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Title: Miscellaneous Studies; a series of essays
Author: Pater, Walter, 1839-1894
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 "Miscellaneous Studies; a series of essays" ***

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London: 1910. (The Library Edition.)


Notes: The 1910 Library Edition employs footnotes, a style inconvenient
in an electronic edition.  I have therefore placed an asterisk
immediately after each of Pater's footnotes and a + sign after my own
notes, and have listed each chapter's notes at that chapter's end.

Pagination and Paragraphing: To avoid an unwieldy electronic copy, I
have transferred original pagination to brackets.  A bracketed numeral
such as [22] indicates that the material immediately following the
number marks the beginning of the relevant page.  I have preserved
paragraph structure except for first-line indentation.

Hyphenation: I have not preserved original hyphenation since an e-text
does not require line-end or page-end hyphenation.

Greek typeface: For this full-text edition, I have transliterated
Pater's Greek quotations.  If there is a need for the original Greek,
it can be viewed at my site, http://www.ajdrake.com/etexts, a
Victorianist archive that contains the complete works of Walter Pater
and many other nineteenth-century texts, mostly in first editions.




C. Shadwell's Preface--Publication Chronology: 1-7

Prosper Mérimée: 11-37

Raphael: 38-61

Pascal: 62-89

Art Notes in North Italy: 90-108

Notre Dame D'Amiens: 109-125

Vézelay: 126-141

Apollo in Picardy: 142-171

The Child in the House: 172-196

Emerald Uthwart: 197-246

Diaphaneité: 247-254


[1] The volume of Greek Studies, issued early in the present year,
dealt with Mr. Pater's contributions to the study of Greek art,
mythology, and poetry.  The present volume has no such unifying
principle.  Some of the papers would naturally find their place
alongside of those collected in Imaginary Portraits, or in
Appreciations, or in the Studies in the Renaissance.  And there is no
doubt, in the case of several of them, that Mr. Pater, if he had lived,
would have subjected them to careful revision before allowing them to
reappear in a permanent form.  The task, which he left unexecuted,
cannot now be taken up by any other hand.  But it is hoped that
students of his writings will be glad to possess, in a collected shape,
what has hitherto only been accessible in the scattered volumes of
magazines.  It is with some hesitation that the paper on Diaphaneitè,
the last in this volume, has been added, as the only specimen known to
[2] be preserved of those early essays of Mr. Pater's, by which his
literary gifts were first made known to the small circle of his Oxford

Subjoined is a brief chronological list of his published writings. It
will be observed how considerable a period, 1880 to 1885, was given up
to the composition of Marius the Epicurean, the most highly finished of
all his works, and the expression of his deepest thought.

August, 1895.


(Adapted from a compilation by Charles L. Shadwell in the 1895
Macmillan edition of Miscellaneous Studies.)


COLERIDGE.  Appeared in Westminster Review, January, 1866.  Reprinted
1889 in Appreciations.


WINCKELMANN.  Appeared in Westminster Review, January, 1867.  Reprinted
1873 in Studies in the Renaissance.


*AESTHETIC POETRY.  Written in 1868.  First published 1889 in
Appreciations.  (Not included in the 1910 Macmillan Library Edition,
but published separately at Doctrine Publishing Corporation and


NOTES ON LEONARDO DA VINCI.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in
November, 1869.  Reprinted 1873 in Studies in the Renaissance.


SANDRO BOTTICELLI.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in August, 1870,
entitled "A Fragment on Sandro Botticelli."  Reprinted 1873 in Studies
in the Renaissance.


PICO DELLA MIRANDOLA.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in October, 1871.
Reprinted 1873 in Studies in the Renaissance.

POETRY OF MICHELANGELO.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in November,
1871.  Reprinted 1873 in Studies in the Renaissance.


Macmillan. Contents:

Aucassin and Nicolette.  Entitled in second and later editions, "Two
Early French Stories."

Pico della Mirandola.  See 1871.

Sandro Botticelli.  See 1870.

Luca della Robbia.

Poetry of Michelangelo.  See 1871.

Leonardo da Vinci.  See 1869.

Joachim du Bellay.

Winckelmann.  See 1867.



WORDSWORTH.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in April, 1874.  Reprinted
1889 in Appreciations.

MEASURE FOR MEASURE.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in November, 1874.
Reprinted 1889 in Appreciations.


DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE.  Written as two lectures, and delivered in 1875
at the Birmingham and Midland Institute.  Appeared in Fortnightly
Review in January and February, 1876.  Reprinted 1895 in Greek Studies.


ROMANTICISM.  Appeared in Macmillan's Magazine in November, 1876.
Reprinted 1889 in Appreciations under the title "Postscript."

A STUDY OF DIONYSUS.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in December, 1876.
Reprinted 1895 in Greek Studies.


THE SCHOOL OF GIORGIONE.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in October,
1877.  Reprinted 1888 in third edition of The Renaissance.

Macmillan. Contents:

Two Early French Stories.

Pico della Mirandola.

Sandro Botticelli.

Luca della Robbia.

The Poetry of Michelangelo.

Leonardo da Vinci.

Joachim du Bellay.



THE CHILD IN THE HOUSE.  Appeared in Macmillan's Magazine in August,
1878, under the heading, "Imaginary Portrait.  The Child in the House."
Reprinted 1895 in Miscellaneous Studies.

CHARLES LAMB.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in October, 1878.
Reprinted 1889 in Appreciations.

LOVE'S LABOURS LOST.  Written in 1878.  Appeared in Macmillan's
Magazine in December, 1885.  Reprinted 1889 in Appreciations.

THE BACCHANALS OF EURIPIDES.  Written in 1878.  Appeared in Macmillan's
Magazine in May, 1889.  Reprinted in Tyrrell's edition of the Bacchae
in 1892.  Reprinted in 1895 in Greek Studies.


THE BEGINNINGS OF GREEK SCULPTURE.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in
February and March, 1880.  Reprinted 1895 in Greek Studies.

THE MARBLES OF AEGINA.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in April, 1880.
Reprinted 1895 in Greek Studies.


DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI.  Written in 1883.  Published 1889 in


MARIUS THE EPICUREAN.  Published in 1885 by Macmillan.  Two volumes.

A PRINCE OF COURT PAINTERS.  Appeared in Macmillan's Magazine in
October, 1885.  Reprinted 1887 in Imaginary Portraits.


FEUILLET'S "LA MORTE."  Written in 1886.  Published 1890 in second
edition of Appreciations.

SIR THOMAS BROWNE.  Written in 1886.  Published 1889 in Appreciations.

SEBASTIAN VAN STORCK.  Appeared in Macmillan's Magazine in March, 1886.
Reprinted 1887 in Imaginary Portraits.

DENYS L'AUXERROIS.  Appeared in Macmillan's Magazine in October, 1886.
Reprinted 1887 in Imaginary Portraits.


DUKE CARL OF ROSENMOLD.  Appeared in Macmillan's Magazine in May, 1887.
Reprinted the same year in Imaginary Portraits.

IMAGINARY PORTRAITS.  Published 1887 by Macmillan.  Contents:

A Prince of Court Painters.  See 1885.

Denys l'Auxerrois.  See 1886.

Sebastian van Storck.  See 1886.

Duke Carl of Rosenmold.  See above.


GASTON DE LATOUR.  Appeared in Macmillan's Magazine as under: viz.

Chapter I in June.

Chapter II in July.

Chapter III in August.

Chapter IV in September.

Chapter V in October.

STYLE.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in December, 1888.  Reprinted
1889 in Appreciations.

THE RENAISSANCE.  Third Edition.  Macmillan.  Contents:

Two Early French Stories.

Pico della Mirandola.

Sandro Botticelli.

Luca della Robbia.

The Poetry of Michelangelo.

Leonardo da Vinci.

The School of Giorgione.  See 1877.

Joachim du Bellay.




HIPPOLYTUS VEILED.  Appeared in Macmillan's Magazine in August, 1889.
Reprinted 1895 in Greek Studies.

*GIORDANO BRUNO.  Appeared in Fortnightly Review in August, 1889.  (Not
included in the 1910 Macmillan Library Edition, but published
separately online at Doctrine Publishing Corporation and www.ajdrake.com/etexts.)

APPRECIATIONS, WITH AN ESSAY ON STYLE.  Published 1889 by Macmillan.

Style.  See 1888.

Wordsworth.  See 1874.

Coleridge.  See 1866.

Charles Lamb.  See 1878.

Sir Thomas Browne.  See 1886.

Love's Labours Lost.  See 1878.

Measure for Measure.  See 1874.

Shakespeare's English Kings.

*Aesthetic Poetry.  See 1868.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  See 1883.

Postscript.  See under "Romanticism," 1876.


ART NOTES IN NORTHERN ITALY.  Appeared in New Review in November, 1890.
Reprinted 1895 in Miscellaneous Studies.

PROSPER MÉRIMÉE.  Delivered as a lecture at Oxford in November, 1890.
Appeared in Fortnightly Review in December, 1890.  Reprinted 1895 in
Miscellaneous Studies.

APPRECIATIONS.  Second edition.  Macmillan.  Contents as in first
edition of 1889, but omitting Aesthetic Poetry and including a paper on
Feuillet's "La Morte" (See 1886).


THE GENIUS OF PLATO.  Appeared in Contemporary Review in February,
1892.  Reprinted 1893 as Chapter VI of Plato and Platonism.

A CHAPTER ON PLATO.  Appeared in Macmillan's Magazine in May, 1892.
Reprinted 1893 as Chapter I of Plato and Platonism.

LACEDAEMON.  Appeared in Contemporary Review in June, 1892.  Reprinted
1893 as Chapter VIII of Plato and Platonism.

EMERALD UTHWART.  Appeared in New Review in June and July, 1892.
Reprinted 1895 in Miscellaneous Studies.

RAPHAEL.  Delivered as a lecture at Oxford in August, 1892.  Appeared
in Fortnightly Review in October, 1892.  Reprinted 1895 in
Miscellaneous Studies.


APOLLO IN PICARDY.  Appeared in Harper's Magazine in November, 1893.
Reprinted 1895 in Miscellaneous Studies.

PLATO AND PLATONISM.  Published 1893 by Macmillan.  Included, as
Chapters 1, 6, and 8, papers which had already appeared in Magazines in
1892.  Contents:

1. Plato and the Doctrine of Motion.

2. Plato and the Doctrine of Rest.

3. Plato and the Doctrine of Number.

4. Plato and Socrates.

5. Plato and the Sophists.

6. The Genius of Plato.

7. The Doctrine of Plato--

         I. The Theory of Ideas.

        II. Dialectic.

8. Lacedaemon.

9. The Republic.

10. Plato's Aesthetics.


THE AGE OF ATHLETIC PRIZEMEN.  Appeared in Contemporary Review in
February, 1894.  Reprinted 1895 in Greek Studies.

Appeared in Nineteenth Century in March and June, 1894.  Reprinted 1895
in Miscellaneous Studies as two separate essays.

PASCAL.  Written for delivery as a lecture at Oxford in July, 1894.
Appeared in Contemporary Review in December, 1894.  Reprinted 1895 in
Miscellaneous Studies.


GREEK STUDIES.  Published 1895 by Macmillan. Contents:

A Study of Dionysus.  See 1876.

The Bacchanals of Euripides.  See 1878.

The Myth of Demeter and Persephone.  See 1875.

Hippolytus Veiled.  See 1889.

The Beginnings of Greek Sculpture.  See 1880:

        1) The Heroic Age of Greek Art.

        2) The Age of Graven Images.

The Marbles of Aegina.  See 1880.

The Age of Athletic Prizemen.  See 1894.


FOR one born in eighteen hundred and three much was recently become
incredible that had at least warmed the imagination even of the
sceptical eighteenth century.  Napoleon, sealing the tomb of the
Revolution, had foreclosed many a problem, extinguished many a hope, in
the sphere of practice.  And the mental parallel was drawn by Heine.
In the mental world too a great outlook had lately been cut off.  After
Kant's criticism of the mind, its pretensions to pass beyond the limits
of individual experience seemed as dead as those of old French royalty.
And Kant did but furnish its innermost theoretic force to a more
general criticism, which had withdrawn from every department of action,
underlying principles once thought eternal.  A time of disillusion
followed.  The typical personality of the day was Obermann, the very
genius of ennui, a Frenchman disabused even of patriotism, who has
hardly strength enough to die.

[12] More energetic souls, however, would recover themselves, and find
some way of making the best of a changed world.  Art: the passions,
above all, the ecstasy and sorrow of love: a purely empirical knowledge
of nature and man: these still remained, at least for pastime, in a
world of which it was no longer proposed to calculate the remoter
issues:--art, passion, science, however, in a somewhat novel attitude
towards the practical interests of life.  The désillusionné, who had
found in Kant's negations the last word concerning an unseen world, and
is living, on the morrow of the Revolution, under a monarchy made out
of hand, might seem cut off from certain ancient natural hopes, and
will demand, from what is to interest him at all, something in the way
of artificial stimulus.  He has lost that sense of large proportion in
things, that all-embracing prospect of life as a whole (from end to end
of time and space, it had seemed), the utmost expanse of which was
afforded from a cathedral tower of the Middle Age: by the church of the
thirteenth century, that is to say, with its consequent aptitude for
the co-ordination of human effort.  Deprived of that exhilarating yet
pacific outlook, imprisoned now in the narrow cell of its own
subjective experience, the action of a powerful nature will be intense,
but exclusive and peculiar.  It will come to art, or science, to the
experience of life itself, not as to portions of human nature's daily
food, but as to [13] something that must be, by the circumstances of
the case, exceptional; almost as men turn in despair to gambling or
narcotics, and in a little while the narcotic, the game of chance or
skill, is valued for its own sake.  The vocation of the artist, of the
student of life or books, will be realised with something--say! of
fanaticism, as an end in itself, unrelated, unassociated.  The science
he turns to will be a science of crudest fact; the passion extravagant,
a passionate love of passion, varied through all the exotic phases of
French fiction as inaugurated by Balzac; the art exaggerated, in matter
or form, or both, as in Hugo or Baudelaire.  The development of these
conditions is the mental story of the nineteenth century, especially as
exemplified in France.

In no century would Prosper Mérimée have been a theologian or
metaphysician.  But that sense of negation, of theoretic insecurity,
was in the air, and conspiring with what was of like tendency in
himself made of him a central type of disillusion.  In him the passive
ennui of Obermann became a satiric, aggressive, almost angry conviction
of the littleness of the world around; it was as if man's fatal
limitations constituted a kind of stupidity in him, what the French
call bêtise.  Gossiping friends, indeed, linked what was constitutional
in him and in the age with an incident of his earliest years.
Corrected for some childish fault, in passionate distress, he overhears
a half-pitying laugh at his expense, and has determined, [14] in a
moment, never again to give credit--to be for ever on his guard,
especially against his own instinctive movements.  Quite unreserved,
certainly, he never was again.  Almost everywhere he could detect the
hollow ring of fundamental nothingness under the apparent surface of
things.  Irony surely, habitual irony, would be the proper complement
thereto, on his part.  In his infallible self-possession, you might
even fancy him a mere man of the world, with a special aptitude for
matters of fact.  Though indifferent in politics, he rises to social,
to political eminence; but all the while he is feeding all his
scholarly curiosity, his imagination, the very eye, with the, to him
ever delightful, relieving, reassuring spectacle, of those
straightforward forces in human nature, which are also matters of fact.
There is the formula of Mérimée! the enthusiastic amateur of rude,
crude, naked force in men and women wherever it could be found; himself
carrying ever, as a mask, the conventional attire of the modern
world--carrying it with an infinite, contemptuous grace, as if that,
too, were an all-sufficient end in itself.  With a natural gift for
words, for expression, it will be his literary function to draw back
the veil of time from the true greatness of old Roman character; the
veil of modern habit from the primitive energy of the creatures of his
fancy, as the Lettres à une Inconnue discovered to general gaze, after
his death, a certain depth of [15] passionate force which had surprised
him in himself. And how forcible will be their outlines in an otherwise
insignificant world!  Fundamental belief gone, in almost all of us, at
least some relics of it remain--queries, echoes, reactions,
after-thoughts; and they help to make an atmosphere, a mental
atmosphere, hazy perhaps, yet with many secrets of soothing light and
shade, associating more definite objects to each other by a perspective
pleasant to the inward eye against a hopefully receding background of
remoter and ever remoter possibilities.  Not so with Mérimée!  For him
the fundamental criticism has nothing more than it can do; and there
are no half-lights.  The last traces of hypothesis, of supposition, are
evaporated.  Sylla, the false Demetrius, Carmen, Colomba, that
impassioned self within himself, have no atmosphere.  Painfully
distinct in outline, inevitable to sight, unrelieved, there they stand,
like solitary mountain forms on some hard, perfectly transparent day.
What Mérimée gets around his singularly sculpturesque creations is
neither more nor less than empty space.

So disparate are his writings that at first sight you might fancy them
only the random efforts of a man of pleasure or affairs, who, turning
to this or that for the relief of a vacant hour, discovers to his
surprise a workable literary gift, of whose scope, however, he is not
precisely aware.  His sixteen volumes nevertheless range themselves in
three compact groups.  There are his letters [16] --those Lettres à une
Inconnue, and his letters to the librarian Panizzi, revealing him in
somewhat close contact with political intrigue.  But in this age of
novelists, it is as a writer of novels, and of fiction in the form of
highly descriptive drama, that he will count for most:--Colomba, for
instance, by its intellectual depth of motive, its firmly conceived
structure, by the faultlessness of its execution, vindicating the
function of the novel as no tawdry light literature, but in very deed a
fine art.  The Chronique du Règne de Charles IX., an unusually
successful specimen of historical romance, links his imaginative work
to the third group of Mérimée's writings, his historical essays.  One
resource of the disabused soul of our century, as we saw, would be the
empirical study of facts, the empirical science of nature and man,
surviving all dead metaphysical philosophies.  Mérimée, perhaps, may
have had in him the making of a master of such science, disinterested,
patient, exact: scalpel in hand, we may fancy, he would have penetrated
far.  But quite certainly he had something of genius for the exact
study of history, for the pursuit of exact truth, with a keenness of
scent as if that alone existed, in some special area of historic fact,
to be determined by his own peculiar mental preferences.  Power here
too again,--the crude power of men and women which mocks, while it
makes its use of, average human nature: it was the magic function of
history to put one in living [17] contact with that.  To weigh the
purely physiognomic import of the memoir, of the pamphlet saved by
chance, the letter, the anecdote, the very gossip by which one came
face to face with energetic personalities: there lay the true business
of the historic student, not in that pretended theoretic interpretation
of events by their mechanic causes, with which he dupes others if not
invariably himself.  In the great hero of the Social War, in Sylla,
studied, indeed, through his environment, but only so far as that was
in dynamic contact with himself, you saw, without any manner of doubt,
on one side, the solitary height of human genius; on the other, though
on the seemingly so heroic stage of antique Roman story, the wholly
inexpressive level of the humanity of every day, the spectacle of man's
eternal bêtise.  Fascinated, like a veritable son of the old pagan
Renaissance, by the grandeur, the concentration, the satiric hardness
of ancient Roman character, it is to Russia nevertheless that he most
readily turns--youthful Russia, whose native force, still unbelittled
by our western civilisation, seemed to have in it the promise of a more
dignified civilisation to come.  It was as if old Rome itself were here
again; as, occasionally, a new quarry is laid open of what was thought
long since exhausted, ancient marble, cipollino or verde antique.
Mérimée, indeed, was not the first to discern the fitness for
imaginative service of the career of "the false Demetrius," pretended
[18] son of Ivan the Terrible; but he alone seeks its utmost force in a
calm, matter-of-fact carefully ascertained presentment of the naked
events.  Yes!  In the last years of the Valois, when its fierce
passions seemed to be bursting France to pieces, you might have seen,
far away beyond the rude Polish dominion of which one of those Valois
princes had become king, a display more effective still of exceptional
courage and cunning, of horror in circumstance, of bêtise, of course,
of bêtise and a slavish capacity of being duped, in average mankind:
all that under a mask of solemn Muscovite court-ceremonial.  And
Mérimée's style, simple and unconcerned, but with the eye ever on its
object, lends itself perfectly to such purpose--to an almost phlegmatic
discovery of the facts, in all their crude natural colouring, as if he
but held up to view, as a piece of evidence, some harshly dyed oriental
carpet from the sumptuous floor of the Kremlin, on which blood had

A lover of ancient Rome, its great character and incident, Mérimée
valued, as if it had been personal property of his, every extant relic
of it in the art that had been most expressive of its
genius--architecture.  In that grandiose art of building, the most
national, the most tenaciously rooted of all the arts in the stable
conditions of life, there were historic documents hardly less clearly
legible than the manuscript chronicle.  By the mouth of those stately
Romanesque [19] churches, scattered in so many strongly characterised
varieties over the soil of France, above all in the hot, half-pagan
south, the people of empire still protested, as he understood, against
what must seem a smaller race.  The Gothic enthusiasm indeed was
already born, and he shared it--felt intelligently the fascination of
the Pointed Style, but only as a further transformation of old Roman
structure; the round arch is for him still the great architectural
form, la forme noble, because it was to be seen in the monuments of
antiquity.  Romanesque, Gothic, the manner of the Renaissance, of Lewis
the Fourteenth:--they were all, as in a written record, in the old
abbey church of Saint-Savin, of which Mérimée was instructed to draw up
a report.  Again, it was as if to his concentrated attention through
many months that deserted sanctuary of Benedict were the only thing on
earth.  Its beauties, its peculiarities, its odd military features, its
faded mural paintings, are no merely picturesque matter for the pencil
he could use so well, but the lively record of a human society.  With
what appetite! with all the animation of George Sand's Mauprat, he
tells the story of romantic violence having its way there, defiant of
law, so late as the year 1611; of the family of robber nobles perched,
as abbots in commendam, in those sacred places.  That grey, pensive old
church in the little valley of Poitou, was for a time like Santa Maria
del Fiore to [20] Michelangelo, the mistress of his affections--of a
practical affection; for the result of his elaborate report was the
Government grant which saved the place from ruin.  In architecture,
certainly, he had what for that day was nothing less than intuition--an
intuitive sense, above all, of its logic, of the necessity which draws
into one all minor changes, as elements in a reasonable development.
And his care for it, his curiosity about it, were symptomatic of his
own genius.  Structure, proportion, design, a sort of architectural
coherency: that was the aim of his method in the art of literature, in
that form of it, especially, which he will live by, in fiction.

As historian and archaeologist, as a man of erudition turned artist, he
is well seen in the Chronique du Règne de Charles IX., by which we pass
naturally from Mérimée's critical or scientific work to the products of
his imagination.  What economy in the use of a large antiquarian
knowledge! what an instinct amid a hundred details, for the detail that
carries physiognomy in it, that really tells!  And again what outline,
what absolute clarity of outline!  For the historian of that puzzling
age which centres in the "Eve of Saint Bartholomew," outward events
themselves seem obscured by the vagueness of motive of the actors in
them.  But Mérimée, disposing of them as an artist, not in love with
half-lights, compels events and actors alike to the clearness he [21]
desired; takes his side without hesitation; and makes his hero a
Huguenot of pure blood, allowing its charm, in that charming youth,
even to Huguenot piety.  And as for the incidents--however freely it
may be undermined by historic doubt, all reaches a perfectly firm
surface, at least for the eye of the reader.  The Chronicle of Charles
the Ninth is like a series of masterly drawings in illustration of a
period--the period in which two other masters of French fiction have
found their opportunity, mainly by the development of its actual
historic characters.  Those characters--Catherine de Medicis and the
rest--Mérimée, with significant irony and self-assertion, sets aside,
preferring to think of them as essentially commonplace.  For him the
interest lies in the creatures of his own will, who carry in them,
however, so lightly! a learning equal to Balzac's, greater than that of
Dumas.  He knows with like completeness the mere fashions of the
time--how courtier and soldier dressed themselves, and the large
movements of the desperate game which fate or chance was playing with
those pretty pieces.  Comparing that favourite century of the French
Renaissance with our own, he notes a decadence of the more energetic
passions in the interest of general tranquillity, and perhaps (only
perhaps!) of general happiness.  "Assassination," he observes, as if
with regret, "is no longer a part of our manners."  In fact, the duel,
and the whole [22] morality of the duel, which does but enforce a
certain regularity on assassination, what has been well called le
sentiment du fer, the sentiment of deadly steel, had then the
disposition of refined existence.  It was, indeed, very different, and
is, in Mérimée's romance.  In his gallant hero, Bernard de Mergy, all
the promptings of the lad's virile goodness are in natural collusion
with that sentiment du fer.  Amid his ingenuous blushes, his prayers,
and plentiful tears between-while, it is a part of his very sex.  With
his delightful, fresh-blown air, he is for ever tossing the sheath from
the sword, but always as if into bright natural sunshine.  A winsome,
yet withal serious and even piteous figure, he conveys his
pleasantness, in spite of its gloomy theme, into Mérimée's one quite
cheerful book.

Cheerful, because, after all, the gloomy passions it presents are but
the accidents of a particular age, and not like the mental conditions
in which Mérimée was most apt to look for the spectacle of human power,
allied to madness or disease in the individual.  For him, at least, it
was the office of fiction to carry one into a different if not a better
world than that actually around us; and if the Chronicle of Charles the
Ninth provided an escape from the tame circumstances of contemporary
life into an impassioned past, Colomba is a measure of the resources
for mental alteration which may be found even in the modern age.  There
was a corner of [23] the French Empire, in the manners of which
assassination still had a large part.

"The beauty of Corsica," says Mérimée, "is grave and sad.  The aspect
of the capital does but augment the impression caused by the solitude
that surrounds it.  There is no movement in the streets.  You hear
there none of the laughter, the singing, the loud talking, common in
the towns of Italy.  Sometimes, under the shadow of a tree on the
promenade, a dozen armed peasants will be playing cards, or looking on
at the game.  The Corsican is naturally silent.  Those who walk the
pavement are all strangers: the islanders stand at their doors: every
one seems to be on the watch, like a falcon on its nest.  All around
the gulf there is but an expanse of tanglework; beyond it, bleached
mountains.  Not a habitation!  Only, here and there, on the heights
about the town, certain white constructions detach themselves from the
background of green.  They are funeral chapels or family tombs."

Crude in colour, sombre, taciturn, Corsica, as Mérimée here describes
it, is like the national passion of the Corsican--that morbid personal
pride, usurping the place even of grief for the dead, which centuries
of traditional violence had concentrated into an all-absorbing passion
for bloodshed, for bloody revenges, in collusion with the natural
wildness, and the wild social condition of the island still unaffected
even by the finer [24] ethics of the duel. The supremacy of that
passion is well indicated by the cry, put into the mouth of a young man
in the presence of the corpse of his father deceased in the course of
nature--a young man meant to be commonplace.  "Ah!  Would thou hadst
died malamorte--by violence!  We might have avenged thee!"

In Colomba, Mérimée's best known creation, it is united to a singularly
wholesome type of personal beauty, a natural grace of manner which is
irresistible, a cunning intellect patiently diverting every
circumstance to its design; and presents itself as a kind of genius,
allied to fatal disease of mind.  The interest of Mérimée's book is
that it allows us to watch the action of this malignant power on
Colomba's brother, Orso della Robbia, as it discovers, rouses,
concentrates to the leaping-point, in the somewhat weakly diffused
nature of the youth, the dormant elements of a dark humour akin to her
own.  Two years after his father's murder, presumably at the
instigation of his ancestral enemies, the young lieutenant is returning
home in the company of two humorously conventional English people,
himself now half Parisianised, with an immense natural cheerfulness,
and willing to believe an account of the crime which relieves those
hated Barricini of all complicity in its guilt.  But from the first,
Colomba, with "voice soft and musical," is at his side, gathering every
accident and echo and circumstance, the very lightest circumstance,
[25] into the chain of necessity which draws him to the action every
one at home expects of him as the head of his race.  He is not unaware.
Her very silence on the matter speaks so plainly.  "You are forming
me!" he admits.  "Well! 'Hot shot, or cold steel!'--you see I have not
forgotten my Corsican."  More and more, as he goes on his way with her,
he finds himself accessible to the damning thoughts he has so long
combated.  In horror, he tries to disperse them by the memory of his
comrades in the regiment, the drawing-rooms of Paris, the English lady
who has promised to be his bride, and will shortly visit him in the
humble manoir of his ancestors.  From his first step among them the
villagers of Pietranera, divided already into two rival camps, are
watching him in suspense--Pietranera, perched among those deep forests
where the stifled sense of violent death is everywhere.  Colomba places
in his hands the little chest which contains the father's shirt covered
with great spots of blood.  "Behold the lead that struck him!" and she
laid on the shirt two rusted bullets.  "Orso! you will avenge him!" She
embraces him with a kind of madness, kisses wildly the bullets and the
shirt, leaves him with the terrible relics already exerting their
mystic power upon him.  It is as if in the nineteenth century a girl,
amid Christian habits, had gone back to that primitive old pagan
version of the story of the Grail, which [26] identifies it not with
the Most Precious Blood, but only with the blood of a murdered relation
crying for vengeance.  Awake at last in his old chamber at Pietranera,
the house of the Barricini at the other end of the square, with its
rival tower and rudely carved escutcheons, stares him in the face.  His
ancestral enemy is there, an aged man now, but with two well-grown
sons, like two stupid dumb animals, whose innocent blood will soon be
on his so oddly lighted conscience.  At times, his better hope seemed
to lie in picking a quarrel and killing at least in fair fight, one of
these two stupid dumb animals; with rude ill-suppressed laughter one
day, as they overhear Colomba's violent utterances at a funeral feast,
for she is a renowned improvisatrice.  "Your father is an old man," he
finds himself saying, "I could crush with my hands.  'Tis for you I am
destined, for you and your brother!"  And if it is by course of nature
that the old man dies not long after the murder of these sons
(self-provoked after all), dies a fugitive at Pisa, as it happens, by
an odd accident, in the presence of Colomba, no violent death by Orso's
own hand could have been more to her mind.  In that last hard page of
Mérimée's story, mere dramatic propriety itself for a moment seems to
plead for the forgiveness, which from Joseph and his brethren to the
present day, as we know, has been as winning in story as in actual
life.  Such dramatic propriety, however, was by no means [27] in
Mérimée's way.  "What I must have is the hand that fired the shot," she
had sung, "the eye that guided it; aye! and the mind moreover--the
mind, which had conceived the deed!"  And now, it is in idiotic terror,
a fugitive from Orso's vengeance, that the last of the Barricini is

Exaggerated art! you think.  But it was precisely such exaggerated art,
intense, unrelieved, an art of fierce colours, that is needed by those
who are seeking in art, as I said of Mérimée, a kind of artificial
stimulus.  And if his style is still impeccably correct, cold-blooded,
impersonal, as impersonal as that of Scott himself, it does but conduce
the better to his one exclusive aim.  It is like the polish of the
stiletto Colomba carried always under her mantle, or the beauty of the
fire-arms, that beauty coming of nice adaptation to purpose, which she
understood so well--a task characteristic also of Mérimée himself, a
sort of fanatic joy in the perfect pistol-shot, at its height in the
singular story he has translated from the Russian of Pouchkine.  Those
raw colours he preferred; Spanish, Oriental, African, perhaps, irritant
certainly to cisalpine eyes, he undoubtedly attained the colouring you
associate with sun-stroke, only possible under a sun in which dead
things rot quickly.

Pity and terror, we know, go to the making of the essential tragic
sense.  In Mérimée, certainly, we have all its terror, but without the
[28] pity.  Saint-Clair, the consent of his mistress barely attained at
last, rushes madly on self-destruction, that he may die with the taste
of his great love fresh on his lips.  All the grotesque accidents of
violent death he records with visual exactness, and no pains to relieve
them; the ironic indifference, for instance, with which, on the
scaffold or the battle-field, a man will seem to grin foolishly at the
ugly rents through which his life has passed.  Seldom or never has the
mere pen of a writer taken us so close to the cannon's mouth as in the
Taking of the Redoubt, while Matteo Falcone--twenty-five short
pages--is perhaps the cruellest story in the world.

Colomba, that strange, fanatic being, who has a code of action, of
self-respect, a conscience, all to herself, who with all her virginal
charm only does not make you hate her, is, in truth, the type of a sort
of humanity Mérimée found it pleasant to dream of--a humanity as alien
as the animals, with whose moral affinities to man his imaginative work
is often directly concerned.  Were they so alien, after all?  Were
there not survivals of the old wild creatures in the gentlest, the
politest of us?  Stories that told of sudden freaks of gentle, polite
natures, straight back, not into Paradise, were always welcome to men's
fancies; and that could only be because they found a psychologic truth
in them.  With much success, with a credibility insured by his literary
tact, Mérimée tried his own hand at such stories: unfrocked the [29]
bear in the amorous young Lithuanian noble, the wolf in the revolting
peasant of the Middle Age.  There were survivals surely in himself, in
that stealthy presentment of his favourite themes, in his own art.  You
seem to find your hand on a serpent, in reading him.

In such survivals, indeed, you see the operation of his favourite
motive, the sense of wild power, under a sort of mask, or assumed
habit, realised as the very genius of nature itself; and that interest,
with some superstitions closely allied to it, the belief in the
vampire, for instance, is evidenced especially in certain pretended
Illyrian compositions--prose translations, the reader was to
understand, of more or less ancient popular ballads; La Guzla, he
called the volume, The Lyre, as we might say; only that the instrument
of the Illyrian minstrel had but one string.  Artistic deception, a
trick of which there is something in the historic romance as such, in a
book like his own Chronicle of Charles the Ninth, was always welcome to
Mérimée; it was part of the machinery of his rooted habit of
intellectual reserve.  A master of irony also, in Madame Lucrezia he
seems to wish to expose his own method cynically; to explain his
art--how he takes you in--as a clever, confident conjuror might do.  So
properly were the readers of La Guzla taken in that he followed up his
success in that line by the Theatre of Clara Gazul, purporting to be
from a rare Spanish original, the work [30] of a nun, who, under tame,
conventual reading, had felt the touch of mundane, of physical
passions; had become a dramatic poet, and herself a powerful actress.
It may dawn on you in reading her that Mérimée was a kind of Webster,
but with the superficial mildness of our nineteenth century.  At the
bottom of the true drama there is ever, logically at least, the ballad:
the ballad dealing in a kind of short-hand (or, say! in grand, simple,
universal outlines) with those passions, crimes, mistakes, which have a
kind of fatality in them, a kind of necessity to come to the surface of
the human mind, if not to the surface of our experience, as in the case
of some frankly supernatural incidents which Mérimée re-handled.
Whether human love or hatred has had most to do in shaping the
universal fancy that the dead come back, I cannot say.  Certainly that
old ballad literature has instances in plenty, in which the voice, the
hand, the brief visit from the grave, is a natural response to the cry
of the human creature.  That ghosts should return, as they do so often
in Mérimée's fiction, is but a sort of natural justice.  Only, in
Mérimée's prose ballads, in those admirable, short, ballad-like
stories, where every word tells, of which he was a master, almost the
inventor, they are a kind of half-material ghosts--a vampire tribe--and
never come to do people good; congruously with the mental constitution
of the writer, which, alike in fact and fiction, [31] could hardly have
horror enough--theme after theme.  Mérimée himself emphasises this
almost constant motive of his fiction when he adds to one of his
volumes of short stories some letters on a matter of fact--a Spanish
bull-fight, in which those old Romans, he regretted, might seem,
decadently, to have survived.  It is as if you saw it.  In truth,
Mérimée was the unconscious parent of much we may think of dubious
significance in later French literature.  It is as if there were
nothing to tell of in this world but various forms of hatred, and a
love that is like lunacy; and the only other world, a world of
maliciously active, hideous, dead bodies.

Mérimée, a literary artist, was not a man who used two words where one
would do better, and he shines especially in those brief compositions
which, like a minute intaglio, reveal at a glance his wonderful faculty
of design and proportion in the treatment of his work, in which there
is not a touch but counts.  That is an art of which there are few
examples in English; our somewhat diffuse, or slipshod, literary
language hardly lending itself to the concentration of thought and
expression, which are of the essence of such writing.  It is otherwise
in French, and if you wish to know what art of that kind can come to,
read Mérimée's little romances; best of all, perhaps, La Vénus d'Ille
and Arsène Guillot.  The former is a modern version of the beautiful
old story of the Ring given to Venus, given to her, in [32] this case,
by a somewhat sordid creature of the nineteenth century, whom she looks
on with more than disdain. The strange outline of the Canigou, one of
the most imposing outlying heights of the Pyrenees, down the mysterious
slopes of which the traveller has made his way towards nightfall into
the great plain of Toulouse, forms an impressive background, congruous
with the many relics of irrepressible old paganism there, but in entire
contrast to the bourgeois comfort of the place where his journey is to
end, the abode of an aged antiquary, loud and bright just now with the
celebration of a vulgar worldly marriage.  In the midst of this
well-being, prosaic in spite of the neighbourhood, in spite of the
pretty old wedding customs, morsels of that local colour in which
Mérimée delights, the old pagan powers are supposed to reveal
themselves once more (malignantly, of course), in the person of a
magnificent bronze statue of Venus recently unearthed in the
antiquary's garden.  On her finger, by ill-luck, the coarse young
bridegroom on the morning of his marriage places for a moment the
bridal ring only too effectually (the bronze hand closes, like a wilful
living one, upon it), and dies, you are to understand, in her angry
metallic embraces on his marriage night.  From the first, indeed, she
had seemed bent on crushing out men's degenerate bodies and souls,
though the supernatural horror of the tale is adroitly made credible by
a certain vagueness in the [33] events, which covers a quite natural
account of the bridegroom's mysterious death.

The intellectual charm of literary work so thoroughly designed as
Mérimée's depends in part on the sense as you read, hastily perhaps,
perhaps in need of patience, that you are dealing with a composition,
the full secret of which is only to be attained in the last paragraph,
that with the last word in mind you will retrace your steps, more than
once (it may be) noting then the minuter structure, also the natural or
wrought flowers by the way.  Nowhere is such method better illustrated
than by another of Mérimée's quintessential pieces, Arsène Guillotand
here for once with a conclusion ethically acceptable also.  Mérimée
loved surprises in human nature, but it is not often that he surprises
us by tenderness or generosity of character, as another master of
French fiction, M. Octave Feuillet, is apt to do; and the simple pathos
of Arsène Guillot gives it a unique place in Mérimée's writings.  It
may be said, indeed, that only an essentially pitiful nature could have
told the exquisitely cruel story of Matteo Falcone precisely as Mérimée
has told it; and those who knew him testify abundantly to his own
capacity for generous friendship.  He was no more wanting than others
in those natural sympathies (sending tears to the eyes at the sight of
suffering age or childhood) which happily are no extraordinary
component in men's natures.  It was, perhaps, no fitting return for a
[34] friendship of over thirty years to publish posthumously those
Lettres à une Inconnue, which reveal that reserved, sensitive,
self-centred nature, a little pusillanimously in the power, at the
disposition of another.  For just there lies the interest, the
psychological interest, of those letters.  An amateur of power, of the
spectacle of power and force, followed minutely but without sensibility
on his part, with a kind of cynic pride rather for the mainspring of
his method, both of thought and expression, you find him here taken by
surprise at last, and somewhat humbled, by an unsuspected force of
affection in himself.  His correspondent, unknown but for these letters
except just by name, figures in them as, in truth, a being only too
much like himself, seen from one side; reflects his taciturnity, his
touchiness, his incredulity except for self-torment.  Agitated,
dissatisfied, he is wrestling in her with himself, his own difficult
qualities.  He demands from her a freedom, a frankness, he would have
been the last to grant.  It is by first thoughts, of course, that what
is forcible and effective in human nature, the force, therefore, of
carnal love, discovers itself; and for her first thoughts Mérimée is
always pleading, but always complaining that he gets only her second
thoughts; the thoughts, that is, of a reserved, self-limiting nature,
well under the yoke of convention, like his own.  Strange conjunction!
At the beginning of the correspondence he seems to have been [35]
seeking only a fine intellectual companionship; the lady, perhaps,
looking for something warmer.  Towards such companionship that likeness
to himself in her might have been helpful, but was not enough of a
complement to his own nature to be anything but an obstruction in love;
and it is to that, little by little, that his humour turns.  He--the
Megalopsychus, as Aristotle defines him--acquires all the lover's
humble habits: himself displays all the tricks of love, its
casuistries, its exigency, its superstitions, aye! even its
vulgarities; involves with the significance of his own genius the mere
hazards and inconsequence of a perhaps average nature; but too late in
the day--the years.  After the attractions and repulsions of half a
lifetime, they are but friends, and might forget to be that, but for
his death, clearly presaged in his last weak, touching letter, just two
hours before.  There, too, had been the blind and naked force of nature
and circumstance, surprising him in the uncontrollable movements of his
own so carefully guarded heart.

The intimacy, the effusion, the so freely exposed personality of those
letters does but emphasise the fact that impersonality was, in literary
art, Mérimée's central aim.  Personality versus impersonality in
art:--how much or how little of one's self one may put into one's work:
whether anything at all of it: whether one can put there anything
else:--is clearly a far-reaching and complex question.  Serviceable as
[36] the basis of a precautionary maxim towards the conduct of our
work, self-effacement, or impersonality, in literary or artistic
creation, is, perhaps, after all, as little possible as a strict
realism.  "It has always been my rule to put nothing of myself into my
works," says another great master of French prose, Gustave Flaubert;
but, luckily as we may think, he often failed in thus effacing himself,
as he too was aware.  "It has always been my rule to put nothing of
myself into my works" (to be disinterested in his literary creations,
so to speak), "yet I have put much of myself into them": and where he
failed Mérimée succeeded. There they stand--Carmen, Colomba, the
"False" Demetrius--as detached from him as from each other, with no
more filial likeness to their maker than if they were the work of
another person.  And to his method of conception, Mérimée's
much-praised literary style, his method of expression, is strictly
conformable--impersonal in its beauty, the perfection of nobody's
style--thus vindicating anew by its very impersonality that much worn,
but not untrue saying, that the style is the man:--a man, impassible,
unfamiliar, impeccable, veiling a deep sense of what is forcible, nay,
terrible, in things, under the sort of personal pride that makes a man
a nice observer of all that is most conventional.  Essentially unlike
other people, he is always fastidiously in the fashion--an expert in
all the little, half- [37] contemptuous elegances of which it is
capable.  Mérimée's superb self-effacement, his impersonality, is
itself but an effective personal trait, and, transferred to art,
becomes a markedly peculiar quality of literary beauty.  For, in truth,
this creature of disillusion who had no care for half-lights, and, like
his creations, had no atmosphere about him, gifted as he was with pure
mind, with the quality which secures flawless literary structure, had,
on the other hand, nothing of what we call soul in literature:--hence,
also, that singular harshness in his ideal, as if, in theological
language, he were incapable of grace.  He has none of those
subjectivities, colourings, peculiarities of mental refraction, which
necessitate varieties of style--could we spare such?--and render the
perfections of it no merely negative qualities.  There are masters of
French prose whose art has begun where the art of Mérimée leaves off.


11. *A lecture delivered at the Taylor Institution, Oxford, and at the
London Institution.  Published in the Fortnightly Review, Dec. 1890,
and now reprinted by the kind permission of the proprietors.


[38] By his immense productiveness, by the even perfection of what he
produced, its fitness to its own day, its hold on posterity, in the
suavity of his life, some would add in the "opportunity" of his early
death, Raphael may seem a signal instance of the luckiness, of the good
fortune, of genius.  Yet, if we follow the actual growth of his powers,
within their proper framework, the age of the Renaissance--an age of
which we may say, summarily, that it enjoyed itself, and found perhaps
its chief enjoyment in the attitude of the scholar, in the enthusiastic
acquisition of knowledge for its own sake:--if we thus view Raphael and
his works in their environment we shall find even his seemingly
mechanical good fortune hardly distinguishable from his own patient
disposal of the means at hand.  Facile master as he may seem, as indeed
he is, he is also one of the world's typical scholars, with [39] Plato,
and Cicero, and Virgil, and Milton.  The formula of his genius, if we
must have one, is this: genius by accumulation; the transformation of
meek scholarship into genius--triumphant power of genius.

Urbino, where this prince of the Renaissance was born in 1483, year
also of the birth of Luther, leader of the other great movement of that
age, the Reformation--Urbino, under its dukes of the house of
Montefeltro, had wherewithal just then to make a boy of native artistic
faculty from the first a willing learner.  The gloomy old fortress of
the feudal masters of the town had been replaced, in those later years
of the Quattro-cento, by a consummate monument of Quattro-cento taste,
a museum of ancient and modern art, the owners of which lived there,
gallantly at home, amid the choicer flowers of living humanity.  The
ducal palace was, in fact, become nothing less than a school of
ambitious youth in all the accomplishments alike of war and peace.
Raphael's connexion with it seems to have become intimate, and from the
first its influence must have overflowed so small a place.  In the case
of the lucky Raphael, for once, the actual conditions of early life had
been suitable, propitious, accordant to what one's imagination would
have required for the childhood of the man.  He was born amid the art
he was, not to transform, but to perfect, by a thousand reverential
retouchings.  In no palace, however, but [40] in a modest abode, still
shown, containing the workshop of his father, Giovanni Santi.  But
here, too, though in frugal form, art, the arts, were present.  A store
of artistic objects was, or had recently been, made there, and now
especially, for fitting patrons, religious pictures in the old Umbrian
manner.  In quiet nooks of the Apennines Giovanni's works remain; and
there is one of them, worth study, in spite of what critics say of its
crudity, in the National Gallery.  Concede its immaturity, at least,
though an immaturity visibly susceptible of a delicate grace, it wins
you nevertheless to return again and again, and ponder, by a sincere
expression of sorrow, profound, yet resigned, be the cause what it may,
among all the many causes of sorrow inherent in the ideal of maternity,
human or divine.  But if you keep in mind when looking at it the facts
of Raphael's childhood, you will recognise in his father's picture, not
the anticipated sorrow of the "Mater Dolorosa" over the dead son, but
the grief of a simple household over the mother herself taken early
from it.  That may have been the first picture the eyes of the world's
great painter of Madonnas rested on; and if he stood diligently before
it to copy, and so copying, quite unconsciously, and with no disloyalty
to his original, refined, improved, substituted,--substituted himself,
in fact, his finer self--he had already struck the persistent note of
his career.  As with his age, it is [41] his vocation, ardent worker as
he is, to enjoy himself--to enjoy himself amiably, and to find his
chief enjoyment in the attitude of a scholar.  And one by one, one
after another, his masters, the very greatest of them, go to school to

It was so especially with the artist of whom Raphael first became
certainly a learner--Perugino.  Giovanni Santi had died in Raphael's
childhood, too early to have been in any direct sense his teacher. The
lad, however, from one and another, had learned much, when, with his
share of the patrimony in hand, enough to keep him, but not to tempt
him from scholarly ways, he came to Perugia, hoping still further to
improve himself.  He was in his eighteenth year, and how he looked just
then you may see in a drawing of his own in the University Galleries,
of somewhat stronger mould than less genuine likenesses may lead you to
expect.  There is something of a fighter in the way in which the nose
springs from the brow between the wide-set, meditative eyes.  A
strenuous lad! capable of plodding, if you dare apply that word to
labour so impassioned as his--to any labour whatever done at Perugia,
centre of the dreamiest Apennine scenery. Its various elements (one
hardly knows whether one is thinking of Italian nature or of Raphael's
art in recounting them), the richly-planted lowlands, the sensitive
mountain lines in flight one beyond the other into clear distance, the
cool yet glowing atmosphere, [42] the romantic morsels of architecture,
which lend to the entire scene I know not what expression of reposeful
antiquity, arrange themselves here as for set purpose of pictorial
effect, and have gone with little change into his painted backgrounds.
In the midst of it, on titanic old Roman and Etruscan foundations, the
later Gothic town had piled itself along the lines of a gigantic land
of rock, stretched out from the last slope of the Apennines into the
plain.  Between its fingers steep dark lanes wind down into the olive
gardens; on the finger-tips military and monastic builders had perched
their towns. A place as fantastic in its attractiveness as the human
life which then surged up and down in it in contrast to the peaceful
scene around.  The Baglioni who ruled there had brought certain
tendencies of that age to a typical completeness of expression, veiling
crime--crime, it might seem, for its own sake, a whole octave of
fantastic crime--not merely under brilliant fashions and comely
persons, but under fashions and persons, an outward presentment of life
and of themselves, which had a kind of immaculate grace and discretion
about them, as if Raphael himself had already brought his unerring gift
of selection to bear upon it all for motives of art.  With life in
those streets of Perugia, as with nature, with the work of his masters,
with the mere exercises of his fellow-students, his hand rearranges,
refines, renews, as if by simple contact; [43] but it is met here
half-way in its renewing office by some special aptitude for such grace
in the subject itself.  Seemingly innocent, full of natural gaiety,
eternally youthful, those seven and more deadly sins, embodied and
attired in just the jaunty dress then worn, enter now and afterwards as
spectators, or assistants, into many a sacred foreground and background
among the friends and kinsmen of the Holy Family, among the very
angels, gazing, conversing, standing firmly and unashamed.  During his
apprenticeship at Perugia Raphael visited and left his work in more
modest places round about, along those seductive mountain or lowland
roads, and copied for one of them Perugino's "Marriage of the Virgin"
significantly, did it by many degrees better, with a very novel effect
of motion everywhere, and with that grace which natural motion evokes,
introducing for a temple in the background a lovely bit of his friend
Bramante's sort of architecture, the true Renaissance or perfected
Quattro-cento architecture.  He goes on building a whole lordly new
city of the like as he paints to the end of his life.  The subject, we
may note, as we leave Perugia in Raphael's company, had been suggested
by the famous mystic treasure of its cathedral church, the marriage
ring of the Blessed Virgin herself.

Raphael's copy had been made for the little old Apennine town of Città
di Castello; and another place he visits at this time is still more
[44] effective in the development of his genius.  About his twentieth
year he comes to Siena--that other rocky Titan's hand, just lifted out
of the surface of the plain.  It is the most grandiose place he has yet
seen; it has not forgotten that it was once the rival of Florence; and
here the patient scholar passes under an influence of somewhat larger
scope than Perugino's.  Perugino's pictures are for the most part
religious contemplations, painted and made visible, to accompany the
action of divine service--a visible pattern to priests, attendants,
worshippers, of what the course of their invisible thoughts should be
at those holy functions.  Learning in the workshop of Perugino to
produce the like--such works as the Ansidei Madonna--to produce them
very much better than his master, Raphael was already become a freeman
of the most strictly religious school of Italian art, the so devout
Umbrian soul finding there its purest expression, still untroubled by
the naturalism, the intellectualism, the antique paganism, then astir
in the artistic soul everywhere else in Italy.  The lovely work of
Perugino, very lovely at its best, of the early Raphael also, is in
fact "conservative," and at various points slightly behind its day,
though not unpleasantly.  In Perugino's allegoric frescoes of the
Cambio, the Hall of the Money-changers, for instance, under the mystic
rule of the Planets in person, pagan personages take their place indeed
side by side with the figures of the New [45] Testament, but are no
Romans or Greeks, neither are the Jews Jews, nor is any one of them,
warrior, sage, king, precisely of Perugino's own time and place, but
still contemplations only, after the manner of the personages in his
church-work; or, say, dreams--monastic dreams--thin, do-nothing
creatures, conjured from sky and cloud.  Perugino clearly never broke
through the meditative circle of the Middle Age.

Now Raphael, on the other hand, in his final period at Rome, exhibits a
wonderful narrative power in painting; and the secret of that
power--the power of developing a story in a picture, or series of
pictures--may be traced back from him to Pinturicchio, as that painter
worked on those vast, well-lighted walls of the cathedral library at
Siena, at the great series of frescoes illustrative of the life of Pope
Pius the Second.  It had been a brilliant personal history, in contact
now and again with certain remarkable public events--a career religious
yet mundane, you scarcely know which, so natural is the blending of
lights, of interest in it.  How unlike the Peruginesque conception of
life in its almost perverse other-worldliness, which Raphael now leaves
behind him, but, like a true scholar, will not forget.  Pinturicchio
then had invited his remarkable young friend hither, "to assist him by
his counsels," who, however, pupil-wise, after his habit also learns
much as he thus assists.  He stands depicted there in person in the
scene [46] of the canonisation of Saint Catherine; and though his
actual share in the work is not to be defined, connoisseurs have felt
his intellectual presence, not at one place only, in touches at once
finer and more forcible than were usual in the steady-going, somewhat
Teutonic, Pinturicchio, Raphael's elder by thirty years.  The meek
scholar you see again, with his tentative sketches and suggestions, had
more than learned his lesson; through all its changes that flexible
intelligence loses nothing; does but add continually to its store.
Henceforward Raphael will be able to tell a story in a picture, better,
with a truer economy, with surer judgment, more naturally and easily
than any one else.

And here at Siena, of all Italian towns perhaps most deeply impressed
with medieval character--an impress it still retains--grotesque,
parti-coloured--parti-coloured, so to speak, in its genius--Satanic,
yet devout of humour, as depicted in its old chronicles, and beautiful
withal, dignified; it is here that Raphael becomes for the first time
aware of that old pagan world, which had already come to be so much for
the art-schools of Italy.  There were points, as we saw, at which the
school of Perugia was behind its day.  Amid those intensely Gothic
surroundings in the cathedral library where Pinturicchio worked, stood,
as it remained till recently, unashamed there, a marble group of the
three Graces--an average Roman work in [47] effect--the sort of thing
we are used to.  That, perhaps, is the only reason why for our part,
except with an effort, we find it conventional or even tame.  For the
youthful Raphael, on the other hand, at that moment, antiquity, as with
"the dew of herbs," seemed therein "to awake and sing" out of the dust,
in all its sincerity, its cheerfulness and natural charm.  He has
turned it into a picture; has helped to make his original only too
familiar, perhaps, placing the three sisters against his own favourite,
so unclassic, Umbrian background indeed, but with no trace of the
Peruginesque ascetic, Gothic meagreness in themselves; emphasising
rather, with a hearty acceptance, the nude, the flesh; making the
limbs, in fact, a little heavy.  It was but one gleam he had caught
just there in medieval Siena of that large pagan world he was, not so
long afterwards, more completely than others to make his own.  And when
somewhat later he painted the exquisite, still Peruginesque, Apollo and
Marsyas, semi-medieval habits again asserted themselves with
delightfully blent effects.  It might almost pass for a parable--that
little picture in the Louvre--of the contention between classic art and
the romantic, superseded in the person of Marsyas, a homely, quaintly
poetical young monk, surely!  Only, Apollo himself also is clearly of
the same brotherhood; has a touch, in truth, of Heine's fancied Apollo
"in exile," who, Christianity now triumphing, has served as [48] a
hired shepherd, or hidden himself under the cowl in a cloister; and
Raphael, as if at work on choir-book or missal, still applies
symbolical gilding for natural sunlight.  It is as if he wished to
proclaim amid newer lights--this scholar who never forgot a lesson--his
loyal pupilage to Perugino, and retained still something of medieval
stiffness, of the monastic thoughts also, that were born and lingered
in places like Borgo San Sepolcro or Città di Castello. Chef-d'oeuvre!
you might exclaim, of the peculiar, tremulous, half-convinced, monkish
treatment of that after all damnable pagan world. And our own
generation certainly, with kindred tastes, loving or wishing to love
pagan art as sincerely as did the people of the Renaissance, and
medieval art as well, would accept, of course, of work conceived in
that so seductively mixed manner, ten per cent of even Raphael's later,
purely classical presentments.

That picture was suggested by a fine old intaglio in the Medicean
collection at Florence, was painted, therefore, after Raphael's coming
thither, and therefore also a survival with him of a style limited,
immature, literally provincial; for in the phase on which he had now
entered he is under the influence of style in its most fully determined
sense, of what might be called the thorough-bass of the pictorial art,
of a fully realised intellectual system in regard to its processes,
well tested by experiment, upon a survey [49] of all the conditions and
various applications of it--of style as understood by Da Vinci, then at
work in Florence.  Raphael's sojourn there extends from his
twenty-first to his twenty-fifth year.  He came with flattering
recommendations from the Court of Urbino; was admitted as an equal by
the masters of his craft, being already in demand for work, then and
ever since duly prized; was, in fact, already famous, though he alone
is unaware--is in his own opinion still but a learner, and as a learner
yields himself meekly, systematically to influence; would learn from
Francia, whom he visits at Bologna; from the earlier naturalistic works
of Masolino and Masaccio; from the solemn prophetic work of the
venerable dominican, Bartolommeo, disciple of Savonarola.  And he has
already habitually this strange effect, not only on the whole body of
his juniors, but on those whose manner had been long since formed; they
lose something of themselves by contact with him, as if they went to
school again.

Bartolommeo, Da Vinci, were masters certainly of what we call "the
ideal" in art.  Yet for Raphael, so loyal hitherto to the traditions of
Umbrian art, to its heavy weight of hieratic tradition, dealing still
somewhat conventionally with a limited, non-natural matter--for Raphael
to come from Siena, Perugia, Urbino, to sharp-witted, practical,
masterful Florence was in immediate effect a transition from reverie to
[50] realities--to a world of facts.  Those masters of the ideal were
for him, in the first instance, masters also of realism, as we say.
Henceforth, to the end, he will be the analyst, the faithful reporter,
in his work, of what he sees.  He will realise the function of style as
exemplified in the practice of Da Vinci, face to face with the world of
nature and man as they are; selecting from, asserting one's self in a
transcript of its veritable data; like drawing to like there, in
obedience to the master's preference for the embodiment of the creative
form within him.  Portrait-art had been nowhere in the school of
Perugino, but it was the triumph of the school of Florence.  And here a
faithful analyst of what he sees, yet lifting it withal, unconsciously,
inevitably, recomposing, glorifying, Raphael too becomes, of course, a
painter of portraits. We may foresee them already in masterly series,
from Maddalena Doni, a kind of younger, more virginal sister of La
Gioconda, to cardinals and popes--to that most sensitive of all
portraits, the "Violin-player," if it be really his.  But then, on the
other hand, the influence of such portraiture will be felt also in his
inventive work, in a certain reality there, a certain convincing
loyalty to experience and observation.  In his most elevated religious
work he will still keep, for security at least, close to nature, and
the truth of nature.  His modelling of the visible surface is lovely
because he understands, can see the hidden causes [51] of momentary
action in the face, the hands--how men and animals are really made and
kept alive.  Set side by side, then, with that portrait of Maddalena
Doni, as forming together a measure of what he has learned at Florence,
the "Madonna del Gran Duca," which still remains there. Call it on
revision, and without hesitation, the loveliest of his Madonnas,
perhaps of all Madonnas; and let it stand as representative of as many
as fifty or sixty types of that subject, onwards to the Sixtine
Madonna, in all the triumphancy of his later days at Rome. Observe the
veritable atmosphere about it, the grand composition of the drapery,
the magic relief, the sweetness and dignity of the human hands and
faces, the noble tenderness of Mary's gesture, the unity of the thing
with itself, the faultless exclusion of all that does not belong to its
main purpose; it is like a single, simple axiomatic thought.  Note
withal the novelty of its effect on the mind, and you will see that
this master of style (that's a consummate example of what is meant by
style) has been still a willing scholar in the hands of Da Vinci.  But
then, with what ease also, and simplicity, and a sort of natural
success not his!

It was in his twenty-fifth year that Raphael came to the city of the
popes, Michelangelo being already in high favour there.  For the
remaining years of his life he paces the same streets with that grim
artist, who was so great a [52] contrast with himself, and for the
first time his attitude towards a gift different from his own is not
that of a scholar, but that of a rival.  If he did not become the
scholar of Michelangelo, it would be difficult, on the other hand, to
trace anywhere in Michelangelo's work the counter influence usual with
those who had influenced him.  It was as if he desired to add to the
strength of Michelangelo that sweetness which at first sight seems to
be wanting there.  Ex forti dulcedo: and in the study of Michelangelo
certainly it is enjoyable to detect, if we may, sweet savours amid the
wonderful strength, the strangeness and potency of what he pours forth
for us: with Raphael, conversely, something of a relief to find in the
suavity of that so softly moving, tuneful existence, an assertion of
strength.  There was the promise of it, as you remember, in his very
look as he saw himself at eighteen; and you know that the lesson, the
prophecy of those holy women and children he has made his own, is that
"the meek shall possess."  So, when we see him at Rome at last, in that
atmosphere of greatness, of the strong, he too is found putting forth
strength, adding that element in due proportion to the mere sweetness
and charm of his genius; yet a sort of strength, after all, still
congruous with the line of development that genius has hitherto taken,
the special strength of the scholar and his proper reward, a purely
cerebral strength [53] the strength, the power of an immense

Now the life of Raphael at Rome seems as we read of it hasty and
perplexed, full of undertakings, of vast works not always to be
completed, of almost impossible demands on his industry, in a world of
breathless competition, amid a great company of spectators, for great
rewards.  You seem to lose him, feel he may have lost himself, in the
multiplicity of his engagements; might fancy that, wealthy, variously
decorated, a courtier, cardinal in petto, he was "serving tables."
But, you know, he was forcing into this brief space of years (he died
at thirty-seven) more than the natural business of the larger part of a
long life; and one way of getting some kind of clearness into it, is to
distinguish the various divergent outlooks or applications, and group
the results of that immense intelligence, that still untroubled,
flawlessly operating, completely informed understanding, that purely
cerebral power, acting through his executive, inventive or creative
gifts, through the eye and the hand with its command of visible colour
and form.  In that way you may follow him along many various roads till
brain and eye and hand suddenly fail in the very midst of his
work--along many various roads, but you can follow him along each of
them distinctly.

At the end of one of them is the Galatea, and in quite a different form
of industry, the datum [54] for the beginnings of a great literary work
of pure erudition.  Coming to the capital of Christendom, he comes also
for the first time under the full influence of the antique world, pagan
art, pagan life, and is henceforth an enthusiastic archaeologist.  On
his first coming to Rome a papal bull had authorised him to inspect all
ancient marbles, inscriptions, and the like, with a view to their
adaptation in new buildings then proposed.  A consequent close
acquaintance with antiquity, with the very touch of it, blossomed
literally in his brain, and, under his facile hand, in artistic
creations, of which the Galatea is indeed the consummation.  But the
frescoes of the Farnese palace, with a hundred minor designs, find
their place along that line of his artistic activity; they do not
exhaust his knowledge of antiquity, his interest in and control of it.
The mere fragments of it that still cling to his memory would have
composed, had he lived longer, a monumental illustrated survey of the
monuments of ancient Rome.

To revive something of the proportionable spirit at least of antique
building in the architecture of the present, came naturally to Raphael
as the son of his age; and at the end of another of those roads of
diverse activity stands Saint Peter's, though unfinished. What a proof
again of that immense intelligence, by which, as I said, the element of
strength supplemented the element of mere sweetness and charm in his
[55] work, that at the age of thirty, known hitherto only as a painter,
at the dying request of the venerable Bramante himself, he should have
been chosen to succeed him as the director of that vast enterprise!
And if little in the great church, as we see it, is directly due to
him, yet we must not forget that his work in the Vatican also was
partly that of an architect.  In the Loggie, or open galleries of the
Vatican, the last and most delicate effects of Quattro-cento taste come
from his hand, in that peculiar arabesque decoration which goes by his

Saint Peter's, as you know, had an indirect connexion with the Teutonic
reformation.  When Leo X. pushed so far the sale of indulgences to the
overthrow of Luther's Catholicism, it was done after all for the not
entirely selfish purpose of providing funds to build the metropolitan
church of Christendom with the assistance of Raphael; and yet, upon
another of those diverse outways of his so versatile intelligence, at
the close of which we behold his unfinished picture of the
Transfiguration, what has been called Raphael's Bible finds its
place--that series of biblical scenes in the Loggie of the Vatican.
And here, while he has shown that he could do something of
Michelangelo's work a little more soothingly than he, this graceful
Roman Catholic rivals also what is perhaps best in the work of the rude
German reformer--of Luther, who came to Rome about this very [56] time,
to find nothing admirable there. Place along with them the Cartoons,
and observe that in this phase of his artistic labour, as Luther
printed his vernacular German version of the Scriptures, so Raphael is
popularising them for an even larger world; he brings the simple, to
their great delight, face to face with the Bible as it is, in all its
variety of incident, after they had so long had to content themselves
with but fragments of it, as presented in the symbolism and in the
brief lections of the Liturgy:--Biblia Pauperum, in a hundred forms of
reproduction, though designed for popes and princes.

But then, for the wise, at the end of yet another of those divergent
ways, glows his painted philosophy in the Parnassus and the School of
Athens, with their numerous accessories.  In the execution of those
works, of course, his antiquarian knowledge stood him in good stead;
and here, above all, is the pledge of his immense understanding, at
work on its own natural ground on a purely intellectual deposit, the
apprehension, the transmission to others of complex and difficult
ideas.  We have here, in fact, the sort of intelligence to be found in
Lessing, in Herder, in Hegel, in those who, by the instrumentality of
an organised philosophic system, have comprehended in one view or
vision what poetry has been, or what Greek philosophy, as great complex
dynamic facts in the world.  But then, with the artist of the sixteenth
century, [57] this synoptic intellectual power worked in perfect
identity with the pictorial imagination and a magic hand.  By him large
theoretic conceptions are addressed, so to speak, to the intelligence
of the eye.  There had been efforts at such abstract or theoretic
painting before, or say rather, leagues behind him.  Modern efforts,
again, we know, and not in Germany alone, to do the like for that
larger survey of such matters which belongs to the philosophy of our
own century; but for one or many reasons they have seemed only to prove
the incapacity of philosophy to be expressed in terms of art. They have
seemed, in short, so far, not fit to be seen literally--those ideas of
culture, religion, and the like.  Yet Plato, as you know, supposed a
kind of visible loveliness about ideas.  Well! in Raphael, painted
ideas, painted and visible philosophy, are for once as beautiful as
Plato thought they must be, if one truly apprehended them.  For note,
above all, that with all his wealth of antiquarian knowledge in detail,
and with a perfect technique, it is after all the beauty, the grace of
poetry, of pagan philosophy, of religious faith that he thus records.

Of religious faith also.  The Disputa, in which, under the form of a
council representative of all ages, he embodies the idea of theology,
divinarum rerum notitia, as constantly resident in the Catholic Church,
ranks with the "Parnassus" and the "School of Athens," if it does not
rather [58] close another of his long lines of intellectual travail--a
series of compositions, partly symbolic, partly historical, in which
the "Deliverance of St. Peter from Prison," the "Expulsion of the
Huns," and the "Coronation of Charlemagne," find their places; and by
which, painting in the great official chambers of the Vatican, Raphael
asserts, interprets the power and charm of the Catholic ideal as
realised in history.  A scholar, a student of the visible world, of the
natural man, yet even more ardently of the books, the art, the life of
the old pagan world, the age of the Renaissance, through all its varied
activity, had, in spite of the weakened hold of Catholicism on the
critical intellect, been still under its influence, the glow of it, as
a religious ideal, and in the presence of Raphael you cannot think it a
mere after-glow. Independently, that is, of less or more evidence for
it, the whole creed of the Middle Age, as a scheme of the world as it
should be, as we should be glad to find it, was still welcome to the
heart, the imagination.  Now, in Raphael, all the various conditions of
that age discover themselves as characteristics of a vivid personal
genius, which may be said therefore to be conterminous with the genius
of the Renaissance itself.  For him, then, in the breadth of his
immense cosmopolitan intelligence, for Raphael, who had done in part
the work of Luther also, the Catholic Church--through all its phases,
as reflected in its visible local centre, [59] the papacy--is alive
still as of old, one and continuous, and still true to itself.  Ah!
what is local and visible, as you know, counts for so much with the
artistic temper!

Old friends, or old foes with but new faces, events repeating
themselves, as his large, clear, synoptic vision can detect, the
invading King of France, Louis XII., appears as Attila: Leo X. as Leo
I.: and he thinks of, he sees, at one and the same moment, the
coronation of Charlemagne and the interview of Pope Leo with Francis
I., as a dutiful son of the Church: of the deliverance of Leo X. from
prison, and the deliverance of St. Peter.

I have abstained from anything like description of Raphael's pictures
in speaking of him and his work, have aimed rather at preparing you to
look at his work for yourselves, by a sketch of his life, and therein
especially, as most appropriate to this place, of Raphael as a scholar.
And now if, in closing, I commend one of his pictures in particular to
your imagination or memory,, your purpose to see it, or see it again,
it will not be the Transfiguration nor the Sixtine Madonna, nor even
the "Madonna del Gran Duca," but the picture we have in London--the
Ansidei, or Blenheim, Madonna.  I find there, at first sight, with
something of the pleasure one has in a proposition of Euclid, a sense
of the power of the understanding, in the economy with which he has
reduced his material to the [60] simplest terms, has disentangled and
detached its various elements.  He is painting in Florence, but for
Perugia, and sends it a specimen of its own old art--Mary and the babe
enthroned, with St. Nicolas and the Baptist in attendance on either
side.  The kind of thing people there had already seen so many times,
but done better, in a sense not to be measured by degrees, with a
wholly original freedom and life and grace, though he perhaps is
unaware, done better as a whole, because better in every minute
particular, than ever before.  The scrupulous scholar, aged
twenty-three, is now indeed a master; but still goes carefully.  Note,
therefore, how much mere exclusion counts for in the positive effect of
his work.  There is a saying that the true artist is known best by what
he omits.  Yes, because the whole question of good taste is involved
precisely in such jealous omission.  Note this, for instance, in the
familiar Apennine background, with its blue hills and brown towns,
faultless, for once--for once only--and observe, in the Umbrian
pictures around, how often such background is marred by grotesque,
natural, or architectural detail, by incongruous or childish incident.
In this cool, pearl-grey, quiet place, where colour tells for
double--the jewelled cope, the painted book in the hand of Mary, the
chaplet of red coral--one is reminded that among all classical writers
Raphael's preference was for the faultless Virgil.  How orderly, how
divinely [61] clean and sweet the flesh, the vesture, the floor, the
earth and sky!  Ah, say rather the hand, the method of the painter!
There is an unmistakeable pledge of strength, of movement and animation
in the cast of the Baptist's countenance, but reserved, repressed.
Strange, Raphael has given him a staff of transparent crystal.  Keep
then to that picture as the embodied formula of Raphael's genius.  Amid
all he has here already achieved, full, we may think, of the quiet
assurance of what is to come, his attitude is still that of the
scholar; he seems still to be saying, before all things, from first to
last, "I am utterly purposed that I will not offend."


38. *A lecture delivered to the University Extension Students, Oxford,
2 August, 1892.  Published in the Fortnightly Review, Oct. 1892, and
now reprinted by the kind permission of the proprietors.


[62] ABOUT the middle of the seventeenth century, two opposite views of
a question, upon which neither Scripture, nor Council, nor Pope, had
spoken with authority--the question as to the amount of freedom left to
man by the overpowering work of divine grace upon him--had seemed
likely for a moment to divide the Roman Church into two rival sects.
In the diocese of Paris, however, the controversy narrowed itself into
a mere personal quarrel between the Jesuit Fathers and the religious
community of Port-Royal, and might have been forgotten but for the
intervention of a new writer in whom French literature made more than a
new step.  It became at once, as if by a new creation, what it has
remained--a pattern of absolutely unencumbered expressiveness.

In 1656 Pascal, then thirty-three years old, under the form of "Letters
to a Provincial by one of his Friends," put forth a series of [63]
pamphlets in which all that was vulnerable in the Jesuit Fathers was
laid bare to the profit of their opponents.  At the moment the quarrel
turned on the proposed censure of Antoine Arnauld by the Sorbonne, by
the University of Paris as a religious body. Pascal, intimate, like
many another fine intellect of the day, with the Port-Royalists, was
Arnauld's friend, and it belonged to the ardour of his genius, at least
as he was then, to be a very active friend.  He took up the pen as
other chivalrous gentlemen of the day took up the sword, and showed
himself a master of the art of fence therewith.  His delicate exercise
of himself with that weapon was nothing less than a revelation to all
the world of the capabilities, the true genius of the French language
in prose.

Those who think of Pascal in his final sanctity, his detachment of soul
from all but the greatest matters, may be surprised, when they turn to
the "Letters," to find him treating questions, as serious for the
friends he was defending as for their adversaries, ironically, with a
but half-veiled disdain for them, or an affected humility at being
unskilled in them and no theologian.  He does not allow us to forget
that he is, after all, a layman; while he introduces us, almost
avowedly, into a world of unmeaning terms, and unreal distinctions and
suppositions that can never be verified.  The world in general, indeed,
se paye des paroles.  That saying belongs to Pascal, and [64] he uses
it with reference to the Jesuits and their favourite expression of
"sufficient grace."  In the earliest "Letters" he creates in us a
feeling that, however orthodox one's intention, it is scarcely possible
to speak of the matters then so abundantly discussed by religious
people without heresy at some unguarded point.  The suspected
proposition of Arnauld, it is admitted by one of his foes, "would be
Catholic in the mouth of any one but M. Arnauld."  "The truth," as it
lay between Arnauld and his opponents, is a thing so delicate that
"pour peu qu'on s'en retire, on tombe dans l'erreur; mais cette erreur
est si déliée, que, pour peu qu'on s'en éloigne, on se trouve dans la

Some, indeed, may find in the very delicacy, the curiosity, with which
such distinctions are drawn, by Pascal's friends as well as by their
foes, only the impertinence, the profanities, of the theologian by
profession, all too intimate in laying down the law of the things he
deals with--the things "which eye hath not seen" pressing into the
secrets of God's sublime commerce with men, in which, it may be, He
differs with every single human soul, by forms of thought adapted from
the poorest sort of men's dealings with each other, from the trader, or
the attorney.  Pascal notes too the "impious buffooneries" of his
opponents.  The good Fathers, perhaps, only meant them to promote
geniality of temper in the debate.  But of such failures--failures of
taste, of respect towards one's [65] own point of view--the world is
ever unamiably aware; and in the "Letters" there is much to move the
self-complacent smile of the worldling, as Pascal describes his
experiences, while he went from one authority to another to find out
what was really meant by the distinction between grace "sufficient,"
grace "efficacious," grace "active," grace "victorious."  He heard, for
instance, that all men have sufficient grace to do God's will; but it
is not always prochain, not always at hand, at the moment of temptation
to do otherwise.  So far, then, Pascal's charges are those which may
seem to lie ready to hand against all who study theology, a looseness
of thought and language, that would pass nowhere else, in making what
are professedly very fine distinctions; the insincerity with which
terms are carefully chosen to cover opposite meanings; the fatuity with
which opposite meanings revolve into one another, in the strange
vacuous atmosphere generated by professional divines.

Up to this point, you see, Pascal is the countryman of Rabelais and
Montaigne, smiling with the fine malice of the one, laughing outright
with the gaiety of the other, all the world joining in the laugh--well,
at the silliness of the clergy, who seem indeed not to know their own
business.  It is we, the laity, he would urge, who are serious, and
disinterested, because sincerely interested, in these great
questionings.  Jalousie de métier, the reader may suspect, has
something to do with [66] the Professional leaders on both sides of the
controversy; but at the actual turn controversy took just then, it was
against the Jesuit Fathers that Pascal's charges came home in full
force.  And their sin is above all that sin, unpardonable with men of
the world sans peur et sans reproche, of a lack of self-respect, sins
against pride, if the paradox may be allowed, all the undignified
faults, in a word, of essentially little people when they interfere in
great matters--faults promoted in the direction of the consciences of
women and children, weak concessions to weak people who want to be
saved in some easy way quite other than Pascal's high, fine, chivalrous
way of gaining salvation, an incapacity to say what one thinks with the
glove thrown down.  He supposes a Jansenist to turn upon his opponent
who uses the term "sufficient" grace, while really meaning, as he
alleges, insufficient, with the words:--"Your explanation would be
odious to men of the world.  They speak more sincerely than you on
matters of far less importance than this." With the world, Pascal, in
the "Provincial Letters," had immediate success.  "All the world," we
read in his friend's supposed reply to the second "Letter," "sees them;
all the world understands them.  Men of the world find them agreeable,
and even women intelligible."  A century later Voltaire found them very
agreeable.  The spirit in which Pascal deals with his opponents, his
irony, may remind us of the "Apology" of [67] Socrates; the style which
secured them immediate access to people who, as a rule, find the
subjects there treated hopelessly dry, reminds us of the "Apologia" of

The essence of all good style, whatever its accidents may be, is
expressiveness.  It is mastered in proportion to the justice, the
nicety with which words balance or match their meaning, and their
writer succeeds in saying what he wills, grave or gay, severe or
florid, simple or complex.  Pascal was a master of style because, as
his sister tells us, recording his earliest years, he had a wonderful
natural facility à dire ce qu'il voulait en la manière qu'il voulait.

Facit indignatio versus.  The indignation which caused Pascal to write
the "Letters" was of a supercilious kind, and what he willed to say in
them led to the development of all those qualities that are summed up
in the French term l'esprit.  Voltaire declared that the best comedies
of Molière n'ont pas plus de sel que les premières lettres.  "Vos
maximes," Pascal assures the Jesuit Fathers, "ont je ne sais quoi de
divertissant, qui réjouit toujours le monde," and they lose nothing of
that character in his handling of them, so much so that it was clear
from the first that the world in general would never ask whether Pascal
had been quite fair to his opponents: "N'êtes-vous donc pas ridicules,
mes Pères?  Qu'on satisfait au précepte d'ouïr la messe en entendant
quatre quarts de messe à la fois de différents prêtres!"  When [68] you
have the like of that it is impossible not to laugh, parce que rien n'y
porte davantage qu'une disproportion surprenante entre ce qu'on attend
et ce qu'on voit.

He has "salt" also, of another kind.  He drives straight at the
Jesuits, for instance, rather than at those who do but copy them,
because, as he tells us: Les choses valent toujours mieux dans leur
source.  What equity of expression, how brief, how untranslateable! And
the "Letters" abound in such things.

But to his comparison of Pascal with Molière, Voltaire added that
Bossuet n'a rien de plus sublime que les dernières.  And in truth the
more serious note of the impassioned servant of religion whose lips
have been touched with altar-fire, whose seriousness came to be like
some incurable malady, a visitation of God, as people used to say, is
presently struck when, in the natural course of his argument, his
thoughts are carried, from a mere passage of arms between one man or
one class of men and another, deep down to those awful encounters of
the individual soul with itself which are formulated in the eternal
problem of predestination.

In their doctrine of "sufficient grace" the Jesuits had presented a
view of the conflict of good and evil in the soul, which is honourable
to God and encouraging to man, and which has catholicity on its face.
All to whom entrance into the Church, through its formal ministries,
[69] lies open are truly called of God, while beyond it stretches the
ocean of "His uncovenanted mercies."  That is a doctrine for the many,
for those whose position in the religious life is mediocrity, who so
far as themselves or others can discern have nothing about them of
eternal or necessary or irresistible reprobation, or of the eternal
condition opposite to that.

The so-called Jansenist doctrine, on the other hand, of [   ]+ but
irresistible grace was the appropriate view of the Port-Royalists,
high-pitched, eager souls as they were, and of their friend Pascal
himself, however much in his turn he might refine upon it.  Whether or
not, as a matter of fact, upon which, as distinct from matters of
faith, an infallible pope can be mistaken, the dreary old Dutch bishop
Jansenius had really taught Jansenism, the Port-Royalists had found in
his "Augustinus" an incentive to devotion, and were avowedly his
adherents.  In that somewhat gloomy, that too deeply impressed, that
fanatical age, they were the Calvinists of the Roman Catholic Church,
maintaining, emphasising in it a view, a tradition, really constant in
it from St. Augustin, from St. Paul himself.  It is a merit of Pascal,
his literary merit, to have given a very fine-toned expression to that
doctrine, though mainly in the way of a criticism of its opponents, to
one side or aspect of an eternal controversy, eternally suspended, as
representing two opposite aspects of experience [70] itself.  Calvin
and Arminius, Jansen and Molina sum up, in fact, respectively, like the
respective adherents of the freedom or of the necessity of the human
will, in the more general question of moral philosophy, two opposed,
two counter trains of phenomena actually observable by us in human
action, too large and complex a matter, as it is, to be embodied or
summed up in any one single proposition or idea.

There are moments of one's own life, aspects of the life of others, of
which the conclusion that the will is free seems to be the only--is the
natural or reasonable--account.  Yet those very moments on reflexion,
on second thoughts, present themselves again, as but links in a chain,
in an all-embracing network of chains.  In all education we assume, in
some inexplicable combination, at once the freedom and the necessity of
the subject of it.  And who on a survey of life from outside would
willingly lose the dramatic contrasts, the alternating interests, for
which the opposed ideas of freedom and necessity are our respective
points of view?  How significant become the details we might otherwise
pass by almost unobserved, but to which we are put on the alert by the
abstract query whether a man be indeed a freeman or a slave, as we
watch from aside his devious course, his struggles, his final tragedy
or triumph.  So much value at least there may be in problems insoluble
in themselves, such as that great controversy of Pascal's day [71]
between Jesuit and Jansenist.  And here again who would forego, in the
spectacle of the religious history of the human soul, the aspects, the
details which the doctrines of universal and particular grace
respectively embody?  The Jesuit doctrine of sufficient grace is
certainly, to use the familiar expression, a very pleasant doctrine
conducive to the due feeding of the whole flock of Christ, as being, as
assuming them to be, what they really are, at the worst, God's silly
sheep.  It has something in it congruous with the rising of the
physical sun on the evil and on the good, while the wheat and the tares
grow naturally, peacefully together.  But how pleasant also the
opposite doctrine, how true, how truly descriptive of certain
distinguished, magnifical, or elect souls, vessels of election, épris
des hauteurs, as we see them pass across the world's stage, as if led
on by a kind of thirst for God!  Its necessary counterpart, of course,
we may find, at least dramatically true of some; we can name them in
history, perhaps from our own experience; souls of whom it seems but an
obvious story to tell that they seemed to be in love with eternal
death, to have borne on them from the first signs of reprobation.  Of
certain quite visibly elect souls, at all events, the theory of
irresistible grace might seem the almost necessary explanation.  Most
reasonable, most natural, most truly is it descriptive of Pascal

[72] So far, indeed, up to the year 1656, Pascal's annus mirabilis, the
year of the "Letters," the world had been allowed to see only one side
of him.  Early in life he had achieved brilliant overtures in the
abstract sciences, and, inheriting much of the quality of a fine
gentleman, he figures, with his trenchant manner, never at a loss, as a
quite secular person, stirred on occasion to take part in a religious
debate.  But it is after the grand fashion of the mundane quarrels of
that day, the age of the sentiment of personal honour, in which it was
so natural for the good-natured Jesuits, stirring all Pascal's satiric
power, to excuse as well as they could the act de tuer pour un simple
médisance.  The Church was still an estate of the realm with all the
obligations of the noblesse, and it was still something worse than bad
taste, it was dangerous to express religious doubts.  About the
Catholic religion, as he conceived it, Pascal displays the assured
attitude of an ancient Crusader.  He has the full courage of his
opinions, and by his elegant easy gallantry in speaking for it he gives
to religion then and now a kind of dignity it had lost with other
controversialists in the eyes of the world. There is abundant gaiety
also in the "Letters."  He quotes from Tertullian to the effect that
c'est proprement à la vérité qu'il appartient de rire parce qu'elle est
gaie, et de se jouer de ses ennemis parce qu'elle est assurée de sa
victoire.  For he could find quotations to his purpose from recondite
writers, [73] though he was not a man of erudition; like a man of the
world again, he read little, but that absorbingly, was the master of
two authors, Epictetus and Montaigne, and, as appeared afterwards, of
the Scriptures in the Vulgate.

So far, his imposing carriage of himself intellectually might lead us
to suspect that the forced humilities of his later years are indirectly
a discovery of what seems one leading quality of the natural man in
him, a pride that could be quite fierce on occasion. And, like another
rich young man whom Jesus loved, he lacked nothing to make the world
also love and confide in, as it already flattered, him.  He turned from
it, decided to live a single life.  Was it the mere oddity of genius?
Or its last fine dainty touch of difference from ordinary people and
their motives?  Or that sanctity of which, in some cases, the world
itself instinctively feels the distinction, though it shrinks from the
true explanation of it?  Certainly, all things considered, on the
morrow of the "Letters," Blaise Pascal, at the age of thirty-three, had
a brilliant worldly future before him, had he cared duly to wait upon,
to serve it.  To develop the already considerable position of his
family among the gentry of Auvergne would have been to follow the way
of his time, in which so many noble names had been founded on
professional talents.  Increasingly, however, from early youth, he had
been the subject of a malady so hopeless [74] and inexplicable that in
that superstitious age some fancied it the result of a malign spell in
infancy.  Gradually, the world almost loses sight of him, hears at
last, some time after it had looked for that event, that he had died,
of course very piously, among those sombre people, his friends and
relations of Port-Royal, with whom he had taken refuge, and seemed
already to have been buried alive.  And in the year 1670, not till
eight years after his death, the "Pensées" appeared--"Pensées de M.
Pascal sur la Religion et sur quelques autres sujets"--or rather a
selection from those "Thoughts" by the Port-Royalists, still in fear of
consequences to the struggling Jansenist party, anxious to present
Pascal's doctrine as far as possible in conformity with the Jesuit
sense, as also to divert the vaguer parts of it more entirely into
their own.  The incomparable words were altered, the order changed or
lost, the thoughts themselves omitted or retrenched.  Written in short
intervals of relief from suffering, they were contributions to a large
and methodical work--"Pensées de M. Pascal sur la Religion et sur
quelques autres sujets"--on a good many things besides, as the reader
finds, on many of the great things of this world which seemed to him to
come in contact or competition with religion.  In the true version of
the "Thoughts," edited at last by Faugère, in 1844, from Pascal's own
MSS., in the National Library, they group themselves into certain
definite trains [75] of speculation and study.  But it is still,
nevertheless, as isolated thoughts, as inspirations, so to call them,
penetrating what seemed hopelessly dark, summarising what seemed
hopelessly confused, sticking fast in men's memories, floating lightly,
or going far, that they have left so deep a mark in literature.  For
again the manner, also, their style precisely becomes them.  The merits
of Pascal's style, indeed, as of the French language itself, still is
to say beaucoup de choses en peu de mots; and the brevity, the
discerning edge, the impassioned concentration of the language are here
one with the ardent immediate apprehensions of his spirit.

One of the literary merits of the "Provincial Letters" is that they are
really like letters; they are essentially a conversation by writing
with other persons.  What we have in the "Thoughts" is the conversation
of the writer with himself, with himself and with God, or rather
concerning Him, for He is, in Pascal's favourite phrase from the
Vulgate, Deus absconditus, He who never directly shows Himself.  Choses
de coeur the "Thoughts" are, indeed those of an individual, though they
seem to have determined the very outlines of a great subject for all
other persons.  In Pascal, at the summit of the Puy de Dôme in his
native Auvergne, experimenting on the weight of the invisible air,
proving it to be ever all around by its effects, we are presented with
one of the more pleasing [76] aspects of his earlier, more wholesome,
open-air life.  In the great work of which the "Thoughts" are the first
head, Pascal conceived himself to be doing something of the same kind
in the spiritual order by a demonstration of this other invisible world
all around us, with its really ponderable forces, its movement, its
attractions and repulsions, the world of grace, unseen, but, as he
thinks, the one only hypothesis that can explain the experienced,
admitted facts. Whether or not he was fixing permanently in the
"Pensées" the outlines, the principles, of a great system of assent, of
conviction, for acceptance by the intellect, he was certainly fixing
these with all the imaginative depth and sufficiency of Shakespeare
himself, the fancied opposites, the attitudes, the necessary forms of
pathos,+ of a great tragedy in the heart, the soul, the essential human
tragedy, as typical and central in its expression here, as Hamlet--what
the  soul passes, and must pass, through, aux abois with nothingness,
or with those offended mysterious powers that may really occupy it--or
when confronted with the thought of what are called the "four last
things" it yields this way or that.  What might have passed with all
its fiery ways for an esprit de secte et de cabale is now revealed amid
the disputes not of a single generation but of eternal ones, by the
light of a phenomenal storm of blinding and blasting inspirations.

[77] Observe, he is not a sceptic converted, a returned infidel, but is
seen there as if at the very centre of a perpetually maintained tragic
crisis holding the faith steadfastly, but amid the well-poised points
of essential doubt all around him and it.  It is no mere calm
supersession of a state of doubt by a state of faith; the doubts never
die, they are only just kept down in a perpetual agonia. Everywhere in
the "Letters" he had seemed so great a master--a master of
himself--never at a loss, taking the conflict so lightly, with so light
a heart: in the great Atlantean travail of the "Thoughts" his feet
sometimes "are almost gone."  In his soul's agony, theological
abstractions seem to become personal powers.  It was as if just below
the surface of the green undulations, the stately woods, of his own
strange country of Auvergne, the volcanic fires had suddenly discovered
themselves anew.  In truth into his typical diagnosis, as it may seem,
of the tragedy of the human soul, there have passed not merely the
personal feelings, the temperament of an individual, but his malady
also, a physical malady.  Great genius, we know, has the power of
elevating, transmuting, serving itself by the accidental conditions
about it, however unpromising--poverty, and the like.  It was certainly
so with Pascal's long-continued physical sufferings. That aigreur,
which is part of the native colour of Pascal's genius, is reinforced in
the [78] "Pensées" by insupportable languor, alternating with
supportable pain, as he died little by little through the eight years
of their composition.  They are essentially the utterance of a soul
malade--a soul of great genius, whose malady became a new quality of
that genius, perfecting it thus, by its very defect, as a type on the
intellectual stage, and thereby guiding, reassuring sympathetically,
manning by a sense of good company that large class of persons who are
malade in the same way.  "La maladie est l'état naturel des Chrétiens,"
says Pascal himself.  And we concede that every one of us more or less
is ailing thus, as another has told us that life itself is a disease of
the spirit.

From Port-Royal also came, about the year 1670, a painful book, the
"Life of Pascal," a portrait painted slowly from the life or living
death, but with an almost exclusive preference for traits expressive of
disease.  The post-mortem examination of Pascal's brain revealed, we
are now told, the secret, not merely of that long prostration, those
sudden passing torments, but of something analogous to them in Pascal's
genius and work.  Well! the light cast indirectly on the literary work
of Pascal by Mme. Périer's "Life" is of a similar kind. It is a
veritable chapter in morbid pathology, though it may have truly a
beauty for experts, the beauty which belongs to all refined cases even
of cerebral disturbance.  That he should [79] have sought relief from
his singular wretchedness, in that sombre company, is like the second
stroke of tragedy upon him.  At moments Pascal becomes almost a
sectarian, and seems to pass out of the genial broad heaven of the
Catholic Church.  He had lent himself in those last years to a kind of
pieties which do not make a winning picture, which always have about
them, even when they show themselves in men physically strong,
something of the small compass of the sick-chamber.  His medieval or
oriental self-tortures, all the painful efforts at absolute detachment,
a perverse asceticism taking all there still was to spare from the
denuded and suffering body, might well, you may think, have died with
him, but are here recorded, chiefly by way of showing the world, the
Jesuits, that the Jansenists, too, had a saint quite after their mind.

But though, at first sight, you may find a pettiness in those minute
pieties, they have their signification as a testimony to the wholeness
of Pascal's assent, the entirety of his submission, his immense
sincerity, the heroic grandeur of his achieved faith.  The seventeenth
century presents survivals of the gloomy mental habits of the Middle
Age, but for the most part of a somewhat theatrical kind, imitations of
Francis and Dominic or of their earlier imitators.  In Pascal they are
original, and have all their seriousness.  Que je n'en sois [80] jamais
séparé--pas séparé éternellement, he repeats, or makes that strange
sort of MS. amulet, of which his sister tells us, repeat for him.  Cast
me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
It is table rase he is trying to make of himself, that He might reign
there absolutely alone, who, however, as he was bound to think, had
made and blest all those things he declined to accept.  Deeper and
deeper, then, he retreated into the renuncient life.  He could not, had
he wished, deprive himself of that his greatest gift--literally a gift
he might have thought it not to be buried but accounted for--the gift
of le beau dire, of writing beautifully.  "Il avoit renoncé depuis
longtemps aux sciences purement humains."  To him who had known them so
well, and as if by intuition, those abstract and perdurable forms of
service might well have seemed a part of "the Lord's doing, marvellous
in our eyes," as his favourite Psalm cxix., the psalm des petites
heures, the cxviii. of the Vulgate, says.*  These, too, he counts now
as but a variety of le néant and vanity of things.  He no longer
records, therefore, the mathematical aperçus that may visit him; and in
his scruples, his suspicions of' visible beauty, he interests us as
precisely an inversion of what is called the aesthetic life.

[81] Yet his faith, as in the days of the Middle Age, had been
supported, rewarded, by what he believed to be visible miracle among
the strange lights and shades of that retired place.  Pascal's niece,
the daughter of Madame Périer, a girl ten years of age, suffered from a
disease of the eyes pronounced to be incurable.  The disease was a
peculiarly distressing one, the sort of affliction which, falling on a
young child, may lead one to question the presence of divine justice in
the world, makes one long that miracles were possible. Well!  Pascal,
for one, believed that on occasion that profound aspiration had been
followed up by the power desired.  A thorn from the crown of Jesus, as
was believed, had been lately brought to the Port-Royal du Faubourg S.
Jacques in Paris, and was one day applied devoutly to the eye of the
suffering child.  What followed was an immediate and complete cure,
fully attested by experts.  Ah!  Thou hast given him his heart's
desire: and hast not denied him the request of his lips.  Pascal, and
the young girl herself, faithfully to the end of a long life, believed
the circumstances to have been miraculous.  Otherwise, we do not see
that Pascal was ever permitted to enjoy (so to speak) the religion for
which he had exchanged so much; that the sense of acceptance, of
assurance, had come to him; that for him the Spouse had ever penetrated
the veil of the ordinary routine of the means of grace; [82] nothing
that corresponded as a matter of clear personal intercourse of the very
senses to the greatness of his surrender--who had emptied himself of
all other things.  Besides, there was some not wholly-explained delay
in his reception, in those his last days, of the Sacrament.  It was
brought to him just in time--"Voici celui que vous avez tant
désiré!"--the ministrant says to the dying man.  Pascal was then aged
thirty-nine--an age you may remember fancifully noted as fatal to

Pascal's "Thoughts," then, we shall not rightly measure but as the
outcome, the utterance, of a soul diseased, a soul permanently ill at
ease.  We find in their constant tension something of insomnia, of that
sleeplessness which can never be a quite healthful condition of mind in
a human body.  Sometimes they are cries, cries of obscure pain rather
than thoughts--those great fine sayings which seem to betray by their
depth of sound the vast unseen hollow places of nature, of humanity,
just beneath one's feet or at one's side. Reading them, so modern still
are those thoughts, so rich and various in suggestion, that one seems
to witness the mental seed-sowing of the next two centuries, and
perhaps more, as to those matters with which he concerns himself.
Intuitions of a religious genius, they may well be taken also as the
final considerations of the natural man, as a religious inquirer on
doubt and faith, and their place in [83] things.  Listen now to some of
these "Thoughts" taken at random: taken at first for their brevity.
Peu de chose nous console, parce que peu de chose nous afflige.  Par
l'espace l'univers me comprend et m'engloutit comme un point: par la
pensée je le comprends.  Things like these put us en route with Pascal.
Toutes les bonnes maximes sont dans le monde: on ne manque que de les
appliquer.  The great ascetic was always hard on amusements, on mere
pastimes: Le divertissement nous amuse, one and all of us, et nous fait
arriver insensiblement à la mort.  Nous perdons encore la vie avec
joie, pourvu qu'on en parle.  On ne peut faire une bonne physionomie
(in a portrait) qu'en accordant toutes nos contrariétés.  L'homme n'est
qu'un roseau, le plus foible de la nature, mais c'est un roseau
pensant.  Il ne faut pas que l'univers entier s'arme pour l'écraser.
Une vapeur, une goutte d'eau, suffit pour le tuer.  Mais quand
l'univers l'écraseroit, l'homme seroit encore plus noble que se qui le
tue, parce qu'il sait qu'il meurt, et l'avantage que l'univers a sur
lui, l'univers n'en sait rien.  It is not thought by which that excels,
but the convincing force of imagination which sublimates its very
triteness.  Toute notre dignité consiste donc en la pensée.

There, then, you have at random the sort of stuff of which the
"Pensees" are made.  Let me now briefly indicate, also by quotation
again, some of the main leading tendencies in them.  La chose la plus
importante à toute la vie c'est la [84] choix du métier: le hasard en
dispose.  There we recognise the manner of thought of Montaigne.  Now
one of the leading interests in the study of Pascal is to trace the
influence upon him of the typical sceptic of the preceding century.
Pascal's "Thoughts" we shall never understand unless we realise the
under-texture in them of Montaigne's very phrases, the fascination the
"Essays" had for Pascal in his capacity of one of the children of
light, as giving a veritable compte rendu of the Satanic course of this
world since the Fall, set forth with all the persuasiveness, the power
and charm, all the gifts of Satan, the veritable light on things he has
at his disposal.

Pascal re-echoes Montaigne then in asserting the paradoxical character
of man and his experience.  The old headings under which the
Port-Royalist editors grouped the "Thoughts" recall the titles of
Montaigne's "Essays"--"Of the Disproportion of Man," and the like. As
strongly as Montaigne he delights in asserting the relative, local,
ephemeral and merely provisional character of our ideas of law, vice,
virtue, happiness, and so forth.  Comme la mode fait l'agrément aussi
fait-elle la justice.  La justice et la vérité sont deux pointes si
subtiles, que nos instruments sont trop mousses pour y toucher
exactement.  Bien suivant la seule raison n'est juste de soi: tout
branle avec le temps.  Sometimes he strikes the express accent of
Montaigne: Ceux qui sont dans un vaisseau croient que ceux qui sont
[85] au bord fuient.  Le langage est pareil de tous côtés.  Il faut
avoir un point fixe pour en juger.  Le port juge ceux qui sont dans un
vaisseau, mais où prendrons-nous un port dans la morale?  At times he
seems to forget that he himself and Montaigne are after all not of the
same flock, as his mind grazes in those pleasant places.  Qu'il (man)
se regarde comme égaré dans ce canton détourné de la nature, et de ce
petit cachot où il se trouve logé, qu'il apprenne the earth, et
soi-même à son juste prix.  Il ffre, mais elle est ployable à tous
sens; et ainsi il n'y en a point.  Un même sens change selon les
paroles qui l'expriment.  He has touches even of what he calls the
malignity, the malign irony of Montaigne.  Rien que la médiocrité n'est
bon, he says,--épris des hauteurs, as he so conspicuously was--C'est
sortir de l'humanité que de sortir du milieu; la grandeur de l'âme
humaine consiste à savoir s'y tenir.  Rien ne fortifie plus le
pyrrhonisme--that is ever his word for scepticism--que ce qu'il y en a
qui ne sont pas pyrrhoniens: si tous étaient ils auraient tort. You may
even credit him, like Montaigne, with a somewhat Satanic intimacy with
the ways, the cruel ways, the weakness, lâcheté, of the human heart, so
that, as he says of Montaigne, himself too might be a pernicious study
for those who have a native tendency to corruption.

The paradoxical condition of the world, the natural inconsistency of
man, his strange [86] blending of meanness with ancient greatness, the
caprices of his status here, of his power and attainments, in the issue
of his existence--that is what the study of Montaigne had enforced on
Pascal as the sincere compte rendu of experience.  But then he passes
at a tangent from the circle of the great sceptic's apprehension.  That
prospect of man and the world, undulant, capricious, inconsistent,
contemptible, lâche, full of contradiction, with a soul of evil in
things good, irreducible to law, upon which, after all, Montaigne looks
out with a complacency so entire, fills Pascal with terror.  It is the
world on the morrow of a great catastrophe, the casual forces of which
have by no means spent themselves.  Yes! this world we see, of which we
are a part, with its thousand dislocations, is precisely what we might
expect as resultant from the Fall of Man, with consequences in full
working still.  It presents the appropriate aspect of a lost world,
though with beams of redeeming grace about it, those, too, distributed
somewhat capriciously to chosen people and elect souls, who, after all,
can have but an ill time of it here.  Under the tragic éclairs of
divine wrath essentially implacable, the gentle, pleasantly undulating,
sunny, earthly prospect of poor loveable humanity which opens out for
one in Montaigne's "Essays," becomes for Pascal a scene of harsh
precipices, of threatening heights and depths--the depths of his own
nothingness.  Vanity: nothingness: these [87] are his catchwords: Nous
sommes incapables et du vrai et du bien; nous sommes tous condamnés.
Ce qui y paraît (i.e., what we see in the world) ne marque ni une
exclusion totale ni une présence manifeste de divinité, mais la
présence d'un Dieu qui se cache: (Deus absconditus, that is a recurrent
favourite thought of his) tout porte ce caractère.  In this world of
abysmal dilemmas, he is ready to push all things to their extremes.
All or nothing; for him real morality will be nothing short of
sanctity.  En Jésus Christ toutes les contradictions sont accordées.
Yet what difficulties again in the religion of Christ! Nulle autre
religion n'a proposé de se haïr.  La seule religion contraire à la
nature, contraire au sens commun, est la seule qui ait toujours été.

Multitudes in every generation have felt at least the aesthetic charm
of the rites of the Catholic Church.  For Pascal, on the other hand, a
certain weariness, a certain puerility, a certain unprofitableness in
them is but an extra trial of faith.  He seems to have little sense of
the beauty of holiness.  And for his sombre, trenchant, precipitous
philosophy there could be no middle terms; irresistible election,
irresistible reprobation; only sometimes extremes meet, and again it
may be the trial of faith that the justified seem as loveless and
unlovely as the reprobate.  Abêtissez-vous!  A nature, you may think,
that would magnify things to the utmost, nurse, expand them beyond
their natural bounds by his [88] reflex action upon them. Thus
revelation is to be received on evidence, indeed, but an evidence
conclusive only on a presupposition or series of presuppositions,
evidence that is supplemented by an act of imagination, or by the grace
of faith, shall we say?  At any rate, the fact is, that the genius of
the great reasoner, of this great master of the abstract and deductive
sciences, turned theologian, carrying the methods of thought there
formed into the things of faith, was after all of the imaginative
order.  Now hear what he says of imagination: Cette faculté trompeuse,
qui semble nous être donnée exprès pour nous induire à une erreur
nécessaire.  That has a sort of necessity in it.  What he says has
again the air of Montaigne, and he says much of the same kind: Cette
superbe puissance ennemie de la raison, combien toutes les richesses de
la terre sont insuffisantes sans son consentement.  The imagination has
the disposition of all things: Elle fait la beauté, la justice, et le
bonheur, qui est le tout du monde.  L'imagination dispose de tout.  And
what we have here to note is its extraordinary power in himself.
Strong in him as the reasoning faculty, so to speak, it administered
the reasoning faculty in him à son grbut he was unaware of it, that
power d'autant plus fourbe qu'elle ne l'est pas toujours.  Hidden under
the apparent rigidity of his favourite studies, imagination, even in
them, played a large part.  Physics, mathematics were with him largely
matters of intuition, anticipation, [89] precocious discovery, short
cuts, superb guessing.  It was the inventive element in his work and
his way of putting things that surprised those best able to judge.  He
might have discovered the mathematical sciences for himself, it is
alleged, had his father, as he once had a mind to do, withheld him from
instruction in them.

About the time when he was bidding adieu to the world, Pascal had an
accident.  As he drove round a corner on the Seine side to cross the
bridge at Neuilly, the horses were precipitated down the bank into the
water.  Pascal escaped, but with a nervous shock, a certain
hallucination, from which he never recovered.  As he walked or sat he
was apt to perceive a yawning depth beside him; would set stick or
chair there to reassure himself.  We are now told, indeed, that that
circumstance has been greatly exaggerated.  But how true to Pascal's
temper, as revealed in his work, that alarmed precipitous character in
it!  Intellectually the abyss was evermore at his side.  Nous avons, he
observes, un autre principe d'erreur, les maladies.  Now in him the
imagination itself was like a physical malady, troubling, disturbing,
or in active collusion with it....


62. *Published in the Contemporary Review, Feb. 1895, and now reprinted
by the kind permission of the proprietors.

76. +Transliteration: pathos.

80. *The words here cited are, however, from Psalm cxviii., the cxvii.
of the Vulgate, and not from Pascal's favourite Psalm. (C.L.S.)
+C.L.S. stands for Charles Shadwell, editor of the original volume.


[90] TITIAN, as we see him in what some have thought his noblest work,
the large altar-piece, dated 1522, his forty-fifth year, of SS. Nazaro
e Celso, at Brescia, is certainly a religious--a great, religious
painter.  The famous Gabriel of the Annunciation, aflight, in all the
effortless energy of an angel indeed, and Sebastian, adapted, it was
said, from an ancient statue, yet as novel in design as if Titian had
been the first to handle that so familiar figure in old religious
art--may represent for us a vast and varied amount of work--in which he
expands to their utmost artistic compass the earlier religious dreams
of Mantegna and the Bellini, affording sufficient proof how sacred
themes could rouse his imagination, and all his manual skill, to heroic
efforts.  But he is also the painter of the Venus of the Tribune and
the Triumph of Bacchus; and such frank acceptance of the voluptuous
paganism of the Renaissance, the motive of a large proportion of his
work, [91] might make us think that religion, grandly dramatic as was
his conception of it, can have been for him only one of many pictorial
attitudes.  There are however painters of that date who, while their
work is great enough to be connected (perhaps groundlessly) with
Titian's personal influence, or directly attributed to his hand,
possess at least this psychological interest, that about their
religiousness there can be no question. Their work is to be looked for
mainly in and about the two sub-alpine towns of Brescia and Bergamo; in
the former of which it becomes definable as a school--the school of
Moretto, in whom the perfected art of the later Renaissance is to be
seen in union with a catholicism as convinced, towards the middle of
the sixteenth century, as that of Giotto or Angelico.

Moretto of Brescia, for instance, is one of the few painters who have
fully understood the artistic opportunities of the subject of Saint
Paul, for whom, for the most part, art has found only the conventional
trappings of a Roman soldier (a soldier, as being in charge of those
prisoners to Damascus), or a somewhat commonplace old age.  Moretto
also makes him a nobly accoutred soldier--the rim of the helmet, thrown
backward in his fall to the earth, rings the head already with a faint
circle of glory--but a soldier still in possession of all those
resources of unspoiled youth which he is ready to offer in a [92]
moment to the truth that has just dawned visibly upon him.  The
terrified horse, very grandly designed, leaps high against the suddenly
darkened sky above the distant horizon of Damascus, with all Moretto's
peculiar understanding of the power of black and white.  But what signs
the picture inalienably as Moretto's own is the thought of the saint
himself, at the moment of his recovery from the stroke of Heaven.  The
pure, pale, beardless face, in noble profile, might have had for its
immediate model some military monk of a later age, yet it breathes all
the joy and confidence of the Apostle who knows in a single flash of
time that he has found the veritable captain of his soul.  It is indeed
the Paul whose genius of conviction has so greatly moved the minds of
men--the soldier who, bringing his prisoners "bound to Damascus," is
become the soldier of Jesus Christ.

Moretto's picture has found its place (in a dark recess, alas!) in the
Church of Santa Maria presso San Celso, in the suburbs of Milan, hard
by the site of the old Roman cemetery, where Ambrose, at a moment when
in one of his many conflicts a "sign" was needed, found the bodies of
Nazarus and Celsus, youthful patrician martyrs in the reign of Nero,
overflowing now with miraculous powers, their blood still fresh upon
them--conspersa recenti sanguine.  The body of Saint Nazarus he removed
into the city: that of Saint Celsus remained within the little
sanctuary [93] which still bears his name, and beside which, in the
fifteenth century, arose the glorious Church of the Madonna, with
spacious atrium after the Ambrosian manner, a façade richly sculptured
in the style of the Renaissance, and sumptuously adorned within.
Behind the massive silver tabernacle of the altar of the miraculous
picture which gave its origin to this splendid building, the rare
visitor, peeping as into some sacred bird-nest, detects one of the
loveliest works of Luini, a small, but exquisitely finished "Holy
Family."  Among the fine pictures around are works by two other very
notable religious painters of the cinque-cento.  Both alike, Ferrari
and Borgognone, may seem to have introduced into fiery Italian
latitudes a certain northern temperature, and somewhat twilight,
French, or Flemish, or German, thoughts.  Ferrari, coming from the
neighbourhood of Varallo, after work at Vercelli and Novara, returns
thither to labour, as both sculptor and painter, in the "stations" of
the Sacro Monte, at a form of religious art which would seem to have
some natural kinship with the temper of a mountain people.  It is as if
the living actors in the "Passion Play" of Oberammergau had been
transformed into almost illusive groups in painted terra-cotta.  The
scenes of the Last Supper, of the Martyrdom of the Innocents, of the
Raising of Jairus' daughter, for instance, are certainly touching in
the naïve piety of their life-sized realism.  But Gaudenzio Ferrari had
many [94] helpmates at the Sacro Monte; and his lovelier work is in the
Franciscan Church at the foot of the hill, and in those two, truly
Italian, far-off towns of the Lombard plain.  Even in his great,
many-storied fresco in the Franciscan Church at Varallo there are
traces of a somewhat barbaric hankering after solid form; the armour of
the Roman soldiers, for example, is raised and gilt.  It is as if this
serious soul, going back to his mountain home, had lapsed again into
mountain "grotesque," with touches also, in truth, of a peculiarly
northern poetry--a mystic poetry, which now and again, in his
treatment, for instance, of angel forms and faces, reminds one of
Blake.  There is something of it certainly in the little white spectral
soul of the penitent thief making its escape from the dishonoured body
along the beam of his cross.

The contrast is a vigorous one when, in the space of a few hours, the
traveller finds himself at Vercelli, half-stifled in its thick pressing
crop of pumpkins and mulberry trees.  The expression of the prophet
occurs to him: "A lodge in a garden of cucumbers."  Garden of cucumbers
and half-tropical flowers, it has invaded the quiet open spaces of the
town.  Search through them, through the almost cloistral streets, for
the Church of the Umiliati; and there, amid the soft garden-shadows of
the choir, you may find the sentiment of the neighbourhood expressed
with great refinement in what is perhaps [95] the masterpiece of
Ferrari, "Our Lady of the Fruit-garden," as we might say--attended by
twelve life-sized saints and the monkish donors of the picture.  The
remarkable proportions of the tall panel, up which the green-stuff is
climbing thickly above the mitres and sacred garniture of those sacred
personages, lend themselves harmoniously to the gigantic stature of
Saint Christopher in the foreground as the patron saint of the church.
With the savour of this picture in his memory, the visitor will look
eagerly in some half-dozen neighbouring churches and deserted
conventual places for certain other works from Ferrari's hand; and so,
leaving the place under the influence of his delicate religious ideal,
may seem to have been listening to much exquisite church-music there,
violins and the like, on that perfectly silent afternoon--such music as
he may still really hear on Sundays at the neighbouring town of Novara,
famed for it from of old.  Here, again, the art of Gaudenzio Ferrari
reigns. Gaudenzio!  It is the name of the saintly prelate on whom his
pencil was many times employed, First Bishop of Novara, and patron of
the magnificent basilica hard by which still covers his body, whose
earthly presence in cope and mitre Ferrari has commemorated in the
altar-piece of the "Marriage of St. Catherine," with its refined
richness of colour, like a bank of real flowers blooming there, and
like nothing else around it in the [96] vast duomo of old Roman
architecture, now heavily masked in modern stucco.  The solemn
mountains, under the closer shadow of which his genius put on a
northern hue, are far away, telling at Novara only as the grandly
theatrical background to an entirely lowland life.  And here, as at
Vercelli so at Novara, Ferrari is not less graciously Italian than
Luini himself.

If the name of Luini's master, Borgognone, is no proof of northern
extraction, a northern temper is nevertheless a marked element of his
genius--something of the patience, especially, of the masters of Dijon
or Bruges, nowhere more clearly than in the two groups of male and
female heads in the National Gallery, family groups, painted in the
attitude of worship, with a lowly religious sincerity which may remind
us of the contemporary work of M. Legros.  Like those northern masters,
he accepts piously, but can refine, what "has no comeliness."  And yet
perhaps no painter has so adequately presented that purely personal
beauty (for which, indeed, even profane painters for the most part have
seemed to care very little) as Borgognone in the two deacons, Stephen
and Laurence, who, in one of the altar-pieces of the Certosa, assist at
the throne of Syrus, ancient, sainted, First Bishop of Pavia--stately
youths in quite imperial dalmatics of black and gold.  An indefatigable
worker at many forms of religious art, here and elsewhere, assisting at
last in the [97] carving and inlaying of the rich marble façade of the
Certosa, the rich carved and inlaid wood-work of Santa Maria at
Bergamo, he is seen perhaps at his best, certainly in his most
significantly religious mood, in the Church of the Incoronata at Lodi,
especially in one picture there, the "Presentation of Christ in the
Temple." The experienced visitor knows what to expect in the sacristies
of the great Italian churches; the smaller, choicer works of Luini,
say, of Della Robbia or Mino of Fiesole, the superb ambries and drawers
and presses of old oak or cedar, the still untouched morsel of
fresco--like sacred priestly thoughts visibly lingering there in the
half-light.  Well! the little octagonal Church of the Incoronata is
like one of these sacristies.  The work of Bramante--you see it, as it
is so rarely one's luck to do, with its furniture and internal
decoration complete and unchanged, the coloured pavement, the colouring
which covers the walls, the elegant little organ of Domenico da Lucca
(1507), the altar-screens with their dainty rows of brass cherubs.  In
Borgognone's picture of the "Presentation," there the place is,
essentially as we see it to-day.  The ceremony, invested with all the
sentiment of a Christian sacrament, takes place in this very church,
this "Temple" of the Incoronata where you are standing, reflected on
the dimly glorious wall, as in a mirror. Borgognone in his picture has
[98] but added in long legend, letter by letter, on the fascia below
the cupola, the Song of Simeon.

The Incoronata however is, after all, the monument less of Ambrogio
Borgognone than of the gifted Piazza family:--Callisto, himself born at
Lodi, his father, his uncle, his brothers, his son Fulvio, working
there in three generations, under marked religious influence, and with
so much power and grace that, quite gratuitously, portions of their
work have been attributed to the master-hand of Titian, in some
imaginary visit here to these painters, who were in truth the disciples
of another--Romanino of Brescia.  At Lodi, the lustre of Scipione
Piazza is lost in that of Callisto, his elder brother; but he might
worthily be included in a list of painters memorable for a single
picture, such pictures as the solemn Madonna of Pierino del Vaga, in
the Duomo of Pisa, or the Holy Family of Pellegrino Piola, in the
Goldsmiths' Street at Genoa.  A single picture, a single figure in a
picture, signed and dated, over the altar of Saint Clement, in the
Church of San Spirito, at Bergamo, might preserve the fame of Scipione
Piazza, who did not live to be old.  The figure is that of the youthful
Clement of Rome himself, "who had seen the blessed Apostles," writing
at the dictation of Saint Paul.  For a moment he looks away from the
letters of the book with all the wistful intelligence of a boy softly
touched already by the radiancy of the [99] celestial Wisdom.  "Her
ways are ways of pleasantness!" That is the lesson this winsome,
docile, spotless creature--ingenui vultus puer ingenuique
pudoris--younger brother or cousin of Borgognone's noble deacons at the
Certosa--seems put there to teach us.  And in this church, indeed, as
it happens, Scipione's work is side by side with work of his.

It is here, in fact, at Bergamo and at Brescia, that the late survival
of a really convinced religious spirit becomes a striking fact in the
history of Italian art.  Vercelli and Novara, though famous for their
mountain neighbourhood, enjoy but a distant and occasional view of
Monte Rosa and its companions; and even then those awful stairways to
tracts of airy sunlight may seem hardly real.  But the beauty of the
twin sub-alpine towns further eastward is shaped by the circumstance
that mountain and plain meet almost in their streets, very effectively
for all purposes of the picturesque. Brescia, immediately below the
"Falcon of Lombardy" (so they called its masterful fortress on the last
ledge of the Piè di Monte), to which you may now ascend by gentle
turfed paths, to watch the purple mystery of evening mount gradually
from the great plain up the mountain-walls close at hand, is as level
as a church pavement, home-like, with a kind of easy walking from point
to point about it, rare in Italian towns--a town full of walled
gardens, giving even to [100] its smaller habitations the retirement of
their more sumptuous neighbours, and a certain English air.  You may
peep into them, pacing its broad streets, from the blaze of which you
are glad to escape into the dim and sometimes gloomy churches, the
twilight sacristies, rich with carved and coloured woodwork.  The art
of Romanino still lights up one of the darkest of those churches with
the altar-piece which is perhaps his most expressive and noblest work.
The veritable blue sky itself seems to be breaking into the
dark-cornered, low-vaulted, Gothic sanctuary of the Barefoot Brethren,
around the Virgin and Child, the bowed, adoring figures of Bonaventura,
Saint Francis, Saint Antony, the youthful majesty of Saint Louis, to
keep for ever in memory--not the King of France however, in spite of
the fleurs-de-lys on his cope of azure, but Louis, Bishop of Toulouse.
A Rubens in Italy! you may think, if you care to rove from the
delightful fact before you after vague supposititious
alliances--something between Titian and Rubens! Certainly, Romanino's
bold, contrasted colouring anticipates something of the northern
freshness of Rubens.  But while the peculiarity of the work of Rubens
is a sense of momentary transition, as if the colours were even now
melting in it, Romanino's canvas bears rather the steady glory of broad
Italian noonday; while he is distinguished also for a remarkable
clearness of [101] design, which has perhaps something to do, is
certainly congruous with, a markedly religious sentiment, like that of
Angelico or Perugino, lingering still in the soul of this Brescian
painter towards the middle of the sixteenth century.

Romanino and Moretto, the two great masters of Brescia in successive
generations, both alike inspired above all else by the majesty, the
majestic beauty, of religion--its persons, its events, every
circumstance that belongs to it--are to be seen in friendly rivalry,
though with ten years' difference of age between them, in the Church of
San Giovanni Evangelista; Romanino approaching there, as near as he
might, in a certain candle-lighted scene, to that harmony in black,
white, and grey preferred by the younger painter.  Before this or that
example of Moretto's work, in that admirably composed picture of Saint
Paul's Conversion, for instance, you might think of him as but a very
noble designer in grisaille.  A more detailed study would convince you
that, whatever its component elements, there is a very complex tone
which almost exclusively belongs to him; the "Saint Ursula" finally,
that he is a great, though very peculiar colourist--a lord of colour
who, while he knows the colour resources that may lie even in black and
white, has really included every delicate hue whatever in that faded
"silver grey," which yet lingers in one's memory as their final effect.
For some admirers indeed he is definable [102] as a kind of really
sanctified Titian.  It must be admitted, however, that whereas Titian
sometimes lost a little of himself in the greatness of his designs, or
committed their execution, in part, to others, Moretto, in his work, is
always all there--thorough, steady, even, in his workmanship.  That,
again, was a result of his late-surviving religious conscience.  And
here, as in other instances, the supposed influence of the greater
master is only a supposition.  As a matter of fact, at least in his
earlier life, Moretto made no visit to Venice; developed his genius at
home, under such conditions for development as were afforded by the
example of the earlier masters of Brescia itself; left his work there
abundantly, and almost there alone, as the thoroughly representative
product of a charming place.  In the little Church of San Clemente he
is still "at home" to his lovers; an intimately religious artist, full
of cheerfulness, of joy.  Upon the airy galleries of his great
altar-piece, the angels dance against the sky above the Mother and the
Child; Saint Clement, patron of the church, being attendant in
pontifical white, with Dominic, Catherine, the Magdalen, and good,
big-faced Saint Florian in complete armour, benign and strong.  He
knows many a saint not in the Roman breviary.  Was there a single
sweet-sounding name without its martyr patron?  Lucia, Agnes, Agatha,
Barbara, Cecilia--holy women, dignified, high-bred, intelligent--[103]
have an altar of their own; and here, as in that festal high
altar-piece, the spectator may note yet another artistic alliance,
something of the pale effulgence of Correggio--an approach, at least,
to that peculiar treatment of light and shade, and a pre-occupation
with certain tricks therein of nature itself, by which Correggio
touches Rembrandt on the one hand, Da Vinci on the other.  Here, in
Moretto's work, you may think that manner more delightful, perhaps
because more refined, than in Correggio himself.  Those pensive,
tarnished, silver side-lights, like mere reflexions of natural
sunshine, may be noticed indeed in many another painter of that day, in
Lanini, for instance, at the National Gallery.  In his "Nativity" at
the Brera, Procaccini of Verona almost anticipates Correggio's Heilige
Nacht.  It is, in truth, the first step in the decomposition of light,
a touch of decadence, of sunset, along the whole horizon of
North-Italian art.  It is, however, as the painter of the white-stoled
Ursula and her companions that the great master of Brescia is most
likely to remain in the memory of the visitor; with this fact, above
all, clearly impressed on it, that Moretto had attained full
intelligence of all the pictorial powers of white.  In the clearness,
the cleanliness, the hieratic distinction, of this earnest and
deeply-felt composition, there is something "pre-Raphaelite"; as also
in a certain liturgical formality in the grouping of the virgins--the
[104] looks, "all one way," of the closely-ranged faces; while in the
long folds of the drapery we may see something of the severe grace of
early Tuscan sculpture--something of severity in the long, thin,
emphatic shadows.  For the light is high, as with the level lights of
early morning, the air of which ruffles the banners borne by Ursula in
her two hands, her virgin companions laying their hands also upon the
tall staves, as if taking share, with a good will, in her
self-dedication, with all the hazard of battle.  They bring us,
appropriately, close to the grave of this manly yet so virginal
painter, born in the year 1500, dead at forty-seven.

Of Moretto and Romanino, whose works thus light up, or refine, the dark
churches of Brescia and its neighbourhood, Romanino is scarcely to be
seen beyond it.  The National Gallery, however, is rich in Moretto's
work, with two of his rare poetic portraits; and if the large
altar-picture would hardly tell his secret to one who had not studied
him at Brescia, in those who already know him it will awake many a
reminiscence of his art at its best.  The three white mitres, for
instance, grandly painted towards the centre of the picture, at the
feet of Saint Bernardino of Siena--the three bishoprics refused by that
lowly saint--may remind one of the great white mitre which, in the
genial picture of Saint Nicholas, in the Miracoli at Brescia, one of
the children, who as delightfully+ [105] unconventional acolytes
accompany their beloved patron into the presence of the Madonna,
carries along so willingly, laughing almost, with pleasure and pride,
at his part in so great a function.  In the altar-piece at the National
Gallery those white mitres form the key-note from which the pale,
cloistral splendours of the whole picture radiate.  You see what a
wealth of enjoyable colour Moretto, for one, can bring out of monkish
habits in themselves sad enough, and receive a new lesson in the
artistic value of reserve.

Rarer still (the single work of Romanino, it is said, to be seen out of
Italy) is the elaborate composition in five parts on the opposite side
of the doorway.  Painted for the high-altar of one of the many churches
of Brescia, it seems to have passed into secular hands about a century
ago.  Alessandro, patron of the church, one of the many youthful
patrician converts Italy reveres from the ranks of the Roman army,
stands there on one side, with ample crimson banner superbly furled
about his lustrous black armour, and on the other--Saint Jerome,
Romanino's own namesake--neither more nor less than the familiar,
self-tormenting anchorite; for few painters (Bellini, to some degree,
in his picture of the saint's study) have perceived the rare pictorial
opportunities of Jerome; Jerome with the true cradle of the Lord, first
of Christian antiquaries, author of the fragrant Vulgate version of the
[106] Scriptures.  Alessandro and Jerome support the Mother and the
Child in the central place.  But the loveliest subjects of this fine
group of compositions are in the corners above, half-length, life-sized
figures--Gaudioso, Bishop of Brescia, above Saint Jerome; above
Alessandro, Saint Filippo Benizzi, meek founder of the Order of
Servites to which that church at Brescia belonged, with his lily, and
in the right hand a book; and what a book!  It was another very
different painter, Giuseppe Caletti, of Cremona, who, for the truth and
beauty of his drawing of them, gained the title of the "Painter of
Books."  But if you wish to see what can be made of the leaves, the
vellum cover, of a book, observe that in Saint Philip's hand.--The
writer? the contents? you ask: What may they be? and whence did it
come?--out of embalmed sacristy, or antique coffin of some early
Brescian martyr, or, through that bright space of blue Italian sky,
from the hands of an angel, like his Annunciation lily, or the book
received in the Apocalypse by John the Divine?  It is one of those old
saints, Gaudioso (at home in every church in Brescia), who looks out
with full face from the opposite corner of the altar-piece, from a
background which, though it might be the new heaven over a new earth,
is in truth only the proper, breathable air of Italy.  As we see him
here, Saint Gaudioso is one of the more exquisite treasures of our
National Gallery.  It was thus that at the magic [107] touch of
Romanino's art the dim, early, hunted-down Brescian church of the
primitive centuries, crushed into the dust, it might seem, was "brought
to her king," out of those old dark crypts, "in raiment of
needle-work"--the delicate, richly folded, pontifical white vestments,
the mitre and staff and gloves, and rich jewelled cope, blue or green.
The face, of remarkable beauty after a type which all feel though it is
actually rare in art, is probably a portrait of some distinguished
churchman of Romanino's own day; a second Gaudioso, perhaps, setting
that later Brescian church to rights after the terrible French
occupation in the painter's own time, as his saintly predecessor, the
Gaudioso of the earlier century here commemorated, had done after the
invasion of the Goths.  The eloquent eyes are open upon some glorious
vision.  "He hath made us kings and priests!" they seem to say for him,
as the clean, sensitive lips might do so eloquently.  Beauty and
Holiness had "kissed each other," as in Borgognone's imperial deacons
at the Certosa.  At the Renaissance the world might seem to have parted
them again.  But here certainly, once more, Catholicism and the
Renaissance, religion and culture, holiness and beauty, might seem
reconciled, by one who had conceived neither after any feeble way, in a
gifted person.  Here at least, by the skill of Romanino's hand, the
obscure martyr of the crypts shines as a [108] saint of the later
Renaissance, with a sanctity of which the elegant world itself would
hardly escape the fascination, and which reminds one how the great
Apostle Saint Paul has made courtesy part of the content of the Divine
charity itself.  A Rubens in Italy!--so Romanino has been called.  In
this gracious presence we might think that, like Rubens also, he had
been a courtier.


90. *Published in the New Review, Nov. 1890, and now reprinted by the
kind permission of the proprietors.


[109] THE greatest and purest of Gothic churches, Notre-Dame d'Amiens,
illustrates, by its fine qualities, a characteristic secular movement
of the beginning of the thirteenth century. Philosophic writers of
French history have explained how, in that and in the two preceding
centuries, a great number of the more important towns in eastern and
northern France rose against the feudal establishment, and developed
severally the local and municipal life of the commune.  To guarantee
their independence therein they obtained charters from their formal
superiors.  The Charter of Amiens served as the model for many other
communes.  Notre-Dame d'Amiens is the church of a commune.  In that
century of Saint Francis, of Saint Louis, they were still religious.
But over against monastic interests, as identified with a central
authority--king, emperor, or pope--they pushed forward the local, and,
so to call it, secular authority of their [110] bishops, the flower of
the "secular clergy" in all its mundane astuteness, ready enough to
make their way as the natural Protectors of such townships.  The people
of Amiens, for instance, under a powerful episcopal patron, invested
their civic pride in a vast cathedral, outrivalling neighbours, as
being in effect their parochial church, and promoted there the new,
revolutionary, Gothic manner, at the expense of the derivative and
traditional, Roman or Romanesque, style, the imperial style, of the
great monastic churches.  Nay, those grand and beautiful people's
churches of the thirteenth century, churches pre-eminently of "Our
Lady," concurred also with certain novel humanistic movements of
religion itself at that period, above all with the expansion of what is
reassuring and popular in the worship of Mary, as a tender and
accessible, though almost irresistible, intercessor with her severe and
awful Son.

Hence the splendour, the space, the novelty, of the great French
cathedrals in the first Pointed style, monuments for the most part of
the artistic genius of laymen, significant pre-eminently of that Queen
of Gothic churches at Amiens.  In most cases those early Pointed
churches are entangled, here or there, by the constructions of the old
round-arched style, the heavy, Norman or other, Romanesque chapel or
aisle, side by side, though in strong contrast with, the soaring new
Gothic of nave or transept.  But of that older [111] manner of the
round arch, the plein-cintre, Amiens has nowhere, or almost nowhere, a
trace.  The Pointed style, fully pronounced, but in all the purity of
its first period, found here its completest expression.  And while
those venerable, Romanesque, profoundly characteristic, monastic
churches, the gregarious product of long centuries, are for the most
part anonymous, as if to illustrate from the first a certain personal
tendency which came in with the Gothic manner, we know the name of the
architect under whom, in the year A.D. 1220, the building of the church
of Amiens began--a layman, Robert de Luzarches.

Light and space--floods of light, space for a vast congregation, for
all the people of Amiens, for their movements, with something like the
height and width of heaven itself enclosed above them to breathe
in;--you see at a glance that this is what the ingenuity of the Pointed
method of building has here secured.  For breadth, for the easy flow of
a processional torrent, there is nothing like the "ambulatory," the
aisle of the choir and transepts.  And the entire area is on one level.
There are here no flights of steps upward, as at Canterbury, no
descending to dark crypts, as in so many Italian churches--a few low,
broad steps to gain the choir, two or three to the high altar.  To a
large extent the old pavement remains, though almost worn-out by the
footsteps of centuries.  Priceless, though not composed of precious
material, it gains its effect [112] by ingenuity and variety in the
patterning, zig-zags, chequers, mazes, prevailing respectively, in
white and grey, in great square, alternate spaces--the original floor
of a medieval church for once untouched.  The massive square bases of
the pillars of a Romanesque church, harshly angular, obstruct,
sometimes cruelly, the standing, the movements, of a multitude of
persons.  To carry such a multitude conveniently round them is the
matter-of-fact motive of the gradual chiselling away, the softening of
the angles, the graceful compassing, of the Gothic base, till in our
own Perpendicular period it all but disappears.  You may study that
tendency appropriately in the one church of Amiens; for such in effect
Notre-Dame has always been.  That circumstance is illustrated by the
great font, the oldest thing here, an oblong trough, perhaps an ancient
saintly coffin, with four quaint prophetic figures at the angles,
carved from a single block of stone.  To it, as to the baptistery of an
Italian town, not so long since all the babes of Amiens used to come
for christening.

Strange as it may seem, in this "queen" of Gothic churches, l'église
ogivale par excellence, there is nothing of mystery in the vision,
which yet surprises, over and over again, the eye of the visitor who
enters at the western doorway.  From the flagstone at one's foot to the
distant keystone of the chevet, noblest of its species-- [113]
reminding you of how many largely graceful things, sails of a ship in
the wind, and the like!--at one view the whole is visible,
intelligible;--the integrity of the first design; how later additions
affixed themselves thereto; how the rich ornament gathered upon it; the
increasing richness of the choir; its glazed triforium; the realms of
light which expand in the chapels beyond; the astonishing boldness of
the vault, the astonishing lightness of what keeps it above one; the
unity, yet the variety of perspective.  There is no mystery here, and
indeed no repose.  Like the age which projected it, like the impulsive
communal movement which was here its motive, the Pointed style at
Amiens is full of excitement.  Go, for repose, to classic work, with
the simple vertical law of pressure downwards, or to its Lombard,
Rhenish, or Norman derivatives.  Here, rather, you are conscious
restlessly of that sustained equilibrium of oblique pressure on all
sides, which is the essence of the hazardous Gothic construction, a
construction of which the "flying buttress" is the most significant
feature.  Across the clear glass of the great windows of the triforium
you see it, feel it, at its Atlas-work audaciously.  "A pleasant thing
it is to behold the sun" those first Gothic builders would seem to have
said to themselves; and at Amiens, for instance, the walls have
disappeared; the entire building is composed of its windows.  Those who
built it [114] might have had for their one and only purpose to enclose
as large a space as possible with the given material.

No; the peculiar Gothic buttress, with its double, triple, fourfold
flights, while it makes such marvels possible, securing light and space
and graceful effect, relieving the pillars within of their massiveness,
is not a restful architectural feature.  Consolidation of matter
naturally on the move, security for settlement in a very complex system
of construction--that is avowedly a part of the Gothic situation, the
Gothic problem.  With the genius which contended, though not always
quite successfully, with this difficult problem, came also novel
aesthetic effect, a whole volume of delightful aesthetic effects.  For
the mere melody of Greek architecture, for the sense as it were of
music in the opposition of successive sounds, you got harmony, the
richer music generated by opposition of sounds in one and the same
moment; and were gainers.  And then, in contrast with the classic
manner, and the Romanesque survivals from it, the vast complexity of
the Gothic style seemed, as if consciously, to correspond to the
richness, the expressiveness, the thousandfold influence of the
Catholic religion, in the thirteenth century still in natural movement
in every direction.  The later Gothic of the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries tended to conceal, as it now took for granted, the structural
use of the buttress, for [115] example; seemed to turn it into a mere
occasion for ornament, not always pleasantly:--while the ornament was
out of place, the structure failed.  Such falsity is far enough away
from what at Amiens is really of the thirteenth century.  In this
pre-eminently "secular" church, the execution, in all the defiance of
its method, is direct, frank, clearly apparent, with the result not
only of reassuring the intelligence, but of keeping one's curiosity
also continually on the alert, as we linger in these restless aisles.

The integrity of the edifice, together with its volume of light, has
indeed been diminished by the addition of a range of chapels, beyond
the proper limits of the aisles, north and south.  Not a part of the
original design, these chapels were formed for private uses in the
fourteenth century, by the device of walling in and vaulting the open
spaces between the great buttresses of the nave.  Under the broad but
subdued sunshine which falls through range upon range of windows,
reflected from white wall and roof and gallery, soothing to the eye,
while it allows you to see the delicate carved work in all its
refinement of touch, it is only as an after-thought, an artificial
after-thought, that you regret the lost stained glass, or the vanished
mural colour, if such to any large extent there ever were. The best
stained glass is often that stained by weather, by centuries of
weather, [116] and we may well be grateful for the amazing cheerfulness
of the interior of Amiens, as we actually find it. Windows of the
richest remain, indeed, in the apsidal chapels; and the rose-windows of
the transepts are known, from the prevailing tones of their stained
glass, as Fire and Water, the western rose symbolising in like manner
Earth and Air, as respectively green and blue.  But there is no reason
to suppose that the interior was ever so darkened as to prevent one's
seeing, really and clearly, the dainty ornament, which from the first
abounded here; the floriated architectural detail; the broad band of
flowers and foliage, thick and deep and purely sculptured, above the
arches of nave and choir and transepts, and wreathing itself
continuously round the embedded piers which support the roof; with the
woodwork, the illuminated metal, the magnificent tombs, the jewellers'
work in the chapels. One precious, early thirteenth-century window of
grisaille remains, exquisite in itself, interesting as evidence of the
sort of decoration which originally filled the larger number of the
windows. Grisaille, with its lace-work of transparent grey, set here
and there with a ruby, a sapphire, a gemmed medallion, interrupts the
clear light on things hardly more than the plain glass, of which indeed
such windows are mainly composed.  The finely designed frames of iron
for the support of the glass, in the windows from which even [117] this
decoration is gone, still remain, to the delight of those who are
knowing in the matter.

Very ancient light, this seems, at any rate, as if it had been lying
imprisoned thus for long centuries; were in fact the light over which
the great vault originally closed, now become almost substance of
thought, one might fancy,--a mental object or medium.  We are reminded
that after all we must of necessity look on the great churches of the
Middle Age with other eyes than those who built or first worshipped in
them; that there is something verily worth having, and a just
equivalent for something else lost, in the mere effect of time, and
that the salt of all aesthetic study is in the question,--What,
precisely what, is this to me?  You and I, perhaps, should not care
much for the mural colouring of a medieval church, could we see it as
it was; might think it crude, and in the way. What little remains of it
at Amiens has parted, indeed, in the course of ages, with its
shrillness and its coarse grain.  And in this matter certainly, in view
of Gothic polychrome, our difference from the people of the thirteenth
century is radical.  We have, as it was very unlikely they should have,
a curiosity, a very pleasurable curiosity, in the mere working of the
stone they built with, and in the minute facts of their construction,
which their colouring, and the layer of plaster it involved, disguised
or hid.  We may think that in architecture stone is the most beautiful
[118] of all things. Modern hands have replaced the colour on some of
the tombs here--the effigies, the tabernacles above--skilfully as may
be, and have but deprived them of their dignity.  Medieval colouring,
in fact, must have improved steadily, as it decayed, almost till there
came to be no question of colour at all.  In architecture, close as it
is to men's lives and their history, the visible result of time is a
large factor in the realised aesthetic value, and what a true architect
will in due measure always trust to.  A false restoration only
frustrates the proper ripening of his work.

If we may credit our modern eyes, then, those old, very secular
builders aimed at, they achieved, an immense cheerfulness in their
great church, with a purpose which still pursued them into their
minuter decoration.  The conventional vegetation of the Romanesque, its
blendings of human or animal with vegetable form, in cornice or
capital, have given way here, in the first Pointed style, to a
pleasanter, because more natural, mode of fancy; to veritable forms of
vegetable life, flower or leaf, from meadow and woodside, though still
indeed with a certain survival of the grotesque in a confusion of the
leaf with the flower, which the subsequent Decorated period will wholly
purge away in its perfect garden-borders.  It was not with monastic
artists and artisans that the sheds and workshops around Amiens
Cathedral were filled, [119] as it rose from its foundations through
fifty years; and those lay schools of art, with their communistic
sentiment, to which in the thirteenth century the great episcopal
builders must needs resort, would in the natural course of things tend
towards naturalism.  The subordinate arts also were no longer at the
monastic stage, borrowing inspiration exclusively from the experiences
of the cloister, but belonged to guilds of laymen--smiths, painters,
sculptors.  The great confederation of the "city," the commune,
subdivided itself into confederations of citizens.  In the natural
objects of the first Pointed style there is the freshness as of nature
itself, seen and felt for the first time; as if, in contrast, those
older cloistral workmen had but fed their imagination in an
embarrassed, imprisoned, and really decadent manner, or mere
reminiscence of, or prescriptions about, things visible.

Congruous again with the popularity of the builders of Amiens, of their
motives, is the wealth, the freedom and abundance, of popular, almost
secular, teaching, here afforded, in the carving especially, within and
without; an open Bible, in place of later legend, as at monastic
Vézelay,--the Bible treated as a book about men and women, and other
persons equally real, but blent with lessons, with the liveliest
observations, on the lives of men as they were then and now, what they
do, and how they do it, or did it then, and on the doings of nature
[120] which so greatly influence what man does; together with certain
impressive metaphysical and moral ideas, a sort of popular scholastic
philosophy, or as if it were the virtues and vices Aristotle defines,
or the characters of Theophrastus, translated into stone.  Above all,
it is to be observed that as a result of this spirit, this "free"
spirit, in it, art has at last become personal.  The artist, as such,
appears at Amiens, as elsewhere, in the thirteenth century; and, by
making his personal way of conception and execution prevail there,
renders his own work vivid and organic, and apt to catch the interest
of other people.  He is no longer a Byzantine, but a Greek--an
unconscious Greek.  Proof of this is in the famous Beau-Dieu of Amiens,
as they call that benign, almost classically proportioned figure, on
the central pillar of the great west doorway; though in fact neither
that, nor anything else on the west front of Amiens, is quite the best
work here.  For that we must look rather to the sculpture of the portal
of the south transept, called, from a certain image there, Portail de
la Vierge dorée, gilded at the expense of some unknown devout person at
the beginning of the last century.  A presentation of the mystic, the
delicately miraculous, story of Saint Honoré, eighth Bishop of Amiens,
and his companions, with its voices, its intuitions, and celestial
intimations, it has evoked a correspondent method of work at once [121]
naïve and nicely expressive.  The rose, or roue, above it, carries on
the outer rim seventeen personages, ascending and descending--another
piece of popular philosophy--the wheel of fortune, or of human life.

And they were great brass-founders, surely, who at that early day
modelled and cast the tombs of the Bishops Evrard and Geoffrey, vast
plates of massive black bronze in half-relief, like abstract thoughts
of those grand old prelatic persons.  The tomb of Evrard, who laid the
foundations (qui fundamenta hujus basilicae locavit), is not quite as
it was.  Formerly it was sunk in the pavement, while the tomb of Bishop
Geoffrey opposite (it was he closed in the mighty vault of the nave:
hanc basilicam culmen usque perduxit), itself vaulted-over the space of
the grave beneath.  The supreme excellence of those original workmen,
the journeymen of Robert de Luzarches and his successor, would seem
indeed to have inspired others, who have been at their best here, down
to the days of Louis the Fourteenth. It prompted, we may think, a high
level of execution, through many revolutions of taste in such matters;
in the marvellous furniture of the choir, for instance, like a whole
wood, say a thicket of old hawthorn, with its curved topmost branches
spared, slowly transformed by the labour of a whole family of artists,
during fourteen years, into the stalls, in number one hundred and ten,
with nearly four [122] thousand figures.  Yet they are but on a level
with the Flamboyant carved and coloured enclosures of the choir, with
the histories of John the Baptist, whose face-bones are here preserved,
and of Saint Firmin--popular saint, who protects the houses of Amiens
from fire.  Even the screens of forged iron around the sanctuary, work
of the seventeenth century, appear actually to soar, in their way, in
concert with the airy Gothic structure; to let the daylight pass as it
will; to have come, they too, from smiths, odd as it may seem at just
that time, with some touch of inspiration in them.  In the beginning of
the fifteenth century they had reared against a certain bald space of
wall, between the great portal and the western "rose," an organ, a
lofty, many-chambered, veritable house of church-music, rich in azure
and gold, finished above at a later day, not incongruously, in the
quaint, pretty manner of Henri-Deux.  And those who are interested in
the curiosities of ritual, of the old provincial Gallican "uses," will
be surprised to find one where they might least have expected it.  The
reserved Eucharist still hangs suspended in a pyx, formed like a dove,
in the midst of that lamentable "glory" of the eighteenth century in
the central bay of the sanctuary, all the poor, gaudy, gilt rays
converging towards it. There are days in the year in which the great
church is still literally filled with reverent worshippers, and if you
come late to service you push the [123] doors in vain against the
closely serried shoulders of the good people of Amiens, one and all in
black for church-holiday attire.  Then, one and all, they intone the
Tantum ergo (did it ever sound so in the Middle Ages?) as the
Eucharist, after a long procession, rises once more into its

If the Greeks, as at least one of them says, really believed there
could be no true beauty without bigness, that thought certainly is most
specious in regard to architecture; and the thirteenth-century church
of Amiens is one of the three or four largest buildings in the world,
out of all proportion to any Greek building, both in that and in the
multitude of its external sculpture.  The chapels of the nave are
embellished without by a double range of single figures, or groups,
commemorative of the persons, the mysteries, to which they are
respectively dedicated--the gigantic form of Christopher, the Mystery
of the Annunciation.

The builders of the church seem to have projected no very noticeable
towers; though it is conventional to regret their absence, especially
with visitors from England, where indeed cathedral and other towers are
apt to be good, and really make their mark.  Robert de Luzarches and
his successors aimed rather at the domical outline, with its central
point at the centre of the church, in the spire or flèche. The existing
spire is a wonderful mass of carpentry [124] of the beginning of the
sixteenth century, at which time the lead that carefully wraps every
part of it was heavily gilt.  The great western towers are lost in the
west front, the grandest, perhaps the earliest, example of its
species--three profound, sculptured portals; a double gallery above,
the upper gallery carrying colossal images of twenty-two kings of the
House of Judah, ancestors of Our Lady; then the great rose; above it
the ringers' gallery, half masking the gable of the nave, and uniting
at their top-most storeys the twin, but not exactly equal or similar,
towers, oddly oblong in plan, as if never intended to carry pyramids or
spires.  They overlook an immense distance in those flat, peat-digging,
black and green regions, with rather cheerless rivers, and are the
centre of an architectural region wider still--of a group to which
Soissons, far beyond the woods of Compiègne, belongs, with St. Quentin,
and, towards the west, a too ambitious rival, Beauvais, which has stood
however--what we now see of it--for six centuries.

It is a spare, rather sad world at most times that Notre-Dame d'Amiens
thus broods over; a country with little else to be proud of; the sort
of world, in fact, which makes the range of conceptions embodied in
these cliffs of quarried and carved stone all the more welcome as a
hopeful complement to the meagreness of most people's present
existence, and its apparent ending in a [125] sparely built coffin
under the flinty soil, and grey, driving sea-winds.  In Notre-Dame,
therefore, and her sisters, there is not only a common method of
construction, a single definable type, different from that of other
French latitudes, but a correspondent common sentiment also; something
which speaks, amid an immense achievement just here of what is
beautiful and great, of the necessity of an immense effort in the
natural course of things, of what you may see quaintly designed in one
of those hieroglyphic carvings--radix de terra sitienti: "a root out of
a dry ground."


109. *Published in the Nineteenth Century, March 1894, and now
reprinted by the kind permission of the proprietors.


[126] As you discern the long unbroken line of its roof, low-pitched
for France, above the cottages and willow-shaded streams of the place,
you might think the abbey church of Pontigny, the largest Cistercian
church now remaining, only a great farm-building.  On a nearer view
there is something unpretending, something pleasantly English, in the
plain grey walls, pierced with long "lancet" windows, as if they
overlooked the lowlands of Essex, or the meadows of Kent or Berkshire,
the sort of country from which came those saintly exiles of our race
who made the cloisters of Pontigny famous, and one of whom, Saint
Edmund of Abingdon, Saint-Edme, still lies enshrined here.  The country
which the sons of Saint Bernard choose for their abode is in fact but a
patch of scanty pasture-land in the midst of a heady wine-district.
Like its majestic Cluniac rivals, the church has its western portico,
elegant in structure but of comparatively humble [127] proportions,
under a plain roof of tiles, pent-wise. Within, a heavy coat of
white-wash seems befitting to the simple forms of the "Transition," or
quite earliest "Pointed," style, to its remarkable continence of
spirit, its uniformity, and cleanness of build.  The long prospect of
nave and choir ends, however, with a sort of graceful smallness, in a
chevet of seven closely packed, narrow bays.  It is like a nun's
church, or like a nun's coif.

The church of Pontigny, representative generally of the churches of the
Cistercian order, including some of the loveliest early English ones,
was in truth significant of a reaction, a reaction against monasticism
itself, as it had come to be in the order of Cluny, the genius of which
found its proper expression in the imperious, but half-barbaric,
splendours of the richest form of the Romanesque, the monastic style
pre-eminently, as we may still see it at La Charité-sur-Loire, at
Saint-Benoît, above all, on the hill of Vézelay.  Saint Bernard, who
had lent his immense influence to the order of Cîteaux by way of a
monastic reform, though he had a genius for hymns and was in other ways
an eminent religious poet, and though he gave new life to the expiring
romance of the crusades, was, as regards the visible world, much of a
Puritan.  Was it he who, wrapt in thought upon the world unseen, walked
along the shores of Lake Leman without observing it?--the eternal snows
he might have taken for the walls of the New Jerusalem; the blue waves
he [128] might have fancied its pavement of sapphire.  In the churches,
the worship, of his new order he required simplicity, and even
severity, being fortunate in finding so winsome an exponent of that
principle as the early Gothic of Pontigny, or of the first Cistercian
church, now destroyed, at Cîteaux itself. Strangely enough, while
Bernard's own temper of mind was a survival from the past (we see this
in his contest with Abelard), hierarchic, reactionary, suspicious of
novelty, the architectural style of his preference was largely of
secular origin.  It had a large share in that inventive and innovating
genius, that expansion of the natural human soul, to which the art, the
literature, the religious movements of the thirteenth century in
France, as in Italy, where it ends with Dante, bear witness.

In particular, Bernard had protested against the sculpture, rich and
fantastic, but gloomy, it might be indecent, developed more abundantly
than anywhere else in the churches of Burgundy, and especially in those
of the Cluniac order.  "What is the use," he asks, "of those grotesque
monsters in painting and sculpture?" and almost certainly he had in
mind the marvellous carved work at Vézelay, whither doubtless he came
often--for example on Good Friday, 1146, to preach, as we know, the
second crusade in the presence of Louis the Seventh.  He too might have
wept at the sight of the doomed multitude (one in ten, it is said,
returned from the Holy [129] Land), as its enthusiasm, under the charm
of his fiery eloquence, rose to the height of his purpose.  Even the
aisles of Vézelay were not sufficient for the multitude of his hearers,
and he preached to them in the open air, from a rock still pointed out
on the hillside. Armies indeed have been encamped many times on the
slopes and meadows of the valley of the Cure, now to all seeming so
impregnably tranquil.  The Cluniac order even then had already declined
from its first intention; and that decline became especially visible in
the Abbey of Vézelay itself not long after Bernard's day.  Its majestic
immoveable church was complete by the middle of the twelfth century.
And there it still stands in spite of many a threat, while the
conventual buildings around it have disappeared; and the institution it
represented--secularised at its own request at the Reformation--had
dwindled almost to nothing at all, till in the last century the last
Abbot built himself, in place of the old Gothic lodging below those
solemn walls, a sort of Château Gaillard, a dainty abode in the manner
of Louis Quinze--swept away that too at the Revolution--where the great
oaks now flourish, with the rooks and squirrels.

Yet the order of Cluny, in its time, in that dark period of the
eleventh and twelfth centuries, had deserved well of those to whom
religion, and art, and social order are precious.  The Cluniacs had in
fact represented monasticism in the most [130] legitimate form of its
activity; and, if the church of Vézelay was not quite the grandest of
their churches, it is certainly the grandest of them which remains.  It
is also typical in character.  As Notre-Dame d'Amiens is pre-eminently
the church of the city, of a commune, so the Madeleine of Vézelay is
typically the church of a monastery.

The monastic style proper, then, in its peculiar power and influence,
was Romanesque, and with the Cluniac order; and here perhaps better
than anywhere else we may understand what it really came to, what was
its effect on the spirits, the imagination.

As at Pontigny, the Cistercians, for the most part, built their
churches in lowly valleys, according to the intention of their founder.
The representative church of the Cluniacs, on the other hand, lies amid
the closely piled houses of the little town, which it protected and
could punish, on a steep hill-top, like a long massive chest there,
heavy above you, as you climb slowly the winding road, the old
unchanged pathway of Saint Bernard.  In days gone by it threatened the
surrounding neighbourhood with four boldly built towers; had then also
a spire at the crossing; and must have been at that time like a more
magnificent version of the buildings which still crown the hill of
Laon.  Externally, the proportions, the squareness, of the nave (west
and east, the vast narthex or porch, and the [131] Gothic choir, rise
above its roof-line), remind one of another great Romanesque church at
home--of the nave of Winchester, out of which Wykeham carved his richly
panelled Perpendicular interior.

At Vézelay however, the Romanesque, the Romanesque of Burgundy, alike
in the first conception of the whole structure, and in the actual
locking together of its big stones, its masses of almost unbroken
masonry, its inertia, figures as of more imperial character, and nearer
to the Romans of old, than its feebler kindred in England or Normandy.
We seem to have before us here a Romanesque architecture, studied, not
from Roman basilicas or Roman temples, but from the arenas, the
colossal gateways, the triumphal arches, of the people of empire, such
as remain even now, not in the South of France only. The simple
"flying," or rather leaning and almost couchant, buttresses, quadrants
of a circle, might be parts of a Roman aqueduct.  In contrast to the
lightsome Gothic manner of the last quarter of the twelfth century (as
we shall presently find it here too, like an escape for the eye, for
the temper, out of some grim underworld into genial daylight), the
Cluniac church might seem a still active instrument of the iron tyranny
of Rome, of its tyranny over the animal spirits.  As the ghost of
ancient Rome still lingers "over the grave thereof," in the papacy, the
hierarchy, so is it with the material structures [132] also, the
Cluniac and other Romanesque churches, which most emphatically express
the hierarchical, the papal system.  There is something about this
church of Vézelay, in the long-sustained patience of which it tells,
that brings to mind the labour of slaves, whose occasional Fescennine
licence and fresh memories of a barbaric life also find expression, now
and again, in the strange sculpture of the place.  Yet here for once,
around a great French church, there is the kindly repose of English
"precincts," and the country which this monastic acropolis overlooks
southwards is a very pleasant one, as we emerge from the shadows
of--yes! of that peculiarly sad place--a country all the pleasanter by
reason of the toil upon it, performed, or exacted from others, by the
monks, through long centuries; Le Morvan, with its distant blue hills
and broken foreground, the vineyards, the patches of woodland, the
roads winding into their cool shadows; though in truth the
fortress-like outline of the monastic church and the sombre hue of its
material lend themselves most readily to the effects of a stormy sky.

By a door, which in the great days opened from a magnificent cloister,
you enter what might seem itself but the ambulatory of a cloister,
superbly vaulted and long and regular, and built of huge stones of a
metallic colour.  It is the southern aisle of the nave, a nave of ten
bays, the grandest Romanesque interior in France, [133] perhaps in the
world.  In its mortified light the very soul of monasticism, Roman and
half-military, as the completest outcome of a religion of threats,
seems to descend upon one.  Monasticism is indeed the product of many
various tendencies of the religious soul, one or another of which may
very properly connect itself with the Pointed style, as we saw in those
lightsome aisles of Pontigny, so expressive of the purity, the lowly
sweetness, of the soul of Bernard.  But it is here at Vézelay, in this
iron place, that monasticism in its central, its historically most
significant purpose, presents itself as most completely at home.  There
is no triforium.  The monotonous cloistral length of wall above the
long-drawn series of stately round arches, is unbroken save by a plain
small window in each bay, placed as high as possible just below the
cornice, as a mere after-thought, you might fancy.  Those windows were
probably unglazed, and closed only with wooden shutters as occasion
required.  Furnished with the stained glass of the period, they would
have left the place almost in darkness, giving doubtless full effect to
the monkish candle-light in any case needful here.  An almost perfect
cradle-roof, tunnel-like from end to end of the long central aisle,
adds by its simplicity of form to the magnificent unity of effect.  The
bearing-arches, which span it from bay to bay, being parti-coloured,
with voussures of alternate white and a kind of grey or green, [134]
being also somewhat flat at the keystone, and literally eccentric,
have, at least for English eyes, something of a Saracenic or other
Oriental character.  Again, it is as if the architects--the
engineers--who worked here, had seen things undreamt of by other
Romanesque builders, the builders in England and Normandy.

Here then, scarcely relieving the almost savage character of the work,
abundant on tympanum and doorway without, above all on the immense
capitals of the nave within, is the sculpture which offended Bernard.
A sumptuous band of it, a carved guipure of singular boldness, passes
continuously round the arches, and along the cornices from bay to bay,
and with the large bossy tendency of the ornament throughout may be
regarded as typical of Burgundian richness.  Of sculptured capitals, to
like, or to dislike with Saint Bernard, there are nearly a hundred,
unwearied in variety, unique in the energy of their conception, full of
wild promise in their coarse execution, cruel, you might say, in the
realisation of human form and features.  Irresistibly they rivet

The subjects are for the most part Scriptural, chosen apparently as
being apt for strongly satiric treatment, the suicide of Judas, the
fall of Goliath.  The legend of Saint Benedict, naturally at home in a
Benedictine church, presented the sculptor with a series of forcible
grotesques ready-made.  Some monkish story, [135] half moral, half
facetious, perhaps a little coarse, like that of Sainte Eugénie, from
time to time makes variety; or an example of the punishment of the
wicked by men or by devils, who play a large, and to themselves
thoroughly enjoyable and merry, part here.  The sculptor would seem to
have witnessed the punishment of the blasphemer; how adroitly the
executioner planted knee on the culprit's bosom, as he lay on the
ground, and out came the sinful tongue, to meet the iron pincers.  The
minds of those who worked thus seem to have been almost insanely
preoccupied just then with the human countenance, but by no means
exclusively in its pleasantness or dignity.  Bold, crude, original,
their work indicates delight in the power of reproducing fact,
curiosity in it, but little or no sense of beauty.  The humanity
therefore here presented, as in the Cluniac sculpture generally, is
wholly unconventional.  M. Viollet-le-Duc thinks he can trace in it
individual types still actually existing in the peasantry of Le Morvan.
Man and morality, however, disappearing at intervals, the acanthine
capitals have a kind of later Venetian beauty about them, as the
Venetian birds also, the conventional peacocks, or birds wholly of
fantasy, amid the long fantastic foliage.  There are still however no
true flowers of the field here. There is pity, it must be confessed, on
the other hand, and the delicacy, the beauty, which that always brings
[136] with it, where Jephtha peeps at the dead daughter's face, lifting
timidly the great leaves that cover it; in the hanging body of Absalom;
in the child carried away by the eagle, his long frock twisted in the
wind as he goes.  The parents run out in dismay, and the devil grins,
not because it is the punishment of the child or of them; but because
he is the author of all mischief everywhere, as the monkish carver
conceived--so far wholesomely.

We must remember that any sculpture less emphatic would have been
ineffective, because practically invisible, in this sombre place. But
at the west end there is an escape for the eye, for the soul, towards
the unhindered, natural, afternoon sun; not however into the outer and
open air, but through an arcade of three bold round arches, high above
the great closed western doors, into a somewhat broader and loftier
place than this, a reservoir of light, a veritable camera lucida.  The
light is that which lies below the vault and within the tribunes of the
famous narthex (as they say), the vast fore-church or vestibule, into
which the nave is prolonged.  A remarkable feature of many Cluniac
churches, the great western porch, on a scale which is approached in
England only at Peterborough, is found also in some of the churches of
the Cistercians.  It is characteristic, in fact, rather of Burgundy
than of either of those religious orders especially.

[137] At Pontigny itself, for instance, there is a good one; and a very
early one at Paray-le-Monial.  Saint-Père-sous-Vézelay, daughter of the
great church, in the vale below, has a late Gothic example; Semur also,
with fantastic lodges above it.  The cathedral of Autun, a secular
church in rivalry of the "religious," presents, by way of such western
porch or vestibule, two entire bays of the nave, unglazed, with the
vast western arch open to the air; the west front, with its rich
portals, being thrown back into the depths of the great fore-church
thus produced.

The narthex of Vézelay, the largest of these singular structures, is
glazed, and closed towards the west by what is now the façade.  It is
itself in fact a great church, a nave of three magnificent bays, and of
three aisles, with a spacious triforium.  With their fantastic
sculpture, sheltered thus from accident and weather, in all its
original freshness, the great portals of the primitive façade serve now
for doorways, as a second, solemn, door of entrance, to the church
proper within.  The very structure of the place, and its relation to
the main edifice, indicate that it was for use on occasion, when, at
certain great feasts, that of the Magdalen especially, to whom the
church of Vézelay is dedicated, the monastery was swollen with
pilgrims, too poor, too numerous, to be lodged in the town, come hither
to worship before the [138] relics of the friend of Jesus, enshrined in
a low-vaulted crypt, the floor of which is the natural rocky surface of
the hill-top.  It may be that the pilgrims were permitted to lie for
the night, not only on the pavement, but (if so favoured) in the high
and dry chamber formed by the spacious triforium over the north aisle,
awaiting an early Mass. The primitive west front, then, had become but
a wall of partition; and above its central portal, where the round
arched west windows had been, ran now a kind of broad, arcaded tribune,
in full view of the entire length of the church.  In the midst of it
stood an altar; and here perhaps, the priest who officiated being
visible to the whole assembled multitude east and west, the early Mass
was said.

The great vestibule was finished about forty years after the completion
of the nave, towards the middle of the twelfth century. And here, in
the great pier-arches, and in the eastern bay of the vault, still with
the large masonry, the large, flat, unmoulded surfaces, and amid the
fantastic carvings of the Romanesque building about it, the Pointed
style, determined yet discreet, makes itself felt--makes itself felt by
appearing, if not for the first time, yet for the first time in the
organic or systematic development of French architecture.  Not in the
unambitious façade of Saint-Denis, nor in the austere aisles of Sens,
but at Vézelay, in this grandiose fabric, so worthy of the event,
Viollet-le-Duc would [139] fain see the birthplace of the Pointed
style.  Here at last, with no sense of contrast, but by way of
veritable "transition," and as if by its own matured strength, the
round arch breaks into the double curve, les arcs brisés, with a
wonderful access of grace.  And the imaginative effect is forthwith
enlarged.  Beyond, far beyond, what is actually presented to the eye in
that peculiar curvature, its mysterious grace, and by the stateliness,
the elevation of the ogival method of vaulting, the imagination is
stirred to present one with what belongs properly to it alone.  The
masonry, though large, is nicely fitted; a large light is admitted
through the now fully pronounced Gothic windows towards the west.  At
Amiens we found the Gothic spirit, reigning there exclusively, to be a
restless one.  At Vézelay, where it breathes for the first time amid
the heavy masses of the old imperial style, it breathes the very genius
of monastic repose.  And then, whereas at Amiens, and still more at
Beauvais, at Saint-Quentin, you wonder how these monuments of the past
can have endured so long, in strictly monastic Vézelay you have a sense
of freshness, such as, in spite of their ruin, we perceive in the
buildings of Greece.  We enjoy here not so much, as at Amiens, the
sentiment of antiquity, but that of eternal duration.

But let me place you once more where we stood for a while, on entering
by the doorway [140] in the midst of the long southern aisle.  Cross
the aisle, and gather now in one view the perspective of the whole.
Away on the left hand the eye is drawn upward to the tranquil light of
the vaults of the fore-church, seeming doubtless the more spacious
because partly concealed from us by the wall of partition below.  But
on the right hand, towards the east, as if with the set purpose of a
striking architectural contrast, an instruction as to the place of this
or that manner in the architectural series, the long, tunnel-like,
military work of the Romanesque nave opens wide into the exhilarating
daylight of choir and transepts, in the sort of Gothic Bernard would
have welcomed, with a vault rising now high above the roof-line of the
body of the church, sicut lilium excelsum.  The simple flowers, the
flora, of the early Pointed style, which could never have looked at
home as an element in the half-savage decoration of the nave, seem to
be growing here upon the sheaves of slender, reedy pillars, as if
naturally in the carved stone.  Even here indeed, Roman, or Romanesque,
taste still lingers proudly in the monolith columns of the chevet.
Externally, we may note with what dexterity the Gothic choir has been
inserted into its place, below and within the great buttresses of the
earlier Romanesque one.

Visitors to the great church of Assisi have sometimes found a kind of
parable in the threefold [141] ascent from the dark crypt where the
body of Saint Francis lies, through the gloomy "lower" church, into the
height and breadth, the physical and symbolic "illumination," of the
church above.  At Vézelay that kind of contrast suggests itself in one
view; the hopeful, but transitory, glory upon which one enters; the
long, darksome, central avenue; the "open vision" into which it
conducts us.  As a symbol of resurrection, its choir is a fitting
diadem to the church of the Magdalen, whose remains the monks meant it
to cover.

And yet, after all, notwithstanding this assertion of the superiority
(are we so to call it?) of the new Gothic way, perhaps by the very
force of contrast, the Madeleine of Vézelay is still pre-eminently a
Romanesque, and thereby the typically monastic, church.  In spite of
restoration even, as we linger here, the impression of the monastic
Middle Age, of a very exclusive monasticism, that has verily turned its
back upon common life, jealously closed inward upon itself, is a
singularly weighty one; the more so because, as the peasant said when
asked the way to an old sanctuary that had fallen to the occupation of
farm-labourers, and was now deserted even by them: Maintenant il n'y a
personne là.


126. *Published in the Nineteenth Century, June 1894, and now reprinted
by the kind permission of the proprietors.


[142] "CONSECUTIVE upon Apollo in all his solar fervour and
effulgence," says a writer of Teutonic proclivities, "we may discern
even among the Greeks themselves, elusively, as would be natural with
such a being, almost like a mock sun amid the mists, the northern or
ultra-northern sun-god.  In hints and fragments the lexicographers and
others have told us something of this Hyperborean Apollo, fancies about
him which evidence some knowledge of the Land of the Midnight Sun, of
the sun's ways among the Laplanders, of a hoary summer breathing very
softly on the violet beds, or say, the London-pride and crab-apples,
provided for those meagre people, somewhere amid the remoteness of
their icy seas.  In such wise Apollo had already anticipated his sad
fortunes in the Middle Age as a god definitely in exile, driven north
of the Alps, and even here ever in flight before the summer.  Summer
indeed he leaves now to the management of [143] others, finding his way
from France and Germany to still paler countries, yet making or taking
with him always a certain seductive summer-in-winter, though also with
a divine or titanic regret, a titanic revolt in his heart, and
consequent inversion at times of his old beneficent and properly solar
doings.  For his favours, his fallacious good-humour, which has in
truth a touch of malign magic about it, he makes men pay sometimes a
terrible price, and is in fact a devil!"

Devilry, devil's work:--traces of such you might fancy were to be found
in a certain manuscript volume taken from an old monastic library in
France at the Revolution.  It presented a strange example of a cold and
very reasonable spirit disturbed suddenly, thrown off its balance, as
by a violent beam, a blaze of new light, revealing, as it glanced here
and there, a hundred truths unguessed at before, yet a curse, as it
turned out, to its receiver, in dividing hopelessly against itself the
well-ordered kingdom of his thought. Twelfth volume of a dry enough
treatise on mathematics, applied, still with no relaxation of strict
method, to astronomy and music, it should have concluded that work, and
therewith the second period of the life of its author, by drawing tight
together the threads of a long and intricate argument.  In effect
however, it began, or, in perturbed manner, and as [144] with throes of
childbirth, seemed the preparation for, an argument of an entirely new
and disparate species, such as would demand a new period of life also,
if it might be, for its due expansion.

But with what confusion, what baffling inequalities!  How afflicting to
the mind's eye!  It was a veritable "solar storm"--this illumination,
which had burst at the last moment upon the strenuous, self-possessed,
much-honoured monastic student, as he sat down peacefully to write the
last formal chapters of his work ere he betook himself to its
well-earned practical reward as superior, with lordship and mitre and
ring, of the abbey whose music and calendar his mathematical knowledge
had qualified him to reform.  The very shape of Volume Twelve, pieced
together of quite irregularly formed pages, was a solecism.  It could
never be bound.  In truth, the man himself, and what passed with him in
one particular space of time, had invaded a matter, which is nothing if
not entirely abstract and impersonal.  Indirectly the volume was the
record of an episode, an interlude, an interpolated page of life.  And
whereas in the earlier volumes you found by way of illustration no more
than the simplest indispensable diagrams, the scribe's hand had strayed
here into mazy borders, long spaces of hieroglyph, and as it were
veritable pictures of the theoretic elements of his subject.  Soft
wintry auroras seemed to play behind whole pages of crabbed textual
writing, line and figure [145] bending, breathing, flaming, in, to
lovely "arrangements" that were like music made visible; till writing
and writer changed suddenly, "to one thing constant never," after the
known manner of madmen in such work.  Finally, the whole matter broke
off with an unfinished word, as a later hand testified, adding the date
of the author's death, "deliquio animi."

He had been brought to the monastery as a little child; was bred there;
had never yet left it, busy and satisfied through youth and early
manhood; was grown almost as necessary a part of the community as the
stones of its material abode, as a pillar of the great tower he
ascended to watch the movement of the stars.  The structure of a
fortified medieval town barred in those who belonged to it very
effectively.  High monastic walls intrenched the monk still further.
From the summit of the tower you looked straight down into the deep
narrow streets, upon the houses (in one of which Prior Saint-Jean was
born) climbing as high as they dared for breathing space within that
narrow compass.  But you saw also the green breadth of Normandy and
Picardy, this way and that; felt on your face the free air of a still
wider realm beyond what was seen.  The reviving scent of it, the mere
sight of the flowers brought thence, of the country produce at the
convent gate, stirred the ordinary monkish soul with desires, sometimes
with efforts, to be sent on duty there.  Prior [146] Saint-Jean, on the
other hand, shuddered at the view, at the thoughts it suggested to him;
thoughts of unhallowed wild places, where the old heathen had
worshipped "stocks and stones," and where their wickedness might still
survive them in something worse than mischievous tricks of nature, such
as you might read of in Ovid, whose verses, however, he for his part
had never so much as touched with a finger.  He gave thanks rather,
that his vocation to the abstract sciences had kept him far apart from
the whole crew of miscreant poets--Abode of demons.

Thither nevertheless he was now to depart, sent to the Grange or
Obedience of Notre-Dame De-Pratis by the aged Abbot (about to resign in
his favour) for the benefit of his body's health, a little impaired at
last by long intellectual effort, yet so invaluable to the community.
But let him beware! whispered his dearest friend, who shared those
strange misgivings, let him "take heed to his ways" when he was come to
that place.  "The mere contact of one's feet with its soil might change
one."  And that same night, disturbed perhaps by thoughts of the coming
journey with which his brain was full, Prior Saint-Jean himself dreamed
vividly, as he had been little used to do. He saw the very place in
which he lay (he knew it! his little inner cell, the brown doors, the
white breadth of wall, the black crucifix upon it) alight, alight [147]
softly; and looking, as he fancied, from the window, saw also a low
circlet of soundless flame, waving, licking daintily up the black sky,
but harmless, beautiful, closing in upon that round dark space in the
midst, which was the earth.  He seemed to feel upon his shoulder just
then the touch of his friend beside him.  "It is hell-fire!" he said.

The Prior took with him a very youthful though devoted
companion--Hyacinthus, the pet of the community.  They laughed
admiringly at the rebellious masses of his black hair, with blue in the
depths of it, like the wings of the swallow, which refused to conform
to the monkish pattern.  It only grew twofold, crown upon crown, after
the half-yearly shaving.  And he was as neat and serviceable as he was
delightful to be with.  Prior Saint-Jean, then, and the boy started
before daybreak for the long journey; onwards, till darkness, a soft
twilight rather, was around them again.  How unlike a winter night it
seemed, the further they went through the endless, lonely, turf-grown
tracts, and along the edge of a valley, at length--vallis monachorum,
monksvale--taken aback by its sudden steepness and depth, as of an
immense oval cup sunken in the grassy upland, over which a golden moon
now shone broadly.  Ah! there it was at last, the white Grange, the
white gable of the chapel apart amid a few scattered white gravestones,
the white flocks crouched about on the hoar-frost, [148] like the white
clouds, packed somewhat heavily on the horizon, and nacrés as the
clouds of June, with their own light and heat in them, in their
hollows, you might fancy.

From the very first, the atmosphere, the light, the influence of
things, seemed different from what they knew; and how distant already
the dark buildings of their home!  Was there the breath of surviving
summer blossom on the air?  Now and then came a gentle, comfortable
bleating from the folds, and themselves slept soundly at last in the
great open upper chamber of the Grange; were awakened by the sound of
thunder.  Strange, in the late November night!  It had parted, however,
with its torrid fierceness; modulated by distance, seemed to break away
into musical notes.  And the lightning lingered along with it, but
glancing softly; was in truth an aurora, such as persisted month after
month on the northern sky as they sojourned here.  Like Prospero's
enchanted island, the whole place was "full of noises." The wind it
might have been, passing over metallic strings, but that they were
audible even when the night was breathless.

So like veritable music, however, were they on that first night that,
upon reflexion, the Prior climbed softly the winding stair down which
they appeared to flow, to the great solar among the beams of the roof,
where the farm produce lay stored.  A flood of moonlight now fell
through the unshuttered dormer-windows; and, [149] under the glow of a
lamp hanging from the low rafters, Prior Saint-Jean seemed to be
looking for the first time on the human form, on the old Adam fresh
from his Maker's hand.  A servant of the house, or farm-labourer,
perhaps!--fallen asleep there by chance on the fleeces heaped like
golden stuff high in all the corners of the place.  A serf!  But what
unserflike ease, how lordly, or godlike rather, in the posture!  Could
one fancy a single curve bettered in the rich, warm, white limbs; in
the haughty features of the face, with the golden hair, tied in a
mystic knot, fallen down across the inspired brow?  And yet what gentle
sweetness also in the natural movement of the bosom, the throat, the
lips, of the sleeper!  Could that be diabolical, and really spotted
with unseen evil, which was so spotless to the eye?  The rude sandals
of the monastic serf lay beside him apart, and all around was of the
roughest, excepting only two strange objects lying within reach (even
in their own renowned treasury Prior Saint-Jean had not seen the like
of them), a harp, or some such instrument, of silver-gilt once, but the
gold had mostly passed from it, and a bow, fashioned somehow of the
same precious substance.  The very form of these things filled his mind
with inexplicable misgivings.  He repeated a befitting collect, and
trod softly away.

It was in truth but a rude place to which they were come.  But, after
life in the [150] monastery, the severe discipline of which the Prior
himself had done much to restore, there was luxury in the free,
self-chosen hours, the irregular fare, in doing pretty much as one
pleased, in the sweet novelties of the country; to the boy Hyacinth
especially, who forgot himself, or rather found his true self for the
first time.  Girding up his heavy frock, which he laid aside erelong
altogether to go in his coarse linen smock only, he seemed a monastic
novice no longer; yet, in his natural gladness, was found more
companionable than ever by his senior, surprised, delighted, for his
part, at the fresh springing of his brain, the spring of his footsteps
over the close greensward, as if smoothed by the art of man.  Cause of
his renewed health, or concurrent with its effects, the air here might
have been that of a veritable paradise, still unspoiled.  "Could there
be unnatural magic," he asked himself again, "any secret evil, lurking
in these tranquil vale-sides, in their sweet low pastures, in the belt
of scattered woodland above them, in the rills of pure water which
lisped from the open down beyond?" Making what was really a boy's
experience, he had a wholly boyish delight in his holiday, and
certainly did not reflect how much we beget for ourselves in what we
see and feel, nor how far a certain diffused music in the very breath
of the place was the creation of his own ear or brain.

[151] That strange enigmatic owner of the harp and the bow, whom he had
found sleeping so divinely, actually waited on them the next morning
with all obsequiousness, stirred the great fire of peat, adjusted duly
their monkish attire, laid their meal.  It seemed an odd thing to be
served thus, like St. Jerome by the lion, as if by some imperiously
beautiful wild animal tamed.  You hesitated to permit, were a little
afraid of, his services.  Their silent tonsured porter himself,
contrast grim enough to any creature of that kind, had been so far
seduced as to permit him to sleep there in the Grange, as he loved to
do, instead of in ruder, rougher quarters; and, coaxed into odd
garrulity on this one matter, told the new-comers the little he knew,
with much also that he only suspected, about him; among other things,
as to the origin of those precious objects, which might have belonged
to some sanctuary or noble house, found thus in the possession of a
mere labourer, who is no Frenchman, but a pagan, or gipsy, white as he
looks, from far south or east, and who works or plays furtively, by
night for the most part, returning to sleep awhile before daybreak.
The other herdsmen of the valley are bond-servants, but he a hireling
at will, though coming regularly at a certain season.  He has come thus
for any number of years past, though seemingly never grown older (as
the speaker reflects), singing his way meagrely from farm to farm, to
the sound of [152] his harp. His name?--It was scarcely a name at all,
in the diffident syllables he uttered in answer to that question, on
first coming there; but of names known to them it came nearest to a
malignant one in Scripture, Apollyon.  Apollyon had a just discernible
tonsure, but probably no right to it.

Well skilled in architecture, Prior Saint-Jean was set, by way of a
holiday task, to superintend the completion of the great monastic barn
then in building.  The visitor admires it still; perhaps supposes it,
with its noble aisle, though set north and south, to be a desecrated
church.  If he be an expert in such matters, he will remark a sort of
classical harmony in its broad, very simple proportions, with a certain
suppression of Gothic emphasis, more especially in that peculiarly
Gothic feature, the buttresses, scarcely marking the unbroken,
windowless walls, which rise very straight, taking the sun placidly.
The silver-grey stone, cut, if it came from this neighbourhood at all,
from some now forgotten quarry, has the fine, close-grained texture of
antique marble.  The great northern gable is almost a classic pediment.
The horizontal lines of plinth and ridge and cornice are kept unbroken,
the roof of sea-grey slates being pitched less angularly than is usual
in this rainy clime.  A welcome contrast, the Prior thought it, to the
sort of architectural nightmare he came from.  He found the structure
already more than half- [153] way up, the low squat pillars ready for
their capitals.

Yes! it must have so happened often in the Middle Age, as you feel
convinced, in looking sometimes at medieval building.  Style must have
changed under the very hands of men who were no wilful innovators.
Thus it was here, in the later work of Prior Saint-Jean, all
unconsciously.  The mysterious harper sat there always, at the topmost
point achieved; played, idly enough it might seem, on his precious
instrument, but kept in fact the hard taxed workmen literally in tune,
working for once with a ready will, and, so to speak, with really
inventive hands--working expeditiously, in this favourable weather,
till far into the night, as they joined unbidden in a chorus, which
hushed, or rather turned to music, the noise of their chipping.  It was
hardly noise at all, even in the night-time. Now and again Brother
Apollyon descended nimbly to surprise them, at an opportune moment, by
the display of an immense strength.  A great cheer exploded suddenly,
as single-handed he heaved a massive stone into its place.  He seemed
to have no sense of weight: "Put there by the devil!" the modern
villager assures you.

With a change then, not so much of style as of temper, of management,
in the application of acknowledged rules, Prior Saint-Jean shaping
only, adapting, simplifying, partly with a view [154] to economy, not
the heavy stones only, but the heavy manner of using them, turned
light.  With no pronounced ornamentation, it is as if in the upper
story ponderous root and stem blossomed gracefully, blossomed in
cornice and capital and pliant arch-line, as vigorous as they were
graceful, and rose on high quickly.  Almost suddenly tie-beam and
rafter knit themselves together into the stone, and the dark, dry,
roomy place was closed in securely to this day.  Mere audible music,
certainly, had counted for something in the operations of an art, held
at its best (as we know) to be a sort of music made visible. That idle
singer, one might fancy, by an art beyond art, had attracted beams and
stones into their fit places.  And there, sure enough, he still sits,
as a final decorative touch, by way of apex on the gable which looks
northward, though much weather-worn, and with an ugly gap between the
shoulder and the fingers on the harp,* as if, literally, he had cut off
his right hand and put it from him:--King David, or an angel? guesses
the careless tourist.  The space below has been lettered.  After a
little puzzling you recognise there the relics of a familiar verse from
a Latin psalm Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum,+ and the rest:
inscribed as well as may be in Greek characters.  Prior Saint-Jean
caused it to be so inscribed, absurdly, during his last days there.

[155] And is not the human body, too, a building, with architectural
laws, a structure, tending by the very forces which primarily held it
together to drop asunder in time?  Not in vain, it seemed, had Prior
Saint-Jean come to this mystic place for the improvement of his body's
health.  Thenceforth that fleshly tabernacle had housed him, had housed
his cunning, overwrought and excitable soul, ever the better day by
day, and he began to feel his bodily health to be a positive quality or
force, the presence near him of that singular being having surely
something to do with this result.  He and his fascinations, his music,
himself, might at least be taken for an embodiment of all those genial
influences of earth and sky, and the easy ways of living here, which
made him turn, with less of an effort than he had known for many years
past, to his daily tasks, and sink so regularly, so immediately, to
wholesome rest on returning from them.  It was as if Brother Apollyon
himself abhorred the spectacle of distress, and mainly for his own
satisfaction charmed away other people's maladies.  The mere touch of
that ice-cold hand, laid on the feverish brow, when the Prior lapsed
from time to time into his former troubles, certainly calmed the
respiration of a troubled sleeper.  Was there magic in it, not wholly
natural?  The hand might have been a dead one.  But then, was it
surprising, after all, that the [156] methods of curing men's maladies,
as being in very deed the fruit of sin, should have something strange
and unlooked-for about them, like some of those Old Testament healings
and purifications which the Prior's biblical lore suggested to him?
Yet Brother Apollyon, if their surly Janitor, in his less kindly
moments, spoke truly, himself greatly needed purification, being not
only a thief, but a homicide in hiding from the law.  Nay, once, on his
annual return from southern or eastern lands, he had been observed on
his way along the streets of the great town literally scattering the
seeds of disease till his serpent-skin bag was empty.  And within seven
days the "black death" was there, reaping its thousands.  As a wise man
declared, he who can best cure disease can also most cunningly engender

In short, these creatures of rule, these "regulars," the Prior and his
companion, were come in contact for the first time in their lives with
the power of untutored natural impulse, of natural inspiration. The boy
experienced it immediately in the games which suited his years, but
which he had never so much as seen before; as his superior was to
undergo its influence by-and-by in serious study.  By night chiefly, in
its long, continuous twilights, Hyacinth became really a boy at last,
with immense gaiety; eyes, hands and feet awake, expanding, as he raced
his comrade over the [157] turf, with the conical Druidic stone for a
goal, or wrestled lithely enough with him, though as with a rock; or,
taking the silver bow in hand for a moment, transfixed a mark, next a
bird, on the bough, on the wing, shedding blood for the first time,
with a boy's delight, a boy's remorse.  Friend Apollyon seemed able to
draw the wild animals too, to share their sport, yet not altogether
kindly.  Tired, surfeited, he destroys them when his game with them is
at an end; breaks the toy; deftly snaps asunder the fragile back.
Though all alike would come at his call, or the sound of his harp, he
had his preferences; and warred in the night-time, as if on principle,
against the creatures of the day.  The small furry thing he pierced
with his arrow fled to him nevertheless caressingly, with broken limb,
to die palpitating in his hand.  In this wonderful season, the
migratory birds, from Norway, from Britain beyond the seas, came there
as usual on the north wind, with sudden tumult of wings; but went that
year no further, and by Christmas-time had built their nests, filling
that belt of woodland around the vale with the chatter of their
business and love quarrels.  In turn they drew after them strangers no
one here had ever known before; the like of which Hyacinth, who knew
his bestiary, had never seen even in a picture.  The wild-cat, the
wild-swan--the boy peeped on these wonders as they floated over the
vale, or [158] glided with unwonted confidence over its turf, under the
moonlight, or that frequent continuous aurora which was not the dawn.
Even the modest rivulets of the hill-side felt that influence, and
"lisped" no longer, but babbled as they leapt, like mountain streams,
exposing their rocky bed.  Were they angry, as they ran red sometimes
with blood-drops from the stricken bird caught there by rock or bough,
as it fell with rent breast among the waves?

But say, think, what you might against him, the pagan outlaw was worth
his hire as a herdsman; seemingly loved his sheep; was an "affectionate
shepherd"; cured their diseases; brought them easily to the birth, and
if they strayed afar would bring them back tenderly upon his shoulders.
Monastic persons would have seen that image many times before.  Yet if
Apollyon looked like the great carved figure over the low doorway of
their place of penitence at home, that could be but an accident, or
perhaps a deceit; so closely akin to those soulless creatures did he
still seem to the wondering Prior,--immersed in, or actually a part of,
that irredeemable natural world he had dreaded so greatly ere he came
hither.  And was he after all making terms with it now, in the
seductive person of this mysterious being--man or demon--suspected of
murder; who has an air of unfathomable evil about him as from a distant
but ineffaceable past, and a sort of heathen [159] understanding with
the dark realm of matter; who is bringing the simple people, the women
and lovesick lads, back to those caves and cromlechs and blasted trees,
resorts of old godless secret-telling?  And still he has all his own
way with beasts and man, with the Prior himself, much as all alike
distrust him.

Most conspicuous in the little group of buildings, a feudal tower of
goodly white stone, cylindrical and smoothly polished without to hinder
the ascent of creeping things, and snugly plastered within to resist
the damp, was the pigeon-house--a veritable feudal tower, a veritable
feudal plaisance of birds, which the common people dared not so much as
ruffle.  About a thousand of them were housed there, each in its little
chamber, encouraged to grow plump, and to breed, in perfect
self-content.  From perch to perch of the great axle-tree in the
centre, monastic feet might climb, gentle monastic hands pass round to
every tiny compartment in turn.  The arms of the monastery were carved
on the keystone of the doorway, and the tower finished in a conical
roof, with becoming aerial gaillardise, with pretty dormer-windows for
the inmates to pass in and out, little balconies for brooding in the
sun, little awnings to protect them from rough breezes, and a great
weather-vane, on which the birds crowded for the chance of a ride.  If
the peasants of that day, whose small fields they plundered, noting all
this, perhaps [160] envied the birds dumbly, for the brethren, on the
other hand, it was a constant delight to watch the feathered
brotherhood, which supplied likewise their daintiest fare.  Who then,
what hawk, or wild-cat, or other savage beast, had ravaged it so
wantonly, so very cruelly destroyed the bright creatures in a single
night--broken backs, rent away limbs, pierced the wings?  And what was
that object there below?  The silver harp surely, lying broken likewise
on the sanded floor, soaking in the pale milky blood and torn plumage.

Apollyon sobbed and wept audibly as he went about his ordinary doings
next day, for once fully, though very sadly, awake in it; and towards
evening, when the villagers came to the Prior to confess themselves,
the Feast of the Nativity being now at hand, he too came along with
them in his place meekly, like any other penitent, touched the lustral
water devoutly, knew all the ways, seemed to desire absolution from
some guilt of blood heavier than the slaughter of beast or bird.  The
Prior and his attendant, on their side, are reminded that by this time
they have wellnigh forgotten the monastic duties still incumbent upon
them, especially in that matter of the "Offices."  On the vigil of the
feast, however, Brother Apollyon himself summoned the devout to
Midnight Mass with the great bell, which had hung silent for a
generation, wedged in immoveably by a beam of [161] the cradle fallen
out of its place.  With an immense effort of strength he relieved it,
hitched the bell back upon its wheel; the thick rust cracked on the
hinges, and the strokes tolled forth betimes, with a hundred querulous,
quaint creatures, bats and owls, circling stupidly in the waves of
sound, but allowed to settle back again undisturbedly into their beds.

People and priest, the Prior, vested as well as might be, with Hyacinth
as "server," come in due course, all alike amazed to find that frozen
neglected place, with its low-browed vault and narrow windows, alight,
and as if warmed with flowers from a summer more radiant far than that
of France, with ilex and laurel--gilt laurel--by way of holly and box.
Prior Saint-Jean felt that he had never really seen flowers before.
Somewhat later they and the like of them seemed to have grown into and
over his brain; to have degraded the scientific and abstract outlines
of things into a tangle of useless ornament.  Whence were they
procured?  From what height, or hellish depth perhaps?  Apollyon, who
entered the chapel just then, as if quite naturally, though with a
bleating lamb in his bosom ("dropped" thus early in that wonderful
season) by way of an offering, took his place at the altar's very foot,
and drawing forth his harp, now restrung, at the right moment, turned
to real silvery music the hoarse Gloria in Excelsis of those rude
worshippers, still [162] shrinking from him, while they listened in a
little circle, as he stood there in his outlandish attire of skins
strangely spotted and striped.  With that however the Mass broke off
unconsummated.  The Prior felt obliged to desist from the sacred
office, and had left the altar hurriedly.

But Brother Apollyon put his strange attire aside next day, and in a
much-worn monk's frock, drawn forth from a dark corner, came with them,
still like a Penitent, when they turned once more to their neglected
studies somewhat sadly.  See them then, after a collect for "Light"
repeated by Hyacinth, skull-cap in hand, seated at their desks in the
little scriptorium, panelled off from their living-room on the first
floor, while the Prior makes an effort to recover the last thought of
his long-suspended work, in the execution of which the boy is to assist
with his skilful pen.  The great glazed windows remain open; admit, as
if already on the soft air of spring, what seems like a stream of
flowery odours, the entire moonlit scene, with the thorn bushes on the
vale-side prematurely bursting into blossom, and the sound of birds and
flocks emphasising the deep silence of the night.

Apollyon then, as if by habit, as he had shared all their occupations
of late, had taken his seat beside them, meekly enough, at first with
the manner of a mere suppliant for the [163] crumbs of their high
studies.  But, straightway again, he surprises by more than racing
forward incredibly on the road to facts, and from facts to luminous
doctrine; Prior Saint-Jean himself, in comparison, seeming to lag
incompetently behind.  He can but wonder at this strange scholar's
knowledge of a distant past, evidenced in his familiarity (it was as if
he might once have spoken them) with the dead languages in which their
text-books are written.  There was more surely than the utmost merely
natural acuteness in his guesses as to the words intended by those
crabbed contractions, of their meaning, in his sense of allusions and
the like.  An ineffaceable memory it might rather seem of the entire
world of which those languages had been the living speech, once more
vividly awake under the Prior's cross-questioning, and now more than
supplementing his own laborious search.

And at last something of the same kind happens with himself.  Had he,
on his way hither from the convent, passed unwittingly through some
river or rivulet of Lethe, that had carried away from him all his so
carefully accumulated intellectual baggage of fact and theory?  The
hard and abstract laws, or theory of the laws, of music, of the stars,
of mechanical structure, in hard and abstract formulae, adding to the
abstract austerity of the man, seemed to have deserted him; to be
revived in him again [164] however, at the contact of this
extraordinary pupil or fellow-inquirer, though in a very different
guise or attitude towards himself, as matters no longer to be reasoned
upon and understood, but to be seen rather, to be looked at and heard.
Did not he see the angle of the earth's axis with the ecliptic, the
deflexions of the stars from their proper orbits with fatal results
here below, and the earth--wicked, unscriptural truth!--moving round
the sun, and those flashes of the eternal and unorbed light such as
bring water, flowers, living things, out of the rocks, the dust?  The
singing of the planets: he could hear it, and might in time effect its
notation.  Having seen and heard, he might erelong speak also, truly
and with authority, on such matters.  Could one but arrest it for one's
self, for final transference to others, on the written or printed
page--this beam of insight, or of inspiration!

Alas! one result of its coming was that it encouraged delay.  If he set
hand to the page, the firm halo, here a moment since, was gone, had
flitted capriciously to the wall; passed next through the window, to
the wall of the garden; was dancing back in another moment upon the
innermost walls of one's own miserable brain, to swell there--that
astounding white light!--rising steadily in the cup, the mental
receptacle, till it overflowed, and he lay faint and drowning in it. Or
he rose above it, as above a great liquid surface, and hung giddily
over it--light, [165] simple, and absolute--ere he fell.  Or there was
a battle between light and darkness around him, with no way of escape
from the baffling strokes, the lightning flashes; flashes of blindness
one might rather call them.  In truth, the intuitions of the night (for
they worked still, or tried to work, by night) became the sickly
nightmares of the day, in which Prior Saint-Jean slept, or tried to
sleep, or lay sometimes in a trance without food for many hours, from
which he would spring up suddenly to crowd, against time, as much as he
could into his book with pen or brush; winged flowers, or stars with
human limbs and faces, still intruding themselves, or mere notes of
light and darkness from the actual horizon.  There it all is still in
the faded gold and colours of the ancient volume--"Prior Saint-Jean's
folly":--till on a sudden the hand collapses, as he becomes aware of
that real, prosaic, broad daylight lying harsh upon the page, making
his delicately toned auroras seem but a patch of grey, and himself for
a moment, with a sigh of disgust, of self-reproach, to be his old
unimpassioned monastic self once more.

The boy, for his part, was grown at last full of misgiving.  He ponders
how he may get the Prior away, or escape by himself, find his way back
to the convent and report his master's condition, his strange loss of
memory for names and the like, his illusions about himself and [166]
others.  And he is more than ever distrustful now of his late beloved
playmate, who quietly obstructs any movement of the kind, and has
undertaken, at the Prior's entreaty, to draw down the moon from the
sky, for some shameful price, known to the magicians of that day.

Yet Apollyon, at all events, would still play as gaily as ever on
occasion.  Hitherto they had played as young animals do; without
playthings namely, applying hand or foot only to their games.  But it
happened about this time that a grave was dug, a grave of unusual
depth, to be ready, in that fiery plaguesome weather, the first heat of
veritable summer come suddenly, for the body of an ancient villager
then at the point of death.  In the drowsy afternoon Hyacinth awakes
Apollyon, to see the strange thing he has found at the grave-side,
among the gravel and yellow bones cast up there.  He had wrested it
with difficulty from the hands of the half-crippled gravedigger, at
eighty still excitable by the mere touch of metal.

The like of it had indeed been found before, within living memory, in
this place of immemorial use as a graveyard--"Devil's penny-pieces"
people called them.  Five such lay hidden already in a dark corner of
the chapel, to keep them from superstitious employment.  To-day they
came out of hiding at last.  Apollyon knew the use of the thing at a
glance; had put an expert hand to it forthwith; poises the [167]
discus; sets it wheeling.  How easily it spins round under one's arm,
in the groove of the bent fingers, slips thence smoothly like a knife
flung from its sheath, as if for a course of perpetual motion!
Splendescit eundo: it seems to burn as it goes.  It is heavier many
times than it looks, and sharp-edged.  By night they have scoured and
polished the corroded surfaces.  Apollyon promises Hyacinth and himself
rare sport in the cool of the evening--an evening however, as it turned
out, not less breathless than the day.

In the great heat Apollyon had flung aside, as if for ever, the last
sorry remnant of his workman's attire, and challenged the boy to do the
same.  On the moonlit turf there, crouching, right foot foremost, and
with face turned backwards to the disk in his right hand, his whole
body, in that moment of rest, full of the circular motion he is about
to commit to it, he seemed--beautiful pale spectre--to shine from
within with a light of his own, like that of the glow-worm in the
thicket, or the dead and rotten roots of the old trees.  And as if they
had a proper motion of their own in them, the disks, the quoits, ran,
amid the delighted shouts and laughter of the boy, as he follows,
scarcely less swift, to score the points of their contact with the
grass.  Again and again they recommence, forgetful of the hours; while
the death-bell cries out harshly for the grave's occupant, and [168]
the corpse itself is borne along stealthily not far from them, and,
unnoticed by either, the entire aspect of things has changed.  Under
the overcast sky it is in darkness they are playing, by guess and touch
chiefly; and suddenly an icy blast of wind has lifted the roof from the
old chapel, the trees are moaning in wild circular motion, and their
devil's penny-piece, when Apollyon throws it for the last time, is
itself but a twirling leaf in the wind, till it sinks edgewise, sawing
through the boy's face, uplifted in the dark to trace it, crushing in
the tender skull upon the brain.

His shout of laughter is turned in an instant to a cry of pain, of
reproach; and in that which echoed it--an immense cry, as from the very
heart of ancient tragedy, over the Picard wolds--it was as if that
half-extinguished deity, its proper immensity, its old greatness and
power, were restored for a moment.  The villagers in their beds
wondered.  It was like the sound of some natural catastrophe.

The storm which followed was still in possession, still moving
tearfully among the poplar groves, though it had spent its heat and
thunder.  The last drops of the blood of Hyacinth still trickled
through the thick masses of dark hair, where the tonsure had been. An
abundant rain, mingling with the copious purple stream, had coloured
the grass all around where the corpse lay, stealing afar in tiny

[169] So it was, when Apollyon, reduced in the morning light to his
smaller self, came with the other people of the Grange to gaze, to
enquire, and found the Prior already there, speechless.  Clearly this
was no lightning stroke; and Apollyon straightway conceives certain
very human fears that, coming upon those antecedent suspicions of
himself, the boy's death may be thought the result of intention on his
part.  He proposes to bury the body at once, with no delay for
religious rites, in that still uncovered grave, the bearers having fled
from it in the tempest.

And next day, fulfilling his annual custom, he went his way northward,
without a word of farewell to Prior Saint-Jean, whom he leaves in fact
under suspicion of murder.  From the profound slumber which had
followed the excitements of yesterday, the Prior awoke amid the sound
of voices, the voices of the peasants singing no Christian song,
certainly, but a song which Apollyon himself had taught them, to
dismiss him on his journey.  For, strange or not as it might be, they
loved him, perhaps in spite of themselves; would certainly protect him
at any risk.  Prior Saint-Jean arose, and looked forth--with wonder.  A
brief spell of sunshine amid the rain had clothed the vale with a
marvel of blue flowers, if it were not rather with remnants of the blue
sky itself, fallen among the woods there.  But there too, in the little
courtyard, [170] the officers of justice are already in waiting to take
him, on the charge of having caused the death of his young server by
violence, in a fit of mania, induced by dissolute living in that
solitary place.  One hitherto so prosperous in life would, of course,
have his enemies.

The monastic authorities, however, claim him from the secular power, to
correct his offence in their own way, and with friendly interpretation
of the facts.  Madness, however wicked, being still madness, Prior, now
simple Brother, Saint-Jean, is detained in a sufficiently cheerful
apartment, in a region of the atmosphere likely to restore lost wits,
whence indeed he can still see the country--vallis monachorum.  The one
desire which from time to time fitfully rouses him again to animation
for a few moments is to return thither. Here then he remains in peace,
ostensibly for the completion of his great work.  He never again set
pen to it, consistent and clear now on nothing save that longing to be
once more at the Grange, that he may get well, or die and be well so.
He is like the damned spirit, think some of the brethren, saying "I
will return to the house whence I came out."  Gazing thither daily for
many hours, he would mistake mere blue distance, when that was visible,
for blue flowers, for hyacinths, and wept at the sight; though blue, as
he observed, was the colour of Holy Mary's gown on the illuminated
page, the colour of hope, of merciful [171] omnipresent deity.  The
necessary permission came with difficulty, just too late.  Brother
Saint-Jean died, standing upright with an effort to gaze forth once
more, amid the preparations for his departure.


142. *Published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Nov. 1893, and now
reprinted by the kind permission of the proprietors.

154. *Or sundial, as some maintain, though turned from the south.

154. +Latin Vulgate (ed. Saint Jerome) Psalm 126, verse 1: "canticum
graduum Salomonis nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum in vanum
laboraverunt qui aedificant eam nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem
frustra vigilavit qui custodit."  King James Bible's translation: "When
the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that


[172] As Florian Deleal walked, one hot afternoon, he overtook by the
wayside a poor aged man, and, as he seemed weary with the road, helped
him on with the burden which he carried, a certain distance. And as the
man told his story, it chanced that he named the place, a little place
in the neighbourhood of a great city, where Florian had passed his
earliest years, but which he had never since seen, and, the story told,
went forward on his journey comforted.  And that night, like a reward
for his pity, a dream of that place came to Florian, a dream which did
for him the office of the finer sort of memory, bringing its object to
mind with a great clearness, yet, as sometimes happens in dreams,
raised a little above itself, and above ordinary retrospect.  The true
aspect of the place, especially of the house there in which he had
lived as a child, the fashion of its doors, its hearths, its windows,
the very scent upon the air of it, was with him in sleep for a season;
only, with tints more musically blent on wall [173] and floor, and some
finer light and shadow running in and out along its curves and angles,
and with all its little carvings daintier.  He awoke with a sigh at the
thought of almost thirty years which lay between him and that place,
yet with a flutter of pleasure still within him at the fair light, as
if it were a smile, upon it.  And it happened that this accident of his
dream was just the thing needed for the beginning of a certain design
he then had in view, the noting, namely, of some things in the story of
his spirit--in that process of brain-building by which we are, each one
of us, what we are.  With the image of the place so clear and
favourable upon him, he fell to thinking of himself therein, and how
his thoughts had grown up to him.  In that half-spiritualised house he
could watch the better, over again, the gradual expansion of the soul
which had come to be there--of which indeed, through the law which
makes the material objects about them so large an element in children's
lives, it had actually become a part; inward and outward being woven
through and through each other into one inextricable texture--half,
tint and trace and accident of homely colour and form, from the wood
and the bricks; half, mere soul-stuff, floated thither from who knows
how far.  In the house and garden of his dream he saw a child moving,
and could divide the main streams at least of the winds that had played
on [174] him, and study so the first stage in that mental journey.

The old house, as when Florian talked of it afterwards he always called
it, (as all children do, who can recollect a change of home, soon
enough but not too soon to mark a period in their lives) really was an
old house; and an element of French descent in its inmates--descent
from Watteau, the old court-painter, one of whose gallant pieces still
hung in one of the rooms--might explain, together with some other
things, a noticeable trimness and comely whiteness about everything
there--the curtains, the couches, the paint on the walls with which the
light and shadow played so delicately; might explain also the tolerance
of the great poplar in the garden, a tree most often despised by
English people, but which French people love, having observed a certain
fresh way its leaves have of dealing with the wind, making it sound, in
never so slight a stirring of the air, like running water.

The old-fashioned, low wainscoting went round the rooms, and up the
staircase with carved balusters and shadowy angles, landing half-way up
at a broad window, with a swallow's nest below the sill, and the
blossom of an old pear-tree showing across it in late April, against
the blue, below which the perfumed juice of the find of fallen fruit in
autumn was so fresh.  At the next turning came the closet which held on
its deep shelves the best china.  Little angel [175] faces and reedy
flutings stood out round the fireplace of the children's room.  And on
the top of the house, above the large attic, where the white mice ran
in the twilight--an infinite, unexplored wonderland of childish
treasures, glass beads, empty scent-bottles still sweet, thrum of
coloured silks, among its lumber--a flat space of roof, railed round,
gave a view of the neighbouring steeples; for the house, as I said,
stood near a great city, which sent up heavenwards, over the twisting
weather-vanes, not seldom, its beds of rolling cloud and smoke, touched
with storm or sunshine.  But the child of whom I am writing did not
hate the fog because of the crimson lights which fell from it sometimes
upon the chimneys, and the whites which gleamed through its openings,
on summer mornings, on turret or pavement.  For it is false to suppose
that a child's sense of beauty is dependent on any choiceness or
special fineness, in the objects which present themselves to it, though
this indeed comes to be the rule with most of us in later life;
earlier, in some degree, we see inwardly; and the child finds for
itself, and with unstinted delight, a difference for the sense, in
those whites and reds through the smoke on very homely buildings, and
in the gold of the dandelions at the road-side, just beyond the houses,
where not a handful of earth is virgin and untouched, in the lack of
better ministries to its desire of beauty.

[176] This house then stood not far beyond the gloom and rumours of the
town, among high garden-wall, bright all summer-time with Golden-rod,
and brown-and-golden Wall-flower--Flos Parietis, as the children's
Latin-reading father taught them to call it, while he was with them.
Tracing back the threads of his complex spiritual habit, as he was used
in after years to do, Florian found that he owed to the place many
tones of sentiment afterwards customary with him, certain inward lights
under which things most naturally presented themselves to him.  The
coming and going of travellers to the town along the way, the shadow of
the streets, the sudden breath of the neighbouring gardens, the
singular brightness of bright weather there, its singular darknesses
which linked themselves in his mind to certain engraved illustrations
in the old big Bible at home, the coolness of the dark, cavernous shops
round the great church, with its giddy winding stair up to the pigeons
and the bells--a citadel of peace in the heart of the trouble--all this
acted on his childish fancy, so that ever afterwards the like aspects
and incidents never failed to throw him into a well-recognised
imaginative mood, seeming actually to have become a part of the texture
of his mind.  Also, Florian could trace home to this point a pervading
preference in himself for a kind of comeliness and dignity, an urbanity
literally, in modes of life, which he connected with the pale [177]
people of towns, and which made him susceptible to a kind of exquisite
satisfaction in the trimness and well-considered grace of certain
things and persons he afterwards met with, here and there, in his way
through the world.

So the child of whom I am writing lived on there quietly; things
without thus ministering to him, as he sat daily at the window with the
birdcage hanging below it, and his mother taught him to read, wondering
at the ease with which he learned, and at the quickness of his memory.
The perfume of the little flowers of the lime-tree fell through the air
upon them like rain; while time seemed to move ever more slowly to the
murmur of the bees in it, till it almost stood still on June
afternoons.  How insignificant, at the moment, seem the influences of
the sensible things which are tossed and fall and lie about us, so, or
so, in the environment of early childhood.  How indelibly, as we
afterwards discover, they affect us; with what capricious attractions
and associations they figure themselves on the white paper, the smooth
wax, of our ingenuous souls, as "with lead in the rock for ever,"
giving form and feature, and as it were assigned house-room in our
memory, to early experiences of feeling and thought, which abide with
us ever afterwards, thus, and not otherwise.  The realities and
passions, the rumours of the greater world without, steal in upon us,
each by its own special little passage-way, through the wall of custom
[178] about us; and never afterwards quite detach themselves from this
or that accident, or trick, in the mode of their first entrance to us.
Our susceptibilities, the discovery of our powers, manifold
experiences--our various experiences of the coming and going of bodily
pain, for instance--belong to this or the other well-remembered place
in the material habitation--that little white room with the window
across which the heavy blossoms could beat so peevishly in the wind,
with just that particular catch or throb, such a sense of teasing in
it, on gusty mornings; and the early habitation thus gradually becomes
a sort of material shrine or sanctuary of sentiment; a system of
visible symbolism interweaves itself through all our thoughts and
passions; and irresistibly, little shapes, voices, accidents--the angle
at which the sun in the morning fell on the pillow--become parts of the
great chain wherewith we are bound.

Thus far, for Florian, what all this had determined was a peculiarly
strong sense of home--so forcible a motive with all of us--prompting to
us our customary love of the earth, and the larger part of our fear of
death, that revulsion we have from it, as from something strange,
untried, unfriendly; though life-long imprisonment, they tell you, and
final banishment from home is a thing bitterer still; the looking
forward to but a short space, a mere childish goûter and dessert of it,
before the end, being so great a resource of [179] effort to pilgrims
and wayfarers, and the soldier in distant quarters, and lending, in
lack of that, some power of solace to the thought of sleep in the home
churchyard, at least--dead cheek by dead cheek, and with the rain
soaking in upon one from above.

So powerful is this instinct, and yet accidents like those I have been
speaking of so mechanically determine it; its essence being indeed the
early familiar, as constituting our ideal, or typical conception, of
rest and security.  Out of so many possible conditions, just this for
you and that for me, brings ever the unmistakeable realisation of the
delightful chez soi; this for the Englishman, for me and you, with the
closely-drawn white curtain and the shaded lamp; that, quite other, for
the wandering Arab, who folds his tent every morning, and makes his
sleeping-place among haunted ruins, or in old tombs.

With Florian then the sense of home became singularly intense, his good
fortune being that the special character of his home was in itself so
essentially home-like.  As after many wanderings I have come to fancy
that some parts of Surrey and Kent are, for Englishmen, the true
landscape, true home-counties, by right, partly, of a certain earthy
warmth in the yellow of the sand below their gorse-bushes, and of a
certain grey-blue mist after rain, in the hollows of the hills there,
welcome to fatigued eyes, and never seen farther south; so I think that
the sort of [180] house I have described, with precisely those
proportions of red-brick and green, and with a just perceptible
monotony in the subdued order of it, for its distinguishing note, is
for Englishmen at least typically home-life. And so for Florian that
general human instinct was reinforced by this special home-likeness in
the place his wandering soul had happened to light on, as, in the
second degree, its body and earthly tabernacle; the sense of harmony
between his soul and its physical environment became, for a time at
least, like perfectly played music, and the life led there singularly
tranquil and filled with a curious sense of self-possession.  The love
of security, of an habitually undisputed standing-ground or
sleeping-place, came to count for much in the generation and correcting
of his thoughts, and afterwards as a salutary principle of restraint in
all his wanderings of spirit.  The wistful yearning towards home, in
absence from it, as the shadows of evening deepened, and he followed in
thought what was doing there from hour to hour, interpreted to him much
of a yearning and regret he experienced afterwards, towards he knew not
what, out of strange ways of feeling and thought in which, from time to
time, his spirit found itself alone; and in the tears shed in such
absences there seemed always to be some soul-subduing foretaste of what
his last tears might be.

And the sense of security could hardly have [181] been deeper, the
quiet of the child's soul being one with the quiet of its home, a place
"inclosed" and "sealed."  But upon this assured place, upon the child's
assured soul which resembled it, there came floating in from the larger
world without, as at windows left ajar unknowingly, or over the high
garden walls, two streams of impressions, the sentiments of beauty and
pain--recognitions of the visible, tangible, audible loveliness of
things, as a very real and somewhat tyrannous element in them--and of
the sorrow of the world, of grown people and children and animals, as a
thing not to be put by in them.  From this point he could trace two
predominant processes of mental change in him--the growth of an almost
diseased sensibility to the spectacle of suffering, and, parallel with
this, the rapid growth of a certain capacity of fascination by bright
colour and choice form--the sweet curvings, for instance, of the lips
of those who seemed to him comely persons, modulated in such delicate
unison to the things they said or sang,--marking early the activity in
him of a more than customary sensuousness, "the lust of the eye," as
the Preacher says, which might lead him, one day, how far!  Could he
have foreseen the weariness of the way!  In music sometimes the two
sorts of impressions came together, and he would weep, to the surprise
of older people.  Tears of joy too the child knew, also to older
people's surprise; real tears, once, of relief from long-strung, [182]
childish expectation, when he found returned at evening, with new roses
in her cheeks, the little sister who had been to a place where there
was a wood, and brought back for him a treasure of fallen acorns, and
black crow's feathers, and his peace at finding her again near him
mingled all night with some intimate sense of the distant forest, the
rumour of its breezes, with the glossy blackbirds aslant and the
branches lifted in them, and of the perfect nicety of the little cups
that fell.  So those two elementary apprehensions of the tenderness and
of the colour in things grew apace in him, and were seen by him
afterwards to send their roots back into the beginnings of life.

Let me note first some of the occasions of his recognition of the
element of pain in things--incidents, now and again, which seemed
suddenly to awake in him the whole force of that sentiment which Goethe
has called the Weltschmerz, and in which the concentrated sorrow of the
world seemed suddenly to lie heavy upon him.  A book lay in an old
book-case, of which he cared to remember one picture--a woman sitting,
with hands bound behind her, the dress, the cap, the hair, folded with
a simplicity which touched him strangely, as if not by her own hands,
but with some ambiguous care at the hands of others--Queen Marie
Antoinette, on her way to execution--we all remember David's drawing,
meant merely to make her ridiculous.  The face [183] that had been so
high had learned to be mute and resistless; but out of its very
resistlessness, seemed now to call on men to have pity, and forbear;
and he took note of that, as he closed the book, as a thing to look at
again, if he should at any time find himself tempted to be cruel.
Again, he would never quite forget the appeal in the small sister's
face, in the garden under the lilacs, terrified at a spider lighted on
her sleeve.  He could trace back to the look then noted a certain mercy
he conceived always for people in fear, even of little things, which
seemed to make him, though but for a moment, capable of almost any
sacrifice of himself. Impressible, susceptible persons, indeed, who had
had their sorrows, lived about him; and this sensibility was due in
part to the tacit influence of their presence, enforcing upon him
habitually the fact that there are those who pass their days, as a
matter of course, in a sort of "going quietly."  Most poignantly of all
he could recall, in unfading minutest circumstance, the cry on the
stair, sounding bitterly through the house, and struck into his soul
for ever, of an aged woman, his father's sister, come now to announce
his death in distant India; how it seemed to make the aged woman like a
child again; and, he knew not why, but this fancy was full of pity to
him. There were the little sorrows of the dumb animals too--of the
white angora, with a dark tail like an ermine's, and a face like a
[184] flower, who fell into a lingering sickness, and became quite
delicately human in its valetudinarianism, and came to have a hundred
different expressions of voice--how it grew worse and worse, till it
began to feel the light too much for it, and at last, after one wild
morning of pain, the little soul flickered away from the body, quite
worn to death already, and now but feebly retaining it.

So he wanted another pet; and as there were starlings about the place,
which could be taught to speak, one of them was caught, and he meant to
treat it kindly; but in the night its young ones could be heard crying
after it, and the responsive cry of the mother-bird towards them; and
at last, with the first light, though not till after some debate with
himself, he went down and opened the cage, and saw a sharp bound of the
prisoner up to her nestlings; and therewith came the sense of
remorse,--that he too was become an accomplice in moving, to the limit
of his small power, the springs and handles of that great machine in
things, constructed so ingeniously to play pain-fugues on the delicate
nerve-work of living creatures.

I have remarked how, in the process of our brain-building, as the house
of thought in which we live gets itself together, like some airy
bird's-nest of floating thistle-down and chance straws, compact at
last, little accidents have their consequence; and thus it happened
that, as he [185] walked one evening, a garden gate, usually closed,
stood open; and lo! within, a great red hawthorn in full flower,
embossing heavily the bleached and twisted trunk and branches, so aged
that there were but few green leaves thereon--a plumage of tender,
crimson fire out of the heart of the dry wood. The perfume of the tree
had now and again reached him, in the currents of the wind, over the
wall, and he had wondered what might be behind it, and was now allowed
to fill his arms with the flowers--flowers enough for all the old
blue-china pots along the chimney-piece, making fête in the children's
room.  Was it some periodic moment in the expansion of soul within him,
or mere trick of heat in the heavily-laden summer air?

But the beauty of the thing struck home to him feverishly; and in
dreams all night he loitered along a magic roadway of crimson flowers,
which seemed to open ruddily in thick, fresh masses about his feet, and
fill softly all the little hollows in the banks on either side.  Always
afterwards, summer by summer, as the flowers came on, the blossom of
the red hawthorn still seemed to him absolutely the reddest of all
things; and the goodly crimson, still alive in the works of old
Venetian masters or old Flemish tapestries, called out always from afar
the recollection of the flame in those perishing little petals, as it
pulsed gradually out of them, kept long in the drawers of an old

[186] Also then, for the first time, he seemed to experience a
passionateness in his relation to fair outward objects, an inexplicable
excitement in their presence, which disturbed him, and from which he
half longed to be free.  A touch of regret or desire mingled all night
with the remembered presence of the red flowers, and their perfume in
the darkness about him; and the longing for some undivined, entire
possession of them was the beginning of a revelation to him, growing
ever clearer, with the coming of the gracious summer guise of fields
and trees and persons in each succeeding year, of a certain, at times
seemingly exclusive, predominance in his interests, of beautiful
physical things, a kind of tyranny of the senses over him.

In later years he came upon philosophies which occupied him much in the
estimate of the proportion of the sensuous and the ideal elements in
human knowledge, the relative parts they bear in it; and, in his
intellectual scheme, was led to assign very little to the abstract
thought, and much to its sensible vehicle or occasion.  Such
metaphysical speculation did but reinforce what was instinctive in his
way of receiving the world, and for him, everywhere, that sensible
vehicle or occasion became, perhaps only too surely, the necessary
concomitant of any perception of things, real enough to be of any
weight or reckoning, in his house of thought.  There were times when he
could think of the [187] necessity he was under of associating all
thoughts to touch and sight, as a sympathetic link between himself and
actual, feeling, living objects; a protest in favour of real men and
women against mere grey, unreal abstractions; and he remembered
gratefully how the Christian religion, hardly less than the religion of
the ancient Greeks, translating so much of its spiritual verity into
things that may be seen, condescends in part to sanction this
infirmity, if so it be, of our human existence, wherein the world of
sense is so much with us, and welcomed this thought as a kind of keeper
and sentinel over his soul therein.  But certainly, he came more and
more to be unable to care for, or think of soul but as in an actual
body, or of any world but that wherein are water and trees, and where
men and women look, so or so, and press actual hands.  It was the trick
even his pity learned, fastening those who suffered in anywise to his
affections by a kind of sensible attachments.  He would think of
Julian, fallen into incurable sickness, as spoiled in the sweet blossom
of his skin like pale amber, and his honey-like hair; of Cecil, early
dead, as cut off from the lilies, from golden summer days, from women's
voices; and then what comforted him a little was the thought of the
turning of the child's flesh to violets in the turf above him.  And
thinking of the very poor, it was not the things which most men care
most for that he yearned to give them; [188] but fairer roses, perhaps,
and power to taste quite as they will, at their ease and not
task-burdened, a certain desirable, clear light in the new morning,
through which sometimes he had noticed them, quite unconscious of it,
on their way to their early toil.

So he yielded himself to these things, to be played upon by them like a
musical instrument, and began to note with deepening watchfulness, but
always with some puzzled, unutterable longing in his enjoyment, the
phases of the seasons and of the growing or waning day, down even to
the shadowy changes wrought on bare wall or ceiling--the light cast up
from the snow, bringing out their darkest angles; the brown light in
the cloud, which meant rain; that almost too austere clearness, in the
protracted light of the lengthening day, before warm weather began, as
if it lingered but to make a severer workday, with the school-books
opened earlier and later; that beam of June sunshine, at last, as he
lay awake before the time, a way of gold-dust across the darkness; all
the humming, the freshness, the perfume of the garden seemed to lie
upon it--and coming in one afternoon in September, along the red gravel
walk, to look for a basket of yellow crab-apples left in the cool, old
parlour, he remembered it the more, and how the colours struck upon
him, because a wasp on one bitten apple stung him, and he felt the
passion of [189] sudden, severe pain.  For this too brought its curious
reflexions; and, in relief from it, he would wonder over it--how it had
then been with him--puzzled at the depth of the charm or spell over
him, which lay, for a little while at least, in the mere absence of
pain; once, especially, when an older boy taught him to make flowers of
sealing-wax, and he had burnt his hand badly at the lighted taper, and
been unable to sleep.  He remembered that also afterwards, as a sort of
typical thing--a white vision of heat about him, clinging closely,
through the languid scent of the ointments put upon the place to make
it well.

Also, as he felt this pressure upon him of the sensible world, then, as
often afterwards, there would come another sort of curious questioning
how the last impressions of eye and ear might happen to him, how they
would find him--the scent of the last flower, the soft yellowness of
the last morning, the last recognition of some object of affection,
hand or voice; it could not be but that the latest look of the eyes,
before their final closing, would be strangely vivid; one would go with
the hot tears, the cry, the touch of the wistful bystander, impressed
how deeply on one! or would it be, perhaps, a mere frail retiring of
all things, great or little, away from one, into a level distance?

For with this desire of physical beauty mingled itself early the fear
of death--the fear of death [190] intensified by the desire of beauty.
Hitherto he had never gazed upon dead faces, as sometimes, afterwards,
at the Morgue in Paris, or in that fair cemetery at Munich, where all
the dead must go and lie in state before burial, behind glass windows,
among the flowers and incense and holy candles--the aged clergy with
their sacred ornaments, the young men in their dancing-shoes and
spotless white linen--after which visits, those waxen, resistless faces
would always live with him for many days, making the broadest sunshine
sickly.  The child had heard indeed of the death of his father, and
how, in the Indian station, a fever had taken him, so that though not
in action he had yet died as a soldier; and hearing of the
"resurrection of the just," he could think of him as still abroad in
the world, somehow, for his protection--a grand, though perhaps rather
terrible figure, in beautiful soldier's things, like the figure in the
picture of Joshua's Vision in the Bible--and of that, round which the
mourners moved so softly, and afterwards with such solemn singing, as
but a worn-out garment left at a deserted lodging.  So it was, until on
a summer day he walked with his mother through a fair churchyard.  In a
bright dress he rambled among the graves, in the gay weather, and so
came, in one corner, upon an open grave for a child--a dark space on
the brilliant grass--the black mould lying heaped up round it, weighing
down the little jewelled [191] branches of the dwarf rose-bushes in
flower.  And therewith came, full-grown, never wholly to leave him,
with the certainty that even children do sometimes die, the physical
horror of death, with its wholly selfish recoil from the association of
lower forms of life, and the suffocating weight above.  No benign,
grave figure in beautiful soldier's things any longer abroad in the
world for his protection! only a few poor, piteous bones; and above
them, possibly, a certain sort of figure he hoped not to see.  For
sitting one day in the garden below an open window, he heard people
talking, and could not but listen, how, in a sleepless hour, a sick
woman had seen one of the dead sitting beside her, come to call her
hence; and from the broken talk evolved with much clearness the notion
that not all those dead people had really departed to the churchyard,
nor were quite so motionless as they looked, but led a secret,
half-fugitive life in their old homes, quite free by night, though
sometimes visible in the day, dodging from room to room, with no great
goodwill towards those who shared the place with them.  All night the
figure sat beside him in the reveries of his broken sleep, and was not
quite gone in the morning--an odd, irreconcileable new member of the
household, making the sweet familiar chambers unfriendly and suspect by
its uncertain presence.  He could have hated the dead he had pitied so,
for being [192] thus.  Afterwards he came to think of those poor,
home-returning ghosts, which all men have fancied to themselves--the
revenants--pathetically, as crying, or beating with vain hands at the
doors, as the wind came, their cries distinguishable in it as a wilder
inner note.  But, always making death more unfamiliar still, that old
experience would ever, from time to time, return to him; even in the
living he sometimes caught its likeness; at any time or place, in a
moment, the faint atmosphere of the chamber of death would be breathed
around him, and the image with the bound chin, the quaint smile, the
straight, stiff feet, shed itself across the air upon the bright
carpet, amid the gayest company, or happiest communing with himself.

To most children the sombre questionings to which impressions like
these attach themselves, if they come at all, are actually suggested by
religious books, which therefore they often regard with much secret
distaste, and dismiss, as far as possible, from their habitual thoughts
as a too depressing element in life.  To Florian such impressions,
these misgivings as to the ultimate tendency of the years, of the
relationship between life and death, had been suggested spontaneously
in the natural course of his mental growth by a strong innate sense for
the soberer tones in things, further strengthened by actual
circumstances; and religious sentiment, that [193] system of biblical
ideas in which he had been brought up, presented itself to him as a
thing that might soften and dignify, and light up as with a "lively
hope," a melancholy already deeply settled in him.  So he yielded
himself easily to religious impressions, and with a kind of mystical
appetite for sacred things; the more as they came to him through a
saintly person who loved him tenderly, and believed that this early
pre-occupation with them already marked the child out for a saint.  He
began to love, for their own sakes, church lights, holy days, all that
belonged to the comely order of the sanctuary, the secrets of its white
linen, and holy vessels, and fonts of pure water; and its hieratic
purity and simplicity became the type of something he desired always to
have about him in actual life.  He pored over the pictures in religious
books, and knew by heart the exact mode in which the wrestling angel
grasped Jacob, how Jacob looked in his mysterious sleep, how the bells
and pomegranates were attached to the hem of Aaron's vestment, sounding
sweetly as he glided over the turf of the holy place.  His way of
conceiving religion came then to be in effect what it ever afterwards
remained--a sacred history indeed, but still more a sacred ideal, a
transcendent version or representation, under intenser and more
expressive light and shade, of human life and its familiar or
exceptional incidents, birth, death, marriage, [194] youth, age, tears,
joy, rest, sleep, waking--a mirror, towards which men might turn away
their eyes from vanity and dullness, and see themselves therein as
angels, with their daily meat and drink, even, become a kind of sacred
transaction--a complementary strain or burden, applied to our every-day
existence, whereby the stray snatches of music in it re-set themselves,
and fall into the scheme of some higher and more consistent harmony.  A
place adumbrated itself in his thoughts, wherein those sacred
personalities, which are at once the reflex and the pattern of our
nobler phases of life, housed themselves; and this region in his
intellectual scheme all subsequent experience did but tend still
further to realise and define.  Some ideal, hieratic persons he would
always need to occupy it and keep a warmth there. And he could hardly
understand those who felt no such need at all, finding themselves quite
happy without such heavenly companionship, and sacred double of their
life, beside them.

Thus a constant substitution of the typical for the actual took place
in his thoughts.  Angels might be met by the way, under English elm or
beech-tree; mere messengers seemed like angels, bound on celestial
errands; a deep mysticity brooded over real meetings and partings;
marriages were made in heaven; and deaths also, with hands of angels
thereupon, to bear soul and body quietly asunder, each to its [195]
appointed rest.  All the acts and accidents of daily life borrowed a
sacred colour and significance; the very colours of things became
themselves weighty with meanings like the sacred stuffs of Moses'
tabernacle, full of penitence or peace.  Sentiment, congruous in the
first instance only with those divine transactions, the deep, effusive
unction of the House of Bethany, was assumed as the due attitude for
the reception of our every-day existence; and for a time he walked
through the world in a sustained, not unpleasurable awe, generated by
the habitual recognition, beside every circumstance and event of life,
of its celestial correspondent.

Sensibility--the desire of physical beauty--a strange biblical awe,
which made any reference to the unseen act on him like solemn
music--these qualities the child took away with him, when, at about the
age of twelve years, he left the old house, and was taken to live in
another place.  He had never left home before, and, anticipating much
from this change, had long dreamed over it, jealously counting the days
till the time fixed for departure should come; had been a little
careless about others even, in his strong desire for it--when Lewis
fell sick, for instance, and they must wait still two days longer. At
last the morning came, very fine; and all things--the very pavement
with its dust, at the roadside--seemed to have a white, pearl-like
lustre in them.  They were to travel by a [196] favourite road on which
he had often walked a certain distance, and on one of those two
prisoner days, when Lewis was sick, had walked farther than ever
before, in his great desire to reach the new place.  They had started
and gone a little way when a pet bird was found to have been left
behind, and must even now--so it presented itself to him--have already
all the appealing fierceness and wild self-pity at heart of one left by
others to perish of hunger in a closed house; and he returned to fetch
it, himself in hardly less stormy distress.  But as he passed in search
of it from room to room, lying so pale, with a look of meekness in
their denudation, and at last through that little, stripped white room,
the aspect of the place touched him like the face of one dead; and a
clinging back towards it came over him, so intense that he knew it
would last long, and spoiling all his pleasure in the realisation of a
thing so eagerly anticipated.  And so, with the bird found, but himself
in an agony of home-sickness, thus capriciously sprung up within him,
he was driven quickly away, far into the rural distance, so fondly
speculated on, of that favourite country-road.


172. *Published in Macmillan's Magazine, Aug. 1878.


[197] WE smile at epitaphs--at those recent enough to be read easily;
smile, for the most part, at what for the most part is an unreal and
often vulgar branch of literature; yet a wide one, with its flowers
here or there, such as make us regret now and again not to have
gathered more carefully in our wanderings a fair average of the like.
Their very simplicity, of course, may set one's thoughts in motion to
fill up the scanty tale, and those of the young at least are almost
always worth while.  At Siena, for instance, in the great Dominican
church, even with the impassioned work of Sodoma at hand, you may
linger in a certain dimly lit chapel to spell out the black-letter
memorials of the German students who died here--aetatis flore!--at the
University, famous early in the last century; young nobles chiefly, far
from the Rhine, from Nuremberg, or Leipsic.  Note one in particular!
Loving parents and elder brother meant to record [198] carefully the
very days of the lad's poor life--annos, menses, dies; sent the order,
doubtless, from the distant old castle in the Fatherland, but not quite
explicitly; the spaces for the numbers remain still unfilled; and they
never came to see.  After two centuries the omission is not to be
rectified; and the young man's memorial has perhaps its propriety as it
stands, with those unnumbered, or numberless, days.  "Full of
affections," observed, once upon a time, a great lover of boys and
young men, speaking to a large company of them:--"full of affections,
full of powers, full of occupation, how naturally might the younger
part of us especially (more naturally than the older) receive the
tidings that there are things to be loved and things to be done which
shall never pass away. We feel strong, we feel active, we feel full of
life; and these feelings do not altogether deceive us, for we shall
live for ever. We see a long prospect before us, for which it is worth
while to work, even with much labour; for we are as yet young, and the
past portion of our lives is but small in comparison of that which
probably remains to us.  It is most true!  The past years of our life
are absolutely beyond proportion small in comparison with those which
certainly remain to us."

In a very different neighbourhood, here at home, in a remote Sussex
churchyard, you may read that Emerald Uthwart was born on such a [199]
day, "at Chase Lodge, in this parish; and died there," on a day in the
year 18--, aged twenty-six.  Think, thereupon, of the years of a very
English existence passed without a lost week in that bloomy English
place, amid its English lawns and flower-beds, its oldish brick and
raftered plaster; you may see it still, not far off, on a clearing of
the wooded hill-side sloping gradually to the sea.  But you think
wrong.  Emerald Uthwart, in almost unbroken absence from his home,
longed greatly for it, but left it early and came back there only to
die, in disgrace, as he conceived; of which it was he died there,
finding the sense of the place all around him at last, like blessed oil
in one's wounds.

How they shook their musk from them!--those gardens, among which the
youngest son, but not the youngest child, grew up, little considered
till he returned there in those last years.  The rippling note of the
birds he distinguished so acutely seemed a part of this tree-less
place, open freely to sun and air, such as rose and carnation loved, in
the midst of the old disafforested chase.  Brothers and sisters, all
alike were gardeners, methodically intimate with their flowers. You
need words compact rather of perfume than of colour to describe them,
in nice annual order; terms for perfume, as immediate and definite as
red, purple, and yellow.  Flowers there were which seemed to yield
their sweetest in the faint sea-salt, when the loosening wind [200] was
strong from the south-west; some which found their way slowly towards
the neighbourhood of the old oaks and beech-trees. Others consorted
most freely with the wall-fruit, or seemed made for pot-pourri to
sweeten the old black mahogany furniture.  The sweet-pea stacks loved
the broad path through the kitchen garden; the old-fashioned garden
azalea was the making of a nosegay, with its honey which clung to one's
finger.  There were flowers all the sweeter for a battle with the rain;
a flower like aromatic medicine; another like summer lingering into
winter; it ripened as fruit does; and another was like August, his own
birthday time, dropped into March.

The very mould here, rich old black gardener's earth, was flower-seed;
and beyond, the fields, one after another, through the white gates
breaking the well-grown hedge-rows, were hardly less garden-like;
little velvety fields, little with the true sweet English littleness of
our little island, our land of vignettes.  Here all was little; the
very church where they went to pray, to sit, the ancient Uthwarts
sleeping all around outside under the windows, deposited there as
quietly as fallen trees on their native soil, and almost unrecorded, as
there had been almost nothing to record; where however, Sunday after
Sunday, Emerald Uthwart reads, wondering, the solitary memorial of one
soldierly member of his race, who had,--well! who had not died here
[201] at home, in his bed.  How wretched! how fine! how inconceivably
great and difficult!--not for him!  And yet, amid all its littleness,
how large his sense of liberty in the place he, the cadet doomed to
leave it--his birth-place, where he is also so early to die--had loved
better than any one of them! Enjoying hitherto all the freedom of the
almost grown-up brothers, the unrepressed noise, the unchecked hours,
the old rooms, all their own way, he is literally without the
consciousness of rule.  Only, when the long irresponsible day is over,
amid the dew, the odours, of summer twilight, they roll their
cricket-field against to-morrow's game.  So it had always been with the
Uthwarts; they never went to school.  In the great attic he has chosen
for himself Emerald awakes;--it was a rule, sanitary, almost medical,
never to rouse the children--rises to play betimes; or, if he choose,
with window flung open to the roses, the sea, turns to sleep again,
deliberately, deliciously, under the fine old blankets.

A rather sensuous boy! you may suppose, amid the wholesome, natural
self-indulgence of a very English home.  His days began there: it
closed again, after an interval of the larger number of them,
indulgently, mercifully, round his end.  For awhile he became its
centre, old habits changing, the old furniture rearranged about him,
for the first time in many generations, though he left it now with
something like [202] resentment in his heart, as if thrust harshly
away, sent ablactatus a matre; made an effort thereon to snap the last
thread which bound him to it.  Yet it would come back upon him
sometimes, amid so different a scene, as through a suddenly opened
door, or a rent in the wall, with softer thoughts of his
people,--there, or not there,--and a sudden, dutiful effort on his part
to rekindle wasting affection.

The youngest of four sons, but not the youngest of the family!--you
conceive the sort of negligence that creeps over even the kindest
maternities, in such case; unless, perhaps, sickness, or the sort of
misfortune, making the last first for the affectionate, that brought
Emerald back at length to die contentedly, interferes with the way of
nature.  Little by little he comes to understand that, while the
brothers are indulged with lessons at home, are some of them free even
of these and placed already in the world, where, however, there remains
no place for him, he is to go to school, chiefly for the convenience of
others--they are going to be much away from home!--that now for the
first time, as he says to himself, an old-English Uthwart is to pass
under the yoke.  The tutor in the house, meantime, aware of some
fascination in the lad, teaches him, at his own irregularly chosen
hours, more carefully than the others; exerts all his gifts for the
purpose, winning him on almost insensibly to youthful proficiency in
those difficult rudiments.

[203] See him as he stands, seemingly rooted in the spot where he has
come to flower!  He departs, however, a few days before the departure
of the rest--some to foreign parts, the brothers, who shut up the old
place, to town.  For a moment, he makes an effort to figure to himself
those coming absences as but exceptional intervals in his life here; he
will count the days, going more quickly so; find his pleasure in
watching the sands fall, as even the sands of time at school must.  In
fact, he was scarcely ever to lie at ease here again, till he came to
take his final leave of it, lying at his length so.  In brief holidays
he rejoins his people, anywhere, anyhow, in a sort of hurry and
makeshift:--Flos Parietis! thus carelessly plucked forth.  Emerald
Uthwart was born on such a day "at Chase Lodge, in this parish, and
died there."

See him then as he stands! counting now the hours that remain, on the
eve of that first emigration, and look away next at the other place,
which through centuries has been forming to receive him; from those
garden-beds, now at their richest, but where all is so winsomely
little, to that place of "great matters," great stones, great memories
out of reach.  Why! the Uthwarts had scarcely had more memories than
their woods, noiselessly deciduous; or their prehistoric, entirely
unprogressive, unrecording forefathers, in or before the days of the
Druids.  Centuries of almost "still" life--of birth, death, [204] and
the rest, as merely natural processes--had made them and their home
what we find them.  Centuries of conscious endeavour, on the other
hand, had builded, shaped, and coloured the place, a small cell, which
Emerald Uthwart was now to occupy; a place such as our most
characteristic English education has rightly tended to "find itself a
house" in--a place full, for those who came within its influence, of a
will of its own.  Here everything, one's very games, have gone by rule
onwards from the dim old monastic days, and the Benedictine school for
novices with the wholesome severities which have descended to our own
time.  Like its customs,--there's a book in the cathedral archives with
the names, for centuries Past, of the "scholars" who have missed church
at the proper times for going there--like its customs, well-worn yet
well-preserved, time-stained, time-engrained, time-mellowed, the
venerable Norman or English stones of this austere, beautifully
proportioned place look like marble, to which Emerald's softly nurtured
being, his careless wild-growth must now adapt itself, though somewhat
painfully recoiling from contact with what seems so hard also, and
bright, and cold.  From his native world of soft garden touches,
carnation and rose (they had been everywhere in those last weeks),
where every one did just what he liked, he was passed now to this world
of grey stone; and here it was always the decisive word [205] of
command.  That old warrior Uthwart's record in the church at home, so
fine, yet so wretched, so unspeakably great and difficult! seemed
written here everywhere around him, as he stood feeling himself fit
only to be taught, to be drilled into, his small compartment; in every
movement of his companions, with their quaint confining little cloth
gowns; in the keen, clear, well-authorised dominancy of some, the
instant submission of others.  In fact, by one of our wise English
compromises, we still teach our so modern boys the Classics; a lesson
in attention and patience, at the least.  Nay! by a double compromise,
with delightful physiognomic results sometimes, we teach them their
pagan Latin and Greek under the shadow of medieval church-towers, amid
the haunts, the traditions, and with something of the discipline, of
monasticism; for which, as is noticeable, the English have never wholly
lost an early inclination.  The French and others have swept their
scholastic houses empty of it, with pedantic fidelity to their
theories.  English pedants may succeed in doing the like.  But the
result of our older method has had its value so far, at least, say! for
the careful aesthetic observer.  It is of such diagonal influences,
through complication of influence, that expression comes, in life, in
our culture, in the very faces of men and boys--of these boys.  Nothing
could better harmonise present with past than the sight of them just
here, as they [206] shout at their games, or recite their lessons,
over-arched by the work of medieval priors, or pass to church meekly,
into the seats occupied by the young monks before them.

If summer comes reluctantly to our English shores, it is also apt to
linger with us;--its flora of red and gold leaves on the branches
wellnigh to Christmas; the hot days that surprise you, and persist,
though heralded by white mornings, hinting that it is but the year's
indulgence so to deal with us.  To the fanciful, such days may seem
most at home in the places where England has thus preferred to locate
the somewhat pensive education of its more favoured youth.  As Uthwart
passes through the old ecclesiastical city, upon which any more modern
touch, modern door or window, seems a thing out of place through
negligence, the diluted sunlight itself seems driven along with a
sparing trace of gilded vane or red tile in it, under the wholesome
active wind from the East coast.  The long, finely weathered, leaden
roof, and the great square tower, gravely magnificent, emphatic from
the first view of it over the grey down above the hop-gardens, the
gently-watered meadows, dwarf now everything beside; have the bigness
of nature's work, seated up there so steadily amid the winds, as rain
and fog and heat pass by.  More and more persistently, as he proceeds,
in the "Green Court" at last, they occupy the outlook.  He is shown the
narrow [207] cubicle in which he is to sleep; and there it still is,
with nothing else, in the window-pane, as he lies;--"our tower," the
"Angel Steeple," noblest of its kind.  Here, from morning to night,
everything seems challenged to follow the upward lead of its long,
bold, "perpendicular" lines.  The very place one is in, its stone-work,
its empty spaces, invade you; invade all who belong to them, as Uthwart
belongs, yielding wholly from the first; seem to question you
masterfully as to your purpose in being here at all, amid the great
memories of the past, of this school;--challenge you, so to speak, to
make moral philosophy one of your acquirements, if you can, and to
systematise your vagrant self; which however will in any case be here
systematised for you.  In Uthwart, then, is the plain tablet, for the
influences of place to inscribe.  Say if you will, that he is under the
power of an "embodied ideal," somewhat repellent, but which he cannot
despise.  He sits in the schoolroom--ancient, transformed chapel of the
pilgrims; sits in the sober white and brown place, at the heavy old
desks, carved this way and that, crowded as an old churchyard with
forgotten names, side by side with sympathetic or antipathetic
competitors, as it may chance.  In a delightful, exactly measured,
quarter of an hour's rest, they come about him, seem to wish to be
friends at once, good and bad alike, dull and clever; wonder a little
at the name, and [208] the owner.  A family name--he explains,
good-humouredly; tries to tell some story no one could ever remember
precisely of the ancestor from whom it came, the one story of the
Uthwarts; is spared; nay! petulantly forbidden to proceed. But the name
sticks the faster.  Nicknames mark, for the most part, popularity.
Emerald! so every one called Uthwart, but shortened to Aldy.  They
disperse; flock out into the court; acquaint him hastily with the
curiosities of the Precincts, the "dark entry," the rich heraldries of
the blackened and mouldering cloister, the ruined overgrown spaces
where the old monastery stood, the stones of which furnished material
for the rambling prebends houses, now "antediluvian" in their turn; are
ready also to climb the scaffold-poles always to be found somewhere
about the great church, or dive along the odd, secret passages of the
old builders, with quite learned explanations (being proud of, and
therefore painstaking about, the place) of architectural periods, of
Gothic "late" and "early," layer upon layer, down to round-arched
"Norman," like the famous staircase of their school.

The reader comprehends that Uthwart was come where the genius loci was
a strong one, with a claim to mould all who enter it to a perfect,
uninquiring, willing or unwilling, conformity to itself.  On Saturday
half-holidays the scholars are taken to church in their surplices,
across the [209] court, under the lime-trees; emerge at last up the
dark winding passages into the melodious, mellow-lighted space, always
three days behind the temperature outside, so thick are the walls;--how
warm and nice! how cool and nice!  The choir, to which they glide in
order to their places below the clergy, seems conspicuously cold and
sad.  But the empty chapels lying beyond it all about into the distance
are a trap on sunny mornings for the clouds of yellow effulgence.  The
Angel Steeple is a lantern within, and sheds down a flood of the like
just beyond the gates.  You can peep up into it where you sit, if you
dare to gaze about you.  If at home there had been nothing great, here,
to boyish sense, one seems diminished to nothing at all, amid the grand
waves, wave upon wave, of patiently-wrought stone; the daring height,
the daring severity, of the innumerable, long, upward, ruled lines,
rigidly bent just at last, in due place, into the reserved grace of the
perfect Gothic arch; the peculiar daylight which seemed to come from
further than the light outside.  Next morning they are here again.  In
contrast to those irregularly broken hours at home, the passive length
of things impresses Uthwart now.  It develops patience--that tale of
hours, the long chanted English service; our English manner of
education is a development of patience, of decorous and mannerly
patience.  "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in [210] his
youth: he putteth his mouth in the dust, he keepeth silence, because he
hath borne it upon him."--They have this for an anthem; sung however to
wonderfully cheerful and sprightly music, as if one liked the thought.

The aim of a veritable community, says Plato, is not that this or that
member of it should be disproportionately at ease, but that the whole
should flourish; though indeed such general welfare might come round
again to the loyal unit therein, and rest with him, as a privilege of
his individual being after all.  The social type he preferred, as we
know, was conservative Sparta and its youth; whose unsparing discipline
had doubtless something to do with the fact that it was the handsomest
and best-formed in all Greece.  A school is not made for one.  It would
misrepresent Uthwart's wholly unconscious humility to say that he felt
the beauty of the askêsis+ (we need that Greek word) to which he not
merely finds himself subject, but as under a fascination submissively
yields himself, although another might have been aware of the charm of
it, half ethic, half physical, as visibly effective in him.  Its
peculiarity would have lain in the expression of a stress upon him and
his customary daily existence, beyond what any definitely proposed
issue of it, at least for the moment, explained.  Something of that is
involved in the very idea of a classical education, at least for such
as he; in its seeming indirectness [211] or lack of purpose, amid so
much difficulty, as contrasted with forms of education more obviously
useful or practical.  He found himself in a system of fixed rules, amid
which, it might be, some of his own tendencies and inclinations would
die out of him through disuse.  The confident word of command, the
instantaneous obedience expected, the enforced silence, the very games
that go by rule, a sort of hardness natural to wholesome English youths
when they come together, but here de rigueur as a point of good
manners;--he accepts all these without hesitation; the early hours
also, naturally distasteful to him, which gave to actual morning, to
all that had passed in it, when in more self-conscious mood he looked
back on the morning of life, a preponderance, a disproportionate place
there, adding greatly to the effect of its dreamy distance from him at
this later time;--an ideal quality, he might have said, had he ever
used such words as that.

Uthwart duly passes his examination; and, in their own chapel in the
transept of the choir, lighted up late for evening prayer after the
long day of trial, is received to the full privileges of a Scholar with
the accustomed Latin words:--Introitum tuum et exitum tuum custodiat
Dominus!  He takes them, not to heart, but rather to mind, as few, if
they so much as heard them, were wont to do; ponders them for a while.
They seem scarcely meant for him--words like those! [212] increase
however his sense of responsibility to the place, of which he is now
more exclusively than before a part--that he belongs to it, its great
memories, great dim purposes; deepen the consciousness he had on first
coming hither of a demand in the world about him, whereof the very
stones are emphatic, to which no average human creature could be
sufficient; of reproof, reproaches, of this or that in himself.

It was reported, there was a funny belief, at school, that Aldy Uthwart
had no feeling and was incapable of tears.  They never came to him
certainly, when, at nights for the most part, the very touch of home,
so soft, yet so indifferent to him, reached him, with a sudden opulent
rush of garden perfumes; came at the rattling of the window-pane in the
wind, with anything that expressed distance from the bare white walls
around him here.  He thrust it from him brusquely, being of a practical
turn, and, though somewhat sensuous, wholly without sentimentality.
There is something however in the lad's soldier-like, impassible
self-command, in his sustained expression of a certain indifference to
things, which awakes suddenly all the sentiment, the poetry, latent
hitherto in another--James Stokes, the prefect, his immediate superior;
awakes for the first time into ample flower something of genius in a
seemingly plodding scholar, and therewith also something of the
waywardness popularly thought to belong to [213] genius.  Preceptores,
condiscipuli, alike, marvel at a sort of delicacy coming into the
habits, the person, of that tall, bashful, broad-shouldered, very
Kentish, lad; so unaffectedly nevertheless, that it is understood after
all to be but the smartness properly significant of change to early
manhood, like the down on his lip.  Wistful anticipations of manhood
are in fact aroused in him, thoughts of the future; his ambition takes
effective outline.  The well-worn, perhaps conventional, beauties of
their "dead" Greek and Latin books, associated directly now with the
living companion beside him, really shine for him at last with their
pristine freshness; seem more than to fulfil their claim upon the
patience, the attention, of modern youth.  He notices as never before
minute points of meaning in Homer, in Virgil; points out thus, for
instance, to his junior, one day in the sunshine, how the Greeks had a
special word for the Fate which accompanied one who would come to a
violent end.  The common Destinies of men, Moirai,+ Moerae--they
accompanied all men indifferently.  But Kêr,+ the extraordinary
Destiny, one's Doom, had a scent for distant blood-shedding; and, to be
in at a sanguinary death, one of their number came forth to the very
cradle, followed persistently all the way, over the waves, through
powder and shot, through the rose-gardens;--where not? Looking back,
one might trace the red footsteps all along, side by [214] side.
(Emerald Uthwart, you remember, was to "die there," of lingering
sickness, in disgrace, as he fancied, while the word glory came to be
softly whispered of them and of their end.) Classic felicities, the
choice expressions, with which James Stokes has so patiently stored his
memory, furnish now a dainty embroidery upon every act, every change in
time or place, of their daily life in common.  He finds the Greek or
the Latin model of their antique friendship or tries to find it, in the
books they read together. None fits exactly.  It is of military glory
they are really thinking, amid those ecclesiastical surroundings, where
however surplices and uniforms are often mingled together; how they
will lie, in costly glory, costly to them, side by side, (as they work
and walk and play now, side by side) in the cathedral aisle, with a
tattered flag perhaps above them, and under a single epitaph, like that
of those two older scholars, Ensigns, Signiferi, in their respective
regiments, in hac ecclesiâ pueri instituti,+ with the sapphic stanza in
imitation of the Horace they had learned here, written by their old

Horace!--he was, had been always, the idol of their school; to know him
by heart, to translate him into effective English idiom, have an apt
phrase of his instinctively on one's lips for every occasion. That boys
should be made to spout him under penalties, would have seemed
doubtless to that sensitive, vain, winsome poet, [215] even more than
to grim Juvenal, quite the sorriest of fates; might have seemed not so
bad however, could he, from the "ashes" so persistently in his
thoughts, have peeped on these English boys, row upon row, with black
or golden heads, repeating him in the fresh morning, and observed how
well for once the thing was done; how well he was understood by English
James Stokes, feeling the old "fire" really "quick" still, under the
influence which now in truth quickened, enlivened, everything around
him.  The old heathen's way of looking at things, his melodious
expression of it, blends, or contrasts itself oddly with the everyday
detail, with the very stones, the Gothic stones, of a world he could
hardly have conceived, its medieval surroundings, their half-clerical
life here.  Yet not so inconsistently after all!  The builders of these
aisles and cloisters had known and valued as much of him as they could
come by in their own un-instructed time; had built up their
intellectual edifice more than they were aware of from fragments of
pagan thought, as, quite consciously, they constructed their churches
of old Roman bricks and pillars, or frank imitations of them.  One's
day, then, began with him, for all alike, Sundays of course
excepted,--with an Ode, learned over-night by the prudent, who,
observing how readily the words which send us to sleep cling to the
brain and seem an inherent part of it next morning, kept him under
[216] their pillows.  Prefects, without a book, heard the repetition of
the Juniors, must be able to correct their blunders.  Odes and Epodes,
thus acquired, were a score of days and weeks; alcaic and sapphic
verses like a bead-roll for counting off the time that intervened
before the holidays.  Time--that tardy servant of youthful
appetite--brought them soon enough to the point where they desired in
vain "to see one of" those days, erased now so willingly; and
sentimental James Stokes has already a sense that this "pause 'twixt
cup and lip" of life is really worth pausing over, worth
deliberation:--all this poetry, yes! poetry, surely, of their alternate
work and play; light and shade, call it!  Had it been, after all, a
life in itself less commonplace than theirs--that life, the trivial
details of which their Horace had touched so daintily, gilded with real
gold words?

Regular, submissive, dutiful to play also, Aldy meantime enjoys his
triumphs in the Green Court; loves best however to run a paper-chase
afar over the marshes, till you come in sight, or within scent, of the
sea, in the autumn twilight; and his dutifulness to games at least had
its full reward.  A wonderful hit of his at cricket was long
remembered; right over the lime-trees on to the cathedral roof, was it?
or over the roof, and onward into space, circling there independently,
minutely, as Sidus Cantiorum?  A comic poem on it in Latin, and a
pretty one in English, [217] were penned by James Stokes, still not so
serious but that he forgets time altogether one day, in a manner the
converse of exemplary in a prefect, whereupon Uthwart, his companion as
usual, manages to take all the blame, and the due penalty next morning.
Stokes accepted the sacrifice the more readily, believing--he too--that
Aldy was "incapable of pain."  What surprised those who were in the
secret was that, when it was over, he rose, and facing the
head-master--could it be insolence? or was it the sense of
untruthfulness in his friendly action, or sense of the universal
peccancy of all boys and men?--said submissively: "And now, sir, that I
have taken my punishment, I hope you will forgive my fault."

Submissiveness!--It had the force of genius with Emerald Uthwart.  In
that very matter he had but yielded to a senior against his own
inclination.  What he felt in Horace was the sense, original, active,
personal, of "things too high for me!", the sense, not really
unpleasing to him, of an unattainable height here too, in this royal
felicity of utterance, this literary art, the minute cares of which had
been really designed for the minute carefulness of a disciple such as
this--all attention.  Well! the sense of authority, of a large
intellectual authority over us, impressed anew day after day, of some
impenetrable glory round "the masters of those who know," is, of
course, one of the effects we [218] look for from a classical
education:--that, and a full estimate of the preponderating value of
the manner of the doing of it in the thing done; which again, for
ingenuous youth, is an encouragement of good manners on its part:--"I
behave myself orderly."  Just at those points, scholarship attains
something of a religious colour.  And in that place, religion,
religious system, its claim to overpower one, presented itself in a way
of which even the least serious by nature could not be unaware. Their
great church, its customs and traditions, formed an element in that
esprit de corps into which the boyish mind throws itself so readily.
Afterwards, in very different scenes, the sentiment of that place would
come back upon him, as if resentfully, by contrast with the conscious
or unconscious profanities of others, crushed out about him
straightway, by the shadow of awe, the minatory flash, felt around his
unopened lips, in the glance, the changed manner.  Not to be "occupied
with great matters" recommends in heavenly places, as we know, the
souls of some.  Yet there were a few to whom it seemed unfortunate that
religion whose flag Uthwart would have borne in hands so pure, touched
him from first to last, and till his eyes were finally closed on this
world, only, again, as a thing immeasurable, surely not meant for the
like of him; its high claims, to which no one could be equal; its
reproaches.  He would scarcely have proposed to "enter into" [219] such
matters; was constitutionally shy of them. His submissiveness, you see,
was a kind of genius; made him therefore, of course, unlike those
around him; was a secret; a thing, you might say, "which no one
knoweth, saving he that receiveth it."

Thus repressible, self-restrained, always concurring with the
influence, the claim upon him, the rebuke, of others, in the bustle of
school life he did not count even with those who knew him best, with
those who taught him, for the intellectual capacity he really had.  In
every generation of schoolboys there are a few who find out, almost for
themselves, the beauty and power of good literature, even in the
literature they must read perforce; and this, in turn, is but the
handsel of a beauty and power still active in the actual world, should
they have the good fortune, or rather, acquire the skill, to deal with
it properly.  It has something of the stir and unction--this
intellectual awaking with a leap--of the coming of love.  So it was
with Uthwart about his seventeenth year.  He felt it, felt the
intellectual passion, like the pressure outward of wings within him--hê
pterou dynamis,+ says Plato, in the Phaedrus; but again, as some do
with everyday love, withheld, restrained himself; the status of a
freeman in the world of intellect can hardly be for him.  The sense of
intellectual ambition, ambitious thoughts such as sweeten the toil of
some of those about him, [220] coming to him once in a way, he is
frankly recommended to put them aside, and acquiesces; puts them from
him once for all, as he could do with besetting thoughts and feelings,
his preferences, (as he had put aside soft thoughts of home as a
disobedience to rule) and with a countenance more good-humoured than
ever, an absolute placidity.  It is fit he should be treated sparingly
in this matter of intellectual enjoyment.  He is made to understand
that there is at least a score of others as good scholars as he.  He
will have of course all the pains, but must not expect the prizes, of
his work; of his loyal, incessant, cheerful industry.

But only see him as he goes.  It is as if he left music, delightfully
throbbing music, or flowers, behind him, as he passes, careless of
them, unconsciously, through the world, the school, the precincts, the
old city.  Strangers' eyes, resting on him by chance, are deterred for
a while, even among the rich sights of the venerable place, as he walks
out and in, in his prim gown and purple-tasselled cap; goes in, with
the stream of sunlight, through the black shadows of the mouldering
Gothic gateway, like youth's very self, eternal, immemorial, eternally
renewed, about those immemorially ancient stones.  "Young Apollo!"
people say--people who have pigeon-holes for their impressions,
watching the slim, trim figure with the exercise books.  His very dress
seems touched [221] with Hellenic fitness to the healthy youthful form.
"Golden-haired, scholar Apollo!" they repeat, foolishly, ignorantly.
He was better; was more like a real portrait of a real young Greek,
like Tryphon, Son of Eutychos, for instance, (as friends remembered him
with regret, as you may see him still on his tombstone in the British
Museum) alive among the paler physical and intellectual lights of
modern England, under the old monastic stonework of the Middle Age.
That theatrical old Greek god never took the expressiveness, the lines
of delicate meaning, such as were come into the face of the English
lad, the physiognomy of his race; ennobled now, as if by the writing,
the signature, there, of a grave intelligence, by grave information and
a subdued will, though without a touch of melancholy in this "best of
playfellows."  A musical composer's notes, we know, are not themselves
till the fit executant comes, who can put all they may be into them.
The somewhat unmeaningly handsome facial type of the Uthwarts, moulded
to a mere animal or physical perfection through wholesome centuries, is
breathed on now, informed, by the touches, traces, complex influences
from past and present a thousandfold, crossing each other in this late
century, and yet at unity in the simple law of the system to which he
is now subject.  Coming thus upon an otherwise vigorous and healthy
nature, an untainted [222] physique, and limited by it, those combining
mental influences leave the firm unconscious simplicity of the boyish
nature still unperplexed.  The sisters, their friends, when he comes
rarely upon them in foreign places, are proud of the schoolboy's
company--to walk at his side; the brothers, when he sees them for a
day, more considerate than of old.  Everywhere he leaves behind him an
odd regret for his presence, as he in turn wonders sometimes at the
deference paid to one so unimportant as himself by those he meets by
accident perhaps; at the ease, for example, with which he attains to
the social privileges denied to others.

They tell him, he knows it already, he would "do for the army." "Yes!
that would suit you," people observe at once, when he tells them what
"he is to be"--undoubtedly suit him, that dainty, military, very
English kind of pride, in seeming precisely what one is, neither more
nor less.  And the first mention of Uthwart's purpose defines also the
vague outlooks of James Stokes, who will be a soldier too. Uniforms,
their scarlet and white and blue, spruce leather and steel, and gold
lace, enlivening the old oak stalls at service time--uniforms and
surplices were always close together here, where a military garrison
had been established in the suburbs for centuries past, and there were
always sons of its officers in the school.  If you stole out of an
evening, it was like a stage scene-- [223] nay! like the Middle Age,
itself, with this multitude of soldiers mingling in the crowd which
filled the unchanged, gabled streets.  A military tradition had been
continuous, from the days of crusading knights who lay humbly on their
backs in the "Warriors' Chapel" to the time of the civil wars, when a
certain heroic youth of eighteen was brought to rest there, onward to
Dutch and American wars, and to Harry, and Geoffrey, and another James
also, in hac ecclesiâ pueri instituti. It was not so long since one of
them sat on those very benches in the sixth form; had come back and
entered the school, in full uniform, to say good-bye!  Then the
"colours" of his regiment had been brought, to be deposited by Dean and
Canons in the cathedral; and a few weeks later they had passed,
scholars and the rest in long procession, to deposit Ensign--himself
there under his flag, or what remained of it, a sorry, tattered fringe,
along the staff he had borne out of the battle at the cost of his life,
as a little tablet explained.  There were others in similar terms.
Alas! for that extraordinary, peculiarly-named, Destiny, or Doom,
appointed to walk side by side with one or another, aware from the
first, but never warning him, till the random or well-considered shot

Meantime however, the University, with work in preparation thereto,
fills up the thoughts, the hours, of these would-be soldiers, of James
[224] Stokes, and therefore of Emerald Uthwart, through the long
summer-time, till the Green Court is fragrant with lime-blossom, and
speech-day comes, on which, after their flower-service and sermon from
an old comrade, Emerald surprises masters and companions by the fine
quality of a recitation; still more when "Scholar Stokes" and he are
found bracketed together as "Victors" of the school, who will proceed
together to Oxford.  His speech in the Chapter-house was from that
place in Homer, where the soul of the lad Elpenor, killed by accident,
entreats Ulysses for due burial rites.  "Fix my oar over my grave," he
says, "the oar I rowed with when I lived, when I went with my
companions."  And in effect what surprised, charmed the hearers was the
scruple with which those naturally graceful lips dealt with every word,
every syllable, put upon them.  He seemed to be thinking only of his
author, except for just so much of self-consciousness as was involved
in the fact that he seemed also to be speaking a little against his
will; like a monk, it might be said, who sings in choir with a really
fine voice, but at the bidding of his superior, and counting the notes
all the while till his task be done, because his whole nature revolts
from so much as the bare opportunity for personal display.  It was his
duty to speak on the occasion.  They had always been great in
speech-making, in theatricals, from before [225] the days when the
Puritans destroyed the Dean's "Great Hall" because "the King's Scholars
had profaned it by acting plays there"; and that peculiar note or
accent, as being conspicuously free from the egotism which vulgarises
most of us, seemed to befit the person of Emerald, impressing weary
listeners pleasantly as a novelty in that kind.  Singular!--The words,
because seemingly forced from him, had been worth hearing.  The cheers,
the "Kentish Fire," of their companions might have broken down the
crumbling black arches of the old cloister, or roused the dead under
foot, as the "Victors" came out of the Chapter-house side by side; side
by side also out of that delightful period of their life at school, to
proceed in due course to the University.

They left it precipitately, after brief residence there, taking
advantage of a sudden outbreak of war to join the army at once,
regretted--James Stokes for his high academic promise, Uthwart for a
quality, or group of qualities, not strictly to be defined.  He seemed,
in short, to harmonise by their combination in himself all the various
qualities proper to a large and varied community of youths of nineteen
or twenty, to which, when actually present there, he was felt from hour
to hour to be indispensable.  In fact school habits and standards had
survived in a world not so different from that of school for those who
are faithful to its type.  When he looked back upon [226] it a little
later, college seemed to him, seemed indeed at the time, had he
ventured to admit it, a strange prolongation of boyhood, in its
provisional character, the narrow limitation of its duties and
responsibility, the very divisions of one's day, the routine of play
and work, its formal, perhaps pedantic rules.  The veritable plunge
from youth into manhood came when one passed finally through those old
Gothic gates, from a somewhat dreamy or problematic preparation for it,
into the world of peremptory facts.  A college, like a school, is not
made for one; and as Uthwart sat there, still but a scholar, still
reading with care the books prescribed for him by others--Greek and
Latin books--the contrast between his own position and that of the
majority of his coevals already at the business of life impressed
itself sometimes with an odd sense of unreality in the place around
him.  Yet the schoolboy's sensitive awe for the great things of the
intellectual world had but matured itself, and was at its height here
amid this larger competition, which left him more than ever to find in
doing his best submissively the sole reward of so doing.  He needs now
in fact less repression than encouragement not to be a "passman," as he
may if he likes, acquiescing in a lowly measure of culture which
certainly will not manufacture Miltons, nor turn serge into silk,
broom-blossom into verbenas, but only, perhaps not so faultily, leave
Emerald Uthwart and the like of him [227] essentially what they are.
"He holds his book in a peculiar way," notes in manuscript one of his
tutors; "holds on to it with both hands; clings as if from below, just
as his tough little mind clings to the sense of the Greek words he can
English so closely, precisely."  Again, as at school, he had put his
neck under the yoke; though he has now also much reading quite at his
own choice; by preference, when he can come by such, about the place
where he finds himself, about the earlier youthful occupants, if it
might be, of his own quaint rooms on the second floor just below the
roof; of what he can see from his windows in the old black front
eastwards, with its inestimable patina of ancient smoke and weather and
natural decay (when you look close the very stone is a composite of
minute dead bodies) relieving heads like his so effectively on summer
mornings.  On summer nights the scent of the hay, the wild-flowers,
comes across the narrow fringe of town to right and left; seems to come
from beyond the Oxford meadows, with sensitive, half-repellent thoughts
from the gardens at home.  He looks down upon the green square with the
slim, quaint, black, young figures that cross it on the way to chapel
on yellow Sunday mornings, or upwards to the dome, the spire; can watch
them closely in freakish moonlight, or flickering softly by an
occasional bonfire in the quadrangle behind him.  Yet how hard, how
forbidding sometimes, under [228] a late stormy sky, the scheme of
black, white, and grey, to which the group of ancient buildings could
attune itself.  And what he reads most readily is of the military life
that intruded itself so oddly, during the Civil War, into these
half-monastic places, till the timid old academic world scarcely knew
itself.  He treasures then every incident which connects a soldier's
coat with any still recognisable object, wall, or tree, or garden-walk;
that walk, for instance, under Merton garden where young Colonel
Windebank was shot for a traitor. His body lies in Saint Mary
Magdalen's churchyard.  Unassociated to such incident, the mere
beauties of the place counted at the moment for less than in
retrospect.  It was almost retrospect even now, with an anticipation of
regret, in rare moments of solitude perhaps, when the oars splashed far
up the narrow streamlets through the fields on May evenings among the
fritillaries--does the reader know them? that strange remnant just here
of a richer extinct flora--dry flowers, though with a drop of dubious
honey in each.  Snakes' heads, the rude call them, for their shape,
scale-marked too, and in colour like rusted blood, as if they grew from
some forgotten battle-field, the bodies, the rotten armour--yet
delicate, beautiful, waving proudly. In truth the memory of Oxford made
almost everything he saw after it seem vulgar.  But he feels also
nevertheless, characteristically, that such local pride (fastus he
terms it) is proper [229] only for those whose occupations are wholly
congruous with it; for the gifted, the freemen who can enter into the
genius, who possess the liberty, of the place; that it has a reproach
in it for the outsider, which comes home to him.

Here again then as he passes through the world, so delightfully to
others, they tell him, as if weighing him, his very self, against his
merely scholastic capacity and effects, that he would "do for the
army"; which he is now wholly glad to hear, for from first to last,
through all his successes there, the army had still been scholar
Stokes' choice, and he had no difficulty, as the reader sees, in
keeping Uthwart also faithful to first intentions.  Their names were
already entered for commissions; but the war breaking out afresh,
information reaches them suddenly one morning that they may join their
regiment forthwith.  Bidding good-bye therefore, gladly, hastily, they
set out with as little delay as possible for Flanders; and passing the
old school by their nearest road thither, stay for an hour, find an
excuse for coming into the hall in uniform, with which it must be
confessed they seem thoroughly satisfied--Uthwart quite perversely at
ease in the stiff make of his scarlet jacket with black facings--and so
pass onward on their way to Dover, Dunkirk, they scarcely know whither
finally, among the featureless villages, the long monotonous lines of
the windmills, the poplars, blurred with cold fogs, but marking the
[230] roads through the snow which covers the endless plain, till they
come in sight at last of the army in motion, like machines moving--how
little it looked on that endless plain!--pass on their rapid way to
fame, to unpurchased promotion, as a matter of course to responsibility
also, till, their fortune turning upon them, they miscarry in the
latter fatally.  They joined in fact a distinguished regiment in a
gallant army, immediately after a victory in those Flemish regions;
shared its encouragement as fully as if they had had a share in its
perils; the high character of the young officers consolidating itself
easily, pleasantly for them, till the hour of an act of thoughtless
bravery, almost the sole irregular or undisciplined act of Uthwart's
life, he still following his senior--criminal however to the military
conscience, under the actual circumstances, and in an enemy's country.
The faulty thing was done, certainly, with a scrupulous, a
characteristic completeness on their part; and with their prize
actually in hand, an old weather-beaten flag such as hung in the
cathedral aisle at school, they bethought them for the first time of
its price, with misgivings now in rapid growth, as they return to their
posts as nearly as may be, for the division has been ordered forward in
their brief absence, to find themselves under arrest, with that damning
proof of heroism, of guilt, in their possession, relinquished however
along with the swords they will never handle [231] again--toys,
idolised toys of our later youth, we weep at the thought of them as
never to be handled again!--as they enter the prison to await summary
trial next day on the charge of wantonly deserting their posts while in
position of high trust in time of war.

The full details of what had happened could have been told only by one
or other of themselves; by Uthwart best, in the somewhat matter-of-fact
and prosaic journal he had managed to keep from the first, noting there
the incidents of each successive day, as if in anticipation of its
possible service by way of pièce justificative, should such become
necessary, attesting hour by hour their single-hearted devotion to
soldierly duty.  Had a draughtsman equally truthful or equally
"realistic," as we say, accompanied them and made a like use of his
pencil, he might have been mistaken at home for an artist aiming at
"effect," by skilful "arrangements" to tickle people's interest in the
spectacle of war--the sudden ruin of a village street, the heap of
bleeding horses in the half-ploughed field, the gaping bridges, hand or
face of the dead peeping from a hastily made grave at the roadside,
smoke-stained rents in cottage-walls, ignoble ruin everywhere--ignoble
but for its frank expression.

But you find in Uthwart's journal, side by side with those ugly
patches, very precise and unadorned records of their common gallantry,
the more effective indeed for their simplicity; [232] and not of
gallantry only, but of the long-sustained patience also, the essential
monotony of military life, even on a campaign.  Peril, good-luck,
promotion, the grotesque hardships which leave them smart as ever, (as
if, so others observe, dust and mire wouldn't hold on them, so "spick
and span" they were, more especially on days of any exceptional risk or
effort) the great confidence reposed in them at last; all is noted,
till, with a little quiet pride, he records a gun-shot wound which
keeps him a month alone in hospital wearily; and at last, its hasty but
seemingly complete healing.

Following, leading, resting sometimes perforce, amid gun-shots,
putrefying wounds, green corpses, they never lacked good spirits, any
more than the birds warbling perennially afresh, as they will, over
such gangrened places, or the grass which so soon covers them.  And at
length fortune, their misfortune, perversely determined that heroism
should take the form of patience under the walls of an unimportant
frontier town, with old Vauban fortifications seemingly made only for
appearance' sake, like the work in the trenches--gardener's work! round
about the walls they are called upon to superintend day after day.  It
was like a calm at sea, delaying one's passage, one's purpose in being
on board at all, a dead calm, yet with an awful feeling of tension,
intolerable at last for those who were still all athirst for action.
How dumb and [233] stupid the place seemed, in its useless defiance of
conquerors, anxious, for reasons not indeed apparent, but which they
were undoubtedly within their rights in holding to, not to blow it at
once into the air--the steeple, the perky weathercock--to James Stokes
in particular, always eloquent in action, longing for heroic effort,
and ready to pay its price, maddened now by the palpable imposture in
front of him morning after morning, as he demonstrates conclusively to
Uthwart, seduced at last from the clearer sense of duty and discipline,
not by the demonstrated ease, but rather by the apparent difficulty of
what Stokes proposes to do.  They might have been deterred by recent
example.  Colonel --, who, as every one knew, had actually gained a
victory by disobeying orders, had not been suffered to remain in the
army of which he was an ornament.  It was easy in fact for both, though
it seemed the heroic thing, to dash through the calm with delightful
sense of active powers renewed; to pass into the beleaguered town with
a handful of men, and no loss, after a manner the feasibility of which
Stokes had explained acutely but in vain at headquarters.  He proved it
to Uthwart at all events, and a few others.  Delightful heroism!
delightful self-indulgence!  It was delayed for a moment by orders to
move forward at last, with hopes checked almost immediately after by a
countermand, bringing them right round their [234] stupid dumb enemy to
the same wearisome position once again, to the trenches and the rest,
but with their thirst for action only stimulated the more.  How great
the disappointment! encouraging a certain laxity of discipline that had
prevailed about them of late.  They take advantage however of a vague
phrase in their instructions; determine in haste to proceed on their
plan as carefully, as sparingly of the lives of others as may be;
detach a small company, hazarding thereby an algebraically certain
scheme at headquarters of victory or secure retreat, which embraced the
entire country in its calculations; detach themselves; finally pass
into the place, and out again with their prize, themselves secure.
Themselves only could have told the details--the intensely pleasant,
the glorious sense of movement renewed once more; of defiance, just for
once, of a seemingly stupid control; their dismay at finding their
company led forward by others, their own posts deserted, their handful
of men--nowhere!

In an ordinary trial at law, the motives, every detail of so irregular
an act might have been weighed, changing the colour of it. Their
general character would have told in their favour, but actually told
against them now; they had but won an exceptional trust to betray it.
Martial courts exist not for consideration, but for vivid exemplary
effect and prompt punishment.  "There is a kind of tribunal incidental
[235] to service in the field," writes another diarist, who may tell in
his own words what remains to be told.  "This court," he says, "may
consist of three staff-officers only, but has the power of sentencing
to death.  On the --st two young officers of the --th regiment, in whom
it appears unusual confidence had been placed, were brought before this
court, on the charge of desertion and wantonly exposing their company
to danger.  They were found guilty, and the proper penalty death, to be
inflicted next morning before the regiment marches.  The delinquents
were understood to have appealed to a general court-martial;
desperately at last, to 'the judgment of their country'; but were held
to have no locus standi whatever for an appeal under the actual
circumstances.  As a civilian I cannot but doubt the justice, whatever
may be thought of the expediency, of such a summary process in regard
to the capital penalty.  The regiment to which the culprits belonged,
with some others, was quartered for the night in the faubourg of Saint
--, recently under blockade by a portion of our forces.  I was awoke at
daybreak by the sound of marching.  The morning was a particularly
clear one, though, as the sun was not yet risen, it looked grey and sad
along the empty street, up which a party of grey soldiers were passing
with steady pace.  I knew for what purpose.

"The whole of the force in garrison here [236] had already marched to
the place of execution, the immense courtyard of a monastery,
surrounded irregularly by ancient buildings like those of some
cathedral precincts I have seen in England.  Here the soldiers then
formed three sides of a great square, a grave having been dug on the
fourth side.  Shortly afterwards the funeral procession came up. First
came the band of the --th, playing the Dead March; next the firing
party, consisting of twelve non-commissioned officers; then the
coffins, followed immediately by the unfortunate prisoners, accompanied
by a chaplain.  Slowly and sadly did the mournful procession approach,
when it passed through three sides of the square, the troops having
been previously faced inwards, and then halted opposite to the grave.
The proceedings of the court-martial were then read; and the elder
prisoner having been blindfolded was ordered to kneel down on his
coffin, which had been placed close to the grave, the firing party
taking up a position exactly opposite at a few yards' distance.  The
poor fellow's face was deadly pale, but he had marched his last march
as steadily as ever I saw a man step, and bore himself throughout most
bravely, though an oddly mixed expression passed over his countenance
when he was directed to remove himself from the side of his companion,
shaking his hand first.  At this moment there was hardly a dry eye, and
several young soldiers fainted, numberless as must be [237] the scenes
of horror which even they have witnessed during these last months.  At
length the chaplain, who had remained praying with the prisoner,
quietly withdrew, and at a given signal, but without word of command,
the muskets were levelled, a volley was fired, and the body of the
unfortunate man sprang up, falling again on his back.  One shot had
purposely been reserved; and as the presiding officer thought he was
not quite dead a musket was placed close to his head and fired.  All
was now over; but the troops having been formed into columns were
marched close by the body as it lay on the ground, after which it was
placed in one of the coffins and buried.

"I had almost forgotten his companion, the younger and more fortunate
prisoner, though I could scarcely tell, as I looked at him, whether his
fate was really preferable in leaving his own rough coffin unoccupied
behind him there.  Lieutenant (I think Edward) Uthwart, as being the
younger of the two offenders, 'by the mercy of the court' had his
sentence commuted to dismissal from the army with disgrace. A
colour-sergeant then advanced with the former officer's sword, a
remarkably fine one, which he thereupon snapped in sunder over the
prisoner's head as he knelt.  After this the prisoner's regimental coat
was handed forward and put upon him, the epaulettes and buttons being
then torn off and flung to a distance.  This part of [238] such
sentences is almost invariably spared; but, I suppose through
unavoidable haste, was on the present occasion somewhat rudely carried
out.  I shall never forget the expression of this man's countenance,
though I have seen many sad things in the course of my profession.  He
had the sort of good looks which always rivet attention, and in most
minds friendly interest; and now, amid all his pain and bewilderment,
bore a look of humility and submission as he underwent those
extraordinary details of his punishment, which touched me very oddly
with a sort of desire (I cannot otherwise express it) to share his lot,
to be actually in his place for a moment.  Yet, alas! --no! say rather
Thank Heaven! the nearest approach to that look I have seen has been on
the face of those whom I have known from circumstances to be almost
incapable at the time of any feeling whatever.  I would have offered
him pecuniary aid, supposing he needed it, but it was impossible.  I
went on with the regiment, leaving the poor wretch to shift for
himself, Heaven knows how, the state of the country being what it is.
He might join the enemy!"

What money Uthwart had about him had in fact passed that morning into
the hands of his guards.  To tell what followed would be to accompany
him on a roundabout and really aimless journey, the details of which he
could never afterwards recall.  See him lingering for morsels [239] of
food at some shattered farmstead, or assisted by others almost as
wretched as himself, sometimes without his asking.  In his worn
military dress he seems a part of the ruin under which he creeps for a
night's rest as darkness comes on.  He actually came round again to the
scene of his disgrace, of the execution; looked in vain for the precise
spot where he had knelt; then, almost envying him who lay there, for
the unmarked grave; passed over it perhaps unrecognised for some change
in that terrible place, or rather in himself; wept then as never before
in his life; dragged himself on once more, till suddenly the whole
country seems to move under the rumour, the very thunder, of "the
crowning victory," as he is made to understand.  Falling in with the
tide of its heroes returning to English shores, his vagrant footsteps
are at last directed homewards. He finds himself one afternoon at the
gate, turning out of the quiet Sussex road, through the fields for
whose safety he had fought with so much of undeniable gallantry and

On that July afternoon the gardens, the woods, mounted in flawless
sweetness all round him as he stood, to meet the circle of a flawless
sky.  Not a cloud; not a motion on the grass!  At the first he had
intended to return home no more; and it had been a proof of his great
dejection that he sent at last, as best he could, for money.  They knew
his fate already [240] by report, and were touched naturally when that
had followed on the record of his honours.  Had it been possible they
would have set forth at any risk to meet, to seek him; were waiting now
for the weary one to come to the gate, ready with their oil and wine,
to speak metaphorically, and from this time forth underwent his charm
to the utmost--the charm of an exquisite character, felt in some way to
be inseparable from his person, his characteristic movements, touched
also now with seemingly irreparable sorrow.  For his part, drinking in
here the last sweets of the sensible world, it was as if he, the lover
of roses, had never before been aware of them at all.  The original
softness of his temperament, against which the sense of greater things
thrust upon him had successfully reacted, asserted itself again now as
he lay at ease, the ease well merited by his deeds, his sorrows.  That
he was going to die moved those about him to humour this mood, to
soften all things to his touch; and looking back he might have
pronounced those four last years of doom the happiest of his life.  The
memory of the grave into which he had gazed so steadily on the
execution morning, into which, as he feels, one half of himself had
then descended, does not lessen his shrinking from the fate before him,
yet fortifies him to face it manfully, gives a sort of fraternal
familiarity to death; in a few weeks' time this battle too is fought
out; it is as if the thing were ended. [241] The delightful summer
heat, the freshness it enhances--he contrasts such things no longer
with the sort of place to which he is hastening.  The possible duration
of life for him was indeed uncertain, the future to some degree
indefinite; but as regarded any fairly distant date, anything like a
term of years, from the first there had been no doubt at all; he would
be no longer here. Meantime it was like a delightful few days'
additional holiday from school, with which perforce one must be content
at last; or as though he had not been pardoned on that terrible
morning, but only reprieved for two or three years.  Yet how large a
proportion they would have seemed in the whole sum of his years.  He
would have liked to lie finally in the garden among departed pets, dear
dead dogs and horses; faintly proposes it one day; but after a while
comprehends the churchyard, with its white spots in the distant flowery
view, as filling harmoniously its own proper place there.  The weary
soul seemed to be settling deeper into the body and the earth it came
of, into the condition of the flowers, the grass, proper creatures of
the earth to which he is returning.  The saintly vicar visits him
considerately; is repelled with politeness; goes on his way pondering
inwardly what kind of place there might be, in any possible scheme of
another world, for so absolutely unspiritual a subject.  In fact, as
the breath of the infinite world came about him, he clung all [242] the
faster to the beloved finite things still in contact with him; he had
successfully hidden from his eyes all beside.

His reprieve however lasted long enough, after all, for a certain
change of opinion of immense weight to him--a revision or reversal of
judgment.  It came about in this way.  When peace was arranged, with
question of rewards, pensions, and the like, certain battles or
incidents therein were fought over again, sometimes in the highest
places of debate.  On such an occasion a certain speaker cites the case
of Lieutenant James Stokes and another, as being "pessimi exempli":
whereupon a second speaker gets up, prepared with full detail, insists,
brings that incidental matter to the front for an hour, tells his
unfortunate friend's story so effectively, pathetically, that, as
happens with our countrymen, they repent.  The matter gets into the
newspapers, and, coming thus into sympathetic public view, something
like glory wins from Emerald Uthwart his last touch of animation.  Just
not too late he received the offer of a commission; kept the letter
there open within sight.  Aldy, who "never shed tears and was incapable
of pain," in his great physical weakness, wept--shall we say for the
second time in his life?  A less excitement would have been more
favorable to any chance there might be of the patient's surviving.  In
fact the old gun-shot wound, wrongly thought to be cured, which had
caused [243] the one illness of his life, is now drawing out what
remains of it, as he feels with a kind of odd satisfaction and
pride--his old glorious wound!  And then, as of old, an absolute
submissiveness comes over him, as he gazes round at the place, the
relics of his uniform, the letter lying there.  It was as if there was
nothing more that could be said. Accounts thus settled, he stretched
himself in the bed he had occupied as a boy, more completely at his
ease than since the day when he had left home for the first time.
Respited from death once, he was twice believed to be dead before the
date actually registered on his tomb.  "What will it matter a hundred
years hence?" they used to ask by way of simple comfort in boyish
troubles at school, overwhelming at the moment.  Was that in truth part
of a certain revelation of the inmost truth of things to "babes," such
as we have heard of?  What did it matter--the gifts, the good-fortune,
its terrible withdrawal, the long agony?  Emerald Uthwart would have
been all but a centenarian to-day.

Postscript, from the Diary of a Surgeon, August --th, 18--.

I was summoned by letter into the country to perform an operation on
the dead body of a young man, formerly an officer in the army.  The
cause of death is held to have been some [244] kind of distress of
mind, concurrent with the effects of an old gun-shot wound, the ball
still remaining somewhere in the body.  My instructions were to remove
this, at the express desire, as I understood, of the deceased, rather
than to ascertain the precise cause of death.  This however became
apparent in the course of my search for the ball, which had enveloped
itself in the muscular substance in the region of the heart, and was
removed with difficulty.  I have known cases of this kind, where
anxiety has caused incurable cardiac derangement (the deceased seems to
have been actually sentenced to death for some military offence when on
service in Flanders), and such mental strain would of course have been
aggravated by the presence of a foreign object in that place.  On
arriving at my destination, a small village in a remote part of Sussex,
I proceeded through the little orderly churchyard, where however the
monthly roses were blooming all their own way among the formal white
marble monuments of the wealthier people of the neighbourhood.  At one
of these the masons were at work, picking and chipping in the otherwise
absolute stillness of the summer afternoon.  They were in fact opening
the family burial-place of the people who summoned me hither; and the
workmen pointed out their abode, conspicuous on the slope beyond,
towards which I bent my steps accordingly.  I was conducted to a large
upper [245] room or attic, set freely open to sun and air, and found
the body lying in a coffin, almost hidden under very rich-scented cut
flowers, after a manner I have never seen in this country, except in
the case of one or two Catholics laid out for burial.  The mother of
the deceased was present, and actually assisted my operations, amid
such tokens of distress, though perfectly self-controlled, as I
fervently hope I may never witness again.

Deceased was in his twenty-seventh year, but looked many years younger;
had indeed scarcely yet reached the full condition of manhood.  The
extreme purity of the outlines, both of the face and limbs, was such as
is usually found only in quite early youth; the brow especially, under
an abundance of fair hair, finely formed, not high, but arched and
full, as is said to be the way with those who have the imaginative
temper in excess.  Sad to think that had he lived reason must have
deserted that so worthy abode of it!  I was struck by the great beauty
of the organic developments, in the strictly anatomic sense; those of
the throat and diaphragm in particular might have been modelled for a
teacher of normal physiology, or a professor of design.  The flesh was
still almost as firm as that of a living person; as happens when, as in
this case, death comes to all intents and purposes as gradually as in
old age.

This expression of health and life, under my seemingly merciless
doings, together with the mother's distress, touched me to a degree
very [246] unusual, I conceive, in persons of my years and profession.
Though I believed myself to be acting by his express wish, I felt like
a criminal.  The ball, a small one, much corroded with blood, was at
length removed; and I was then directed to wrap it in a partly-printed
letter, or other document, and place it in the breast-pocket of a faded
and much-worn scarlet soldier's coat, put over the shirt which
enveloped the body.  The flowers were then hastily replaced, the hands
and the peak of the handsome nose remaining visible among them; the
wind ruffled the fair hair a little; the lips were still red.  I shall
not forget it.  The lid was then placed on the coffin and screwed down
in my presence.  There was no plate or other inscription upon it.


197. *Published in the New Review, June and July 1892, and now
reprinted by the kind permission of the proprietors.

210. +Transliteration: askêsis.  Liddel and Scott definition:
"exercise, training."

213. +Transliteration: Moirai.  Liddel and Scott definition: "[singular
=] one's portion in life, lot, destiny."

213. +Transliteration: Kêr.  Brief Liddel and Scott definition: "doom,
death, destruction."

214. +Translation: "in this church established for boys."

219. +Transliteration: hê pterou dynamis.


[247] THERE are some unworldly types of character which the world is
able to estimate.  It recognises certain moral types, or categories,
and regards whatever falls within them as having a right to exist. The
saint, the artist, even the speculative thinker, out of the world's
order as they are, yet work, so far as they work at all, in and by
means of the main current of the world's energy.  Often it gives them
late, or scanty, or mistaken acknowledgment; still it has room for them
in its scheme of life, a place made ready for them in its affections.
It is also patient of doctrinaires of every degree of littleness.  As
if dimly conscious of some great sickness and weariness of heart in
itself, it turns readily to those who theorise about its unsoundness.
To constitute one of these categories, or types, a breadth and
generality of character is required.  There is another type of
character, which is not broad and general, rare, precious above all to
the artist, a character which seems to have been the supreme moral
charm in the Beatrice of the [248] Commedia. It does not take the eye
by breadth of colour; rather it is that fine edge of light, where the
elements of our moral nature refine themselves to the burning point.
It crosses rather than follows the main current of the world's life.
The world has no sense fine enough for those evanescent shades, which
fill up the blanks between contrasted types of character--delicate
provision in the organisation of the moral world for the transmission
to every part of it of the life quickened at single points!  For this
nature there is no place ready in its affections.  This colourless,
unclassified purity of life it can neither use for its service, nor
contemplate as an ideal.

"Sibi unitus et simplificatus esse," that is the long struggle of the
Imitatio Christi.  The spirit which it forms is the very opposite of
that which regards life as a game of skill, and values things and
persons as marks or counters of something to be gained, or achieved,
beyond them.  It seeks to value everything at its eternal worth, not
adding to it, or taking from it, the amount of influence it may have
for or against its own special scheme of life.  It is the spirit that
sees external circumstances as they are, its own power and tendencies
as they are, and realises the given conditions of its life, not
disquieted by the desire for change, or the preference of one part in
life rather than another, or passion, or opinion.  The character we
mean to indicate achieves this [249] perfect life by a happy gift of
nature, without any struggle at all.  Not the saint only, the artist
also, and the speculative thinker, confused, jarred, disintegrated in
the world, as sometimes they inevitably are, aspire for this simplicity
to the last.  The struggle of this aspiration with a lower practical
aim in the mind of Savonarola has been subtly traced by the author of
Romola.  As language, expression, is the function of intellect, as art,
the supreme expression, is the highest product of intellect, so this
desire for simplicity is a kind of indirect self-assertion of the
intellectual part of such natures.  Simplicity in purpose and act is a
kind of determinate expression in dexterous outline of one's
personality.  It is a kind of moral expressiveness; there is an
intellectual triumph implied in it.  Such a simplicity is
characteristic of the repose of perfect intellectual culture.  The
artist and he who has treated life in the spirit of art desires only to
be shown to the world as he really is; as he comes nearer and nearer to
perfection, the veil of an outer life not simply expressive of the
inward becomes thinner and thinner.  This intellectual throne is rarely
won.  Like the religious life, it is a paradox in the world, denying
the first conditions of man's ordinary existence, cutting obliquely the
spontaneous order of things.  But the character we have before us is a
kind of prophecy of this repose and simplicity, coming as it were in
the order of grace, not of nature, by [250] some happy gift, or
accident of birth or constitution, showing that it is indeed within the
limits of man's destiny.  Like all the higher forms of inward life this
character is a subtle blending and interpenetration of intellectual,
moral and spiritual elements.  But it is as a phase of intellect, of
culture, that it is most striking and forcible.  It is a mind of taste
lighted up by some spiritual ray within.  What is meant by taste is an
imperfect intellectual state; it is but a sterile kind of culture.  It
is the mental attitude, the intellectual manner of perfect culture,
assumed by a happy instinct.  Its beautiful way of handling everything
that appeals to the senses and the intellect is really directed by the
laws of the higher intellectual life, but while culture is able to
trace those laws, mere taste is unaware of them.  In the character
before us, taste, without ceasing to be instructive, is far more than a
mental attitude or manner.  A magnificent intellectual force is latent
within it.  It is like the reminiscence of a forgotten culture that
once adorned the mind; as if the mind of one philosophêsas pote met'
erôtos,+ fallen into a new cycle, were beginning its spiritual progress
over again, but with a certain power of anticipating its stages.  It
has the freshness without the shallowness of taste, the range and
seriousness of culture without its strain and over-consciousness.  Such
a habit may be described as wistfulness of mind, the feeling that there
is "so much to [251] know," rather as a longing after what is
unattainable, than as a hope to apprehend.  Its ethical result is an
intellectual guilelessness, or integrity, that instinctively prefers
what is direct and clear, lest one's own confusion and intransparency
should hinder the transmission from without of light that is not yet
inward.  He who is ever looking for the breaking of a light he knows
not whence about him, notes with a strange heedfulness the faintest
paleness in the sky.  That truthfulness of temper, that receptivity,
which professors often strive in vain to form, is engendered here less
by wisdom than by innocence.  Such a character is like a relic from the
classical age, laid open by accident to our alien modern atmosphere.
It has something of the clear ring, the eternal outline of the antique.
Perhaps it is nearly always found with a corresponding outward
semblance.  The veil or mask of such a nature would be the very
opposite of the "dim blackguardism" of Danton, the type Carlyle has
made too popular for the true interest of art.  It is just this sort of
entire transparency of nature that lets through unconsciously all that
is really lifegiving in the established order of things; it detects
without difficulty all sorts of affinities between its own elements,
and the nobler elements in that order.  But then its wistfulness and a
confidence in perfection it has makes it love the lords of change.
What makes revolutionists is either self-pity, or indignation [252] for
the sake of others, or a sympathetic perception of the dominant
undercurrent of progress in things.  The nature before us is
revolutionist from the direct sense of personal worth, that chlidê,+
that pride of life, which to the Greek was a heavenly grace.  How can
he value what comes of accident, or usage, or convention, whose
individual life nature itself has isolated and perfected?  Revolution
is often impious.  They who prosecute revolution have to violate again
and again the instinct of reverence. That is inevitable, since after
all progress is a kind of violence. But in this nature revolutionism is
softened, harmonised, subdued as by distance.  It is the revolutionism
of one who has slept a hundred years.  Most of us are neutralised by
the play of circumstances.  To most of us only one chance is given in
the life of the spirit and the intellect, and circumstances prevent our
dexterously seizing that one chance.  The one happy spot in our nature
has no room to burst into life.  Our collective life, pressing equally
on every part of every one of us, reduces nearly all of us to the level
of a colourless uninteresting existence.  Others are neutralised, not
by suppression of gifts, but by just equipoise among them.  In these no
single gift, or virtue, or idea, has an unmusical predominance.  The
world easily confounds these two conditions.  It sees in the character
before us only indifferentism.  Doubtless the chief vein of the life of
humanity [253] could hardly pass through it.  Not by it could the
progress of the world be achieved.  It is not the guise of Luther or
Spinoza; rather it is that of Raphael, who in the midst of the
Reformation and the Renaissance, himself lighted up by them, yielded
himself to neither, but stood still to live upon himself, even in
outward form a youth, almost an infant, yet surprising all the world.
The beauty of the Greek statues was a sexless beauty; the statues of
the gods had the least traces of sex.  Here there is a moral
sexlessness, a kind of impotence, an ineffectual wholeness of nature,
yet with a divine beauty and significance of its own.

Over and over again the world has been surprised by the heroism, the
insight, the passion, of this clear crystal nature.  Poetry and
poetical history have dreamed of a crisis, where it must needs be that
some human victim be sent down into the grave.  These are they whom in
its profound emotion humanity might choose to send.  "What," says
Carlyle, of Charlotte Corday, "What if she had emerged from her
secluded stillness, suddenly like a star; cruel-lovely, with
half-angelic, half-daemonic splendour; to gleam for a moment, and in a
moment be extinguished; to be held in memory, so bright complete was
she, through long centuries!"

Often the presence of this nature is felt like a sweet aroma in early
manhood.  Afterwards, as the adulterated atmosphere of the world
assimilates [254] us to itself, the savour of it faints away. Perhaps
there are flushes of it in all of us; recurring moments of it in every
period of life.  Certainly this is so with every man of genius.  It is
a thread of pure white light that one might disentwine from the
tumultuary richness of Goethe's nature.  It is a natural prophecy of
what the next generation will appear, renerved, modified by the ideas
of this.  There is a violence, an impossibility about men who have
ideas, which makes one suspect that they could never be the type of any
widespread life.  Society could not be conformed to their image but by
an unlovely straining from its true order.  Well, in this nature the
idea appears softened, harmonised as by distance, with an engaging
naturalness, without the noise of axe or hammer.

People have often tried to find a type of life that might serve as a
basement type.  The philosopher, the saint, the artist, neither of them
can be this type; the order of nature itself makes them exceptional.
It cannot be the pedant, or the conservative, or anything rash and
irreverent.  Also the type must be one discontented with society as it
is.  The nature here indicated alone is worthy to be this type.  A
majority of such would be the regeneration of the world.

July, 1864.


250. +Transliteration: philosophêsas pote met' erôtos.

252. +Transliteration: chlidê.


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