergraduates wear kid gloves and drink less wine
than their jolly brethren of the Cam.  He was thoroughly Cambridge in his
attitude towards life, as you may see when he writes of his favourite
eighteenth century in his own fascinating style.  How angry he becomes
with the vices and corruption of a dead past!  Now no Oxford essayist
would dream of being angry with the past.  How annoyed the sentimental
author of _The Four Georges_ would be with Mr. Street's genial treatment
of the same epoch!  It would, however, be the annoyance of a father for
his eldest son, whom he sent to Oxford perhaps to show that an old slight
was forgiven and forgotten.

There have been, of course, plenty of men unravaged by the blithe
contagion.  Mr. Gladstone intellectually always seemed to me a Cambridge
man in his energy, his enthusiasm, his political outlook.  Only in his
High Church proclivities is he suspect.  The poet Shelley was an obvious
Cantab.  He was, we are told, a man of high moral character.  Well,
principles and human weakness are common to all Universities, and others
besides Shelley have deserted their wives: but to desert your wife on
principle seems to me callous, calculating, and Cambridge-like.

A painful but interesting case came under my personal observation, and it
illustrates the other side of the question.  A clever young graduate of
my acquaintance, after four years of distinguished scholarship at Oxford,
came up to the metropolis and entered the dangerous lists of literature.
It is not indiscreet if I say that he belonged to what was quite a
brilliant little period--the days of Mr. Eric Parker, Mr. Max Beerbohm,
and Mr. Reginald Turner.  So there was nothing surprising in his literary
tastes, though I believe he was unknown to those masters of prose.  He
was tall, good-looking, and prepossessing, but his Oxford manner was
unusually pronounced.  He never expressed disgust--no Oxford man
does--only pained surprise at what displeased him; he never censured the
morals or manners of people as a Cambridge man might have done.  Out of
the University pulpit no Oxford man would dream of scolding people for
their morals.  After a year of failure he fell into a decline.  His
parents became alarmed.  They hinted that his ill success was due to his
damned condescension (the father was of course a Cambridge man).  I too
suggested in a mild way that a more ingratiating manner might produce
better luck with editors.  At last his health broke down, and a wise
family physician was called in.  After studying the case for some months,
Aesculapius (he was M.B. of Cambridge) divined that ill success rather
than ill health was the provocative; and he related to the patient (this
is becoming like an Arabian Night) the following story:

'A certain self-made man, confiding to a friend plans for his son's
education, remarked: "Of course I shall send him to Eton."  "Why Eton?"
said the friend.  "Because he is to be a barrister, and if he did not go
to Eton no one would speak to him if they knew his poor old father was a
self-made man.  Then he will go to Cambridge."  "Why not Oxford?" said
the friend, who was a self-made Oxford tradesman.  "Because then he would
never speak to me," replied the first self-made man.'

My friend from that moment recovered.  He became more tolerant; he became
successful.  He became a distinguished dramatist.  He justified his early
promise.

There is in this little story perhaps a charge of snobbishness from which
Oxford men are really entirely free.  They are too conscious of their own
superiority to be tuft-hunters, and I believe miss some of the prizes of
life by their indifference towards those who have already 'arrived.'  Yet
they appear snobbish to others who have not had the benefit of a
University education, and in this little essay I endeavour to hold up the
mirror to their ill-nature--the fault to which I am unduly attached.
Writers besides Richardson have referred to it.  I might quote many
eloquent tributes from Dryden to Wordsworth and Byron, all Cambridge men,
who have felt the charm and acknowledged a weakness for the step-sister
University.  Cambridge has never been fortunate in having the compliment
reciprocated.  Neither Oxford men nor her own sons have been
over-generous in her praises: you remember Ruskin on King's Chapel.  And
I, the obscurest of her children, who cast this laurel on the Isis, will
content myself with admitting that I sincerely believe you can obtain a
cheaper and better education at Cambridge, though it has always been my
ambition to be mistaken for an Oxford man.

I often wonder whether Mr. Cecil Rhodes, while he had the English
Government in one pocket, the English Press in the other, and South
Africa in the hollow of his hand, felt a certain impotency before Oxford.
He had to acknowledge its influence over himself--an influence stronger
than Dr. Jameson or the Afrikander Bond.  He was never quite sure whether
he admired more the loneliness of the Matoppos or the rather over-crowded
diamond mines of Kimberley.  On the grey veld he used to read _Marius the
Epicurean_, and sought in Mr. Pater the key to the mystery he was unable
to solve.  He turned to the Thirty-nine Articles (more tampered with at
Oxford than in any other cathedral city) with the same want of success.
That always seems to me a real touch of Oxford in what some one well
said, was an 'ugly life.'  What a wonderful subject for the brush of a
Royal Academician! no ordinary artist could ever do it justice: the great
South African statesman on the lonely rocks where he had chosen his tomb;
a book has fallen from his hand (Mr. Pater's no doubt); his eyes are
gazing from canvas into the future he has peopled with his dreams.  By
some clever device of art or nature the clouds in the sky have shaped
themselves into Magdalen Tower--into harmony with his thoughts, and the
setting sun makes a mandorla behind him.  He is thinking of Oxford, and
round his head _Oriel_ clings as in 'The Blessed Damozel.'

He could terrorise the Colonial Secretary, he could foment a war and add
a new empire to England; he could not overcome his love of Oxford, the
antithesis of all sordid financial intrigue and political marauding.
Athens was after all a dearer name than Groot-Schuurr.  He set fire to
both.

I speculate sometimes whether the University was aware of his
testamentary dispositions before it conferred on him an honorary degree.
I hope not.  He deserved it as the greatest son of Oxford, the greatest
Englishman of his time.  Imre Kiralfy, who has done for a whole district
of London what Mr. Rhodes tried to do for the empire, is but an
_impresario_ beside him.  A French critic says we cannot admire greatness
in England; and this was shown by the timid way a large number of
Imperialists, while professing to believe the war a righteous one,
thought they would seem independent if they disclaimed approval of Mr.
Rhodes, by not having the pluck to admit the same motives though ready
enough to share the plunder.  You may compare the ungrateful
half-unfriendly obituaries in the press with the leaders a few days
later, after the will was opened.

But what immediately concerns us here is the intention of Mr. Rhodes.  Was
it entirely benevolence, or some wish to test the strength of Oxford--to
bring undergraduates into contact with something coarser, some terrific
impermeable force that would be manner-proof against Oxford?  Would he
conquer from the grave?  Several Americans have been known to go through
the University retaining the Massachusetts _patina_.  What if a number of
these savages were grafted on Oxford?  How would they alter the tone?  We
shall see.  It will be an interesting struggle.  Shall we hear of six-
shooters in the High?--of hominy and flannel cake for breakfast?--will
undergrads look 'spry?'--will they 'voice' public opinion? . . . I
forbear: my American vocabulary is limited.  _Outre_ _mer, outres moeurs_,
as Mr. Walkley might say in some guarded allusion to Paul Bourget. . . .
I shall be sorry to see poker take the place of roulette, and the Christ
Church meadows turned into a ranch for priggish cowboys, or Addison's
Walk re-named the Cake Walk.  But no, I believe Mr. Rhodes, if there was
just a touch of malice in his testament, realised that Oxford manners
were stronger than the American want of them.  Oxford may be wounded, but
I have complete confidence in the issue.  These Boeotian invaders must
succumb, as nobler stock before them.  They will form an interesting
subject for some exquisite study by Mr. Henry James, who will deal with
their gradual civilisation.  Preserved in the amber of his art they will
become immortal.

I have been able to clip only the fringe of a great theme.  Athletes
require an essay to themselves.  In later age they seem to me more
melancholy than their Cambridge peers and less successful.  These
splendid creatures are really works of art, and form our only substitute
for sculpture in the absence of any native plastic talent.  From the
collector's point of view they belong to the best period, while the
graceful convention of isocephaly, which has raised the standard of
height, renders them inapt for the 'battles' of life, however well
equipped for those of their College where the cuisine is at all
tolerable.

I am not enough of an antiquary to conjecture if there was ever a temple
to Isis during the Roman occupation of Britain on the site of the now
illustrious University.  But I like to imagine that there existed a
cultus of the venerable goddess in the green fields where the purple
fritillaries, so reminiscent of the lotus, blossom in the early spring.
In the curious formal pattern of their petals I see a symbol of the
Oxford manner--something archaic, rigid, severe.  The Oxford Don may well
be a reversion to some earlier type, learned, mystic, and romantic as
those priests of whom Herodotus has given us so vivid a picture.  The
worship of Apis, as Mr. Frazer or Mr. Lang would tell us, becomes then
merely the hieroglyph for a social standard, a manner of life.  This, I
think, will explain the name Oxford on the Isis--the Ford of Apis, the ox-
god at this one place able to pass over the benign deity.  You remember,
too, the horrid blasphemy of Cambyses (his very name suggests Cambridge),
and the vengeance of the gods.  So be it to any sacrilegious reformer who
would transmute either the Oxford Don or the Oxford undergraduate--the
most august of human counsellors, the most delightful of friends.

(1902.)



HOW WE LOST THE BOOK OF JASHER.


Everyone who knows anything about art, archaeology, or science has heard
of the famous FitzTaylor Museum at Oxbridge.  And even outsiders who care
for none of these things have heard of the quarrels and internal
dissensions that have disturbed that usual calm which ought to reign
within the walls of a museum.  The illustrious founder, to whose
munificence we owe this justly famous institution, provided in his will
for the support of four curators, who govern the two separate departments
of science and art.  The University has been in the habit of making
grants of money from time to time to these separate departments for the
acquisition of scientific or archaeological curiosities and MSS.  I
suppose there was something wrong in the system, but whatever it may be,
it led to notorious jealousies and disputes.  At the time of which I
write, the principal curators of the art section were Professor
Girdelstone and Mr. Monteagle, of Prince's College.  I looked after the
scientific welfare of the museum with Lowestoft as my understudy--he was
practically a nonentity and an authority on lepidoptera.  Now, whenever a
grant was made to the left wing of the building, as I call it, I always
used to say that science was being sacrificed to archaeology.  I mocked
at the illuminated MSS. over which Girdelstone grew enthusiastic, and the
musty theological folios purchased by Monteagle.  They heaped abuse upon
me, of course, when my turn came, and cracked many a quip on my splendid
skeleton of the ichthyosaurus, the only known specimen from Greenland.  At
one time the strife broke into print, and the London press animadverted
on our conduct.  It became a positive scandal.  We were advised, I
remember, to wash our dirty linen at home, and though I have often
wondered why the press should act as a voluntary laundress on such
occasions, I suppose the remark is a just one.

There came a day when we took the advice of the press, and from then
until now science and art have gone hand in hand at the University of
Oxbridge.  How the breach was healed forms the subject of the present
leaf from my memoirs.

America, it has been wisely said, is the great land of fraud.  It is the
Egypt of the modern world.  From America came the spiritualists, from
America bogus goods, and cheap ideas and pirated editions, and from
America I have every reason to believe came Dr. Groschen.  But if his
ancestors came from Rhine or Jordan, that he received his education on
the other side of the Atlantic I have no doubt.  Why he came to Oxbridge
I cannot say.  He appeared quite suddenly, like a comet.  He brought
introductions from various parts of the world--from the British Embassy
at Constantinople, from the British and German Schools of Archaeology at
Athens, from certain French Egyptologists at Alexandria, and a holograph
letter from Archbishop Sarpedon, Patriarch of Hermaphroditopolis, Curator
of the MSS. in the Monastery of St. Basil, at Mount Olympus.  It was this
last that endeared him, I believe, to the High Church party in Oxbridge.
Dr. Groschen was already the talk of the University, the lion of the
hour, before I met him.  There was rumour of an honorary degree before I
saw him in the flesh, at the high table of my college, a guest of the
Provost.  If Dr. Groschen did not inspire me with any confidence, I
cannot say that he excited any feeling of distrust.  He was a small,
black, commonplace-looking little man, very neat in his attire, without
the alchemical look of most archaeologists.  Had I known then, as I know
now, that he presented his first credentials to Professor Girdelstone, I
might have suspected him.  Of course, I took it for granted they were
friends.  When the University was ringing with praises of the generosity
of Dr. Groschen in transferring his splendid collections of Greek
inscriptions to the FitzTaylor Museum, I rejoiced; the next grant would
be devoted to science, in consideration of the recently enriched
galleries of the art and archaeological section.  I only pitied the
fatuity of the authorities for being grateful.  Dr. Groschen now wound
himself into everybody's good wishes, and the University degree was
already conferred.  He was offered a fine set of rooms in a college
famous for culture.  He became a well-known figure on the Q.P.  But he
was not always with us; he went to Greece or the East sometimes, for the
purpose, it was said, of adding to the Groschen collection, now the glory
of the FitzTaylor.

It was after a rather prolonged period of absence that he wrote to
Girdelstone privately, announcing a great discovery.  On his return he
was bringing home, he said, some MSS. recently unearthed by himself in
the monastic library of St. Basil, and bought for an enormous sum from
Sarpedon, the Patriarch of Hermaphroditopolis.  He was willing to sell
them to 'some public institution' for very little over the original
price.  Girdelstone told several of us in confidence.  It was public news
next day.  Scholars grew excited.  There were hints at the recovery of a
lost MS., which was to 'add to our knowledge of the antique world and
materially alter accepted views of the early state of Roman and Greek
society.'  On hearing the news I smiled.  'Some institution,' that was
suspicious--MSS.--they meant forgery.  The new treasure was described as
a palimpsest, consisting of fifty or sixty leaves of papyrus.  On one
side was a portion of the _Lost Book of Jasher_, of a date not later than
the fourth century; on the other, in cursive characters, the too
notorious work of Aulus Gellius--_De moribus Romanorum_, concealed under
the life of a saint.

But why should I go over old history?  Every one remembers the excitement
that the discovery caused--the leaders in the _Times_ and the
_Telegraph_, the doubts of the sceptical, the enthusiasm of the
archaeologists, the jealousy of the Berlin authorities, the offers from
all the libraries of Europe, the aspersions of the British Museum.  'Why,'
asked indignant critics, 'did Dr. Groschen offer his MS. to the
authorities at Oxbridge?'  'Because Oxbridge had been the first to
recognise his genius,' was the crushing reply.  And Professor Girdelstone
said that should the FitzTaylor fail to acquire the MS. by any false
economy on the part of the University authorities, the prestige of the
museum would be gone.  But this is all old history.  I only remind the
reader of what he knows already.  I began to bring all my powers, and the
force of the scientific world in Oxbridge, to bear in opposition to the
purchase of the MS.  I pulled every wire I knew, and execration was
heaped on me as a vandal, though I only said the University money should
be devoted to other channels than the purchase of doubtful MSS.  I was
doing all this, when I was startled by the intelligence that Dr. Groschen
had suddenly come to the conclusion that his find was after all only a
forgery.

The Book of Jasher was a Byzantine fake, and he ascribed the date at the
very earliest to the reign of Alexis Comnenus.  Theologians became fierce
on the subject.  They had seen the MS.; they knew it was genuine.  And
when Dr. Groschen began to have doubts on Aulus Gellius, suggesting it
was a sixteenth-century fabrication, the classical world 'morally and
physically rose and denounced' him.  Dr. Groschen, who had something of
the early Christian in his character, bore this shower of opprobrium like
a martyr.  'I may be mistaken,' he said, 'but I believe I have been
deceived.  I have been taken in before, and I would not like the MS.
offered to any library before two of the very highest experts could
decide as to its authenticity.'  People had long learnt to regard Dr.
Groschen himself as quite the highest expert in the world.  They thought
he was out of his senses, though the press commended him for his honesty,
and one daily journal, loudest in declaring its authenticity, said it was
glad Dr. Groschen had detected the forgery long recognised by their
special correspondent.  Dr. Groschen was furthermore asked to what
experts he would submit his MS., and by whose decision he would abide.
After some delay and correspondence, he could think of only two--Professor
Girdelstone and Monteagle.  They possessed great opportunities, he said,
of judging on such matters.  Their erudition was of a steadier and more
solid nature than his own.  Then the world and Oxbridge joined again in a
chorus of praise.  What could be more honest, more straightforward, than
submitting the MS. to a final examination at the hands of the two
curators of the FitzTaylor, who were to have the first refusal of the MS.
if it was considered authentic?  No museum was ever given such an
opportunity.  Professor Girdelstone and his colleague soon came to a
conclusion.  They decided that there could be no doubt as to the
authenticity of the Aulus Gellius.  In portions it was true that between
the lines other characters were partly legible; but this threw no slur on
the MS. itself.  Of the commentary on the book of Jasher, it will be
remembered, they gave no decisive opinion, and it is still an open
question.  They expressed their belief that the Aulus Gellius was alone
worth the price asked by Dr. Groschen.  It only remained now for the
University to advance a sum to the FitzTaylor for the purchase of this
treasure.  The curators, rather prematurely perhaps, wrote privately to
Dr. Groschen making him an offer for his MS., and paid him half the
amount out of their own pockets, so as to close the bargain once and for
all.

The delay of the University in making the grant caused a good deal of
apprehension in the hearts of Professor Girdelstone and Monteagle.  They
feared that the enormous sums offered by the Berlin Museum would tempt
even the simple-minded Dr. Groschen, though the interests of the
FitzTaylor were so near his heart.  These suspicions proved unfounded as
they were ungenerous.  The _savant_ was contented with his degree and
college rooms, and showed no hurry for the remainder of the sum to be
paid.

One night, when I was seated in my rooms beside the fire, preparing
lectures on the ichthyosaurus, I was startled by a knock at my door.  It
was a hurried, jerky rap.  I shouted, 'Come in.'  The door burst open,
and on the threshold I saw Monteagle, with a white face, on which the
beads of perspiration glittered.  At first I thought it was the rain
which had drenched his cap and gown, but in a moment I saw that the
perspiration was the result of terror or anxiety (cf. my lectures on
Mental Equilibrium).  Monteagle and I in our undergraduate days had been
friends; but like many University friendships, ours proved evanescent;
our paths had lain in different directions.

He had chosen archaeology.  We failed to convert one another to each
other's views.  When he became a member of 'The Disciples,' a mystic
Oxbridge society, the fissure between us widened to a gulf.  We nodded
when we met, but that was all.  With Girdelstone I was not on speaking
terms.  So when I found Monteagle on my threshold I confess I was
startled.

'May I come in?' he asked.

'Certainly, certainly,' I said cordially.  'But what is the matter?'

'Good God!  Newall,' he cried, 'that MS. after all is a forgery.'

This expression I thought unbecoming in a 'Disciple,' but I only smiled
and said, 'Really, you think so?'  Monteagle then made reference to our
old friendship, our unfortunate dissensions.  He asked for my help, and
then really excited my pity.  Some member of the High Church party in
Oxbridge had apparently been to Greece to attend a Conference on the
Union of the Greek and Anglican Churches.  While there he met Sarpedon,
Patriarch of Hermaphroditopolis, and in course of conversation told him
of the renowned Dr. Groschen.  Sarpedon became distant at mention of the
Doctor's name.  He denied all knowledge of the famous letter of
introduction, and said the only thing he knew of the Professor was, that
he was usually supposed to have been the thief who had made off with a
large chest of parchments from the monastery of St. Basil.

The Greek Patriarch refused to give any further information.  The English
clergyman reported the incident privately to Girdelstone.

Dr. Groschen's other letters were examined, and found to be fabrications.
The Book of Jasher and Aulus Gellius were submitted to a like scrutiny.
Girdelstone and Monteagle came reluctantly to the conclusion that they
were also vulgar and palpable forgeries.  At the end of his story
Monteagle almost burst into tears.  I endeavoured to cheer him, although
I was shrieking with laughter at the whole story.

Of course it was dreadful for him.  If he exposed Dr. Groschen, his own
reputation as an expert would be gone, and the Doctor was already paid
half the purchase money.  Monteagle was so agitated that it was with
difficulty I could get his story out of him, and to this day I have never
quite learned the truth.  Controlling my laughter, I sent a note round to
Professor Girdelstone, asking him to come to my rooms.  In about ten
minutes he appeared, looking as draggled and sheepish as poor Monteagle.
In his bosom he carried the fateful MS., which I now saw for the first
time.  If it was a forgery (and I have never been convinced) it was
certainly a masterpiece.  From what Girdelstone said to me, then and
since, I think that the Aulus Gellius portion was genuine enough, and the
Book of Jasher possibly the invention of Groschen; however, it will never
be discovered if one or neither was genuine.  Monteagle thought the ink
used was a compound of tea and charcoal, but both he and Girdelstone were
too suspicious to believe even each other by this time.

I tried to console them, and promised all help in my power.  They were
rather startled and alarmed when I laid out my plan of campaign.  In the
first place, I was to withdraw all opposition to the purchase of the MS.
Girdelstone and Monteagle, meanwhile, were to set about having the Aulus
Gellius printed and facsimiled; for I thought it was a pity such a work
should be lost to the world.  The facsimile was only to be _announced_;
and publication by the University Press to be put in hand at once.  The
text of Aulus Gellius can still be obtained, and a translation of those
portions which can be rendered into English forms a volume of Mr. Bohn's
excellent classical library, which will satisfy the curious, who are
unacquainted with Latin.  Professor Girdelstone was to write a preface in
very guarded terms.  This will be familiar to all classical scholars.

It was with great difficulty that I could persuade Girdelstone and
Monteagle of the sincerity of my actions; but the poor fellows were ready
to catch at any straw for hope from exposure, and they listened to every
word I said.  As the whole University knew I was not on speaking terms
with Girdelstone, I told him to adopt a Nicodemus-like attitude, and to
come to me in the night-time, when we could hold consultation.  To the
outer world, during these anxious evenings, when I would see no one, I
was supposed to be preparing my great syllabus of lectures on the
ichthyosaurus.  I communicated to my fellow-curators my plans bit by bit
only, for I thought it would be better for their nerves.  I made
Monteagle send round a notice to the press:--'That the MS. about to
become the property of the University Museum was being facsimiled prior
to publication, and at the earliest possible date would be on view in the
Galleries where Dr. Groschen's collections are now exhibited.'  This was
to quiet the complaints already being made by scholars and commentators
about the difficulty of obtaining access to the MS.  The importunities of
several religious societies to examine the Book of Jasher became
intolerable.  The Dean of Rothbury, an old friend of Girdelstone's, came
from the north on purpose to collate the new-found work.  With permission
he intended, he said, to write a small brochure for the S.P.C.K. on the
Book of Jasher, though I believe that he also felt some curiosity in
regard to Aulus Gellius.  I may be wronging him.  The subterfuges, lies,
and devices to which we resorted were not very creditable to ourselves.
Girdelstone gave him a dinner, and Monteagle and I persuaded the Senate
to confer on him an honorary degree.  We amused him with advance sheets
of the commentary.  He was quite a month at Oxbridge, but at last was
recalled on business to the north by some lucky domestic family
bereavement.  Our next difficulty was the news that Sarpedon, Patriarch
of Hermaphroditopolis, was about to visit England to attend an Anglican
Synod.  I thought Girdelstone would go off his head.  Monteagle's hair
became grey in a few weeks.  Sarpedon was sure to be invited to Oxbridge.
He would meet Dr. Groschen and then expose him.  Our fears, I soon found
out, were shared by the _savant_, who left suddenly on one of those
mysterious visits to the East.  I saw that our action must be prompt; or
Girdelstone and Monteagle would be lost.  They were horrified when I told
them I proposed placing the MS. on public view in the museum immediately.
A large plate-glass case was made by my orders, in which Girdelstone and
Monteagle, who obeyed me like lambs, deposited their precious burden.  It
was placed in the Groschen Hall of the FitzTaylor.  The crush that
afternoon was terrible.  All the University came to peer at the new
acquisition.  I must tell you that Dr. Groschen's antiquities occupied a
temporary and fire-proof erection built of wood and tin, at the back of
the museum, with which it was connected by a long stone gallery, adorned
with plaster casts.

I mingled with the crowd, and heard the remarks; though I advised
Girdelstone and Monteagle to keep out of the way, as it would only upset
them.  Various dons came up and chaffed me about the opposition I made to
the MS. being purchased.  A little man of dark, sallow complexion asked
me if I was Professor Girdelstone.  He wanted to obtain leave to examine
the MS.  I gave him my card, and asked him to call on me, when I would
arrange a suitable day.  He told me he was a Lutheran pastor from
Pomerania.

I was the last to leave the museum that afternoon.  I often remained in
the library long after five, the usual closing hour.  So I dismissed the
attendants who locked up everything with the exception of a small door in
the stone gallery always used on such occasions.  I waited till six, and
as I went out opened near this door a sash window, having removed the
iron shutters.  After dinner I went round to Monteagle's rooms.  He and
Girdelstone were sitting in a despondent way on each side of the fire,
sipping weak coffee and nibbling Albert biscuits.  They were startled at
my entrance.

'What _have_ you decided?' asked Girdelstone, hoarsely.

'All is arranged.  Monteagle and I set fire to the museum to-night,' I
said, quietly.

Girdelstone buried his face in his hands and began to sob.

'Anything but that--anything but that!' he cried.  And Monteagle turned a
little pale.  At first they protested, but I overcame their scruples by
saying they might get out of the mess how they liked.  I advised
Girdelstone to go to bed and plead illness for the next few days, for he
really wanted rest.  At eleven o'clock that night, Monteagle and myself
crossed the meadows at the back of our college, and by a circuitous route
reached the grounds surrounding the museum, which were planted with
rhododendrons and other shrubs.  The pouring rain was, unfortunately, not
favourable for our enterprise.  I brought however a small box of
combustibles from the University Laboratories, and a dark lantern.  When
we climbed over the low wall not far from the stone gallery, I saw, to my
horror, a light emerging from the Groschen Hall.  Monteagle, who is
fearfully superstitious, began chattering his teeth.  When we reached the
small door I saw it was open.  A thief had evidently forestalled us.
Monteagle suggested going back, and leaving the thief to make off with
the MS.; but I would not hear of such a proposal.

The door opening to the Groschen Hall at the end of the gallery was open,
and beyond, a man, whom I at once recognised as the little Lutheran, was
busily engaged in picking the lock of the case where were deposited the
Book of Jasher and Aulus Gellius.  Telling Monteagle to guard the door, I
approached very softly, keeping behind the plaster casts.  I was within a
yard of him before he heard my boots creak.  Then he turned round, and I
found myself face to face with Dr. Groschen.  I have never seen such a
look of terror on any one's face.

'You scoundrel!' I cried, collecting myself, 'drop those things at once!'
and I made for him with my fist.  He dodged me.  I ran after him; but he
threaded his way like a rat through the statues and cases of antiquities,
and bolted down the passage out of the door, where he upset Monteagle and
the lantern, and disappeared in the darkness and rain.  I then returned
to the scene of his labours.  Monteagle was too frightened, owing to the
rather ghostly appearance of the museum by the light of a feeble
oil-lamp.  In a small cupboard there was some dry sacking I had deposited
there for the purpose some days before.  This I ignited, along with
certain native curiosities of straw and skin, wicker-work, and other
ethnographical treasures.

Some new unpacked cases left by the attendants the previous afternoon
materially assisted the conflagration.

It was an impressive scene, to witness the flames playing round the
pedestals of the torsos, statues, and cases.  I only waited for a few
moments to make sure that my work was complete.  I shut the iron door
between the gallery and the hall to avoid the possibility of the fire
spreading to the rest of the building.  Then I seized Monteagle by the
arm and hurried him through the rhododendrons, over the wall, into the
meadows.  I turned back once, and just caught a glimpse of red flame
bursting through the windows.  Having seen Monteagle half-way back to the
college, I returned to see if any alarm was given.  Already a small crowd
was collecting.  A fire-engine arrived, and a local pump was almost set
going.  I returned to college, where I found the porter standing in the
gateway.

'The FitzTaylor is burning,' he said.  'I have been looking out for you,
sir.'

* * * * *

There is nothing more to tell.  To this day no one suspects that the fire
was the work of an incendiary.  The Professor has returned from the East,
but lives in great retirement.  His friends say he has never quite
recovered the shock occasioned by the loss of his collection.  The rest
of the museum was uninjured.

The death of Sarpedon, Patriarch of Hermaphroditopolis, at Naples, was a
sudden and melancholy catastrophe, which people think affected Dr.
Groschen more than the fire.  Strangely enough, he had just been dining
with the Doctor the evening before.  They met at Naples purposely to bury
the hatchet.  Sometimes I ask myself if I did right in setting fire to
the museum.  You see, it was for the sake of others, not myself, and
Monteagle was an old friend.



THE HOOTAWA VANDYCK.


'My own experience,' said an expert to a group of mostly middle-aged men,
who spent their whole life in investigating spiritual phenomena, 'is a
peculiar one.

'It was in the early autumn of 1900.  I was at Rome, where I went to
investigate the relative artistic affinity between Pietro Cavallini and
Giotto (whose position, I think, will have to be adjusted).  There were
as yet only a few visitors at the Hotel Russie, chiefly maiden ladies and
casual tourists, besides a certain Scotch family and myself.  Colonel
Brodie, formerly of the 69th Highlanders, was a retired officer of that
rather peppery type which always seems to belong to the stage rather than
real life, though you meet so many examples on the Continent.  He
possessed an extraordinary topographical knowledge of modern Rome, the
tramway system, and the hours at which churches and galleries were open.
He would waylay you in the entrance-hall and inquire severely if you had
been to the Catacombs.  In the case of an affirmative answer he would
describe an unvisited tomb or ruin, far better worth seeing; in that of a
negative, he would smile, tell you the shortest and cheapest route, and
the amount which should be tendered to the Trappist Father.  Later on in
the evening, over coffee, if he was pleased with you, he would mention in
a very impressive manner, "I am, as you probably know, Colonel Brodie, of
Hootawa."  His wife, beside whom I sat at table d'hote, retained traces
of former beauty.  She was thin, and still tight-laced; was somewhat acid
in manner; censorious concerning the other visitors; singularly devoted
to her tedious husband, and fretfully attached to the beautiful daughter,
for whose pleasure and education they were visiting Rome.  I gathered
that they were fairly well-to-do.

It was Mrs. Brodie who first broke the ice by asking if I was interested
in pictures.  Miss Brodie, who sat between her parents, turned very red,
and said, "Oh, mamma, you are talking to one of the greatest experts in
Europe!"  I was surprised and somewhat gratified by her knowledge
(indeed, it chilled me some days later when she confessed to having
learnt the information only that day by overhearing an argument between
myself and a friend at the Colonna Gallery on Stefano de Zevio, and the
indebtedness of Northern Italian art to Teutonic influences).

Mrs. Brodie took the intelligence quite calmly, and merely inspected me
through her lorgnettes as if I were an object in a museum.

"Ah, you must talk to Flora about pictures.  I have no doubt that she
will tell you a good deal that even _you_ do not know.  We have some very
interesting pictures up in Scotland.  My husband is Colonel Brodie of
Hootawa (no relation to the Brodie of Brodie).  His grandfather was a
great collector, and originally we possessed seven Raphaels."

"Indeed," I replied, eagerly, "might I ask the names of the pictures?  I
should know them at once."

"I have never seen them," said Mrs. Brodie; "they were not left to my
husband, who quarrelled with his father.  Fortunately none of us cared
for Raphaels; but the most valuable pictures, including a Vandyck, were
entailed.  Flora is particularly attached to Vandyck.  He is always so
romantic, I think."

Flora, embarrassed by her mother's eulogy of family heirlooms, leaned
across, as if to address me, and said, "Oh, mamma, I don't think they
really were Raphaels; they were probably only by pupils--Giulio Romano,
Perino del Vaga, or Luca Penni."

"As you never saw them, my dear," said Mrs. Brodie, severely, "I don't
think you can possibly tell.  Your grandfather" (she glared at me) "was
considered _the_ greatest expert in Europe, and described them in his
will as Raphaels.  It would be impious to suggest that they are by any
one else.  There were _two_ Holy Families.  One of them was given to your
grandfather by the King of Holland in recognition of his services; and a
third was purchased direct from the Queen of Naples.  But your father is
getting impatient for his cigar."

They rose, and bowed sweetly.  I joined them in the glass winter-garden a
few minutes later.

"Have you been to the Pincio?  But I forgot, of course you know Rome.  I
do love the Pincio," sighed Mrs. Brodie over some needlework, and then,
as an afterthought, "Do you know the two things that have impressed me
most since I came here?"

"I could not dare to guess any more than I dare tell you what has
impressed me most," I replied, gazing softly at Flora.

"The two things which have really and truly impressed me most," continued
Mrs. Brodie, "more than anything else, more than the Pantheon, or the
Forum, are--St. Peter's and the Colosseum."  She almost looked young
again.

The next day we visited the Borghese; and I was able to explain to Flora
why the circular "Madonna and Angels" was not by Botticelli.  And,
indeed, there was hardly a picture in Rome I was unable to reattribute to
its rightful owner.  In the apt Flora I found a receptive pupil.  She
even grew suspicious about the great Velasquez at the Doria, in which she
fancied, with all the enthusiasm of youth, that she detected the handling
of Mazo.  I soon found that it was better for her training to discourage
her from looking at pictures at all--we confined ourselves to
photographs.  In a photograph you are not disturbed by colour, or by
impasto.  You are able to study the morphic values in a picture, by which
means you arrive at the attribution without any disturbing aesthetic
considerations.

One afternoon, returning from some church ceremony, Flora said to me,
"Oh, Aleister" (we were already engaged secretly), "papa is going to ask
you next winter to stay at Hootawa.  Before I forget, I want to warn you
never to criticise the pictures.  They are mostly of the Dutch and
English School, and I dare say you will find a great many of the names
wrong; but, you know, papa is irritable, and it would offend him if you
said that the 'Terborch' was really by Pieter de Hooghe.  You can easily
avoid saying anything--and then, you will really admire the Vandyck."

"Darling Flora, of course I promise.  By the way, you never speak of your
family ghost, although Mrs. Brodie always refers to it as if I knew all
about it; and the Colonel has often told me of Sir Rupert's military
achievements."

"Oh, Aleister, I don't know whether you believe in ghosts: it _is_ very
extraordinary.  Whenever any disaster, or any good fortune happens to our
family, Sir Rupert Brodie's figure, just as he appears in the Vandyck, is
seen walking in the Long Gallery; and every night he appears at twelve
o'clock in the green spare bedroom; but only guests and servants ever see
him there.  We have a saying at Hootawa, that servants will not stay
unless they are able to see Sir Rupert the first month after their
arrival.  Only members of the family are able to see him in the Long
Gallery, and, of course, we never know whether he betokens good or ill
luck.  The last time he appeared there, papa was so nervous that he sold
out of Consols, which went down an eighth the day after.  We were all
very much relieved.  But he invested the money in some concern called
"The Imperial Federation Stylograph Pen Company," and lost most of it; so
it was not of much use."

"Tell me, darling, of your father's other investments," I asked
anxiously.

"Oh, you must ask papa about them, I don't understand business; but I
want to tell you about Sir Rupert.  The Society for Psychical Research
sent down a Committee to inquire into the credibility of the ghost, and
recorded four authentic apparitions in the spare bedroom; and on family
evidence accepted at least three events in the Long Gallery.  It was just
after their report was issued that papa was invited to lease the house to
some Americans for the summer.  He always gets a good price for it now,
simply on account of the ghost.  I always think that rather horrid.  I
don't believe poor Sir Rupert would like it."

"Perhaps he doesn't know," I suggested.

"Of course, you don't believe in him," she said in rather an offended
way.

"My darling, of course I do; I have always believed in ghosts.  Most of
the pictures in the world, as I am always saying, were painted by
_ghosts_."

"Oh, no, Aleister, you're laughing at me; but when you see Sir Rupert, as
you will, in the spare bedroom, you will believe too."

At the end of January, I became Flora's accepted fiance.

In February, I moved with the Brodies to Florence, where I was able to
introduce them to all my kind and hospitable friends,--the Berensons, Mr.
Charles Loeser, Mr. Herbert Horne, and Mr. Hobart Cust.  Flora was in
every way a great success, and commenced a little book on Nera di Bicci
for Bell's Great Painters Series.  She was invited to contribute to the
_Burlington Magazine_.  It was quite a primavera.  Our marriage was
arranged for the following February.  The Brodies were to return to
Hootawa after it was vacated by the American summer tenants.  I was to
join them for Christmas on my return from America, where I was compelled
to go in order to settle my affairs.  My father, Lorenzo Q. Sweat, of
Chicago, evinced great pleasure at my approaching union with an old
Scotch family; he promised me a handsome allowance considering his recent
losses in the meat packing swindle--I mean trade.  I was able to dissuade
him from coming to Europe for the ceremony.  After delivering two
successful lectures on Pietro Cavallini in the early fall at mothers'
soirees, I sailed for Liverpool.

There was deep snow on the ground when I arrived at Hootawa in the early
afternoon of a cold December day.  The Colonel met me at the station in
the uniform of the 69th, attended by two gillies holding torches.

"There will just be enough light to glance at the pictures before tea,"
he said gaily, and in three-quarters of an hour I was embracing Flora and
saluting her mother, who were in the hall to greet me.  For the most part
Hootawa was a typical old Scotch castle, with extinguisher turrets; an
incongruous Jacobean addition rather enhancing its picturesque ensemble.

"You'll see better pictures here than anything in Rome," remarked the
Colonel; but Flora giggled rather nervously.

In the smoking-room and library, I inspected, with assumed interest,
works by the little masters of Holland, and some more admirable examples
of the English Eighteenth Century School.  Faithful to my promise, I
pronounced every one of them to be little gems, unsurpassed by anything
in the private collections of America or Europe.  We passed into the
drawing-room and parlour with the same success.  In the latter apartment
the Colonel, grasping my arm, said impressively: "Now you will see our
great treasure, the Brodie Vandyck, of which Flora has so often told you.
I have never lent it for exhibition, for, as you know, we are rather
superstitious about it.  Sir Joshua Reynolds, in 1780, offered to paint
the portraits of the whole family in exchange for the picture.  Dr.
Waagen describes it in his well-known work.  Dr. Bode came from Berlin on
purpose to see it some years ago, when he left a certificate (which was
scarcely necessary) of its undoubted authenticity.  I was so touched by
his genuine admiration, that I presented him with a small Dutch picture
which he admired in the smoking-room, and thought not unworthy of placing
in the Berlin Gallery.  I expect you know Dr. Bode."

"Not personally," I said, as we stepped into the Long Gallery.

It was a delightful panelled room, with oak-beamed ceiling.  Between the
mullioned windows were old Venetian mirrors and seventeenth-century
chairs.  At the end, concealed by a rich crimson brocade, hung the
Vandyck, the only picture on the walls.

It was the Colonel himself who drew aside the curtain which veiled
discreetly the famous picture of Sir Rupert Brodie at the age of thirty-
two, in the beautiful costume of the period.  The face was unusually
pallid; it was just the sort of portrait you would expect to walk out of
its frame.

"You have never seen a finer Vandyck, I am sure," said Mrs. Brodie,
anxiously.  I examined the work with great care, employing a powerful
pocket-glass.  There was an awkward pause for about five minutes.

"Well, sir," said the Colonel, sternly, "have you nothing to say?"

"It is a very interesting and excellent work, though _not_ by Vandyck; it
is by Jamieson, his Scotch pupil; the morphic forms . . ."--but I got no
further.  There was a loud clap of thunder, and Flora fainted away.  I
was hastening to her side when her father's powerful arm seized my
collar.  He ran me down the gallery and out by an egress which led into
the entrance hall, where some menial opened the massive door.  I felt one
stinging blow on my face; then, bleeding and helpless, I was kicked down
the steps into the snow from which I was picked up, half stunned, by one
of the gillies.

"Eh, mon, hae ye seen the bogles at Hootawa?" he observed.

"It will be very civil of you if you will conduct me to the depot, or the
nearest caravanserai," I replied.

I never saw Flora again.'

* * * * *

'But what has happened about the ghost, Mr. Sweat?  You never told us
anything about it.  Did you ever see it?' asked one of the listeners in a
disappointed tone.

'Oh, I forgot; no, that was rather tragic.  _Sir Rupert Brodie never
appeared again_, not even in the spare bedroom; he seemed offended.
Eventually his portrait was sent up to London, where Mr. Lionel Cust
pointed out that it could not have been painted until after Vandyck's
death, at which time Sir Rupert was only ten years old.  Indeed, there
was some uncertainty whether the picture represented Sir Rupert at all.
Mr. Bowyer Nichols found fault with the costume, which belonged to an
earlier date prior to Sir Rupert's birth.  Colonel Brodie never recovered
from the shock.  He resides chiefly at Harrogate.  Gradually the servants
all gave notice, and Hootawa ceased to attract Americans.  Poor Flora!  I
ought to have remembered my promise; but the habit was too strong in me.
Sir Oliver Lodge, I believe, has an explanation for the non-appearance of
the phantom after the events I have described.  He regards it as a good
instance of _bypsychic duality_--the fortuitous phenomenon by which
spirits are often uncertain as to whom they really represent.  But I am
only an art critic, not a physicist.'

_To_ HERBERT HORNE, ESQ.



THE ELEVENTH MUSE.


In the closing years of the last century I held the position of a
publisher's hack.  Having failed in everything except sculpture, I became
publisher's reader and adviser.  It was the age of the 'dicky dongs,'
and, of course, I advised chiefly the publication of deciduous
literature, or books which dealt with the history of decay.  The
business, unfortunately, closed before my plans were materialised; but
there was a really brilliant series of works prepared for an ungrateful
public.  A cheap and abridged edition of Gibbon was to have heralded the
'Ruined Home' Library, as we only dealt with the decline and fall of
things, and eschewed Motley in both senses of the word.  'Bad Taste in
All Ages' (twelve volumes edited by myself) would have rivalled some of
Mr. Sidney Lee's monumental undertakings.  It was a memory of these
unfulfilled designs which has turned my thoughts to an old notebook--the
skeleton of what was destined never to be a book in being.

I have often wondered why no one has ever tried to form an anthology of
bad poetry.  It would, of course, be easy enough to get together a dreary
little volume of unreadable and unsaleable song.  There are, however,
certain stanzas so exquisite in their unconscious absurdity that an
inverted immortality may be claimed for them.  It is essential that their
authors should have been serious, because parody and light verse have
been carried to such a state of perfection that a tenth muse has been
created--the muse of Mr. Owen Seaman and the late St. John Hankin for
example.  When the Anakim, men of old, which were men of renown--Shelley,
Keats, or Tennyson--become playful, I confess to a feeling of
nervousness: the unpleasant, hot sensation you experience when a
distinguished man makes a fool of himself.  Rossetti--I suppose from his
Italian origin--was able to assume motley without loss of dignity, and
that wounded Titan, the late W. E. Henley, was another exception.  Both
he and Rossetti had the faculty of being foolish, or obscene, without
impairing the high seriousness of their superb poetic gifts.

But I refer to more serious folly--that of the disciples of Silas Wegg.
Some friends of mine in the country employed a ladies'-maid with literary
proclivities.  She was never known to smile; the other servants thought
her stuck up; she was a great reader of novels, poetry, and popular books
on astronomy.  One day she gave notice, departed at the end of a month,
left no address, and never applied for a character.  Beneath the mattress
of her bed was found a manuscript of poems.  One of these, addressed to
our satellite, is based on the scientific fact (of which I was not aware
until I read her poem) that we see only one side of the moon.  The ode
contains this ingenious stanza:--

   O beautiful moon!
   When I gaze on thy face
   Careering among the boundaries of space,
   The thought has often come to my mind
   If I ever shall see thy glorious behind.

It was my pleasure to communicate this verse to our greatest living
conversationalist, a point I mention because it may, in consequence, be
already known to those who, like myself, enjoy the privileges of his
inimitable talk.  I possess the original manuscript of the poem, and can
supply copies of the remainder to the curious.

In a magazine managed by the physician of a well-known lunatic asylum I
found many inspiring examples.  The patients are permitted to contribute:
they discuss art and literature, subject of course to a stringent
editorial discretion.  As you might suppose, poetry occupies a good deal
of space.  It was from that source of clouded English I culled the
following:--

   His hair is red and blue and white,
   His face is almost tan,
   His brow is wet with blood and sweat,
   He steals from where he can:
   And looks the whole world in the face,
   A drunkard and a man.

I think we have here a Henley manque.  In robustious assertion you will
not find anything to equal it in the Hospital Rhymes of that author.  I
was so much struck by the poem that I obtained permission to correspond
with the poet.  I discovered that another Sappho might have adorned our
literature; that a mute inglorious Elizabeth Barrett was kept silent in
Darien--for the asylum was in the immediate vicinity of the Peak in
Derbyshire.  Of the correspondence which ensued I venture to quote only
one sentence:

   'I was brought up to love beauty; my home was more than cultured; it
   was refined; we took in the _Art Journal_ regularly.'

Of all modern artists, I suppose that Sir Edward Burne-Jones has inspired
more poetry than any other.  A whole school of Oxford poets emerged from
his fascinating palette, and he is the subject of perhaps the most
exquisite of all the _Poems and Ballads_--the '_Dedication_'--which forms
the colophon to that revel of rhymes.  I sometimes think that is why his
art is out of fashion with modern painters, who may inspire dealers, but
would never inspire poets.  For who could write a sonnet on some
uncompromising pieces of realism by Mr. Rothenstein, Mr. John, or Mr.
Orpen?  Theirs is an art which speaks for itself.  But Sir Edward Burne-
Jones seems to have dazzled the undergrowth of Parnassus no less than the
higher slopes.  In a long and serious epic called 'The Pageant of Life,'
dealing with every conceivable subject, I found:--

   With some the mention of Burne-Jones
   Elicits merely howls and groans;
   But those who know each inch of art
   Believe that he can bear his part.

I don't remember what he could bear.  Perhaps it referred to his election
at the Royal Academy.  Then, again, in a 'Vision' of the next world, a
poet described how--

   Byron, Burne-Jones, and Beethoven,
   Charlotte Bronte and Chopin are there.

I wonder if this has escaped the eagle eye of Mr. Clement Shorter.  Though
perhaps the most delightful nonsense, for which, I fear, this great
painter is partly responsible, may be found in a recent poem addressed to
the memory of my old friend, Simeon Solomon:--

   More of Rossetti?  Yes:
      You follow'd than Burne-Jones,
   Your depth of colour his
      than that of monochromes!
   Yes; amber lilies poured, I say,
   A joy for thee, than poet's bay.

   But while true art refines
      and often stimulates,
   ART does, at times, I say,
      sit grief within our gates!
   Art causes men to weep at times--
   If you may heed these falt'ring rhymes.

A small volume of lyrics once sent to me for review afforded another
flower for my garland:--

   Where in the spring-time leaves are wet,
   Oh, lay my love beneath the shades,
   Where men remember to forget,
   And are forgot in Hades.

But I have given enough examples for what would form Part I. of the
English anthology.  Part II. would consist of really bad verses from
really great poetry.

   Auspicious Reverence, hush all meaner song,

is one of the most pompously stupid lines in English poetry.  Arnold did
not hesitate to quote instances from Shakespeare:--

   Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapp'd in proof,
   Confronted him with self-comparisons.

You would have to sacrifice Browning, because it might fairly be
concluded--well, anything might be concluded about Browning.  Byron is,
of course, a mine.  Arthur Hugh Clough is, perhaps, the 'flawless
numskull,' as, I think, Swinburne calls him.  Tennyson surpassed

   A Mr. Wilkinson, a clergyman,

in many of his serious poems.

   To travellers indeed the sea
   Must always interesting be

I have heard ascribed to Wordsworth, but wrongly, I believe.  I should,
of course, exclude from the collection living writers; only the select
dead would be requisitioned.  They cannot retort.  And the entertaining
volume would illustrate that curious artistic law--the survival of the
unfittest, of which we are only dimly beginning to realise the
significance.  It is like the immortality of the invalid, now recognised
by all men of science.  You see it manifested in the plethora of memoirs.
All new books not novels are about great dead men by unimportant little
living ones.  When I am asked, as I have been, to write recollections of
certain 'people of importance,' as Dante says, I feel the force of that
law very keenly.

_To_ FREDERICK STANLEY SMITH, ESQ.



SWINBLAKE: A PROPHETIC BOOK, WITH HOME ZARATHRUSTS.


Every student of Blake has read, or must read, Mr. Swinburne's
extraordinary essay, _William Blake: a critical study_, of which a new
edition was recently published.  It would be idle at this time of day to
criticise.  Much has been discovered, and more is likely to be
discovered, about Blake since 1866.  The interest of the book, for us, is
chiefly reflex.  _And does not the great mouth laugh at a gift_, if
scheduled in an examination paper with the irritating question, 'From
what author does this quotation come?' would probably elicit the reply,
'Swinburne.'  Yet it occurs in one of Blake's prophetic books.

How fascinated Blake would have been with Mr. Swinburne if by some
exquisite accident he had lived _after_ him.  We should have had, I
fancy, another Prophetic Book; something of this kind:

   Swinburne roars and shakes the world's literature--
   The English Press, and a good many contemporaries--
   Tennyson palls, Browning is found--
   Only a brownie--
   The mountains divide, the Press is unanimous--
   Aylwin is born--
   On a perilous path, on the cliff of immortality--
   I met Theodormon--
   He seemed sad: I said, 'Why are you sad--
   Are you writing the long-promised life--
   Of Dante Gabriel Rossetti?'--
   He sighed and said, 'No, not that--
   Not that, my child--
   I consigned the task to William Michael--
   Pre-Raphaelite memoirs are cheap to-day--
   You can have them for a sextet or an octave.'--
   I brightened and said, 'Then you are writing a sonnet?'
   He shook his head and said it was symbolical--
   For six and eightpence!--
   A golden rule: Never lend only George Borrow--

A new century had begun, and I asked Theodormon what he was doing on that
path and where Mr. Swinburne was.  Beneath us yawned the gulf of
oblivion.

'Be careful, young man, not to tumble over; are you a poet or a
biographer?'

I explained that I was merely a tourist.  He gave a sigh of relief: 'I
have an appointment here with my only disciple, Mr. Howlglass; if you are
not careful he may write an appreciation of you.'

'My dear Theodormon, if you will show me how to reach Mr. Swinburne I
will help you.'

'I swear by the most sacred of all oaths, by Aylwin, you shall see
Swinburne.'

Just then we saw a young man coming along the path with a Kodak and a
pink evening paper.  He seemed pleased to see me, and said, 'May I
appreciate you?'

I gave the young man a push and he fell right over the cliff.  Theodormon
threw down after him a heavy-looking book which, alighting on his skull,
smashed it.  'My preserver,' he cried, 'you shall see what you like, you
shall do what you like, except write my biography.  Swinburne is close at
hand, though he occasionally wanders.  His permanent address is the
Peaks, Parnassus.  Perhaps you would like to pay some other calls as
well.'

I assented.

We came to a printing-house and found William Morris reverting to type
and transmitting art to the middle classes.

'The great Tragedy of Topsy's life,' said Theodormon, 'is that he
converted the middle classes to art and socialism, but he never touched
the unbending Tories of the proletariat or the smart set.  You would have
thought, on homoeopathic principles, that cretonne would appeal to
cretins.'

'Vale, vale,' cried Charles Ricketts from the interior.

I was rather vexed, as I wanted to ask Ricketts his opinions about
various things and people and to see his wonderful collection.  Shannon,
however, presented me with a lithograph and a copy of 'Memorable
Fancies,' by C. R.

   How sweet I roamed from school to school,
      But I attached myself to none;
   I sat upon my ancient Dial
      And watched the other artists' fun.

   Will Rothenstein can guard the faith,
      Safe for the Academic fold;
   'Twas very wise of William Strang,
      What need have I of Chantrey's gold?

   Let the old masters be my share,
      And let them fall on B. B.'s corn;
   Let the Uffizi take to Steer--
      What do I care for Herbert Horne

   Or the stately Holmes of England,
      Whose glories never fade;
   The Constable of Burlington,
      Who holds the Oxford Slade.

   It's Titian here and Titian there,
      And come to have a look;
   But 'thanks of course Giorgione,'
      With Mr. Herbert Cook.

   For MacColl is an intellectual thing,
      And Hugh P. Lane keeps Dublin awake,
   And Fry to New York has taken wing,
      And Charles Holroyd has got the cake.

After turning round a rather sharp corner I began to ask Theodormon if
John Addington Symonds was anywhere to be found.  He smiled, and said: 'I
know why you are asking.  Of course he _is_ here, but we don't see much
of him.  He published, at the Kelmscott, the other day, "An Ode to a
Grecian Urning."  The proceeds of the sale went to the Arts and Krafts
Ebbing Guild, but the issue of "Aretino's Bosom, and other Poems," has
been postponed.'

We now reached a graceful Renaissance building covered with blossoms; on
each side of the door were two blue-breeched gondoliers smoking calamus.
Theodormon hurried on, whispering: '_That_ is where he lives.  If you
want to see Swinburne you had better make haste, as it is getting late,
and I want you to inspect the Castalian spring.'

The walking became very rough just here; it was really climbing.  Suddenly
I became aware of dense smoke emerging with a rumbling sound from an
overhanging rock.

'I had no idea Parnassus was volcanic now,' I remarked.

'No more had we,' said Theodormon; 'it is quite a recent eruption due to
the Celtic movement.  The rock you see, however, is not a real rock, but
a sham rock.  Mr. George Moore has been turned out of the cave, and is
still hovering about the entrance.'

Looming through the smoke, which hung like a veil of white muslin between
us, I was able to trace the silhouette of that engaging countenance which
Edouard Manet and others have immortalised.  'Go away,' he said: 'I do
not want to speak to you.'  'Come, come, Mr. Moore,' I rejoined, 'will
you not grant a few words to a really warm admirer?'--but he had faded
away.  Then a large hand came out of the cavern and handed me a piece of
paper, and a deep voice with a slight brogue said: 'If you see mi darlin'
Gosse give this to him.'  The paper contained these verses:--

   Georgey Morgie, kidden and sly,
   Kissed the girls and made them cry;
   _What_ the girls came out to say
   George never heard, for he ran away.

   W. B. Y

We skirted the edge of a thick wood.  A finger-post pointed to the
Castalian spring, and a notice-board indicated _Trespassers will be
prosecuted_.  _The lease to be disposed of.  Apply to G. K. Chesterton_.

Soon we came to an open space in which was situated a large, rather
dilapidated marble tank.  I noticed that the water did not reach further
than the bathers' stomachs.  Theodormon anticipated my surprise.  'Yes,
we have had to depress the level of the water during the last few years
out of compliment to some of the bathers, and there have been a good many
bathing fatalities of a very depressing description.'

'You don't mean to say,' I replied, 'Richard le Gallienne?'

'Hush! hush! he was rescued.'

'Stephen Phillips?' I asked, anxiously.

'Well, he couldn't swim, of course, but he floated; you see he had the
Sidney Colvin lifebelt on, and that is always a great assistance.'

'Not,' I almost shrieked, 'my favourite poet, the author of "Lord 'a
Muzzy don't you fret.  Missed we De Wet.  Missed we De Wet"?'

Theodormon became very grave.  'We do not know any of their names,' he
said.  'I will show you, presently, the Morgue.  Perhaps you will be able
to identify some of your friends.  The Coroner has refused to open an
inquest until Mr. John Lane can attend to give his evidence.'

I saw the Poet Laureate trying very hard to swim on his back.  Another
poet was sitting down on the marble floor so that the water might at
least come up to his neck.  Gazing disconsolately into the pellucid
shallows I saw the revered and much-loved figures of Mr. Andrew Lang, Mr.
Austin Dobson, and Mr. Edmund Gosse.  'Going for a dip?' said Theodormon.
'Thanks, we don't care about paddling,' Mr. Lang retorted.

'I hope it is not _always_ so shallow,' I said to my guide.

'Oh, no; we have a new water-supply, but as the spring is in the nature
of a public place, we won't turn on the fresh water until people have
learnt to appreciate what is good.  That handsome little marble structure
which you see at the end of the garden is really the _new_ Castalian
Spring.  At all events, that is where all the miracles take place.  The
old bath is terribly out of repair, in spite of plumbing.'

We then inspected a very neat little apartment mosaiced in gold.  Round
the walls were attractive drinking-fountains, and on each was written the
name of the new water--I mean the new poet.  Some of them I recognised:
Laurence Binyon, A. E. Housman, Sturge Moore, Santayana, Arthur Symons,
Herbert Trench, Henry Simpson, Laurence Housman, F. W. Tancred, Arthur
Lyon Raile, William Watson, Hugh Austin.

'You see we have the very latest,' said Theodormon, 'provided it is
always the best.  I am sorry to say that some of the taps don't give a
constant supply, but that is because the machinery wants oiling.  Try
some Binyon,' said my guide, filling a gold cup on which was wrought by
some cunning craftsman the death of Adam and the martyrdom of the Blessed
Christina.  I found it excellent and refreshing, and observed that it was
cheering to come across the excellence of sincerity and strength at a
comparatively new source . . .

Mr. Swinburne was seated in an arbour of roses, clothed in a gold
dalmatic, a birthday gift from his British Peers.  Their names were
embroidered in pearls on the border.  I asked permission to read my
address:--

   There beats no heart by Cam or Isis
      (Where tides of poets ebb and flow),
   But guards Dolores as a crisis
      Of long ago.

   A crisis bringing fire and wonder,
      A gift of some dim Eastern Mage,
   A firework still smouldering under
      The feet of middle age.

   For you could love and hate and tell us
      Of almost everything,
   You made our older poets jealous,
      For you alone could sing.

   In truth it was your splendid praises
      Which made us wake
   To glories hidden in the phrases
      Of William Blake.

   No boy who sows his metric salads
      His tamer oats,
   But always steals from Swinburne's ballads
      The stronger notes.

'Do you play golf?' said Mr. Swinburne, handing me two little spheres
such as are used in the royal game.  And I heard no more; for I received
a blow--whether delivered by Mr. Swinburne or the ungrateful Theodormon I
do not know, but I found myself falling down the gulf of oblivion, and
suddenly, with a dull thud, I landed on the remains of Howlglass.  The
softness of his head had really preserved me from what might have been a
severe shock, because the distance from Parnassus to Fleet Street, as you
know, is considerable, and the escalade might have been more serious.  I
reached my rooms in Half Moon Street, however, having seen only one star,
with just a faint nostalgia for the realms into which for one brief day I
was privileged to peep.

(1906.)



A MISLAID POET.


In the closing years of my favourite last century, when poetry was more
discussed than it is now (at all events as a marketable commodity), few
verse-writers were overlooked.  Bosola's observation about 'the neglected
poets of your time' could not be quoted with any propriety.  Mr. John
Lane would make long and laborious journeys on the District Railway,
armed _bag-a-pied_, in order to discover the new and unpublished.  Now he
has shot over all the remaining preserves; laurels and bays, so necessary
for the breed 'of men and women over-wrought,' have withered in the
London soot.  There was one bright creature, however, who escaped his
rifle; she was brought down by another sportsman, and thus missed some of
the fame which might have attached to her had she been trussed and hung
in the Bodley Head.  Poaching in the library at Thelema, I came across
her by accident.  Her song is not without significance.

In 1878 Georgiana Farrer mentioned on page 190 of her _Miscellaneous
Poems_, 'I am old by sin entangled;' but this was probably a pious
exaggeration.  Only some one young and intellectually very vigorous could
have penned her startling numbers.  I suggest that she retained more of
her youth than, from religious motives, she thought it proper to admit.
In the 'eighties, when incense was burned in drawing-rooms, and people
were talking about 'The Blessed Damozel,' she could write of Paradise:--

   A home where Jesus Christ is King,
   A home where e'en Archangels sing,
   Where common wealth is shared by all,
   And God Himself lights up the Hall.

She was philosemite, and from the reference to Lord Beaconsfield we can
easily date the following:--

   You who doubt the truth of Scripture,
   Pray tell me, then, who are the Jews?
   Scattered in all lands and nations,
   Pray why their evidence refuse?

   It seems to me you must be blind;
   Are they not daily gaining ground?
   We find them now in every land,
   And well-nigh ruling all around.

   Their music is most sweet to hear;
   Jews were Rossini and Mozart,
   Mendelssohn, too, and Meyerbeer;
   Grisi in song could charm the heart.

   The funds their princes hold in hand;
   Their merchants trade both near and far;
   Ill-used and robbed they long have been,
   Yet wealthy now they surely are.

   In Germany who has great sway?
   Prince Bismarck, most will answer me;
   Our own Prime Minister retains
   A name that shows his pedigree.

   Who after this will dare to say
   They nought in these strange people see;
   Do they not prove the Scripture true,
   And throw a light on history?

The twenty-five years that have elapsed since the poem was written must
have convinced those innocent persons who 'saw nought' in our Israelitish
compatriots.  I never heard before that Prince Bismarck or Mozart was of
Jewish extraction!

Mrs. Farrer was, of course, an evangelical, somewhat old-fashioned for so
late a date; and fairly early in her volume she warns us of what we may
expect.  She is anxious to damp any undue optimism as to the lightness of
her muse.  When worldly, foolish people like Whistler and Pater were
talking 'art for art's sake,' she could strike a decisive didactic blow:--

   My voice like thunder may appear,
   Yet oft-times I have shed a tear
   Behind the peal, like rain in storm,
   To moisten those I would reform.

   Then pardon if my stormy mood,
   Instead of blighting, does some good.
   Sooner a thunder-clap, think me,
   Than sunstroke sent in wrath on thee.

With a splendid Calvinism, too rare at that time, she would not argue
beyond a _certain_ limit; there was an edge, she realised, to every
platform; an ounce of assertion is worth pounds of proof.  Religious
discussion after a time becomes barren:--

   Then hundredfolds to sinners
      Must be repaid in Hell.
   If you think such men winners,
      We disagree.  Farewell.

But to the person who _is_ right (and Mrs. Farrer was never in a moment's
doubt, though her prosody is influenced sometimes by the sceptical
Matthew Arnold) there is no mean reward:--

   I sparkle resplendent,
      A star in His crown,
   And glitter for ever,
      A gem of renown.

From internal evidence we can gauge her social position, while her views
of caste appear in these radical days a trifle _demode_.  Her metaphors
of sin are all derived from the life of paupers:--

   Paupers through their sinful folly
   Are workers of iniquity,
   Living on Jehovah's bounty,
   Wasting in abject poverty.

   A pauper's funeral their end,
   No angels waft their souls on high;
   Rich they were thought on earth, perhaps,
   Yet far from wealth accursed they lie.

   Who are the rich?  God's Word declares,
   The men whose treasure is above--
   Those humble working _gentlefolk_
   Whose life flows on in deeds of love.

   Despised in life I may remain,
   Misunderstood by rich and poor;
   An entrance yet I hope to gain
   To wealthy plains on endless shore.

   No paupers in that heavenly land,
   The sons of God are rich indeed;
   His daughters all His treasures share;
   It will their highest hopes exceed.

Those paupers who are 'saved' are rewarded by material comforts such as
graced the earthly home of Georgiana herself, one of the 'humble working
_gentlefolk_.'  She enjoys her own fireside with an almost Pecksniffian
relish, and she profoundly observes, as she sits beside her hearth:--

   Like forest trees men rise and grow:
   Good timber some will prove,
   Others decayed as fuel piled,
   Prepared are for that stove

   That burns for ever, Tophet called,
   Heated by jealous heat,
   Adapted to destroy all chaff,
   And leaves unscorched the wheat.

Excellent Georgiana!  She could not stand very much chaff of any kind, I
suspect.

The alarming progress of ritualism in the 'eighties disturbed her
considerably, though it inspired some of her more weighty verses.  They
should be favourites with Dr. Clifford and Canon Hensley Henson:--

   Some men in our days cover over
      A body deformed with their sin:
   A cross worked in various colours,
      Forgetting that God looks within.

   Alas! in our churches at present
      Simplicity seems quite despised;
   To represent things far above us
      Are heathenish customs revived.

   This evil is spreading among us,
      And where will it end, can you tell?
   Join not with the misled around us,
      Take warning, my readers . . .

The veneration of the Blessed Virgin goaded her into composition of
stanzas unparalleled in the whole literature of Protestantism:--

   My readers, can you nowhere see
      A parallel to Israel's sin?
   The House of God, at home, abroad:
      _Idols are there_--that house within.

   Who incense burns? are strange cakes made?
      What woman's chapel, decked with gold,
   Stands full of unchecked worshippers
      Like those idolaters of old?

   The Blessed Virgin--blest she is
      That does not make her Heaven's Queen!
   Yet some are taught to worship her;
      What else does all this teaching mean?

What she denied to the Mother of God she accorded (rather daringly, I
opine) to one Harriet, whose death and future are recorded in the
following lines:--

   Declining like the setting sun
   After a course divinely run,
   I saw a maiden passing fair
   Reposing on an easy chair.

   A Bridegroom of celestial mien
   Came forth and claimed her for His Queen;
   One with His Father on His throne
   She lives entirely His own.

Harrietolatry, I thought, was confined to the members of the defunct
Shelley Society.  But every reader will feel the poignant truth of Mrs.
Farrer's view of the Church of England--truer to-day than it could have
been in the 'eighties:--

   The Church of England--grand old ship--
      Toss'd is on a troubled sea!
   Her sails are rent, her decks are foul'd,
      Mutiny on board must be.

   The winds of discord howl around,
      Wild disputers throw up foam,
   From high to low she's beat about;
      Frighten'd some who love her roam.

I do not know if the last word is intended for a pun, but I scarcely
think it is likely.

I would like to reconstruct Mrs. Farrer's home, with its stiff Victorian
chairs, its threaded antimacassars, its pictorial paper-weights, its wax
flowers under glass shades, and the charming household porcelain from the
Derby and Worcester furnaces.  There must have been a sabbatic air of
comfort about the dining-room which was soothing.  I can see the
engravings after Landseer: 'The Stag at Bay,' 'Dignity and Impudence'; or
those after Martin: 'The Plains of Heaven,' and 'The Great Day of His
Wrath'; and 'Blucher meeting Wellington,' after Maclise.  I can see on
each side of the mirror examples of the art of Daguerre, which have
already begun to produce in us the same sentiment that we get from the
early Tuscans; and on the mantelpiece a photograph of Harriet in a plush
frame, the one touch of modernity in a room which was otherwise severely
1845.  Then, on a bookshelf which hung above the old tea-caddy and cut-
glass sugar-bowl, Georgiana's library--'Line upon Line,' 'Precept upon
Precept,' 'Jane the Cottager,' 'Pinnock's Scripture History,' and a few
costly works bound in the style of the Albert Memorial.  The
drawing-room, just a trifle damp, must have contained Mr. Hunt's 'Light
of the World,' which Mrs. Farrer never quite learned to love, though it
was a present from a missionary, and rendered fire and artificial light
unnecessary during the winter months.  Would that Mrs. Farrer's home-life
had come under the magic lens of Mr. Edmund Gosse, for it would now be
classic, like the household of Sir Thomas More.

Whatever its attractions, Mrs. Farrer was at times induced to go abroad,
visiting, I imagine, only the Protestant cantons of Switzerland.  She
stayed, however, in Paris, which she apostrophises with Sibyllic
candour:--

   O city of pleasure, what did I see
   When passing through or staying in thee.
   Bright shone the sun above, blue was the sky,
   Everywhere music heard, none seemed to sigh.
   Beautiful carriages in Champs Elysee
   Filled with fair maidens on cushions easy.
   Such was the outer side; what was within?
   Most I was often told revelled in sin.
   Sad its fate since I left, sadder 'twill be
   If they go on in sin as seen by me.
   Let us hope, ere too late, warned by the past,
   They may seek pleasures more likely to last,
   Or, like to Babylon, it must decline,
   And o'er its ruins its lovers repine.

But London hardly fares much better, in spite of Mrs. Farrer's own
residence, at Campden Hill, if I may hazard the locality:--

   To the tomb they must go,
   Rich and poor all in woe,
   Strange motley throng.
   Wealth in its splendour weeps,
   Poverty silence keeps;
   None last here long. . . .
   So much for thee, London.

Except in a spiritual sense, her existence was not an eventful one.  It
was, I think, the loss of some neighbour's child which suggested:--

   Nellarina, forced exotic,
   Born to bloom in region fair,
   Thou wert to me a narcotic,
   Hope I did thy lot to share.

Any near personal sorrow she does not seem to have experienced, I am glad
to say, else she might have regarded it as a grievance the consequences
of which one dares not contemplate; you feel that _Some One_ would have
heard of it in no measured terms.  Certainty and content are, indeed, the
dominating notes of her poetry rather than mere commonplace hope:--

   I am bound for the land of Beulah,
   There all the guests sing Hallelujah.
   No longer time here let us squander,
   But on the good things promised ponder.

It would be futile to discuss the exact position on Parnassus of a lady
whose throne was secured on a more celestial mountain, even more
difficult of access.  But I think we may claim for her an honourable
place in that new Oxford school of poetry of which Professor Mackail
officially knows little, and of which Dr. Warren (the President of
Magdalen) is the distinguished living protagonist.  With all her acrid
Evangelicalism she was a good soul, for she was fond of animals and
children, and kind to them both in her own way; so I am sure some of her
dreams have been realised, even if there has reached her nostrils just a
whiff of those tolerating purgatorial fires which, spelt differently, she
believed to be _permanently_ prepared for the vast majority of her
contemporaries.

_To_ MRS. CAREW.



GOING UP TOP.


During the closing years of the last century certain critics contracted a
rather depressing habit of numbering men of letters, especially poets, as
though they were overcoats in a cloak-room, or boys competing in an
examination set by themselves.  'It requires very little discernment,'
wrote the late Churton Collins, A.D. 1891, 'to foresee that among the
English poets of the present century the first place will _ultimately_ be
assigned to Wordsworth, the second to Byron, and the third to Shelley.'
Matthew Arnold, I fear, was the first to make these unsafe Zadkielian
prognostications.  He, if I remember correctly, gave Byron the first
place and Wordsworth the second; but Swinburne, with his usual
discernment, observed that English taste in that eventuality would be in
the same state as it was at the end of the seventeenth century, which
firmly believed that Fletcher and Jonson were the best of its poets.

But when is Ultimately?  Obviously not the present moment.  Byron does
not hold the rank awarded him by the distinguished critic in 1891.  The
cruel test of the auctioneer's hammer has recently shown that Keats and
Shelley are regarded as far more important by those unprejudiced judges,
the book-dealers.  Wordsworth, of course, is still one of the poets'
poets, and the _Spectator_, that Mrs. Micawber of literature, will, of
course, never desert him; but I doubt very much whether he has yet
reached the harbour of Ultimately.  His repellent personality has blinded
a good many of us to his exquisite qualities; on the Greek Kalends of
criticism, however, may I be there to see.  I shall certainly vote for
him if I am one of the examiners--or one of the cloak-room attendants.

It was against such kind of criticism that Whistler hurled his impatient
epigram about pigeon-holes.  And if it is absurd in regard to painting,
how much more absurd is it in regard to the more various and less friable
substances of literature.  By the old ten-o'clock rule (I do not refer to
Whistler's lecture), once observed in Board schools, no scripture could
be taught after that hour.  Once a teacher asked his class who was the
wisest man.  'Solomon,' said a little boy.  'Right; go up top,' said the
teacher.  But there was a small pedant who, while never paying much
attention to the lessons, and being usually at the bottom of the form in
consequence, knew the regulations by heart.  He interrupted with a shrill
voice (for the clock had passed the hour), 'No, sir, please, sir; past
ten o'clock, sir . . . Solon.'  Thus it is, I fear, with critics of every
generation, though they try very hard to make the time pass as slowly as
possible.

But if invidious distinctions between great men are inexact and tiresome,
I opine that it is ungenerous and ignoble to declare that when a great
man has just died, we really cannot judge of him or his work because we
have been his contemporaries.  The caution of obituary notices seems to
me cowardly, and the reviews of books are cowardly too.  We have become
Laodiceans.  We are even fearful of exposing imposture in current
literature lest we get into hot water with a publisher.

During a New Year week I was invited by Lord and Lady Lyonesse to a very
diverting house-party.  This peer, it will be remembered, is the well-
known radical philanthropist who owed his title to a lifelong interest in
the submerged tenth.  Their house, Ivanhoe, is an exquisite gothic
structure not unjustly regarded as the masterpiece of the late Sir
Gilbert Scott: it overlooks the Ouse.  Including our hosts we numbered
forty persons, and the personnel, including valets, chauffeurs, and
ladies'-maids brought by the guests, numbered sixty.  In all, we were a
hundred souls, assuming immortality for the chauffeurs and the five
Scotch gardeners.  On January 2nd somebody produced after dinner a copy
of the _Petit Parisien_ relating the plebiscite for the greatest
Frenchman of the nineteenth century; another guest capped him with the
_Evening News_ list.  The famous _Pall Mall Gazette_ Academy of Forty was
recalled with indifferent accuracy.  Conversation was flagging; our
hostess looked relieved; very soon we were all playing a variation of
that most charming game, _suck-pencil_.

At first we decided to ignore the nineteenth century.  The ten greatest
living Englishmen were to be named by our votes.  Bridge and billiard
players were dragged to the polling-station in the green drawing-room.
Lord Lyonesse and myself were the tellers.  I shivered with excitement.
One of the Ultimatelies of Churton Collins seemed to have arrived: it was
Gotterdammerung--the Twilight of the Idols.  And here is the result of
the ballot, which I think every one will admit possesses extraordinary
interest:

Hall Caine.

Marie Corelli.

Rudyard Kipling.

Lord Northcliffe.

Sir Thomas Lipton.

Hichens.

Chamberlain.

Barrie.

George Alexander.

Beerbohm Tree.

I ought to add, of course, that the guests were unusually intellectual.
There were our host and hostess, their three sons--one is a scholar of
King's College, Cambridge, another is at Balliol, and a third is a
stockbroker; there were five M.P.'s with their wives (two Liberal
Imperialists, two Liberal Unionists, and one real Radical), a Scotch peer
with his wife and an Irish peer without one; a publisher and his wife;
three Academicians; four journalists; an Irish poet, a horse-dealer, a
picture-dealer, another stockbroker, an artist, two lady novelists, a
baronet and his wife, three musicians; and Myself.  I think the only
point on which the sincerity of the voting might be doubted, is the
ominous absence of any soldier's name on the list.  Lord Lyonesse,
however, is a firm upholder of the Hague Conference: like myself, he is a
pro-Boer, but he will not allow any reference to military affairs, and I
suspect that it was out of deference to his wishes that the guests all
abstained from writing down some names of our gallant generals.  Lord
Kitchener, however, obtained nine votes, and I myself included Christian
De Wet; but on discovery of documents he was ruled out, in spite of my
pleading for him on imperialistic grounds.  I thought it rather insular,
too, I must confess, that Mr. Henry James and Mr. Sargent were denied to
me because they are American subjects.  My own final list, as pasted in
the Album at Ivanhoe, along with others, was as follows:

H. G. Wells.

C. H. Shannon.

Bernard Shaw.

Thomas Hardy.

Lord Northcliffe.

Edmund Gosse.

Andrew Lang.

Oliver Lodge.

Dom Gasquet.

Reginald Turner.

Mine, of course, is the choice of a recluse: a scholar without
scholarship, one who lives remote from politics, newspapers, society, and
the merry-go-round of modern life.  Its two chief interests lie in
showing, first how far off I was from getting the prize (a vellum copy of
poems, by our hostess), and secondly, that one name only, that of Lord
Northcliffe, should have touched both the popular and the private
imagination!  I regret to say that none of the guests knew the names of
Dom Gasquet or Sir Oliver Lodge.  Every one, except the artist, thought
C. H. Shannon was J. J. Shannon, and some of the voters were hardly
convinced that Mr. Lang was still an ornament to contemporary literature.
The prize was awarded to a lady whose list most nearly corresponded to
the result of the general plebiscite.  I need not say she was the wife of
the publisher.  After some suitable expressions from Lord Lyonesse, it
was suggested that we should poll the servants' hall.  Pencils and paper
were provided and the butler was sent for.  An hour was given for the
election, and at half-past eleven the ballot papers were brought in on a
massive silver tray discreetly covered with a red silk
pocket-handkerchief, and here is the result:

Frank Richardson.

Marie Corelli.

John Roberts.

C. B. Fry.

Eustace Miles.

Robert Hichens.

T. P. O'Connor.

Lord Lyonesse.

Dr. Williams (Pink Pills for Pale People).

Hall Caine.

The prize (and this is another odd coincidence) was won by the butler
himself, to whom, very generously, the publisher's wife resigned the
vellum copy of our hostess's poems.  From a literary point of view, it is
interesting to note that Mr. Frank Richardson is the only master of
_belles lettres_ who is appreciated in the servants' hall!  The other
names we associate, rightly or wrongly, with something other than
literature.

The following evening I suggested choosing the greatest English names in
the nineteenth century (twentieth-century life being strictly excluded).
Every one by this time had caught the _suck-pencil_ fever.  By general
consent the suffrage was extended to the domestics: the electorate being
thus one hundred.  And what, you will ask, came of it all?  I suggest
that readers should guess.  Any one interested should fill up, cut out,
and send this coupon to my own publisher on April the first.

_I think the Ten Greatest Englishmen of the Nineteenth Century were_:

1 . . . . . . . . . .

2  . . . . . . . . . .

3  . . . . . . . . . .

4  . . . . . . . . . .

5  . . . . . . . . . .

6  . . . . . . . . . .

7  . . . . . . . . . .

8  . . . . . . . . . .

9  . . . . . . . . . .

10 . . . . . . . . . .

A prize, consisting of a copy of _Books of To-Day and Books of
To-Morrow_, will be awarded for the best shot.



MR. BENSON'S 'PATER.'


In no other country has mediocrity such a chance as in England.  The
second-rate writer, the second-rate painter meets with an almost
universal and immediate recognition.  When good mediocrities die, if they
do not go straight to heaven (from a country where the existence of
Purgatory is denied by Act of Parliament), at least they run a very fair
chance of burial in Westminster Abbey.  'De mortuis nil nisi _bonus_,' in
the shape of royalties, is the real test by which we estimate the authors
who have just passed away.  A few of our great writers--Ruskin and
Tennyson, for example--have enjoyed the applause accorded to senility by
a people usually timid of brilliancy and strength, when it is
contemporary.  The ruins of mental faculties touch our imagination,
owing, perhaps, to that tenderness for antiquity which has preserved for
us the remains of Tintern Abbey.  Seldom, however, does a great writer
live to find himself, in the prime of his literary existence, a component
part of English literature.  Yet there are happy exceptions, and not the
least of these was Walter Pater.

His inclusion in the _English Men of Letters_ series, so soon after his
death, somewhat dazzled the reviewers.  Mr. Benson was complimented on a
daring which, if grudgingly endorsed, is treated as just the sort of
innovation you would expect from the brother of the author of _Dodo_.  'To
a small soul the age which has borne it can appear only an age of small
souls,' says Swinburne, and the presence of Pater, which rose so
strangely beside our waters, seemed to many of his contemporaries only
the last sob of a literature which they sincerely believed came to an end
with Lord Macaulay.

It was a fortunate chance by which Mr. A. C. Benson, one of our more
discerning critics, himself master of no mean style, should have been
chosen as commentator of Pater.  Among the plutarchracy of the present
day a not very pretty habit prevails of holding a sort of inquest on
deceased writers--a reaction against misplaced eulogy--tearing them and
their works to pieces, and leaving nothing for reviewers or posterity to
dissipate.  From the author of the _Upton Letters_ we expect sympathy and
critical acumen.  It is needless to say we are never disappointed.  His
book is not merely about a literary man: it is a work of literature
itself.  So it is charming to disagree with Mr. Benson sometimes, and a
triumph to find him tripping.  You experience the pleasure of the
University Extension lecturer pointing out the mistakes in Shakespeare's
geography, the joy of the schoolboy when the master has made a false
quantity.  In marking the modern discoveries which have shattered, not
the value of Pater's criticisms, but the authenticity of pictures round
which he wove his aureoles of prose, Mr. Benson says: 'In the essay on
Botticelli he is on firmer ground.'  But among the first masterpieces
winged by the sportsmen of the new criticism was the Hamilton Palace
'Assumption of the Virgin' (now proved to be by Botticini), to which
Pater makes one of his elusive and delightful allusions.  While the
'_School of Giorgione_,' which Mr. Benson thinks a little _passe_ in the
light of modern research is now in the movement.  The latest bulletins of
Giorgione, Pater would have been delighted to hear, are highly
satisfactory.  Pictures once torn from the altars of authenticity are
being reinstated under the acolytage of Mr. Herbert Cook.  A curious and
perhaps wilful error, too, has escaped Mr. Benson's notice.  Referring to
the tomb of Cardinal Jacopo at San Miniato, Pater says, 'insignis forma
fui--his epitaph dares to say;' the inscription reads _fuit_.  But
perhaps the _t_ was added by the Italian Government out of Reference to
the English residents in Florence, and the word read _fui_ in 1871.
_Troja fuit_ might be written all over Florence.

Then some of the architecture at Vezelay 'typical of Cluniac sculpture'
is pure Viollet-le-Duc, I am assured by a competent authority.  A more
serious error of Pater's, for it is adjectival, not a fact, occurs in
_Apollo in Picardy_--'_rebellious_ masses of black hair.'  This is the
only instance in the _parfait prosateur_, as Bourget called him, of a
cliche worthy of the 'Spectator.'  Then it is possible to differ from Mr.
Benson in his criticism of the _Imaginary Portraits_ (the four fair ovals
in one volume), surely Pater's most exquisite achievement after the
_Renaissance_.  _Gaston_ is the failure Pater thought it was, and
_Emerald Uthwart_ is frankly very silly, though Mr. Benson has a curious
tenderness for it.  One sentence he abandons as absolute folly.  The
grave psychological error in the story occurs where the surgeon expresses
compunction at making the autopsy on Uthwart because of his perfect
anatomy.  Surely this would have been a source of technical pleasure and
interest to a surgeon, much as a butterfly-collector is pleased when he
has murdered an unusually fine species of lepidoptera.  Speaking myself
as a vivisector of some experience, I can confidently affirm that a well-
bred golden collie is far more interesting to operate upon than a mongrel
sheep-dog.  Nor can I comprehend Mr. Benson's blame of _Denys
l'Auxerrois_ as too extravagant and even unwholesome, when the last
quality, so obvious in _Uthwart_, he seems to condone.

Again, _Marius the Epicurean_ is a failure by Pater's own high standard:
you would have imagined it seemed so to Mr. Benson.

Dulness is by no means its least fault.  In scheme it is not unlike _John
Inglesant_; but how lifeless are the characters compared with those of
Shorthouse.  Both books deal with philosophic ideas and sensations; the
incidents are merely illustrative and there is hardly a pretence of
sequence.  In the historical panorama which moves behind _Inglesant_,
there are at least 'tactile' values, and seventeenth-century England is
conjured up in a wonderful way; how accurately I do not know.  In
_Marius_ the background is merely a backcloth for mental _poses
plastiques_.  You wonder, not how still the performers are, but why they
move at all.  Marcus Aurelius, the delightful Lucian, even Flavian, and
the rest, are busts from the Capitoline and Naples museums.  Their bodies
are make-believe, or straw from the loft at 'White Nights.'  Cornelius,
Mr. Benson sorrowfully admits, is a Christian prig, but Marius is only a
pagan chip from the same block.  John Inglesant is a prig too, but there
is blood in his veins, and you get, at all events, a Vandyck, not a
plaster cast.  The magnificent passages of prose which vest this image
make it resemble the _ex voto_ Madonnas of continental churches--a shrine
in literature but not a lighthouse.

I sometimes wonder what Pater would have become had he been a Cambridge
man, and if the more strenuous University might have _forced_ him into
greater sympathy with modernity; or if he had been born in America, as he
nearly was, and Harvard acted as the benign stepmother of his days.  Such
speculations are not beyond all conjecture, as Sir Thomas Browne said.  I
think he would have been exactly the same.

On the occasion of Pater's lecture on Prosper Merimee, his friends
gathered round the platform to congratulate him; he expressed a hope that
the audience was able to hear what he said.  'We overheard you,' said
Oscar Wilde.  'Ah, you have a phrase for everything,' replied the
lecturer, the only contemporary who ever influenced himself, Wilde
declared.  How admirable both of the criticisms!  Pater is an aside in
literature, and that is why he was sometimes overlooked, and may be so
again in ages to come.  Though he is the greatest master of style the
century produced, he can never be regarded as part of the structure of
English prose.  He is, rather, one of the ornaments, which often last,
long after a structure has perished.  His place will be shifted, as
fashions change.  Like some exquisite piece of eighteenth-century
furniture perchance he may be forgotten in the attics of literature
awhile, only to be rediscovered.  And as Fuseli said of Blake, 'he is
damned good to steal from.'  If he uses words as though they were
pigments, and sentences like vestments at the Mass, it is not merely the
ritualistic cadence of his harmonies which makes his works imperishable,
but the ideas which they symbolise and evoke.  Pater thinks beautifully
always, about things which some people do not think altogether beautiful,
perhaps; and sometimes he thinks aloud.  We overhear him, and feel almost
the shame of the eavesdropper.

Mr. Benson has approached Walter Pater, the man, with almost sacerdotal
deference.  He suggests ingeniously where you can find the
self-revelation in _Gaston_ and _The Child in the House_.  This is far
more illuminating than the recollections of personal friends whose
reminiscences are modelled on those of Captain Sumph.  Mr. Humphry Ward
remembers Pater only once being angry--it was in the Common Room--it was
with X, an elderly man!  The subject of the difference was 'modern
lectures.'  'Relations between them were afterwards strained.'  Mr.
Arthur Symons remembers that he intended to bring out a new volume of
_Imaginary Portraits_.  Fancy that!  Really, when friends begin to tell
stories of that kind, I begin to suspect they are trying to conceal
something.  Perhaps we have no right to know everything or anything about
the amazing personalities of literature; but Henleys and Purcells lurk
and leak out even at Oxford; and that is not the way to silence them.
Just when the aureole is ready to be fitted on, some horrid graduate
(Litterae _in_humaniores) inks the statue.  Anticipating something of the
kind, Mr. Benson is careful to insist on the divergence between Rossetti
and Pater, and on page eighty-six says something which is ludicrously
untrue.  If self-revelation can be traced in _Gaston_, it can be found
elsewhere.  There are sentences in _Hippolytus Veiled_, the _Age of the
Athletic_ _Prizemen_, and _Apollo in Picardy_, which not only explode Mr.
Benson's suggestions, but illustrate the objections he urges against
_Denys l'Auxerrois_.  They are passages where Pater thinks aloud.  If
Rossetti wore his heart on the sleeve, Pater's was just above the cuff,
like a bangle; though it slips down occasionally in spite of the alb
which drapes the hieratic writer not always discreetly.

(1906.)



SIMEON SOLOMON.


A good many years ago, before the Rhodes scholars invaded Oxford, there
lingered in that home of lost causes and unpopular names, the afterglow
of the aesthetic sunset.  It was not a very brilliant period.  Professor
Mackail and Mr. Bowyer Nichols had left Balliol.  Nothing was expected of
either the late Sir Clinton Dawkins or Canon Beeching; and the
authorities of Merton could form no idea where Mr. Beerbohm would
complete his education.  Names are more suggestive than dates and give
less pain.  Then, as now, there were 'cultured' undergraduates, and those
who were very cultured indeed, read Shelley and burned incense, would
always have a few photographs after Simeon Solomon on their walls--little
notes of illicit sentiment to vary the monotony of Burne-Jones and
Botticelli.  When uncles and aunts came up for Gaudys and Commem., while
'Temperantia' and the 'Primavera' were left in their places, 'Love dying
from the breath of Lust,' 'Antinous,' and other drawings by Solomon with
titles from the Latin Vulgate, were taken down for the occasion.  Views
of the sister University, Cambridge took their places, being more
appropriate to Uncle Parker's and Aunt Jane's tastes.  More advanced
undergraduates, who 'knew what things were,' possessed even originals.
Now the unfortunate artist is dead his career can be mentioned without
prejudice.

Simeon Solomon was born in 1841.  He was the third son of Michael
Solomon, a manufacturer of Leghorn hats, and the first Jew ever admitted
to the Freedom of London.  The elder brother, Abraham, became a
successful painter of popular subjects ('Waiting for the Verdict' and
'First and Third Class'), and died on the day of his election to the
Academy!  Rebecca a sister who was also a painter, copied with success
some of Millais's pictures.  At the age of sixteen Simeon exhibited at
the Academy, though beyond a short training at Leigh's Art School in
Newman Street he was almost self-taught.  He was an early and intimate
friend of the Pre-Raphaelites, with whose art he had much in common,
though it is only for convenience that he is included in the school.  Like
Whistler, he was profoundly affected by the genius of Rossetti.  Racial
and other causes removed him from any real affinity to the archaistic
moralatarianism of Mr. Holman Hunt.  For obvious reasons the
Pre-Raphaelite memoirs are silent about him, but Burne-Jones was said to
have maintained, in after years, 'that he was the greatest artist of us
all.'  Throughout the sixties Solomon was one of those black-and-white
draughtsmen whose contributions to the magazines have made the period
famous in English art.  He found ready purchasers for his pictures and
drawings, not only among the well-to-do Hebrew community, such as Dr.
Ernest Hart, his brother's brother-in-law, but with well-known Christian
collectors like Mr. Leathart.  He was on intimate terms with Walter
Pater, of whom he executed one of the only two known portraits; and in
the _Greek Studies_ will be found a graceful reference to the 'young
Hebrew painter' whose 'Bacchus' at the Academy obviously contributed to
the 'gem-like' flame of which we have heard so much.

In a short-lived magazine, the _Dark Blue_, of July 1871, may be found a
characteristic review by Swinburne of Solomon's strange rhapsody, _A
Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep_, his only literary work, now a great
rarity.  This is the longest, and with one exception the most
interesting, tribute to Solomon ever published.  'Since the first years
of his early and brilliant celebrity as a young artist of high
imagination, power, and promise,' Swinburne says, 'he has been at work
long enough to enable us to define at least certain salient and dominant
points of his genius . . . I have heard him likened to Heine as a kindred
Hellenist of the Hebrews; Grecian form and beauty divide the allegiance
of his spirit with Hebrew shadow and majesty.'  It would be difficult to
add anything further, in praise of the unfortunate artist, to the poet's
eloquent eulogy of his friend's talents.  An interesting piece of
autobiography is afforded in the same article, where Swinburne tells us
that his own poem of 'Erotion,' in the first series of _Poems and
Ballads_, was written for a drawing by Simeon Solomon; and in another
number of the same magazine there appeared 'The End of the Month,' to
accompany a new design of Solomon's, the poem appearing later in the
second series of _Poems and Ballads_.  Very few English artists--not even
Millais--began life with fairer prospects.  Thackeray wrote in one of the
'Roundabout Papers' for 1860: 'For example, one of the pictures I admired
most at the Royal Academy is by a gentleman on whom I never, to my
knowledge, set eyes.  The picture is (346) "Moses," by S. Solomon.  I
thought it finely drawn and composed.  It nobly represented to my mind
the dark children of the Egyptian bondage. . . . My newspaper says: "Two
ludicrously ugly women, looking at a dingy baby, do not form a pleasing
object," and so good-bye, Mr. S. S.'  This beautiful picture, painted
when the artist was only nineteen, is now in the collection of Mr. W. G.
Rawlinson, and was seen quite recently at the Franco-British Exhibition,
where those familiar with his work considered it one of Solomon's
masterpieces.  Very few students of Thackeray realised, however, that the
painter thus singled out for praise formed the subject of a sordid
inquest reported in the _Times_ of August 18th, 1905.

That Solomon's pictures were at first better known to the public than
those of his now more famous associates is shown by Robert Buchanan
confessing that he had scarcely seen any of their works except those of
Solomon, which he proceeded to attack in the famous _The Fleshly School
of Poetry_.  As a sort of justification of the criticism, in the early
seventies, the extraordinary artist had become a pariah.  He was
imprisoned for a short while, and on his release was placed in a private
asylum by his friends.  Scandal having subsided, since he showed no
further signs of eccentricity, he was, by arrangement, sent out to post a
letter in order that he might have a chance of quietly escaping and
returning to the practice of his art.  He returned to the asylum in half
an hour!--a proceeding which was almost an evidence of insanity.  He was
subsequently officially dismissed, and from this time went steadily
downhill, adding to his other vices that of intemperance.  Every effort
was made by friends and relatives to reclaim him.  Studios were taken for
him, commissions were given him, clothes were bought for him.  He spent
his week-ends in the lock-up.  Several picture-dealers tried giving him
an allowance, but he turned up intoxicated to demand advances, and the
police had to be called in.  He was found selling matches in the Mile End
Road and tried his hand at pavement decoration without much success.  The
companion of Walter Pater and Swinburne became the associate of thieves
and blackmailers.  A story is told that one afternoon he called for
assistance at the house of a well-known artist, a former friend, from
whom he received a generous dole.  Observing that the remote
neighbourhood of the place lent itself favourably to burgling operations,
Solomon visited his benefactor the same evening in company with a
housebreaker.  They were studying the dining-room silver when they were
disturbed; both were in liquor, and the noise they made roused the
sleepers above.  The unwilling host good-naturedly dismissed them!

Though a very delightful book might be made of his life by some one who
would not shirk the difficulties of the subject, it is unnecessary here
to dwell further on a career which belongs to the history of morbid
psychology rather than of painting.  After drifting from the stream of
social existence into a Bohemian backwater, he found himself in the main
sewer.  This he thoroughly enjoyed in his own particular way, and
rejected fiercely all attempts at rescue or reform.  To his other old
friends, such as Burne-Jones and Sir Edward Poynter, there must have been
something very tragic in the contemplation of his wasted talents, for few
young painters were more successful.  Any one curious enough to study his
pictures will regret that he was lost to art by allowing an ill-regulated
life to prey upon his genius.  He had not sufficient strength to keep the
two things separate, as Shakespeare, Verlaine, and Leonardo succeeded in
doing.  At the same time, it is a consolation to think that he enjoyed
himself in his own sordid way.  When I had the pleasure of seeing him
last, so lately as 1893, he was extremely cheerful and not aggressively
alcoholic.  Unlike most spoilt wastrels with the artistic temperament, he
seemed to have no grievances, and had no bitter stories or complaints
about former friends, no scandalous tales about contemporaries who had
remained reputable; no indignant feeling towards those who assisted him.
This was an amiable, inartistic trait in his character, though it may be
a trifle negative; and for a positive virtue, as I say, he enjoyed his
drink, his overpowering dirt, and his vicious life.  He was full of
delightful and racy stories about poets and painters, policemen and
prisons, of which he had wide experience.  He might have written a far
more diverting book of memoirs than the average Pre-Raphaelite volume to
which we look forward every year, though it is usually silent about poor
Simeon Solomon.  Physically he was a small, red man, with keen, laughing
eyes.

By 1887 he entirely ceased to produce work of any value.  He poured out a
quantity of pastels at a guinea apiece.  They are repulsive and
ill-drawn, with the added horror of being the shadows of once splendid
achievements.  Long after his name could be ever mentioned except in
whispers, Mr. Hollyer issued a series of photographs of some of the fine
early sanguine, Indian ink, and pencil drawings.  The originals are
unique of their kind.  It is very easy to detect the unwholesome element
which has inspired many of them, even the titles being indicative:
'Sappho,' 'Antinous,' 'Amor Sacramentum.'  One of the finest, 'Love dying
from the breath of Lust,' of which also he painted a picture, became
quite popular in reproduction owing to the moral which was screwed out of
it.  Another, of 'Dante meeting Beatrice at a Child's Party,' is
particularly fascinating.  To the present generation his work is perhaps
too 'literary,' and his technique is by no means faultless; but the
slightest drawing is informed by an idea, nearly always a beautiful one,
however exotic.  The faceless head and the headless body of shivering
models dear to modern art students were absent from Solomon's designs.
His pigments, both in water-colour and oils, are always harmonious, pure
in tone, and rich without being garish.  We need not try to frighten
ourselves by searching too curiously for hidden meanings.  His whole art
is, of course, unwholesome and morbid, to employ two very favourite
adjectives.  His work has always appealed to musicians and men of letters
rather than collectors--to those who ask that a drawing or a picture
should suggest an idea rather than the art of the artist.  Subject with
him triumphs over drawing.  He is sometimes hopelessly crude; but during
the sixties, when, as some one said, 'every one was a great artist,' he
showed considerable promise of draughtsmanship.  His pictures are less
fantastic than the drawings, and aim at probability, even when they are
allegorical, or, as is too often the case, _odd_ in sentiment.  He is
apparently never concerned with what are called 'problems,' the
articulation of forms, or any fidelity to nature beyond the human frame.
Unlike many of the Pre-Raphaelites, he showed a feeling for the medium of
oil.  His friends and contemporaries, with the exception of Millais, and
Rossetti occasionally, were always more at ease with water-colour or
gouache, and you feel that most of their pictures ought to have been
painted in _tempera_, the technique of which was not then understood.
Since Millais was of French extraction, Rossetti of Italian, and Solomon
of Hebrew, I fear this does not get us very much further away from the
old French criticism that the English had forgotten or never learnt how
to paint in oil.  It must be remembered that Whistler, who in the sixties
achieved some of his masterpieces, was an American.

It is strange that Solomon did not allow a sordid existence to alter the
trend of his subjects, for these are always derived from poetry and the
Bible, or from Catholic, Jewish, or Greek Orthodox ritual--a strange
contrast to the respectable, impeccable painter, M. Degas, the doyen of
European art, nationalist and anti-Semite, who finds beauty only in
brasseries, in the vulgar circus, and in the ghastly wings of the opera.
How far removed from his surroundings are the inspirations of the artist!
I believe J. F. Millet would have painted peasants if he had been born
and spent his days in the centre of New York.  With the life-long friend
of M. Degas--Gustave Moreau--Solomon had much in common, but the colour
of the English Hebrew is much finer, and his themes are less monotonous.
I can imagine many people being repelled by this troubled introspective
art, especially at the present day.  There is hardly room for an inverted
Watts.  At the same time, even those who from age and training cannot
take a sentimental interest in faded rose-leaves, whose perfume is a
little overpowering, may care to explore an interesting byway of art.  For
poor Solomon there was no place in life.  Casting reality aside, he
stepped back into the riotous pages of Petronius.  Perhaps on the Paris
boulevards, with Verlaine and Bibi la Puree, he might have enjoyed a
distinct artistic individuality.  Expeditions conducted by Mr. Arthur
Symons might have been organized in order to view him at some popular
cafe.  Mr. George Moore might have written about him.  But in respectable
London he was quite impossible.  In the temple of Art, which is less
Calvinistic than artists would have us suppose, he will always have his
niche.  To the future English Vasari he will be a real gold-mine.

(1905.)



AUBREY BEARDSLEY.


Middle-aged, middle-class people, with a predilection for mediaeval art,
still believe that subject is an important factor in a picture or
drawing.  I am one of the number.  The subject need not be literary or
historical.  After you have discussed in the latest studio jargon its
carpentry, valued the tones and toned the values, motive or theme must
affect your appreciation of a picture, your desire, or the contrary, to
possess it.  That the artist is able to endow the unattractive, and woo
you to surrender, I admit.  Unless, however, you are a pro-Boer in art
matters, and hold that Rembrandt and the Boer school (the greatest
technicians who ever lived) are finer artists than Titian, you will find
yourself preferring Gainsborough to Degas, and the unskilful Whistler to
the more accomplished Edouard Manet.  Long ago French critics invented an
aesthetic formula to conceal that poverty of imagination which sometimes
stares from their perfectly executed pictures, and this was eagerly
accepted by certain Englishmen, both painters and writers.  Yet, when an
artist frankly deals with forbidden subjects, the canons regular of
English art begin to thunder; the critics forget their French accent; the
old Robert Adam, which is in all of us, asserts himself; we fly for the
fig-leaves.

I am led to these reflections by the memory of Aubrey Beardsley, and the
reception which his work received, not from the British public, but from
the inner circle of advanced intellectuals.  Too much occupied with the
obstetrics of art, his superfluity of naughtiness has tarnished his niche
in the temple of fame.  'A wish to _epater le bourgeois_,' says Mr.
Arthur Symons, 'is a natural one.'  I do not think so; at least, in an
artist.  Now much of Beardsley's work shows the _eblouissement_ of the
burgess on arriving at Montmartre for the first time--a weakness he
shared with some of his contemporaries.  This must be conceded in
praising a great artist for a line which he never drew, after you have
taken the immortal Zero's advice and divested yourself of the scruples.

'I would rather be an Academician than an artist,' said Aubrey Beardsley
to me one day.  'It takes thirty-nine men to make an Academician, and
only one to make an artist.'  In that sneer lay all his weakness and his
strength.  Grave friends (in those days it was the fashion) talked to him
of 'Dame Nature.'  '_Damn Nature_!' retorted Aubrey Beardsley, and pulled
down the blinds and worked by gaslight on the finest days.  But he was a
real Englishman, who from his glass-house peppered the English public.  No
Latin could have contrived his arabesque.  The grotesques of Jerome Bosch
are positively pleasant company beside many of Beardsley's inventions.
Even in his odd little landscapes, with their twisted promontories
sloping seaward, he suggested mocking laughter; and the flowers of 'Under
the Hill' are cackling in the grass.

An essay, which Mr. Arthur Symons published in 1897, has always been
recognised as far the most sympathetic and introspective account of this
strange artist's work.  It has been reissued, with additional
illustrations, by Messrs. Dent.  Those who welcome it as one of the most
inspiring criticisms from an always inspired critic, will regret that
eight of the illustrations belong to the worst period of Beardsley's art.
Kelmscott dyspepsia following on a surfeit of Burne-Jones, belongs to the
pathology of style; it is a phase that should be produced by the
prosecution, not by the eloquent advocate for the defence.  Moreover, I
do not believe Mr. Arthur Symons admires them any more than I do; he
never mentions them in his text.  'Le Debris d'un Poete,' the 'Coiffing,'
'Chopin's Third Ballad,' and those for _Salome_ would have sufficed.  With
these omissions the monograph might have been smaller; but it would have
been more truly representative of Beardsley's genius and Mr. Arthur
Symons's taste.

At one time or another every one has been brilliant about Beardsley.
'Born Puck, he died Pierrot,' said Mr. MacColl in one of the superb
phrases with which he gibbets into posterity an art or an artist he
rather dislikes.  'The Fra Angelico of Satanism,' wrote Mr. Roger Fry of
an exhibition of the drawings.  There seems hardly anything left even for
Mr. Arthur Symons to write.  Long anterior to these particular fireworks,
however, his criticism is just as fresh as it was twelve years ago.  I
believe it will always remain the terminal essay.

The preface has been revised, and I could have wished for some further
revision.  Why is the name of Leonard Smithers--here simply called _a_
publisher--omitted, when the other Capulets and Montagus are faithfully
recorded?  When no one would publish Beardsley's work, Smithers stepped
into the breach.  I do not know that the _Savoy_ exactly healed the
breach between Beardsley and the public, but it gave the artist another
opportunity; and Mr. Arthur Symons an occasion for song.  Leonard
Smithers, too, was the most delightful and irresponsible publisher I ever
knew.  Who remembers without a kindly feeling the little shop in the
Royal Arcade with its tempting shelves; its limited editions of _5000_
copies; the shy, infrequent purchaser; the upstairs room where the roar
of respectable Bond Street came faintly through the tightly-closed
windows; the genial proprietor?  In the closing years of the nineteenth
century his silhouette reels (my metaphor is drawn from a Terpsichorean
and Caledonian exercise) across an artistic horizon of which the _Savoy_
was the afterglow.  Again, why is Mr. Arthur Symons so precise about
forgetting the date of Beardsley's expulsion from the _Yellow Book_?  It
was in April 1895, April 10th.  A number of poets and writers blackmailed
Mr. Lane by threatening to withdraw their own publications unless the
Beardsley Body was severed from the Bodley Head.  I am glad to have this
opportunity, not only of paying a tribute to the courage of my late
friend Smithers, but of defending my other good friend, Mr. John Lane,
from the absurd criticism of which he was too long the victim.  He could
hardly be expected to wreck a valuable business in the cause of unpopular
art.  Quite wrongly Beardsley's designs had come to be regarded as the
pictorial and sympathetic expression of a decadent tendency in English
literature.  But if there was any relation thereto, it was that of
Juvenal towards Roman Society.  Never was mordant satire more evident.  If
Beardsley is carried away in spite of himself by the superb invention of
_Salome_, he never forgets his hatred of its author.  It is
characteristic that he hammered beauty from the gold he would have
battered into caricature.  _Salome_ has survived other criticism and
other caricature.  And Mr. Lane once informed an American interviewer
that since that April Fool's Day poetry has ceased to sell altogether.
The bards unconsciously committed suicide; and the _Yellow Book_ perished
in the odour of sanctity.

Recommending the perusal of some letters (written by Beardsley to an
unnamed friend) published some years ago, Mr. Arthur Symons says: 'Here,
too, we are in the presence of the real thing.'  I venture to doubt this.
I do not doubt Beardsley's sincerity in the religion he embraced, but his
expression of it in the letters.  At least, I hope it was insincere.  The
letters left on some of us a disagreeable impression, at least of the
recipient.  You wonder if this pietistic friend received a copy of the
_Lysistrata_ along with the eulogy of St. Alfonso Liguori and Aphra Behn.
A fescennine temperament is too often allied with religiosity.  It
certainly was in Beardsley's case, but I think the other and stronger
side of his character should, in justice to his genius, be insisted upon,
as Mr. Arthur Symons insisted upon it.  If we knew that the ill-advised
and unnamed friend was the author of certain pseudo-scientific and
pornographic works issued in Paris, we should be better able to gauge the
unimportance of these letters.  Far more interesting would have been
those written to Mr. Joseph Pennell, one of the saner influences; or
those to Aubrey Beardsley's mother and sister.

'It was at Arques,' says Mr. Arthur Symons . . . 'that I had the only
serious, almost solemn conversation I ever had with Beardsley.'  You can
scarcely believe that any of the conversations between the two were other
than serious and solemn, because he approaches Beardsley as he would John
Bunyan or Aquinas.  Art, literature and life, are all to this engaging
writer a scholiast's pilgrim's progress.  Beside him, Walter Pater, from
whom he derives, seems almost flippant--and to have dallied too long in
the streets of Vanity Fair.

(1906.)



ENGLISH AESTHETICS.


The law reports in newspapers contain perhaps the only real history of
England that has any relation to truth.  Here, too, may be found
indications of current thought, more pregnant than the observations of
historians.  They still afford material for the future short or longer
history of the English people by the John Richard Greens of posterity.
This was brought home to me by perusing two cases reported in the
_Morning Post_, that of Mrs. Rita Marsh and the disputed will of Miss
Browne.  I yield to no one in my ignorance of English law, but I have
seldom read judgments which seemed so conspicuously unfair, so
characteristic of the precise minimum of aesthetic perception in the
English people.

The hostelries of Great Britain are famous for their high charges, their
badly-kept rooms, and loathsome cooking; let me add, their warm welcome.
In the reign of Edward III. there was legislation on the subject.  The
colder and cheaper hospitality of the Continent strikes a chill, I am
sometimes told by those familiar with both.  The hotel selected by a
certain Mrs. Rita Marsh was no exception to the ordinary English
caravanserai.  It was 'replete with every comfort.'  The garden contained
an _oubliette_, down which Mrs. Marsh, while walking in the evening,
inadvertently fell.  On the Continent the _oubliettes_ are inside the
house, and you are ostentatiously warned of their immediate
neighbourhood.  These things are managed better in France, if I may say
so without offending Tariff Reformers.

The accident disfigured Mrs. Marsh for life; and for the loss of unusual
personal attractions an English jury awarded her only 500_l_.  The judge
made a joke about it.  Mr. Gill was very playful about her photograph,
and every one, except, I imagine, Mrs. Marsh, seems to have been
satisfied that ample justice was done.  The hotel proprietors did not
press their counter-claim for a bill of 191_l_.!  Chivalrous fellows!
Still, I can safely say that in France Mrs. Marsh would have been awarded
at least four times that amount; though if she had been murdered the
proprietors would have only been fined forty francs.  But beauty to its
fortunate possessors is more valuable than life itself, and the story is
to me one of the most pathetic I have ever heard.  To the English mind
there is something irresistibly comic when any one falls, morally or
physically.  It is the basis of English Farce.  Jokes made about those
who have never fallen, 'too great to appease, too high to appal,' are
voted bad taste.  Caricaturists of the mildest order are considered
irreligious and vulgar if they burlesque, say, the Archbishop of
Canterbury for example; or unpatriotic if they hint that Lord Roberts did
not really finish the Boer War when he professed to have done so.  After
Parnell came to grief I remember the Drury Lane pantomime was full of
fire-escapes, and every allusion to the _cause celebre_ produced roars of
laughter.  Mr. Justice Bigham was only a thorough Englishman when he
gently rallied the jury for awarding, as he obviously thought, excessive
damages.  So little is beauty esteemed in England.

The case of Miss Browne was also singular.  She left a trust fund 'for
the erection of an ornamental structure of Gothic design, such as a
market cross, tall clock, street lamp-stand, or all combined, in a
central part of London, the plan whereof shall be offered for open
competition, and ultimately decided upon by the Royal Institute of
British Architects.'  The President of the Probate Division said _he was
satisfied that Miss Browne was not of sound mind, and pronounced against
the will_, with costs out of the estate.  I wonder what the Royal
Institute thinks of this legal testimonial.  It seems almost a pity that
some one did not dispute Sir Francis Chantrey's will years ago on similar
grounds.  I suggest to Mr. MacColl that it might still be upset.  That
would settle once and for all the question whether the administration of
the bequest has evinced evidence of insanity or not.  A recent Royal
Commission left the matter undecided.  I do not, however, wish to
criticise trustees, but to defend the memory of Miss Browne (who may have
been eccentric in private life) from such a charge, because her
testamentary dispositions were a trifle aesthetic.  The will was
un-English in one respect: '_no inscription of my name shall be placed on
such erection_.'  Was that the clause which proved her hopelessly mad?
The erection was to be Gothic.  I know Gothic is out of fashion just now.
Ruskin is quite over; the Seven Lamps exploded long ago; but Miss Browne
seems to have attended before her death Mr. MacColl's lectures, knew all
about 'masses' and 'tones' in architecture, and wished particular stress
to be laid on 'the general outline as seen from a good distance.'  This
is greeted by some of the papers as particularly side-splitting and
eccentric.  Looking at the unlovely streets of London, never one of the
more beautiful cities of Europe, where each new building seems contrived
to go one better in sheer _uglitude_ (especially since builders of Tube
stations have ventured into the Vitruvian arena), you can easily suppose
that poor Miss Browne, with her views about 'general outlines seen from a
good distance,' must have appeared hopelessly insane.  The decision of
the court is not likely to encourage any further public bequests of this
kind.  I have cut the British Museum and the National Gallery out of my
own will already.  And I understand why Mr. MacColl, with his passionate
pleading for a living national architecture, for official recognition of
past and present English art, is thought by many good people quite odd.
How he managed to attract the notice of any but the Lunacy Commissioners
I cannot conceive.  Valued critic, admired artist, model keeper, I only
hope he will attract no further attention.

Since it is clear that the law assists in blackening reputations even in
the grave, I claim that other Miss Brownes who take advantage of life,
and time by the forelock to put up monuments in the sufficiently hideous
thoroughfares should be pronounced _non compos mentis_.  The perpetrators
of the erection in High Street, Kensington, hard by St. Mary Abbots, may
serve as an example.  Inconvenient, vulgar, inapposite, this should debar
even the subscribers from obtaining probate for their wills.  I invoke
posthumous revenge, and claim that at least 500_l_. damages should be
paid as compensation to the nearest hospital for the _indignant_ blind,
as my friend Mr. Vincent O'Sullivan calls them in one of his delightful
stories.

(1906.)



NON ANGELI SED ANGLI.


I wish that the Rokeby Velasquez now firmly secured for the British
nation could have been allowed to remain in Bond Street for a short
while; not to tantalise the foreign countries who so eagerly competed for
its acquisition, nor to emphasise the patriotism of its former owners,
but as a contrast to 'Some Examples of the Independent Art of To-day,'
held at Messrs. Agnew's.  Perhaps not as a contrast even, but as a
complement.  I do not mean to place all the examples on the same level
with the 'Venus,' though with some I should have preferred to live; yet
the juxtaposition would have asserted the tradition of the younger
painters and the modernity of the older master.  'We are all going
to--Agnew's, and Velasquez will be of the company,' or something like
Gainsborough's dying words would have occurred sooner or later.  I am
persuaded that we look at the ancient pictures with frosted magnifying-
glasses, and stare at the younger men from the wrong end of the
binoculars.  It was ever thus; it always will be so.  Most of us suspect
our contemporaries or juniors.  And they--_les jeunes feroces_--are
impatient of their immediate predecessors.  _Nos peres out toujours
tort_.  Though grandpapa is sometimes quite picturesque; his waistcoat
and old buttons suit us very well.  'Your Raphael is not even divine,'
said Velasquez when he left Rome and that wonderful _p.p.c_. card on the
Doria.  'Your Academicians are not even academic,' some of the younger
painters and their champions are saying to-day.

I found, moreover, the epithet 'independent,' to qualify an entertaining
and significant exhibition, misleading.  For many of the items could only
be so classified in the sense that they were independent of Messrs. Agnew
and the Royal Academy.  Mr. Tonks and Professor Brown are official
instructors at the Slade School in London; Mr. C. J. Holmes is Keeper of
the National Portrait Gallery.  Mr. Gerard Chowne was a professor at
Liverpool.  Mr. Fry is now an official at New York; and the majority of
the painters belonged to two distinctive and _dependent_ groups--the
Glasgow School and the New English Art Club.  Intense individualism is
not incompatible with militant collectivism.  The only independent
artists, if you except Mr. Nicholson, were Mr. C. H. Shannon and Mr.
Charles Ricketts, who have always stood apart, being neither for the
Royal Academy nor its enemies; their choice is in their pictures.

I feel it difficult to write of painters for some of whom I acted showman
so long at the Carfax Gallery.  I confess that when I heard they were
going to Bond Street my pangs were akin to those of the owner of a small
country circus on learning that his troupe of performing dogs had been
engaged by Mr. Imre Kiralfy or the Hippodrome.  A quondam dealer in
ultramontanes, I became an Othello of the trade.  And in their grander
quarters (I grieve to say) they looked better than ever, though I would
have chosen another background, something less expensive and more severe.
Yes, they all went through their hoops gracefully.  With one exception, I
never saw finer Wilson Steers; the 'Sunset' might well be hung beside the
new Turners, when the gulf between ancient and modern art would be almost
imperceptible.  The 'Aliens' of Mr. Rothenstein in the cosmopolitan
society of a public picture gallery would hardly appear foreigners,
because they belong to a country where the inhabitants are racy of every
one else's soil.  When time has given an added dignity (if that were
possible) to this work, I can realise how our descendants will laugh at
our lachrymose observations on the decadence of art.  The background
against which the stately Hebrew figures are silhouetted is in itself a
liberal education for the aged and those who ask their friends what these
modern fellows mean.

When the inhabitants of the unceltiferous portion of these islands employ
the adjective _un-English_ you may be sure there is something serious on
the carpet.  It is valedictory, expressive of sorrow and contempt rather
than anger.  All the other old favourites of vituperative must have
missed fire before this almost sacred, disqualifying Podsnappianism is
applied to the objectionable person, picture, book, behaviour, or
movement.  And when the epithet is brought into action, in nine cases out
of ten it is aimed at some characteristic essentially, often blatantly,
Anglo-Saxon.  Throughout the nineteenth century all exponents of art and
literature not conforming to Fleet Street ideals were voted un-English;
Byron, Shelley, Keats, Swinburne, the Pre-Raphaelites, and, in course of
good time, those artists who formed the New English Art Club.  There was
some ground for suspicion of foreign intrigue.  They regarded Mr.
Whistler, an American, who flirted with French impressionism, as a
pioneer.  Some of their names suggest the magic Orient or the romantic
scenery of the Rhine.  But it is not extravagant to assert that if Mr.
Rothenstein had chosen to be born in France or Germany, instead of in
Bradford, his art would have come to us in another form.  In his strength
and his weakness he is more English than the English.  Art may have
cosmopolitan relations (it is usually a hybrid), but it must take on the
features of the country and people where it grows; or it may change them,
or change the vision of the people of its adoption.  Yet Ruth must not
look too foreign in the alien corn, or her values will get wrong.  When
an English artist airs his foreign accent and his smattering of French
pigment his work has no permanent significance.  Even Professor Legros
unconsciously assimilated British subjectivity: his Latin rein has been
slackened; his experiments are often literary.

It is an error however to regard the exhibitions of the New English Art
Club as a homogeneous movement, such as that of Barbizon and the
Pre-Raphaelite--inspired by a single idea or similar group of ideas.  The
members have not even the cohesion of Glasgow or defunct Newlyn.  The
only thing they have in common, in common originally with Glasgow, was a
distaste for the tenets and ideals of Burlington House.  The serpent (or
was it the animated rod?) of the Academy soon swallowed the
sentimentalities of Newlyn, just as the International boa-constrictor
made short work of Glasgow.  And the forbidden fruit of an official Eden
has tempted many members of the Club.  Others have resigned from time to
time, but with no ill result--to the Club.  Now, the reason for this is
that the members have no dependence on each other, except for the
executive organization of Mr. Francis Bate.  It may be doubted if in
their heart of hearts they admire each other's works.  They are intense
individualists (personal friends, maybe, in private life) artistically
speaking, on terms of cutting acquaintance at the Slade.

The mannerism of Professor Legros is still, of course, a common
denominator for the older men, and the younger artists evince a
familiarity with drawing unusual in England, due to the admirable
training of Professor Brown and Mr. Henry Tonks.  The Spartan Mr. Tonks
may not be able to make geniuses, but he has the faculty of turning out
efficient workmen.  Whether they become members of the Club or drift into
the haven of Burlington House, at all events they _can_ fly and wear
their aureoles with propriety.  A society, however, which contains such
distinctive and assertive personalities as Mr. Wilson Steer, Mr. Henry
Tonks, Mr. Augustus John, Mr. William Orpen, Mr. Von Glehn, Mr. MacColl,
and Professor Holmes, cannot possess even such unity of purpose as
inspired Mr. Holman Hunt and his associates of the 'fifties.  The New
English Art Club is simply an admirably administered association whose
members have rather less in common than is shared by the members of an
ordinary political club.  The exhibitions are for this reason intensely
interesting.  They cannot be waved aside like mobs, and no comprehensive
epigram can do them even an injustice.

I never knew any painter worthy of the name who paid the smallest
attention to what a critic says, even in conversation.  He will retort;
but he will not change his style or regulate his motives to suit a
critic's palate.  So may I now mention their faults?  What painter is
without fault?  Their faults are shared by _nearly_ all of them; their
virtues are their own.  I see among them an absence of any _desire_ for
beauty--for physical beauty.  If the artists have fulfilled a mission in
abolishing 'the sweetly pretty Christmas supplement kind of work,' I
think they dwell too long on the trivial and the ignoble.  They put a not
very interesting domesticity into their frames.  Rossetti, of course,
wheeled about the marriage couch, but his was itself an interesting
object of _virtu_.  Modern art ceased to express the better aspirations
and thoughts of the day when modern artists refused to become the
servants of the commune, but asserted themselves as a component part of
an intellectual republic.  That is why people only commission portraits,
and prefer to buy old masters who anticipate those better aspirations.
Burne-Jones, however, expressed in paint that longing to be out of the
nineteenth century which was so widespread.  Now we are well out of it,
the rising generation does not esteem his works with the same enthusiasm
as the elders.  It reads Mr. Wells on the future, and looks into the
convex mirror of Mr. Bernard Shaw; but it does not buy Dubedats to the
extent that it ought to do.  The members of the New English Art Club
could, I think, preserve their aesthetic conscience and yet paint
beautiful things and beautiful people.  Mr. Steer has now given them a
lead.  I wonder what Mr. Winter's opinion would be?  He is the best
salesman in London.

Among dealers, the ancient firm of Messrs. P. & D. Colnaghi, of which
Thackeray writes, is the _doyen_.  That of Messrs. Agnew is the _douane_.
Here it is that the official seal must be set before modern paintings can
pass onwards to the Midlands and the middle classes.  Well, I felicitate
the august officials on removing a tariff of prejudice; I felicitate the
young artists who, released from the bondage of the Egyptian Hall, can
now enjoy the lighter air, the larger day, the pasturage and patronage of
Palestine.  I compliment the fearless collectors, such as Mr. C. K.
Butler, Mr. Herbert Trench, Mr. Daniel, His Honour Judge Evans, the
Leylands and the Leathearts of a latter day, for ignoring contemporary
ridicule and anticipating the verdict, not of passing fashion but of
posterity.  As the servant spoke well of his master while wearing his
clothes which were far too big for him, let me congratulate the
Chrysostom of critics, the Origen who has scourged our heresies, Mr. D.
S. MacColl; because the Greeks have entered Troy or the barbarians the
senate-house.  _Dissolve frigus ligna super foco large reponens_, and let
us mix our metaphors.  What was Mr. MacColl's Waterloo was a Canossa for
Messrs. Agnew.

(1906.)



MR.  HOLMAN HUNT AT THE LEICESTER GALLERIES.


An enterprising American syndicate was once formed for manufacturing
Stilton cheeses on a large scale; like the pirated Cheddars from similar
sources, enjoyed by members of most London clubs.  Various farms
celebrated for their Stiltons were visited, sums of money being offered
for old family recipes.  The simple peasants of the district willingly
parted with copies of their heirlooms, for a consideration, to the
different American agents, who, filled with joy, repaired to their London
offices in order to compare notes, and fully persuaded that England was a
greener country than ever Constable painted it.  What was their
mortification on discovering that all the recipes were entirely
different; they could not be reconciled even by machinery.  So it is with
Pre-Raphaelitism; every critic believes that he knows the great secret,
and can always quote from one of the brotherhood something in support of
his view.  At the beginning the brothers meekly accepted Ruskin's
explanation of their existence; his, indeed, was a very convenient,
though not entirely accurate, exposition of their collective view, if
they can be said to have possessed one.  How far Ruskin was out of
sympathy with them, indiscreet memoirs have revealed.  An artistic idea,
or a group of ideas, must always be broken gently to the English people,
because the acceptance of them necessitates the swallowing of words.  When
the golden ladders are let down from heaven by poets, artists, or critics
even; or new spirits are hovering in the intellectual empyrean, the
patriarch public snoring on its stone pillow wakes up; but he will not
wrestle with the angel.  He mistakes the ladders for scaffolding, or some
temporary embarrassment in the street traffic; he orders their instant
removal; he writes angry letters to the papers and invokes the police.
After some time Ruskin's definition of Pre-Raphaelitism was generally
accepted, and then the death of Rossetti produced other recipes for the
Stilton cheese, Mr. Hall Caine being among the grocers.  Whatever the
correct definition may be, ungracious and ungrateful though it is to
praise the dead at the expense of the living, it has to be recognised
that among the remarkable group of painters in which even the minor men
were little masters, the greatest artist of them all was Dante Gabriel
Rossetti.  'By critic I mean finding fault,' says Sir William Richmond;
so let us follow his advice, and avoid technical discussion along with
the popular jargon of art criticism.  'After staying two or three hours
in the always-delightful Leicester Galleries, let us walk home and think
a little of what we have seen.'  For the essence of beauty there is
nothing of Mr. Holman Hunt's to compare with Rossetti's 'Beloved' or the
'Blue Bower;' and you could name twenty of the poet's water-colours
which, for design, invention, devious symbolism, and religious impulse,
surpass the finest of Mr. Hunt's most elaborate works.  Even in the
painter's own special field--the symbolised illustration of Holy Writ--he
is overwhelmed by Millais with the superb 'Carpenter's Shop.'  In
Millais, it was well said by Mr. Charles Whibley, 'we were cheated out of
a Rubens.'  Millais was the strong man, the great oil-painter of the
group, as Rossetti was the supreme artist.  In Mr. Holman Hunt we lost
another Archdeacon Farrar.  Then, in the sublimation of uglitude, Madox-
Brown, step-father of the Pre-Raphaelites (my information is derived from
a P.R.B. aunt), was an infinitely greater conjurer.  Look at the radiant
painting of 'Washing of the Feet' in the Tate Gallery; is there anything
to equal that masterpiece from the brush of Mr. Holman Hunt?  The
'Hireling Shepherd' comes nearest, but the preacher, following his own
sheep, has strayed into alien corn, and on cliffs from which is ebbing a
tide of nonconformist conscience.  Like his own hireling shepherd, too,
he has mistaken a phenomenon of nature for a sermon.

One of the great little pictures, 'Claudio and Isabella,' proves,
however, that _once_ he determined to be a painter.  In the 'Lady of
Shalott' he showed himself a designer with unusual powers akin to those
of William Blake.  Still, examined at a distance or close at hand, among
his canvases do we find a single piece of decoration or a picture in the
ordinary sense of the word?  My definition of a religious picture is a
painted object in two dimensions destined or suitable for the decoration
of an altar or other site in a church, or room devoted to religious
purposes; if it fails to satisfy the required conditions, it fails as a
work of art.  Where is the work of this so-called religious painter which
would satisfy the not exacting conditions of a nonconformist or Anglican
place of worship?  You are not surprised to learn that Keble College
mistook the 'Light of the World' for a patent fuel, or that the
background of the 'Innocents' was painted in 'the Philistine plain.'  Who
could live even in cold weather with the 'Miracle of the Sacred Fire?'
Give me rather the 'Derby Day' of Mr. Frith--admirable and underrated
master.  What are they if we cannot place them in the category of
pictures?  They are pietistic ejaculations--tickled-up maxims in pigment
of extraordinary durability--counsels of perfection in colour and
conduct.  Of all the Pre-Raphaelites, Mr. Hunt will remain the most
popular.  He is artistically the scapegoat of that great movement which
gave a new impulse to English art, a scapegoat sent out to wander by the
dead seas of popularity.  I once knew a learned German who regretted that
none of his countrymen could paint 'Alpine scenery' as Mr. Hunt has done
in the 'Scapegoat'!  Yes, he has a message for every one, for my German
friend, for Sir William Richmond, and myself.  He is a missing link
between art and popularity.  He symbolises the evangelical attitude of
those who would go to German Reed's and the Egyptian Hall, but would not
attend a theatre.  After all, it was a gracious attitude, because it is
that of mothers who aged more beautifully, I think, than the ladies of a
later generation which admired Whistler or Burne-Jones and regularly
attended the Lyceum.  When modern art, the brilliant art of the 'sixties,
was strictly excluded from English homes except in black and white
magazines, engravings from the 'Finding of Christ in the Temple' and the
'Light of the World' were allowed to grace the parlour along with 'Bolton
Abbey,' the 'Stag at Bay,' and 'Blucher meeting Wellington.'  You see
them now only in Pimlico and St. John's Wood.  A friend of mine said he
could never look at the picture of 'Blucher meeting Wellington' without
blushing. . . . Like a good knight and true, Sir William Richmond,
another Bedivere, has brandished Excalibur in the form of a catalogue for
Mr. Hunt's pictures.  He offers the jewels for our inspection; they make
a brave show; they are genuine; they are intrinsic, but you remember
others of finer water, Bronzino-like portraits of Mr. Andrew Lang and
Bismarck and many others.  Now, you should never recollect anything
during the enjoyment of a complete work of art.

Every one knows the view from Richmond, I should say _of_ Richmond; it is
almost my own . . . Far off Sir Bedivere sees Lyonesse submerged; Camelot-
at-Sea has capitulated after a second siege to stronger forces.  The new
Moonet is high in the heaven and a dim Turner-like haze has begun to
obscure the landscape and soften the outlines.  Under cover of the mist
the hosts of Mordred MacColl, _en-Tate_ with victory, are hunting the
steer in the New English Forest.  Far off the enchanter Burne-Jones is
sleeping quietly in Broceliande (I cannot bear to call it Rottingdean).
Hark, the hunt, (not the Holman Hunt) is up in Caledon (Glasgow); they
have started the shy wilson steer: they have wound the hornel; the lords
of the International, who love not Mordred overmuch, are galloping nearer
and nearer.  Sir Bedivere can see their insolent pencils waving black and
white flags: and the game-keepers and beaters (critics) chant in low
vulgar tones:

   When we came out of Glasgow town
   There was really nothing at all to see
   Except Legros and Professor Brown,
   But _now_ there is Guthrie and Lavery.

Undaunted Sir Bedivere drags his burden to a hermitage near Coniston; but
he finds it ruined; he bars the door in order to administer refreshment
to the wounded Pre-Raphaelite; there is a knocking at the wicket-gate; is
it the younger generation?  No, he can hear the tread of the royal
sargent-at-arms; his spurs and sword are clanking on the pavement.  Sir
Bedivere feels his palette parched; his tongue cleaves to the roof of St.
Paul's; but he is undaunted.  'We are surely betrayed if that is really
Sargent,' he says.  Through the broken tracery of the Italian Gothic
window a breeze or draught comes softly and fans his strong academic
arms; he feels a twinge.  Some Merlin told him he would suffer from
ricketts with shannon complications.  Seizing Excalibur, he opens the
door cautiously.  'Draw, caitiffs,' he cries; 'draw.'  'Perhaps they
cannot draw; perhaps they are impressionists,' said a raven on the hill;
and he flew away.

(1906.)

_To_ SIR WILLIAM BLAKE RICHMOND, R.A., K.C.B.



THE ECLECTIC AT LARGE.


In _The Education of an Artist_, Mr. Lewis Hind invented a new kind of
art criticism--a pleasing blend of the Morelli narrative (minus the
scientific method) and _Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour_.  He contrives a
young man, ignorant like the Russian, Lermoliev, who receives certain
artistic impressions, faithfully recorded by Mr. Hind and visualised for
the reader in a series of engaging half-tone illustrations.  The hero's
name is itself suggestive--Claude Williamson Shaw.  By the end of the
book he is nearly as learned as Mr. Claude Phillips: he might edit a
series of art-books with all the skill of Dr. Williamson, and his power
of racy criticism rivals that of Mr. George Bernard Shaw.  You can hardly
escape the belief that these three immortals came from the north and
south, gathered as unto strife, breathed upon his mouth and filled his
body--with ideas: Mr. Hind supplying the life.  But this is not so: the
ideas are all Mr. Hind's and the godfathers only supplied the name.  What
a name it is to be sure!  It recalls one of Ibsen's plays: 'Claude
Williamson Shaw was a miner's son--a Cornish miner's son, as you know; or
perhaps you didn't know.  He was always wanting _plein-air_.'  Some one
ought to say that in the book, but I must say it instead.  At all events,
Mr. Hind nearly always refers to him by his three names, and every one
must think of him in the same way, otherwise side issues will intrude
themselves--thoughts of other things and people.  'O Captain Shaw, type
of true love kept under,' is not inapposite, because Claude Williamson
Shaw fell in love with a lady who in a tantalising manner became a
religious in one of the strictest Orders, the rules of which were duly
set forth in old three-volume novels; that is the only conventional
incident in the book.  C. W. S., although he trains for painting, is
admitted by Mr. Hind to be quite a bad artist.  Apart, therefore, from
the admirable criticism which is the main feature of the book, it shows
great courage on the part of the inventor, great sacrifice, to admit that
C. W. S. _was_ a failure as an artist.  Bad artists, however, are always
nice people.  I do not say that the reverse is true; indeed, I know many
good and even great artists who are charming; but I never met a
thoroughly inferior painter (without any promise of either a future or a
past) who was not irresistible socially.  This accounts for some of the
elections at the Royal Academy, I believe, and for the pictures on the
walls of your friends whose taste you know to be impeccable.  There is
more hearty recognition of bad art in England than the Tate Gallery gives
us any idea of.

I know that the Chantrey Trustees were deprived of the only possible
excuse for their purchases by the finding of Lord Lytton's Commission;
but I, for one, shall always think of them as kindly men with a fellow-
feeling for incompetence, who would have bought a work by Claude
Williamson Shaw if the opportunity presented itself.  I have sometimes
tried to imagine what the pictures of _invented_ artists in fiction or
drama were really like--I fear they were all dreadful performances.  I
used to imagine that Oswald Avling was a sort of Segantini, but something
he says in the play convinced me that he was merely another Verboekhoven.
Then Thackeray's Ridley must have been a terrible Philistine--a sort of
Sir John Gilbert.  Poor Basil Hallward's death was no great loss to art,
I surmise: his portrait of 'Dorian Grey, Esq.', from all accounts,
resembled the miraculous picture exhibited in Bond Street a short while
ago.  I am not surprised that its owner, whose taste improved, I suspect,
with advancing years, destroyed it in the ordinary course after reading
something by Mr. D. S. MacColl.  It is distinctly stated that Dorian read
the _Saturday Review_!  Frenhofer, Hippolite Schimier, and Leon de Lora
were probably chocolate-box painters of the regular second-empire type.
Theobald, we know from Mr. Henry James, was a man of ideas who could not
carry out his intentions.  It must have been an exquisite memory of
Theobald's failures which made Pater, when he wished to contrive an
imaginary artistic personality, take Watteau as being some one in whose
achievements you can believe.  No literary artist can persuade us into
admiring pictures which never existed; though an artist can reconstruct
from literature a picture which has perished we know, from the 'Calumny
of Apelles' by Botticelli.  It was, therefore, wise to make Claude
Williamson Shaw a failure as a painter.  In accordance with my rule he
was an excellent fellow, nearly as charming as his author, and better
company in a picture-gallery it would be difficult to find--and you
cannot visit picture-galleries with every friend: you require a
sympathetic personality.  It is the Claude--the Claude Phillips in him
which I like best: the Dr. Williamson I rather suspect.  I mean that when
he was at Messrs. Chepstow, the publishers, he must have mugged up some
of the real Dr. Williamson's art publications.  Whether in the Louvre, or
National Gallery, or in Italian towns, he always goes for the right
thing; sometimes you wish he would make a mistake.  Bad artists, of
course, are often excellent judges of old pictures and make excellent
dealers, and I am not denying the instinct of C. W. S.; but I cannot
think it all came so naturally as Mr. Hind would indicate.

The reason why Claude Williamson Shaw discovered 'that he would not find
a true expression of his temperament' in painting readers of this
ingenious book will discover for themselves.  Assuming that he had any
innate talent, I do not think he went about the right way to cultivate
it.  His friend Lund gave him the very worst advice; though we are the
gainers.  It is quite unnecessary to go out of England and gaze at a lot
of pictures of entirely different schools in order to become a painter.
Gainsborough and our great Norwich artists evolved themselves without any
foreign study.  There was no National Gallery in their days.  A second-
rate Wynants and a doubtful Hobbema seem to have been enough to give them
hints.  It would be tedious to mention other examples.  The fortunate
meeting of Zuccarelli and Wilson at Venice is the only instance I know in
which foreign travel benefited any English landscape painter.  Foreign
travel is all very well when the artist has grown up.  Paris has been the
tomb of many English art students.  M. Bordeaux, who gave Mr. Hind's hero
tips in the atelier, seems to have been as 'convincing' as the famous
barrel of the same name.  Far better will the English student be under
Mr. Tonks at the Slade; or even at the Royal Academy, where, owing to the
doctrine of contraries, out of sheer rebellion he may become an artist.
In Paris you learn perfect carpentry, but not art, unless you are a born
artist; but in that case you will be one in spite of Paris, not because
of it.  But if C. W. Shaw had been a real painter he would have seen at
Venice certain Tiepolos which seem to have escaped him, and in other
parts of Italy certain Caravaggios.  Yes, and Correggios and Guido Renis,
too hastily passed by.  He was doomed to be a connoisseur.

(1906.)



EGO ET MAX MEUS.


'How very delightful Max's drawings are.  For all their mad perspective
and crude colour, they have, indeed, the sentiment of style, and they
reveal with rarer delicacy than does any other record the spirit of Lloyd-
George's day.'  This sentence is not quite original: it is adapted from
an eminent author because the words sum up so completely the
inexpressible satisfaction following an inspection of Mr. Beerbohm's
caricatures.  To-day essentially belongs to the Minister who once
presided at the Board of Trade.  Several attempts indeed have been made
to describe the literature, art and drama of the present as 'Edwardian,'
from a very proper and loyal spirit, to which I should be the last to
object.  We were even promised a few years ago a new style of furniture
to inaugurate the reign--something to supplant that Louis Dix-neuvieme
_decor_ which is merely a compromise with the past.  But somehow the
whole thing has fallen through; in this democratic aeon the adjective
'Edwardian' trips on the tongue; our real dramatists are all Socialists
or Radicals; our poets and writers Anarchists.  Our artists are the only
conservatives of intellect.  Our foreign policy alone can be called
'Edwardian,' so personal is it to the King.  Everything else is a
compromise; so our time must therefore be known--at least ten years of
it--as the Lloyd-Georgian period.  I can imagine collectors of the future
struggling for an _alleged_ genuine work of art belonging to this brief
renaissance, and the disappointment of the dealer on finding that it
dated a year before the Budget, thereby reducing its value by some
thousands.

Just as we go to Kneller and Lely for speaking portraits of the men who
made their age, so I believe our descendants will turn to Max for
listening likenesses of the present generation.  Of all modern artists,
he alone follows Hamlet's advice.  If the mirror is a convex one, that is
merely the accident of genius, and reflects the malady of the century.
Other artists have too much eye on the Uffizi and the National Gallery
(the more modest of them only painting up to the Tate).  In Max we have
one who never harks forward to the future, and is therefore more
characteristic, more Lloyd-Georgian than any of his peers.  Set for one
moment beside some Rubens' goddess a portrait by Mr. Sargent, and how
would she be troubled by its beauty?  Not in the slightest degree;
because they are both similar but differing expressions of the same
genius of painting.  The centuries which separate them are historical
conventions; and in Art, history does not count; aesthetically, time is
of no consequence.  But in the more objective art of caricature, history
is of some import, and (as Mr. Beerbohm himself admitted about
photographs) the man limned is of paramount importance.  Actual
resemblance, truthfulness of presentation, criticism of the model become
legitimate subjects for consideration.  Generally speaking, artists long
since wisely resigned all attempts at catching a likeness, leaving to
photography an inglorious victory.  Mr. Beerbohm, realising this fact,
seized caricature as a substitute--the consolation, it may be, for a lost
or neglected talent.  It is as though Watts (painter of the soul's prism,
if ever there was one) had pushed away Ward and Downey from the camera,
to insert a subtler lens, a more sensitive negative.

* * * *

If, reader, you have ever been to a West-end picture shop, you will have
suffered some annoyance on looking too attentively at any item in the
exhibition, by the approach of an officious attendant, who presses you to
purchase it.  He begins by flattery; he felicitates you on your choice of
the _best_ picture in the room--the one that has been 'universally
admired by critics and collectors.'

The fact of its not being sold is due (he naively confesses) to its
rather high price; several offers have been submitted, and if not sold at
the catalogued amount the artist has promised to consider them; but it is
very unlikely that the drawing will remain long without a red ticket,
'_as people come back to town to-morrow_.'  There is the stab, the stab
in the back while you were drinking honey; the tragedy of Corfe Castle
repeated.  _People with_ a capital _P_ in picture-dealing circles does
not mean what they call the _Hoypolloy_; it means the great ones of the
earth, the _monde_, the Capulets and Montagues with wealth or rank.  You
have been measured by the revolting attendant.  He does not count you
with them, or you would not be in town to-day; something has escaped you
in the _Morning Post_, some function to which you were not invited, or of
which you knew nothing.  If you happen to be a Capulet you feel mildly
amused, and in order to correct the wrong impression and let the
underling know your name and address you purchase the drawing; for the
greatest have their weak side.  But, if not, and you have simply risen
from the 'purple of commerce,' you are determined not to lag behind stuck-
up Society; you will revenge yourself for the thousand injuries of
Fortunatus; you will deprive him of his prerogative to buy the _best_.
The purchase is concluded.  You go home with your nerves slightly shaken
from the gloved contest--you go home to face your wife and children,
wearing a look of wistful inquiry on their irregular upturned faces, as
when snow lies upon the ground, they scent Christmas, and you look up
with surprise at the whiteness of the ceiling.  Though in private life a
contributor to the press, in public I used to be one of those importunate
salesmen.

It was my duty, my pleasurable duty, so to act for Mr. Beerbohm's
caricatures when exhibited at a fashionable West-end gallery where among
the visitors I recognised many of his models.  I observe that when Mr.
Beerbohm is a friend of his victim he is generally at his best; that he
is always excellent and often superb if he is in sympathy with the
personality of that victim, however brutally he may render it.  His
failures are due to lack of sympathy, and they are often, oddly enough,
the mildest as caricatures.  Fortunately, Mr. Beerbohm selects chiefly
celebrities who are either personal friends or those for whom he must
have great admiration and sympathy.  By a divine palmistry he estimates
them with exquisite perception.  I noted that those who were annoyed with
their own caricature either did not know Mr. Beerbohm or disliked his
incomparable writings; and, curiously enough, he misses the likeness in
people he either does not know personally or whom you suspect he
dislikes.  I am glad now of the opportunity of being sincere, because it
was part of my function as salesman to agree with what every one said,
whether in praise or in blame.

And let me reproduce a conversation with one of the visitors.  It is
illustrative:--

[SCENE: _The Carfax Gallery; rather empty; early morning: Caricatures by
Max Beerbohm; entrance one shilling.  Enter_ DISTINGUISHED CLIENT, _takes
catalogue, but does not consult it.  No celebrity ever consults a
catalogue in a modern picture-gallery.  This does not apply to ladies,
however distinguished, who conscientiously begin at number one and read
out from the catalogue the title of each picture_.  SHOPMAN _in
attendance_.]

D. C. (_glancing round_).  Yes; how very clever they are.

SHOPMAN.  Yes; they are very amusing.

D. C.  I suppose you have had heaps of People.  What a pity Max cannot
draw!

SHOPMAN.  Yes; it _is_ a great pity.

D. C. (_examines drawing; after a pause_).  But he _can_ draw.  Look at
that one of Althorp.

SHOPMAN (_trying to look intelligent_): Yes; that certainly is well
drawn.

D. C. (_pointing to photograph of Paris inserted in Mr. Claude Lowther's
caricature_).  And how extraordinary that is.  It is like one of Muirhead
Bone's street scenes.  He does street scenes, doesn't he?

SHOPMAN.  Yes; or one of Mr. Joseph Pennell's.

D. C. (_after a pause_).  What a pity he never gets the likeness.  That's
very bad of Arthur Balfour.

SHOPMAN.  Yes; it is a great pity.  No; that's not at all a good one of
Mr. Balfour.

D. C. (_pointing to Mr. Shaw's photograph inserted in caricature_).  But
he _has_ got the likeness there.  By Jove! it's nearly as good as a
photograph.

SHOPMAN (_examining photograph as if he had never seen it;
enthusiastically_).  It's _almost_ as good as a photograph.

D. C. (_pointing with umbrella to Lord Weardale_).  Of course, that's
Rosebery?

SHOPMAN (_nervously_): Y-e-s.  (_Brightly changing subject_.)  What do
you think of Mr. Sargent's?

D. C. (_now worked up_).  Oh! that's very good.  Yes; that's the best of
all.  I see it's sold.  I should have bought that one if it hadn't been
sold.  I wish Max would do a caricature of (_describes a possible
caricature_).  Tell him I suggested it; he knows me quite well (_glancing
round_).  He really is tremendous.  Are they going to be published?

SHOPMAN.  Yes; by Methuen & Co.  (_Hastily going over to new-comer_.)
Yes, madam, that is Mr. Arthur Balfour; it's considered the _best_
caricature in the exhibition--the likeness is so particularly striking;
and as a pure piece of draughtsmanship it is certainly the finest drawing
in the room.  No; that's not so good of Lord Althorp, though it _was_ the
first to sell.  (_Turning to another client_.)  Yes, sir; he is Mr.
Beerbohm Tree's half-brother.

(1907.)

_To_ MRS. BEERBOHM.



THE ETHICS OF REVIEWING.


The 'Acropolis,' a review of literature, science, art, politics, society,
and the drama, is, as every one knows, our leading literary weekly.  Its
original promoters decided on its rather eccentric title with a symbolism
now outmoded.  The 'Acropolis' was to be impregnable to outside
contributors, and the editor was always to be invisible.  All the vile
and secret arts of reclame and puffery were to find no place in its
immaculate pages.  One afternoon some time ago a number of gentlemen,
more or less responsible for the production of the 'Acropolis,' were
seated round the fire in the smoking-room of a certain club.  For the
last hour they had been discussing with some warmth the merits of signed
or unsigned articles and the reviewing of books.  A tall, good-looking
man, who pretended to be unpopular, was advocating the anonymous.  'There
is something so cowardly about a signed article,' he was saying.  'It is
nearly as bad as insulting a man in public, when there is no redress
except to call for the police.  And that is ridiculous.  If I am slated
by an anonymous writer, it is always in my power to pay no attention,
whereas if the slate is signed, I am obliged to take notice of some kind.
I must either deny the statements, often at a great sacrifice of truth,
or if I assault the writer there is always the risk of his being
physically stronger than I am.  No; anonymous attack is the only weapon
for gentlemen.'

'To leave for a moment the subject of anonymity,' said an eminent
novelist, 'I think the great curse of all criticism is that of slating
any book at all.  Think of the unfortunate young man or woman first
entering the paths of literature, and the great pain it causes them.  You
should encourage them, and not damp their enthusiasm.'

'My dear fellow,' said North, 'I encourage no one, and writers should
never have any feelings at all.  They can't have any, or they would not
bore the public by writing.'

The discussion was getting heated when the editor, Rivers, interfered.

'My dear North,' he began, addressing the first speaker, 'your eloquent
advocacy of the anonymous reminds me of a curious incident that occurred
many years ago when I was assistant-editor of the "Acropolis."  The facts
were never known to the public, and my old chief, Curtis, met with much
misplaced abuse in consequence.  There were reasons for which he could
never break silence; but it happened so long ago that I cannot be
betraying any confidence.  All of you have heard of, and some of you have
seen, Quentin Burrage, whose articles practically made the "Acropolis"
what it now is.  His opinion on all subjects was looked forward to by the
public each week.  Young poetasters would tremble when their time should
come to be pulverised by the scathing epigrams which fell from his
anonymous pen.  Essayists, novelists, statesmen were pale for weeks until
a review appeared that would make or mar their fame.  In the various
literary coteries of London no one knew that Quentin Burrage was the
slater who thrilled, irritated, or amused them, though he was of course
recognised as an occasional contributor.  The secret was well kept.  He
was practically critical censor of London for ten years.  A whole school
of novelists ceased to exist after three of his notices in the
"Acropolis."  The names of painters famous before his time you will not
find in the largest dictionaries now.  Four journalists committed suicide
after he had burlesqued their syntax, and two statesmen resigned office
owing to his masterly examination of their policy.  We were all much
shocked when a popular actor set fire to his theatre on a first night
because Curtis and his dramatic critic refused to take champagne and
chicken between the acts.  This may give you some idea of Burrage's power
in London for a decade of the last century.

'One day a curious change came over him.  It was Monday when he and I
were in the office receiving our instructions.  Curtis, after going over
some books, handed to Quentin a vellum-covered volume of poems, saying
with a grim smile: "There are some more laurels for you to hash."

'An expression of pain spread over Quentin's serene features.

'"I'll see what I can do," he said wearily.  But his curious manner
struck both Curtis and myself.  The book was a collection of very
indifferent verse which already enjoyed a wide popularity.  I cannot tell
you the title, for that is a secret not my own.  It was early work of one
of our most esteemed poets who for some time was regarded by _his
friends_ as the natural successor to Mr. Alfred Austin.  The "Acropolis"
had not spoken.  We were sometimes behindhand in our reviews.  The public
waited to learn if the new poet was really worth anything.  You may
imagine the general surprise when a week afterwards there appeared a
flamingly favourable review of the poems.  It made a perfect sensation
and was quoted largely.  The public became quite conceited with its
foresight.  The reputation of the poet was assured.  "Snarley-ow must be
dead," some one remarked in my hearing at the club, and members tried to
pump me.  One day a telegram came from Curtis asking me to go down to his
house at once.  A request from him was a command.  I found him in a state
of some excitement, his manner a little artificial.  "My dear Rivers, I
suppose you think me mad.  The geese have got into the Capitol at last."
Without correcting his classical allusion, I said: "Where is Burrage?"
"He is coming here presently.  Of course, I glanced at the thing in
proof, and thought it a splendid joke, but reading it this morning, I
have come to the conclusion that something is wrong with Burrage.  You
remember his agitated manner the other day?"  I was about to reply, when
Burrage was announced.  His haggard and pale appearance startled both of
us.  "My dear Burrage, what _is_ the matter with you?" we exclaimed
simultaneously.  He gave a sickly nervous smile.  "Of course you have
sent to ask me about that review.  Well, I have changed my opinions, I
have altered.  I think we should praise everything or ignore everything.
To slate a book, good or bad, is taking the bread out of a fellow's
mouth.  I have been the chief sinner in this way, and I am going to be
the first reformer."  "Not in my paper," said Curtis, angrily.

'Then we all fell to discussing that old question with all the warmth
that North and the rest of you were doing just now.  We lost our tempers
and Curtis ended the matter by saying: "I tell you what it is, Burrage,
if you ever bring out a book yourself I'll send it to you to review.  You
can praise it as much as you like.  But don't let this occur again, with
any one else's work."  Burrage turned quite white, I thought, and Curtis,
noticing the effect of his words, went up and taking him by the hand,
added more kindly, "My poor Burrage, are you quite well?  I never saw you
in so morbid a state before.  All this is mere sentimentality--so
different from your usual manly spirit.  Go away for a change, to
Brighton or Eastbourne, and you must come back with that wholesome
contempt for your contemporaries that characterises most of your
writings.  I'll look over the matter this time, and we'll say no more
about it."  And here Curtis was so overcome that he dashed a tear from
his eye.  A few hours later I saw Burrage off to the sea.  He was very
strange in his manner.  "I'll never be quite the same again.  If I only
dared to tell you," he said.  And the train rolled out of the station.

'Some weeks later I was again in the editorial room and Curtis showed me
a curiously bound book, printed on hand-made paper, entitled
_Prejudices_.  I had already seen it.  "That book," Curtis remarked,
"ought to have been noticed long ago.  I was keeping it for Burrage when
he gets better.  Shall I send it to him?"

'_Prejudices_ for some weeks had been the talk of London.  It was a
series of very ineffectual essays on different subjects.  Sight, Colour,
Sound, Art, Letters, and Religion were all dealt with in that highly
glowing and original manner now termed _Style_.  It was delightfully
unwholesome and extraordinarily silly.  Young persons had already begun
to get foolish over it, and leaving the more stimulating pages of Mr.
Pater they hailed the work as an earnest of the English Renaissance.
Instead of stroking _Marius the Epicurean_ they fondled a copy of
_Prejudices_.  I prophesied that Burrage would vindicate himself over it
and that the public would hear very little of _Prejudices_ in a year's
time.  The book was sent; and the first part of my prophecy was
fulfilled, Burrage spared neither the author nor his admirers.  The
pedantry, the affected style, the cheap hedonism were all pitilessly
exposed.  London, rocked with laughter.  Some of the admirers, with the
generosity of youth, nobly came to the rescue.  They made a paper war and
talked of "The cruelty and cowardice of the attack," "The stab in the
dark," "Journalistic marauding," "Disappointed author turned critic."  The
slate was one that I am bound to say was _killing_ in both senses of the
word.  A book less worthless could never have lived under it.  It was one
of those decisive reviews of all ages.  _Prejudices_ was withdrawn by the
publisher fearful of damaging his prestige.  Yet it was never looked on
as a rarity, and fell at book auctions for a shilling, for some time
after, amidst general tittering.  The daily papers meanwhile devoted
columns to the discussion.  I telegraphed to Burrage in cipher and
congratulated him, knowing that secrets leak out sometimes through the
post office.  I was surprised to get no reply for some weeks, but Curtis
said he was lying low while the excitement lasted.  One day I got a
letter simply saying, "For God's sake come.  I am very ill."  I went at
once.  How shall I describe to you the pitiful condition I found him in?
The doctor told me he was suffering from incipient tuberculosis due to
cerebral excitement and mental trouble.  When I went in to see him he was
lying in bed, pale and emaciated as a corpse, surrounded by friends and
relations.  He asked every one to go out of the room; he had something of
importance to say to me.  I then learned what you have divined already.
The anonymous author of _Prejudices_ was no other than Quentin Burrage
himself.  Or rather not himself, but the other self of which neither I
nor Curtis knew anything.  He had been living a double existence.  As a
writer of trashy essays and verse, an incomplete sentimentalist
surrounded by an admiring band of young ladies and gentlemen, he was not
recognised as the able critic and the anonymous slater of the
"Acropolis."

'When he first received his own book for review he recalled the words of
Curtis.  He must be honest, impartial, and just.  No one knew better the
faults of _Prejudices_.  As he began to write, the old spirit of the
slater came over him.  His better self conquered.  He forgot for the
moment that he was the author.  He hardly realised the sting of his own
sarcasms even when he saw them in proof.  It was not until it appeared,
and the papers were full of the controversy, that the _cruelty_ and
_unfairness_ of the attack dawned on him.  I was much shocked at the
confession, and the extraordinary duplicity of Burrage, who had been
living a lie for the last ten years.  His denunciation of poor Curtis
pained me.  I would have upbraided him, but his tortured face and hacking
cough made me relent.  I need not prolong the painful story.  Burrage
never recovered.  He sank into galloping consumption, only aggravated by
a broken heart.  I saw him on his deathbed at Rome.  He was attended by
Strange, and died in his arms.  His last words to me were, "Rivers, tell
Curtis I forgive him."

'We buried in the Protestant cemetery near Keats and Shelley one whose
name was written in hot water.  His sad death provoked a good deal of
comment, as you may suppose.  Strange has often promised to write his
life.  But he could never get through _Prejudices_, and I pointed out to
him that you can hardly write an author's life without reading one of his
works, even though he did die in your arms.  That is the worst of
literary martyrs with a few brilliant exceptions: their works are
generally dull.'

'Is that all?' asked North.

'That is all, and I hope you understand the moral.'

'Perfectly; but your reminiscences have too much construction, my dear
Rivers.'

'The story is perfectly true for all that,' remarked the Editor, drily.



A LITTLE DOCTORED FAUST.  A PROLOGUE.


'The version of _Faust_ which Mr. Stephen Phillips is contemplating will,
it is interesting to learn from the author, be a "compact drama," of
which the spectacular embellishment will form no part.  In Mr. Phillips's
view the story is in itself so strong and so rich in all the elements
that make for dramatic effectiveness that to treat the subject as one for
elaborate scenic display would be to diminish the direct appeal of a
great tragedy.  "First let me say," said Mr. Stephen Phillips, "how
gladly I approach a task which will bring me again into association with
Mr. George Alexander, whose admirable treatment of _Paolo and Francesco_,
you will no doubt remember.  In the version of _Faust_ which I am going
to prepare there will be nothing spectacular, nothing to overshadow or
intrude upon an immortal theme.  As to how I shall treat the story, and
as to the form in which it will be written, I am not yet sure--it may be
a play in blank verse, or in prose with lyrics . . ."  Mr. Phillips added
that he had also in view a play on the subject of _Harold_."--_The
Tribune_.

_Scene: The British Museum_.

SIDNEY COLVIN.  Ah! my dear Stephen, when they told me Phillips
Was waiting in my study, I imagined
That it was Claude, whom I have been expecting.
I have arranged that you shall have this room
All to yourself and friends.  Now I must leave you.
I have to go and speak to Campbell Dodgson
About some prints we've recently acquired.

STEPHEN PHILLIPS.  How can I ever thank you?  Love to Binyon!

[COLVIN _goes out_.

_Enter_ Mr. GEORGE ALEXANDER, GOETHE, MARLOWE, GOUNOD.

ALEXANDER (_from force of habit_).  I always told you he was reasonable.

GOETHE.  Well, I consent.  Mein Gott! how colossal
You English are!  'Tis nigh impossible
For poets to refuse you anything,
And German thought beneath some English shade--
_Unter den Linden_, as we say at home--
Sounds really quite as well on British soil.
Our good friend Marlowe hardly seems so pleased.

MARLOWE.  Oh, Goethe! cease these frivolous remarks.
Think you that I, who knew Elizabeth,
And tasted all the joys of literature
And played the dawn to Shakespeare's larger day,
And heralded a mighty line of verse
With half-a-dozen mighty lines my own,
Am feeling well?

GOUNOD (_brightening_).  Ah!  Monsieur Wells,
Auteur d'une histoire fine et romanesque
Traduit par Davray; il a des idees
C'est une chose rare la-bas . . .

STEPHEN PHILLIPS.  He does not speak of Huysmans; 'tis myself.
I thank you, gentlemen, with all my heart;
I thank you, gentlemen, with all my soul;
I thank you, sirs, with all my soul and strength.
So for your leave much thanks.  You know my weakness:
I love to be at peace with all the past.
The present and the future I can manage;
The stirrup of posterity may dangle
Against the heaving flanks of Pegasus.
I feel my spurs against the saucy mare
And Alexander turned Bucephalus.

MARLOWE.  Neigh!  Neigh! though you have told us what you are,
And we have witnessed Nero several times,
You do not tell us of this wretched Faustus,
Who must be damned in any case, I fear.

S. P.  Of course, I treat you as material
On which to work; but then I simplify
And purify the story for our stage.
The English stage is nothing if not pure.
For instance, we will not allow _Salome_.
So in Act II. of _Faust_ I represent
The marriage feast of beauteous Margaret;
Act I. I get from Goethe, III. from Marlowe,
And Gounod's music fills the gaps in mine.
Margaret, of course, will never come to grief.
She only gets a separation order.
By the advice of Plowden magistrate,
She undertakes to wean Euphorion,
Who in his bounding habit symbolises
The future glories of the English empire.
As the production must not cost too much,
Harker, Hawes Craven, Hann are relegated
To a back place.  It is a compact drama,
Of which spectacular embellishment
Will form no part.  The story is so strong,
So rich in all the elements that make
A drama suitable for Alexander,
That scenery, if necessary to Tree,
Shall not intrude on this immortal theme.

GOETHE.  Pyramidal!  My friend, but you are splendid.
Now, have you shown the manuscript to Colvin?

MARLOWE.  He is a scholar, and a ripe and good one,
And far too tolerant of modern poets.

ALEXANDER.  One of your lines strike my familiar spirit.
Surely, that does not come from Stephen Phillips.

MARLOWE.  No matter; I may quote from whom I will.
Shakespeare himself was not immaculate,
And borrowed freely from a barren past.

GOETHE.  What thinks Herr Sidney Colvin of your work?

S. P.  That he will tell you when he sees it played.



ACT I.


_Scene: Faust's Studio_.

SERVANT.  Well, if you have no further use for me,
I will go make our preparation.

FAUST.  If anybody calls, say I am out;
I must have time to see how I will act.
As to the form in which I shall be written,
I must decide whether in prose or verse.
My thoughts I'll bend.  Give me at once the _Times_:
Walkley I always find inspiriting--
And really I learn much about the drama
(Even the German drama) from his pen,
More curious than that of Paracelsus.
(_Reads_) 'Sic vos non vobis, Bernard Shaw might say,
Dieu et mon droit.  Ich dien.  Et taceat
Femina in ecclesia.  Ellen Terry,
La plus belle femme de toutes les femmes
Du monde.'  Archer, I have observed,
Writes no more for the World, but for himself.
Then I forgot; he's writing for the _Leader_,
That highly independent Liberal paper.

[FAUST _muses_.  _Bell heard_.

The Elixir of Life, is it a play
Which runs a thousand nights?  Is it a dream
Precipitated into some alembic
Or glass retort by Ex-ray Lankester?

_Enter_ SERVANT.

SERVANT.  A gentleman has called.

FAUST.  Say I am out.

SERVANT.  He will take no denial.

FAUST.  Show him in.
Most probably 'tis Herbert Beerbohm Tree,
Who long has planned a play of Doctor Faustus.

_Enter_ MEPHISTOPHELES.

MEPHISTOPHELES.  Ah! my dear Doctor, here we are again!
Micawber-like, I never will desert you.
How do you feel?  Your house I see myself
In perfect order.  Ah! how much has past
Since those Lyceum days when you and I
Climbed up the Brocken on Walpurgis night.
That times have changed I realise myself;
No longer through the chimney I descend;
I enter like a super from the side.
Widowers' Houses dramas have become;
Morals and sentiment and Clement Scott
No more seem adjuncts of the English stage.

FAUST.  Oh, Mephistopheles, you come in time
To save the English drama from a deadlock!
Like Mahmud's coffin hung 'twixt Heaven and Earth,
It falters up to verse and down to prose.
Tell us, then, how to act, how consummate
The aspirations of our Stephen Phillips!

MEPHISTO.  Ah, Alexander Faustus! young as ever,
Still unabashed by Paolo and Francesca,
You long for plays with literary motives,
Plots oft attempted both in prose and rhyme.

FAUST.  As ever, you are timid and old-fashioned.

MEPHISTO.  Hark you!  One thing I know above all others,
The English drama of the century past.
Though English critics have consigned to me
The plays of Ibsen, Maeterlinck, and Shaw,
And Wilde's _Salome_, none has ever reached me.
Back to their native land they must have gone,
Or else you have them here in Germany.
Only to me come down real British plays,
The mid-Victorian twaddle, the false gems
Which on the stretched forefinger of oblivion
Glitter a moment, and then perish paste.

FAUST (_drily_).  Well, if I learn of any critic's death
Leaving a vacant place upon the Press,
You'll hear from me; meanwhile, Mephisto mine,
As we must needs play out our little play,
Whom would you cast for Margaret, _alias_ Gretchen?
Kindly sketch out an inexpensive _Faust_,
Modelled on the Vedrenne and Barker style
Once much in favour at the English Court.

MEPHISTO.  The stage is now an auditorium,
And all the audiences are amateurs,
First-nighters at the bottom of their heart.
What do they care for drama in the least?
All that they need are complimentary stalls,
To know the leading actor, to be round
At dress rehearsals, or behind the scenes,
To hear the row the actor-manager
Had with the author or the leading lady,
Then to recount the story at the Garrick,
Where, lingering lovingly on kippered lies,
They babble over chestnuts and their punch
And stale round-table jests of years ago.

FAUST.  So Mephistopheles is growing old!
Kindly omit your stage philosophy,
And tell me all your plans about the play.

MEPHISTO.  First we must make you young and fresh as paint,
Philters and elixirs are out of date.
A week in London--that is what you want;
London Society is our objective.
There you will find a not unlikely Gretchen,
For actresses are all the rage just now;
Countesses quarrel over Edna May,
And Mrs. Patrick Campbell is received
In the best houses.  I shall introduce you
As a philosopher from Tubingen.
A sort of Nordau, no?  Then Doctor Reich--
Advocates polyandry, children suffrage--
One man, one pianola; the usual thing
That will secure success: here is a card
For Thursday next--Lady Walpurge 'At Home'
From nine till twelve--a really charming hostess.
Her ladyship is intellectual,
The husband rich, dishonest, a collector
Of _objets d'art_, especially old masters.
He got his title for his promises
To England in the war; financed the raid,
A patriot millionaire within whose veins
Imperial pints of German-Jewish blood
Must make the English think imperially,
And rather bear with all the ills they have
Than fly to others that they know not of.

FAUST.  Excellent plan!  Except at Covent Garden,
I've hardly been in England since the 'eighties.



Act II.


_Scene: Brocken House, Park Lane_.

_The top of the Grand Staircase_.  LORD _and_ LADY WALPURGE _receiving
their guests.  The greatest taste is shown in the decorations, which are
lent for the occasion of the play free of charge, owing to the deserved
popularity of Mr. George Alexander.  Furniture supplied by Waring,
selected by Mr. Percy Macquoid; Old Masters by Agnew & Son, P. & D.
Colnaghi, Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell; Wigs by Clarkson.  A large,
full-length Reynolds, seen above the well of staircase_; R. _a
Gainsborough_, L. _a Hoppner.  The party is not very smart, rather
intellectual and plutocratic; well-known musicians and artists in group_
R., _and second-rate literary people_ L.  _An Irish peer and a member of
the White Rose League are the only 'Society' present.  There are no
actors or actresses_.  FAUST, _who has aged considerably since the
Prologue, is an obvious failure, and is seen talking to a lady
journalist_.  MEPHISTOPHELES, _disguised as a Protectionist Member of
Parliament, is in earnest conversation with_ LORD WALPURGE.  FOOTMAN
_announcing the guests: The Bishop of Hereford, Mr. Maldonado, Mr. Andrew
Undershaft, Mr. Harold Hodge, Mrs. Gorringe, Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey
Tanqueray, &c_.

LADY WALPURGE (_archly_).  Ah, Mr. Tanqueray, you never forwarded me my
photographs; it is nearly three weeks ago since I sent you a cheque for
them.

TANQUERAY.  Labby has been poisoning your mind against me.  You shall
have a proof to-morrow!

FOOTMAN.  Mr. Gillow Waring.

LADY WALPURGE.  I was so afraid you were not coming.  My husband thought
you would give us the slip.

WARING.  How charming your decorations are!  You must give me some ideas
for my new yacht, you have such perfect taste.

MALDONADO.  Walpurge! what will you take for that Reynolds?  Or will you
swap it for my Velasquez?

WALPURGE.  My dear Maldo, I always do my deals through--

FOOTMAN.  Mr. Walter Dowdeswell.

WALPURGE.  Through Dowdeswell and Dowdeswell; and you, my dear Maldo, if
you want to get rid of your Velasquez, ought to join the National Art
Collections Fund, or go and see--

FOOTMAN.  Mr. Lockett Agnew.  'Er 'Ighness the Princess Swami.

_Enter the_ PRINCESS SALOME.

LADY JOURNALIST.  Fancy having that woman here.  She is not recognised in
any decent society, she is nothing but an adventuress; talks such bad
French, too.  Have you ever seen her, Doctor Faustus?

FAUST.  Yes, I have met her very often in Germany.  Though the Emperor
would not receive her at first, she is much admired in Europe.

LADY JOURNALIST (_hedging_).  I wonder where she gets her frocks?  They
must be worth a good deal.

FAUST.  From Ricketts and Shannon, if you want to know.

LADY JOURNALIST.  Dear Doctor, you know everything!  Let me see: Ricketts
and Shannon is that new place in Regent Street, rather like Lewis and
Allenby's, I suppose?

FAUST.  Yes, only different.

IRISH PEER (_to_ FAUST).  Do you think Lady Walpurge will ever get into
Society?

FAUST.  Not if she gives her guests such wretched coffee.

LADY JOURNALIST.  It's nothing to her tea.  I've never had such bad tea.
Besides, she cannot get actors or actresses to come to her house.

LADY WALPURGE (_overhearing_).  I expect _Sir Herbert and Lady Beerbohm
Tree_ here to-night, and perhaps VIOLA.  (_Sensation_.)

[_Enter, hurriedly_, MR. C. T. H. HELMSLEY.]  Mr. Alexander, a moment
with you!  A most important telegram has just arrived.

FAUST (_reading_).  'Handed in at Greba Castle, 10.15.  Reply paid.  Do
not close with Stephen Phillips until you have seen my play of
_Gretchen_, same subject, five acts and twelve tableaux.--HALL CAINE.'
Where is Mr. Stephen Phillips?  [STEPHEN PHILLIPS _advances_.]  My dear
Phillips, I think we will put up _Harold Hodge_ instead.  'The Last of
the Anglo-Saxon Editors,' by the last Anglo-Saxon poet.

CURTAIN.

(1906.)

_To_ W. BARCLAY SQUIRE, ESQ.



SHAVIANS FROM SUPERMAN.


DONNA ANA _has vanished to sup her man at the Savoy; the_ DEVIL _and the_
STATUE _are descending through trap, when a voice is heard crying, 'Stop,
stop'; the mechanism is arrested and there appears in the empyrean_ MR.
CHARLES HAZELWOOD SHANNON, _the artist, with halo_.

THE DEVIL (_while Shannon regains his breath_).  Really, Mr. Shannon,
this is a great pleasure and _quite_ unexpected.  I am truly honoured.  No
quarrel I hope with the International?  Pennell quite well?  How is the
Whistler memorial getting on?

SHANNON.  So-so.  To be quite frank I had no time to prepare for Heaven,
and earth has become intolerable for me.  (_Seeing the Statue_.)  Is that
a Rodin you have there?

THE DEVIL.  Oh! I forgot, let me introduce you.  Commander!  Mr. C. H.
Shannon, a most distinguished painter, the English Velasquez, the Irish
Titian, the Scotch Giorgione, all in one.  Mr. Shannon, his Excellency
the Commander.

SHANNON.  Delighted, I am sure.  The real reason for my coming here is
that I could stand Ricketts no longer.  Ricketts the artist I adore.
Ricketts the causeur is delightful.  Ricketts the enemy, entrancing.
Ricketts the friend, one of the best.  But Ricketts, when designing
dresses for the Court, Trench, and other productions, is not very
amiable.

THE STATUE (_sighing_).  Ah! yes, I know Ricketts.

THE DEVIL (_sighing_).  We all know Ricketts.  Never mind, he shall not
come here.  I shall give special orders to Charon.  Come on to the trap
and we can start for the palace.

SHANNON.  Ah! yes.  I heard you were moving to the Savoy.  Think it will
be a success?

[_They descend and no reply is heard.  Whisk!  Mr. Frank Richardson on
this occasion does not appear; void and emptiness; the fireproof curtain
may be lowered here in accordance with the County Council regulations;
moving portraits of deceased, and living dramatic critics can be thrown
without risk of ignition on the curtain by magic lantern_.  _The point of
this travesty will be entirely lost to those who have not read 'Man and
Superman.'  It is the first masterpiece in the English literature of the
twentieth century.  It is also necessary to have read the dramatic
criticisms in the daily press, and to have some acquaintance with the
Court management, the Stage Society, and certain unlicensed plays; and to
know that Mr. Ricketts designs scenery.  This being thoroughly explained,
the Curtain may rise; discovering a large Gothic Hall, decorated in the
1880 taste.  Allegories by Watts on the wall_--'_Time cutting the corns
of Eternity,' 'Love whistling down the ear of Life,' 'Youth catching
Crabs,' &c.  Windows by Burne-Jones and Morris.  A Peacock Blue Hungarian
Band playing music on Dolmetsch instruments by Purcell, Byrde, Bull,
Bear, Palestrina, and Wagner, &c.  Various well-known people crowd the
Stage.  Among the_ LIVING _may be mentioned Mr. George Street; Mr. Max
Beerbohm and his brother; Mr. Albert Rothenstein and his brother, &c.  The
company is intellectual and artistic; not in any way smart.  The Savile
and Athenaeum Clubs are well represented, but not the Garrick, the
Gardenia, nor any of the establishments in the vicinity of Leicester
Square.  The Princess Salome is greeting some of the arrivals_--_The
Warden of Keble, The President of Magdalen Coll., Oxford, and others--who
stare at her in a bewildered fashion_.

THE DEVIL.  Silence, please, ladies and gentlemen, for his Excellency the
Commander.  (_A yellowish pallor moves over the audience; effect by
Gordon Craig_.)

THE STATUE.  It was my intention this evening to make a few observations
on flogging in the Navy, Vaccination, the Censor, Vivisection, the Fabian
Society, the Royal Academy, Compound Chinese Labour, Style, Simple
Prohibition, Vulgar Fractions, and other kindred subjects.  But as I
opened the paper this morning, my eye caught these headlines: 'Future of
the House of Lords,' 'Mr. Edmund Gosse at home,' 'The Nerves of Lord
Northcliffe,' 'Interview with Mr. Winston Churchill,' 'Reported
Indisposition of Miss Edna May.'  A problem was thus presented to me.
Will I, shall I, ought I to speak to my friends _here_--ahem!--and
elsewhere, on the subject about which they came to hear me speak.
(_Applause_.)  No.  I said; the bounders must be disappointed; otherwise
they will know what to expect.  You must always surprise your audience.
When it has been advertised (sufficiently) that I am going to speak about
the truth, for example, the audience comes here expecting me to speak
about fiction.  The only way to surprise them is to speak the truth and
that I always do.  Nothing surprises English people more than truth; they
don't like it; they don't pay any attention to those (such as my friend
Mr. H. G. Wells and myself) who _trade_ in truth; but they listen and go
away saying, 'How very whimsical and paradoxical it all is,' and 'What a
clever adventurer the fellow is, to be sure.'  'That was a good joke
about duty and beauty being the same thing'--that was a joke I did _not_
make.  It is not my kind of joke--but when people begin ascribing to you
the jokes of other people, you become a living--I was going to say
statue--but I mean a living classic.

THE DEVIL.  I thought you disliked anything classic?

THE STATUE.  Ahem! only _dead_ classics--especially when they are
employed to protect romanticism.  Dead classics are the protective
tariffs put on all realism and truth by bloated idealism.  In a country
of plutocrats, idealism keeps out truth: idealism is more expensive, and
therefore more in demand.  In America, there are more plutocrats, and
therefore more idealists . . . as Mr. Pember Reeves has pointed out in
New Zealand . . .

THE DEVIL.  But I say, is this drama?

THE STATUE.  Certainly not.  It is a discussion taking place at a
theatre.  It is no more drama than a music-hall entertainment, or a comic
opera, or a cinematograph, or a hospital operation, all of which things
take place in theatres.  But surely it is more entertaining to come to a
discussion charmingly mounted by Ricketts--discussion too, in which every
one knows what he is going to say--than to flaccid plays in which the
audience always knows what the actors _are_ going to say better often
than the actors.  The sort of balderdash which Mr. --- serves up to us
for plays.

THE DEVIL (_peevish and old-fashioned_).  I wish you would define drama.

HANKIN (_advancing_).  Won't you have tea, Commander?  It's not bad tea.

THE STATUE.  I was afraid you were going to talk idealism.

HANKIN (_aside_).  Excuse my interrupting, but I want you to be
particularly nice to the Princess Salome.  You know she was jilted by the
Censor.  She has brought her music.

THE DEVIL.  You might introduce her to Mrs. Warren.  But I am afraid the
Princess has taken rather too much upon herself this evening.

THE STATUE.  Yes, she has taken too much; I am sure she has taken too
much.

A JOURNALIST.  Is that the Princess Salome who has Mexican opals in her
teeth, and red eyebrows and green hair, and curious rock-crystal breasts?

THE DEVIL.  Yes, that is the Princess Salome.

SHANNON.  I know the Princess quite well.  Ricketts makes her frocks.
Shall I ask her to dance?

THE DEVIL.  Yes, anything to distract her attention from the guests.
These artistic English people are so easily shocked.  They don't
understand Strauss, nor indeed anything until it is quite out of date.  I
want to make Hell at least as attractive as it is painted; a _place_ as
well as a _condition_ within the meaning of the Act.  Full of wit,
beauty, pleasure, freedom--

THE STATUE.  Ugh--ugh.

SHANNON.  Will you dance for us, Princess?

SALOME.  Anything for you, dear Mr. Shannon, only my ankles are a little
sore to-night.  How is dear Ricketts?  I want new dresses so badly.

SHANNON.  I suppose by this time he is in Heaven.  But won't you dance
just to make things go?  And then the Commander will lecture on super-
maniacs later on!

SALOME.  Senor Diavolo, what will you give me if I dance to-night?

THE DEVIL.  Anything you like, Salome.  I swear by the dramatic critics.

HANKIN (_correcting_).  You mean the Styx.

THE DEVIL.  Same thing.  Dance without any further nonsense, Salome.
Forget that you are in England.  This is an unlicensed house.

[SALOME _dances the dance of the Seven Censors_.

THE DEVIL (_applauding_).  She is charming.  She is quite charming.
Salome, what shall I do for you?  You who are like a purple patch in some
one else's prose.  You who are like a black patch on some one else's
face.  You are like an Imperialist in a Radical Cabinet.  You are like a
Tariff Reformer in a Liberal-Unionist Administration.  You are like the
Rokeby Velasquez in St. Paul's Cathedral.  What can I do for you who are
fairer than--

SALOME.  This sort of thing has been tried on me before.  Let us come to
business.  I want Mr. Redford's head on a four-wheel cab.

THE DEVIL.  No, not that.  You must not ask that.  I will give you
Walkley's head.  He has one of the best heads.  He is not ignorant.  He
really knows what he is talking about.

SALOME.  I want Mr. Redford's head on a four-wheel cab.

THE DEVIL.  Salome, listen to me.  Be reasonable.  Do not interrupt me.  I
will give you William Archer's head.  He is charming--a cultivated,
liberal-minded critic.  He is too liberal.  He admires Stephen Phillips.
I will give you his dear head if you release me from my oath.

SALOME.  I want Mr. Redford's head on the top of a four-wheel cab.
Remember your oath!

THE DEVIL.  I remember I swore _at_--I mean _by_--the dramatic critics.
Well, I am offering them to you.  Exquisite and darling Salome, I will
give you the head of Max Beerbohm.  It is unusually large, but it is full
of good things.  What a charming ornament for your mantelpiece!  You will
be in the movement.  How every one will envy you!  People will call upon
you who never used to call.  Others will send you invitations.  You will
at last get into English society.

SALOME.  I want Mr. Redford's head on the top of a four-wheel cab.

THE DEVIL.  Salome, come hither.  Have you ever looked at the _Daily
Mirror_?  Only in the _Daily Mirror_ should one look.  For it tells the
truth sometimes.  Well, I will give you the head of Hamilton Fyfe.  He is
my best friend.  No critic is so fond of the drama as Hamilton Fyfe.
(_Huskily_.)  Salome, I will give you W. L. Courtney's head.  I will give
you all their heads.

SALOME.  I have the scalps of most critics.  I want Mr. Redford's head on
a four-wheel cab.

THE DEVIL.  Salome!  You do not know what you ask.  Mr. Redford is a kind
of religion.  He represents the Lord Chamberlain.  You know the dear Lord
Chamberlain.  You would not harm one of his servants, especially when
they are not insured.  It would be cruel.  It would be irreligious.  It
would be in bad taste.  It would not be respectable.  Listen to me; I
will give you all Herod's Stores . . . Salome.  Shannon was right.  You
HAVE taken too much, or you would not ask this thing.  See, I will give
you Mr. Redford's body, but not his head.  Not that, not that, my child.

SALOME.  I want Mr. Redford's head on a four-wheel cab.

THE DEVIL.  Salome, I must tell you a secret.  It is terrible for me to
have to tell the truth.  The Commander said that I would have to tell the
truth.  MR. REDFORD HAS NO HEAD!

[_The audience long before this have begun to put on their cloaks, and
the dramatic critics have gone away to describe the cold reception with
which the play has been greeted.  All the people on the stage cover their
heads except the_ STATUE, _who has become during the action of the piece
more and more like Mr. Bernard Shaw.  Curtain descends slowly_.

(1907.)

_To_ ARTHUR CLIFTON, ESQ.



SOME DOCTORED DILEMMA.


A NEW EPILOGUE FOR THE LAST PERFORMANCE OF MR. SHAW'S PLAY.

Though Mr. Bernard Shaw has set the fashion in prologues for modern
plays, his admirers were not altogether satisfied with the epilogue to
_The Doctor's Dilemma_.  It is far too short; and leaves us in the dark
as to whom 'Jennifer Dubedat' married.  Epilogues, as students of English
drama remember, were often composed by other authors.  The following
experiment ought to have come from the hand of Mr. St. John Hankin, that
master of Dramatic Sequels, but his work on the 'Cassilis Engagement'
deprived Mr. Shaw of the only possible collaborator.

[SCENE: _A Bury Street Picture Gallery_--MESSRS. GERSAINT & CO.  _The
clock strikes ten, and_ SIR COLENSO RIDGEON _is seen going out rather
crestfallen by centre door_.  MR. GERSAINT, _the manager, is nailing up a
notice_ ('_All works of art, for art's sake or sale; prices on
application.  Catalogue_ 1_s_.).  MR. JACK STEPNEY, _the secretary, is
receiving the private view cards from the visitors who are trooping in;
some sneak catalogues as they enter, and on being asked for payment
protest and produce visiting cards and press vouchers instead of
shillings.  Artists, Royal Academicians_, MR. EDMUND GOSSE, _and other
members of the House of Lords discovered; men of letters, art critics,
connoisseurs, journalists, collectors, dealers, private viewers,
impostors, dramatic critics, poets, pickpockets, politicians crowd the
stage.  From time to time_ JACK STEPNEY _places a red star on the picture
frames in the course of the action_.]

J. STEPNEY.  I thought all the pictures had been bought by Dr.
Schutzmacher.

GERSAINT.  So they were, my boy, but he has wired saying they are all to
be put up for sale at double the price; capital business, you see we
shall get two commissions.

J. STEPNEY.  Yes, sir.  It is fortunate Mrs. Dubedat did not have the
prices marked in the Catalogue.

GERSAINT.  You mean Mrs. Schutzmacher.  (_Drives in last nail_).

J. STEPNEY.  Yes, sir.

_Enter a striking-looking-man, not unlike a Holbein drawing, at a
distance: but on nearer inspection, as he comes within range of the
footlights, he is more like an Isaac Oliver or Nicholas Lucidel.  He
examines the notice and sniffs_.

S.L.M.N.U.H.D.  Which are the works of Art?

EDMUND GOSSE.  Can you tell me who that is?  He is one of the few people
I don't know by sight.  A celebrity of course; and do point out any
obscurities.  Every one is so distinguished.  It is rather confusing.

GERSAINT.  That is the Holland Park Wonder, so-called because he lives at
the top of a tower in Holland Park--the greatest Art Connoisseur in
England.  Mr. Charles Ricketts, the greatest--

EDMUND GOSSE.  Thank you; thank you.

MR. FREDERICK WEDMORE (_interrupting_).  Can you tell me whether the
frames are included in the prices of the pictures?

J. STEPNEY.  No, sir.  They are stock frames, the property of the
Gallery, and are only lent for the occasion.

MR. FREDERICK WEDMORE.  Then I fear I cannot buy; a naked picture without
a frame is useless to me.

CHARLES RICKETTS.  Do you think I could buy a frame without a picture?

JOSEPH PENNELL.  I say Ricketts, it seems a beastly shame we didn't get
this show for the International.  It would have been good 'ad.'  What's
the use of Backers?  I see they're selling well.

CHARLES RICKETTS.  But, my dear Pennell, you're doing the _Life_, aren't
you?--the real Dubedat?

JOSEPH PENNELL.  Oh, yes, but the family have injuncted Heinemann from
publishing the letters: Mr. Justice Kekewich will probably change his
opinion when the weather gets warmer.  It is only an interim injunction.

CHARLES RICKETTS.  A sort of Clapham Injunction.

SIR WILLIAM RICHMOND, K.C.B., R.A.  If I had known what a stupendous
genius Dubedat was, I should have given him part of the 'New Bailey' to
decorate.

D. S. MACCOLL.  Let us be thankful he's as dead as Bill Bailey.

SIR CHARLES HOLROYD (_smoothing things over_).  I think we ought to have
an example for the Tate.  (MACCOLL _winces_.)  The Chantrey
Bequest--(MACCOLL _winces again_)--might do something; and I must write
to Lord Balcarres.  The National Arts Collections Fund may have something
over from the subscriptions to the Rokeby Velasquez; but I want to see
what Colvin is going to choose for the British Museum.

SIDNEY COLVIN.  I think we might have this drawing; it stands on its
legs.  A most interesting fellow Dubedat.  He reminds me of Con--

GEORGE MOORE.  Not Stevenson, though _he_ had no talent whatever.  My
dear Mr. Colvin, have you ever read 'Vailima Letters'?  I have read parts
of them.

SIDNEY COLVIN (_coldly_).  Ah, really!  Did you suffer very much?

SIR HUGH P. LANE.  Do you think, Mr. Gersaint, the artist's widow would
give me one of the pictures for the Dublin Gallery?  We have no money at
all.  _I have no money_, but all the artists are giving pictures:
Sargent, Shannon, Lavery, Frank Dicksee; and Rodin is giving a plaster
cast.

GERSAINT.  How charming and insinuating you are, Sir Hugh.  We can make
special reductions for the Dublin Gallery, but you can hardly expect
charitable bequests from picture dealers.

SIR HUGH P. LANE.  Oh! but Dowdeswell, Agnew, Sulley, Wertheimer, P. and
D. Colnaghi, and Humphry Ward are all giving me pictures.  Now, look
here, I'll buy these five drawings, and you can give me these two.  I'll
give you a Gainsborough drawing in exchange for them.  It has a very good
history.  First it belonged to Ricketts, then to Rothenstein, then Wilson
Steer, and then to the Carfax Gallery, and . . . then it came into my
possession, and all that in three months.  (_Bargain concluded_.)

MR. PFFUNGST (_aside_).  But is there any evidence that it belonged to
Gainsborough?

SIR HUGH P. LANE (_turning to a titled lady_).  Oh, do come to tea next
Saturday.  I want to show you my new Titian which I _have just bought
for_ 2100_l_.

TITLED LADY.  Sir Hugh, _can_ you tell me who Mrs. Dubedat is now?

SIR HUGH P. LANE.  Oh, yes.  She married Dr. Schutzmacher, the specialist
on bigamy only this morning.

TITLED LADY.  How interesting.  I should like to meet her.  Dresses
divinely, I'm told.

SIR HUGH P. LANE.  She's coming to tea next Saturday; such good tea, too!

TITLED LADY.  That will be delightful.

ST. JOHN HANKIN (_loftily_).  Can you tell me whether this charmian
artist is pronounced Dubedat or Dubedat?

W. P. KER (_in deep Scotch_).  Non Dubitat.  (_He does not speak again_.)

P. G. KONODY.  Oh, Mr. Phillips, do tell me _exactly_ what _you_ think of
this artist!

CLAUDE PHILLIPS.  I think he wanted a good smacking.

P. G. KONODY.  Ah, yes, his art _has_ a smack about it.  (_Aside_.)  Good
heading for the _Daily Mail_, 'Art with a smack.'  (_Writes in
catalogue_.)

WILL ROTHENSTEIN.  When I see pictures of this kind, my dear Gersaint,
they seem to me to explain your existence.  An artist without a
conscience . . . (_Sees_ ROGER FRY.)  My dear Fry, what are _you_ doing
here?  Buying for New York? (_Laughs meaningly_.)

ROGER FRY.  Oh, no; but I hear Gersaint has a very fine picture by the
Maitresse of the Moulin Rouge.  Weale says it is School of Gheel
(_pronounced Kail_).

WILL ROTHENSTEIN.  Kail Yard I should think; do look at these things.

ROGER FRY (_vaguely_).  Who are they by?  Oh, yes, Dubedat, of course.

[FRY _and_ ROTHENSTEIN _regard picture with disdain_; _it withers under
their glance_.  _Stage illusion by_ MASKELYNE _and_ THEODORE COOK.
STEPNEY _places a red star on it_.

GERSAINT.  Well, Mr. Bowyer Nichols, I hope we shall have a good long
notice in the _Westminster Gazette_.  Now if there is any drawing . . .

BOWYER NICHOLS (_very stiffly_).  No, there isn't.  I don't think the
Exhibition sufficiently important; everything seems to me cribbed: most
of the pictures look like reproductions of John, Orpen or Neville Lytton.

GERSAINT.  Ah, no doubt, influenced by Neville Lytton.  That portrait of
Mr. Cutler Walpole has a Neville Lytton feeling.  Neville Lytton in his
earlier manner.

_Enter_ SIR PATRICK CULLEN, SIR RALPH BLOOMFIELD BONNINGTON _and_ SIR
COLENSO RIDGEON.

SIR C. RIDGEON.  Ah, Sir Patrick, I have just heard that the pictures are
for sale; now I am going to plunge a little.  I think they will rise in
value; and by the way I want to ask your opinion as a scientific man.  If
I treat four artists with _virus obscaenum_ for three weeks, what will be
the condition of the remaining artists in the fourth week?

SIR P. CULLEN.  Colenso, Colenso, you ought to have been a senior
wrangler and then abolished.

SIR C. RIDGEON.  What a cynic you are.  All the same I've had great
successes, though Dubedat _was_ one of our failures.  A rather anaemic
member of the New English Art Club come to me for treatment, and in less
than a year he was an Associate of the Royal Academy; what do you say to
that?

SIR P. CULLEN.  Out of Phagocyte, out of mind.

SIR R. B. B.  My dear Sir Patrick, how prejudiced you are.  Take
MacColl's case: a typical instance of _morbus ferox ars nova anglicana_:
under dear Colenso he became an official at the Tate.

SIR C. RIDGEON.  Then there's Sir Charles Holroyd, you remember his high
tempera?

SIR P. CULLEN.  There has been a relapse I hear from the catalogue.

SIR R. B. B.  How grossly unfair; that is a false bulletin issued by the
former nurse: 'the evil that men do lives after them.'

SIR P. CULLEN.  My dear B. B., this is not Dubedat's funeral.  Do you
think Bernard Shaw will like the new epilogue?

BERNARD SHAW.  He will; I'm shaw.

L. C. C. INSPECTOR.  Excuse me, is Mr. Vedrenne here?  Ah, yes!  There is
Mr. Vedrenne.  Will you kindly answer some of my questions?  Is that door
on the left a real door?  In case of fire I cannot allow property doors;
the actors might be seized with stage fright, and they must have, as Sir
B. B. would say, 'their exits and their entrances.'

VEDRENNE.  Everything at the Court Theatre, my dear sir, is real.  Ask
Mr. Franks, he will tell you the door is not even a jar.  The art, the
acting, the plays, even the audience is real, except a few dramatic
critics I cannot exclude.  I admit the audience looks improbable at
matinees; _out of Court_ is a truth in art of which we are only dimly
beginning to understand the significance.  [_Noise outside_.

_Enter_ JENNIFER, _dressed in deep mourning_.

JENNIFER (_with a bright smile_).  Mr. Vedrenne, I have just had a
telegram saying that my husband, Leo, was killed in his motor after
leaving me at the Synagogue.  His last words were: 'Jennifer, promise me
that you will wear mourning if I die, merely to mark the difference
between Dubedat and myself.'  This afternoon I am going to marry
Blenkinsop.  How are the sales going?

VEDRENNE.  Well, I think we might have the catechism or the churching of
heroines.  What is your name?

JENNIFER.  Jennifer.

VEDRENNE.  Where did you get that name?

JENNIFER.  From Bernard Shaw in my baptism.

MR. REDFORD (_Licenser of Plays_).  Mr. Shaw, I really must point out
that this passage comes from the Anglican Prayer-book.  Are you aware of
that?  I have a suggestion of my own for ending the play.

BERNARD SHAW.  Oh, shut up!  Let us have my ten commandments.

GRANVILLE BARKER.  My dear Shaw, you sent them to Wells for revision and
he lost them in the Tube.  I can remember the first one, 'Maude spake
these words and said: "Thou shalt have none other Shaws but me."'

BERNARD SHAW.  How careless of Wells.  I remember the second: 'Do not
indulge in craven imitation.'

W. L. COURTNEY.  The third commandment runs: 'Thou shalt not covet George
Alexander.'

GRANVILLE BARKER.  One of them runs: 'Do not commit yourself to Beerbohm
Tree, though his is His Majesty's . . . '  But we shall never get them
right.  We must offer a reward for their recovery.  I vote that Walkley
now says the _credo_.  That, I think, expresses every one's sentiment.

A. B. WALKLEY (_reluctantly_).  I believe in Bernard Shaw, in Granville
Barker, and (_heartily_) in _The Times_.

WILLIAM ARCHER.  Plaudite, missa est.

(1907.)

CURTAIN.



THE JADED INTELLECTUALS.  A DIALOGUE.


_Scene: The Smoking-room of the Elivas Club_.

_Characters_: LAUDATOR TEMPOREYS, _aetat. 54, a distinguished literary
critic, and_ LUKE CULLUS, _a rich connoisseur of art and life.  They are
not smoking nor drinking spirits.  One is sipping barley water, the other
Vichy_.

LUKE CULLUS.  You are a dreadful pessimist!

LAUDATOR TEMPOREYS.  Alas! there is no such thing in these days.  We are
merely disappointed optimists.  When Walter Pater died I did not realise
that English literature expired.  Yet the event excited hardly any
interest in the Press.  Our leading weekly, the _Spectator_, merely
mentioned that Brasenose College, Oxford, had lost an excellent Dean.

L. C.  I can hardly understand you.  Painting, I admit, is entirely a
lost art, so far as England is concerned.  The death of Burne-Jones
brought our tradition to an end.  I see no future for any of the arts
except needlework, of which, I am told, there is a hopeful revival.  But
in your fields of literature, what a number of great names!  How I envy
you!

L. T.  Who is there?

L. C.  Well, to take the novelists first: you have the great Thomas
Hardy, H. G. Wells, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Maurice Hewlett . . . I
can't remember the names of any others just at present.  Then take the
poets: Austin Dobson, my own special favourite; and among the younger
men, A. E. Housman, Laurence Housman, Yeats, Arthur Symons, Laurence
Binyon, William Watson--

L. T. (_interrupting_).  Who always keeps one foot in Wordsworth's grave.
But all the men you mention, my dear Cullus, belong to the last century.
They have done their best work.  Hardy has become mummy, and Henry James
is sold in Balham.  Except Hardy, they have become unintelligible.  The
theory that 'to be intelligible is to be found out' seems to have
frightened them.  The books they issue are a series of 'not-at-home'
cards--sort of P.P.C.'s on posterity.  And the younger poets, too, belong
to the last century, or they stand in the same relation to their
immediate predecessors, to borrow one of your metaphors, as _l'art
nouveau_ does to Chippendale.  Oh, for the days of Byron, Keats, and
Shelley!

L. C.  All of whom died before they were matured.  You seem to resent
development.  In literature I am a mere _dilettante_.  A fastidious
reader, but not an expert.  I know what I don't like; but I never know
what I shall like.  At least twice a year I come across a book which
gives me much pleasure.  As it comes from the lending library it is never
quite new.  That is an added charm.  If it happens to have made a
sensation, the sensation is all over by the time it reaches me.  The book
has matured.  A quite new book is always a little crude.  It suggests an
evening paper.  There at least you will agree.  But to come across a work
which Henry James published, say, last year, is, I assure you, like
finding a Hubert Van Eyck in the Brompton Road.

L. T.  I wish I could share your enthusiasm, or that I could change
places with you.  Every year the personality of a new artist is revealed
to you.  I know you only pretend not to admire the modern school of
painting.  You find it a convenient pose.  Your flora and your fauna are
always receiving additions; while my garden is withered; my zoo is out of
repair.  The bars are broken; the tanks have run dry.  There is hardly a
trace of life except in the snake-house, and, as I mentioned, the last
giraffe is dead.

L. C.  Our friend, Dr. Chalmers Mitchell, is fortunately able to give us
a different account of the institution in Regent's Park.  You are quite
wrong about modern painting.  None of the younger men can paint at all.  A
few of them can draw, I admit.  It is all they can do.  The death of
Charles Furse blasted all my hopes of English art.  Whistler is dead;
Sargent is an American.

L. T.  Well, so is Henry James, if it comes to that.  And so _was_
Whistler.  But I have seen the works of several young artists who I
understand are carrying out the great traditions of painting.  Ricketts,
Shannon, Wilson Steer, Rothenstein, Orpen, Nicholson, Augustus John are
surely worthy successors to Turner, Alfred Stevens, and the
Pre-Raphaelites.

L. C.  They are merely connoisseurs gifted with expressing their
appreciation of the past in paint.  They appeal to you as a literary man.
You like to detect in every stroke of their brushes an echo of the past.
Their pictures have been _heard_, not _seen_.  All the younger artists
are committing burglary on the old masters.

L. T.  It is you who are a disappointed optimist.

L. C.  Not about literature or the drama.  I seem to hear, with Ibsen's
'Master Builder,' the younger generation knocking at the door.

L. T.  It comes in without knocking in my experience; and generally has
_fig_-leaves in its hair--a decided advance on the coiffure of Hedda
Gabler's lover.

L. C.  But look at Bernard Shaw.

L. T.  Why should I look at Bernard Shaw?  I read his plays and am more
than ever convinced that he has gone on the wrong lines.  His was the
opportunity.  He made _il gran refuto_.  Some one said that George
Saintsbury never got over the first night of _Hernani_.  Shaw never
recovered the _premiere_ of _Ghosts_.  He roofed our Thespian temple with
Irish slate.  His disciples found English drama solid brick and leave it
plaster of Paris.  Yet Shaw might have been another Congreve.

L. C.  _Troja fuit_.  We do not want another.  I am sure you never went
to the Court at all.

L. T.  Oh, yes, I attended the last _levee_.  But the drama is too large
a subject, or, in England, too small a subject to discuss.  We live, as
Professor Mahaffy has reminded us, in an Alexandrian age.  We are wounded
with archaeology and exquisite scholarship, and must drag our slow length
along . . . We were talking about literature.  Where are the essayists,
the Lambs, and the Hazlitts?  I know you are going to say Andrew Lang; I
say it every day; it is like an Amen in the Prayer-book; it occurs quite
as frequently in periodical literature.  He _was_ my favourite essayist,
during the _last_ fifteen years of the _last_ century.  What is he now?
An historian, a folk-lorist, an archaeologist, a controversialist.  I
believe he is an expert on portraits of Mary Stuart.  You were going on
to say G. K. Chesterton--

L. C.  No.  I was going to say Max Beerbohm.  Some of his essays I put
beside Lamb's, and above Hazlitt's.  He has style; but then I am
prejudiced because he is the only modern artist I really admire.  He is a
superb draughtsman and our only caricaturist.  Then there is George
Moore.  I don't care for his novels, but his essays are delightful.
George Moore really counts.  Few people know so little about art; yet how
delightfully he writes about it.  Everything comes to him as a surprise.
He gives you the same sort of enjoyment as you would derive from hearing
a nun preach on the sins of smart society.

L. T.  Moore is one of many literary Acteons who have mistaken Diana for
Aphrodite.

L. C.  You mean he is great dear; but he gets hold of the right end of
the stick.

L. T.  And he generally soils it.  But you know nothing about literature.
The age requires blood and Kipling gave it Condy's Fluid (_drinks barley
water_).  The age requires life, and Moore gave us a gallantee show from
Montmartre (_drinks barley water_).  Even I require life.  To-morrow I am
off to Aix.

L. C.--les Bains?

L. T.  No, la-Chapelle!

L. C.  Oh, then we shall probably meet.  Thanks.  I can get on my own
overcoat.  I shall probably be there myself in a few weeks.



ABBEY THOUGHTS.


Shall some memorial of Herbert Spencer be erected in the Abbey, or rather
in what journalists love to call the 'National Valhalla,' the 'English
Pantheon,' or the 'venerable edifice,' where, as Macaulay says, the dust
of the illustrious accusers, _et cetera_----?  The question was once
agitated in a daily paper.  It seems that the Dean, when approached on
the subject, acted like one of his predecessors in the case of Byron.  The
Dean is in a very difficult position, because any decision of his must be
severely criticised from one quarter or another.  The Abbey retains, I
understand, some of its pre-Reformation privileges, and is not under the
jurisdiction of Bishop or Archbishop.  Yet no one who has ever visited
the Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor on October 13th, the festival of
his translation, can accuse the Abbey authorities of bigotry or narrow-
mindedness.  Only a few years ago I fought my way, with other Popish
pilgrims, to the shrine of our patron Saint (as he _was_, until
superseded by Saint George in the thirteenth century), and there I
indulged in overt acts of superstition violating Article XXII. of 'the
Church of England by law established.'  A verger, with some colonial
tourists, arrived during our devotions, but his voice was lowered out of
regard for our feelings.  Indeed, both he and the tourists adopted
towards us an attitude of respectful curiosity (not altogether
unpleasant), which was in striking contrast to the methods of the
continental _Suisse_ routing out worshippers from a side chapel of a
Catholic church in order to show Baedeker-ridden sightseers an
altar-piece by Rotto Rotinelli.

Thoughts of Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley irresistibly mingled with my
devotions.  What had the poor fellows burnt for, after all?  Here we were
ostentatiously ignoring English history and the adjacent Houses of
Parliament; outraging the rubrics by ritual observations for which poor
curates in the East End are often suspended, and before now have been
imprisoned.  I could not help thinking that the Archbishop of Westminster
would hardly care to return these hospitalities, by permitting, on August
24th, a memorial service for Admiral Coligny in Westminster Cathedral. . . .
I rose from my knees a new Luther, with something like a Protestant
feeling, and scrutinised severely the tombs in Poets' Corner.  Even there
I found myself confronted with an almost irritating liberalism.  Here was
Alexander Pope, who rejected all the overtures of Swift and Atterbury to
embrace the Protestant faith.  And there was Dryden, not, perhaps, a
great ornament to my persuasion, but still a Catholic at the last.  Dean
Panther had not grudged poet Hind his niche in the National Valhalla (I
knew I should be reduced to that periphrasis).  And here was the mighty
Charles Darwin, about whose reception into the English Pantheon (I have
fallen again) I remember there was some trouble.  Well, if precedent
embalms a principle, I venture to raise a thin small voice, and plead for
Herbert Spencer.  'The English people,' said a friendly French critic,
'do not admire their great men because they were great, but because they
reflect credit on themselves.'  So on the score of national vanity I
claim space for Herbert Spencer.  Very few Englishmen have exercised such
extraordinary influence on continental opinion, which Beaconsfield said
was the verdict of posterity.  On the news of his death, the Italian
Chamber passed a vote of condolence with the English people.  I suppose
that does not seem a great honour to Englishmen, but to me, an enemy of
United Italy, it seemed a great honour, not only to the dead but to the
English people.  Can you imagine the Swiss Federal Council sending us a
vote of condolence on the death of Mr. Hall Caine or Mr. Robert Hichens?

Again, though it is ungrateful of me to mention the fact after my
experiences of October 13th, the Abbey was not built nor endowed by
people who anticipated the Anglican form of worship being celebrated
within its walls, though I admit it has been _restored_ by the adherents
of that communion.  The image of Milton, to take only one instance, would
have been quite as objectionable to Henry III. or Abbot Islip as those of
Darwin or Spencer.  The emoluments bequeathed by Henry VII. and others
for requiem masses are now devoted to the education of Deans' daughters
and Canons' sons.  Where incensed altars used to stand, hideous monuments
of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries wound the Gothic
air with their monstrous ornaments and inapposite epitaphs.  St. Paul's
may fairly be held sacred to Anglicanism, and I do not think any one
would claim sepulture within its precincts for one who was avowedly
hostile to Christian or Anglican sentiment.  But I think the Abbey has
now passed into the category of museums, and might well be declared a
national monument under control of the State.  The choir, and possibly
the nave, should, of course, be severely preserved for whatever the State
religion might be at the time.  Catholics need not mourn the
secularisation of the transepts and chapels, because Leo XIII. renounced
officially all claims on the ancient shrines of the Catholic faith, and
High Churchmen might console themselves by recalling the fact that Abbots
were originally laymen.

My whole scheme would be a return to the practice of the Primitive
Church, when priests were only allowed on sufferance inside abbeys at
all.  The Low Church party need not be considered, because they can have
no sentiment about what they regard as relics of superstition and Broad
Churchmen could hardly complain at the logical development of their own
principle.  The Nonconformists, the backbone of the nation, could not be
otherwise than grateful.  The decision about admitting busts, statues, or
bodies into the national and sacred 'musee des morts' (as the
anti-clerical French might call it under the new constitution) would rest
with the Home Secretary.  This would be an added interest to the duties
of a painstaking official, forming pleasant interludes between
considering the remission of sentences on popular criminals: it would
relieve the Dean and Chapter at all events from grave responsibility.  The
Home Secretary would always be called the Abbot of Westminster.  How
picturesque at the formation of a new Cabinet--'_Home Secretary and Abbot
of Westminster_, the Right Hon. Mr. So-and-So.'  The first duty of the
Abbot will be to appoint a Royal Commission to consider the removal of
hideous monuments which disfigure the edifice: nothing prior to 1700
coming under its consideration.  A small tablet would recall what has
been taken away.  Herbert Spencer's claim to a statue would be duly
considered, and, I hope, by a unanimous vote some of the other glaring
gaps would be filled up.  If the Abbey is full of obscurities, very dim
religious lights, many of the illustrious names in our literature have
been omitted: Byron, Shelley, Keats--to mention only these.  There is no
monument to Chatterton, one of the more powerful influences in the
romantic movement, nor to William Blake, whose boyish inspiration was
actually nourished amid that 'Gothic supineness,' as Mr. MacColl has
finely said of him.  Of all our poets and painters Blake surely deserves
a monument in the grey church which became to him what St. Mary Redcliffe
was to Chatterton.  A window adapted from the book of Job (with the
marvellous design of the Morning Stars) was, I am told, actually offered
to, and rejected by, the late Dean.  To Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the
wonderful movement of which he was the dynamic force there should also be
a worthy memorial; to Water Pater, the superb aside of English prose; to
Cardinal Manning, _the_ Ecclesiastic of the nineteenth century; and
Professor Huxley, that master of dialectics.

A young actor of my acquaintance, who bore the honoured name of Siddons,
was invited to take part in the funeral service of the late Sir Henry
Irving.  His step-father was connected by marriage with the great
actress, and he was very proud of his physical resemblance to her
portrait by Reynolds.  He had played with great success the part of
Fortinbras in the provinces, and Mr. Alexander has assured me that he was
the ideal impersonator of Rosencrantz.  It was an open secret that he had
refused Mr. Arthur Bourchier's offer of that _role_ in a proposed revival
of _Hamlet_ at the Garrick.  Since the burial of Sir Henry Irving in the
Abbey, _he has never been seen_: though I saw him myself in the funeral
_cortege_.  All his friends remember the curious exaltation in his manner
a few days before the ceremony, and I cannot help thinking that in a
moment of enthusiasm, realising that this was his only chance of burial
in the Abbey, he took advantage of the bowed unobservant heads during the
prayer of Committal and crept beneath the pall into the great actor's
tomb.  What his feelings were at the time, or afterwards when the vault
was bricked up, would require the introspective pen of Mr. Henry James
and the curious imagination of Mr. H. G. Wells to describe.  I have been
assured by the vergers that mysterious sounds were heard for some days
after this historical occasion.  Distressed by the loss of my friend, I
applied to the Dean of Westminster and finally to Scotland Yard.  I need
not say that I was met with sacerdotal indifference on the one hand and
with callous officialism on the other.  I hope that under the Royal
Commission which I have appointed the mystery will be cleared up.  Not
that I begrudge poor Siddons a niche with Garrick and Irving.

(1906.)

_To_ PROFESSOR JAMES MAYOR, _Toronto University_.



THE ELETHIAN MUSE.


After chaperoning into Fleet Street the eleventh Muse, the rather
Batavian lady who is not to be found in that Greek peerage, Lempriere's
Dictionary, an obliging correspondent from Edinburgh (an eminent writer
to the Signet in our northern Thebes) inquired if there were any more
muses who had escaped the students of comparative mythology.  It is in
response to his letter that I now present, as Mr. Charles Frohman would
say, the thirteenth, the Elethian Muse.

Yet I can fancy people asking, Where is the twelfth, and over what art or
science does she preside?  According to Apollodorus (in a recently
recovered fragment from Oxyrynchus), Jupiter, suffering from the chronic
headaches consequent on his acrimonious conversations with Athena,
decided to consult Vulcan, AEsculapius having come to be regarded as a
quack.  Mulciber (as we must now call him, having used the name Vulcan
once), suggested an extraordinary remedy, one of the earliest records of
a homoeopathic expedient.  He prescribed that the king of gods and men
should keep his ambrosial tongue in the side of his cheek for half an
hour three times a day.  The operation produced violent retching in the
Capitoline stomach.  And on the ninth day, from his mouth, quite unarmed,
sprang the twelfth muse.  The other goddesses were very disgusted; and
even the gods declined to have any communication with the new arrival.
Apollo, however, was more tolerant, and offered her an asylum on the top
shelf of the celestial library.  Ever afterwards Musagetes used to be
heard laughing immoderately, even for a librarian to the then House of
Lords.  Jupiter, incensed at this irregularity, paid him a surprise visit
one day in order to discover the cause.  He stayed, however, quite a long
time; and the other deities soon contracted the habit of taking their
nectar into the library.  With the decline of manners, the twelfth muse
began to be invited to dessert, after Juno and the more reputable
goddesses had retired.  To cut a long story short, when Pan died, in the
Olympian sense very shortly afterwards, all the gods, as we know, took
refuge on earth.  Jupiter retired to Iceland, Aphrodite to Germany,
Apollo to Picardy, but the twelfth muse wandered all over Europe, and
found that she was really more appreciated than her sisters.  The castle,
the abbey, the inn, the lone ale-house on the Berkshire moors, all made
her welcome.  Finally she settled in Ireland, where, according to a
protestant libel, she took the black veil in a nunnery.

She is older than the chestnuts of Vallombrosa.  Perhaps of all the
ancient goddesses time has chilled her least.  Her unfathomable smile
wears a touch of something sinister in it, but she has a new meaning for
every generation.  And yet for Aretino there was some further magic of
crimson on her lips and cheeks, lost for us.  She is a solecism for the
convalescent, and has given consolation to the brave.  She has been a
diver in rather deep seas and a climber in somewhat steep places.  Her
censers are the smoking-rooms of clubs; and her presence-lamps are
schoolboys' lanterns.  Though held the friend of liars and brutes, she
has lived on the indelicacies of kings, and has made even pontiffs laugh.
Her mysteries are told in the night-time, and in low whispers to the
garish day.  She lingers over the stable-yard (no doubt called _mews_ for
that reason).  Her costly breviaries, embellished with strange
illuminations, are prohibited under Lord Campbell's Act.  Stars mark the
places where she has been.  Sometimes a scholar's fallacy, a sworn foe to
Dr. Bowdler, she is Notre Dame de Milet, our Lady of Limerick.

* * * * *

But it is of her sister I would speak, the thirteenth sister, who was
created to keep the eleventh in countenance.  She presides over the
absurdities of prose.  She is responsible for the stylistic flights of
Pegasus when, owing to the persuasive eloquence of the Hon. Stephen
Coleridge, his bearing-rein has been abolished, and he kicks over the
traces.

It was the Elethian Muse who inspired that Oxford undergraduate's
peroration to his essay on the Characteristics of St. John's Gospel--

   'Furthermore, we may add that St. John's Gospel is characterised by a
   tone of fervent piety which is totally wanting in those of the other
   Evangelists'--

and she hovered over the journalist who, writing for a paper which we
need not name, referred to Bacchus as

   'that deity whose identity in Greek and Roman mythology is inseparably
   connected with the over-indulgence of intoxicating liquors.'

There are prose beauties, Elethian jewels, hidden away in Baedeker's
mines of pregnant information and barren fact.  I know it is fashionable
to sneer at Baedeker, especially when you are writing little rhapsodies
about remoter parts of Italy, where you have found his knowledge
indispensable, if exiguous.  You must always kick away the ladder when
you arrive at literary distinction.  I, who am still climbing and still
clinging, can afford to be more generous.  Let me, therefore, crown
Baedeker with an essayist's parsley, or an academic laurel, ere I too
become selfish, forgetful, egoistical, and famous.

In _Southern France_, 1891 edition, p. 137, you find--

   To the Pic de Nere, 3.75 hrs. from Luz, there and back 6.5 hrs.; a
   delightful excursion, which can be made on horseback part of the way:
   guide 12, horse 10 fr.; _adders abound_.

For synthetic prose you will have to go to Tacitus to find the equal of
that passage.  No more is heard of the excursion.  'We leave Luz by the
Barege road,' the text goes on to say.  Reflections and picturesque word-
painting are left for Mr. Maurice Hewlett, Mr. Arthur Symons, and Murray.

In _Southern Italy_, Baedeker yields to softer and more Virgilian
influences.  The purple patches are longer and more frequent.  On page 99
we learn not only how to get to Baiae, but that

   Luxury and profligacy, however, soon took up their abode at Baiae, and
   the desolate ruins, which now alone encounter the eye, point the usual
   moral!

And from the preface to the same guide we obtain this remarkable advice:--

   The traveller should adopt the Neapolitan custom of rejecting fish
   that are not quite fresh.

But it is certain educational works, popular in my childhood, that have
yielded the more exotic Elethian blossoms for my Anthology.  There are
passages I would not willingly let die.  In one of these books general
knowledge was imparted after the manner of Magnall: 'What is the world?
The earth on which we live.'  'Who was Raphael?'  'How is rice made?'
After such desultory interrogatives, without any warning, came Question
15: 'Give the character of Prince Potemki':--

   Sordidly mean, ostentatiously prodigal, filthily intemperate and
   affectedly refined.  Disgustingly licentious and extravagantly
   superstitious, a brute in appetite, vigorous though vacillating in
   action.

Until I went to the University, a great many years afterwards, I never
learnt who Potemki was.  At the age of seven he stood to me for what
'Timberio' still is for Capriote children.  My teacher obviously did not
know.  She always evaded my inquiries by saying, 'You will know when you
are older, darling.'  Suspecting her ignorance, I became pertinacious.
'When I am as old as you?' was my ungallant rejoinder.  I had to write
the character out a hundred times.  Then one Christmas Day I ventured to
ask my father, who said I would find out about him in Gibbon.  But I knew
he was not speaking the truth, because he laughed in a nervous, peculiar
way, and added that since I was so fond of history I must go to Oxford
when I was older.  I loathed history, and inwardly resolved that
Cambridge should be my University.  My mother admitted entire ignorance
of Potemki's identity; and on my sketching his character (for I was proud
of the knowledge), said he was obviously a 'horrid' man.  His personality
shadowed my childhood with a deadly fascination, which has not entirely
worn away; producing the same sort of effect on me as an imaginary
portrait by Pater.

In a semi-geographical work called _Near Home; or, Europe Described_,
published by Hatchards in the fifties (though my friend, Mr. Arthur
Humphreys, denies all knowledge of it), I can recall many stereos of
dialectic cast in a Socratic mould:--

   _Q_.  What is the religion of the Italians?  _A_.  They are Roman
   Catholics.

   _Q_.  What do the Roman Catholics worship?  _A_.  Idols and a piece of
   bread.

   _Q_.  Would not God be very angry if He knew the Italians worshipped
   idols and a piece of bread?  _A_.  God IS very angry.

Mr. Augustine Birrell, if still interested in educational phenomena, will
not be surprised to learn that when I reached to man's estate I 'embraced
the errors of Rome,' as my historical manual would have phrased it.

I pity the child who did not learn universal history from Collier.  How
tame are the periods of Lord Acton, the Rev. William Hunt, Froude,
Freeman, Oman, Round, even Macaulay, and little Arthur, beside the rich
Elethian periods of William Francis Collier.  Not Berenson, not Byron,
not Beerbohm, have given us such a picture of Venice as Collier in
describing the Council of Ten:--

   The ten were terrible; but still more terrible were the three
   inquisitors--two black, one red--appointed in 1454.  Deep mystery hung
   over the three.  They were elected by the ten; none else knew their
   names.  Their great work was to kill; and no man--doge, councillor, or
   inquisitor--was beyond their reach.  Secretly they pronounced a doom;
   and ere long the stiletto or the poison cup had done its work, or the
   dark waters of the lagoon had closed over a life.  The spy was
   everywhere.  No man dared to speak out, for his most intimate
   companions might be on the watch to betray him.  Bronze vases, shaped
   like a lion's mouth, gaped at the corner of every square to receive
   the names of suspected persons.  Gloom and suspicion haunted gondola
   and hearth!!

It is owing to Collier that I know at least one fact about the Goths who
took Rome, 'having reduced the citizens to feed on mice and nettles, A.D.
546,' a diet to which many of the hotel proprietors in the imperial city
still treat their clients.

But let _Bellows' Dictionary_, a friend and instructor of riper years,
close my list of great examples and my theme.  The criticism is apposite
to myself, and its only oddity--its Elethian quality, if I may say so--is
its presence in that marvellous miniature whose ingenious author you
would never suspect could have found room for such portentous
observations in the small duodecimo to which he confined himself:--

   Unaffected language is the inseparable accompaniment of natural
   refinement; but that affectation which would make up for paucity of
   thought by overstrained expression is a mark of vulgarity from which
   no accident of social position can redeem those who are guilty of it.

_To_ MORE ADEY, ESQ.



THERE IS NO DECAY.


_A Lecture delivered in the Old Bluecoat School, Liverpool, on February
12th, 1908_.

   'In every age there is some question raised as to its wants and
   powers, its strength and weakness, its great or small worth and work;
   and in every age that question is waste of time and speech.  To a
   small soul the age which has borne it can appear only as an age of
   small souls; the pigmy brain and emasculate spirit can perceive in its
   own time nothing but dwarfishness and emasculation.  Each century has
   seemed to some of its children an epoch of decadence and decline in
   national life and spiritual, in moral or material glory; each alike
   has heard the cry of degeneracy raised against it, the wave of emulous
   impotence set up against the weakness of the age.'--SWINBURNE.

Before the invention of printing, or let me say before the cheapening of
printing, the lecturer was in a more fortunate position than he is to-
day; because, if a learned man, he was able to give his audience certain
pieces of information which he could be fairly sure _some_ of his
listeners had never heard before.  The arrival in town or city of
Abelard, Paracelsus, or Erasmus, to take the first instances occurring to
me, must have been a great event, the importance of which we can scarcely
appreciate at the present day.  It must have excited our forefathers, at
least as much as the arrival of Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree in any large
city, excites I imagine, all of us to-day.  But multiplication of books
has really rendered lecturers, as instructors, mere intellectual
Othellos; their occupation is gone; the erudition of the ages is now
within reach of all; though educational books were fairly expensive
within living memory.  You owe, therefore, a debt of gratitude to the
_Times_ and the _Daily Mail_ for bringing Encyclopaedias of all kinds
into the range of the shallowest purse and in contact with the shallowest
heads in the community.

But in case your learned professors have not contributed all their hidden
lore and scholarship to the cheap Encyclopaedias, and still allow their
learning to leak out at lectures, you may have come expecting instruction
from me on some neglected subject.  If that is so, I must confess myself
at once an impostor.  I have no information to give you.  I assume your
erudition to compensate for my own lack of it.  There are no facts which
I might bring before you that you cannot find stated more clearly in
valuable manuals or works of reference, if you have not mastered them
already.  There is no scientific or philosophic theory which I might
propound that you could not hear with greater benefit from others.

Briefly, I have no orange up my sleeve.

Let there be no deception or disappointment.  I want you to play with an
idea as children play at ball--not football--but the old game of catch.
And out of this discussion, for I trust that you will all differ, if not
with me, at least with each other, trains of thought may be quickened;
mental grassland ploughed up; hidden perspectives unveiled.  Above all, I
would stimulate you to an appreciation of your contemporaries and of
contemporary literature, contemporary drama, and contemporary art.

Every few years distinguished men lift their voices, and tell us that all
is over, _decay has begun_.  The obscure and the anonymous echo the
sentiment in the London Press.  With the fall of any Government its
supporters prophesy the rapid decomposition of the Empire; in the pulpit
eloquent preachers of every sect and communion, thundering against the
vices of Society, declare that Society is breaking up.  Of course, not
being in Society, I am hardly in a position to judge; and the vices I
know only at second-hand--from the preachers.  Yet I see no outward signs
of decay in Society; it dresses quite as well, in some ways better than,
it did.  Society eats as much, judging from the size and number of new
restaurants; its patronises as usual the silliest plays in London, and
buys in larger quantities than ever the idiotic novels provided for it.
Have you ever been to a bazaar in aid of Our Dumb Friends' League?  Well,
you see Society _there_, I can tell you; it is not dumb.  And the
conversation sounds no less vapid and no less brilliant than we are told
it was in the eighteenth century; the dresses and faces are quite as
pretty.  But much as I should like to discuss the decay of English
Society and the English nation, I feel that such lofty themes are beyond
my reach.  I am concerned only with the so-called decay of humbler
things, the abstract manifestations of the human intellect, the Arts and
Sciences.  And lest, weary at the end of my discourse, you forget the
argument or miss it, let me state at once what I wish to suggest, nay,
what I wish to assert, _there is no such thing as decay_.  Decay is an
intellectual Mrs. Harris, a highly useful entity wherewith the
journalistic Gamps try to frighten Betsy Prig.  Of course an obvious
objection to my assertion is the truism that everything has a life; and
that towards the end of that natural life we are correct in speaking of
approaching decay.  With physical phenomena, however, I am not dealing,
though I may say, by the way, that there are many examples of human
intellect maturing in middle life or extreme old age.  William Blake's
masterpiece, the illustrations to the Book of Job, were executed when he
was sixty-eight, a few years before his death.  The late Lord Kelvin is
an example of an unimpaired intellect.  Still, it must be admitted that
while nations may be destroyed by conquest, or by conquering too much and
becoming absorbed by the conquered, and that ancient buildings may be
pulled down or restored, so, too, conventions in literature and schools
of art have been brought to an end by war, plague, or death--ostensibly
brought to an end.  But it is an error to suppose that art or literature,
because their development was artificially arrested, were in a state of
decay.

The favourite object-lesson of our childhood was the Roman Empire.
'Here's richness,' as Mr. Squeers said, here was decline, and Gibbon
wrote his prose epic from that point of view.  I hardly dare to differ
with the greatest of English historians, but if we approach his work in
the scientific spirit with which we should always regard history, we
shall find that Gibbon draws false deductions from the undisputed facts,
the unchallenged assertions of his history.  Commencing with the Roman
Empire almost in its cradle, he sees in every twist of the infant limbs
prognostications of premature decline in a dispensation which by his own
computation lasted over fourteen hundred years.  It is safe enough to
prophesy about the past.  Everything I admit has a life, but I do not
consider old age decay any more than I think exuberant youth immature
childhood; death may be only arrested development and life itself an
exhausted convention.  Have you ever tried to count the number of reasons
Gibbon gives (each one is a principal reason) for the cause of Roman
decline?  His philosophy reminds me of Flaubert's hero, who observed that
if Napoleon had been content to remain a simple soldier in the barracks
at Marseilles, he might still be on the throne of France.  If we really
accept Gibbon's view of history, I am not surprised that any one should
be nervous about the British Empire.  The great intellectual idea of the
Roman dominion, arrested indeed by barbarian invasion, philosophically
never decayed.  Some of it was embalmed in Byzantium--particularly its
artistic and literary sides; its religious forces were absorbed by the
Roman Church, as Hobbes pointed out in a very wonderful passage; its
humanism and polity became the common property of the European nations of
to-day.  Gibbon's work should have been called 'The Rise and Progress of
Greco-Roman Civilisation.'  That is not such a good title, but it would
have been more accurate.  And if you compare critically the history of
any manifestation of the human intellect, religion, literature, painting,
architecture, or science, you will find that the development of one
expressive force has been momentarily arrested while some other
manifestation is asserting itself synchronously with the supposed decay
in a manifestation whose particular history you are studying.  Always
regard the deductions of the historian with the same scepticism that you
regard the deductions of fiscal politicians.

Every one knows the charming books by writers more learned than I can
pretend to be, where the history of Italian art is traced from Giotto
downwards; the story of Giotto and the little lamb, now, alas! entirely
exploded; of Cimabue's Madonna being carried about in processions, and
now discovered to have been painted by some one else!  Then on to
Massaccio through the delightful fifteenth century until you see in the
text-book in large print, like the flashes of harbour lights after a bad
Channel crossing, RAPHAEL, MICHAEL ANGELO, DA VINCI.  But when you come
to the seventeenth century, Guido Reni, the Carracci, and other painters
(for the present moment out of fashion), painters whose work fetches
little at Christie's, the art critic and historian begin to snivel about
decay; not only of Italian art, but of the Italian peninsula; and their
sobs will hardly ever allow them to get as far as Longhi, Piazetta, and
Tiepolo, those great masters of the eighteenth century.

But we know, painters certainly must know if they look at old masters at
all, that Tiepolo, if he was the last of the old masters, was also the
first of the moderns; it was his painting in Spain which influenced Goya,
and Goya is not only a deceased Spanish master, he is a European master
of to-day.  You can trace his influence through all the great French
figure-painters of the nineteenth century down to those of the New
English Art Club, though they may not have actually known they were under
his influence.  Painting commences with a childish naturalism, such as
you see on the walls of pre-historic caves; that is why savages always
prefer photographs to any work of art, and why photographers are always
so savage about works of art.  Gradually this childish naturalism
develops into decoration; it becomes stylistic.  The decoration becomes
perfected and sterile; then there arises a more sophisticated generation,
longing for naturalism, for pictorial _vraisemblance_, without the
childishness of the cave pictures.  And their new art develops at the
expense of decoration; it becomes perfect and sterile.  What is commonly
called decay is merely stylistic development.  The exquisite art of
Byzantium was wrongly considered as the debasement of Greco-Roman art.  It
was really the decorative expansion of it; the conventionalising of
exaggerated realism.  The same might have happened in Europe after the
Baroque and Rococo fashions had their day; politics and commerce
interfered.  The intensely artificial painting of France, to which
Diderot objected so much, had become perfect and sterile.  Then (happily
or unhappily, in whichever direction your tastes lie) the French
Revolution, by a pathetic misunderstanding of classical ideals, paved the
way for the naturalism of the misnamed Romantic school.  We were told, a
short time ago, that Sienese painting anticipated by a few years the
Florentine manifestations of Cimabue and Giotto, but Mr. Berenson has
pointed out that Sienese art is not the beginning but the end of an
exquisite convention, the quintessence of Byzantium.  In the Roscoe
collection at Liverpool you have one of the most superb and precious
examples of this delicate, impeccable and decadent art: 'Christ found in
the Temple,' by Simone di Martini.

In Egyptian art, again, compare the pure naturalism of the wonderful
Egyptian scribe of the Louvre, belonging, I am told, to the fifth or
sixth dynasty, with the hieratic and conventional art of the twelfth
dynasty; while in the eighteenth dynasty you get a reversion to realism,
which critics have the audacity to call a 'revival of art.'  But you
might just as well call it decayed, as indeed they do call some of the
most magnificent Ptolemaean remains, simply because they happen to belong
to a certain date which, by Egyptian reckoning, may be regarded as very
recent.  Just now we very foolishly talk in accents of scorn about the
early Victorian art, of which I venture to remind you Turner was not the
least ornament.  Of course commercial and political events often
interrupt the gestation of the arts, or break our idols in pieces.
Another generation picks up the fragments and puts them together in the
wrong way, and that is why it is so confusing and interesting; but there
is no reason to be depressed about it.  Only iconoclasm need annoy us.  In
histories of English literature too often you find the same attitude when
the writer comes to a period which he dislikes.  Restoration Comedy is
often said to be a period of debasement, and with Tennyson the young
student is given to understand that English literature ceased altogether.
But perhaps there are more modern text-books where the outlook is less
gloomy.  If, instead of reading the history of literature, you read the
literature itself, you will find plenty of instances of writers at the
most brilliant periods complaining of decay.

George Putman, in the _Art of English Poesy_, published in 1589, when
English poetry was starting on a particularly glorious period, says, 'In
these days all poets and poesy are despised, they are subject to scorn
and derision,' and 'this proceeds through the barbarous ignorance of the
time--in _other ages it was not so_.'  Then Jonson, in his 'Discoveries,'
lamenting the decline of literature, says, 'It is the disease of the age,
and no wonder if the world, growing old, begins to be infirm.'  There are
hundreds of others which will immediately occur to you, from Chaucer to
Tennyson, though Pope made noble protests on behalf of his
contemporaries.  You have only got to compare these lachrymose
observations with the summary of the year's literature in any
newspaper--'literary output' is the detestable expression always used--and
you will find the same note of depression.  'The year has not produced a
single masterpiece.  Glad as we have been to welcome Mr. Blank's verse,
"Larkspurs" cannot be compared with his first delicious volume,
"Tealeaves," published thirty years ago.'  Then turn to the review in the
same paper of 'Tealeaves' thirty years ago.  'Coarse animalism draped in
the most seductive hues of art and romance, we will not analyse these
poems, we will not even pretend to give the reasons on which our opinion
is based.'  Or read the incisive 'Musings without Method,' in
_Blackwood's Magazine_, on contemporary literature and contemporary
things generally.

Again, every painter is told that his work is not as good as last year,
and that we have no one like Titian or Velasquez.  The Royal Academy is
always said to be worse than usual.  I have known the summer exhibitions
at Burlington House for twenty years.  Let me assure you throughout that
period they have always been quite as bad as they are now.  But we do not
want painters like Titian or Velasquez; we want something else.  If
painters were like Titian or Velasquez they would not be artists at all.
When Velasquez went to Rome he was told he ought to imitate Raphael; had
he done so should we regard him as the greatest painter in the world?  If
Rossetti had merely been another Fra Angelico or one of the early artists
from whom he derived such noble inspiration, should we regard him as we
do, as even the fierce young modern art student does, as one of the
greatest figures in English art of the nineteenth century?  In the latter
part of that century I think he is the greatest force in English
painting.  I would reserve for him the largest print in my manual of
English art.  But have we declined since the death of Rossetti?  On the
contrary, I think we have advanced and are advancing.  You must not think
I am depreciating the past.  The past is one of my witnesses.  The past
was very like our present; it nearly always depreciated itself
intellectually and materially.

We all of us think of Athens in the fifth century as a golden period of
great men, when every genius was appreciated, but you know that they put
Pheidias in prison.  And take the instance of Euripides.  The majority of
his countrymen said he was nothing to the late Aeschylus.  He was chiefly
appreciated by foreigners, as you will remember if you are able to read
'Balaustion's Adventure' (so much more difficult than Euripides in the
original Greek).  Listen to what Professor Murray says:--

   His contemporary public denounced him as dull, because he tortured
   them with personal problems; as malignant, because he made them see
   truths they wished not to see; as blasphemous and foul-minded, because
   he made demands on their religious and spiritual natures which they
   could neither satisfy nor overlook.  They did not know whether he was
   too wildly imaginative or too realistic, too romantic or too prosaic,
   too childishly simple or too philosophical--Aristophanes says he was
   all these things at once.  They only knew that he made them angry and
   that they could not help listening to him.

Does not that remind you a little of what was said all over England of
Mr. Bernard Shaw?  Of what is still said about him in many London houses
to-day?  If some one praises him, the majority of people will tell you
that he is overrated.  Does it not remind you of the reception which
Ibsen's plays met when they were first produced here: when they gave an
impetus to that new English drama which I understand is decaying, though
it seems to me to be only beginning--the new English Drama of Mr.
Granville Barker, Mr. Housman, Mr. Arnold Bennett, Mr. Galsworthy, and
Mr. Masefield?

Every year the patient research of scholars by the consultation of
original documents has caused us to readjust our historical perspective.
Those villains of our childhood, Tiberius, Richard III., Mary Tudor, and
others, have become respectable monarchs, almost model monarchs, if you
compare them with the popular English view of the present King of the
Belgians, the ex-Sultan of Turkey, and the present Czar of Russia.  It is
realised that contemporary journalism gave a somewhat twopence coloured
impression of Kings and Queens, who were only creatures of their age,
less admirable expressions of the individualism of their time.  And just
as historical facts require readjustment by posterity, so our critical
estimate of intellectual and aesthetic evolution requires strict
revision.  We must not accept the glib statement of the historian,
especially of the contemporary historian, that at certain periods
intellectual activity and artistic expression were decaying or did not
exist.  If a convention in one field of intellectual activity is said by
the historian or chronicler to be approaching termination or to be
decaying, as he calls it, we should test carefully his data and his
credentials.  But, assuming he is right, there will always be found some
compensating reaction in another sphere of intellectual activity which is
in process of development; and through which, by some divine alchemy,
providence, or nature, call it what you will, a new manifestation will be
made to the world.  The arts which we suppose to have perished, of which,
indeed, we write affecting epitaphs, are merely hibernating; the
intellect which is necessary for their production and nutrition is simply
otherwise employed; while, of course, you must make allowances for the
appreciations of posterity, change of fashion and taste.  From the middle
of the sixteenth century down to nearly the middle of the nineteenth, the
Middle Ages were always thought of as the Dark Ages.  Scarcely any one
could appreciate either the pictorial art or architecture of mediaevalism;
those who did so always had to apologise for their predilection.  The
wonders of Gothic art were furtively relished by a few antiquaries; and,
at certain periods, by men like Beckford and Walpole, as agreeable
drawing-room curiosities.  The Romantic movement commenced by Chatterton
enabled us to revise a limited and narrow view, based on insufficient
information.  It was John Ruskin, in England, who made us see what a
splendid heritage the Middle Ages had bequeathed to us.  Ruskin and his
disciples then fell into the error of turning the tables on the
Renaissance, and regarded everything that deviated from Gothic convention
as _debased_; the whole art of the eighteenth century was anathema to
them.  The decadence began, according to Ruskin, with Raphael.  Out of
that ingenious error, or synchronous with it, began the brilliant
movement of the Pre-Raphaelites in the middle of the last century.  And
when the Pre-Raphaelites appeared, every one said the end of Art had
arrived.  Dickens openly attacked them; Thackeray ridiculed the new
tendencies; every one, great and small, spoke of decay and decline.  The
French word _Decadence_ had not crept into use.  However, the weary Titan
staggered on, as Matthew Arnold said, and when Mr. Whistler's art dawned
on the horizon, Ruskin was among the first to see in it signs of decay.
Except the poetry of Swinburne, never has any art met with such abuse.  An
example of the immortal painter now adorns the National Gallery of
_British_ painting, which is cared for--oh, irony of circumstances--by
one of the first prophets of impressionism in this country, or, rather,
let me say, one of the first English critics--Mr. D. S. MacColl.

But you will now ask how do I account for those periods when apparently
the liberal arts are supposed not to have existed?  I maintain they did
exist, or that human intellect was otherwise employed.  The excavations
of prehistoric cities are evidences of my contention.  Because things are
destroyed we must not say they have decayed; if evidences are scarce, do
not say they never existed.  Our architecture, for example, took five
hundred years to develop out of the splendid Norman through the various
transitions of Gothic down to the perfection of the English country house
in Elizabethan and Jacobean times.  If church architecture was decaying,
domestic architecture was improving.  _Architecture is, of course, the
first and most important of all the arts_, and when the human intellect
is being used up for some other purpose there is a temporary cessation;
there is never any decay of architecture.  The putting up of ugly
buildings is merely a sign of growing stupidity, not of declining
intellect or decaying taste.  Jerry-building is the successful
competition of dishonesty against competency.  Do not imagine that
because the good architects do not get commissions to put up useful or
beautiful buildings they do not exist.  The history of stupidity and the
history of bad taste must one day engage our serious attention.  There is
no decay, alas, even in stupidity and bad taste.

The suddenness with which the literature of the sixteenth century
developed in England has been explained, I know, by the Reformation.  But
you should remember the other critics of art, who ascribe the barrenness
of our painting and the necessity of importing continental artists, also
to the Reformation.  I suggest that the intellectual capacity of the
nation was directed towards literature, politics and _religious_
controversy, rather than to art and religion.  I cannot think there was
any scarcity of the artistic germ in the English nation which had already
expressed itself in the great Abbeys and Churches, such as Glastonbury,
Tintern, Fountains, and York.  And you must remember that the minor art
of embroidery, the '_opus anglicanum_' (which flourished for three
centuries previous to the Reformation), was famous throughout Europe.

In the middle of the eighteenth century, the big men, Swift, Pope, and
Addison, having passed away, the Augustan age of English literature
seemed exhausted.  It was a time of intellectual dyspepsia; every one was
much too fond of ruins; people built sham ruins on their estates.  Rich
men, who could afford the luxury, kept a dilapidated hermit in a cavern.
Their chief pleasure on the continent was measuring ruins in the way
described so amusingly by Goldsmith in _The Citizen of the World_.  Though
no century was more thoroughly pleased with itself, I might almost say
smugly self-satisfied, the men of that century were always lamenting the
decline of the age.  The observations of Johnson and Goldsmith I need
scarcely repeat.  But here is one which may have escaped your notice.  It
is not a suggestion of decline, but an assertion of non-existence.  Gray,
the poet, the cultivated connoisseur, the Professor of History, writing
in 1763 to Count Algarrotti, says: 'Why this nation has made no advances
hitherto in painting and sculpture it is hard to say; the fact is
undeniable, and we have the vanity to apologise for ourselves as Virgil
did for the Romans:

   Excudent alii spirantia mollius aera,
   Credo equidem, vivos ducent de marmore vultus,
   Orabunt causas melius, coelique meatus
   Describent radio, et surgentia sidera dicent:
   Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento;
   Hae tibi erunt artes; pacisque imponere morem,
   Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos.

'You are generous enough to wish, and sanguine enough to see that art
shall one day flourish in England.  _I too much wish, but can hardly
extend my hopes so far_.'  Yet in 1754 Chippendale had published his
Cabinet Makers' Guide; and the next fifty years was to see the production
of all that beautiful English furniture of which we are so justly proud,
and which we forge with such surprising skill.  It was the next fifty
years that saw the production of the beautiful English pottery which we
prize so highly, and it was the next hundred years that was to be the
period of Reynolds, Gainsborough, Lawrence, Crome, Cotman, Alfred
Stevens, and Turner, who died in 1851, just when the Pre-Raphaelites were
supposed to be inaugurating the decay of that which Gray denied the
existence, nearly one hundred years before.

Though the scope of my discussion is limited to literature and art, it
would be paltry to confine our inquiries within limited horizons.
Painting and architecture, alas, are not the whole of life; the fine arts
are only the flowers of existence; they are useful as humanising
elements; but they are not indispensable.  That vague community among
whom we arbitrarily place those with whom we disagree--the
Philistines--get on very well without them.  But even Philistines have to
reckon with Religion and Science, and in a lesser degree with Philosophy.
That powerful trinity affects our every-day life.  Philosophy is so
cloistered, so difficult to understand, that we seldom hear of its decay;
though we are constantly told that some branch of science is being
neglected, or owing to a religious revival that its prestige is becoming
undermined; its truths are becoming falsehoods.  I am not a man of
science, not even a student, only a desultory reader.  Yet I suggest
that, as was pointed out in the case of the fine arts, certain branches
of the divine scholarship, if I may call it so, may be arrested
temporarily in any development they may have reached.  Let us take
medicine.  Medicine is primarily based upon the study of anatomy or
structure--physiology--or the scheme of structure carried out in life;
and upon botany and chemistry as representing the vegetable and mineral
worlds where the remedies are sought.  Anatomy soon reaches a finite
position, when a sufficient number of careful dissections has been made;
the other divisions used to look like promising endless development; but
there is reason to suppose that they too, as far as medicine is
concerned, have reached a sterile perfection.

The microscope is perfected up to a point which mechanicians think cannot
be improved upon; so that those ultimate elements of physiology which
depend upon the observation of minute structure are known to us.  To put
it crudely, we cannot discover any more germs, whose presence is hidden
from us by mere minuteness, unless we can improve our machinery, and
that, we are told, is an improbable event.  I will not labour the point
by applying it to botany, which is very obvious, or to chemistry, where
it is not so clear.  But it _is_ clear that owing to a feeling that not
much more is to be got from minute observation with the tools at our
disposal, the brightest intellects and most inventive clairvoyant work
are shunted into more imaginative channels.  There are no men who guess
so brilliantly as men of science, so that science, in that respect, has
attained the dignity of Theology.  I suppose that the startling theories
propounded by Sir Oliver Lodge and others will be taken as evidence of
the decay of science.  But the human intellect, especially if it is
scientific, cannot, I imagine, like actors, go on repeating or feigning
the same emotion.  It must leave for the moment as apparently completed
one branch of knowledge to which it may return again after developing
some less mature branch on which the attention of the most learned
investigators is for a time wholly concentrated.  The tree of knowledge
is an evergreen, and in science, no more than in arts, is there any
decay.  When Darwin published his great _Origin of Species_ which was
hailed as a revelation, not only by scientific men, but by intelligent
laymen, religious people became very much alarmed.  They talked about the
decay of faith, and ascribed any falling off in the offertories to the
shillings spent on visiting the monkey-house at the Zoological Gardens.
Younger sons and less gifted members of clever families were no longer
destined for Holy Orders; as we were descended from apes it would have
seemed impious.  They were sent to Cambridge to pursue a so-called
scientific career, which was crowned by the usual aegrotat in botany
instead of a pass in history.  The falling off in candidates for Holy
Orders seriously alarmed some of our Bishops; and Darwin--the gentle,
delightful Darwin--became what the Pope had been to our ancestors.  I
need not point out how groundless these fears happily proved to be.  The
younger intellects of the country simply became more interested for the
moment in the cross-breeding of squirrels, than in the internecine
difficulties of the Protestant church on Apostolic succession, the number
of candles on the altar, and the legality of incense.  Now, I rejoice to
say, there is a healthy revival of interest and a healthy difference of
opinion on all these important religious questions.  We must never pay
serious attention to the alarmists who tell us that the churches and
sects are seeing their last days.  Macaulay has warned us never to be too
sanguine about the Church of Rome.  The moments of her greatest trials
produced some of her greatest men--Ignatius Loyola, Philip Neri, and
Francis Xavier.  Do you think the Church is decaying because the
congregations are banished from France, and the Concordat has come to an
end?  I tell you it will only stimulate her to further conquests; it is
the beginning of a new life for the Catholic Church in France.  If the
Anglican Church were to be disestablished to-morrow, I would regard it as
a Sandow exercise for the hardworking, splendid intellects of the
Establishment.  The Nonconformists--well, they never talk about their own
decline; of all the divisions of Christianity they always seem to me
heartily to enjoy persecution; and like myself, I never knew them to
admit the word _decadence_ into their vocabulary, at least about
themselves.  I hold them up to you as examples.  Let us all be
Nonconformists in that respect.

I do not ask you to adopt the habit against which Matthew Arnold directed
one of his witty essays, the habit of expressing a too unctuous
satisfaction with the age and time in which we are living.  That was the
intellectual error of the Eighteenth Century.  There are problems of
poverty, injustice, disease, and unhappiness, which should make the most
prosperous and most selfish of us chafe; but I do urge that we should not
suspect the art and literature of our time, the intellectual
manifestations of our age, whether scientific or literary.  I urge that
we do not sit on the counter in order to cry 'stinking fish,' and observe
that this is merely an age of commerce.  An overweening modesty in us
seems to persuade us that it is quite impossible we should be fortunate
enough to be the contemporaries of great men.  The fact that we know them
personally sometimes undermines our faith; contemporary contempt for a
great man is too often turned on the contemporaries.  Do not let us look
upon genius, as Schopenhauer accused some people of doing, 'as upon a
hare which is good to eat when it has been killed and dressed up, but so
long as it is alive only good to be shot at.'  And if our intellectuals
are not all Brobdingnagians, they are not all Liliputians.  It seems to
me ungenerous to make sweeping and deprecating assertions about our own
time; it is also dangerous.  The contemporary praise of unworthy work,
ephemeral work--there is always plenty of that, we know--is forgotten;
and (though it does not decay) perishes with the work it extolled.  But
unsound criticism and foolish abuse of great work is remembered to the
confusion of the critics.  Think of the reception accorded to Wordsworth,
Coleridge, Byron, Keats, Shelley, Rossetti, and Swinburne.

I remember that excellent third-rate writer, W. E. H. Lecky, making a
speech at a dinner of the Authors' Society, in which he said that he was
sorry to say there were no great writers alive, and no stylists to
compare with those who had passed away.  A few paces off him sat Walter
Pater, George Meredith, and Mr. Austin Dobson.  Tennyson, though not
present at the banquet, was president of the Society, and Ruskin was
still alive.  When Swinburne's 'Atalanta in Calydon' appeared, another
third-rate writer, James Russell Lowell, assured the world that its
author was no poet, because there was no thought in the verse.  Four
years ago, at a provincial town in Italy, when one of the Italian
ministers, at the opening of some public building, said that united Italy
owed to the great English poet Swinburne a debt which it could never
forget, the inhabitants cheered vociferously.  This was no idle
compliment; every one in Italy knows who Swinburne was.  I will not
hazard to guess the extent of the ovation which the names of Lowell and
Lecky would receive, but I think the incident is a fair sign that English
poetry has not decayed.

In the _Daily Mail_ I saw once an interview with an inferior American
black-and-white draughtsman at Berlin.  He was asked his opinion about a
splendid exhibition of old English pictures being held there, and took
occasion to say 'what the pictures demonstrate is not that the English
women of the eighteenth century were conspicuously lovely, but the
artists who painted them possessed secrets of reproduction which
posterity has failed to inherit.'  I would like to reply 'Rot, rot, rot;'
but that would imply a belief in decay.  I suggest to the same critic
that he should visit one of the 'International Exhibitions,' where he
will see the pictures of Mr. Charles Hazelwood Shannon.  Such a stupid
view from an American is particularly amazing, because in Mr. John Singer
Sargent, we (by _we_ I mean America and ourselves) possess an artist who
is certainly the peer of Gainsborough and Reynolds, and personally I
should say a much greater painter than Reynolds.  A hundred years hence,
perhaps people at Berlin (the most critical and cultivated capital in the
world) will be bending before the 'Three Daughters of Percy Wyndham,' the
'Duchess of Sutherland,' the 'Marlborough Family,' and many another
masterpiece of Mr. Sargent and Mr. Charles Shannon.  The same American
critic says that our era of mediocrity will continue; so I am full of
hope.  Even the existence of America does not depress me: nor do I see in
it a symptom of decay; if it produces much that is distasteful in the way
of tinned meat, it gave us Mr. John Sargent and Mr. Henry James, and it
took away from England Mr. Richard Le Gallienne.

I should be the last to invite you not to discriminate about the present.
We must be cautious in estimating the very popular writers or painters of
our time; but we must not dismiss them because they are popular.  We
should be tall enough to worship in a crowd.  Let our criticism be
aristocratic, our taste fastidious, and let our sympathies be democratic
and catholic.  Dickens, I suppose, is one of the most popular writers who
ever lived, and yet he is part of the structure of our literature; but as
Dickens is dead, I prefer to mention the names of three living writers,
who are also popular, and have become corner-stones of the same
building--Mr. Thomas Hardy, Mr. Rudyard Kipling, Mr. H. G. Wells.  'There
are at all times,' says Schopenhauer, 'two literatures in progress
running side by side, but little known to each other; the one real, the
other only apparent.  The former grows into permanent literature: it is
pursued by those who live _for_ science or poetry.  The other is pursued
by those who live _on_ science or poetry; but after a few years one asks
where are they? where is the glory that came so soon and made so much
clamour?'  We are happy if we can discriminate between those two
literatures.

While we should remember that there are at all times intellects whose
work is more for posterity than for the present; work which appeals,
perhaps, only to the few, that of artists whose work has no purchasers,
writers whose books may have publishers but few readers, we must be
cautious about accepting the verdict of the dove-cot.  There are many
obscure artists and writers whose work, though admired by a select few,
remains very properly obscure, and will always remain obscure; it is of
no value intellectually; the world should know nothing of its inferior
men.  Sometimes, however, it is these inferior men who are able to get
temporary places as critics, and inform us in leading articles that ours
is an age _of Decadence_.  Every new drama, every work of art which
possesses individuality or gives a fresh point of view or evinces
development of any kind, is held up as an instance of Decay.  '_L'ecole
decadent_' was a phrase invented as a jest in 1886, I believe by Monsieur
Bourde, a journalist in Paris.  It was eagerly adopted by the Parisians,
and soon floated across the Channel.  Used as a term of reproach, it was
accepted by the group of poets it was intended to ridicule.  I need not
remind you that the master of that school was Paul Verlaine, the immortal
poet who enlarged the scope of French verse--the poet who achieved for
French poetry what I am told the so-called decadent philosopher Nietzsche
has done for German prose.  Unfortunately I do not know German, and it
seems almost impossible to add to the German language.  But Nietzsche, I
am assured by competent authorities, has performed a similar feat to that
of Luther on the issue of his Bible.

When, therefore, we hear of decadence in literature or art, even if we
accept Mr. Balfour's definition of its symptom--'_the employment of an
over-wrought technique_'--we must remember that Decadence and Decay have
now different meanings, though originally they meant the same sort of
thing.  An over-wrought technique is characteristic of the decadent
school of France, particularly of Mallarme, and some of our own
decadents.  Walter Pater and Sir Thomas Browne.  The existence of writers
adopting an over-wrought technique, however, is not (and Mr. Balfour
would repudiate the idea) a sign of decay as commonplace moralists would
have us believe, but of realised perfection.  Pater is the most perfect
prose writer we ever produced.  The Euphuists of the sixteenth century
were of course decadents, and I think you will admit that they did not
herald any decay in our literature.

The truth is that men after a certain age, if not on the crest of the
waves themselves, become bored with counting the breakers, and decide
that the tide is going out.  You must often have had arguments with
friends on this subject when walking by the sea.  The water seems to be
receding; you can see that there is an ebb; and then an unusually long
wave comes up and wets your feet.  Great writers are guilty of a similar
error without any intention of contriving a literary conceit (as I
suspect many a past outcry to have been).  Even Pater declared that he
would not disturb himself by reading any contemporary literature
published by an author who did not exist before 1870.  He never read
Stevenson or Kipling.  Now that is a terrible state to be in; it is a
symptom of premature old age; not physical but mental old age.

The art of the present day is not architecture, painting, or literature.
It is the art of remaining young.  It is the art of life.  It is a
science.  The fairer, the stronger, the better sex--shall I call its
members our equals or our superiors?--have always realised this.  Indeed,
they have employed ingenious mechanical contrivances for arresting the
march of time or that physical decay of which we are all victims.
Sometimes they may be said to have indulged in an over-wrought technique,
which may be the reason why we are told that every woman is at heart a
decadent.  Otto Weininger certainly thought so.  I have always regretted
that the male sex was precluded by prejudice from following their
example.  I regret somewhat acutely the desuetude of the periwig.

So we can take an example from women--they are so often our theme, let
them be our examples in a symbolical sense.  If we choose, we too can
remain young intellectually, sensitive to new impressions, new impulses
and new revelations, whether of science or art.  The Greeks of the fifth
century, and even of the age of St. Paul, preserved their youth by
cultivating the superb gift of curiosity, delightful anxiety about the
present and future.  William Morris once described the Whigs as careless
of the past, ignorant of the present, and fearful of the future.  Whatever
your politics are, do not be like the Whigs as described by William
Morris.  Cultivate a feminine curiosity.  I used to be told the old story
of Blue Beard as a warning against that particular failing.  I see in it
a much profounder moral.  It is the emancipation of woman; and asserts
her right, if not to vote, at least to be curious.  Her curiosity rid the
world of a monster, and in her curiosity we see the nucleus of the new
drama.  That little blood-stained key unlocked for us the cupboard where
the family skeleton had been left too long in the cold; it was time that
he joined the festive board, or, at least, appeared on the boards: and
now, I am glad to say, he has done so; and he is called new-fangled.  Do
not let us call things 'new-fangled.'  New-fangled medicine probably
saves fifty per cent. of the population from premature death.  Do not
speak of the 'crudity of youth.'  Youth is sometimes crude.  It is better
than being rude.  It is an error to mock at the single virtue a possible
offender may possess.  I observe that men of science remain younger
intellectually, and even physically, than artists or men of letters.  I
believe it is because to them science is always full of surprises and
fresh impressions.  They know there is practically no end to their
knowledge; and that in the study of science there is no decay, whatever
they may detect in the crust of the earth or on the face of heaven.  They
are never satisfied with the past.  They look to youth and its
enthusiasms for realising their own dreams and developing their own
hypotheses.  And as there are great men of science to-day, so, too, there
are great men of letters, great poets, and great painters, some of whose
names you may not have heard.  But when you do hear of them I beg of you
not to regard any of them as symptoms of decay, even if their technique
is elaborate and over-wrought.  The _early_ work of every modern painter
is over-elaborate and over-wrought, just as all the work of early
painters is over-elaborate and over-wrought.  Do not greet the dawn as
though it were a lowering sunset.  Listen, and, with William Blake, you
may hear the sons of God shouting for joy.  If your mind is bent on
decay, read that neglected poet, Byron.  He thought the romantic
movement, of which he became the accidental centre, a symptom of decay.
Read any period of history and its literature, and you will find the same
cry reiterated.  When you have read an old book go out and buy a new one.
When you have sold your old masters, go out and buy new masters.
Aladdin's maid is one of the wronged characters of legend. . . . Of the
Pierian spring there are many fountains.  Yet it is a spring which never
runs dry; though it flows with greater freedom at one season than at
another, with greater volume from one fountain than some other.  In the
glens of Parnassus there are hidden flowers always blooming; though, to
the binoculars of the tourist, the mountain seems unusually barren.  You
will find that youth does not vanish with the rose, that you need never
close the sweet-scented manuscript of love, science, art or literature.
In them youth returns like daffodils that come before the swallow dares,
and take the winds of March with beauty: or like the snapdragons which
Cardinal Newman saw blossoming on the wall at Oxford, and which became
for him the symbol of hope.  For us they may stand as the symbol of
realisation and the immortality of the human intellect, in which there
has been no decay since the days of Tubal Cain.

_To_ J. G. LEGGE, ESQ.





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