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Title: Letters from America
Author: Brooke, Rupert, 1887-1915
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters from America" ***

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LETTERS FROM AMERICA


By Rupert Brooke.


With a Preface by Henry James


[Frontispiece: Rupert Brooke 1913]



NOTE


The author started in May 1913 on a journey to the United States,
Canada, and the South Seas, from which he returned next year at the
beginning of June. The first thirteen chapters of this book were written
as letters to the _Westminster Gazette_. He would probably not have
republished them in their present form, as he intended to write a longer
book on his travels; but they are now printed with only the correction
of a few evident slips.

The two remaining chapters appeared in the _New Statesman_, soon after
the outbreak of war.

Thanks are due to the Editors who have allowed the republication of the
articles.

E. M.



CONTENTS


Note

RUPERT BROOKE: by Henry James

LETTERS FROM AMERICA

I. Arrival

II. New York

III. New York--(_continued_)

IV. Boston and Harvard

V. Montreal and Ottawa

VI. Quebec and the Saguenay

VII. Ontario

VIII. Niagara Falls

IX. To Winnipeg

X. Outside

XI. The Prairies

XII. The Indians

XIII. The Rockies

XIV. Some Niggers

An Unusual Young Man



RUPERT BROOKE: by Henry James


Nothing more generally or more recurrently solicits us, in the light of
literature, I think, than the interest of our learning how the poet,
the true poet, and above all the particular one with whom we may for the
moment be concerned, has come into his estate, asserted and preserved
his identity, worked out his question of sticking to that and to nothing
else; and has so been able to reach us and touch us _as_ a poet, in
spite of the accidents and dangers that must have beset this course. The
chances and changes, the personal history of any absolute genius, draw
us to watch his adventure with curiosity and inquiry, lead us on to win
more of his secret and borrow more of his experience (I mean, needless
to say, when we are at all critically minded); but there is something
in the clear safe arrival of the poetic nature, in a given case, at the
point of its free and happy exercise, that provokes, if not the
cold impulse to challenge or cross-question it, at least the need of
understanding so far as possible how, in a world in which difficulty
and disaster are frequent, the most wavering and flickering of all fine
flames has escaped extinction. We go back, we help ourselves to hang
about the attestation of the first spark of the flame, and like to
indulge in a fond notation of such facts as that of the air in which
it was kindled and insisted on proceeding, or yet perhaps failed to
proceed, to a larger combustion, and the draughts, blowing about the
world, that were either, as may have happened, to quicken its native
force or perhaps to extinguish it in a gust of undue violence. It is
naturally when the poet has emerged unmistakeably clear, or has at a
happy moment of his story seemed likely to, that our attention and our
suspense in the matter are most intimately engaged; and we are at any
rate in general beset by the impression and haunted by the observed law,
that the growth and the triumph of the faculty at its finest have been
positively in proportion to certain rigours of circumstance.

It is doubtless not indeed so much that this appearance has been
inveterate as that the quality of genius in fact associated with it is
apt to strike us as the clearest we know. We think of Dante in harassed
exile, of Shakespeare under sordidly professional stress, of Milton
in exasperated exposure and material darkness; we think of Burns and
Chatterton, and Keats and Shelley and Coleridge, we think of Leopardi
and Musset and Emily Bronte and Walt Whitman, as it is open to us surely
to think even of Wordsworth, so harshly conditioned by his spareness and
bareness and bleakness--all this in reference to the voices that have
most proved their command of the ear of time, and with the various
examples added of those claiming, or at best enjoying, but the slighter
attention; and their office thus mainly affects us as that of showing
in how jostled, how frequently arrested and all but defeated a hand, the
torch could still be carried. It is not of course for the countrymen of
Byron and of Tennyson and Swinburne, any more than for those of
Victor Hugo, to say nothing of those of Edmond Rostand, to forget the
occurrence on occasion of high instances in which the dangers all seem
denied and only favour and facility recorded; but it would take more
of these than we can begin to set in a row to purge us of that prime
determinant, after all, of our affection for the great poetic muse, the
vision of the rarest sensibility and the largest generosity we know kept
by her at their pitch, kept fighting for their life and insisting on
their range of expression, amid doubts and derisions and buffets, even
sometimes amid stones of stumbling quite self-invited, that might at
any moment have made the loss of the precious clue really irremediable.
Which moral, so pointed, accounts assuredly for half our interest in
the poetic character--a sentiment more unlikely than not, I think,
to survive a sustained succession of Victor Hugos and Rostands, or of
Byrons, Tennysons and Swinburnes. We quite consciously miss in these
bards, as we find ourselves rather wondering even at our failure to miss
it in Shelley, that such "complications" as they may have had to reckon
with were not in general of the cruelly troublous order, and that no
stretch of the view either of our own "theory of art" or of our vivacity
of passion as making trouble, contributes perceptibly the required
savour of the pathetic. We cling, critically or at least experientially
speaking, to our superstition, if not absolutely to our approved
measure, of this grace and proof; and that truly, to cut my argument
short, is what sets us straight down before a sudden case in which the
old discrimination quite drops to the ground--in which we neither on the
one hand miss anything that the general association could have given it,
nor on the other recognise the pomp that attends the grand exceptions I
have mentioned.

Rupert Brooke, young, happy, radiant, extraordinarily endowed and
irresistibly attaching, virtually met a soldier's death, met it in the
stress of action and the all but immediate presence of the enemy; but he
is before us as a new, a confounding and superseding example
altogether, an unprecedented image, formed to resist erosion by time or
vulgarisation by reference, of quickened possibilities, finer ones than
ever before, in the stuff poets may be noted as made of. With twenty
reasons fixing the interest and the charm that will henceforth abide
in his name and constitute, as we may say, his legend, he submits all
helplessly to one in particular which is, for appreciation, the least
personal to him or inseparable from him, and he does this because,
while he is still in the highest degree of the distinguished faculty
and quality, we happen to feel him even more markedly and significantly
"modern." This is why I speak of the mixture of his elements as new,
feeling that it governs his example, put by it in a light which nothing
else could have equally contributed--so that Byron for instance, who
startled his contemporaries by taking for granted scarce one of the
articles that formed their comfortable faith and by revelling in almost
everything that made them idiots if he himself was to figure as a child
of truth, looks to us, by any such measure, comparatively plated over
with the impenetrable rococo of his own day. I speak, I hasten to add,
not of Byron's volume, his flood and his fortune, but of his really
having quarrelled with the temper and the accent of his age still more
where they might have helped him to expression than where he but flew in
their face. He hugged his pomp, whereas our unspeakably fortunate young
poet of to-day, linked like him also, for consecration of the final
romance, with the isles of Greece, took for _his_ own the whole of the
poetic consciousness he was born to, and moved about in it as a stripped
young swimmer might have kept splashing through blue water and coming
up at any point that friendliness and fancy, with every prejudice shed,
might determine. Rupert expressed us _all_, at the highest tide of our
actuality, and was the creature of a freedom restricted only by that
condition of his blinding youth, which we accept on the whole with
gratitude and relief--given that I qualify the condition as dazzling
even to himself. How can it therefore not be interesting to see a little
what the wondrous modern in him consisted of?



I


What it first and foremost really comes to, I think, is the fact that at
an hour when the civilised peoples are on exhibition, quite finally
and sharply on show, to each other and to the world, as they absolutely
never in all their long history have been before, the English tradition
(both of amenity and of energy, I naturally mean), should have flowered
at once into a specimen so beautifully producible. Thousands of other
sentiments are of course all the while, in different connections, at
hand for us; but it is of the exquisite civility, the social instincts
of the race, _poetically_ expressed, that I speak; and it would be hard
to overstate the felicity of his fellow-countrymen's being able just
now to say: "Yes, this, with the imperfection of so many of our
arrangements, with the persistence of so many of our mistakes, with
the waste of so much of our effort and the weight of the many-coloured
mantle of time that drags so redundantly about us, this natural
accommodation of the English spirit, this frequent extraordinary
beauty of the English aspect, this finest saturation of the English
intelligence by its most immediate associations, tasting as they mainly
do of the long past, this ideal image of English youth, in a word,
at once radiant and reflective, are things that appeal to us as
delightfully exhibitional beyond a doubt, yet as drawn, to the last
fibre, from the very wealth of our own conscience and the very force
of our own history. We haven't, for such an instance of our genius, to
reach out to strange places or across other, and otherwise productive,
tracts; the exemplary instance himself has well-nigh as a matter of
course reached and revelled, for that is exactly our way in proportion
as we feel ourselves clear. But the kind of experience so entailed, of
contribution so gathered, is just what we wear easiest when we have
been least stinted of it, and what our English use of makes perhaps our
vividest reference to our thick-growing native determinants."

Rupert Brooke, at any rate, the charmed commentator may well keep before
him, simply did all the usual English things--under the happy provision
of course that he found them in his way at their best; and it was
exactly most delightful in him that no inordinate expenditure, no
anxious extension of the common plan, as "liberally" applied all about
him, had been incurred or contrived to predetermine his distinction. It
is difficult to express on the contrary how peculiar a value attached
to his having simply "come in" for the general luck awaiting any English
youth who may not be markedly inapt for the traditional chances. He
could in fact easily strike those who most appreciated him as giving
such an account of the usual English things--to repeat the form of
my allusion to them--as seemed to address you to them, in their very
considerable number indeed, for any information about him that might
matter, but which left you wholly to judge whether they seemed justified
by their fruits. This manner about them, as one may call it in general,
often contributes to your impression that they make for a certain
strain of related modesty which may on occasion be one of their happiest
effects; it at any rate, in days when my acquaintance with them was
slighter, used to leave me gaping at the treasure of operation, the
far recessional perspectives, it took for granted and any offered
demonstration of the extent or the mysteries of which seemed unthinkable
just in proportion as the human resultant testified in some one or other
of his odd ways to their influence. He might not always be, at any rate
on first acquaintance, a resultant explosively human, but there was
in any case one reflection he could always cause you to make: "What a
wondrous system it indeed must be which insists on flourishing to all
appearance under such an absence of advertised or even of confessed
relation to it as would do honour to a vacuum produced by an air-pump!"
The formulation, the approximate expression of what the system at large
might or mightn't do for those in contact with it, became thus one's own
fitful care, with one's attention for a considerable period doubtless
dormant enough, but with the questions always liable to revive before
the individual case.

Rupert Brooke made them revive as soon as one began to know him, or in
other words made one want to read back into him each of his promoting
causes without exception, to trace to some source in the ambient air
almost any one, at a venture, of his aspects; so precious a loose and
careless bundle of happy references did that inveterate trick of giving
the go-by to over-emphasis which he shared with his general kind fail to
prevent your feeling sure of his having about him. I think the liveliest
interest of these was that while not one of them was signally romantic,
by the common measure of the great English amenity, they yet hung
together, reinforcing and enhancing each other, in a way that seemed to
join their hands for an incomparably educative or civilising process,
the great mark of which was that it took some want of amenability in
particular subjects to betray anything like a gap. I do not mean of
course to say that gaps, and occasionally of the most flagrant, were
made so supremely difficult of occurrence; but only that the effect, in
the human resultants who kept these, and with the least effort, most in
abeyance, was a thing one wouldn't have had different by a single
shade. I am not sure that such a case of the recognisable was the better
established by the fact of Rupert's being one of the three sons of a
house-master at Rugby, where he was born in 1887 and where he lost his
father in 1910, the elder of his brothers having then already died
and the younger being destined to fall in battle at the allied Front,
shortly after he himself had succumbed; but the circumstance I speak
of gives a peculiar and an especially welcome consecration to that
perceptible play in him of the inbred "public school" character the
bloom of which his short life had too little time to remove and
which one wouldn't for the world not have been disposed to note, with
everything else, in the beautiful complexity of his attributes. The fact
was that if one liked him--and I may as well say at once that few young
men, in our time, can have gone through life under a greater burden,
more easily carried and kept in its place, of being liked--one liked
absolutely everything about him, without the smallest exception; so that
he appeared to convert before one's eyes all that happened to him, or
that had or that ever might, not only to his advantage as a source of
life and experience, but to the enjoyment on its own side of a sort
of illustrational virtue or glory. This appearance of universal
assimilation--often indeed by incalculable ironic reactions which were
of the very essence of the restless young intelligence rejoicing in its
gaiety--made each part of his rich consciousness, so rapidly acquired,
cling, as it were, to the company of all the other parts, so as at once
neither to miss any touch of the luck (one keeps coming back to that),
incurred by them, or to let them suffer any want of its own rightness.
It was as right, through the spell he cast altogether, that he should
have come into the world and have passed his boyhood in that Rugby home,
as that he should have been able later on to wander as irrepressibly as
the spirit moved him, or as that he should have found himself fitting
as intimately as he was very soon to do into any number of the
incalculabilities, the intellectual at least, of the poetic temperament.
He had them all, he gave himself in his short career up to them all--and
I confess that, partly for reasons to be further developed, I am unable
even to guess what they might eventually have made of him; which is of
course what brings us round again to that view of him as the young poet
with absolutely nothing but his generic spontaneity to trouble
about, the young poet profiting for happiness by a general condition
unprecedented for young poets, that I began by indulging in. He
went from Rugby to Cambridge, where, after a while, he carried off a
Fellowship at King's, and where, during a short visit there in "May
week," or otherwise early in June 1909, I first, and as I was to find,
very unforgettingly, met him. He reappears to me as with his felicities
all most promptly divinable, in that splendid setting of the river at
the "backs"; as to which indeed I remember vaguely wondering what it was
left to such a place to do with the added, the verily wasted, grace
of such a person, or how even such a person could hold his own, as who
should say, at such a pitch of simple scenic perfection. Any difficulty
dropped, however, to the reconciling vision; for that the young man
was publicly and responsibly a poet seemed the fact a little
over-officiously involved--to the promotion of a certain surprise (on
one's own part) at his having to "be" anything. It was to come over me
still more afterwards that nothing of that or of any other sort need
really have rested on him with a weight of obligation, and in fact I
cannot but think that life might have been seen and felt to suggest to
him, in an exposed unanimous conspiracy, that his status should be
left to the general sense of others, ever so many others, who would
sufficiently take care of it, and that such a fine rare case was
accordingly as arguable as it possibly _could_ be--with the pure,
undischarged poetry of him and the latent presumption of his dying for
his country the only things to gainsay it. The question was to a certain
extent crude, "Why need he be a poet, why need he so specialise?" but if
this was so it was only, it was already, symptomatic of the interesting
final truth that he was to testify to his function in the unparalleled
way. He was going to have the life (the unanimous conspiracy so far
achieved _that_), was going to have it under no more formal guarantee
than that of his appetite and genius for it; and this was to help us
all to the complete appreciation of him. No single scrap of the English
fortune at its easiest and truest--which means of course with every
vulgarity dropped out--but was to brush him as by the readiest
instinctive wing, never over-straining a point or achieving a miracle to
do so; only trusting his exquisite imagination and temper to respond
to the succession of his opportunities. It is in the light of what this
succession could in the most natural and most familiar way in the
world amount to for him that we find this idea of a beautiful crowning
modernness above all to meet his case. The promptitude, the perception,
the understanding, the quality of humour and sociability, the happy
lapses in the logic of inward reactions (save for their all infallibly
being poetic), of which he availed himself consented to be as
illustrational as any fondest friend could wish, whether the subject of
the exhibition was aware of the degree or not, and made his vivacity of
vision, his exercise of fancy and irony, of observation at its freest,
inevitable--while at the same time setting in motion no machinery of
experience in which his curiosity, or in other words, the quickness of
his familiarity, didn't move faster than anything else.



II


I owe to his intimate and devoted friend Mr Edward Marsh the
communication of many of his letters, these already gathered into an
admirable brief memoir which is yet to appear and which will give ample
help in the illustrative way to the pages to which the present remarks
form a preface, and which are collected from the columns of the London
evening journal in which they originally saw the light. The "literary
baggage" of his short course consists thus of his two slender volumes
of verse and of these two scarcely stouter sheafs of correspondence
[Footnote: There remain also to be published a book on John Webster, and
a prose play in one act.--E.M.]--though I should add that the hitherto
unpublished letters enjoy the advantage of a commemorative and
interpretative commentary, at the Editor's hands, which will have
rendered the highest service to each matter. That even these four scant
volumes tell the whole story, or fix the whole image, of the fine young
spirit they are concerned with we certainly hold back from allowing;
his case being in an extraordinary degree that of a creature on whom
the gods had smiled their brightest, and half of whose manifestation
therefore was by the simple act of presence and of direct communication.
He did in fact specialise, to repeat my term; only since, as one reads
him, whether in verse or in prose, that distinguished readability seems
all the specialisation one need invoke, so when the question was of the
gift that made of his face to face address a circumstance so complete in
itself as apparently to cover all the ground, leaving no margin either,
an activity to the last degree justified appeared the only name for
one's impression. The moral of all which is doubtless that these brief,
if at the same time very numerous, moments of his quick career formed
altogether as happy a time, in as happy a place, to be born to as the
student of the human drama has ever caught sight of--granting always,
that is, that some actor of the scene has been thoroughly up to his
part. Such was the sort of recognition, assuredly, under which Rupert
played _his_--that of his lending himself to every current and contact,
the "newer," the later fruit of time, the better; only this not because
any particular one was an agitating revelation, but because with due
sensibility, with a restless inward ferment, at the centre of them all,
what could he possibly so much feel like as the heir of all the ages?
I remember his originally giving me, though with no shade of imputable
intention, the sense of his just _being_ that, with the highest
amiability--the note in him that, as I have hinted, one kept coming back
to; so that during a long wait for another glimpse of him I thought
of the practice and function so displayed as wholly engaging, took for
granted his keeping them up with equal facility and pleasure. Nothing
could have been more delightful accordingly, later on, in renewal of the
personal acquaintance than to gather that this was exactly what had been
taking place, and with an inveteracy as to which his letters are a full
documentation. Whatever his own terms for the process might be had he
been brought to book, and though the variety of his terms for anything
and everything was the very play, and even the measure, of his talent,
the most charmed and conclusive description of him was that no young
man had ever so naturally taken on under the pressure of life the poetic
nature, and shaken it so free of every encumbrance by simply wearing it
as he wore his complexion or his outline.

That, then, was the way the imagination followed him with its luxury
of confidence: he was doing everything that could be done in the time
(since this was the modernest note), but performing each and every
finest shade of these blest acts with a poetic punctuality that was only
matched by a corresponding social sincerity. I recall perfectly my
being sure of it all the while, even if with little current confirmation
beyond that supplied by his first volume of verse; and the effect of
the whole record is now to show that such a conclusion was quite
extravagantly right. He _was_ constantly doing all the things, and this
with a reckless freedom, as it might be called, that really dissociated
the responsibility of the precious character from anything like
conscious domestic coddlement to a point at which no troubled young
singer, none, that is, equally troubled, had perhaps ever felt he could
afford to dissociate it. Rupert's resources for affording, in the whole
connection, were his humour, his irony, his need, under every quiver of
inspiration, toward whatever end, to be amused and amusing, and to find
above all that this could never so much occur as by the application of
his talent, of which he was perfectly conscious, to his own case. He
carried his case with him, for purposes of derision as much as for any
others, wherever he went, and how he went everywhere, thus blissfully
burdened, is what meets us at every turn on his printed page. My only
doubt about him springs in fact from the question of whether he
knew that the earthly felicity enjoyed by him, his possession of the
exquisite temperament linked so easily to the irrepressible experience,
was a thing to make of the young Briton of the then hour so nearly the
spoiled child of history that one wanted something in the way of an
extra guarantee to feel soundly sure of him. I come back once more
to his having apparently never dreamt of any stretch of the point of
liberal allowance, of so-called adventure, on behalf of "development,"
never dreamt of any stretch but that of the imagination itself
indeed--quite a different matter and even if it too were at moments to
recoil; it was so true that the general measure of his world as to what
it might be prompt and pleasant and in the day's work or the day's play
to "go in for" was exactly the range that tinged all his education as
liberal, the education the free design of which he had left so short a
way behind him when he died.

Just there was the luck attendant of the coincidence of his course with
the moment at which the proceeding hither and yon to the tune of almost
any "happy thought," and in the interest of almost any branch of culture
or invocation of response that might be more easily improvised than not,
could positively strike the observer as excessive, as in fact absurd,
for the formation of taste or the enrichment of genius, unless the
principle of these values had in a particular connection been subjected
in advance to some challenge or some test. Why should it take such a
flood of suggestion, such a luxury of acquaintance and contact, only
to make superficial specimens? Why shouldn't the art of living inward a
little more, and thereby of digging a little deeper or pressing a little
further, rather modestly replace the enviable, always the enviable,
young Briton's enormous range of alternatives in the way of
question-begging movement, the way of vision and of non-vision, the
enormous habit of holidays? If one could have made out once for all that
holidays were proportionately and infallibly inspiring one would have
ceased thoughtfully to worry; but the question was as it stood an old
story, even though it might freshly radiate, on occasion, under the
recognition that the seed-smothered patch of soil flowered, when it did
flower, with a fragrance all its own. This concomitant, however, always
dangled, that if it were put to us, "Do you really mean you would rather
they should not perpetually have been again for a look-in at Berlin,
or an awfully good time at Munich, or a rush round Sicily, or a dash
through the States to Japan, with whatever like rattling renewals?" you
would after all shrink from the responsibility of such a restriction
before being clear as to what you would suggest in its place. Rupert
went on reading-parties from King's to Lulworth for instance, which
the association of the two places, the two so extraordinarily finished
scenes, causes to figure as a sort of preliminary flourish; and
everything that came his way after that affects me as the blest
indulgence in flourish upon flourish. This was not in the least the air,
or the desire, or the pretension of it, but the unfailing felicity just
kept catching him up, just left him never wanting nor waiting for some
pretext to roam, or indeed only the more responsively to stay, doing
either, whichever it might be, as a form of highly intellectualised
"fun." He didn't overflow with shillings, yet so far as roving was
concerned the practice was always easy, and perhaps the adorably
whimsical lyric, contained in his second volume of verse, on the pull
of Grantchester at his heartstrings, as the old vicarage of that sweet
adjunct to Cambridge could present itself to him in a Berlin cafe, may
best exemplify the sort of thing that was represented, in one way and
another, by his taking his most ultimately English ease.

Whatever Berlin or Munich, to speak of them only, could do or fail to do
for him, how can one not rejoice without reserve in the way he felt what
he did feel as poetic reaction of the liveliest and finest, with the
added interest of its often turning at one and the same time to the
fullest sincerity and to a perversity of the most "evolved"?--since
I can not dispense with that sign of truth. Never was a young singer
either less obviously sentimental or less addicted to the mere twang of
the guitar; at the same time that it was always his personal experience
or his curious, his not a little defiantly excogitated, inner vision
that he sought to catch; some of the odd fashion of his play with which
latter seems on occasion to preponderate over the truly pleasing poet's
appeal to beauty or cultivated habit of grace. Odd enough, no
doubt, that Rupert should appear to have had well-nigh in horror the
cultivation of grace for its own sake, as we say, and yet should really
not have disfigured his poetic countenance by a single touch quotable
as showing this. The medal of the mere pleasant had always a reverse for
him, and it was generally in that substitute he was most interested. We
catch in him reaction upon reaction, the succession of these conducing
to his entirely unashamed poetic complexity, and of course one
observation always to be made about him, one reminder always to be
gratefully welcomed, is that we are dealing after all with one of the
_youngest_ quantities of art and character taken together that
ever arrived at an irresistible appeal. His irony, his liberty, his
pleasantry, his paradox, and what I have called his perversity, are all
nothing if not young; and I may as well say at once for him that I find
in the imagination of their turning in time, dreadful time, to
something more balanced and harmonised, a difficulty insuperable. The
self-consciousness, the poetic, of his so free figuration (in verse,
only in verse, oddly enough) of the unpleasant to behold, to touch, or
even to smell, was certainly, I think, nothing if not "self-conscious,"
but there were so many things in his consciousness, which was never
in the least unpeopled, that it would have been a rare chance had his
projection of the self that we are so apt to make an object of invidious
allusion stayed out. What it all really most comes to, you feel again,
is that none of his impulses prospered in solitude, or, for that matter,
were so much as permitted to mumble their least scrap there; he was
predestined and condemned to sociability, which no league of neglect
could have deprived him of even had it speculatively tried: whereby what
was it but his own image that he most saw reflected in other faces? It
would still have been there, it couldn't possibly have succeeded in not
being, even had he closed his eyes to it with elaborate tightness. The
only neglect must have been on his own side, where indeed it did take
form in that of as signal an opportunity to become "spoiled," probably,
as ever fell in a brilliant young man's way: so that to help out my
comprehension of the unsightly and unsavoury, sufficiently wondered
at, with which his muse repeatedly embraced the occasion to associate
herself, I take the thing for a declaration of the idea that he might
himself prevent the spoiling so far as possible. He could in fact
prevent nothing, the wave of his fortune and his favour continuing so
to carry him; which is doubtless one of the reasons why, through our
general sense that nothing could possibly not be of the last degree of
rightness in him, what would have been wrong in others, literally in
any creature but him, like for example "A Channel Passage" of his first
volume, simply puts on, while this particular muse stands anxiously by,
a kind of dignity of experiment quite consistent with our congratulating
her, at the same time, as soon as it is over. What was "A Channel
Passage" thus but a flourish marked with the sign of all his flourishes,
that of being a success and having fruition? Though it performed the
extraordinary feat of directing the contents of the poet's stomach
straight at the object of his displeasure, we feel that, by some
excellent grace, the object is not at all reached--too many things, and
most of all, too innocently enormous a cynicism, standing in the way
and themselves receiving the tribute; having in a word, impatient young
cynicism as they are, _that_ experience as well as various things.



III


No detail of Mr Marsh's admirable memoir may I allow myself to
anticipate. I can only announce it as a picture, with all the elements
in iridescent fusion, of the felicity that fairly dogged Rupert's steps,
as we may say, and that never allowed him to fall below its measure. We
shall read into it even more relations than nominally appear, and every
one of them again a flourish, every one of them a connection with
his time, a "sampling" of it at its most multitudinous and most
characteristic; every one of them too a record of the state of
some other charmed, not less than charming party--even when the
letter-writer's expression of the interest, the amusement, the play of
fancy, of taste, of whatever sort of appreciation or reaction for his
own spirit, is the ostensible note. This is what I mean in especial by
the constancy with which, and the cost at which, perhaps not less, for
others, the poetic sensibility was maintained and guaranteed. It was as
genuine as if he had been a bard perched on an eminence with a harp, and
yet it was arranged for, as we may say, by the close consensus of those
who had absolutely to know their relation with him but as a delight and
who wanted therefore to keep him, to the last point, true to himself.
His complete curiosity and sociability might have made him, on these
lines, factitious, if it had not happened that the people he so
variously knew and the contacts he enjoyed were just of the kind to
promote most his facility and vivacity and intelligence of life. They
were all young together, allowing for three or four notable, by which I
mean far from the least responsive, exceptions; they were all fresh and
free and acute and aware and in "the world," when not out of it; all
together at the high speculative, the high talkative pitch of the
initiational stage of these latest years, the informed and animated,
the so consciously non-benighted, geniality of which was to make him the
clearest and most projected poetic case, with the question of difficulty
and doubt and frustration most solved, the question of the immediate
and its implications most in order for him, that it was possible to
conceive. He had found at once to his purpose a wondrous enough old
England, an England breaking out into numberless assertions of a new
awareness, into liberties of high and clean, even when most sceptical
and discursive, young intercourse; a carnival of half anxious and
half elated criticism, all framed and backgrounded in still richer
accumulations, both moral and material, or, as who should say,
pictorial, of the matter of course and the taken for granted. Nothing
could have been in greater contrast, one cannot too much insist, to the
situation of the traditional lonely lyrist who yearns for connections
and relations yet to be made and whose difficulty, lyrical, emotional,
personal, social or intellectual, has thereby so little in common with
any embarrassment of choice. The author of the pages before us was
perhaps the young lyrist, in all the annals of verse, who, having the
largest luxury of choice, yet remained least "demoralised" by it--how
little demoralised he was to round off his short history by showing.

It was into these conditions, thickening and thickening, in their
comparative serenity, up to the eleventh hour, that the War came
smashing down; but of the basis, the great garden ground, all green
and russet and silver, all a tissue of distinguished and yet so easy
occasions, so improvised extensions, which they had already placed
at his service and that of his extraordinarily amiable and constantly
enlarged "set" for the exercise of _their_ dealing with the rest of the
happy earth in punctuating interludes, it is the office of our few
but precious documents to enable us to judge. The interlude that here
concerns us most is that of the year spent in his journey round a
considerable part of the world in 1913-14, testifying with a charm that
increases as he goes to that quest of unprejudiced culture, the true
poetic, the vision of the life of man, which was to prove the liveliest
of his impulses. It was not indeed under the flag of that research that
he offered himself for the Army almost immediately after his return to
England--and even if when a young man was so essentially a poet we need
see no act in him as a prosaic alternative. The misfortune of this set
of letters from New York and Boston, from Canada and Samoa, addressed,
for the most part, to a friendly London evening journal is, alas, in
the fact that they are of so moderate a quantity; for we make him out
as steadily more vivid and delightful while his opportunity grows. He is
touching at first, inevitably quite juvenile, in the measure of his good
faith; we feel him not a little lost and lonely and stranded in the New
York pandemonium--obliged to throw himself upon sky-scrapers and
the overspread blackness pricked out in a flickering fury of imaged
advertisement for want of some more interesting view of character and
manners. We long to take him by the hand and show him finer lights--eyes
of but meaner range, after all, being adequate to the gape at the
vertical business blocks and the lurid sky-clamour for more dollars. We
feel in a manner his sensibility wasted and would fain turn it on to
the capture of deeper meanings. But we must leave him to himself and to
youth's facility of wonder; he is amused, beguiled, struck on the whole
with as many differences as we could expect, and sufficiently reminded,
no doubt, of the number of words he is restricted to. It is moreover his
sign, as it is that of the poetic turn of mind in general that we seem
to catch him alike in anticipations or divinations, and in lapses
and freshnesses, of experience that surprise us. He makes various
reflections, some of them all perceptive and ingenious--as about
the faces, the men's in particular, seen in the streets, the public
conveyances and elsewhere; though falling a little short, in his
friendly wondering way, of that bewildered apprehension of monotony of
type, of modelling lost in the desert, which we might have expected of
him, and of the question above all of what is destined to become of that
more and more vanishing quantity the American nose other than Judaic.

What we note in particular is that he likes, to all appearance, many
more things than he doesn't, and how superlatively he is struck with
the promptitude and wholeness of the American welcome and of all its
friendly service. What it is but too easy, with the pleasure of
having known him, to read into all this is the operation of his own
irresistible quality, and of the state of felicity he clearly created
just by appearing as a party to the social relation. He moves and
circulates to our vision as so naturally, so beautifully undesigning
a weaver of that spell, that we feel comparatively little of the story
told even by his diverted report of it; so much fuller a report would
surely proceed, could we appeal to their memory, their sense of poetry,
from those into whose ken he floated. It is impossible not to figure
him, to the last felicity, as he comes and goes, presenting himself
always with a singular effect both of suddenness and of the readiest
rightness; we should always have liked to be there, wherever it was, for
the justification of our own fond confidence and the pleasure of seeing
it unfailingly spread and spread. The ironies and paradoxes of his
verse, in all this record, fall away from him; he takes to direct
observation and accepts with perfect good-humour any hazards of contact,
some of the shocks of encounter proving more muffled for him than
might, as I say, have been feared--witness the American Jew with whom he
appears to have spent some hours in Canada; and of course the "word" of
the whole thing is that he simply reaped at every turn the harmonising
benefit that his presence conferred. This it is in especial that makes
us regret so much the scanting, as we feel it, of his story; it deprives
us in just that proportion of certain of the notes of his appearance
and his "success." _There_ was the poetic fact involved--that, being
so gratefully apprehended everywhere, his own response was inevitably
prescribed and pitched as the perfect friendly and genial and liberal
thing. Moreover, the value of his having so let himself loose in the
immensity tells more at each step in favour of his style; the pages from
Canada, where as an impressionist, he increasingly finds his feet, and
even finds to the same increase a certain comfort of association, are
better than those from the States, while those from the Pacific Islands
rapidly brighten and enlarge their inspiration. This part of his
adventure was clearly the great success and fell in with his fancy,
amusing and quickening and rewarding him, more than anything in the
whole revelation. He lightly performs the miracle, to my own sense,
which R. L. Stevenson, which even Pierre Loti, taking however long a
rope, had not performed; he charmingly conjures away--though in this
prose more than in the verse of his second volume--the marked tendency
of the whole exquisite region to insist on the secret of its charm, when
incorrigibly moved to do so, only at the expense of its falling a little
flat, or turning a little stale, on our hands. I have for myself at
least marked the tendency, and somehow felt it point a graceless moral,
the moral that as there are certain faces too well produced by nature
to be producible again by the painter, the portraitist, so there are
certain combinations of earthly ease, of the natural and social art of
giving pleasure, which fail of character, or accent, even of the power
to interest, under the strain of transposition or of emphasis. Rupert,
with an instinct of his own, transposes and insists only in the right
degree; or what it doubtless comes to is that we simply see him arrested
by so vivid a picture of the youth of the world at its blandest as to
make all his culture seem a waste and all his questions a vanity. That
is apparently the very effect of the Pacific life as those who dip into
it seek, or feel that they are expected to seek, to report it; but it
reports itself somehow through these pages, smilingly cools itself off
in them, with the lightest play of the fan ever placed at its service.
Never, clearly, had he been on such good terms with the hour, never
found the life of the senses so anticipate the life of the imagination,
or the life of the imagination so content itself with the life of
the senses; it is all an abundance of amphibious felicity--he was as
incessant and insatiable a swimmer as if he had been a triton framed
for a decoration; and one half makes out that some low-lurking instinct,
some vague foreboding of what awaited him, on his own side the globe,
in the air of so-called civilisation, prompted him to drain to the last
drop the whole perfect negation of the acrid. He might have been waiting
for the tide of the insipid to begin to flow again, as it seems ever
doomed to do when the acrid, the saving acrid, has already ebbed; at any
rate his holiday had by the end of the springtime of 1914 done for him
all it could, without a grain of waste--his assimilations being
neither loose nor literal, and he came back to England as promiscuously
qualified, as variously quickened, as his best friends could wish for
fine production and fine illustration in some order still awaiting
sharp definition. Never certainly had the free poetic sense in him more
rejoiced in an incorruptible sincerity.



IV


He was caught up of course after the shortest interval by the strong
rush of that general inspiration in which at first all differences, all
individual relations to the world he lived in, seemed almost ruefully or
bewilderedly to lose themselves. The pressing thing was of a sudden that
youth was youth and genius community and sympathy. He plunged into that
full measure of these things which simply made and spread itself as it
gathered them in, made itself of responses and faiths and understandings
that were all the while in themselves acts of curiosity, romantic
and poetic throbs and wonderments, with reality, as it seemed to call
itself, breaking in after a fashion that left the whole past pale, and
that yet could flush at every turn with meanings and visions
borrowing their expression from whatever had, among those squandered
preliminaries, those too merely sportive intellectual and critical
values, happened to make most for the higher truth. Of the successions
of his matter of history at this time Mr Marsh's memoir is the
infinitely touching record--touching after the fact, but to the
accompaniment even at the time of certain now almost ineffable
reflections; this especially, I mean, if one happened to be then not
wholly without familiar vision of him. What could strike one more, for
the immense occasion, than the measure that might be involved in it of
desolating and heart-breaking waste, waste of quality, waste for that
matter of quantity, waste of all the rich redundancies, all the light
and all the golden store, which up to then had formed the very price and
grace of life? Yet out of the depths themselves of this question rose
the other, the tormenting, the sickening and at the same time the
strangely sustaining, of why, since the offering couldn't at best be
anything but great, it wouldn't be great just in proportion to its
purity, or in other words its wholeness, everything in it that could
make it most radiant and restless. Exquisite at such times the hushed
watch of the mere hovering spectator unrelieved by any action of his own
to take, which consists at once of so much wonder for why the finest of
the fine should, to the sacrifice of the faculty we most know them by,
have to become mere morsels in the huge promiscuity, and of the thrill
of seeing that they add more than ever to our knowledge and our passion,
which somehow thus becomes at the same time an unfathomable abyss.

Rupert, who had joined the Naval Brigade, took part in the rather
distractedly improvised--as it at least at the moment appeared--movement
for the relief of the doomed Antwerp, but was, later on, after the
return of the force so engaged, for a few days in London, whither he
had come up from camp in Dorsetshire, briefly invalided; thanks to which
accident I had on a couple of occasions my last sight of him. It was
all auspiciously, well-nigh extravagantly, congruous; nothing certainly
could have been called more modern than all the elements and suggestions
of his situation for the hour, the very spot in London that could
best serve as a centre for vibrations the keenest and most various; a
challenge to the appreciation of life, to that of the whole range of the
possible English future, at its most uplifting. He had not yet so much
struck me as an admirable nature _en disponibilite_ and such as any
cause, however high, might swallow up with a sense of being the sounder
and sweeter for. More definitely perhaps the young poet, with all the
wind alive in his sails, was as evident there in the guise of the young
soldier and the thrice welcome young friend, who yet, I all recognisably
remember, insisted on himself as little as ever in either character,
and seemed even more disposed than usual not to let his intelligibility
interfere with his modesty. He promptly recovered and returned to camp,
whence it was testified that his specific practical aptitude, under the
lively call, left nothing to be desired--a fact that expressed again, to
the perception of his circle, with what truth the spring of inspiration
worked in him, in the sense, I mean, that his imagination itself
shouldered and made light of the material load. It had not yet, at the
same time, been more associatedly active in a finer sense; my own next
apprehension of it at least was in reading the five admirable sonnets
that had been published in "New Numbers" after the departure of his
contingent for the campaign at the Dardanelles. To read these in
the light of one's personal knowledge of him was to draw from them,
inevitably, a meaning still deeper seated than their noble beauty, an
authority, of the purest, attended with which his name inscribes itself
in its own character on the great English scroll. The impression,
the admiration, the anxiety settled immediately--to my own sense at
least--as upon something that would but too sharply feed them, falling
in as it did with that whole particularly animated vision of him of
which I have spoken. He had never seemed more animated with our newest
and least deluded, least conventionalised life and perception and
sensibility, and that formula of his so distinctively fortunate, his
overflowing share in our most developed social heritage which had
already glimmered, began with this occasion to hang about him as one of
the aspects, really a shining one, of his fate.

So I remember irrepressibly thinking and feeling, unspeakably
apprehending, in a word; and so the whole exquisite exhalation of his
own consciousness in the splendid sonnets, attach whatever essentially
or exclusively poetic value to it we might, baffled or defied us as
with a sort of supreme rightness. Everything about him of keenest and
brightest (yes, absolutely of brightest) suggestion made so for his
having been charged with every privilege, every humour, of our merciless
actuality, our fatal excess of opportunity, that what indeed could the
full assurance of this be but that, finding in him the most charming
object in its course, the great tide was to lift him and sweep him away?
Questions and reflections after the fact perhaps, yet haunting for the
time and during the short interval that was still to elapse--when, with
the sudden news that he _had_ met his doom, an irrepressible "of course,
of course!" contributed its note well-nigh of support. It was as if the
peculiar richness of his youth had itself marked its limit, so that what
his own spirit was inevitably to feel about his "chance"--inevitably
because both the high pitch of the romantic and the ironic and the
opposed abyss of the real came together in it--required, in the wondrous
way, the consecration of the event. The event came indeed not in the
manner prefigured by him in the repeatedly perfect line, that of the
received death-stroke, the fall in action, discounted as such; which
might have seemed very much because even the harsh logic and pressure of
history were tender of him at the last and declined to go through more
than the form of their function, discharging it with the least violence
and surrounding it as with a legendary light. He was taken ill, as an
effect of blood-poisoning, on his way from Alexandria to Gallipoli, and,
getting ominously and rapidly worse, was removed from his transport to a
French hospital ship, where, irreproachably cared for, he died in a few
hours and without coming to consciousness. I deny myself any further
anticipation of the story to which further noble associations attach,
and the merest outline of which indeed tells it and rounds it off
absolutely as the right harmony would have it. It is perhaps even a
touch beyond any dreamt-of harmony that, under omission of no martial
honour, he was to be carried by comrades and devoted waiting sharers,
whose evidence survives them, to the steep summit of a Greek island of
infinite grace and there placed in such earth and amid such beauty of
light and shade and embracing prospect as that the fondest reading of
his young lifetime could have suggested nothing better. It struck us at
home, I mean, as symbolising with the last refinement his whole instinct
of selection and response, his relation to the overcharged appeal of his
scene and hour. How could he have shown more the young English poetic
possibility and faculty in which we were to seek the freshest reflection
of the intelligence and the soul of the new generation? The generosity,
I may fairly say the joy, of his contribution to the general perfect
way makes a monument of his high rest there at the heart of all that was
once noblest in history.

HENRY JAMES



LETTERS FROM AMERICA



I

ARRIVAL


However sedulously he may have avoided a preparatory reading of
those 'impressions' of America which our hurried and observant Great
continually record for the instruction of both nations, the pilgrim who
is crossing the Atlantic for the first time cannot approach Sandy Hook
Bar with so completely blank a mind as he would wish. So, at least, I
found. It is not so much that the recent American invasion of London
music-halls has bitten into one's brain a very definite taste of a
jerking, vital, _bizarre_ 'rag-time' civilisation. But the various and
vivid comments of friends to whom the news of a traveller's departure
is broken excite and predispose the imagination. That so many people who
have been there should have such different and decided opinions about
it! It must be at least remarkable. I felt the thrill of an explorer
before I started. "A country without conversation," said a philosopher.
"The big land has a big heart," wrote a kindly scholar; and, by the same
post, from another critic, "that land of crushing hospitality!" "It's
Hell, but it's fine," an artist told me. "El Cuspidorado," remarked an
Oxford man, brilliantly. But one wiser than all the rest wrote: "Think
gently of the Americans. They are so very young; and so very anxious to
appear grown-up; and so very lovable." This was more generous than the
unvarying comment of ordinary English friends when they heard of my
purpose, "My God!" And it was more precise than those nineteen several
Americans, to each of whom I said, "I am going to visit America,"
and each of whom replied, after long reflection, "Wal! it's a great
country!"

Travelling by the ordinary routes, you meet the American people a week
before you meet America. And my excitement to discover what, precisely,
this nation was _at_, was inflamed rather than damped by the attitude of
a charming American youth who crossed by the same boat. That simplicity
that is not far down in any American was very beautifully on the
delightful surface with him. The second day out he sidled shyly up
to me. "Of what nationality _are_ you?" he asked. His face showed
bewilderment when he heard. "I thought all Englishmen had moustaches,"
he said. I told him of the infinite variety, within the homogeneity,
of our race. He did not listen, but settled down near me with the eager
kindliness of a child. "You know," he said, "you'll never understand
America. No, Sir. No Englishman can understand America. I've been in
London. In your Houses of Parliament there is one door for peers to go
in at, and one for ordinary people. Did I laugh some when I saw that?
You bet your America's not like that. In America one man's just as good
as another. You'll never understand America." I was all humility. His
theme and his friendliness fired him. He rose with a splendour which, I
had to confess to myself, England could never have given to him. "Would
you like to hear me re-cite to you the Declaration of Independence?" he
asked. And he did.

So it was with a fairly blank mind, and yet a hope of understanding, or
at least of seeing, something very remarkably fresh, that I woke to
hear we were in harbour, and tumbled out on deck at six of a fine summer
morning to view a new world. New York Harbour is loveliest at night
perhaps. On the Staten Island ferry boat you slip out from the darkness
right under the immense sky-scrapers. As they recede they form into a
mass together, heaping up one behind another, fire-lined and majestic,
sentinel over the black, gold-streaked waters. Their cliff-like boldness
is the greater, because to either side sweep in the East River and the
Hudson River, leaving this piled promontory between. To the right hangs
the great stretch of the Brooklyn Suspension Bridge, its slight curve
very purely outlined with light; over it luminous trams, like shuttles
of fire, are thrown across and across, continually weaving the stuff of
human existence. From further off all these lights dwindle to a radiant
semicircle that gazes out over the expanse with a quiet, mysterious
expectancy. Far away seaward you may see the low golden glare of Coney
Island.

But there was beauty in the view that morning, also, half an hour after
sunrise. New York, always the cleanest and least smoky of cities, lay
asleep in a queer, pearly, hourless light. A thin mist softened the
further outlines. The water was opalescent under a silver sky, cool and
dim, very slightly ruffled by the sweet wind that followed us in from
the sea. A few streamers of smoke flew above the city, oblique and
parallel, pennants of our civilisation. The space of water is great, and
so the vast buildings do not tower above one as they do from the street.
Scale is lost, and they might be any size. The impression is, rather, of
long, low buildings stretching down to the water's edge on every side,
and innumerable low black wharves and jetties and piers. And at one
point, the lower end of the island on which the city proper stands, rose
that higher clump of the great buildings, the Singer, the Woolworth, and
the rest. Their strength, almost severity, of line and the lightness of
their colour gave a kind of classical feeling, classical, and yet not
of Europe. It had the air, this block of masonry, of edifices built to
satisfy some faith, for more than immediate ends. Only, the faith was
unfamiliar. But if these buildings embodied its nature, it is cold and
hard and light, like the steel that is their heart. The first sight of
these strange fanes has queer resemblances to the first sight of that
lonely and secret group by Pisa's walls. It came upon me, at that
moment, that they could not have been dreamed and made without some
nobility. Perhaps the hour lent them sanctity. For I have often noticed
since that in the early morning, and again for a little about sunset,
the sky-scrapers are no longer merely the means and local convenience
for men to pursue their purposes, but acquire that characteristic of the
great buildings of the world, an existence and meaning of their own.

Our boat moved up the harbour and along the Hudson River with a superb
and courteous stateliness. Round her snorted and scuttled and puffed
the multitudinous strange denizens of the harbour. Tugs, steamers,
queer-shaped ferry-boats, long rafts carrying great lines of trucks from
railway to railway, dredgers, motor-boats, even a sailing-boat or two;
for the day's work was beginning. Among them, with that majesty that
only a liner entering a harbour has, she went, progressed, had her
moving--English contains no word for such a motion--"_incessu patuit
dea_." A goddess entering fairyland, I thought; for the huddled beauty
of these buildings and the still, silver expanse of the water seemed
unreal. Then I looked down at the water immediately beneath me, and knew
that New York was a real city. All kinds of refuse went floating by:
bits of wood, straw from barges, bottles, boxes, paper, occasionally
a dead cat or dog, hideously bladder-like, its four paws stiff and
indignant towards heaven.

This analysis of fairyland turned me towards the statue of Liberty,
already passed and growing distant. It is one of those things you have
long wanted to see and haven't expected to admire, which, seen, give you
a double thrill, that they're at last _there_, and that they're better
than your hopes. For Liberty stands nobly. Americans, always shy about
their country, have learnt from the ridicule which Europeans, on mixed
aesthetic and moral grounds, pour on this statue, to dismiss it with an
apologetic laugh. Yet it is fine--until you get near enough to see
its clumsiness. I admired the great gesture of it. A hand fell on my
shoulder, and a voice said, "Look hard at that, young man! That's the
first time you've seen Liberty--and it will be the last till you turn
your back on this country again." It was an American fellow-passenger,
one of the tall, thin type of American, with pale blue eyes of an
idealistic, disappointed expression, and an Indian profile. The other
half of America, personated by a small, bumptious, eager, brown-faced
man, with a cigar raking at an irritating angle from the corner of his
mouth, joined in with, "Wal! I should smile, I guess this is the Land of
Freedom, anyway." The tall man swung round: "Freedom! do you call it a
free land, where--" He gave instances of the power of the dollar. The
other man kept up the argument by spitting and by asseveration. As the
busy little tugs, with rugs on their noses, butted the great liner into
her narrow dock, the pessimist launched his last shafts. The short man
denied nothing. He drew the cigar from his lips, shot it back with a
popping noise into the round hole cigars had worn at the corner of
his mouth, and said, "Anyway, it's some country." I was introduced to
America.



II

NEW YORK


In five things America excels modern England--fish, architecture, jokes,
drinks, and children's clothes. There may be others. Of these I am
certain. The jokes and drinks, which curiously resemble each other,
are the best. There is a cheerful violence about them; they take their
respective kingdoms by storm. All the lesser things one has heard turn
out to be delightfully true. The first hour in America proves them.
People here talk with an American accent; their teeth are inlaid with
gold; the mouths of car-conductors move slowly, slowly, with an oblique
oval motion, for they are chewing; pavements are 'sidewalks.' It is all
true.... But there were other things one expected, though in no precise
form. What, for instance, would it be like, the feeling of whatever
democracy America has secured?

I landed, rather forlorn, that first morning, on the immense covered
wharf where the Customs mysteries were to be celebrated. The place was
dominated by a large, dirty, vociferous man, coatless, in a black
shirt and black apron. His mouth and jaw were huge; he looked like a
caricaturist's Roosevelt. 'Express Company' was written on his forehead;
labels of a thousand colours, printed slips, pencils and pieces of
string, hung from his pockets and his hands, were held behind his ears
and in his mouth. I laid my situation and my incompetence before him,
and learnt right where to go and right when to go there. Then he flung
a vast, dingy arm round my shoulders, and bellowed, "We'll have your
baggage right along to your hotel in two hours." It was a lie, but
kindly. That grimy and generous embrace left me startled, but an
initiate into Democracy.

The other evening I went a lonely ramble, to try to detect the essence
of New York. A wary eavesdropper can always surprise the secret of a
city, through chance scraps of conversation, or by spying from a window,
or by coming suddenly round corners. I started on a 'car.' American
tram-cars are open all along the side and can be entered at any point in
it. The side is divided by vertical bars. It looks like a cage with the
horizontal lines taken out. Between these vertical bars you squeeze into
the seat. If the seat opposite you is full, you swing yourself along the
bars by your hands till you find room. The Americans become terrifyingly
expert at this. I have seen them, fat, middle-aged business men,
scampering up and down the face of the cars by means of their hands,
swinging themselves over and round and above each other, like nothing
in the world so much as the monkeys at the Zoo. It is a people informed
with vital energy. I believe that this exercise, and the habit of
drinking a lot of water between meals, are the chief causes of their
good health.

The Broadway car runs mostly along the backbone of the queer island on
which this city stands. So the innumerable parallel streets that cross
it curve down and away; and at this time street after street to the west
reveals, and seems to drop into, a mysterious evening sky, full of dull
reds and yellows, amber and pale green, and a few pink flecks, and in
the midst, sometimes, the flushed, smoke-veiled face of the sun. Then
greyness, broken by these patches of misty colour, settles into the
lower channels of the New York streets; while the upper heights of the
sky-scrapers, clear of the roofs, are still lit on the sunward side with
a mellow glow, curiously serene. To the man in the mirk of the street,
they seem to exude this light from the great spaces of brick. At this
time the cars, always polyglot, are filled with shop-hands and workers,
and no English at all is heard. One is surrounded with Yiddish, Italian,
and Greek, broken by Polish, or Russian, or German. Some American
anthropologists claim that the children of these immigrants show marked
changes, in the shape of skull and face, towards the American type. It
may be so. But the people who surround one are mostly European-born.
They represent very completely that H.C.F. of Continental appearance
which is labelled in the English mind 'looking like a foreigner'; being
short, swarthy, gesticulatory, full of clatter, indeterminately alien.
Only in their dress and gait have they--or at least the men among
them--become at all American.

The American by race walks better than we; more freely, with a taking
swing, and almost with grace. How much of this is due to living in a
democracy, and how much to wearing no braces, it is very difficult to
determine. But certainly it is the land of belts, and therefore of more
loosely moving bodies. This, and the padded shoulders of the coats, and
the loosely-cut trousers, make a figure more presentable, at a distance,
than most urban civilisations turn out. Also, Americans take their coats
off, which is sensible; and they can do it the more beautifully because
they are belted, and not braced. They take their coats off anywhere and
any-when, and somehow it strikes the visitor as the most symbolic thing
about them. They have not yet thought of discarding collars; but they
are unashamedly shirt-sleeved. Any sculptor, seeking to figure this
Republic in stone, must carve, in future, a young man in shirt-sleeves,
open-faced, pleasant, and rather vulgar, straw hat on the back of his
head, his trousers full and sloppy, his coat over his arm. The motto
written beneath will be, of course, 'This is some country.' The
philosophic gazer on such a monument might get some way towards
understanding the making of the Panama Canal, that exploit that no
European nation could have carried out.

What facial type the sculptor would give the youth is harder to
determine, and very hard to describe. The American race seems to
have developed two classes, and only two, the upper-middle and the
lower-middle. Their faces are very distinct. The upper-class head is
long, often fine about the forehead and eyes, and very cleanly outlined.
The eyes have an odd, tired pathos in them--mixed with the friendliness
that is so admirable--as if of a perpetual never quite successful effort
to understand something. It is like the face of an only child who has
been brought up in the company of adults. I am convinced it is
partly due to the endeavour to set their standards by the culture and
traditions of older nations. But the mouth of such men is the most
typical feature. It is small, tight, and closed downwards at the
corners, the lower lip very slightly protruding. It has little
expression in it, and no curves. There the Puritan comes out. But no
other nation has a mouth like this. It is shared to some extent by the
lower classes; but their mouths tend to be wider and more expressive.
Their foreheads are meaner, and their eyes hard, but the whole face
rather more adaptive and in touch with life. These, anyhow, are the
types that strike one in the Eastern cities. And there are intermediate
varieties, as of the genial business-man, with the narrow forehead and
the wide, smooth--the too wide and too smooth--lower face. Smoothness
is the one unfailing characteristic. Why do American faces hardly ever
wrinkle? Is it the absence of a soul? It must be. For it is less true
of the Bostonian than of the ordinary business American, in whose life
exhilaration and depression take the place of joy and suffering. The
women's faces are more indeterminate, not very feminine; many of them
wear those 'invisible' pince-nez which centre glitteringly about the
bridge of the nose, and get from them a curious air of intelligence.
Handsome people of both sexes are very common; beautiful, and pretty,
ones very rare....

I slipped from my car up about Fortieth Street, the region where the
theatres and restaurants are, the 'roaring forties.' Broadway here
might be the offspring of Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square, with,
somehow, some of Fleet Street also in its ancestry. I passed two men on
the sidewalk, their hats on the back of their heads, arguing fiercely.
One had slightly long hair. The other looked the more truculent, and was
saying to him, intensely, "See here! We contracted with you to supply
us with sonnets at five dollars per sonnet--" I passed up a side-street,
one of those deserted ways that abound just off the big streets,
resorts, apparently, for such people and things as are not quite
strident or not quite energetic enough for the ordinary glare of
life; dim places, fusty with hesternal excitements and the thrills of
yesteryear. Against a flight of desolate steps leant a notice. I stopped
to read it. It said:

  "You must see Cockie,
  Positively the only bird that can both dance and sing.
  She is almost superhuman."

There was no explanation; Cockie may have been dead for years. I went,
musing on her possible fates, towards the pride and spaciousness of
Fifth Avenue.

Fifth Avenue is handsome, the handsomest street imaginable. It is what
the streets of German cities try to be. The buildings are large, square,
'imposing,' built with the solidity of opulence. The street, as a whole,
has a character and an air of achievement. "Whatever else may be doubted
or denied, American civilisation has produced this." One feels rich
and safe as one walks. Back in Broadway, New York dropped her mask,
and began to betray herself once again. A little crowd, expressionless,
intent, and volatile, before a small shop, drew me. In the shop-window
was a young man, pleasant-faced, a little conscious, and a little bored,
dressed very lightly in what might have been a runner's costume. He was
bowing, twisting, and posturing in a slow rhythm. From time to time he
would put a large card on a little stand in the corner. The cards bore
various legends. He would display a card that said, "THIS UNDERWEAR DOES
NOT IMPEDE THE MOVEMENT OF THE BODY IN ANY DIRECTION." Then he moved
his body in every direction, from position to position, probable or
improbable, and was not impeded. With a terrible dumb patience he turned
the next card: "IT GIVES WITH THE BODY IN VIOLENT EXERCISING." The young
man leapt suddenly, lunged, smote imaginary balls, belaboured invisible
opponents, ran with immense speed but no progress, was thrown to earth
by the Prince of the Air, kicked, struggled, then bounded to his feet
again. But all this without a word. "IT ENABLES YOU TO KEEP COOL WHILE
EXERCISING." The young man exercised, and yet was cool. He did this, I
discovered later, for many hours a day.

Not daring to imagine his state of mind, I hurried off through Union
Square. One of the many daily fire-alarms had gone; the traffic was
drawn to one side, and several fire-engines came, with clanging of bells
and shouting, through the space, gleaming with brass, splendid in their
purpose. Before the thrill in the heart had time to die, or the traffic
to close up, swung through an immense open motor-car driven by a young
mechanic. It was luxuriously appointed, and had the air of a private car
being returned from repairing. The man in it had an almost Swinburnian
mane of red hair, blowing back in the wind, catching the last lights
of day. He was clad, as such people often are in this country these hot
days, only in a suit of yellow overalls, so that his arms and shoulders
and neck and chest were bare. He was big, well-made, and strong, and he
drove the car, not wildly, but a little too fast, leaning back rather
insolently conscious of power. In private life, no doubt, a very
ordinary youth, interested only in baseball scores; but in this brief
passage he seemed like a Greek god, in a fantastically modern, yet not
unworthy way emblemed and incarnate, or like the spirit of Henley's
'Song of Speed.' So I found a better image of America for my sculptor
than the shirt-sleeved young man.



III

NEW YORK--(_continued_)


The hotel into which the workings of blind chance have thrown me is
given over to commercial travellers. Its life is theirs, and the few
English tourists creep in and out with the shy, bewildered dignity of
their race and class. These American commercial travellers are called
'drummers'; drummers in the most endless and pointless and extraordinary
of wars. They have the air and appearance of devotees, men set aside,
roaming preachers of a _jehad_ whose meaning they have forgotten. They
seem to be invariably of the short, dark type. The larger, fair-haired,
long-headed men are common in business, but not in 'drumming.' The
drummer's eyes have a hard, rapt expression. He is not interested in the
romance of the road, like an English commercial traveller; only in its
ever-changing end. These people are for ever sending off and receiving
telegrams, messages, and cablegrams; they are continually telephoning;
stenographers are in waiting to record their inspirations. In the
intervals of activity they relapse into a curious trance, husbanding
their vitality for the next crisis. I have watched them with terror
and fascination. All day there are numbers of them sitting, immote and
vacant, in rows and circles on the hard chairs in the hall. They
are never smoking, never reading a paper, never even chewing. The
expressions of their faces never change. It is impossible to guess
what, or if anything, is in their minds. Hour upon hour they remain.
Occasionally one will rise, in obedience to some call or revelation
incomprehensible to us, and move out through the door into the clang and
confusion of Broadway.

It all confirms the impression that grows on the visitor to America
that Business has developed insensibly into a Religion, in more than the
light, metaphorical sense of the words. It has its ritual and theology,
its high places and its jargon, as well as its priests and martyrs. One
of its more mystical manifestations is in advertisement. America has a
childlike faith in advertising. They advertise here, everywhere, and in
all ways. They shout your most private and sacred wants at you. Nothing
is untouched. Every day I pass a wall, some five hundred square feet
of which a gentleman has taken to declare that he is 'out' to break the
Undertakers' Trust. Half the advertisement is a coloured photograph of
himself. The rest is, "See what I give you for 75 dols.!" and a list of
what he does give. He gives everything that the most morbid taphologist
could suggest, beginning with "splendidly carved full-size oak casket,
with black ivory handles. Four draped Flambeaux...." and going on to
funereal ingenuities that would have overwhelmed Mausolus, and make
death impossible for a refined man.

But there are heights as well as depths. I have been privileged with
some intimate glances into the greatest of those peculiarly American
institutions, the big departmental stores. Materially it is an immense
building, containing all things that any upper-middle-class person could
conceivably want. Such a store includes even Art, with the same bland
omnipotence. If you wander into the vast auditorium, it is equal chances
whether you hear a work of Beethoven, Victor Herbert, Schonberg, or Mr
Hirsch. If you are 'artistic,' you may choose between a large coloured
photograph of the Eiffel Tower, a carbon print of Botticelli, and a
reproduction of an 'improvisation' by Herr Kandinsky. You may buy
an Elizabethan dining-table, a Graeco-Roman bronze, the latest dress
designed by M. Bakst, or a packet of pins. Or you may sit and muse on
the life of the employee of this place, who gets from it all that
in less favoured civilisations family, guild, club, township, and
nationality have given him or her. As a child he gets education, then
evening-classes, continuation-schools, gymnasia, military training,
swimming-baths, orchestra, facilities for the study of anything under
the sun, from palaeography to Cherokee, libraries, holiday-camps,
hospitals, ever-present medical attendance, and at the end a pension,
and, I suppose, a store cemetery. And all for the price of a few hours'
work a day, and a little loyalty to the 'establishment.' Can human
hearts desire more? And, when all millionaires are as sensible, will
they? In industries and businesses like this, where the majority of the
employed are women, it ought to be a pretty stable sort of millennium.
Men, perhaps, take longer to learn that kind of 'loyalty.'

In one corner of this store is the advertising department. There are
gathered poets, artists, _litterateurs_, and mere intellectuals, all
engaged in explaining to the upper middle-classes what there is for them
to buy and why they should buy it. It is a life of good salary, steady
hours, sufficient leisure, and entire dignity. There is no vulgarity in
this advertising, but the most perfect taste and great artistic daring
and novelty. The most 'advanced' productions of Europe are scanned for
ideas and suggestions. Two of the leading young 'post-impressionist'
painters in Paris, whose names are just beginning to be known in
England, have been designing posters for this store for years. I stood
and watched with awe a young American genius doing entirely Matisse-like
illustrations to some notes on summer suitings. "We give our artists a
free hand," said the very intelligent lady in charge of that section;
"except, of course, for nudes or improprieties. And we don't allow
any figures of people _smoking_. Some of our customers object very
strongly...."

Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night. There comes an
hour of evening when lower Broadway, the business end of the town, is
deserted. And if, having felt yourself immersed in men and the frenzy
of cities all day, you stand out in the street in this sudden hush,
you will hear, like a strange questioning voice from another world, the
melancholy boom of a foghorn, and realise that not half a mile away are
the waters of the sea, and some great liner making its slow way out to
the Atlantic. After that, the lights come out up-town, and the New York
of theatres and vaudevilles and restaurants begins to roar and flare.
The merciless lights throw a mask of unradiant glare on the human beings
in the streets, making each face hard, set, wolfish, terribly blue.
The chorus of voices becomes shriller. The buildings tower away into
obscurity, looking strangely theatrical, because lit from below. And
beyond them soars the purple roof of the night. A stranger of another
race, loitering here, might cast his eyes up, in a vague wonder what
powers, kind or maleficent, controlled or observed this whirlpool. He
would find only this unresponsive canopy of black, unpierced even, if
the seeker stood near a centre of lights, by any star. But while he
looks, away up in the sky, out of the gulfs of night, spring two vast
fiery tooth-brushes, erect, leaning towards each other, and hanging on
to the bristles of them a little Devil, little but gigantic, who kicks
and wriggles and glares. After a few moments the Devil, baffled by
the firmness of the bristles, stops, hangs still, rolls his eyes,
moon-large, and, in a fury of disappointment, goes out, leaving only the
night, blacker and a little bewildered, and the unconscious throngs
of ant-like human beings. Turning with terrified relief from this
exhibition of diabolic impotence, the stranger finds a divine hand
writing slowly across the opposite quarter of the heavens its igneous
message of warning to the nations, "Wear--Underwear for Youths and
Men-Boys." And close by this message come forth a youth and a man-boy,
flaming and immortal, clad in celestial underwear, box a short round,
vanish, reappear for another round, and again disappear. Night after
night they wage this combat. What gods they are who fight endlessly and
indecisively over New York is not for our knowledge; whether it be Thor
and Odin, or Zeus and Cronos, or Michael and Lucifer, or Ormuzd and
Ahriman, or Good-as-a-means and Good-as-an-end. The ways of our lords
were ever riddling and obscure. To the right a celestial bottle,
stretching from the horizon to the zenith, appears, is uncorked, and
scatters the worlds with the foam of what ambrosial liquor may have been
within. Beyond, a Spanish goddess, some minor deity in the Dionysian
theogony, dances continually, rapt and mysterious, to the music of
the spheres, her head in Cassiopeia and her twinkling feet among the
Pleiades. And near her, Orion, archer no longer, releases himself from
his strained posture to drive a sidereal golf-ball out of sight through
the meadows of Paradise; then poses, addresses, and drives again.

  "O Nineveh, are these thy gods,
  Thine also, mighty Nineveh?"

Why this theophany, or how the gods have got out to perform their
various 'stunts' on the _flammantia moenia mundi_, is not asked by their
incurious devotees. Through Broadway the dingily glittering tide spreads
itself over the sands of 'amusement.' Theatres and 'movies' are aglare.
Cars shriek down the street; the Elevated train clangs and curves
perilously overhead; newsboys wail the baseball news; wits cry their
obscure challenges to one another, 'I should worry!' or 'She's some
Daisy!' or 'Good-night, Nurse!' In houses off the streets around
children are being born, lovers are kissing, people are dying. Above,
in the midst of those coruscating divinities, sits one older and greater
than any. Most colossal of all, it flashes momently out, a woman's head,
all flame against the darkness. It is beautiful, passionless, in its
simplicity and conventional representation queerly like an archaic Greek
or early Egyptian figure. Queen of the night behind, and of the gods
around, and of the city below--here, if at all, you think, may one
find the answer to the riddle. Her ostensible message, burning in the
firmament beside her, is that we should buy pepsin chewing-gum. But
there is more, not to be given in words, ineffable. Suddenly, when she
has surveyed mankind, she closes her left eye. Three times she winks,
and then vanishes. No ordinary winks these, but portentous, terrifyingly
steady, obliterating a great tract of the sky. Hour by hour she does
this, night by night, year by year. That enigmatic obscuration of light,
that answer that is no answer, is, perhaps, the first thing in this
world that a child born near here will see, and the last that a
dying man will have to take for a message to the curious dead. She is
immortal. Men have worshipped her as Isis and as Ashtaroth, as Venus, as
Cybele, Mother of the Gods, and as Mary. There is a statue of her by the
steps of the British Museum. Here, above the fantastic civilisation she
observes, she has no name. She is older than the sky-scrapers amongst
which she sits; and one, certainly, of her eyelids is a trifle weary.
And the only answer to our cries, the only comment upon our cities, is
that divine stare, the wink, once, twice, thrice. And then darkness.



IV

BOSTON AND HARVARD


It is right to leave Boston late in a summer afternoon, and by sea.
Naval departure is always the better. A train snatches you, hot, dusty,
and smoky, with an irritated hurry out of the back parts of a town. The
last glimpse of a place you may have grown to like or love is, ignobly,
interminable rows of the bedroom-windows in mean streets, a few hovels,
some cinder-heaps, and a factory chimney. As like as not, you are reft
from a last wave to the city's unresponsive and dingy back by the
roar and suffocation of a tunnel. By sea one takes a gracefuller, more
satisfactory farewell.

Boston put on her best appearance to watch our boat go out for New York.
The harbour was bright with sunlight and blue water and little white
sails, and there wasn't more than the faintest smell of tea. The city
sat primly on her little hills, decorous, civilised, European-looking.
It is homely after New York. The Boston crowd is curiously English.
They have nice eighteenth-century houses there, and ivy grows on the
buildings. And they are hospitable. All Americans are hospitable; but
they haven't _quite_ time in New York to practise the art so perfectly
as the Bostonians. It is a lovely art.... But Boston also makes you feel
at home without meaning to. A delicious ancient Toryism is to be found
here. "What is wrong with America," a middle-aged lady told me, "is this
_Democracy_. They ought to take the votes away from these people, who
don't know how to use them, and give them only to _us_, the Educated."
My heart leapt the Atlantic, and was in a Cathedral or University town
of South England.

Yet Boston is alive. It sits, in comfortable middle-age, on the ruins of
its glory. But it is not buried beneath them. It used to lead America
in Literature, Thought, Art, everything. The years have passed. It
is remarkable how nearly now Boston is to New York what Munich is to
Berlin. Boston and Munich were the leaders forty years ago. They can't
quite make out that they aren't now. It is too incredible that Art
should leave her goose-feather bed and away to the wraggle-taggle
business-men. And certainly, if Berlin and New York are more 'live,'
Boston and Munich are more themselves, less feverishly imitations of
Paris. But the undisputed palm is there no more; and its absence is
felt.

But I had little time to taste Boston itself. I was lured across the
river to a place called Cambridge, where is the University of Harvard.
Harvard is the Oxford and Cambridge of America, they claim. She has
moulded the nation's leaders and uttered its ideals. Harvard, Boston,
New England, it is impossible to say how much they are interwoven, and
how they have influenced America. I saw Harvard in 'Commencement,' which
is Eights Week and May Week, the festive winding-up of the year, a time
of parties and of valedictions. One of the great events of Commencement,
and of the year, is the Harvard-Yale baseball match. To this I went,
excited at the prospect of my first sight of a 'ball game,' and my mind
vaguely reminiscent of the indolent, decorous, upper-class crowd, the
sunlit spaces, the dignified ritual, and white-flannelled grace of
Lord's at the 'Varsity cricket match. The crowd was gay, and not very
large. We sat in wooden stands, which were placed in the shape of a
large V. As all the hitting which counts in baseball takes place well
in front of the wicket, so to speak, the spectators have the game right
under their noses; the striker stands in the angle of the V and plays
outwards. The field was a vast place, partly stubbly grass, partly worn
and patchy, like a parade-ground. Beyond it lay the river; beyond that
the town of Cambridge and the University buildings. Around me were
undergraduates, with their mothers and sisters. 'Cambridge'! ... but
there entered to us, across the field, a troop of several hundred men,
all dressed in striped shirts of the same hue and pattern, and headed by
a vast banner which informed the world that they were the graduates
of 1910, celebrating their triennial. In military formation they moved
across the plain towards us, led by a band, ceaselessly vociferating,
and raising their straw hats in unison to mark the time. There followed
the class of 1907, attired as sailors; 1903, the decennial class, with
some samples of their male children marching with them, and a banner
inscribed "515 Others. No Race Suicide"; 1898, carefully arranged in an
H-shaped formation, dancing along to their music with a slow polka-step,
each with his hands on the shoulders of the man in front, and at the
head of all their leader, dancing backwards in perfect time, marshalling
them; 1888, middle-aged men, again with some children, and a Highland
regiment playing the bagpipes.

When these had passed to the seats allotted for them, I had time to
observe the players, who were practising about the ground, and I was
shocked. They wear dust-coloured shirts and dingy knickerbockers,
fastened under the knee, and heavy boots. They strike the English eye
as being attired for football, or a gladiatorial combat, rather than a
summer game. The very close-fitting caps, with large peaks, give them
picturesquely the appearance of hooligans. Baseball is a good game to
watch, and in outline easy to understand, as it is merely glorified
rounders. A cricketer is fascinated by their rapidity and skill in
catching and throwing. There is excitement in the game, but little
beauty except in the long-limbed 'pitcher,' whose duty it is to hurl the
ball rather further than the length of a cricket-pitch, as bewilderingly
as possible. In his efforts to combine speed, mystery, and curve, he
gets into attitudes of a very novel and fantastic, but quite obvious,
beauty. M. Nijinsky would find them repay study.

One queer feature of this sport is that unoccupied members of the
batting side, fielders, and even spectators, are accustomed to join
in vocally. You have the spectacle of the representatives of the
universities endeavouring to frustrate or unnerve their opponents, at
moments of excitement, by cries of derision and mockery, or heartening
their own supporters and performers with exclamations of 'Now, Joe!' or
'He's got them!' or 'He's the boy!' At the crises in the fortunes of the
game, the spectators take a collective and important part. The Athletic
Committee appoints a 'cheer-leader' for the occasion. Every five or ten
minutes this gentleman, a big, fine figure in white, springs out from
his seat at the foot of the stands, addresses the multitude through a
megaphone with a 'One! Two! Three!' hurls it aside, and, with a wild
flinging and swinging of his body and arms, conducts ten thousand voices
in the Harvard yell. That over, the game proceeds, and the cheer-leader
sits quietly waiting for the next moment of peril or triumph. I shall
not easily forget that figure, bright in the sunshine, conducting with
his whole body, passionate, possessed by a demon, bounding in the frenzy
of his inspiration from side to side, contorted, rhythmic, ecstatic. It
seemed so wonderfully American, in its combination of entire wildness
and entire regulation, with the whole just a trifle fantastic.
Completely friendly and befriended as I was, I couldn't help feeling at
those moments very alien and very, very old--even more so than after the
protracted game had ended in a victory for Harvard, when the dusty plain
was filled with groups and lines of men dancing in solemn harmony, and
a shouting crowd, broken by occasional individuals who could find some
little eminence to lead a Harvard yell from, and who conducted the
bystanders, and then vanished, and the crowd swirled on again.

Different enough was the scene next day, when all Harvard men who were
up for Commencement assembled and, arranged by years, marched round
the yard. Class by class they paraded, beginning with veterans of the
'fifties, down to the class of 1912. I wonder if English nerves could
stand it. It seems to bring the passage of time so very presently
and vividly to the mind. To see, with such emphatic regularity, one's
coevals changing in figure, and diminishing in number, summer after
summer!.... Perhaps it is nobler, this deliberate viewing of oneself as
part of the stream. To the spectator, certainly, the flow and transiency
become apparent and poignant. In five minutes fifty years of America, of
so much of America, go past one. The shape of the bodies, apart from
the effects of age, the lines of the faces, the ways of wearing hair and
beard and moustaches, all these change a little decade by decade, before
your eyes. And through the whole appearance runs some continuity, which
is Harvard.

The orderly progression of the years was unbroken, except at one
point. There was one gap, large and arresting. Though all years were
represented, there seemed to be nobody in the procession between fifty
and sixty. I asked a Harvard friend the reason. "The War," he said. He
told me there had always been that gap. Those who were old enough to
be conscious of the war had lost a big piece of their lives. With their
successors a new America began. I don't know how true it is. Certainly,
the dates worked out right. And I met an American on a boat who had been
a child in one of the neutral States. He used to watch the regiments
forming in the main street of his town, and marching out, some north and
some south. He said it felt as though pieces of his body were being torn
in different directions. And he was only nine.

The procession filed in to an open court, to hear the speeches of the
recipients of honorary degrees, and the President's annual statement.
There was still, in every sense, a solemn atmosphere. The President's
speech floated out into the great open space; fragments of it were blown
to one's ears concerning deaths, and the spirit of the place, and a
detailed account of the money given during the year. Eleven hundred
thousand dollars in all--a record, or nearly a record. We roared
applause. The American universities appear still to dream of the things
of this world. They keep putting up the most wonderful and expensive
buildings. But they do not pay their teachers well.

Yet Harvard is a spirit, a way of looking at things, austerely refined,
gently moral, kindly. The perception of it grows on the foreigner. Its
charm is so deliciously old in this land, so deliciously young
compared with the lovely frowst of Oxford and Cambridge. You see it in
temperament, the charm of simplicity and good-heartedness and
culture; in the Harvard undergraduate, who is a boy, while his English
contemporary is either a young man or a schoolboy, less pleasant stages;
and in the old Bostonian who heard, and still hears, the lectures of
Dickens and Thackeray. Class Day brings so many of that older generation
together. They reveal what Harvard, what Boston, was. There is something
terrifying in the completeness of their lives and their civilisation.
They are like a company of dons whose studies are of a remote and
finished world. But the subject of their scholarship is the Victorian
age, and especially Victorian England. Hence their liveliness and
certainty, greater than men can reach who are concerned with the
dubieties and changes of incomplete things. Hence the wit, the stock of
excellent stories, the wrinkled wisdom and mirth of the type. They are
the flower of a civilisation, its ripest critics, and final judges.
Carlyle and Emerson are their greatest living heroes. One of them bent
the kindliness and alert interest of his eighty years upon me. "So you
come from Rugby," he said. "Tell me, do you know that curious creature,
Matthew Arnold?" I couldn't bring myself to tell him that, even in
Rugby, we had forgiven that brilliant youth his iconoclastic tendencies
some time since, and that, as a matter of fact, he had died when I was
eight months old.



V

MONTREAL AND OTTAWA


My American friends were full of kindly scorn when I announced that I
was going to Canada. 'A country without a soul!' they cried, and pressed
books upon me, to befriend me through that Philistine bleakness. Their
commiseration unnerved me, but I was heartened by a feeling that I was,
in a sense, going home, and by the romance of journeying. There was
romance in the long grim American train, in the great lake we passed in
the blackest of nights, and could just see glinting behind dark trees;
in the negro car-attendant; in the boy who perpetually cried: 'Pea-nuts!
Candy!' up and down the long carriages; in the lofty box they put me
in to sleep; and in the fat old lady who had the berth under mine, and
snored shrilly the whole night through. There was almost romance, even,
in the fact that after all there was no restaurant-car on the train;
and, having walked all day in the country, I dined off an orange. I
suppose an Englishman in another country, if he is simple enough, is
continually and alternately struck by two thoughts: 'How like England
this is!' and 'How unlike England this is!' When I had woken next
morning, and, lying on my back, had got inside my clothes with a series
of fish-like jumps, I found myself looking with startled eyes out of the
window at the largest river I had ever seen. It was blue, and sunlit,
and it curved spaciously. But beyond that we ran into the squalider
parts of a city. It became immediately obvious that we were not in New
York or Boston or any of the more orderly, the rather foreign, cities
of America. There was something in the untidiness of those grimy houses,
the smoky disorder of the backyards, that ran a thrill of nostalgia
through me. I recognised the English way of doing things--with a
difference that I could not define till later.

Determined to be in all ways the complete tourist, I took a rough
preliminary survey of Montreal in an 'observation-car.' It was a large
motor-wagonette, from which everything in Montreal could be seen in two
hours. We were a most fortuitous band of twenty, who had elected so to
see it. Our guide addressed us from the front through a small megaphone,
telling us what everything was, what we were to be interested in, what
to overlook, what to admire. He seemed the exact type of a spiritual
pastor and master, shepherding his stolid and perplexed flock on a
regulated path through the dust and clatter of the world. And the great
hollow device out of which our instruction proceeded was so perfectly a
blind mouth. I had never understood _Lycidas_ before. We were sheepish
enough, and fairly hungry. However, we were excellently fed. "On the
right, ladies and gentlemen, is the Bank of Montreal; on the left
the Presbyterian Church of St Andrew's; on the right, again, the
well-designed residence of Sir Blank Blank; further on, on the same
side, the Art Museum...." The outcome of it all was a vague general
impression that Montreal consists of banks and churches. The people of
this city spend much of their time in laying up their riches in this
world or the next. Indeed, the British part of Montreal is dominated
by the Scotch race; there is a Scotch spirit sensible in the whole
place--in the rather narrow, rather gloomy streets, the solid, square,
grey, aggressively prosperous buildings, the general greyness of the
city, the air of dour prosperity. Even the Canadian habit of loading the
streets with heavy telephone wires, supported by frequent black poles,
seemed to increase the atmospheric resemblance to Glasgow.

But besides all this there is a kind of restraint in the air, due,
perhaps, to a state of affairs which, more than any other, startles the
ordinary ignorant English visitor. The average man in England has an
idea of Canada as a young-eyed daughter State, composed of millions
of wheat-growers and backwoodsmen of British race. It surprises him to
learn that more than a quarter of the population is of French descent,
that many of them cannot speak English, that they control a province,
form the majority in the biggest city in Canada, and are a perpetual
complication in the national politics. Even a stranger who knows this is
startled at the complete separateness of the two races. Inter-marriage
is very rare. They do not meet socially; only on business, and that not
often. In the same city these two communities dwell side by side, with
different traditions, different languages, different ideals, without
sympathy or comprehension. The French in Canada are entirely devoted
to--some say under the thumb of--the Roman Catholic Church. They seem
like a piece of the Middle Ages, dumped after a trans-secular journey
into a quite uncompromising example of our commercial time. Some
of their leaders are said to have dreams of a French Republic--or
theocracy--on the banks of the St Lawrence. How this, or any other,
solution of the problem is to come about, no man knows. Racial
difficulties are the most enduring of all. The French and British in
Canada seem to have behaved with quite extraordinary generosity and
kindliness towards each other. No one is to blame. But it is not in
human nature that two communities should live side by side, pretending
they are one, without some irritation and mutual loss of strength. There
is no open strife. But 'incidents,' and the memory of incidents, bear
continual witness to the truth of the situation. And racial disagreement
is at the bottom, often unconsciously, of many political and social
movements. Sir Wilfrid Laurier performed a miracle. But no one of French
birth will ever again be Premier of Canada.

Montreal and Eastern Canada suffer from that kind of ill-health which
afflicts men who are cases of 'double personality'--debility and
spiritual paralysis. The 'progressive' British-Canadian man of commerce
is comically desperate of peasants who _will not_ understand that
increase of imports and volume of trade and numbers of millionaires are
the measures of a city's greatness; and to his eye the Roman Catholic
Church, with her invaluable ally Ignorance, keeps up her incessant
war against the general good of the community of which she is part. So
things remain.

I made my investigations in Montreal. I have to report that
the Discobolus [Footnote: See Samuel Butler's poem, "Oh God! oh
Montreal!"--Ed.] is very well, and, nowadays, looks the whole world in
the face, almost quite unabashed. West of Montreal, the country seems
to take on a rather more English appearance. There is still a French
admixture. But the little houses are not purely Gallic, as they are
along the Lower St Lawrence; and once or twice I detected real hedges.

Ottawa came as a relief after Montreal. There is no such sense of strain
and tightness in the atmosphere. The British, if not greatly in the
majority, are in the ascendency; also, the city seems conscious of other
than financial standards, and quietly, with dignity, aware of her own
purpose. The Canadians, like the Americans, chose to have for their
capital a city which did not lead in population or in wealth. This is
particularly fortunate in Canada, an extremely individualistic country,
whose inhabitants are only just beginning to be faintly conscious of
their nationality. Here, at least, Canada is more than the Canadian. A
man desiring to praise Ottawa would begin to do so without statistics
of wealth and the growth of population; and this can be said of no
other city in Canada except Quebec. Not that there are not immense
lumber-mills and the rest in Ottawa. But the Government farm, and the
Parliament buildings, are more important. Also, although the 'spoils'
system obtains a good deal in this country, the nucleus of the Civil
Service is much the same as in England; so there is an atmosphere of
Civil Servants about Ottawa, an atmosphere of safeness and honour and
massive buildings and well-shaded walks. After all, there is in the
qualities of Civility and Service much beauty, of a kind which would
adorn Canada.

Parliament Buildings stand finely on a headland of cliff some 160 feet
above the river. There are gardens about them; and beneath, the wooded
rocks go steeply down to the water. It is a position of natural boldness
and significance. The buildings were put up in the middle of last
century, an unfortunate period. But they have dignity, especially of
line; and when evening hides their colour, and the western sky and the
river take on the lovely hues of a Canadian sunset, and the lights begin
to come out in the city, they seem to have the majesty and calm of a
natural crown of the river-headland. The Government have bought the
ground along the cliff for half a mile on either side, and propose to
build all their offices there. So, in the end, if they build well, the
river-front at Ottawa will be a noble sight. And--just to show that it
is Canada, and not Utopia--the line of national buildings will always be
broken by an expensive and superb hotel the Canadian Pacific Railway has
been allowed to erect on the twin and neighbouring promontory to that of
the Houses of Parliament.

The streets of Ottawa are very quiet, and shaded with trees. The houses
are mostly of that cool, homely, wooden kind, with verandahs, on which,
or on the steps, the whole family may sit in the evening and observe the
passers-by. This is possible for both the rich and the poor, who live
nearer each other in Ottawa than in most cities. In general there is an
air of civilisation, which extends even over the country round. But in
the country you see little signs, a patch of swamp, or thickets of still
untouched primaeval wood, which remind you that Europeans have not long
had this land. I was taken in a motor-car some twenty miles or more over
the execrable roads round here, to a lovely little lake in the hills
north-west of Ottawa. We went by little French villages and fields at
first, and then through rocky, tangled woods of birch and poplar, rich
with milk-weed and blue cornflowers, and the aromatic thimbleberry
blossom, and that romantic, light, purple-red flower which is called
fireweed, because it is the first vegetation to spring up in the prairie
after a fire has passed over, and so might be adopted as the emblematic
flower of a sense of humour. They told me, casually, that there was
nothing but a few villages between me and the North Pole. It is probably
true of several commonly frequented places in this country. But it gives
a thrill to hear it.

But what Ottawa leaves in the mind is a certain graciousness--dim, for
it expresses a barely materialised national spirit--and the sight of
kindly English-looking faces, and the rather lovely sound of the soft
Canadian accent, in the streets.



VI

QUEBEC AND THE SAGUENAY


The boat starts from Montreal one evening, and lands you in Quebec at
six next morning. The evening I left was a dull one. Heavy sulphurous
clouds hung low over the city, drifting very slowly and gloomily
out across the river. Mount Royal crouched, black and sullen, in the
background, its crest occluded by the darkness, appearing itself a cloud
materialised, resting on earth. The harbour was filled with volumes of
smoke, purple and black, wreathing and sidling eastwards, from steamers
and chimneys. The gigantic elevators and other harbour buildings stood
mistily in this inferno, their heads clear and sinister above the mirk.
It was impossible to decide whether an enormous mass of pitchy and
Tartarian gloom was being slowly moulded by diabolic invisible hands
into a city, or a city, the desperate and damned abode of a loveless
race, was disintegrating into its proper fume and dusty chaos. With
relief we turned outwards to the nobility of the St Lawrence and the
gathering dark.

On the boat I fell in with another wanderer, an American Jew, and we
joined our fortunes, rather loosely, for a few days. He was one of
those men whom it is a life-long pleasure to remember. I can record his
existence the more easily that there is not the slightest chance of
his ever reading these lines. He was a fat, large man of forty-five,
obviously in business, and probably of a mediocre success. His eyes were
light-coloured, very small, always watery, and perpetually roving. The
lower part of his face was clean-shaven and very broad; his mouth wide,
with thin, moist, colourless lips; his nose fat and Hebraic. He was
rather bald. He had respect for Montreal, because, though closed to
navigation for five months in the year, it is the second busiest port
on the coast. He said it had Boston skinned. The French he disliked. He
thought they stood in the way of Canada's progress. His mind was even
more childlike and transparent than is usual with business men. The
observer could see thoughts slowly floating into it, like carp in a
pond. When they got near the surface, by a purely automatic process they
found utterance. He was almost completely unconscious of an audience.
Everything he thought of he said. He told me that his boots were giving
in the sole, but would probably last this trip. He said he had not
washed his feet for eight days; and that his clothes were shabby (which
was true), but would do for Canada. It was interesting to see how Canada
presented herself to that mind. He seemed to regard her as a kind of
Boeotia, and terrifyingly dour. "These Canadian waiters," he said, "they
jes' _fling_ the food in y'r face. Kind'er gets yer sick, doesn't it?" I
agreed. There was a Yorkshire mechanic, too, who had been in Canada four
years, and preferred it to England, "because you've room to breathe,"
but also found that Canada had not yet learnt social comfort, and
regretted the manners of "the Old Country."

We woke to find ourselves sweeping round a high cliff, at six in the
morning, with a lively breeze, the river very blue and broken into
ripples, and a lot of little white clouds in the sky. The air was full
of gaiety and sunshine and the sense of the singing of birds, though
actually, I think, there were only a few gulls crying. It was the
perfection of a summer morning, thrilling with a freshness which, the
fancy said, was keener than any the old world knew. And high and grey
and serene above the morning lay the citadel of Quebec.

Is there any city in the world that stands so nobly as Quebec? The
citadel crowns a headland, three hundred feet high, that juts boldly out
into the St Lawrence. Up to it, up the side of the hill, clambers the
city, houses and steeples and huts, piled one on the other. It has the
individuality and the pride of a city where great things have happened,
and over which many years have passed. Quebec is as refreshing and as
definite after the other cities of this continent as an immortal among
a crowd of stockbrokers. She has, indeed, the radiance and repose of an
immortal; but she wears her immortality youthfully. When you get among
the streets of Quebec, the mediaeval, precipitous, narrow, winding, and
perplexed streets, you begin to realise her charm. She almost incurs the
charge of quaintness (abhorrent quality!); but even quaintness becomes
attractive in this country. You are in a foreign land, for the people
have an alien tongue, short stature, the quick, decided, cinematographic
quality of movement, and the inexplicable cheerfulness, which mark a
foreigner. You might almost be in Siena or some old German town, except
that Quebec has her street-cars and grain-elevators to show that she is
living.

The American Jew and I took a _caleche_, a little two-wheeled local
carriage, driven by a lively Frenchman with a factitious passion for
death-spots and churches. A small black and white spaniel followed
the _caleche_, yapping. The American's face shone with interest. "That
dawg's Michael," he said, "the hotel dawg. He's a queer little dawg. I
kicked his face; and he tried to bite me. Hup, Michael!" And he laughed
hoarsely. "Non!" said the driver suddenly, "it is not the 'otel dog."
The American did not lose interest. "These little dawgs are all alike,"
he said. "Dare say if you kicked that dawg in the face, he'd bite you.
Hup, Michael!" With that he fell into deep thought.

We rattled up and down the steep streets, out among tidy fields, and
back into the noisily sedate city again. We saw where Wolfe fell, where
Montcalm fell, where Montgomery fell. Children played where the tides of
war had ebbed and flowed. Mr Norman Angell and his friends tell us that
trade is superseding war; and pacifists declare that for the future
countries will win their pride or shame from commercial treaties and
tariffs and bounties, and no more from battles and sieges. And there is
a part of Canadian patriotism that has progressed this way. But I wonder
if the hearts of that remarkable race, posterity, will ever beat the
harder when they are told, "Here Mr Borden stood when he decided to
double the duty on agricultural implements," or even "In this room Mr
Ritchie conceived the plan of removing the shilling on wheat." When that
happens, Quebec will be a forgotten ruin.... The reverie was broken by
my friend struggling to his feet and standing, unsteady and bareheaded,
in the swaying carriage. In that position he burst hoarsely into a song
that I recognised as 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' We were passing the
American Consulate. His song over, he settled down and fell into a deep
sleep, and the _caleche_ jolted down even narrower streets, curiously
paved with planks, and ways that led through and under the ancient,
tottering wooden houses.

But Quebec is too real a city to be 'seen' in such a manner. And a
better way of spending a few days, or years, is to sit on Dufferin
Terrace, with the old Lower Town sheer beneath you, and the river
beyond it, and the citadel to the right, a little above, and the Isle of
Orleans and the French villages away down-stream to your left. Hour by
hour the colours change, and sunlight follows shadow, and mist rises,
and smoke drifts across. And through the veil of the shifting of lights
and hues there remains visible the majesty of the most glorious river in
the world.

From this contemplation, and from musing on men's agreement to mark by
this one great sign of the Taking of the Heights of Quebec, the turning
of one of the greatest currents in our history, I was torn by a journey
I had been advised to make. The boat goes some hundred and thirty miles
down the St Lawrence, turns up a northern tributary, the Saguenay, goes
as far as Chicoutimi, ninety miles up, and returns to Quebec. Both on
this trip, and between Quebec and Montreal, we touched at many
little French villages, by day and by night. Their _habitants_, the
French-Canadian peasants, are a jolly sight. They are like children
in their noisy content. They are poor and happy, Roman Catholics; they
laugh a great deal; and they continually sing. They do not progress at
all. As a counter to these admirable people we had on our boat a great
many priests. They diffused an atmosphere of black, of unpleasant
melancholy. Their faces had that curiously unwashed look, and were for
the most part of a mean and very untrustworthy expression. Their eyes
were small, shifty, and cruel, and would not meet the gaze.... The
choice between our own age and mediaeval times is a very hard one.

It was almost full night when we left the twenty-mile width of the St
Lawrence, and turned up a gloomy inlet. By reason of the night and of
comparison with the river from which we had come, this stream appeared
unnaturally narrow. Darkness hid all detail, and we were only aware of
vast cliffs, sometimes dense with trees, sometimes bare faces of sullen
rock. They shut us in, oppressively, but without heat. There are no
banks to this river, for the most part; only these walls, rising sheer
from the water to the height of two thousand feet, going down sheer
beneath it, or rather by the side of it, to many times that depth. The
water was of some colour blacker than black. Even by daylight it is inky
and sinister. It flows without foam or ripple. No white showed in the
wake of the boat. The ominous shores were without sign of life, save
for a rare light every few miles, to mark some bend in the chasm. Once a
canoe with two Indians shot out of the shadows, passed under our
stern, and vanished silently down stream. We all became hushed and
apprehensive. The night was gigantic and terrible. There were a few
stars, but the flood slid along too swiftly to reflect them. The whole
scene seemed some Stygian imagination of Dante. As we drew further and
further into that lightless land, little twists and curls of vapour
wriggled over the black river-surface. Our homeless, irrelevant, tiny
steamer seemed to hang between two abysms. One became suddenly aware of
the miles of dark water beneath. I found that under a prolonged gaze
the face of the river began to writhe and eddy, as if from some horrible
suppressed emotion. It seemed likely that something might appear. I
reflected that if the river failed us, all hope was gone; and that
anyhow this region was the abode of devils. I went to bed.

Next day we steamed down the river again. By daylight some of the horror
goes, but the impression of ancientness and desolation remains. The
gloomy flood is entirely shut in by the rock or the tangled pine and
birch forests of these great cliffs, except in one or two places, where
a chine and a beach have given lodging to lonely villages. One of these
is at the end of a long bay, called Ha-Ha Bay. The local guide-book, an
early example of the school of fantastic realism so popular among
our younger novelists, says that this name arose from the 'laughing
ejaculations' of the early French explorers, who had mistaken this
lengthy blind-alley for the main stream. 'Ha! Ha!' they said. So like an
early explorer.

At the point where the Saguenay joins the St Lawrence, here twenty miles
wide, I 'stopped off' for a day, to feel the country more deeply.
The village is called Tadousac, and consists of an hotel and French
fishermen, to whom Quebec is a distant, unvisited city of legend. The
afternoon was very hot. I wandered out along a thin margin of yellow
sand to the extreme rocky point where the waters of the two rivers
meet and swirl. There I lay, and looked at the strange humps of the
Laurentian hills, and the dark green masses of the woods, impenetrable
depths of straight and leaning and horizontal trees, broken here and
there by great bald granite rocks, and behind me the little village,
where the earliest church in Canada stands. Away in the St Lawrence
there would be a flash as an immense white fish jumped. Miles out an
occasional steamer passed, bound to England perhaps. And once,
hugging the coast, came a half-breed paddling a canoe with a small
diamond-shaped sail, filled with trout. The cliff above me was crowned
with beds of blue flowers, whose names I did not know. Against the
little gulfs and coasts of rock at my feet were washing a few white logs
of driftwood. I wondered if they could have floated across from England,
or if they could be from the _Titanic_. The sun was very hot, the sky a
clear light blue, almost cloudless, like an English sky, and the water
seemed fairly deep. I stripped, hovered a while on the brink, and
plunged. The current was unexpectedly strong. I seemed to feel that
two-mile-deep body of black water moving against me. And it was cold as
death. Stray shreds of the St Lawrence water were warm and cheerful. But
the current of the Saguenay, on such a day, seemed unnaturally icy. As
my head came up I made one dash for the land, scrambled out on the hot
rocks, and lay there panting. Then I dried on a handkerchief, dressed,
and ran back home, still shivering, through the woods to the hotel.



VII

ONTARIO


The great joy of travelling in Canada is to do it by water. The
advantage of this is that you can keep fairly clean and quiet of nerves;
the disadvantage is that you don't 'see the country.' I travelled most
of the way from Ottawa to Toronto by water. But between Ottawa and
Prescott then, and later from Toronto to Niagara Falls, and thence to
Sarnia, there is a good deal of Southern Ontario to be seen--the part
which has counted as Ontario so far. And I saw it through a faint
grey-pink mist of _Heimweh_. For after the States and after Quebec it is
English. There are weather-beaten farm-houses, rolling country, thickets
of trees, little hills green and grey in the distance, decorous small
fields, orchards, and, I swear, a hedge or two. Most of the towns we
went through are a little too vivacious or too pert to be European. But
there seemed to be real villages occasionally, and the land had a quiet
air of occupation.

Men have lived contentedly on this land and died where they were born,
and so given it a certain sanctity. Away north the wild begins, and is
only now being brought into civilisation, inhabited, made productive,
explored, and exploited. But this country has seen the generations pass,
and won something of that repose and security which countries acquire
from the sight.

The wise traveller from Ottawa to Toronto catches a boat at Prescott,
and puffs judicially between two nations up the St Lawrence and across
Lake Ontario. We were a cosmopolitan, middle-class bunch (it is the one
distinction between the Canadian and American languages that Canadians
tend to say 'bunch' but Americans 'crowd'), out to enjoy the scenery.
For this stretch of the river is notoriously picturesque, containing the
Thousand Isles. The Thousand Isles vary from six inches to hundreds
of yards in diameter. Each, if big enough, has been bought by a rich
man--generally an American--who has built a castle on it. So the
whole isn't much more beautiful than Golder's Green. We picked our way
carefully between the islands. The Americans on board sat in rows saying
"That house was built by Mr ----. Made his money in biscuits. Cost
three hundred thousand dollars, e-recting that building. Yessir." The
Canadians sat looking out the other way, and said, "In nineteen-ten
this land was worth twenty thousand an acre; now it's worth forty-five
thousand. Next year...." and their eyes grew solemn as the eyes of
men who think deep and holy thoughts. But the English sat quite still,
looking straight in front of them, thinking of nothing at all, and
hoping that nobody would speak to them. So we fared; until, well on in
the afternoon, we came to the entrance of Lake Ontario.

There is something ominous and unnatural about these great lakes. The
sweet flow of a river, and the unfriendly restless vitality of the sea,
men may know and love. And the little lakes we have in Europe are but
as fresh-water streams that have married and settled down, alive and
healthy and comprehensible. Rivers (except the Saguenay) are human. The
sea, very properly, will not be allowed in heaven. It has no soul. It is
unvintageable, cruel, treacherous, what you will. But, in the end--while
we have it with us--it is all right; even though that all-rightness
result but, as with France, from the recognition of an age-long feud and
an irremediable lack of sympathy. But these monstrous lakes, which
ape the ocean, are not proper to fresh water or salt. They have souls,
perceptibly, and wicked ones.

We steamed out, that day, over a flat, stationary mass of water, smooth
with the smoothness of metal or polished stone or one's finger-nail.
There was a slight haze everywhere. The lake was a terrible dead-silver
colour, the gleam of its surface shot with flecks of blue and a vapoury
enamel-green. It was like a gigantic silver shield. Its glint was
inexplicably sinister and dead, like the glint on glasses worn by
a blind man. In front the steely mist hid the horizon, so that the
occasional rock or little island and the one ship in sight seemed hung
in air. They were reflected to a preternatural length in the glassy
floor. Our boat appeared to leave no wake; those strange waters closed
up foamlessly behind her. But our black smoke hung, away back on the
trail, in a thick, clearly-bounded cloud, becalmed in the hot, windless
air, very close over the water, like an evil soul after death that
cannot win dissolution. Behind us and to the right lay the low, woody
shores of Southern Ontario and Prince Edward Peninsula, long dark
lines of green, stretching thinner and thinner, interminably, into the
distance. The lake around us was dull, though the sun shone full on it.
It gleamed, but without radiance.

Toronto (pronounce _T'ranto_, please) is difficult to describe. It has
an individuality, but an elusive one; yet not through any queerness or
difficult shade of eccentricity; a subtly normal, an indefinably obvious
personality. It is a healthy, cheerful city (by modern standards);
a clean-shaven, pink-faced, respectably dressed, fairly
energetic, unintellectual, passably sociable, well-to-do,
public-school-and-'varsity sort of city. One knows in one's own life
certain bright and pleasant figures; people who occupy the nearer middle
distance, unobtrusive but not negligible; wardens of the marches between
acquaintanceship and friendship. It is always nice to meet them, and in
parting one looks back at them once. They are, healthily and simply, the
most fitting product of a not perfect environment; good-sorts; normal,
but not too normal; distinctly themselves, but not distinguished. They
support civilisation. You can trust them in anything, if your demand be
for nothing extremely intelligent or absurdly altruistic. One of these
could be exhibited in any gallery in the universe, 'Perfect Specimen;
Upper Middle Classes; Twentieth Century'--and we should not be ashamed.
They are not vexed by impossible dreams, nor outrageously materialistic,
nor perplexed by overmuch prosperity, nor spoilt by reverse. Souls for
whom the wind is always nor'-nor'-west, and they sail nearer success
than failure, and nearer wisdom than lunacy. Neither leaders nor
slaves--but no Tomlinsons!--whomsoever of your friends you miss, _them_
you will certainly meet again, not unduly pardoned, the fifty-first
by the Throne. Such is Toronto. A brisk city of getting on for half a
million inhabitants, the largest British city in Canada (in spite of
the cheery Italian faces that pop up at you out of excavations in the
street), liberally endowed with millionaires, not lacking its due share
of destitution, misery, and slums. It is no mushroom city of the West,
it has its history; but at the same time it has grown immensely of
recent years. It is situated on the shores of a lovely lake; but you
never see that, because the railways have occupied the entire lake
front. So if, at evening, you try to find your way to the edge of the
water, you are checked by a region of smoke, sheds, trucks, wharves,
store-houses, 'depots,' railway-lines, signals, and locomotives and
trains that wander on the tracks up and down and across streets, pushing
their way through the pedestrians, and tolling, as they go, in the
American fashion, an immense melancholy bell, intent, apparently,
on some private and incommunicable grief. Higher up are the business
quarters, a few sky-scrapers in the American style without the modern
American beauty, but one of which advertises itself as the highest in
the British Empire; streets that seem less narrow than Montreal, but not
unrespectably wide; "the buildings are generally substantial and often
handsome" (the too kindly Herr Baedeker). Beyond that the residential
part, with quiet streets, gardens open to the road, shady verandahs, and
homes, generally of wood, that are a deal more pleasant to see than the
houses in a modern English town.

Toronto is the centre and heart of the Province of Ontario; and Ontario,
with a third of the whole population of Canada, directs the country for
the present, conditioned by the French on one hand and the West on
the other. And in this land, that is as yet hardly at all conscious of
itself as a nation, Toronto and Ontario do their best in leading and
realising national sentiment. A Toronto man, like most Canadians,
dislikes an Englishman; but, unlike some Canadians, he detests an
American. And he has some inkling of the conditions and responsibilities
of the British Empire. The tradition is in him. His fathers fought to
keep Canada British.

It is never easy to pick out of the turmoil of an election the real
powers that have moved men; and it is especially difficult in a country
where politics are so corrupt as they are in Canada. But certainly this
British feeling helped to throw Ontario, and so the country, against
Reciprocity with the United States in 1911; and it is keeping it, in the
comedy of the Navy Question, on Mr Borden's side--rather from distrust
of his opponents' sincerity, perhaps, than from admiration of the fix he
is in. It has been used, this patriotism, to aid the wealthy interests,
which are all-powerful here; and it will continue to be a ball in the
tennis of party politics. But it is real; it will remain, potential of
good, among all the forces that are certain for evil.

Toronto, soul of Canada, is wealthy, busy, commercial, Scotch, absorbent
of whisky; but she is duly aware of other things. She has a most modern
and efficient interest in education; and here are gathered what faint,
faint beginnings or premonitions of such things as Art Canada can
boast (except the French-Canadians, who, it is complained, produce
disproportionately much literature, and waste their time on their own
unprofitable songs). Most of those few who have begun to paint the
landscape of Canada centre there, and a handful of people who know about
books. In these things, as in all, this city is properly and cheerfully
to the front. It can scarcely be doubted that the first Repertory
Theatre in Canada will be founded in Toronto, some thirty years hence,
and will very daringly perform _Candida_ and _The Silver Box_. Canada
is a live country, live, but not, like the States, kicking. In these
trifles of Art and 'culture,' indeed, she is much handicapped by the
proximity of the States. For her poets and writers are apt to be drawn
thither, for the better companionship there and the higher rates of pay.

But Toronto--Toronto is the subject. One must say something--_what_ must
one say about Toronto? What can one? What has anybody ever said? It is
impossible to give it anything but commendation. It is not squalid like
Birmingham, or cramped like Canton, or scattered like Edmonton, or sham
like Berlin, or hellish like New York, or tiresome like Nice. It is all
right. The only depressing thing is that it will always be what it is,
only larger, and that no Canadian city can ever be anything better or
different. If they are good they may become Toronto.



VIII

NIAGARA FALLS


Samuel Butler has a lot to answer for. But for him, a modern traveller
could spend his time peacefully admiring the scenery instead of feeling
himself bound to dog the simple and grotesque of the world for the sake
of their too-human comments. It is his fault if a peasant's _naivete_
has come to outweigh the beauty of rivers, and the remarks of clergymen
are more than mountains. It is very restful to give up all effort at
observing human nature and drawing social and political deductions from
trifles, and to let oneself relapse into wide-mouthed worship of the
wonders of nature. And this is very easy at Niagara. Niagara means
nothing. It is not leading anywhere. It does not result from anything.
It throws no light on the effects of Protection, nor on the Facility for
Divorce in America, nor on Corruption in Public Life, nor on Canadian
character, nor even on the Navy Bill. It is merely a great deal of water
falling over some cliffs. But it is very remarkably that. The human
race, apt as a child to destroy what it admires, has done its best to
surround the Falls with every distraction, incongruity, and vulgarity.
Hotels, power-houses, bridges, trams, picture post-cards, sham legends,
stalls, booths, rifle-galleries, and side-shows frame them about. And
there are Touts. Niagara is the central home and breeding-place for
all the touts of earth. There are touts insinuating, and touts raucous,
greasy touts, brazen touts, and upper-class, refined, gentlemanly,
take-you-by-the-arm touts; touts who intimidate and touts who wheedle;
professionals, amateurs, and _dilettanti_, male and female; touts who
would photograph you with your arm round a young lady against a faked
background of the sublimest cataract, touts who would bully you into
cars, char-a-bancs, elevators, or tunnels, or deceive you into
a carriage and pair, touts who would sell you picture postcards,
moccasins, sham Indian beadwork, blankets, tee-pees, and crockery;
and touts, finally, who have no apparent object in the world, but just
purely, simply, merely, incessantly, indefatigably, and ineffugibly--to
tout. And in the midst of all this, overwhelming it all, are the Falls.
He who sees them instantly forgets humanity. They are not very high, but
they are overpowering. They are divided by an island into two parts, the
Canadian and the American.

Half a mile or so above the Falls, on either side, the water of the
great stream begins to run more swiftly and in confusion. It descends
with ever-growing speed. It begins chattering and leaping, breaking into
a thousand ripples, throwing up joyful fingers of spray. Sometimes it
is divided by islands and rocks, sometimes the eye can see nothing but
a waste of laughing, springing, foamy waves, turning, crossing, even
seeming to stand for an instant erect, but always borne impetuously
forward like a crowd of triumphant feasters. Sit close down by it, and
you see a fragment of the torrent against the sky, mottled, steely,
and foaming, leaping onward in far-flung criss-cross strands of water.
Perpetually the eye is on the point of descrying a pattern in this
weaving, and perpetually it is cheated by change. In one place part of
the flood plunges over a ledge a few feet high and a quarter of a mile
or so long, in a uniform and stable curve. It gives an impression of
almost military concerted movement, grown suddenly out of confusion. But
it is swiftly lost again in the multitudinous tossing merriment. Here
and there a rock close to the surface is marked by a white wave that
faces backwards and seems to be rushing madly up-stream, but is really
stationary in the headlong charge. But for these signs of reluctance,
the waters seem to fling themselves on with some foreknowledge of their
fate, in an ever wilder frenzy. But it is no Maeterlinckian prescience.
They prove, rather, that Greek belief that the great crashes are
preceded by a louder merriment and a wilder gaiety. Leaping in the
sunlight, careless, entwining, clamorously joyful, the waves riot on
towards the verge.

But there they change. As they turn to the sheer descent, the white
and blue and slate-colour, in the heart of the Canadian Falls at least,
blend and deepen to a rich, wonderful, luminous green. On the edge of
disaster the river seems to gather herself, to pause, to lift a head
noble in ruin, and then, with a slow grandeur, to plunge into the
eternal thunder and white chaos below. Where the stream runs shallower
it is a kind of violet colour, but both violet and green fray and frill
to white as they fall. The mass of water, striking some ever-hidden
base of rock, leaps up the whole two hundred feet again in pinnacles and
domes of spray. The spray falls back into the lower river once more; all
but a little that fines to foam and white mist, which drifts in layers
along the air, graining it, and wanders out on the wind over the trees
and gardens and houses, and so vanishes.

The manager of one of the great power-stations on the banks of the river
above the Falls told me that the centre of the riverbed at the Canadian
Falls is deep and of a saucer shape. So it may be possible to fill this
up to a uniform depth, and divert a lot of water for the power-houses.
And this, he said, would supply the need for more power, which will
certainly soon arise, without taking away from the beauty of Niagara.
This is a handsome concession of the utilitarians to ordinary
sight-seers. Yet, I doubt if we shall be satisfied. The real secret of
the beauty and terror of the Falls is not their height or width, but the
feeling of colossal power and of unintelligible disaster caused by the
plunge of that vast body of water. If that were taken away, there would
be little visible change; but the heart would be gone.

The American Falls do not inspire this feeling in the same way as the
Canadian. It is because they are less in volume, and because the water
does not fall so much into one place. By comparison their beauty is
almost delicate and fragile. They are extraordinarily level, one long
curtain of lacework and woven foam. Seen from opposite, when the sun is
on them, they are blindingly white, and the clouds of spray show
dark against them. With both Falls the colour of the water is the
ever-altering wonder. Greens and blues, purples and whites, melt into
one another, fade, and come again, and change with the changing sun.
Sometimes they are as richly diaphanous as a precious stone, and
glow from within with a deep, inexplicable light. Sometimes the white
intricacies of dropping foam become opaque and creamy. And always there
are the rainbows. If you come suddenly upon the Falls from above, a
great double rainbow, very vivid, spanning the extent of spray from top
to bottom, is the first thing you see. If you wander along the cliff
opposite, a bow springs into being in the American Falls, accompanies
you courteously on your walk, dwindles and dies as the mist ends, and
awakens again as you reach the Canadian tumult. And the bold traveller
who attempts the trip under the American Falls sees, when he dare open
his eyes to anything, tiny baby rainbows, some four or five yards in
span, leaping from rock to rock among the foam, and gambolling beside
him, barely out of hand's reach, as he goes. One I saw in that place was
a complete circle, such as I have never seen before, and so near that I
could put my foot on it. It is a terrifying journey, beneath and behind
the Falls. The senses are battered and bewildered by the thunder of the
water and the assault of wind and spray; or rather, the sound is not of
falling water, but merely of falling; a noise of unspecified ruin. So,
if you are close behind the endless clamour, the sight cannot recognise
liquid in the masses that hurl past. You are dimly and pitifully aware
that sheets of light and darkness are falling in great curves in front
of you. Dull omnipresent foam washes the face. Farther away, in the roar
and hissing, clouds of spray seem literally to slide down some invisible
plane of air.

Beyond the foot of the Falls the river is like a slipping floor of
marble, green with veins of dirty white, made by the scum that was
foam. It slides very quietly and slowly down for a mile or two, sullenly
exhausted. Then it turns to a dull sage green, and hurries more swiftly,
smooth and ominous. As the walls of the ravine close in, trouble stirs,
and the waters boil and eddy. These are the lower rapids, a sight more
terrifying than the Falls, because less intelligible. Close in its bands
of rock the river surges tumultuously forward, writhing and leaping
as if inspired by a demon. It is pressed by the straits into a visibly
convex form. Great planes of water slide past. Sometimes it is thrown
up into a pinnacle of foam higher than a house, or leaps with incredible
speed from the crest of one vast wave to another, along the shining
curve between, like the spring of a wild beast. Its motion continually
suggests muscular action. The power manifest in these rapids moves one
with a different sense of awe and terror from that of the Falls. Here
the inhuman life and strength are spontaneous, active, almost resolute;
masculine vigour compared with the passive gigantic power, female,
helpless and overwhelming, of the Falls. A place of fear.

One is drawn back, strangely, to a contemplation of the Falls, at
every hour, and especially by night, when the cloud of spray becomes
an immense visible ghost, straining and wavering high above the river,
white and pathetic and translucent. The Victorian lies very close
below the surface in every man. There one can sit and let great cloudy
thoughts of destiny and the passage of empires drift through the mind;
for such dreams are at home by Niagara. I could not get out of my mind
the thought of a friend, who said that the rainbows over the Falls were
like the arts and beauty and goodness, with regard to the stream of
life--caused by it, thrown upon its spray, but unable to stay or direct
or affect it, and ceasing when it ceased. In all comparisons that rise
in the heart, the river, with its multitudinous waves and its single
current, likens itself to a life, whether of an individual or of a
community. A man's life is of many flashing moments, and yet one stream;
a nation's flows through all its citizens, and yet is more than they.
In such places, one is aware, with an almost insupportable and yet
comforting certitude, that both men and nations are hurried onwards to
their ruin or ending as inevitably as this dark flood. Some go down to
it unreluctant, and meet it, like the river, not without nobility. And
as incessant, as inevitable, and as unavailing as the spray that hangs
over the Falls, is the white cloud of human crying.... With some such
thoughts does the platitudinous heart win from the confusion and thunder
of Niagara a peace that the quietest plains or most stable hills can
never give.



IX

TO WINNIPEG


The boats that run from Sarnia the whole length of Lake Huron and Lake
Superior are not comfortable. But no doubt a train for those six hundred
miles would be worse. You start one afternoon, and in the morning of the
next day you have done with the rather colourless, unindividual expanses
of Huron, and are dawdling along a canal that joins the lakes by the
little town of Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced, abruptly, 'Soo'). We
happened on it one Sunday. The nearer waters of the river and the lakes
were covered with little sailing or rowing or bathing parties. Everybody
seemed cheerful, merry, and mildly raucous. There is a fine, breezy,
enviable healthiness about Canadian life. Except in some Eastern cities,
there are few clerks or working-men but can get away to the woods and
water.

As we drew out into the cold magnificence of Lake Superior, the receding
woody shores were occasionally spotted with picnickers or campers,
who rushed down the beach in various deshabille, waving towels,
handkerchiefs, or garments. We were as friendly. The human race seemed
a jolly bunch, and the world a fine, pleasant, open-air affair--'some
world,' in fact. A man in a red shirt and a bronzed girl with flowing
hair slid past in a canoe. We whistled, sang, and cried 'Snooky-ookums!'
and other words of occult meaning, which imputed love to them, and
foolishness. They replied suitably, grinned, and were gone. A little old
lady in black, in the chair next mine, kept a small telescope glued to
her eye, hour after hour. Whenever she distinguished life on any shore
we passed, she waved a tiny handkerchief. Diligently she did this,
and with grave face, never visible to the objects of her devotion, I
suppose, but certainly very happy; the most persistent lover of humanity
I have ever seen....

In the afternoon we were beyond sight of land. The world grew a little
chilly; and over the opaque, hueless water came sliding a queer, pale
mist. We strained through it for hours, a low bank of cloud, not twenty
feet in height, on which one could look down from the higher deck.
Its upper surface was quite flat and smooth, save for innumerable tiny
molehills or pyramids of mist. We seemed to be ploughing aimlessly
through the phantasmal sand-dunes of another world, faintly and by an
accident apprehended. So may the shades on a ghostly liner, plunging
down Lethe, have an hour's chance glimpse of the lights and lives of
Piccadilly, to them uncertain and filmy mirages of the air.

To taste the full deliciousness of travelling in an American train by
night through new scenery, you must carefully secure a lower berth.
And when you are secret and separate in your little oblong world, safe
between sheets, pull up the blinds on the great window a few inches and
leave them so. Thus, as you lie, you can view the dark procession of
woods and hills, and mingle the broken hours of railway slumber with
glimpses of a wild starlit landscape. The country retains individuality,
and yet puts on romance, especially the rough, shaggy region between
Port Arthur and Winnipeg. For four hundred miles there is hardly a sign
that humanity exists on the earth's face, only rocks and endless woods
of scrubby pine, and the occasional strange gleam of water, and night
and the wind. Night-long, dream and reality mingle. You may wake from
sleep to find yourself flying through a region where a forest fire has
passed, a place of grey pine-trunks, stripped of foliage, occasionally
waving a naked bough. They appear stricken by calamity, intolerably bare
and lonely, gaunt, perpetually protesting, amazed and tragic creatures.
We saw no actual fire the night I passed. But a little while after dawn
we noticed on the horizon, fifteen miles away, an immense column of
smoke. There was little wind, and it hung, as if sculptured, against
the grey of the morning; nor did we lose sight of it till just before we
boomed over a wide, swift, muddy river, into the flat city of Winnipeg.

Winnipeg is the West. It is important and obvious that in Canada there
are two or three (some say five) distinct Canadas. Even if you lump the
French and English together as one community in the East, there remains
the gulf of the Great Lakes. The difference between East and West
is possibly no greater than that between North and South England, or
Bavaria and Prussia; but in this country, yet unconscious of itself,
there is so much less to hold them together. The character of the land
and the people differs; their interests, as it appears to them, are not
the same. Winnipeg is a new city. In the archives at Ottawa is a picture
of Winnipeg in 1870--Main street, with a few shacks, and the prairie
either end. Now her population is a hundred thousand, and she has the
biggest this, that, and the other west of Toronto. A new city; a little
more American than the other Canadian cities, but not unpleasantly so.
The streets are wider, and full of a bustle which keeps clear of hustle.
The people have something of the free swing of Americans, without
the bumptiousness; a tempered democracy, a mitigated independence of
bearing. The manners of Winnipeg, of the West, impress the stranger as
better than those of the East, more friendly, more hearty, more
certain to achieve graciousness, if not grace. There is, even, in
the architecture of Winnipeg, a sort of _gauche_ pride visible. It is
hideous, of course, even more hideous than Toronto or Montreal; but
cheerily and windily so. There is no scheme in the city, and no beauty,
but it is at least preferable to Birmingham, less dingy, less directly
depressing. It has no real slums, even though there is poverty and
destitution.

But there seems to be a trifle more public spirit in the West than the
East. Perhaps it is that in the greater eagerness and confidence of this
newer country men have a superfluity of energy and interest, even after
attending to their own affairs, to give to the community. Perhaps it
is that the West is so young that one has a suspicion money-making has
still some element of a child's game in it--its only excuse. At any
rate, whether because the state of affairs is yet unsettled, or because
of the invisible subtle spirit of optimism that blows through the
heavily clustering telephone-wires and past the neat little modern
villas and down the solidly pretentious streets, one can't help finding
a tiny hope that Winnipeg, the city of buildings and the city of human
beings, may yet come to something. It is a slender hope, not to be
compared to that of the true Winnipeg man, who, gazing on his city, is
fired with the proud and secret ambition that it will soon be twice as
big, and after that four times, and then ten times....

  "Wider still and wider
  Shall thy bounds be set,"

says that hymn which is the noblest expression of modern ambition.
_That_ hope is sure to be fulfilled. But the other timid prayer, that
something different, something more worth having, may come out of
Winnipeg, exists, and not quite unreasonably. That cannot be said of
Toronto.

Winnipeg is of the West, new, vigorous in its way, of unknown
potentialities. Already the West has been a nuisance to the East, in the
fight of 1911 over Reciprocity with the United States. When she gets
a larger representation in Parliament, she will be still more of a
nuisance. A casual traveller cannot venture to investigate the beliefs
and opinions of the inhabitants of a country, but he can record them all
the better, perhaps, for his foreign-ness. It is generally believed in
the West that the East runs Canada, and runs it for its own advantage.
And the East means a very few rich men, who control the big railways,
the banks, and the Manufacturers' Association, subscribe to both
political parties, and are generally credited with complete control
over the Tariff and most other Canadian affairs. Whether or no the
Manufacturers' Association does arrange the Tariff and control the
commerce of Canada, it is generally believed to do so. The only thing is
that its friends say that it acts in the best interests of Canada,
its enemies that it acts in the best interests of the Manufacturers'
Association. Among its enemies are many in the West. The normal Western
life is a lonely and individual one; and a large part of the population
has crossed from the United States, or belongs to that great mass
of European immigration that Canada is letting so blindly in. So,
naturally, the Westerner does not feel the same affection for the Empire
or for England as the British Canadians of the East, whose forefathers
fought to stay within the Empire. Nor is his affection increased by the
suspicion that the Imperial cry has been used for party purposes. He has
no use for politics at Ottawa. The naval question is nothing to him. He
wants neither to subscribe money nor to build ships. Europe is very far
away; and he is too ignorant to realise his close connection with her.
He has strong views, however, on a Tariff which only affects him by
perpetually raising the cost of living and farming. The ideas of even a
Conservative in the West about reducing the Tariff would make an Eastern
'Liberal' die of heart-failure. And the Westerner also hates the Banks.
The banking system of Canada is peculiar, and throws the control of the
banks into the hands of a few people in the East, who were felt, by the
ever optimistic West, to have shut down credit too completely during the
recent money stringency.

The most interesting expression of the new Western point of view, and
in many ways the most hopeful movement in Canada, is the Co-operative
movement among the grain-growers of the three prairie provinces. Only
started a few years ago, it has grown rapidly in numbers, wealth, power,
and extent of operations. So far it has confined itself politically
to influencing provincial legislatures. But it has gradually attached
itself to an advanced Radical programme of a Chartist description. And
it is becoming powerful. Whether the outcome will be a very desirable
rejuvenation of the Liberal Party, or the creation of a third--perhaps
Radical-Labour--party, it is hard to tell. At any rate, the change
will come. And, just to start with, there will very shortly come to the
Eastern Powers, who threw out Reciprocity with the States for the sake
of the Empire, a demand from the West that the preference to British
goods be increased rapidly till they be allowed to come in free, also
for the Empire's sake. Then the fun will begin.



X

OUTSIDE


I had visited New York, Boston, Quebec, Montreal, and Toronto. In
Winnipeg I found a friend, who was tired of cities. So was I. In Canada
the remedy lies close at hand. We took ancient clothes--and I, Ben
Jonson and Jane Austen to keep me English--and departed northward for a
lodge, reported to exist in a region of lakes and hills and forests
and caribou and Indians and a few people. At first the train sauntered
through a smiling plain, intermittently cultivated, and dotted with
little new villages. Over this country are thrown little pools of that
flood of European immigration that pours through Winnipeg, to remain
separate or be absorbed, as destiny wills. The problem of immigration
here reveals that purposelessness that exists in the affairs of Canada
even more than those of other nations. The multitude from South or East
Europe flocks in. Some make money and return. The most remain, often in
inassimilable lumps. There is every sign that these lumps may poison the
health of Canada as dangerously as they have that of the United States.
For Canada there is the peril of too large an element of foreign blood
and traditions in a small nation already little more than half composed
of British blood and descent. Nationalities seem to teach one another
only their worst. If the Italians gave the Canadians of their good
manners, and the Doukhobors or Poles inoculated them with idealism and
the love of beauty, and received from them British romanticism and sense
of responsibility!.... But they only seem to increase the anarchy, these
'foreigners,' and to learn the American twang and method of spitting.
And there is the peril of politics. Upon these scattered exotic
communities, ignorant of the problems of their adopted land, ignorant
even of its language, swoop the agents of political parties, with their
one effectual argument--bad whisky. This baptism is the immigrants' only
organised welcome into their new liberties. Occasionally some Church
raises a thin protest. But the 'Anglo-Saxon' continues to take up his
burden; and the floods from Europe pour in. Canadians regard this influx
with that queer fatalism which men adopt under plutocracy. "How could
they stop it? It pays the steamship and railway companies. It may, or
may not, be good for Canada. Who knows? In any case, it will go on. Our
masters wish it...."

It is noteworthy that Icelanders are found to be far the readiest to
mingle and become Canadian. After them, Norwegians and Swedes. With
other immigrant nationalities, hope lies with the younger generation;
but these acclimatise immediately.

Our train was boarded by a crowd of Ruthenians or Galicians, brown-eyed
and beautiful people, not yet wholly civilised out of their own costume.
The girls chatted together in a swift, lovely language, and the children
danced about, tossing their queer brown mops of hair. They clattered out
at a little village that seemed to belong to them, and stood waving and
laughing us out of sight. I pondered on their feelings, and looked for
the name of the little Utopia these aliens had found in a new world.
It was called (for the railway companies name towns in this country)
'Milner.'

We wandered into rougher country, where the rocks begin to show through
the surface, and scrub pine abounds. At the end of our side-line was
another, and at the end of that a village, the ultimate outpost of
civilisation. Here, on the way back, some weeks later, we had to spend
the night in a little hotel which 'accommodated transients.' It was a
rough affair of planks, inhabited by whatever wandering workman from
construction-camps or other labour in the region wanted shelter for the
night. You slept in a sort of dormitory, each bed partitioned off from
the rest by walls that were some feet short of the ceiling. Swedes,
Germans, Welsh, Italians, and Poles occupied the other partitions, each
blaspheming the works of the Lord in his own tongue. About midnight two
pairs of feet crashed into the cell opposite mine; and a high, sleepless
voice, with an accent I knew, continued an interminable argument
on theology. "I' beginning wash word," it proclaimed with all the
melancholy of drunkenness. The other disputant was German or Norwegian,
and uninterested, though very kindly. "Right-o!" he said. "Let's go
sleep!"

"_What_ word?" pondered the Englishman. The Norwegian suggested several,
sleepily. "Logos," wailed the other, "_What_ Logos?" and wept. They
persisted, hour by hour, disconnected voices in the void and darkness,
lonely and chance companions in the back-blocks of Canada, the one who
couldn't, and the one who didn't want to, understand. A little before
dawn I woke again. That thin voice, in patient soliloquy, was discussing
Female Suffrage, going very far down into the roots of the matter. I
met its owner next morning. He was tall and dark and lachrymose, with
bloodshot eyes, and breath that stank of gin. He had played scrum-half
for ---- College in '98; and had prepared for ordination. "You'll
understand, old man," he said, "how out of place I am amongst this
scum--hoi polloi--we're not of the hoi polloi, are we?" It seemed nicer
to agree. "Oh, I know Greek!"--he was too eagerly the gentleman--"ho
cosmos tes adikias--the last thing I learnt for ordination--this world
of injustice--that's right, isn't it?" He laughed sickly. "I say as one
'Varsity man to another--we're not hoi polloi--could you lend me some
money?"

We had to press on thirty miles up a 'light railway' to a power-station,
a settlement by a waterfall in the wild. An engine and an ancient
luggage-van conveyed us. The van held us, three crates, and some sacks,
four half-breeds in black slouch hats, who curled up on the floor like
dogs and slept, and an aged Italian. This last knew no word of English.
He had travelled all the way from Naples, Heaven knows how, to find
his two sons, supposed to be working in the power-station. So much was
written on a piece of paper. We gave him chocolate, and at intervals
I repeated to him my only Italian, the first line of the _Divina
Commedia_. He seemed cheered. The van jolted on through the fading
light. Once a man stepped out on to the track, stopped us, and clambered
silently up. We went on. It was the doctor, who had been visiting some
lonely hut in the woods. Later, another figure was seen staggering
between the rails. We slowed up, shouted, and finally stopped, butting
him gently on the back with our buffers, and causing him to fall. He was
very drunk. The driver and the doctor helped him into the van. There he
stood, and looking round, said very distinctly, "I do not wish to travel
on your ---- ---- train." So we put him off again, and proceeded. Such
is the West.

We rattled interminably through the darkness. The unpeopled woods closed
about us, snatched with lean branches, and opened out again to a windy
space. Once or twice the ground fell away, and there was, for a moment,
the mysterious gleam and stir of water. Canadian stars are remote and
virginal. Everyone slumbered. Arrival at the great concrete building and
the little shacks of the power-station shook us to our feet. The Italian
vanished into the darkness. Whether he found his sons or fell into the
river no one knew, and no one seemed to care.

An Indian, taciturn and Mongolian, led us on next day, by boat and on
foot, to the lonely log-house we aimed at. It stood on high rocks, above
a lake six miles by two. There was an Indian somewhere, by a river
three miles west, and a trapper to the east, and a family encamped on an
island in the lake. Else nobody.

It is that feeling of fresh loneliness that impresses itself before
any detail of the wild. The soul--or the personality--seems to have
indefinite room to expand. There is no one else within reach, there
never has been anyone; no one else is _thinking_ of the lakes and hills
you see before you. They have no tradition, no names even; they are only
pools of water and lumps of earth, some day, perhaps, to be clothed with
loves and memories and the comings and goings of men, but now dumbly
waiting their Wordsworth or their Acropolis to give them individuality,
and a soul. In such country as this there is a rarefied clean sweetness.
The air is unbreathed, and the earth untrodden. All things share this
childlike loveliness, the grey whispering reeds, the pure blue of the
sky, the birches and thin fir-trees that make up these forests, even the
brisk touch of the clear water as you dive.

That last sensation, indeed, and none of sight or hearing, has impressed
itself as the token of Canada, the land. Every swimmer knows it. It is
not languorous, like bathing in a warm Southern sea; nor grateful,
like a river in a hot climate; nor strange, as the ocean always is; nor
startling, like very cold water. But it touches the body continually
with freshness, and it seems to be charged with a subtle and unexhausted
energy. It is colourless, faintly stinging, hard and grey, like the
rocks around, full of vitality, and sweet. It has the tint and sensation
of a pale dawn before the sun is up. Such is the wild of Canada. It
awaits the sun, the end for which Heaven made it, the blessing of
civilisation. Some day it will be sold in large portions, and the timber
given to a friend of ----'s, and cut down and made into paper, on which
shall be printed the praise of prosperity; and the land itself shall
be divided into town-lots and sold, and sub-divided and sold again, and
boomed and resold, and boosted and distributed to fishy young men who
will vend it in distant parts of the country; and then such portions
as can never be built upon shall be given in exchange for great sums
of money to old ladies in the quieter parts of England, but the central
parts of towns shall remain in the hands of the wise. And on these shall
churches, hotels, and a great many ugly skyscrapers be built, and hovels
for the poor, and houses for the rich, none beautiful, and there shall
ugly objects be manufactured, rather hurriedly, and sold to the people
at more than they are worth, because similar and cheaper objects made in
other countries are kept out by a tariff....

But at present there are only the wrinkled, grey-blue lake, sliding ever
sideways, and the grey rocks, and the cliffs and hills, covered with
birch-trees, and the fresh wind among the birches, and quiet, and that
unseizable virginity. Dawn is always a lost pearly glow in the ashen
skies, and sunset a multitude of softly-tinted mists sliding before
a remotely golden West. They follow one another with an infinite
loneliness. And there is a far and solitary beach of dark, golden sand,
close by a deserted Indian camp, where, if you drift quietly round
the corner in a canoe, you may see a bear stumbling along, or a great
caribou, or a little red deer coming down to the water to drink,
treading the wild edge of lake and forest with a light, secret, and
melancholy grace.



XI

THE PRAIRIES


I passed the last few hours of the westward journey from Winnipeg to
Regina in daylight, the daylight of a wet and cheerless Sunday. The car
was half-empty, in possession of a family of small children and some
theatrical ladies and gentlemen from the United States, travelling on
'one night stands,' who were collectively called 'The World-Renowned
Barbary Pirates.' We jogged limply from little village to little
village, each composed of little brown log-shacks, with a few
buildings of tin and corrugated iron, and even of brick, and several
grain-elevators. Each village--I beg your pardon, 'town'--seems to be
exactly like the next. They differ a little in size, from populations
of 100 to nearly 2000, and in age, for some have buildings dating almost
back to the nineteenth century, and a few are still mostly tents. They
seemed all to be emptied of their folk this Sabbath morn; though whether
the inhabitants were at work, or in church, or had shot themselves from
depression induced by the weather, it was impossible to tell. These
little towns do not look to the passer-by comfortable as homes. Partly,
there is the difficulty of distinguishing your village from the others.
It would be as bad as being married to a Jap. And then towns should be
on hills or in valleys, however small. A town dumped down, apparently
by chance, on a flat expanse, wears the same air of discomfort as a man
trying to make his bed on a level, unyielding surface such as a lawn
or pavement. He feels hopelessly incidental to the superficies of the
earth. He is aware that the human race has thigh-bones....

Yet this country is not quite flat, as I had been led to expect. It does
not give you that feeling of a plain you have in parts of Lombardy and
Holland and Belgium. This may have been due to the grey mist and drizzle
which curtained off the horizon. But the land was always very slightly
rolling, and sometimes almost as uneven as a Surrey common. At first it
seemed to be given to mixed farming a good deal; afterwards to wheat,
oats, and barley. But a great part is uncultivated prairie-land, grass,
with sparse bushes and patches of brushwood and a few rare trees, and
continual clumps of large golden daisies. Occasional rough black roads
wind through the brush and into the towns, and die into grass tracks
along the wire fences. The day I went through, the interminable,
oblique, thin rain took the gold out of the wheat and the brown from the
distant fields and bushes, and drabbed all the colours in the grass.
The children in the car cried to each other with the shrill, sick
persistency of tired childhood, "How many inches to Regina?" "A
Billion." "A Trillion." "A Shillion." The Barbary Pirates laughed
incessantly. It seemed to me that the prairie would be a lonely place
to live in, especially if it rained. But the people who have lived there
for years tell me they get very homesick if they go away for a time.
Valleys and hills seem to them petty, fretful, unlovable. The magic of
the plains has them in thrall.

Certainly there is a little more democracy in the west of Canada than
the east; the communities seem a little less incapable of looking after
themselves. Out in the west they are erecting not despicable public
buildings, founding universities, running a few public services.
That 'politics' has a voice in these undertakings does not make
them valueless. There are perceptible in the prairies, among all the
corruption, irresponsibility, and disastrous individualism, some faint
signs of the sense of the community. Take a very good test, the public
libraries. As you traverse Canada from east to west they steadily
improve. You begin in the city of Montreal, which is unable to support
one, and pass through the dingy rooms and inadequate intellectual
provision of Toronto and Winnipeg. After that the libraries and
reading-rooms, small for the smaller cities, are cleaner and better
kept, show signs of care and intelligence; until at last, in Calgary,
you find a very neat and carefully kept building, stocked with an
immense variety of periodicals, and an admirably chosen store of books,
ranging from the classics to the most utterly modern literature. Few
large English towns could show anything as good. Cross the Rockies to
Vancouver, and you're back among dirty walls, grubby furniture, and
inadequate literature again. There's nothing in Canada to compare with
the magnificent libraries little New Zealand can show. But Calgary is
hopeful.

These cities grow in population with unimaginable velocity. From thirty
to thirty thousand in fifteen years is the usual rate. Pavements are
laid down, stores and bigger stores and still bigger stores spring up.
Trams buzz along the streets towards the unregarded horizon that lies
across the end of most roads in these flat, geometrically planned,
prairie-towns. Probably a Chinese quarter appears, and the beginnings
of slums. Expensive and pleasant small dwelling-houses fringe the
outskirts; and rents being so high, great edifices of residential flats
rival the great stores. In other streets, or even sandwiched between the
finer buildings, are dingy and decaying saloons, and innumerable little
booths and hovels where adventurers deal dishonestly in Real Estate,
and Employment Bureaux. And there are the vast erections of the great
corporations, Hudson's Bay Company, and the banks and the railways, and,
sometimes almost equally impressive, the public buildings. There are the
beginnings of very costly Universities; and Regina has built a superb
great House of Parliament, with a wide sheet of water in front of it, a
noble building.

The inhabitants of these cities are proud of them, and envious of
each other with a bitter rivalry. They do not love their cities as a
Manchester man loves Manchester or a Münchener Munich, for they have
probably lately arrived in them, and will surely pass on soon. But while
they are there they love them, and with no silent love. They boost. To
boost is to commend outrageously. And each cries up his own city,
both from pride, it would appear, and for profit. For the fortunes
of Newville are very really the fortunes of its inhabitants. From the
successful speculator, owner of whole blocks, to the waiter bringing you
a Martini, who has paid up a fraction of the cost of a quarter-share
in a town-lot--all are the richer, as well as the prouder, if Newville
grows. It is imperative to praise Edmonton in Edmonton. But it is sudden
death to praise it in Calgary. The partisans of each city proclaim its
superiority to all the others in swiftness of growth, future population,
size of buildings, price of land--by all recognised standards of
excellence. I travelled from Edmonton to Calgary in the company of
a citizen of Edmonton and a citizen of Calgary. Hour after hour they
disputed. Land in Calgary had risen from five dollars to three hundred;
but in Edmonton from three to five hundred. Edmonton had grown from
thirty persons to forty thousand in twenty years; but Calgary from
twenty to thirty thousand in twelve.... "Where"--as a respite--"did I
come from?" I had to tell them, not without shame, that my own town
of Grantchester, having numbered three hundred at the time of Julius
Caesar's landing, had risen rapidly to nearly four by Doomsday Book, but
was now declined to three-fifty. They seemed perplexed and angry.

Sentimental people in the East will talk of the romance of the West, and
of these simple, brave pioneers who have wrung a living from the soil,
and are properly proud of the rude little towns that mark their conquest
over nature. That may apply to the frontiers of civilisation up North,
but the prairie-towns have progressed beyond all that. A few of the old
pioneers of the West survive to watch with startled eyes the wonderful
fruits of the seed they sowed. Such are among the finest people
in Canada, very different from the younger generation, with wider
interests, good talkers, the best of company. From them, and from
records, one can learn of the early settlers and the beginnings of the
North-West Mounted Police. The Police seem to have been superb. For no
great reward, but the love of the thing, they imposed order and fairness
upon half a continent. The Indians trusted them utterly; they were
without fear. A store stands now in Calgary where forty years ago a
policeman was shot to death by a murderer, followed over a thousand
miles. He knew that the criminal would shoot; but it was the rule of the
Mounted Police not to fire first. Wounded, he killed his man, then died.
And there was the case of the desperado who crossed the border, and was
eventually captured and held by an immense force of American police and
military. They awaited a regiment of the Police to conduct the villain
back to trial. Two appeared, and being asked, "Where is the escort?"
replied, "We are the escort," and started back their five hundred miles
ride with the murderer in tow. And there were the two who pursued a
horse-thief from Dawson down to Minneapolis, caught him, and took him
back to Dawson to be hanged. And there was the settler, who....

The tragedy of the West is that these men have passed, and that what
they lived and died to secure for their race is now the foundation for
a gigantic national gambling of a most unprofitable and disastrous kind.
Hordes of people--who mostly seem to come from the great neighbouring
Commonwealth, and are inspired with the national hunger for getting rich
quickly without deserving it--prey on the community by their dealings in
what is humorously called 'Real Estate.' For them our fathers died. What
a sowing, and what a harvest! And where good men worked or perished is
now a row of little shops, all devoted to the sale of town-lots in some
distant spot that must infallibly become a great city in the next two
years, and in the doorway of each lounges a thin-chested, much-spitting
youth, with a flabby face, shifty eyes, and an inhuman mouth, who
invites you continually, with the most raucous of American accents, to
"step inside and ex-amine our Praposition."



XII

THE INDIANS


When I was in the East, I got to know a man who had spent many years
of his life living among the Indians. He showed me his photographs. He
explained one, of an old woman. He said, "They told me there was an old
woman in the camp called Laughing Earth. When I heard the name, I just
said, 'Take me to her!' She wouldn't be photographed. She kept turning
her back to me. I just picked up a clod and plugged it at her, and said,
'Turn round, Laughing Earth!' She turned half round, and grinned. She
_was_ a game old bird! I joshed all the boys here Laughing Earth was my
girl--till they saw her photo!"

There stands Laughing Earth, in brightly-coloured petticoat and blouse,
her grey hair blowing about her. Her back is towards you, but her face
is turned, and scarcely hidden by a hand that is raised with all the
coyness of seventy years. Laughter shines from the infinitely lined,
round, brown cheeks, and from the mouth, and from the dancing eyes, and
floods and spills over from each of the innumerable wrinkles. Laughing
Earth--there is endless vitality in that laughter. The hand and face
and the old body laugh. No skinny, intellectual mirth, affecting but the
lips! It was the merriment of an apple bobbing on the bough, or a brown
stream running over rocks, or any other gay creature of earth. And with
all was a great dignity, invulnerable to clods, and a kindly and noble
beauty. By the light of that laughter much becomes clear--the right
place of man upon earth, the entire suitability in life of very
brightly-coloured petticoats, and the fact that old age is only a
different kind of a merriment from youth, and a wiser.

And by that light the fragments of this pathetic race become more
comprehensible, and, perhaps, less pathetic. The wanderer in Canada sees
them from time to time, the more the further west he goes, irrelevant
and inscrutable figures. In the east, French and Scotch half-breeds
frequent the borders of civilisation. In any western town you may chance
on a brave and his wife and a baby, resplendent in gay blankets and
trappings, sliding gravely through the hideousness of the new order that
has supplanted them. And there will be a few half-breeds loitering at
the corners of the streets. These people of mixed race generally seem
unfortunate in the first generation. A few of the older ones, the
'old-timers', have 'made good,' and hold positions in the society for
which they pioneered. But most appear to inherit the weaknesses of both
sides. Drink does its work. And the nobler ones, like the tragic figure
of that poetess who died recently, Pauline Johnson, seem fated to be
at odds with the world. The happiest, whether Indian or half-breed, are
those who live beyond the ever-advancing edges of cultivation and order,
and force a livelihood from nature by hunting and fishing. Go anywhere
into the wild, and you will find in little clearings, by lake or river,
a dilapidated hut with a family of these solitaries, friendly with the
pioneers or trappers around, ready to act as guide on hunt or trail.
The Government, extraordinarily painstaking and well-intentioned, has
established Indian schools, and trains some of them to take their places
in the civilisation we have built. Not the best Indians these, say
lovers of the race. I have met them, as clerks or stenographers, only
distinguishable from their neighbours by a darker skin and a sweeter
voice and manner. And in a generation or two, I suppose, the strain
mingles and is lost. So we finish with kindness what our fathers began
with war.

The Government, and others, have scientifically studied the history and
characteristics of the Indians, and written them down in books, lest it
be forgotten that human beings could be so extraordinary. They were a
wandering race, it appears, of many tribes and, even, languages. Not apt
to arts or crafts, they had, and have, an unrefined delight in bright
colours. They enjoyed a 'Nature-Worship,' believed rather dimly in a
presiding Power, and very definitely in certain ethical and moral rules.
One of their incomprehensible customs was that at certain intervals
the tribe divided itself into two factitious divisions, each headed by
various chiefs, and gambled furiously for many days, one party against
the other. They were pugnacious, and in their uncivilised way fought
frequent wars. They were remarkably loyal to each other, and treacherous
to the foe; brave, and very stoical. "Monogamy was very prevalent." It
is remarked that husbands and wives were very fond of each other, and
the great body of scientific opinion favours the theory that mothers
were much attached to their children. Most tribes were very healthy, and
some fine-looking. Such were the remarkable people who hunted, fought,
feasted, and lived here until the light came, and all was changed. Other
qualities they had even more remarkable to a European, such as
utter honesty, and complete devotion to the truth among themselves.
Civilisation, disease, alcohol, and vice have reduced them to a few
scattered communities and some stragglers, and a legend, the admiration
of boyhood. Boys they were, pugnacious, hunters, loyal, and cruel, older
than the merrier children of the South Seas, younger and simpler than
the weedy, furtive, acquisitive youth who may figure our age and type.
"We must be a Morally Higher race than the Indians," said an earnest
American businessman to me in Saskatoon, "because we have Survived them.
The Great Darwin has proved it." I visited, later, a community of our
Moral Inferiors, an Indian 'reservation' under the shade of the Rockies.
The Government has put aside various tracts of land where the Indians
may conduct their lives in something of their old way, and stationed
in each an agent to protect their interests. For every white man, as
an agent told me, "thinks an Indian legitimate prey for all forms of
cheating and robbery."

The reservations are the better in proportion as they are further
from the towns and cities. The one I saw was peopled by a few hundred
Stonies, one of the finest and most untouched of the tribes. Of these
Laughing Earth had made one, but alas! a few years before she had become

  "a portion of the mirthfulness
  That once she made more mirthful."

The Indians occupy themselves with a little farming and hunting, and
with expeditions, and live in two or three small scattered villages
of huts and tents. But the centre of the community is the little
white-washed house where the agent has his office. Here we sat, he
and I, and talked, behind the counter. The agent is father, mother,
clergyman, tutor, physician, solicitor, and banker to the Indians. They
wandered in and out of the place with their various requests. The most
part of them could not talk English, but there was generally some young
Indian to interpret. An old chief entered. His grey hair curled down
to his broad shoulders. He had a noble forehead, brown, steady eyes, a
thin, humorous mouth. His cow had been run over by the C.P.R. What was
to be done? and how much would he get? The affair was discussed through
an interpreter, a Canadianised young Indian in trousers, who spat. Some
of the men, especially the older ones, have wonderful dignity and beauty
of face and body. Their physique is superb; their features shaped and
lined by weather and experience into a Roman nobility that demands
respect. Several such passed through. Then came an old woman, wizened
and loquacious, bent double by the sack of her weekly provision of meat
and flour. She required oil, was given it, secreted it in some cranny of
the many-coloured bundle that she was, and staggered creakily off again.

The office emptied for a while. Then drifted in a younger man, tall,
with that brown, dog-like expression of simplicity many Indians wear. He
was covered by a large grey-coloured blanket, over his other clothes. He
puffed at a pipe and stared out of the window. The agent and I continued
talking. You must never hurry an Indian. Presently he gave a little
grunt. The agent said, "Well, John?" John went on smoking. Five minutes
later, in the middle of our conversation, John said suddenly, "Salt." He
was staring inexpressively at the ceiling. "Why, John," said the agent,
"I gave you enough salts on Thursday to last you a week." John directed
his gaze on us, and smoked dumbly. "Still the stomach?" inquired the
agent, genially. John's expression became gradually grimmer, and
he moved one hand slowly across till it rested on his stomach. An
impassive, significant hand. After a courteous pause the agent rose,
poured some Epsom salts out of a large jar, wrapped them in paper, and
handed them over. John secreted them dispassionately in some pouch
among the skins and blankets that wrapped him in. We went back to
our conversation. Five minutes after he grunted, suddenly. Again five
minutes, and he departed. His wife--a plump, patient young woman--and
his solemn-eyed, fat, ridiculous son of four, were sitting stolidly on
the grass outside. It obviously made no difference if he took one hour
or seven over his business. They mounted their tiny ponies and trotted
briskly off.... I suppose one is apt to be sentimental about these good
people. They're really so picturesque; they trail clouds of Fenimore
Cooper; and they seem, for all their unfitness, reposefully more in
touch with permanent things than the America that has succeeded them.
And it is interesting to watch our pathetic efforts to prevent or disarm
the effects of ourselves. What will happen? Shall we preserve these few
bands of them, untouched, to succeed us, ultimately, when the grasp of
our 'civilisation' weakens, and our transient anarchy in these wilder
lands recedes once more before the older anarchy of Nature? Or will they
be entirely swallowed by that ugliness of shops and trousers with which
we enchain the earth, and become a memory and less than a memory?
They are that already. The Indians have passed. They left no arts, no
tradition, no buildings or roads or laws; only a story or two, and a few
names, strange and beautiful. The ghosts of the old chiefs must surely
chuckle when they note that the name by which Canada has called her
capital and the centre of her political life, Ottawa, is an Indian name
which signifies 'buying and selling.' And the wanderer in this land will
always be remarking an unexplained fragrance about the place-names, as
from some flower which has withered, and which he does not know.



XIII

THE ROCKIES


At Calgary, if you can spare a minute from more important matters, slip
beyond the hurrying white city, climb the golf links, and gaze west. A
low bank of dark clouds disturbs you by the fixity of its outline. It
is the Rockies, seventy miles away. On a good day, it is said, they
are visible twice as far, so clear and serene is this air. Five hundred
miles west is the coast of British Columbia, a region with a different
climate, different country, and different problems. It is cut off from
the prairies by vast tracts of wild country and uninhabitable ranges.
For nearly two hundred miles the train pants through the homeless
grandeur of the Rockies and the Selkirks. Four or five hotels, a few
huts or tents, and a rare mining-camp--that is all the habitation in
many thousands of square miles. Little even of that is visible from the
train. That is one of the chief differences between the effect of
the Rockies and that of the Alps. There, you are always in sight of
a civilisation which has nestled for ages at the feet of those high
places. They stand, enrobed with worship, and grander by contrast with
the lives of men. These un-memoried heights are inhuman--or rather,
irrelevant to humanity. No recorded Hannibal has struggled across them;
their shadow lies on no remembered literature. They acknowledge claims
neither of the soul nor of the body of man. He is a stranger, neither
Nature's enemy nor her child. She is there alone, scarcely a unity in
the heaped confusion of these crags, almost without grandeur among the
chaos of earth.

Yet this horrid and solitary wildness is but one aspect. There is beauty
here, at length, for the first time in Canada, the real beauty that is
always too sudden for mortal eyes, and brings pain with its comfort. The
Rockies have a remoter, yet a kindlier, beauty than the Alps. Their
rock is of a browner colour, and such rugged peaks and crowns as do not
attain snow continually suggest gigantic castellations, or the ramparts
of Titans. Eastward, the foothills are few and low, and the mountains
stand superbly. The heart lifts to see them. They guard the sunset.
Into this rocky wilderness you plunge, and toil through it hour by hour,
viewing it from the rear of the Observation-Car. The Observation-Car
is a great invention of the new world. At the end of the train is a
compartment with large windows, and a little platform behind it, roofed
over, but exposed otherwise to the air, On this platform are sixteen
little perches, for which you fight with Americans. Victorious, you
crouch on one, and watch the ever-receding panorama behind the train. It
is an admirable way of viewing scenery. But a day of being perpetually
drawn backwards at a great pace through some of the grandest mountains
in the world has a queer effect. Like life, it leaves you with a dizzy
irritation. For, as in life, you never see the glories till they are
past, and then they vanish with incredible rapidity. And if you crane to
see the dwindling further peaks, you miss the new splendours.

The day I went through most of the Rockies was, by some standards, a
bad one for the view. Rain scudded by in forlorn, grey showers, and the
upper parts of the mountains were wrapped in cloud, which was but rarely
blown aside to reveal the heights. Sublimity, therefore, was left to
the imagination; but desolation was most vividly present. In no weather
could the impression of loneliness be stronger. The pines drooped and
sobbed. Cascades, born somewhere in the dun firmament above, dropped
down the mountain sides in ever-growing white threads. The rivers roared
and plunged with aimless passion down the ravines. Stray little clouds,
left behind when the wrack lifted a little, ran bleating up and down the
forlorn hill-sides. More often, the clouds trailed along the valleys,
a long procession of shrouded, melancholy figures, seeming to pause, as
with an indeterminate, tragic, vain gesture, before passing out of sight
up some ravine.

Yet desolation is not the final impression that will remain of the
Rockies and the Selkirks. I was advised by various people to 'stop off'
at Banff and at Lake Louise, in the Rockies. I did so. They are supposed
to be equally the beauty-spots of the mountains. How perplexing it is
that advisers are always so kindly and willing to help, and always so
undiscriminating. It is equally disastrous to be a sceptic and to be
credulous. Banff is an ordinary little tourist-resort in mountainous
country, with hills and a stream and snow-peaks beyond. Beautiful
enough, and invigorating. But Lake Louise--Lake Louise is of another
world. Imagine a little round lake 6000 feet up, a mile across, closed
in by great cliffs of brown rock, round the shoulders of which are
thrown mantles of close dark pine. At one end the lake is fed by a
vast glacier, and its milky tumbling stream; and the glacier climbs to
snowfields of one of the highest and loveliest peaks in the Rockies,
which keeps perpetual guard over the scene. To this place you go up
three or four miles from the railway. There is the hotel at one end of
the lake, facing the glacier; else no sign of humanity. From the windows
you may watch the water and the peaks all day, and never see the same
view twice. In the lake, ever-changing, is Beauty herself, as nearly
visible to mortal eyes as she may ever be. The water, beyond the
flowers, is green, always a different green. Sometimes it is tranquil,
glassy, shot with blue, of a peacock tint. Then a little wind awakes in
the distance, and ruffles the surface, yard by yard, covering it with
a myriad tiny wrinkles, till half the lake is milky emerald, while
the rest still sleeps. And, at length, the whole is astir, and the sun
catches it, and Lake Louise is a web of laughter, the opal distillation
of all the buds of all the spring. On either side go up the dark
processional pines, mounting to the sacred peaks, devout, kneeling,
motionless, in an ecstasy of homely adoration, like the donors and their
families in a Flemish picture. Among these you may wander for hours
by little rambling paths, over white and red and golden flowers, and,
continually, you spy little lakes, hidden away, each a shy, soft jewel
of a new strange tint of green or blue, mutable and lovely.... And
beyond all is the glacier and the vast fields and peaks of eternal snow.

If you watch the great white cliff, from the foot of which the glacier
flows--seven miles away, but it seems two--you will sometimes see a
little puff of silvery smoke go up, thin, and vanish. A few seconds
later comes the roar of terrific, distant thunder. The mountains tower
and smile unregarding in the sun. It was an avalanche. And if you climb
any of the ridges or peaks around, there are discovered other valleys
and heights and ranges, wild and desert, stretching endlessly away. As
day draws to an end the shadows on the snow turn bluer, the crying
of innumerable waters hushes, and the immense, bare ramparts
of westward-facing rock that guard the great valley win a rich,
golden-brown radiance. Long after the sun has set they seem to give
forth the splendour of the day, and the tranquillity of their centuries,
in undiminished fulness. They have that other-worldly serenity which a
perfect old age possesses. And as with a perfect old age, so here, the
colour and the light ebb so gradually out of things that you could swear
nothing of the radiance and glory gone up to the very moment before the
dark.

It was on such a height, and at some such hour as this, that I sat
and considered the nature of the country in this continent. There
was perceptible, even here, though less urgent than elsewhere, the
strangeness I had noticed in woods by the St Lawrence, and on the banks
of the Delaware (where are red-haired girls who sing at dawn), and in
British Columbia, and afterwards among the brown hills and colossal
trees of California, but especially by that lonely golden beach in
Manitoba, where the high-stepping little brown deer run down to drink,
and the wild geese through the evening go flying and crying. It is an
empty land. To love the country here--mountains are worshipped, not
loved--is like embracing a wraith. A European can find nothing to
satisfy the hunger of his heart. The air is too thin to breathe.
He requires haunted woods, and the friendly presence of ghosts. The
immaterial soil of England is heavy and fertile with the decaying stuff
of past seasons and generations. Here is the floor of a new wood, yet
uncumbered by one year's autumn fall. We Europeans find the Orient stale
and too luxuriantly fetid by reason of the multitude of bygone lives and
thoughts, oppressive with the crowded presence of the dead, both men and
gods. So, I imagine, a Canadian would feel our woods and fields heavy
with the past and the invisible, and suffer claustrophobia in an English
countryside beneath the dreadful pressure of immortals. For his own
forests and wild places are windswept and empty. That is their charm,
and their terror. You may lie awake all night and never feel the passing
of evil presences, nor hear printless feet; neither do you lapse into
slumber with the comfortable consciousness of those friendly watchers
who sit invisibly by a lonely sleeper under an English sky. Even an
Irishman would not see a row of little men with green caps lepping
along beneath the fire-weed and the golden daisies; nor have the subtler
fairies of England found these wilds. It has never paid a steamship or
railway company to arrange for their emigration.

In the bush of certain islands of the South Seas you may hear a crashing
on windless noons, and, looking up, see a corpse swinging along head
downwards at a great speed from tree to tree, holding by its toes,
grimacing, dripping with decay. Americans, so active in this life,
rest quiet afterwards. And though every stone of Wall Street have its
separate Lar, their kind have not gone out beyond city-lots. The maple
and the birch conceal no dryads, and Pan has never been heard amongst
these reedbeds. Look as long as you like upon a cataract of the New
World, you shall not see a white arm in the foam. A godless place. And
the dead do not return. That is why there is nothing lurking in the
heart of the shadows, and no human mystery in the colours, and neither
the same joy nor the kind of peace in dawn and sunset that older lands
know. It is, indeed, a new world. How far away seem those grassy,
moonlit places in England that have been Roman camps or roads, where
there is always serenity, and the spirit of a purpose at rest, and
the sunlight flashes upon more than flint! Here one is perpetually a
first-comer. The land is virginal, the wind cleaner than elsewhere, and
every lake new-born, and each day is the first day. The flowers are less
conscious than English flowers, the breezes have nothing to remember,
and everything to promise. There walk, as yet, no ghosts of lovers in
Canadian lanes. This is the essence of the grey freshness and brisk
melancholy of this land. And for all the charm of those qualities, it
is also the secret of a European's discontent. For it is possible, at a
pinch, to do without gods. But one misses the dead.



XIV

SOME NIGGERS


"_Look at those niggers! Whose are they?" (An American Suffragist lady
on board S.S. 'Ventura,' entering Pago-Pago Harbour, Samoa, October
1913. Apropos of the Samoans.)_

I suppose that if news came that the National Gallery was burnt down,
one might feel, while hearing of the general damage, the rooms gutted or
untouched, the Rembrandts and Titians saved, harmed, or lost, a sudden
disproportionately keen little stab of wonder: "The Pisanello _St
Hubert_," or "The Patinir _Flight into Egypt_--What's happened to
_that_?" So now there must be a handful of wanderers here and there
who, among all the major conflagration and disasters of nations and
continents, have felt the tug of the question, "What of Samoa?"

The South Sea Islands have an invincible glamour. Any bar in 'Frisco
or Sydney will give you tales of seamen who slipped ashore in Samoa
or Tahiti or the Marquesas for a month's holiday, five, ten, or twenty
years ago. Their wives and families await them yet. They are compound,
these islands, of all legendary heavens. They are Calypso's and
Prospero's isle, and the Hesperides, and Paradise, and every timeless
and untroubled spot. Such tales have been made of them by men who have
been there, and gone away, and have been haunted by the smell of the
bush and the lagoons, and faint thunder on the distant reef, and the
colours of sky and sea and coral, and the beauty and grace of the
islanders. And the queer thing is that it's all, almost tiresomely,
true. In the South Seas the Creator seems to have laid Himself out to
show what He _can_ do. Imagine an island with the most perfect climate
in the world, tropical, yet almost always cooled by a breeze from
the sea. No malaria or other fevers. No dangerous beasts, snakes, or
insects. Fish for the catching, and fruits for the plucking. And
an earth and sky and sea of immortal loveliness. What more could
civilisation give? Umbrellas? Rope? Gladstone bags?.... Any one of the
vast leaves of the banana is more waterproof than the most expensive
woven stuff. And from the first tree you can tear off a long strip of
fibre that holds better than any rope. And thirty seconds' work on
a great palm-leaf produces a basket-bag which will carry incredible
weights all day, and can be thrown away in the evening. A world of
conveniences. And the things which civilisation has left behind or
missed by the way are there, too, among the Polynesians: beauty and
courtesy and mirth. I think there is no gift of mind or body that the
wise value which these people lack. A man I met in some other islands,
who had travelled much all over the world, said to me, "I have found
no man, in or out of Europe, with the good manners and dignity of the
Samoan, with the possible exception of the Irish peasant." A people
among whom an Italian would be uncouth, and a high-caste Hindu vulgar,
and Karsavina would seem clumsy, and Helen of Troy a frump.

The white population of Heaven, as one would expect, is very small;
but, as one wouldn't expect, it is composed of Americans, English, and
Germans. About half Germans, for it has been a German colony for some
fourteen years. But it is one of the few white 'possessions,' I suppose,
where a decent white needn't feel ashamed of himself. For, though it's
proper to deny that Germans can colonise, they have certainly ruled
Samoa very well. In some part, no doubt, the luck has been with
them--with the world--in this success. Samoa was one of their later
and wiser attempts in colonising. The first governor was Herr Solf, the
present Secretary for the Colonies, who is reputed to have started the
administration of Samoa after a careful examination of our method of
ruling Fiji, and with a due, but not complete, regard for the advice of
the chief English and American settlers in Samoa. Certainly he started
it very ably and wisely. By luck and good management those various
forces which might destroy the beauty of Samoa are almost ineffectual.
The fact that the missionaries are nearly all English puts a slight
sufficient chasm between the spiritual and civil powers, and avoids that
worst peril of these places--hierocracy. The trade of the islands is
largely a monopoly of the 'German firm,' a big affair which pays a
few people in Hamburg fabulous percentages. So smaller traders aren't
encouraged to flourish unduly; and the German firm itself is too well
fed to bother about extending. The Samoans, therefore, aren't exploited,
spiritually or commercially, as much as they might be. By such slight
chances beauty keeps a foothold in the world. The missionary's peace of
mind may require that the Samoan should wear trousers, or the trader's
pocket that he should drink gin and live under corrugated iron. But the
Government has discovered that these things are not good for the health
of the Polynesian, so the Samoan wears his _lava-lava_ and drinks his
_kava_, and lives in his cool and lovely thatched hut, and is happy.
And--final test of administration--the population is no longer
decreasing.

But I think there's more than luck or German wisdom at the bottom of the
happy condition of Samoa. Something in the very magic of the place seems
to subdue or soften the evil in men. Heaven forbid I should deny that
mean and treacherous and cruel acts of white men and brown are on
record. But as a rule the greedy or the boorish, once they settle there,
appear to mellow and grow quiet. Between this sea and sky even a trader
becomes almost a gentleman, even a Prussian almost lovable, and the very
missionaries are betrayed by beauty, and contentment takes them unaware.

Samoa has been well governed. The people have been forbidden a few
perils of civilisation, and for the rest are left pretty well to
themselves. Go up from Apia across the mountains, or round the coast,
or take a boat over to the other big island, Savaii, and you find them
living their old life, fishing and bathing and singing, and never a sign
of a white man. They are guaranteed possession of their land. They'll
sometimes complain faintly of 'taxation'--a small head-tax the
Government exacts, which compels the individual to some four or five
days' work a year. The English inhabitants themselves have had no
grumble against the Germans except that they incline to be 'too kind to
the natives'--an admirable testimonial. And traders in the Pacific
say they always get far better treatment from the customs and harbour
authorities at Apia than at the British Suva, in Fiji.

And yet the Samoans do not like the Germans. When I was there, nearly
a year ago, I was often asked, "When will Peritania (Britain) fight
Germany, and send her away from Samoa?" They have no complaint against
the Germans. They have merely a sentimental and highly flattering
preference for the English. On a recent visit of an English gunboat to
Apia, the officers were entertained at a Samoan dinner party, with music
and dances, by an eminent and very charming young princess. The princess
is a famous beauty, with the keen intelligence Samoans have if they
care, a wonderful dancer, possessed of a glorious singing voice and
a perfect knowledge of English. The party was a great success. The
princess led her guests afterwards to the flag-staff. Before anyone
could stop her, she leapt on to the pole and raced up the sixty feet
of it. That also is among the accomplishments of a Samoan princess. She
seized the German flag, tore it to pieces, brought it down, and danced
on it. So the tale is; and it is probably true. In the villages where I
stayed it was amusing how swiftly and completely the children forgot the
few words of German the Government sometimes had them taught; while
one or two common phrases, '_Morgen_,' '_gut_,' etc., were retained
as extremely good jokes by the boys and girls, occasions of
inextinguishable laughter, through the absurdity of their sound and the
very ridiculous German-ness of them....

I wish I were there again. It is a country, and a life, that bind the
heart. There is a poem:

  "I know an island,
  Lovely and lost, and half the world away;
  And there, 'twixt lowland and highland,
  Lies a pool, rich with murmur and scent and glimmer,
  And there my friends go, all the radiant day,
  Each golden-limbed and flower-crowned laughing swimmer,"

--and so on. It tells how ugly and joyless by comparison the fellow's
own country sometimes seems, filled with money-making and fogs and such
grey things:

  "Evil, and gloom, and cold o' nights in my land;
  But,--I know an island
  Where Beauty and Courtesy, as flowers, blow."

 So it goes, with a jolly return on the rhyme. But the whole poem is a
bad one. Still, the man felt it, the magic. It is a magic of a different
way of life. In the South Seas, if you live the South Sea life, the
intellect soon lapses into quiescence. The body becomes more active, the
senses and perceptions more lordly and acute. It is a life of swimming
and climbing and resting after exertion. The skin seems to grow more
sensitive to light and air, and the feel of water and the earth and
leaves. Hour after hour one may float in the warm lagoons, conscious, in
the whole body, of every shred and current of the multitudinous
water, or diving under in a vain attempt to catch the radiant
butterfly-coloured fish that flit in and out of the thousand windows
of their gorgeous coral palaces. Or go up, one of a singing
flower-garlanded crowd, to a shaded pool of a river in the bush, cool
from the mountains. The blossom-hung darkness is streaked with the
bodies that fling themselves, head or feet first, from the cliffs around
the water, and the haunted forest-silence is broken by laughter. It is
part of the charm of these people that, while they are not so foolish
as to 'think,' their intelligence is incredibly lively and subtle, their
sense of humour and their intuitions of other people's feelings are
very keen and living. They have built up, in the long centuries of
their civilisation, a delicate and noble complexity of behaviour and of
personal relationships. A white man living with them soon feels his
mind as deplorably dull as his skin is pale and unhealthy among those
glorious golden-brown bodies. But even he soon learns to _be_ his body
(and so his true mind), instead of using it as a stupid convenience
for his personality, a moment's umbrella against this world. He is
perpetually and intensely aware of the subtleties of taste in food,
of every tint and line of the incomparable glories of those dawns and
evenings, of each shade of intercourse in fishing or swimming or dancing
with the best companions in the world. That alone is life; all else is
death. And after dark, the black palms against a tropic night, the smell
of the wind, the tangible moonlight like a white, dry, translucent mist,
the lights in the huts, the murmur and laughter of passing figures, the
passionate, queer thrill of the rhythm of some hidden dance--all this
will seem to him, inexplicably and almost unbearably, a scene his heart
has known long ago, and forgotten, and yet always looked for.

And now Samoa is ours. A New Zealand Expeditionary Force took it. Well,
I know a princess who will have had the day of her life. Did they see
Stevenson's tomb gleaming high up on the hill, as they made for that
passage in the reef? Did Vasa, with his heavy-lidded eyes, and that
infinitely adorable lady Fafaia, wander down to the beach to watch them
land? They must have landed from boats; and at noon, I see. How hot they
got! I know that Apia noon. Didn't they rush to the Tivoli bar--but I
forget, New Zealanders are teetotalers. So, perhaps, the Samoans gave
them the coolest of all drinks, _kava_; and they scored. And what dances
in their honour, that night!--but, again, I'm afraid the _houla-houla_
would shock a New Zealander. I suppose they left a garrison, and went
away. I can very vividly see them steaming out in the evening; and the
crowd on shore would be singing them that sweetest and best-known of
South Sea songs, which begins 'Good-bye, my Flenni' ('Friend,' you'd
pronounce it), and goes on in Samoan, a very beautiful tongue. I hope
they'll rule Samoa well.



AN UNUSUAL YOUNG MAN


Some say the Declaration of War threw us into a primitive abyss of
hatred and the lust for blood. Others declare that we behaved very well.
I do not know. I only know the thoughts that flowed through the mind
of a friend of mine when he heard the news. My friend--I shall make no
endeavour to excuse him--is a normal, even ordinary man, wholly English,
twenty-four years old, active and given to music. By a chance he was
ignorant of the events of the world during the last days of July. He was
camping with some friends in a remote part of Cornwall, and had gone on,
with a companion, for a four-days' sail. So it wasn't till they beached
her again that they heard. A youth ran down to them with a telegram:
"We're at war with Germany. We've joined France and Russia."

My friend ate and drank, and then climbed a hill of gorse, and sat
alone, looking at the sea. His mind was full of confused images, and
the sense of strain. In answer to the word 'Germany,' a train of vague
thoughts dragged across his brain. The pompous middle-class vulgarity of
the building of Berlin; the wide and restful beauty of Munich; the taste
of beer; innumerable quiet, glittering _cafes_; the _Ring_; the swish
of evening air in the face, as one _skis_ down past the pines; a certain
angle of the eyes in the face; long nights of drinking, and singing,
and laughter; the admirable beauty of German wives and mothers;
certain friends; some tunes; the quiet length of evening over the
Starnberger-See. Between him and the Cornish sea he saw quite clearly
an April morning on a lake south of Berlin, the grey water slipping
past his little boat, and a peasant-woman, suddenly revealed against
apple-blossom, hanging up blue and scarlet garments to dry in the sun.
Children played about her; and she sang as she worked. And he remembered
a night in Munich spent with a students' _Kneipe_. From eight to one
they had continually emptied immense jugs of beer, and smoked, and sung
English and German songs in profound chorus. And when the party broke up
he found himself arm-in-arm with the president, who was a vast Jew, and
with an Apollonian youth called Leo Diringer, who said he was a poet.
There was also a fourth man, of whom he could remember no detail.
Together, walking with ferocious care down the middle of the street,
they had swayed through Schwabing seeking an open _cafe_. Cafe Benz was
closed, but further up there was a little place still lighted, inhabited
by one waiter, innumerable chairs and tables piled on each other for the
night, and a row of chess-boards, in front of which sat a little bald,
bearded man in dress-clothes, waiting. The little man seemed to them
infinitely pathetic. Four against one, they played him at chess, and
were beaten. They bowed, and passed into the night. Leo Diringer recited
a sonnet, and slept suddenly at the foot of a lamp-post. The Jew's
heavy-lidded eyes shone with a final flicker of caution, and he turned
homeward resolutely, to the last not wholly drunk. My friend had
wandered to his lodgings, in an infinite peace. He could not remember
what had happened to the fourth man....

A thousand little figures tumbled through his mind. But they no longer
brought with them that air of comfortable kindliness which Germany had
always signified for him. Something in him kept urging, "You must hate
these things, find evil in them." There was that half-conscious agony of
breaking a mental habit, painting out a mass of associations, which he
had felt in ceasing to believe in a religion, or, more acutely, after
quarrelling with a friend. He knew that was absurd. The picture came
to him of encountering the Jew, or Diringer, or old Wolf, or little
Streckmann, the pianist, in a raid on the East Coast, or on the
Continent, slashing at them in a stagey, dimly-imagined battle.
Ridiculous. He vaguely imagined a series of heroic feats, vast
enterprise, and the applause of crowds....

From that egotism he was awakened to a different one, by the thought
that this day meant war and the change of all things he knew. He
realised, with increasing resentment, that music would be neglected.
And he wouldn't be able, for example, to camp out. He might have to
volunteer for military training and service. Some of his friends would
be killed. The Russian ballet wouldn't return. His own relationship with
A----, a girl he intermittently adored, would be changed. Absurd, but
inevitable; because--he scarcely worded it to himself--he and she and
everyone else were going to be different. His mind fluttered irascibly
to escape from this thought, but still came back to it, like a tethered
bird. Then he became calmer, and wandered out for a time into fantasy.

A cloud over the sun woke him to consciousness of his own thoughts; and
he found, with perplexity, that they were continually recurring to two
periods of his life, the days after the death of his mother, and the
time of his first deep estrangement from one he loved. After a bit he
understood this. Now, as then, his mind had been completely divided
into two parts: the upper running about aimlessly from one half-relevant
thought to another, the lower unconscious half labouring with some
profound and unknowable change. This feeling of ignorant helplessness
linked him with those past crises. His consciousness was like the light
scurry of waves at full tide, when the deeper waters are pausing and
gathering and turning home. Something was growing in his heart, and he
couldn't tell what. But as he thought 'England and Germany,' the word
'England' seemed to flash like a line of foam. With a sudden tightening
of his heart, he realised that there might be a raid on the English
coast. He didn't imagine any possibility of it _succeeding_, but only
of enemies and warfare on English soil. The idea sickened him. He was
immensely surprised to perceive that the actual earth of England held
for him a quality which he found in A----, and in a friend's honour, and
scarcely anywhere else, a quality which, if he'd ever been sentimental
enough to use the word, he'd have called 'holiness.' His astonishment
grew as the full flood of 'England' swept him on from thought to
thought. He felt the triumphant helplessness of a lover. Grey, uneven
little fields, and small, ancient hedges rushed before him, wild
flowers, elms and beeches, gentleness, sedate houses of red brick,
proudly unassuming, a countryside of rambling hills and friendly copses.
He seemed to be raised high, looking down on a landscape compounded of
the western view from the Cotswolds, and the Weald, and the high land
in Wiltshire, and the Midlands seen from the hills above Prince's
Risborough. And all this to the accompaniment of tunes heard long ago,
an intolerable number of them being hymns. There was, in his mind, a
confused multitude of faces, to most of which he could not put a
name. At one moment he was on an Atlantic liner, sick for home, making
Plymouth at nightfall; and at another, diving into a little rocky pool
through which the Teign flows, north of Bovey; and again, waking,
stiff with dew, to see the dawn come up over the Royston plain. And
continually he seemed to see the set of a mouth which he knew for his
mother's, and A----'s face, and, inexplicably, the face of an old man
he had once passed in a Warwickshire village. To his great disgust, the
most commonplace sentiments found utterance in him. At the same time he
was extraordinarily happy....

My friend, who has always, though never very passionately, believed
himself a most unusual young man, rose to his feet. Feeling a little
frightened, and more than a little unwell--for he is a person of quiet
mental habits--he wandered down the hill. He kept slowly moving his
head, like a man who wishes to dodge a pain. I gather that he was
conscious of few definite thoughts till he reached the London train. He
kept remembering, unwillingly, a midnight in Carnival-time in Munich,
when he had seen a clown, a Pierrot, and a Columbine tip-toe delicately
round the deserted corner of Theresien-strasse, and vanish into the
darkness. Then he thought of the lights on the pavement in Trafalgar
Square. It seemed to him the most desirable thing in the world to mingle
and talk with a great many English people. Also, he kept saying to
himself--for he felt vaguely jealous of the young men in Germany and
France--"Well, if Armageddon's _on_, I suppose one should be there." ...
Of France, he tells me, he thought little. The French always seemed to
him people to be respected, but very remote; more incomprehensible than
the Japanese, more, even, than the Irish. Of Russia, less. She meant
nothing to him except a sense of hysteria and vague evil which he had
been given by some of her music and literature. He thought often and
heavily of Germany. Of England, all the time. He didn't know whether he
was glad or sad. It was a new feeling.





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