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Title: Modernities
Author: Samuel, Horace Barnett, 1883-1950
Language: English
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Author of "The Land and Yourself," "The Insurance Act
and Yourself," etc.

New York
E. P. Dutton and Co.
681, Fifth Avenue





The ten studies which constitute this volume are devoted to individuals
who are held out as being reasonably characteristic of that modern
movement of the last and present century which started with the French
Revolution. At any rate, they were all modern once. For the spirit of
modernity enjoys, like the priest-god of the ancient grove, only a
temporary reign, and is speedily killed by its inevitable successor.

It is somewhat difficult to find any common denominator for the
subjects of these studies. The essays must be left largely to speak for
themselves. If, however, an attempt were to be made to pronounce of
what the spirit of modernity really consists, one might suggest that it
is a spirit of energy, of fearlessness in analysis, whose sole _raison
d'être_ and whose sole ideal is actual life itself.

The studies on Miss Marie Corelli and Herr Wedekind are here published
for the first time. Those on Disraeli, Heine, Stendhal, Schnitzler,
Strindberg, the Futurists, and Verhaeren have appeared as articles in
the _Fortnightly Review_; while the essay on Nietzsche's "Genealogy
of Morals" was first published in the _English Review_. I have
consequently pleasure in expressing my thanks and acknowledgments
to Mr. W. L. Courtney and Mr. Austin Harrison for their courtesy in
allowing these articles to be reproduced in their present form. I have
also to thank the editor of the _New Statesman_ for permission to
republish my translation from Marinetti's, "The Pope's Monoplane."

I have made additions to the essays on Schnitzler and the Futurists
with a view to incorporating some reference to the more recent works of
Dr. Schnitzler and M. Marinetti.

                                                      HORACE B. SAMUEL.

   Temple, _October_ 1913.







"I only write for a hundred readers, and of those unhappy, amiable,
charming creatures without either hypocrisy or morality whom I should
like to please, I only know one or two."

On the assumption that with the natural growth of the population, "the
happy few" for whom Stendhal wrote have sufficiently multiplied in this
country to render it likely that a reasonable number of readers will
possess these requisite qualifications, it becomes relevant to give
both some analysis and some appreciation of a man who is perhaps the
most perfect type of the "intellectual" that Europe has yet produced.

For Stendhal was an intellectual in the fullest sense of the term.
Neither a recluse scholar nor a rabid doctrinaire, but a man of the
world and of action, of brain, heart, and sensibility, he sought and to
a large extent found in the intellect an energetic servant, by whose
faithful escort he could sally forth on that "hunt of happiness," which
led him in his variegated career from the field of battle to the bowers
of love, and from the high plateaux of reverie to the meticulous _terre
à terre_ observations of psychological science.

Henri Beyle was born in 1783, in Grenoble in Dauphiné, a town whose
hidebound provincialism he hated consistently from his childhood to his

"His childhood," to quote from his own autobiography, "was a continual
period of unhappiness and of hate and of the sweets of a vengeance
which was always helpless." Loving his mother, according to his
somewhat pathetic boast, with a man's passion, he lost her at the age
of seven. On being told that God had taken her away, he conceived
with immediate logic an implacable hatred against that Deity who had
deprived him of the being whom he loved most in the world, a hatred
which, turning into momentary gratitude on the occasion of the death
of his _bête noire_, his Aunt Séraphie, was finally merged in the
chilly negation of the honest atheist. Inasmuch as to the quality
of logic Stendhal added those of rebelliousness and imagination, it
is not surprising that even in childhood his relations should have
been inharmonious with his father, a royalist lawyer situated on the
borderland between the bourgeoisie and the gentry. The royalism of
his father immediately sufficed to turn Henri into the reddest of
republicans. The execution of Louis XVI filled his childish heart with
holy glee, and the guillotining of two royalist priests at Grenoble
affected him with an elation which, if solitary, was for that very
reason all the more genuine. So hot indeed was his republican ardour
that he even forged an official order requiring his enlistment in a
body of cadets. But although he was unappreciative of his father,
whom he would refer to in his diaries and letters by the almost
equally offensive synonyms of "bastard" and "Jesuit," he none the
less manifested the deepest affection for his maternal grandfather,
M. Gagnon, a Voltairean doctor of lively intellect and genial
disposition, and for the cook and the butler of the paternal house.

The child soon began to stimulate by books his naturally precocious
imagination, stealing in his thirst for knowledge those volumes which
the solicitude or conventionalism of his father deemed it inexpedient
for him to read. From _La Nouvelle Héloïse_ in particular he would
appear to have derived imaginative transports far transcending the
joys of a prosaic reality. But he had conceived an early aversion to
poetry by reason of an awful poem by some Jesuit about a fly that got
drowned in a cup of milk. The reading of Molière, however, dispelled
the unpleasant association, and his early ambition became crystallised
into going to Paris and writing a comedy. For apart from the magnetic
attraction of the metropolis itself, Grenoble exacerbated his nerves.
Unappreciated at home, he found himself, with the exception of one or
two genuine friendships, solitary and unpopular at school among those
masters and schoolfellows whom he already despised. It is interesting
to remember, parenthetically, that even when a schoolboy he fought a
duel, and boldly faced the fire of what subsequently turned out to
have been an unloaded pistol by concentrating his gaze on a distant
rock. His intellectual ability carried all before him, and he found in
mathematics a loophole of escape from his provincial prison. Coming out
top in the examinations he obtained a bourse at the École Polytechnique
at the age of sixteen, and was sent to Paris with instructions to place
himself under the protection of M. Daru, a relative of the family
and the holder of a ministerial appointment. By this time his erotic
ambitions were beginning to formulate themselves with comparative
definiteness. He had already experienced a passion for a Mdlle. Kably,
a local actress, which while never attaining a more advanced stage
than that of inquiring the way to her lodgings, was none the less
violent. Anyway, when the boy went to Paris he had finally decided to
live up to the best of his ability to the Don Juan ideal.

His first sojourn at Paris, however, surprised both himself and
his parents. With considerable obstinacy he refused to attend the
Polytechnique and set himself to study privately in his own rooms. But
the first essay at the single life proved a fiasco. No dashing romances
coloured his solitary existence, while he was either too nervous or
too refined to sully his soul with mere mercenary pleasure. He became
dreamy and ill, and was eventually taken charge of by the Darus. In the
pompous officialdom of this family his health recovered, but his spirit
rebelled. He complains bitterly that he not only had to sleep in the
house but also to dine with the family. He none the less knit a firm
friendship with his cousin Martial Daru, a brainless and amiable youth
who subsequently at Milan and at Brunswick taught him the elementary
rules of amoristic etiquette.

The Marengo campaign gave him an opportunity of practising that
Napoleonic worship which was his one and only religion. The influence
of the Darus procured him a commission, and the passage of the St.
Bernard was one of the landmarks of his life. He drank to the full
the intoxication of victory which attended the entry into Milan of
the youthful army, and conceived for the Countess Angela Pietragrua,
"a sublime wanton a la Lucrezia Borgia," a passion which ten years
subsequently was duly rewarded. The Milan period was, according to that
epitaph which he penned himself, "the finest in his life." "He adored
music and literary renown, set great store by the art of giving a good
blow with the sabre and was wounded in the foot by a thrust received
in a duel. He was aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Michaud. He
distinguished himself. He was the happiest and probably the maddest of
men when on the conclusion of the peace the minister of war ordered the
subaltern aides-de-camp to return to their regiments."

Returning to Grenoble on furlough, he fell in love with Mdlle.
Victorine Bigillon, the sister of one of his best friends, whom he
suddenly followed to Paris, although his leave would appear to have
been limited to Grenoble. Reprimanded by the authorities he sent in
his resignation, and "madder than ever started to study with the view
of becoming a great man." His experiences, subjective and objective,
during this period are described in his journal with a detail, a
lucidity, an honesty which are worthy of some mention. For we see now
officially scheduled and officially annotated all those heterogeneous
qualities which made up the sum of this man's psychology; his rigid
intellectualism, his sentimentality, his ambition, his artistic
enthusiasm, his constant flow of analytical energy (directed now
against the external world, now against himself, yet scarcely for
a single moment losing itself in a complete abandon), his love of
witty conversation, whether his own or that of others, the sweep of
his intellectual ideals, his intolerance of bores and fools, that
apprehensive self-consciousness which so often made him the dupe of the
fear of being duped, his exuberant _joie de vivre_, and "that love of
glory and sensibility which are only for the _intimes_ friends."

And extraordinarily stimulating are the reflections, charmingly
interspersed with English phrases, in this breviary of intellectual
egoism, where the _I_ and the _Me_ enter into a Holy Alliance in their
heroic conspiracy against the rest of the world. It was mainly this
self-consciousness which induced Beyle deliberately to set himself to
become a psychologist. "Nearly all the misfortunes of life," writes
our twenty-year-old philosopher, "come from the false notions we have
concerning that which happens to us. Must know men thoroughly." And how
he scolds himself when he fails to live up to his ideal, and when "his
accursed mania for being brilliant results in his being more occupied
in making a deep impression than in guessing others." And so it is that
he reflects, "what a fool I am not to have the knack of drawing out
each man to tell his story, which might prove so useful to me," and
that the man, who was subsequently to style himself by profession "an
observer of the human heart" developed that "universal desire to know
all that passes within a man." Though, however, his love of psychology
was thus, as we have seen, to some extent a case of reaction from his
own nervousness and of externalised introspection, it is impossible to
deny the purity of his intellectual enthusiasm. At an age when even the
chastest of prose writers may well be pardoned for wallowing in the
debauchery of purple patches, he inscribes in his journal that the sole
quality in style is lucidity. It was this deeply rooted abhorrence of
floridity and ostentation that on a subsequent occasion nearly induced
him to fight a duel with a man who had praised unduly the well known
"la cime indéterminable des arbres" of Chateaubriand, that _bête noire_
of Stendhal's of whom he prophesies in English, "This man shall not
outlive his century." In the sphere of philosophy, characteristically
enough his logical and mathematical turn of mind embraced with natural
love and facility the materialism of the French sceptics.

"Helvetius opened wide to him the doors of the world," and he became
on terms of affectionate friendship with the aged philosopher Destutt
Tracy. So radical indeed was Stendhal's philosophic bias, that on one
occasion, feeling presumably more studious than amorous, he neglects
an assignation with the lady whom he was pursuing, to plunge with even
greater gusto into a hundred pages of Adam Smith. Though, too, he
habitually worked twelve hours a day, he would appear to have cut a
frequent figure in both those formal and Bohemian sets of the capital
which offered such refreshing contrasts and facilities to artistic
young men.

His love for Victorine proved unreciprocated. There followed innocuous
passages with a respectable demi-vierge, referred to in the journal as
Adèle of the Gate. But Stendhal found his chief distraction in that
society of authors, men of the world, and actresses whom he met at the
house of Dugazon, a celebrated teacher of theatrical elocution. In this
variegated set, where the mutual relations and complications of the
various members provided a chronic source of interest and speculation,
Stendhal met a young mother, named Mélanie Guilbert (the Louason of
the journal), "a charming actress who had the most refined sentiments
and to whom I never gave a son." To this lady Stendhal set himself to
lay a siege, which was eventually successful after a quite unnecessary

The demeanour of Stendhal in society is highly instructive. A man of
such abnormal sensitiveness that "the least thing moved him and made
the tears come to his eyes," he encased himself in an "irony which
was imperceptible to the vulgar," and, posing with marked success as
both a cynic and a roué, notes with interest "the terrifying effect
which his particular kind of wit produced on society." But if his
deliberate brilliancies won him respect rather than popularity, they
certainly consolidated his own selfestimation. "Maximum of wit in my
life--Je me suis toujours vu aller mais sans gêne pour cela," runs
one of these honest confidences which he made to himself, "without
lying, without deceiving himself, with pleasure, like a letter to
a friend." He needed, however, the audience of a salon to put him
on his mettle, and would appear, at any rate during this period, to
have been somewhat ineffective in _tête-à-tête_. His journal records
a lamentable succession of muddled opportunities, of occasions when
he was too natural to observe his companion with sufficient acumen,
and of occasions when he was not natural enough. It was the latter
characteristic, however, which predominated, and even though the
emotion of his love was genuine, its expression was a bookish and
theatrical formulation of an already rehearsed ideal, directed quite
as much to the critical approbation of his own consciousness as to
the actual object of his wooing. Yet the full gusto of a rich _joie
de vivre_ palpitates in this incessant cerebration. Time after time
do we come upon the entry that such and such a day was the happiest
in his life. And if at times "his only distraction was to observe his
own state, it was none the less a great one." His very sensibility
becomes a source of gratification, and he will congratulate himself
that he has perhaps lived more in a day than many of his more stolid
friends will live in the whole of their life. The financial problem
pressed irksomely upon him at this period, and, combining business
and sentiment, he obtained a position in a house at Marseilles, in
which town Louason had obtained an engagement. Whether however because
of parental pressure or because the distractions of business had
cured him of his passion, he soon left Marseilles for Grenoble, and
subsequently returned to Paris.

The campaigns of 1806 to 1809 offered new scope to the ambition of
Beyle, who always rose successfully to practical emergencies and was,
as he tells us himself, "most simple and most natural in the greatest
dangers." He was present at the battle of Jena, came several times into
personal contact with Napoleon, and discharged with singular efficiency
the fiscal administration of the state of Brunswick.

The next landmark in his life, however, is his passion for the wife of
his relative, the punctilious but aged M. Daru, a passion the various
nuances of which are faithfully recorded in those sections of his
journal headed "The Life and Sentiments of Silencious Harry," "Memoirs
of my life during my amour for the Gräfin P----y," the narrative of
the intrigue between Julien and Mathilde in _Le Rouge et le Noir,_
and the posthumous fragment entitled "Le Consultation de Banti," a
piece of methodical deliberation on the pressing question, "_Dois-je
ou ne dois-je pas avoir la duchesse?_" which, it is believed, is quite
unparalleled in the whole history of eroticism. For with his peculiar
faculty of driving his intellect and his heart in double harness,
he analyses the pros and cons of the erotic and ethical situation,
the qualifications and defects of the lady with all the documentary
coldness of a Government report. His diary during this period is so
delightfully honest as to justify quotations: "Tuesday, 18th April
1810, 1st day of Longchamps. On the whole I think that I love the
Countess P----y a little." "10th August, I have proved by an evidence
the truth of my principles about rousing love in the heart of a woman."
"The 4th August. I was reading the excellent essay of Hume upon the
feudal government from two till half-past four o'clock; during this
time she wanted my presence; _au retour_ she cannot say a word without
speaking of me or to me. J'eus le tort de ne pas hasarder quelque
entreprise. Mais je le répète j'ai trop de sensibility pour avoir
jamais du talent dans l'art de Lovelace!"

Stendhal would appear to have treated this particular liaison rather
as a polite routine of social amenities than as a serious passion. How
refreshing is his account of the tedium of the relationship: "At Paris
I have no time for working to Letellier [a mediocre comedy in verse
which was never finished], I have here nothing but my passion for C.
Palfy; 'tis a month that I reproach to myself the money that I spent
without pleasure of mind into those walls."

Towards the autumn of 1811 Stendhal journeyed to Milan, his favourite
town in Europe whose citizenship he arrogated in his self-written
epitaph. Renewing his acquaintance with the Countess Pietragrua, for
whom he had languished in dumb nervousness on his first visit to
Milan ten years past, he took an especial joy in compensating for his
previous clumsiness by displaying the easy brilliancy of the man of
the world. And then on the eve of his departure from Milan he writes
in English--"I was, I believe, in love." "Après un combat moral fort
sérieux où j'ai joué le malheur et jusque le désespoir, elle est à
moi onze heures et demi. Je pars de Milan à une heure et demie le 22
septembre 1811."

In 1812 Beyle served in the Moscow campaign, having obtained a position
in the commissariat department. It is characteristic that he should
have kept his nerve during the whole of that panic-stricken retreat,
shaving every day, and repelling with considerable sangfroid and
bravery an attack by the enemy on a hospital of wounded. Disgusted by
the Restoration, he settled in Milan in 1814, resumed his relationship
with Mme. Angelina Pietragrua, who would appear to have systematically
deceived him, and lived generally the life of the dilettante and the
man of letters.

In 1814 he published his first work, _The Lives of Haydn and Mozart_
par Louis Alexander Bombet. This pseudonym is partly due to Beyle's
habitual mania for anonymity and partly to the consciousness that
the substantial portion of the work had been coolly plagiarised from
Carpani. Nor do any morbid pangs of conscience appear to have ruffled
the serenity of the author, who found a precedent for his action in the
plagiarisms of Molière and a subsequent justification in the money that
he obtained. Emboldened indeed by his success he published in London,
in 1817, a series of travel sketches, _Rome, Naples, and Florence_,
which owed in some places an unacknowledged debt to the _Italian
Travels_ of Goethe. Yet even so, viewed as a whole the book possesses a
richness of material, a raciness of observation, a joy of journeying,
a spontaneity of verve which give it a high rank among travel
literature and make it eminently readable even at the present day.
Less a guide-book than a personal narrative, it describes the actual
life of the period as actually lived by a man who plumed himself at
thirty on still retaining all the folly of his youth. The author was an
enthusiast for the theatre, a devotee of the ballet, and a keen wagerer
of those exquisite ices which formed one of the chief allurements of
the Scala Theatre. An enthusiastic anti-clerical and an eager reader
of forbidden political plays at midnight côteries, he yet feels on
visiting the Church of the Jesuits "a little of that respect which even
the most criminal power inspires when it has done great things." And
how simply natural is the following confession of a traveller's faith:
"I experience a sensation of happiness on my journeys which I have
found nowhere else, even in the most happy days of my ambition." In the
same year, 1817, Stendhal published his _History of Painting in Italy_.
This book is remarkable, not so much by its purely æsthetic criticism
as by the application to the sphere of artistic criticism of those
theories of heredity, climate, and environment which were afterwards to
be so brilliantly exploited at the hands of Taine. Some mention should
also be made of that simplicity of lyric fervour which distinguishes
the extremely fine dedication to Napoleon.

In 1821 much to his disgust, Stendhal, accused, and apparently quite
unjustly, of being a French spy, was forced to leave Milan. This exile
was all the more irksome as Stendhal's amoristic history had now
reached its great climax. If Louason had constituted the initiation
of his youth, Mme. Daru the acme of his social achievement, and the
Countess Pietragrua the incarnate realisation of his adventurous search
for ideal beauty, it was in Mèthilde, Countess Dembowska, that his
mature heart found a passion which though always ungratified remained
none the less grand. It is instructive to observe how honest was the
love, how deep the devotion of this official rake for "une femme
que j'adorais, qui m'aimait et qui ne s'est jamais donnée a moi."
Particularly significant is it that this man, whose cynicism had gained
for him the sobriquet of Don Juan, should have condemned himself to a
three years' fidelity that thereby he might become more worthy of that
"âme angélique cachée dans un si beau corps qui quittait la vie en
1825." But it is even more interesting to notice how there mingles with
this perfectly genuine attachment the most morbid self-consciousness
and fear of ridicule:

        "Le pire des malheurs, m'écriais-je, serait que ces
        hommes si secs, mes amis au milieu desquels je vais
        vivre, devinissent ma passion pour une femme que je n'ai
        pas eue. Cette peur mille fois répétée a été dans le
        fait la principe dirigeante de ma vie pendant dix ans.
        C'est par là que je suis venu à avoir de l'esprit, chose
        qui était la butte de mes mépris à Milan en 1818 quand
        j'aimais Mèthilde."

In 1822 Stendhal published in Paris that book _De l'Amour_ which he had
composed at odd moments during his sojourn at Milan. Thought by the
author to be his most important work, and deemed worthy by the public
of a total purchase of seventeen copies, the work possesses even at the
present day considerable claims upon the attention. For it possesses
the unique characteristic of being a treatise on the sexual emotion
written by an author who was at the same time an acute psychologist
and a brilliant man of the world, who could test abstract theories by
concrete practice, and could co-ordinate what he had felt in himself
and observed in others into broad general principles. While we do not
propose to enter into a detailed analysis of this work, which occupies
more than four hundred pages of close print, we may perhaps mention the
author's fourfold division of love into "amour-passion, amour-goût,
amour physique, amour de vanité."

We would also refer to just a few of the innumerable maxims with which
the book is studded, as typical of that naïvely subtle simplicity which
is so characteristic of our author:

"L'amour c'est avoir du plaisir à voir, toucher, sentir par tous
les sens et d'aussi près que possible un objet aimable et qui nous
aime"--"l'amant erre sans cesse entre ces idées: 1. Elle a toutes les
perfections. 2. Elle m'aime. 3. Comment faire pour obtenir d'elle la
plus grande preuve d'amour possible?" "Tout l'art d'aimer se réduit,
ça me semble, à dire exactement à quels degrés d'ivresse le moment
comporte, c'est-à-dire en d'autres termes à écouter son âme."

And how curious is the following phrase where the point of view of
this cynical roué seems for once quite in accord with that of the more
ladylike of our lady novelists: "Le plus grand bonheur qui puisse
donner l'amour c'est le premier serrement de main d'une femme qu'on

But the philosophical breadth of the author is perhaps best manifested
by that spirit of comparative erotology, which induces him to analyse
the various nuances of love all over the world from Boston to
Constantinople, while he traces the connection between each particular
variation and the climate of the country and the character of the

With the habitual cleverness of his tongue exacerbated by the
misfortune of his love affair, Stendhal became a distinguished but
unpopular figure with the Parisians. Most in his element "in a salon
of eight or ten persons where all the women have had lovers, where the
conversation is gay and flavoured with anecdote, and when light punch
is served at half-past twelve," he was merciless to the philistine and
the bore, would rally with tactless truth a highly respectable lady
on her liaison with the Archbishop of Paris, and would snub unwelcome
declarations with artistic repartee.

Plunging vigorously into the controversy between the Classicism and
the Romanticists, Stendhal published in 1825 his celebrated pamphlet
_Racine and Shakespeare_, which denounced the Alexandrine as a
_cache-sottise_ and vindicated the live modernity of a present age
against the dead orthodoxy of a past generation. This little work,
rushed off in a few hours, is one of Stendhal's happiest efforts. The
style is bright with a lucid enthusiasm and sharp with a malicious
logic. How crisp for instance is the truth of the following:

"Le Viellard--'Continuons.'"

"Le jeune Homme--'Examinons.'"

"Voilà tout le dix-neuvieme siècle."

_Shakespeare and Racine_ was followed by the _Life of Rossini_, whom
Stendhal had known personally at Milan, and by _Armance_ (1827), the
first of that series of novels on which the literary fame of Stendhal
substantially rests. This work possesses all the essential Stendhalian
qualities; the vein of Byronism, the contempt for the bourgeois, the
lucid style, and above all the detailed description of what takes place
in the interior of the mind. The plot consists of the sentimental
complications resultant on the consciousness of the hero, who is one of
those souls made to feel with energy, of his natural disqualification
for efficient marriage. Yet with a subtlety which is Jamesian in
everything but the clearness of the style, the actual difficulty is
never explicitly mentioned, though every nuance of sensitiveness is
delicately delineated. And with what delicate simplicity does Stendhal
narrate the suicide of Octave, who has simply married his adored cousin
in order to leave her the prestige of a rich and honourable widowhood.
Shortly after the marriage Octave has left his wife and set sail for

"Never had Octave been so under the spell of the most tender love as
in this supreme moment. He granted to himself the luxury of telling
everything to Armance except the nature of his death. A cabin boy from
the top of the mast cried out 'land.' It was the soil of Greece and
the mountains of the Morea which were to be perceived on the horizon.
A fresh wind carried on the vessel rapidly. The name of Greece
reawakened the courage of Octave. I salute you, he said to himself,
oh land of heroes. And at midnight on the third of March, as the moon
was rising behind Mount Kalos, a self-prepared mixture of opium and
digitalis softly delivered Octave from that life of his which had been
so agitated. He was found at dawn motionless on the bridge, resting on
some cordage. A smile was on his lips, and his rare beauty struck even
the sailors charged with his burial."

Stendhal's next work was the well-known _Promenades en Rome_, an
admirable book entirely free from the taint of the conscientious
sightseer, but replete with the original observations of an acute
cosmopolitan who never shrinks from following his fancy along some
amiable digression. It was however in _Le Rouge et le Noir_, 1830,
that Stendhal gave to the world his real masterpiece. This work, which
has become since the end of the last century the revered object of the
cult of the Rougistes, among whom it is a point of honour to know the
whole book by heart, and which occupies an equal rank with that of the
_Comédie Humaine_ or _Madame Bovary_, is remarkable both by reason of
the intrinsic character of the hero and the psychological technique
with which the story is told.

The hero, like Stendhal himself, possesses a subjective and sensitive
mind, rendered tough and virile by the savage energy of the Revolution.
In fact some previous knowledge both of Stendhal's life and Stendhal's
character are requisite for the full appreciation of a book which,
in spite of the fact that the hero is not only a seducer but also an
attempted murderer, has yet some claim to be regarded as the dignified
confession of a robust faith.

Julien Sorel is the son of a carpenter in a small provincial town.
Proved guilty from his infancy of the unpardonable crime of being
different from the average child, he is harshly treated by his father.
The Napoleonic legend inflames his imagination, but he lives in the
time of the Restoration, when it is the Church and not the Army which
opens a career to the ambitious parvenu. By a stroke of fortune Julien
obtains when nineteen the post of tutor to the children of the local
mayor, M. de Rênal. Feeling acutely the degradation of his menial
position, he violently rebels against his own sensitiveness, as he
deliberately forges the natural softness of his heart into the most
brutal iron. Formulating the ideals of pride and success, he determines
to live up to them at whatever cost either to himself or others. When
consequently the charming though ordinary Mme. de Rênal begins to
manifest towards him a somewhat personal interest, he sets himself
to force the pace, as a matter neither of sensuality nor even of
politeness, but of sheer self-respect. What for instance are Julien's
feelings during the first assignation?

"Instead of being attentive to the transports which he was bringing
into existence, and to those feelings of remorse which somewhat dulled
their vivacity, the idea of his duty never ceased to be present
to his eyes. He was afraid of an awful remorse and of an eternal
stultification if he should deviate from that ideal model which he
proposed to follow." From being, however, the mere instrument of his
ethical self-discipline, Mme. de Rênal becomes the sincere object of
his romantic devotion. But the intrigue is discovered and Julien is
packed off to a theological seminary. Though a devout freethinker,
he sacrifices his beliefs to his ambition. His deviation from the
mediocre pattern renders him unpopular, but his very unpopularity
only serves to stiffen his perverse obstinacy for success. After
an agonising struggle he succeeds in winning the due of abilities,
and goes to Paris to become secretary to the Marquis de la Môle, an
influential nobleman, drawn after the model of the author's relative,
Comte Daru. He gains the confidence of his employer, which he rewards
by an intrigue with his daughter Mathilde (Mme. Daru). Here again it
is stern devotion to principle, not natural love, which is the motive.
It is in fact on purely ethical and idealistic considerations that he
goes to the nocturnal rendezvous in the same spirit that a soldier
goes to the field of battle or a martyr to the stake. And as Banti in
that variation of Hamlet's soliloquy of "To be or not to be," which we
have already considered, clinched the question by the consideration
that if he did not embrace the opportunity he would regret it all his
life, so did Julien exclaim: "Au fond il y a de la lâcheté à ne pas y
aller, ce mot décide tout." Note also the masterly delineation of the
girl herself, who, yielding originally by reason neither of her love
nor her weakness, but simply through her romantic desire to emulate
an illustrious ancestress, falls completely in love and manifests a
courage which in spite of some affectation is none the less genuine.
The Marquis de la Môle is compelled to promise to recognise Julien as
his son-in-law and procures for him a commission in the army. But now
just when the hero's ambitions are beginning to realise themselves,
Mme. de Rênal writes, under priestly instigation, a slanderous letter
to his prospective father-in-law, who withdraws his consent to the
marriage. Julien in a fit of rage shoots at Mme. de Rênal, gives
himself up, and dies "poetically" on the scaffold.

It is not surprising that in view of these facts critics lacking
in subtlety have found the character of Julien the wildest of
impossibilities, the most monstrous of distortions. It is, however, a
reasonably safe maxim to assume that those characters in novels which
are thought to be too bizarre to exist are taken from actual life. In
this case the actual framework of fact is drawn from the history of
a young student of Besançon named Berthet, while as we have already
seen his mental attitude is that of Stendhal himself. While no doubt a
villain from the ethical standpoint of a modern serial, Julien is none
the less, viewed more deeply, the Nietzschean knight-errant of energy
and efficiency, the successful pursuer of a subjective ideal, and a
perfect example of the Aristotelian virtue of _ἐγκράτεια_.
Of all the discontented young idealists of the literature of the late
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, who find themselves thrown
into collision with conventional society, the Werthers, the Renés, the
Don Juans, the Karl Moors, and the Vivian Greys, Julien Sorel is by far
the most interesting and intellectually by far the most respectable. He
has no hysterical and visionary aspirations, no mawkish Weltschmerz.
A phenomenal power of analysis renders his aim direct and simple.
He proposes to open the oyster of the world with the sword of his
intellect. _Le Rouge et le Noir_ is the tragedy of energy and ambition,
the epic of the struggle for existence.

Reverting from the emotional content of the book to its more technical
characteristics, it may be claimed that it was the first novel in the
history of European literature to portray with successful consistency
a series of characters alternately complex and simple, in a style
which, whatever might be the personal sympathies and aversions of the
author, subordinated all picturesque flourishes to his cardinal aim
of psychological truth. For on the principle that the external life
is but the mere mechanical expression of the life carried on within
the mind, Stendhal portrays his characters by describing their mental
processes. This method is of course most palpable in Julien, who lives
in a chronic state of soliloquy which fails, however, to blunt the edge
of his drastic action, and who keeps inside his brain a register which
tickets every process with the most copious annotations. But even such
comparatively simple characters as M. Rênal, the purse-proud mayor of
a petty provincial town; Mme. de Rênal, the conventionally adulterous
wife; abbé Pirard, the Jansenist priest, all think too according to
their dimmer lights and their limited intelligences, and their thoughts
also are duly recorded with scientific precision.

The same year in which _Le Rouge et le Noir_ was published, Stendhal
wrote his other great work _La Chartreuse de Parme_, which while
thought by Taine and Balzac, though not by Goethe, to have been his
masterpiece, certainly lacks the original outlook and concentrated
force of the earlier work. In this book, which describes all the
ramifying intrigues of that Italian court life which Stendhal knew and
loved so well, the rich tapestry of romance is successfully embroidered
by the needle of the psychologist. The rapid succession of adventure
is not an end in itself, but simply a means to the setting in motion
of this numerous array of characters whose cerebral interiors are so
faithfully portrayed; Fabrice del Dougo, the hero, no Ishmael of the
intellect like Julien, but a _jeune premier_ with a soul, who runs a
wild career of military ardour, amoristic extravagance, justifiable
homicide, and political persecution, only finally to fall in love with
his gaoler's daughter and die in the self-chosen exile of a Trappist
monastery; the Duchess of Sanseverina (a reincarnation of Stendhal's
mistress, Countess Pietragrua), his dashing and magnanimous aunt who
loves him with an ardour which the reader thinks must at any rate have
needed a papal dispensation; Count Mosca, the hardened minister and
man of the world who is yet capable of all the devotion of a grand
passion; his enemy, the grotesque and plebeian Raversi; the loyal
and sonneteering coachman, Ludovici; the pretty and amiable little
actress Marietta with her obstreperous lover and her avaricious duenna;
Ranuce Ernest of Parma studiously living up to his majestic rôle; and
most romantic if not most interesting of all, Clèlia Conti, with her
pathetic clash of amoristic devotion and filial duty.

In 1830 the monetary embarrassments of Stendhal forced him to leave
Paris and take up the post of consul at Trieste. The Ultramontanes,
however, with a not unnatural desire to be revenged on a man whose
attitude to the Church is well crystallised in the phrase that "the
priests were the true enemies of all civilisation," drove him from
his position, and he was transferred to Civita Vecchia where he
remained till 1835, solacing his ennui by the compilation of his
autobiography and thinking seriously of marriage with the rich and
highly respectable daughter of his laundress. Returning to Paris,
Stendhal completed _Lucien Leuwen_, that long posthumous romance of the
financial, literary, and political life of the age of Louis Philippe,
a work which, though lacking something of the high vital quality of
_La Chartreuse_ and _Le Rouge et le Noir_, does ample justice to the
encyclopædic powers of the author's observation. For here too we
trace the personal Stendhalian characteristics, the sympathy with
the isolated intellectual, the contempt for the bourgeois and the
philistine, the idealisation of an efficiency that is not always
achieved. We may perhaps give a quotation which well illustrates the
friendly malice with which this detached novelist treats even his most
favoured heroes:

"He talked for the sake of talking, he bandied the pro and the con, he
exaggerated and altered the circumstances of every story which he told,
and he told a great many and at great length. In a word he talked like
a young man of parts from the provinces; and consequently his success
was immense."

And how neat in the subtle simplicity of its irony is the following:

"He was received in this house with that stiffness resulting from
baulked hopes of matrimony which has the knack of making itself felt in
such a variety of ways and in so amiable a manner in a family composed
of six young ladies who are particularly pretty."

Returning to Paris, Stendhal commenced in 1838 the last of his novels,
the posthumous and unfinished _Lamiel_. Influenced, though by no means
discouraged by the lack of success of his other novels, he determined
to write "in a wittier style on a more intelligible subject," and
with regard to each incident to ask himself the question, "Should it
be described philosophically or described narratively according to
the doctrine of Ariosto?" Hence Lamiel, the most fascinating feminine
character in the whole of the Stendhalian literature. For Lamiel is a
young woman possessed simultaneously of a brisk intellectual honesty,
a lively humour, a charming _naïveté,_ and a Nietzschean outlook on
a tumultuous world. "Her character was based on a profound disgust
for pusillanimity," and "where there was no danger there she found no
pleasure." The whole book is crisp with the true comic spirit. The
scene in particular in which Lamiel purchases her first lesson in the
essential element of human knowledge, as a mere matter of intellectual
curiosity, is a masterpiece of racy delicacy. Yet acuteness of
psychology is never sacrificed to airiness of style. Sansfin the
malicious hump-backed doctor, Comte D'Aubigné Nerwinde the snob, "a
serious, prudent, and melancholy paragon always preoccupied with public
opinion," the plebeian parents of Lamiel, the pompous duchess, the
conventional young lord, are all portrayed with a delightful malice
whose satire is never too extravagant to be otherwise than convincing.

But it is Lamiel herself who dominates the book, Lamiel with that
mixture of high flippancy and deep seriousness which is so essentially
attractive, ever developing fresh phases in response to her repeated
change of environment, yet ever retaining a fundamental consistency
with her original character. It can only be regretted that Stendhal
should have left unfinished what might well have been possibly the
greatest, and certainly the most amusing of all his novels, and that
having traced the adventures of his heroine from her plebeian origin to
the aristocratic château, and from the aristocratic château to Paris,
he should finally leave her floating jauntily amid all the rich welter
of Parisian life with only a synopsis of those subsequent experiences
which if undergone would have entitled her to rank as one of the most
truly romantic characters in the whole of fiction.

In 1842, Stendhal, with his physical and intellectual faculties still
unimpaired, died suddenly at the age of fifty-nine. Like his hero
Julien, he was "game" to the last, and "I have struck nothingness" was
his self-given substitute for the more orthodox viaticum.

In endeavouring to adjudicate finally the value of Stendhal, it is
difficult not to yield to the fascination of his cock-sure prophecy of
his eventual fame. For as Stendhal the man, in his autobiographical
writings, _La Vie de Henri Brulard, Le Journal_, and _Souvenirs
d'Egotisme_, would project his ego some years forward and as it
were shake hands with himself across the gulf of time, so, one can
almost say, Stendhal, the incarnation of the early nineteenth-century
Zeitgeist, with his genial greeting, "Je serai compris vers 1880,"
shakes hands with those modern men of the world who rightly or wrongly
have imagined themselves to be incarnations of the Zeitgeist of the
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as they look back with
appreciative camaraderie at this earlier manifestation of their own
selves. And this no doubt is why Stendhal, viewed of course with a not
unnatural Ultramontane frigidity by such critics as Sainte-Beuve or
Émile Faguet, has become the spoilt darling of Nietzsche, Taine, and
Bourget, and indeed all the more intellectual spirits in modern French
and German literature.

The life of Stendhal no doubt may not have been as ideally satisfactory
as his theories may have warranted. A man, who professed to find his
chief interest in life in the erotic emotion, he played as often as
not the rôle of the unhappy lover. His spasmodic fits of political and
military ambition spluttered out in the self-complacent consciousness
of their own intensity. He suffered throughout his life from being a
dilettante with a financial competence. Yet it is no small achievement
to have chased happiness so consistently and with so male an energy, to
have kept unjaded to the last his intellectual gusto and the appetite
of his _joie de vivre_, and to have been the first man in European
literature to have put into efficient practice, without thereby in
any way detracting from the clearness of his own personal note, the
important principle that the elaborate delineation of character is even
more the function of the novel than adventurous action or picturesque
description. And so it is that we entitle Stendhal the patentee of
psychology, the inventor of introspection, and take our leave of him
with his own epitaph:

                Qui giace
            isse, scrisse, amo.


Heine seems, viewed superficially, the most baffling, elusive, and
inconsistent of all writers, the veritable Proteus of poetry. He has
so many shapes, that at the first blush it seems almost impossible to
grasp finally and definitely the one genuine Heine. What is really
this man who is now a gamin and now an angel, whose face seems almost
simultaneously to wear the sardonic grin of a Mephistopheles and the
wistful smile of a Christ, this flaunting Bohemian who has written
some of the tenderest love songs in literature, this cosmopolitan who
cherished the deepest feelings for his fatherland, this incarnate
paradox who almost at one and the same moment is swashbuckler and
martyr, French and German, Hebrew and Greek, revolutionary and
aristocrat, optimist and pessimist, idealist and mocker, believer and

Yet it is even because of this surface inconsistency, this
psychological many-sidedness that Heine is a great poet and the one
who, mirroring in his own mind the complexity that he saw without, is
typically representative of the varied phases of the early nineteenth
century. Heine looks at life from every conceivable aspect: he sees
the gladness of life and rejoices therein; he sees the tears of life
and weeps; he sees the tragedy of life and cannot control his sobs; he
sees the farce of life and finds equal difficulty in controlling his
laughter. "Ah, dear reader," says Heine, "if you want to complain that
the poet is torn both ways, complain rather that the world is torn in
two. The poet's heart is the core of the world, and in this present
time it must of necessity be grievously rent. The great world-rift
clove right through my heart, and even thereby do I know that the great
gods have given me of their grace and preference and deemed me worthy
of the poet's martyrdom."

The first half of the nineteenth century, in fact, in which Heine
lived, is, like any transition period, disturbed, unsettled,
paradoxical. The most diverse tendencies boil and bubble together
in the crucible; the Revolution and the Reaction, Romanticism and
Hellenism, materialism and mysticism, democracy and aristocracy, poetry
and science, all ferment apace in the psychological Witches' Cauldron
of the age.

Heine simply represented the illusions and disillusions of this age, or
to put it with greater precision, he represented the clash and contrast
between these illusions and disillusions. To arrive then at a correct
appreciation of Heine it will be necessary to glance first at the main
currents of the contemporary events, the political movements of the
Revolution and the Reaction, and the literary movements of Romanticism
and Æstheticism.

All these currents flow either directly or indirectly from the French
Revolution. To the more sanguine and poetical minds of the time the
Revolution had manifested itself as a species of Armageddon, a gigantic
cataclysm, which, sweeping away all existing institutions with one
great shock, was to leave to mankind an untrammelled existence of
natural and idyllic perfection. These dreamers were destined to be
rudely disappointed. The Holy Alliance temporarily suppressed the
Revolution at Waterloo, and an efficient Reaction reigned both in
France and in Germany. A great religious revival set in in Prussia,
culminating in the Concordat with the Pope in 1821. The Press was
gagged by a rigid censorship, while the students at the universities
were subjected to the most rigorous police espionage. From the point of
view of the German idealists who hoped for liberty and progress, the
Revolution had ended in the most dismal of fiascos.

Parallel with the Revolution ran Romanticism, which eventually
merged in orthodoxy, or, to put it more accurately, in a mystical
Catholicism. The cardinal characteristic of Romanticism was the
revolt of the individual against the stereotyped prosaic life of the
classical eighteenth century. This revolt manifested itself in the
most untrammelled freedom of the ego, which either took to rioting in
an elaborate self-analysis, as did Hofmann and Jean Paul Richter, or
else simply abandoning ordinary life gave itself up to the cult of
the bizarre, the mystic, the mediæval, and the exotic, and fell in
love with the Infinite, or, to use the terminology of the school, the
Blue Flower. Though, however, Heine was in his poetic youth largely
influenced by the Romanticists (he was, in fact, dubbed by a Frenchman
with tolerable reason an "unfrocked Romantic"), the essence of his
maturer outlook on life is far from being romantic. The life-outlook of
the Romanticists consisted in a vague yearning for the ideal without
any reference to this earthly life; the life-outlook of Heine on the
other hand was made up largely of the almost brutal contrast between
the ideal and the real, between life as it was dreamed and life as it
actually was.

Another current of thought which it is necessary to mention, though
of course it exercised rather less influence on Heine than did
Romanticism, was the æsthetic neo-Hellenic movement represented by
Winckelmann, Lessing, and to a certain extent by Goethe.

Heine, however, though a lover of the beautiful, lacked almost entirely
the plastic genius and marble serenity of Hellas, and is, as will be
shown later, only a Greek in the exuberance of his _joie de vivre._
To summarise then the main tendencies of the age in which Heine was
born, we can see these four distinct currents--the glorious ideals of
the French Revolution, the official reaction against these ideals, the
cult of the bizarre and the infinite yearning of Romanticism, and the
Hellenism of the æsthetic movement. Let us now turn to the poet's life,
and examine the part played by environment, race, and parentage in
moulding his character.

Heine was born in Düsseldorf on December 1797, and not as is currently
supposed in 1799.

The Catholic Rhineland, in which Düsseldorf is situated, rebelled more
than almost any other district in Germany against the despotism of the
Prussian bureaucracy; it possessed an almost southern _joie de vivre_,
and only naturally exhibited a distinct inclination to the Catholicism
of the Romanticists, all of which characteristics in a greater or less
degree are to be found in Heine.

Further, Heine was a Jew, possessing, in consequence, an hereditary
tendency to gravitate to the extreme left wing both of thought and of
politics, while the inborn _Judenschmerz_ in his heart was aggravated
by the anti-Semitic reaction which followed the benevolent tolerance of

The poet's father, Samson Heine, was an easy-going, æsthetic nonentity
in moderate circumstances, who does not appear to have exercised any
serious influence on the child's development. This was accomplished by
the mother, _née_ von Geldern, a cultured and strong-minded woman, and
a Voltairean by belief, who did her best to foster and stimulate her
son's youthful intelligence. The favourite authors of the young Heine
were Cervantes, Sterne, and Swift. Of contemporaries, the two men who
exercised any real influence were the Emperor Napoleon, and Byron, "the
kingly man" and the aristocratic revolutionary. Napoleon in particular
was the god of his boyish adoration. This Napoleonic enthusiasm was
largely fostered by Heine's friendship with a grenadier drummer of the
French army named Le Grand, while it reached its climax when he beheld
with his own eyes the beatific vision of the Emperor himself riding on
his beautiful white palfrey through the Hofgarten Allee at Düsseldorf,
in splendid defiance of the police regulations, which forbade such
riding under a penalty of five thalers.

This worship of the Emperor, moreover, resulted in the wonderful poem
called "The Grenadiers," written at the age of eighteen. The swing and
power of the poem have made it classic, especially the great final
stanza beginning:

    "Denn reitet mein Kaiser wohl über mein Grab."

Heine received his early education at a Jesuit monastery. The first
event of any moment in his life, however, is his calf-love for Josepha,
or Sefchen, the executioner's daughter, a weird fantastic beauty of
fifteen, with large dark eyes and blood-red hair. Josepha was the
inspiration of the juvenile _Dream Pictures_ incorporated subsequently
in the _Book of Songs_, and exhibiting a genuine power and an even more
genuine promise.

In 1816 Heine was sent into the office of Solomon Heine, his
millionaire uncle of Hamburg.

He seems to have been singularly destitute of the financial genius of
his race, and the business career proved from the outset a fiasco. The
real key, however, to the three years spent in Hamburg is supplied not
by Money, but by Love. Having served his apprenticeship in Düsseldorf
with his calf-attachment to the executioner's daughter, Heine proceeded
straightway to a _grande passion_ for his uncle's pretty daughter
Amalie. His love was not reciprocated, and in 1821 the beauteous Amalie
married a wealthy landowner of Königsberg. This Amalie incident was one
of the most important in Heine's life, and is largely responsible for
his early cynicism. He was disillusioned with a vengeance, and could
now with his own eyes inspect the flimsy material of which "Love's
Young Dream" is wove. Though, however, a great personal blow, this
abortive passion is also to be regarded as an invaluable æsthetic
asset. The poet of necessity is bound to write of his own personal
impressions and experiences; and it is obvious that the intenser are
these experiences, the more vital will be his poetry. If Heine's love
for Amalie was the accursed flame that seared his soul, it was also the
sacred fire that kindled his inspiration, and it is to Amalie that we
owe not only a great part of the _Book of Songs_, but also much which
is characteristic of Heine's subsequent life-outlook.

In 1819, probably because Heine had given convincing proofs of his
business inefficiency, it was decided that he should go to Bonn to
study law. He neglected his studies, and it was not long before he fell
foul of the authorities, owing to his anticipation in the proceedings
of the Burschenschaften or student political unions.

In 1820 Heine left Bonn for Göttingen. At Göttingen his career was
brief but thrilling, and he was rusticated after a few months on
account of a proposed duel with an impertinent _junker_.

Transferring his quarters to Berlin, he now spent by far the most
enjoyable period of his university career. The intellectual atmosphere
of Berlin was quicker and less pedantic than that of Göttingen, and he
plunged into his studies with considerable energy.

In 1821 Heine published the first volume of his poems, containing the
_Dream Pictures_, some miscellaneous juvenile poems, and the _Lyrisches
Intermezzo,_ which was inspired by the banker's, in the same way that
the _Dream Pictures_ had been inspired by the executioner's, daughter.

The book was an immediate success, how great may be gauged by the
numerous parodies and imitations which it almost instantaneously
evoked. It was at this period that he wrote the two romantic tragedies
of _Ratcliff_ and _Almansor_. Both failures and devoid of much merit,
they served none the less useful purpose of advertising his fame.

In 1823 we see an echo of his passion for Amalie in his love for his
younger cousin Therese, who seems in many respects to have been a
replica of her elder sister. Therese, however, refused to be anything
more than a cousin to him, and his heart was still further embittered
as is shown by the poem:

      "Wer zum erstenmale liebt
      Sei's auch glücklos ist ein Gott
      Aber wer zum zweitenmale
      Glücklos liebt, er ist ein Narr
      Ich, ein solcher Narr, ich liebe
      Wieder ohne Gegenliebe;
      Sonne, Mond und Sterne lachen
      Und ich lache mit und sterbe."

In 1824 he decided to prosecute his studies for his doctorial degree
with greater seriousness, and leaving behind him the distractions
of the capital, went back once more to the more staid and prosaic

Heine intended not merely to take a degree for the sake of ornament,
but also to practise seriously as a lawyer. How serious were these
intentions may be seen from the fact that he went to the length of
paying in advance the heavy entrance fee which the legal profession
then exacted from Jews, and became baptized "as a Protestant and a
Lutheran to boot" on June 28, 1825.

Heine's conversion has frequently been criticised with superfluous
harshness. Let him, however, explain his position for himself:

       "At that time I myself was still a god, and none of the
       positive religions had more value for me than another; I
       could only wear their uniforms as a matter of courtesy,
       on the same principle that the Emperor of Russia dresses
       himself up as an officer of the Prussian Guard when he
       honours his imperial cousin with a visit to Potsdam."

After all, his apostasy brought with it its own punishment, not only
in its deep-felt shame, but in the fact that he eventually threw up
law for literature, and thus rendered so great a sacrifice of racial
loyalty and his own self-respect consummately futile. After selling
his birthright he found that he had absolutely no use for the mess of
pottage which he had purchased.

In the summer of 1825, Heine, having just succeeded in passing his
degree, proceeded to the little island of Norderney, off the coast of
Holland, to recuperate. Living ardently the simple life and indulging
to the full his passion for the sea, he now wrote not only the second
part of the _Reisebilder,_ entitled _Norderney_, but the far greater
_Nordsee Cyklus,_ which in its irregular swinging metre expresses with
such marvellous efficiency the whole roar and grandeur of the ocean.
Speaking generally, of course, Heine was too subjective to be a real
nature poet. No writer, it is true, fills up so freely and with so
fantastic an elegance the blank cheques of nightingales and violets,
lilies and roses, stars and moonshine, yet none the less these rather
served to grace his measure than as his real flame. His one genuine
love was the sea. With the sea he felt a deep psychological affinity.
The sea was the symbol of his own infinite restlessness, of his own
divine discontent, and mirrored in the sea's ever-changing waters he
beheld the incessant smiles and storms of his own soul.

        "I love the sea, even as my own soul," he writes. "Often
        do I fancy that the sea is in truth my very soul; and
        as in the sea there are hidden water-plants that only
        swim up to the surface at the moment of their bloom and
        sink down again at the moment of their decay, even so
        do wondrous flower-pictures swim up out of the depths
        of my soul, spread their light and fragrance, and again

In 1826 Heine published the _Heimkehr_, the _Nordsee Cyklus_, the airy
and sparkling _Harzreise_, and the first part of the _Reisebilder_.

From Norderney Heine moved to Hamburg, avowedly to practise, though
it does not appear that he took his profession with much seriousness.
At any rate, until 1831, when he migrated to Paris, his career is
excessively erratic. At one moment he is paying a flying visit to
England, "the land of roast beef and Yorkshire plum-pudding, where
the machines behave like men and the men like machines"; at another
he is on the staff of the _Allgemeinen Politischen Annalen_ and the
_Morgenblatt_ of Munich; he is now in Hamburg, now in Frankfurt, and
now in Italy, where his sojourn inspired the racy and brilliant _Italy_
and _Baths of Lucca_, both of which works obtained the gratuitous and
well-merited state advertisement of prohibition, and achieved a most
undeniable _succès de scandale_.

The departure to Paris marks an entirely new epoch in Heine's life, and
offers a convenient stopping-place at which to give some account of his
early poetry and prose, as exemplified in the _Book of Songs_, which
was published in 1827, and the _Reisebilder_, the last part of which,
the _Baths of Lucca_, was published in 1831.

Though neither the _Book of Songs_ nor the _Reisebilder_ is as great
or as characteristic as the _Romanzero_ and _Poetische Nachlese_ on
the one hand, or the _Salon_ on the other, they are yet by far the
most popular of his works and contain some of his most delightful
writing. One of the first traits that strikes us in the _Book of
Songs_ is the Romantic tendency to bizarre and exotic themes. In the
_Junge Leiden_ and _Lyrisches Intermezzo_ in particular we move in a
ghostly atmosphere of apparitions, sea-maidens, skeletons, and midnight
churchyards. Another interesting characteristic of these poems is his
deep love of the East, a love which is to be probably ascribed more to
the general eastward gravitation of the Romantic school than to the
poet's Oriental blood. This tendency is responsible for two of the most
charming poems in the book, the exquisite lyric starting:

    "Auf Flügeln des Gesanges
    Herzliebchen trag ich dich fort
    Fort nach den Fluren des Ganges
    Dort weiss ich den schönsten Ort."

    "Dort liegt ein rotblühender Garten
    Im stillen Mondenschein;
    Die Lotosblumen erwarten
    Ihr trautes Schwesterlein."


    "Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam
    Im Norden auf kabler Höh',
    Ihn schläfert; mit weisser Decke
    Umhüllen ihn Eis und Schnee.
    Er traumt von einer Palme,
    Die fern im Morgenland
    Einsam und schweigend trauert
    Auf brennender Felsenwand."

This latter poem in particular illustrates admirably the vague melting,
infinite yearning which Heine at first experienced as deeply as did any
of the Romanticists. There are not wanting, however, and especially
towards the end of the book, examples of his later manner, of that note
of rebellion which he was afterwards to strike with such inimitable
precision. Occasionally his wistful pessimism suddenly changes into
cynicism, and in reaction from his morbid sensitiveness he derives a
sardonic satisfaction from probing his own wounds as in the already
quoted "Wer zum erstenmale liebt," while in the mock-heroic _Donna
Clara_ and in the _Frieden_ we see that artistic use of the anti-climax
of which he was afterwards to acquire an even greater mastery. Even in
the comparatively early _Lyrisches Intermezzo_ we see him constantly
playing on that contrast between the Real and the Ideal, between Dream
Life and Waking Life, which formed so integral a part of his subsequent
life-outlook. Speaking generally, however, the _Book of Songs_ exhibits
the sentimental rather than the cynical side of Heine's mind. It
possesses moreover those qualities which remained in Heine throughout
his life, the light, airy touch, the intimate personal note, the
delicate lyric sweetness, and that concision which is found in poetry
with such extreme rarity.

Let us turn now to the _Reisebilder_. Its most dominant characteristics
are its inimitable swing and the absolute irresponsibility of its
transitions. The grave, the gay; the lively, the severe; the sublime,
the ridiculous; the reverent, the frivolous; the refined, the crude;
the poetic, the obscene, all jostle pell-mell against each other
in this most fascinating of literary kaleidoscopes. It is no mere
guide-book, this record of his wanderings in the Harz, in Norderney, in
England, and in Italy, but rather a description of those reflections
on men and things which were suggested by his various adventures. In
style the _Reisebilder_ marks a new epoch in German prose, or, as has
been said, showed for the first time since Lessing and Goethe that such
a thing as German prose really did exist. Heine was the first to show
convincingly that a Gallic grace and flexibility could be imparted into
the cumbrous and heavy-footed Teutonic language.

Psychologically the most interesting part of the _Reisebilder_ is the
fervent Napoleonic worship which, combined with his love of liberty and
revolt against reaction, largely contributed to mould his life. The
general tone, moreover, of political, sexual, and religious freedom
that characterises the latter part of the _Reisebilder_ rendered
Heine not a little obnoxious to official Germany, not only because of
the intrinsic heresy of the sentiments themselves, but of the joyous
rollicking insolence with which they were paraded.

It is small wonder, then, that the Paris July Revolution of 1830 made
the poet feel "as if he could set the whole ocean up to the very North
Pole on fire with the red-heat of enthusiasm and mad joy that worked in
him," and that in the spring of 1831 he migrated finally and definitely
from Germany to Paris.

This migration to Paris marks the turning-point in Heine's life. His
career in Germany had throughout been erratic, unsatisfactory, and
hampered by political restrictions. In Paris he settled down, felt
that now at last he was in a congenial element, and--found himself.
It was at Paris that he wrote his most brilliant prose and found
inspiration for his highest poetry, that he experienced his wildest
joys and his intensest sufferings. The first ten years of his sojourn
were probably the happiest in his life. His increased literary and
journalistic earnings helped to solve the financial problem, while
socially he was, as always, a pronounced success. He soon found his
way into the centre of the artistic set of the capital, and was on a
footing of intimacy with such writers as Lafayette, Balzac, Victor
Hugo, Georges Sand, Théophile Gautier, Michelet, Dumas, Gérard de
Nerval, Hector Berlioz, Ludwig Borne, Schlegel, and Humboldt. In
social life Heine's most characteristic feature was wit--a wit so
irrepressible as to burst forth impartially on practically all
occasions, and to resemble that of the Romans of the early Empire,
who preferred to lose their heads rather than their epigrams. Yet
in private life he was a devoted son and brother, an ideal husband.
The correspondence which he maintained up to his death with his
sister Lotte and his mother show conclusively what stores of German
_Gemut_ he treasured in his heart. Particularly significant is the
fact that during the whole eight years in which he languished in his
mattress-grave he assiduously concealed from his mother the real state
of his health. Yet none the less "he could hate deeply and grimly
with an energy which I have never yet met in any other man, but only
because he could love with equal intensity," writes the poet's friend,
Meissner. Heine disapproved on principle of swallowing an injury; when
he was hit, he hit back. Not infrequently, as in his rather scandalous
attack on Börne, he would _riposte_ with somewhat superfluous
efficiency, though according to his own theories it must have been
after all only a mistake on the safe side.

"Yes," writes Heine, "one must forgive one's enemies, but not until
they have been hanged."

Heine's quarrel with Börne originally arose out of the abomination with
which Börne, who was Radical to the point of fanaticism, regarded the
somewhat poetic and elastic Liberalism of his fellow-Jew, and it is
instructive to enter into an examination of the depth and strength of
those views which supplied the real motive power which drove him from
Germany to France. There can be no doubt that Heine himself took his
Liberalism with perfect seriousness. "In truth I know not," he writes,
"if I merit that my coffin should be decorated with a laurel wreath.
However much I loved Poesy, she was ever to me only a holy toy or a
consecrated means for heavenly ends. It is rather a sword that they
should lay on my coffin, for I was a brave soldier in the Liberation
War of Humanity." It should be observed, however, that this Liberal had
the most aristocratic contempt for the uncultured _δημος_,
as is shown by passages such as the following: "The horny hands of the
Socialists who will unpityingly break all the marble statues which are
so dear to my heart"; and, "If Democracy really triumphs, it is all up
with poetry."

Yet there can be no gainsaying that Heine's political orthodoxy was
perfectly unimpeachable on that anti-clericalism which has always been
one of the most cardinal points of Continental Liberalism.

He is rarely tired of tilting at Catholicism, and while he regarded
ascetic mediæval Catholicism as the vampire which sucked the blood
and light out of the hearts of men, he dubbed the modern Catholic
reactionaries in Germany "the Party of lies, the ruffians of
Despotism, the restorers of all the folly and abomination of the Past."

Yet, if his beliefs were too wide to admit of the narrowness of a
consistent partisanship, his enthusiasm was deep and sincere for the
joy, light, and liberty of a new era that was to sweep away all the
unhealthy and plaguy humours of that blind, delirious, and anæmic
mediævaldom, which, to use his own phrase, has spread over the
countries like an infectious disease, till Europe was but one huge
hospital. Politically, in fine, Heine is a brilliant freelance, who,
too proud to wear the uniform of party, none the less fought valiantly
for the army of Progress and Humanity, a forlorn outpost in the War of

Heine's polemical modernity manifested itself most efficiently in
the _Deutschland_, which, together with its sequel, _The Romantic
School_, was issued as a counter-blast to Madame de Staël's work of the
same name. This history of the religion, literature, and philosophy
of Germany is the masterpiece of Heine's extant prose. An academic
philosophic treatise, of course, it neither is nor professes to be.
As a description half-serious, half-flippant, however, of the main
currents of modern and mediæval Germany by a writer who sees life from
the bird's-eye view of the combined poet, journalist, thinker, and man
of the world, it is unrivalled. It contains some of Heine's loftiest
and most sublime flights, some of his most brilliant and trenchant

Particularly happy is the comparison drawn between the furious
onslaughts made by the French Revolutionists under Robespierre and the
German philosophers under Kant on respectively the divine rights of
kings and the divine rights of God.

How delicious is the conclusion of the parallel between the two men:
"Each eminently represents the ideal middle-class type--Nature had
decreed that they should weigh out coffee and sugar, but Fate willed
that they should weigh out other things, and in the scales of the one
did she lay a King and in the scales of the other a God....

"And they both gave exact weight."

As, however, has been previously pointed out, Heine's chief
characteristic as a prose writer is that marvellous elasticity which
can rebound from the frivolous to the sublime with the most consummate
ease and celerity. Interspersed with the bright flash-light of the
epigrammatic pyrotechnics lie really great passages, and pieces in
particular like those on Luther and Goethe possess the clear golden
ring of the grand style.

Heine's political ideals were subjected to the inevitable
disillusionment. The Revolution of July, which he had fondly hoped
would complete the work of the great movement of 1793, merely resulted
in the anti-climax of the establishment of a bourgeois constitution
under a bourgeois monarch. He tended to become generally embittered.
Money matters, too, began to irritate him, and his health to give
him trouble, and though he found a devoted sick-nurse in Matilde
Crescenzia Mirat, a grisette whom he married in 1841, the lady with
whom "he quarrelled daily for six years in that life-long duel at
the termination of which only one of the combatants would be left
alive," yet none the less his condition began to deteriorate. "The
damp cold days and black long nights of his exile" oppressed him, and
he began to yearn for the old German soil. He gratified his _Heimweh_
by a flying and surreptitious visit to Germany that inspired the
well-known _Germany_ or a _Winter Tale_, which, together with the
somewhat similar _Atta Troll_, constitutes his most sustained poetic
achievement. These two poems are about as characteristic as anything
which he wrote. They represent admirably his wild classic Dionysiac
fantasy, his sudden dips from the most extravagant Romanticism to the
harsh, crude facts of reality, the marvellous swing and sweep of his
Aristophanic humour.

Very typical is the following satire on the intimate relation between
anthropo- and arctomorphism.

    "Up above in star-pavilion,
    On his golden throne of lordship,
    Ruling worlds with sway majestic,
    Sits a Polar bear colossal."

    "Stainless, snow-white shines the glamour
    Of his skin, his head is wreathed
    With a diadem of diamonds,
    Flashing light through all the heavens."

    "Harmony rests in his visage,
    And the silent deeds of thought,
    Just a whit he bends his sceptre,
    And the spheres they ring and sing."

The above quotation shows excellently the essentially poetic quality
by which Heine's wit is illumined. A satirist as keen and vivid as
Voltaire, he possesses all the logical aptness of the Frenchman without
his dryness. His chief characteristic, in fact, is the method by which
in his imaginative flights he combines the maximum of this logical
aptness with the maximum of humorous incongruity. No humorist dives
for his metaphors into stranger water or brings up from the deep more
bizarre and fantastic gems. A charming example of Heinean humour is
the following passage from one of his prefaces: "A pious Quaker once
sacrificed his whole fortune in buying up the most beautiful of the
mythological pictures of Giulio Romano in order to consign them to the
flames--verily he merits thereby to go to heaven and be whipped with
birches regularly every day."

One of the most cardinal traits of Heine's wit and humour is a
phenomenal freedom of tone and language, a freedom that is occasionally
not always in the most unimpeachable taste. Heine, in fact, is a
writer who admits the public gratis to his psychological toilette,
where he exposes with studied recklessness his most private thoughts.
This question cuts too deep into Heine's life-outlook to be lightly
passed over, and necessitates some examination. In the first place
even Heine's most enthusiastic admirer will admit that a great deal of
this licence is sheer gaminerie; Heine is the mischievous schoolboy
of literature who thoroughly revels in being naughty, grimacing by an
almost mechanical instinct, so soon as he catches a glimpse of the
sacred figures of religion and sex. Like Baudelaire, he loves, almost
indeed as a matter of conscientious principle, to make the hairs of
the philistines stand on end. His one excuse, however, is that even
when he causes the hairs of the philistines almost to spring from their
roots, as indeed he does not infrequently, he conducts the operation
with so light a touch, so exquisite a grace, that the offence is almost
redeemed. Let him speak in his own defence, in the lines from the great
Jewish poem, "Jehudah Halevy":

    "As in Life so too in poetry
    Grace is aye Man's highest Good;
    Who has grace, he never sinneth
    Not in verse nor e'en in prose."

    "And by God's grace such a poet
    Genius we do entitle,
    King supreme and uncontrolled
    In the great desmesne of thought."

Not unnaturally his coarseness grew apace with the virulence of his
disease, and he himself explains his cause to his friend "La Mouche":
"Vois-tu c'est la faute de la mort qui arrive à grands pas, et quand
je la sens ainsi tout près de moi comme à present j'ai besoin de me
cramponner la vie ne fût ce par une poutre pourrie." This final phase
in fact was simply a reaction against his fate, and is not altogether
without analogy to that same psychological principle which dictated
much of the crude buffoonery of Swift and Carlyle by way of an heroic
protest against their own helplessness.

Far more important, however, is the fact that this particular trait
of Heine is profoundly symbolic of his outlook on life, especially
where an obscene jest marks the climax of a genuinely poetical flight.
Circumstance turned him into a cynic, who saw frequently in Liberty but
the uprising of a squalid proletariate, who heard in the "sweet lies
of the nightingale, the flatterer of spring," merely the "harbingers
of the decay of its queenliness," and who beheld in love but a mere
illusion of the senses that vanishes so soon as the beloved one utters
a syllable. Held fast in the grip of the great World-paradox, Heine
is forced to look at life as a glaring phantasmagoria of blacks and
whites, in which the sublime and the ridiculous, the pathetic and the
grotesque, the refined and the crude, dance along hand in hand till
they become so confused that it is impossible for the observer to
distinguish the individual partners, and he is reduced to describing,
in pairs, the giddy, whirling couples that make up the fantastic medley.

This incessant antithesis makes Heine one of the most complete of
modern writers.

The poet's world is composed of two hemispheres: one is the abode of
the beautiful, the grand, the tragic; the other of the ugly, the petty,
the comic. Most poets confine their efforts to only a small portion
of one of these hemispheres. Heine, however, is the Atlas of poetry,
who supports both of the half-spheres of the world, and who, by way of
proving how easily his burden sits upon him, suddenly turns juggler,
and after showing his audience one side of the magic globe, will, _hey
presto_! whisk the whole world round, and before they know where they
are smilingly confront them with the other.

In 1848 the spinal affection from which he suffered became so acute
that Heine was compelled to take to that mattress-grave where,
paralytic and half-blind and racked intermittently by the most
agonising spasms, he dragged out the eight most ghastly years of his
life. At first the death-chamber was one of the favourite rendezvous
of fashionable Paris, but as the novelty wore off, his circle of
friends grew narrower and narrower, until eventually a visit from
Berlioz seemed only the crowning proof of the musician's inveterate

Heine, however, rose manfully to the occasion, and did all that
he could under the circumstances. Always a passionate lover of
the paradoxical, he now began to appreciate with an intense and
unprecedented relish the infinite humour of the great Life-farce, one
of the most effective scenes of which was even now being enacted in the
person of the poet of _joie de vivre_, who, enduring all the agonies of
the damned, lay dying in La Rue d'Amsterdam to the quick music of the
piano on the story underneath, while only a few feet away shone all the
glow and glitter of Parisian life.

The chief occupation and solace of the dying man was the writing of his
Memoirs, the great _Apologia pro vitâ suâ_ which was to square his
accounts with the world, and win for him the future as his own.

Yet at times the greatness of his sufferings would soften his heart.
He would find in the Bible the magic book which had power to dispel
his earthly torments; the "_Heimweh_ for heaven" would fall upon him,
and again would he know his God. It would seem, however, that Heine's
death-bed reconversion is simply to be regarded as one of the numerous
instances of the Prince of Darkness exhibiting monastic proclivities
under the stress of severe physical _malaise_. For eight years Heine
lay a-dying, and with the skeleton of Death assiduously serving the
few bitter crumbs that yet remained of his feast of life, he was, as a
simple matter of pathology, almost bound to believe once more, even if
he had been the most hardened infidel in existence. Heine, however, was
no cynical atheist. The current religions, it is true, he considered
pretty poetry, but bad logic, yet none the less he was genuinely imbued
with the ethical idea.

"I am too proud," he writes, "to be influenced by greed for the
heavenly wages of virtue or by fear of hellish torments. I strive after
the good because it is beautiful and attracts me irresistibly, and I
abominate the bad because it is hateful and repugnant to me."

What, in fact, served Heine in the stead of a theology was his fervid
enthusiasm for Progress and Humanity. His real religion was the
religion of Freedom, the religion of the poor people, the new creed
of which Jean Rousseau was the John the Baptist and Voltaire the
chief apostle; Heine's Madonna was the red goddess of Revolution, who
exacted from her worshippers innumerable hecatombs of human victims;
the Man-god whom he revered as the Saviour of Society was Napoleon,
the Son of the Revolution, the drastic reorganiser of the world, who,
unappreciated by the pharisees and reactionaries of his time, and
finding his Golgotha on the "martyr-cliffs of St. Helena," endured for
more than five years all the agonies of a moral crucifixion; while to
complete our version of the Heinesque theology, his _Heilige Geist_
was the Holy Spirit of the Human Intellect which he says "is seen in
its greatest glory in Light and Laughter," and the Revelation which
inspired him most deeply was, to use once more his own phrase, "the
sacred mystic Revelation that we name poesy."

It is interesting to trace the influence of these last ghastly years
on Heine's writings. His almost complete physical prostration brought
with it its own compensation in the shape of a marvellous psychic
exaltation, and the _Romanzero_ and the _Poetische Nachlese_ contain
some of his greatest and most moving poems. Nowhere do we see more
clearly his most characteristic excellences, his delicacy, his power of
antithesis, his concision.

It is Heine's compression, in fact, which is one of the most pronounced
features of his poetic style. The whole quintessence of joy and pain,
of love and sorrow, is frequently distilled into one short poem. This
Heinesque condensation is a variant of the same theory that can be
traced in the old Impressionist school of painters which is concerned
with the outline and the proper light and shading of the outline to the
exclusion of minor details, and in the journalistic cult of the "story"
in which the ideal aimed at is "the point, the whole point, and nothing
but the point." Heine, in fact, is unique among the poets for narrating
a tale with the minimum of space and the maximum of effect, for
narrating it in such a way that each line serves to heighten the level
of intensity, till at length the edifice is crowned by the climax. This
feature of his style is well illustrated by the end of the frequently
quoted poem, "The Asra," in the _Romanzero_:

    "And the slave spake, I am called
    Mohammed, I am from Yemen,
    And my stock is from those Asras,
    _They who die whene'er they love_."

Though, moreover, he protested to the last against his fate, his tone
in the _Romanzero_ and the earlier _Poetische Nachlese_ is more mellow
than in his earlier writings. His cry from the heart is not the cry
of defiance but rather of the pathetic wistfulness of impotence. Yet
before the candle of his life became extinguished it leapt up in one
final flicker, the most marvellous of all. A characteristic caprice
of fate made him acquainted during the last months of his life with
his one true soul-affinity, the charming woman who is known under the
pseudonym of Camille Selden or La Mouche.

Is it then to be wondered at that when the rich feast of a perfect
love, for which he had craved Tantalus-like all his life, was offered
to him almost at the very minute that his lips were being sealed
by the cold kiss of death, the whole soul of the man should leap
up in indignant protest, and that such poems as "Lass die heiligen
Parabolen," and the even more wonderful series of stanzas with the
refrain, "O schöne Welt du bist abscheulich," should exhibit the cold
insolent shrug of the man convinced of the righteousness of his plea
that of all the places in the universe this human earth "where the just
man drags himself along beneath the blood-stained burden of his cross,
while the wicked man rides in triumph on his high steed," is the most

Heine died at four o'clock in the morning of February 17, 1856. He was
buried by his own directions in Montmartre, "in order to avoid being
disturbed by the crowd and bustle of Père Lachaise."

His writings form an incessant stream of paradoxes, but his life is the
greatest paradox of all. The prophet of the new religion of liberty, he
was repudiated by his country, and his happiest days were spent in the
land of exile; throughout his life he sought for love, to live years
of the most healthy prosaic domesticity with his mistress, and to find
his one true romance on his death-bed; he imagined that he was a great
political force, but it is rather as a poet that he survives; as a poet
his chief theme was the Joy and Light of Life, and he drew his truest
inspiration from the darkest depths of his agony; even as a great
writer he has been chiefly known by the comparatively inferior _Book
of Songs_ and _Reisebilder,_ while his masterpiece, the _Memoirs_, the
great highly barbed Parthian arrow shot from the grave to transfix his
enemies for all eternity, lay mouldering for many years amid the dusty
archives of the Vienna Library.

His message, too, the core and kernel of his philosophy, is again
a paradox. To the sphinx-like riddle with which every thinker is
confronted, "Is Life poetry or prose, tragedy or farce?" Heine made
answer that the pathos and poetry of life were contained in the fact
that life was so essentially grim and unpoetical, and that the real
tragedy of the world lay in the ghastly farce of it all.

[Footnote 1: _Cf._ the poem "Enfant perdu," beginning "Verlorner Posten
in dem Freiheits Kriege."]


The recent centenary of the birth of Benjamin Disraeli renewed our
interest in the most striking figure in the English history of the last
century. Throughout his life Disraeli made it an important part of his
_métier_ to be interesting, and it is certainly a convincing proof
both of his great natural fascination and of the adroitness with which
he worked his pose, that even beyond the grave his character should
still exercise our curiosity and blind us with the various facets of
its brilliancy. He fairly bristles with paradoxes, this cynic, who
was also a sentimentalist, this Oriental mystic, who was one of the
most finished dandies in London, this shameless adventurer, with his
pathetic and chivalrous devotion to his sovereign, this political
Don Juan, who provided a classic example of conjugal affection.
Many have essayed to solve the riddle of the "Primrose Sphinx"; but
the best testimony to their almost universal failure is that nearly
every biographer has produced a completely different version of his
character. Mr. Hitchman, "one of the helpless, somnambulised cattle
whom he led by the nose," to use Carlyle's phrase, portrays him
(in _The Public Life of the late Lord Beaconsfield_) with charming
_naïveté_ as the "disinterested and patriotic statesman." Mr. T. P.
O'Connor, on the other hand, who, when still sowing his literary
wild oats, painted Disraeli even blacker than the Prince of Darkness
himself, in a book unworthy of any serious biographer, simply
overshoots the mark. Froude, in his _Life_, comes nearer to the truth,
but is hampered by being forced to compress the history of a crowded
life and the psychology of a complex character into a narrow and
inadequate compass. Both Froude, however, and Mr. Sichel, who has given
us an interesting volume on Disraeli's personality, lay too much stress
on his imaginative and idealistic features.

The reason for this inability to comprehend a character, in many
respects singularly typical of his age, lies not so much in the
alleged inadequacy of the materials as in the incapacity of most
English writers for handling general ideas. The English mind is too
concrete for social psychology; it delights in the almost mechanical
work of classifying animals, but fails to produce any classification
of characters worth the name. The Disraeli problem is admittedly
difficult; the secrecy which until recently kept us from all knowledge
of the greater portion of his papers and correspondence is undoubtedly
a handicap, but the difficulty is by no means insuperable, nor the
material so scanty as is usually supposed. Let us take Disraeli in
relation to his age, his environment, his ancestry, then what would
otherwise have struck us as strange, not to say impossible, stands out
clear and inevitable. Another valuable source of information is to be
found in his novels, though it is always difficult to discriminate
between what is and what is not autobiographical in these works.

A vigorous and imaginative mind, when writing about its own history,
will naturally not stint itself in its licences; it will abandon
itself to all kinds of hypotheses; it will take a certain phase of
itself, frame circumstances to suit its development, and proceed on the
fictitious assumption; it will indulge freely both in caricature and
idealisation. In _Vivian Grey_, for instance, Disraeli has slightly
exaggerated the more cynical side of his nature; _Sidonia_, on the
other hand, is an idealised version of Disraeli; it is Disraeli raised
to a higher power; it is what he would have liked to have been, but
was not, any more than the actual Byron was as brave, as romantic, and
as fascinating as the ideal Byron who is portrayed in _Conrad, Childe
Harold_, and _Don Juan_.

Yet, none the less, _Sidonia, Fakredeen, Vivian Grey,_ and _Contarini
Fleming_ possess a strong family likeness, and strike a genuine
autobiographical note. With regard to the two latter, Mr. Sichel, in
his study of Disraeli, is unwarranted in his attempted depreciation of
their evidence, on the theory that they represent merely a distorted
and transient phase of Disraeli's development, to be ascribed to
ill-health and immaturity. On the contrary, the contortions of great
men in adolescence are peculiarly instructive. It is then that the
very elements of the future man are fermenting in the crucible; and
is not growth more significant than maturity? It is not a paradox,
but a fundamental truth, to say that a man is never more himself than
when he is not himself; it is in periods of violent upheaval that the
conventional superstructure is destroyed and the innermost foundations
of character are laid bare. It is far easier to tone down than to touch
up, and the unrestrained sincerity of these early novels, written under
the impetus of intense emotion, throws far more light on Disraeli's
real character than a book like _Endymion_, the official pronouncement
of his maturer years. A prudent use, then, of the novels, and an
examination of his relations to his age, environment, and ancestry
should enable us to construct a psychology of Disraeli that should be
at once convincing and consistent, and adequate to shed light on many
of the obscure points of his character.

The _Sturm und Drang_ age of the Revolution in which Disraeli was
born marked the passing of Europe from childhood to manhood, from
mediævalism to modernity. Like all transition periods, it was
peculiarly complex; the tendencies being so varied, and were so
frequently accompanied by the reactions against themselves, that it
requires considerable care to disentangle the principal threads.

It was an age of progress where reaction was frequently to be seen at
work; it was an age significant for a violent outburst of scientific
materialism, and the consequently inevitable mysticism of a religious
revival. It was an age at once scientific and romantic, individual
and cosmopolitan. It was an age where circumstances produced strange
mixtures, so that in England we are brought face to face with the
paradox that Gladstone, the founder of democratic idealism, obtained
his seat under the old system of close boroughs, while Disraeli, the
most brilliant example of the new democratic theory of _la carrière
ouverte aux talentes_, found his way to power as the head of the
aristocratic and conservative party. The predominant note, however, was
one of democratic individualism. With the French Revolution the yoke
of responsibility, political and religious, was violently thrown off;
new and wide fields had been opened out to commerce by the extended
communications and the new mechanical inventions. A quickened life
broke in upon the lethargy of the previous century. The struggle for
existence entered on a sharper and intenser phase. Ambitious men
vehemently dashed themselves against the social barrier, which day by
day became more easy to climb. In every department it was the age of
the clever and ambitious parvenu. In war and in politics Napoleon, in
poetry Burns, in fiction Balzac, give convincing testimony to the power
of the new régime. It was the age of the French Revolution and of the
Holy Alliance, of Condillac and of Chateaubriand, of Laplace and of
Shelley, of Godwin and of Tom Paine.

But equality is a medal with two faces: on the one side is written,
"I am as good as, if not better than, everyone else"; on the other,
"Everyone else is as good as, if not better than, myself." The first
was the motto of the rampant individualism and vigorous national
policy of Disraeli, the latter of the hesitating Christian spirit
and sentimental cosmopolitanism of Gladstone. Gladstone, indeed, is
such an excellent foil to Disraeli that we may well be permitted the
following quotations, where the rift in Gladstone's lute, between
the churchman and the politician, stands in pointed contrast to the
unity of purpose that from his earliest years actuated his rival.
Gladstone, torn between his missionary impulse and yearning for
apostolic destination on the one hand, and healthy ambition on the
other, writes to his father: "I am willing to persuade myself that in
spite of other longings, which I often feel, my heart is prepared to
yield other hopes and other desires for this: of being permitted to
be the humblest of those who may be commissioned to set before the
eyes of man the magnanimity and glory of Christian truth. Politics are
fascinating to me, perhaps too fascinating. My temper is so excitable
that I should fear giving up my mind to other subjects, which have ever
proved sufficiently alluring to me, and which I fear would make my life
a series of unsatisfied longings and expectations." Disraeli is less
undecided, as is clear from the following quotation from _Contarini
Fleming_: "I should have killed myself if I had not been supported by
my ambition, which now each day became more quickening, so that the
desire of distinction and of astounding action raged in my soul, and
when I realised that so many years must elapse before I could realise
my ideal, I gnashed my teeth in silent rage and cursed my existence,"
Disraeli will give up anything rather than his chance of being a great
man. At a time when most clever young men of his age were thinking of a
scholarship he had finally decided to go in for a premiership. He has
planned his campaign, he will fool the world to the top of its bent.
When yet a boy Disraeli says, as Vivian Grey: "We must mix with the
herd, we must sympathise with the sorrow that we do not feel and share
the merriment of fools. To rule men we must be men, to prove that we
are strong we must be weak. Our wisdom must be concealed under folly,
our constancy under caprice."

None the less, Disraeli had too vivid an imagination, too keen a
sense of the picturesque, not to be affected to a certain extent
by the current Romanticism. We see this in the Eastern novels of
_Tancred_ and _Alroy_, also in _Contarini Fleming_, the English
Wilhelm Meister, which exhibits the weaker and more morbid side of the
author's character, and is a useful supplement to Vivian Grey. But it
is the latter, however, who represents most accurately the ideals and
aspirations of the young Disraeli, and, taken generally, is a broad
adumbration of his subsequent career. But the Disraeli of Vivian Grey
was not so unique as is usually considered, and an analogy between
him and the celebrated Frenchman, who wrote a novel about the same
period, and one, moreover, singularly typical of his age, proves
instructive. Benjamin Disraeli and Henri Beyle were in all superficial
details so absolutely different that one might well hesitate before
making the comparison, yet they were radically similar in many of their
larger outlines, and in particular their characters, as revealed in
the heroes of two novels, _Vivian Grey_ and _Le Rouge et le Noir_,
show an extraordinary resemblance. Both Julien Sorel and Vivian Grey
are impelled by a violent and overwhelming ambition; both, originally
excluded by their status from participation in the great prizes of the
world, set out undaunted to conquer, the one as a priest, the other as
a politician. Cynical, with that extreme and savage species of cynicism
which is the reaction from intense sensitiveness, they both wage war
on society in their passion for success, while the nobler and more
generous instincts with which nature had endowed them perish in the

But this Time-Spirit of individualism was no mere cold-blooded
philosophy of egoism. It was, after all, an age of genuine poetry, of
fresh ideals. The halo of romance played around the most abandoned
sinners. Individualism found, in addition, an æsthetic sanction, as
was seen in the prodigious vogue of Byron, where the picturesque pose
of the one man pitted against society appealed strongly to the popular
imagination. How deeply Disraeli was imbued with Byronism is evidenced
not only by the whole tone and manner of his early life, but by his
resuscitation of the Byronic legend in _Venetia_.

This spirit of combined idealism and intense practical energy is met
with again in Disraeli's race and ancestry. The Jewish race is a
compound of materialism and idealism. The Jew is the dreamer in action,
combining fluid imagination with adamantine purpose. These two phases
of the Jewish character are seen excellently in Disraeli's father and
paternal grandfather. The latter, an Italian Jew, came over to England
about the middle of the eighteenth century, and quickly made a fortune
by dint of his shrewd business talent and fixity. His son Isaac was
gifted with an unfortunate superfluity of the poetic temperament. His
youth was erratic and unhappy, but when close on thirty he found a
secure refuge in the quiet waters of literature. To his Semitic blood
is also to be traced Disraeli's prodigious tenacity of purpose. He
came of a stiff-necked people, so that opposition stimulated him, and
his early failures served but to render sweeter his eventual success.
He had, too, the calculating foresight of the Jew, and could pierce
the future, if not with prophetic vision, at any rate, with marvellous
intuition. His Oriental strain of mysticism served him in good stead.
He never forgot that he was a scion of the Chosen People, and came of
a race which had never sullied its purity of lineage by changing its
blood. Was he not the chosen man of the chosen race? Could he not read
his future, if not in the stars, "which are the brain of heaven," yet
in his own brilliant and meteoric brain? He had a full measure of the
pride of race, and plumed himself to the last on what he may well have
called "the Oriental ichor in his veins." If his enemies dubbed him a
parvenu he would fling the wretched taunt back in their faces, bidding
them realise that they came from a parvenu and hybrid race, while he
himself was sprung from the purest blood in Europe. How keen was this
genealogical Judaism we can see from the classic letter to O'Connell,
where he wrote that "the hereditary bondsman had forgotten the clank of
his fetters," and from his masterpiece of character-drawing, Sidonia,
who, with wealth, intellect, and power at his command, yet found his
chief "source of interest in his descent and in the fortunes of his
race." Disraeli's Judaism, however, did not extend to the religious
tenets of the creed. Few, no doubt, are the instances of a converted
Jew proving a genuine Christian, but Disraeli had too much of the
mystic in him to be an atheist, and if we take into account the
elasticity of his imagination, there is little reason to doubt that he
was at any rate reasonably sincere in his belief that Christianity was
merely completed Judaism, Calvary but the logical corollary of Sinai;
he would also, no doubt, find a malicious joy in reminding those who
taunted him with his origin, that "one half of Christendom worships
a Jew and the other half a Jewess." Anyway, the Christian religion
played nothing approaching an integral part in his life; while an
amiable acquiescence in its dogmas was, at the best, as it has been
with so many, but an intellectual habit. His Jewish origin helped him,
moreover, in that he approached the problems of politics with a mind
free from conventional British prejudices. He was never a thorough
Englishman, and was proud of the fact, instead of thanking God "that he
was born an Englishman," as do many of his race, who betray in their
every word and action their Jewish nationality. His admirable expert
knowledge of the English character was throughout professional, not

When we turn to Disraeli's early environment, we find that it was one
calculated to foster both ambition and a literary imagination. He
breathed from his earliest days the atmosphere of books, and almost
from the cradle imbibed avidly the many volumes of Voltaire. Nothing
is so stimulating to the youthful mind as the unchecked run of a
library, with its delightful excursions into the unexplored country of
literature. His natural sensitiveness was hardened by his experiences
at school, where his nationality and cleverness rendered him unpopular.
The reaction intensified his already precocious ambition, and gave him
that consciousness of semi-isolation which formed one of the chief
parts of his strength. His ambition was further heightened by the smart
literary set which he met constantly at his father's house, and his
early glimpses of the great world. Disraeli is palpably exaggerating
when he says, _apropos_ of Vivian Grey, that "he was a tender plant in
a moral hot-house," but the following passage is significant:

        "He became habituated to the idea that everything could
        be achieved by dexterity, that there was no test of
        conduct except success; to be ready to advance any
        opinion, to possess none; to look upon every man as a
        tool, and never to do anything which had not a definite
        though circuitous purpose."

It is this trait of doing things with an object which supplied the true
clue to Disraeli as a man of letters. We admit, of course, the _verve_
and brilliancy of the novels, their claim to rank as classic, but it is
impossible to arrive at a correct appreciation of them unless they be
taken in the closest conjunction with their author's political career.
_Vivian Grey_, for instance, no doubt afforded an excellent outlet for
the fermenting passion of Disraeli's youth; it was itself one of the
best society novels ever written, but it was something more. Before
that time the future Premier had been hiding his light. How could
he obtain a free field for the exercise of his gifts? His father's
Bohemian clique scarcely answered his purpose. How could he burst open
the doors of society? The bombshell was supplied by _Vivian Grey_. It
was a case of self-advertisement raised to the level of a fine art, and
Disraeli introduced himself to the public with a bow of most elaborate
flourishes. _Contarini Fleming_ strikes a slightly different note,
exhibiting the more poetic side of its author's character; but we must
not forget that at the time when it was published Disraeli's long
absence in the East had temporarily obscured his fame in London, and
that it was the success of _Contarini Fleming_ which secured for him
once more the _entrée_ into society. Similarly, _Coningsby, Sybil_,
and _Tancred_ were, in the main, but the gospels in which, in the rôle
of a political saviour, he propagated the new creed of Young England.
_Lothair_ and _Endymion_ were partly written to replenish his empty
exchequer. The protagonists, moreover, in all his chief novels were
fashioned in the image of himself, and even Lord Cadurcis in _Venetia_,
who is theoretically Byron, is portrayed with the physical features of
the author, so as to ensure a vivid impression on the public mind of
his own personality. Not that Disraeli did not experience a genuine
joy in the wielding of the pen. He could soar high in his flights of
mysticism and romance; could describe the picturesque and the beautiful
in passages of inspired rhetoric, though it was in the dash and
brilliancy of his satire which at its best equalled that of Heine, or
Voltaire, or Byron, that he was most himself. His style is redolent of
his race. It possesses the genuine Oriental glamour, the Oriental love
of gorgeous and grandiose magnificence, the Oriental lack of symmetry
and proportion. His prodigious genius for sarcasm was also Semitic,
if we are to believe Mr. Bryce, who considers that gift a peculiar
property of the race, instancing, as examples, Lucian and Heine, the
greatest satirists of ancient and modern times.

This same combination of temperament and policy which explains
Disraeli, the man of letters, explains Disraeli, the dandy. Living
as he did in an age which revolted, under the leadership of Count
D'Orsay, against the chaste and classic traditions of Brummel,
and which offered in the elaborate picturesqueness of its dress an
excellent medium for the expression of personality, is it to be
wondered at that so ambitious a nature as Disraeli's should, apart
from other reasons, enter gaily into the sartorial arena? These early
years remind us of Alcibiades, who, in his youth, his genius, his
precocious political ambitions, his aristocratic lineage and superb
insolence, his extravagance and irresponsibility, offers a fairly close
analogy. Disraeli, however, was an Alcibiades with ballast, and his
most erratic phases were governed by a consistent purpose. He had,
it is true, the regular Hebrew love for the picturesque, the racial
craving for flamboyant display; but the unique characteristic of the
man was the ingenious method by which he exploited even his weaknesses
to advance his purpose. Realising that nothing was more fatal to his
career than the indifference of the public, that to be hated was better
than to be ignored, and that notoriety was a passable substitute for
fame, he was determined to bulk largely in the public eye. Living,
fortunately, in an age when dandyism, if not an art, was at any rate
a career, and when "wild, melancholy men" were still the rage among
the ladies, he manipulated the dandy and Byronic pose with phenomenal
success. But his social career was not all pose. Though political
ambition was to him always the main point of existence, he was far too
healthy to lose sight of the small change of life. He had, moreover,
a genuine love of society. His remark _apropos_ of Gladstone, "What
can we do with a leader who is not even in society?" was sincere in
spite of being an epigram, and the hosts of great ladies who crowd his
novels attest conclusively to his social fastidiousness. But the most
convincing proof of this lighter side of his nature is to be found in
his correspondence with his sister. Those letters, dashed off hurriedly
to his "dearest Sa," written with that complete lack of ceremony which
is the sign of a perfect intimacy, show with what zest he frequented
balls and water-parties, dinners and _soirées_. Yet his ambition is
never far in the background. He goes to the House of Commons, hears the
big man speak, and then writes to his sister, "But between ourselves I
could floor them all." His genius for conversation is historic, and we
are not surprised that he considered that the one unforgivable sin was
to be a bore. He had not, it is true, Gladstone's habit of unburdening
himself freely to the most casual of acquaintances. How many, indeed,
were there of his intimates who had penetrated into the secret places
of his heart? But over-much sincerity is a hindrance to the art of
conversation; and many of his most brilliant paradoxes were thrown off
as an evasive retort to an impertinent question. When, however, we come
to Disraeli's social and private life, the most interesting question
that presents itself is that of his relation to his wife. Even though
he had discoursed in _Contarini Fleming_ of the grand passion with all
the high-flown sentimentalism of the age, it was obviously impossible
for him, considering the disparity of their ages, to be seriously in
love with Mrs. Disraeli; and it must have seemed that he had been
forced to exchange the poetry of the mistress for the prose of the
wife. Had he not, about ten years before his marriage, written to his
sister, "How would you like Lady B---- for a sister-in-law? Clever,
£25,000, and domestic. As for love, all my friends who have married for
love either beat their wives or live apart from them. This is literally
true. I may commit many follies, but never that of marrying for love,
which, I am convinced, cannot but be a guarantee of infelicity." Yet
this union, based originally on mere policy and camaraderie, was
eventually crowned with the most faithful of loves. It was his wife's
absorbing interest in his career that supplied the link. He has himself
written that the most exquisite moment in a man's life was when he
surprised his lady-love reading the manuscript of his first speech, and
the sympathy of Mrs. Disraeli in his successes may well have given them
a yet further charm. The situation is well expressed in the remark of
Mrs. Disraeli's: "You know you married me for money, and I know that if
you had to do it again you would do it for love."

In fact the warm and constant affection Disraeli lavished on his wife
during her lifetime, and the poignant grief that he evinced at her
death, furnish a more than sufficient refutation to those who persist
in regarding him as a mere cynical fortune-hunter. Disraeli, like
Browning, had

    "Two soul sides, one to face the world with,
    One to show a woman when he loves her."

In the other departments of private life he was likewise exemplary.
His hardness was limited to politics; he was the most dutiful of sons,
the most affectionate of brothers, the most faithful of friends. His
debts, for the most part, were incurred by backing the bills of other
men. His touching and romantic friendship for Mrs. Brydges Williams,
the eccentric old Cornish lady who gave him pecuniary assistance at a
critical period of his career, is well known. The story, again, of the
Premier and his wife dancing a Highland jig in their night apparel on
hearing of the success of an old friend, shows how little the bitter
struggles of politics had hardened his heart. Particularly touching,
also, is the mutual affection between him and the Queen, that
sweetened his last years. She was, as we read in a letter of Disraeli's
to the Marchioness of Ely, "the best friend he had in the world."

But Disraeli, though he fulfilled himself in many ways, was first
of all a politician, and it is Disraeli the politician rather than
Disraeli the man of letters, the dandy, or the human being, that
principally provokes our interest. What were his real views on
politics? How far can we distinguish between the official edition of
himself which he displayed for public inspection and the original that
he alone could read? Given his policy, how far was it justifiable, how
far rational? The view of his most devoted, but yet in reality, quite
unappreciative, admirers, that throughout a political career of over
half a century he remained consistently and absolutely faithful to his
original ideals, and that he introduced into politics an integrity and
disinterestedness that Parliament had rarely witnessed, is even more
absurd than the opinion of his blind and malignant enemies that he
was a mere charlatan who juggled with parties and the people without
possessing a single genuine political faith of his own. Disraeli, as
was inevitable in a man of so detached and unprejudiced a nature,
simply took the then party system at its true worth, and, of course,
realised from the outset that before he could do anything worth
doing he must first obtain that power which alone could give him the
opportunity of doing it. His attack on Peel was, _primâ facie_, an
occasion that it would have been the depth of folly to have missed, and
Mr. Birrell's statement that Disraeli "ate his peck of dirt," and his
comparison of him to Casanova, is mere petulance. For these preliminary
stages of the higher politics Disraeli was admirably fitted, and the
following autobiographic passages from _Tancred_ show how congenial
were his Herculean labours: "To be the centre of a maze of manœuvres
was his empyrean, and while he recognised in them the best means of
success he found in their exercise a means of constant delight"; and
again, "'Intrigue,' cried the young prince, using, as was his custom, a
superfluity of expression both of voice and hand and eyes, 'intrigue,
it is life, it is the only thing. If you wish to produce a result
you must make a combination, and you call combination intrigue.'"
Disraeli viewed party politics from the dispassionate standpoint of
a chess-player, "playing off the proud peers like pawns," skilfully
manœuvring his knights and bishops beneath the shadow of the old
mediæval castles, though it was "in his masterly manipulation of his
queen" that he really surpassed himself. What a contrast to Gladstone's
youthful frame of mind, who entered politics because he felt a strong
moral duty to defend that Church which he was afterwards partly to
disestablish against the insidious attacks of philosophic Radicalism.
But Disraeli's point of view was, after all, merely that which was
obvious and rational. It is well known that in Disraeli's day the whole
efficiency of the party system as a means of carrying on the government
was based on that sagacious inconsistency, so characteristic of this
country, which, cheerfully accommodating the most untractable of facts
to the most docile of theories, drew between the two parties no clear
dividing line either of principle or of class. Those genuine lines
of cleavage both of policy and interest that now tend to become more
and more clearly marked did not then exist. The only vital political
distinction then existing in England was that between the Ins and the
Outs. Whigs and Tories were, in their origin, merely the names for the
two rival organisations for the pursuit of political power into which
the oligarchy of the time had divided itself, and the party catch-words
then indicated as much essential difference as the badges by which the
two sides of a "scratch" game symbolise a fictitious distinction.

Particularly interesting is the following quotation from a letter of
Gladstone, written comparatively early in his career, which shows
convincingly that the subsequent democratic idealist fully realised
the intrinsic farce of the then party system: "Each of them, the Whig
and the Tory Party, comprises within itself far greater divergencies
than can be noticed as dividing the more moderate portion of the one
from the more moderate portion of the other. The great English parties
differ no more in their general outlines than by a somewhat different
distribution of the same elements in each." It is impossible for
the opportunist position to be more cogently stated. It is, indeed,
a strange paradox that political integrity should be traditionally
associated with the name of Gladstone, who accomplished more than any
other of our statesmen in changing statesmanship into demagogy. His
pronouncedly religious temperament, however, led to extraordinary
results, and his psychological condition was best expressed in the
well-known epigram that "he followed his conscience in the same manner
that the driver of a gig follows the horse." It was not that he was
deliberately insincere. He could deceive himself as well as others
with his ingenious sophisms. His sincerity was merely so elastic,
his enthusiasm so adaptable, that he found it easy to be sincere and
enthusiastic, _inter alia_, about those things which coincided with his

Carlyle hits the mark in dubbing Gladstone a deeper and unconscious
juggler as contrasted with Disraeli, the clever, conscious juggler. The
latter, at any rate, played the game straight with himself. He did not,
like his rival, have recourse to super-natural inspiration for every
argument that dropped from his specious lips, or degrade his deity into
a veritable _deus ex machinâ_, whose function it was to sanction the
most elementary dictates of Parliamentary tactics.

Yet, though he exhibited a prudent elasticity in his handling of the
minor details of party politics, in the main outlines of his policy
he remained consistent and true to himself throughout his career. The
romantic strain in his temperament rendered him congenitally opposed to
the cut and dried utilitarianism of the Whigs. The renovated Toryism
of New England, for which he was largely responsible, though to a
great extent merely a move in the game, is deeply stamped with the
impress of his own nature. That his bias was naturally aristocratic no
one can doubt who has read the passage in _The Revolutionary Epicke_
on Equality, or has appreciated the tone of personal superiority
and contempt for the mediocre that pervades all his writings. His
Conservatism, however, was not the orthodox Conservatism of the Eldon
school, "the barren mule of politics which engenders nothing," to
use his own phrase, but a more picturesque and practical policy. He
poured successfully the new wine of Democracy into the old bottles
of Toryism, and thus, while no doubt indulging the more romantic
side of his nature, placed, his party on a more modern and workable
basis. Disraeli's policy, in fact, was always one of sane and rational
opportunism. In the same way that Gambetta, the exponent of French
Opportunism, opposed "a policy of results to the policy of chimeras"
of the reactionaries, Disraeli opposed to Gladstone's dangerous and
visionary ideals a policy that was at once feasible and salutary.
Disraeli invariably treated England as a definite country with a
definite personality of its own, requiring individual attention and
delicate handling, while Gladstone regarded her as a mere _tabula rasa_
on which the latest new-fangled doctrines could be easily imprinted.
Precisely the same spirit induced Gladstone to treat the Queen as a
department of State and Disraeli to treat her as a woman. In home
politics he has grasped well that transition from feudal to federal
principles which was the keynote of the last century politics. His
detractors object that no great measures stand identified with his
name; but here the fates were against him. It was a cruel paradox
that when at last he obtained an untrammelled power he was too old
and jaded to initiate any new creative measure in domestic affairs.
I quote Mrs. Disraeli: "You don't know my Dizzy; what great plans he
has long matured for the good and greatness of England. But they have
made him wait and drudge so long, and now time is against him." In his
foreign policy, however, he displayed his characteristic combination
of practical and imaginative strength. In the same spirit in which
he himself had obtained the foremost place in England, he desired
that England should acquire the foremost rank among the nations;
while, as is shown by his Imperial policy, he infused something of
his own picturesqueness into the policy of the most prosaic Power in
Europe. His Indian policy, in particular, proves with what practical
imagination he had divined how much lay in a name, and that to the
feudatory princes it meant all the difference whether they paid their
allegiance to the Queen of England or to the Empress of India.

Disraeli's master-passion was ambition. But he was no monomaniac like
Napoleon. In the same way that Sidonia, the complete and perfect man,
according to Disraeli, played with a master-hand on the whole gamut
of life, so did Disraeli, though in a lesser scale, live largely and
fully. He lived in the solitudes of the Arabian deserts and in the
crowded drawing-rooms of St. James's; in the halls of Westminster and
the shady quietude of Bradenham; in the privacy of his own study, and
in the historic chambers of Downing Street. To few men has it been
given to express themselves in so many different ways. What matter if
his feats of statesmanship were restricted by the limitations of the
Parliamentary system and the handicap of his own failing health? To
such a nature the joy of life lay rather in the winning than in the
using of the prize. It is the romance and character of the man that
perpetuate his memory rather than his political achievements. He lives
as a great career. When yet a boy he had mapped out his future, and he
realised his ambition in every detail. By sheer force of intellect and
determination he lifted himself from the Ghetto to the highest position
in England. As he himself said, in one of Mrs. Craigie's novels: "Many
men have talent; few have genius; fewer still have character."



_The Genealogy of Morals: a Polemic_! Nietzsche was well advised to
append the word "polemic" to his title, for it supplies the key to
his whole position. To some extent, no doubt, the "Genealogy" may be
the expression in more philosophic language of those ideas, which
find in Zarathustra their poetic and almost biblical formulation. Yet
philosopher though he may be, Nietzsche is no abstract thinker sitting
down stolidly on some icy height to solve the riddle of the universe,
whatever it may be, by the rigid rules of abstract logic, so that he
may placidly present the solution to such members of the public as
happen to be interested in metaphysics. On the contrary his mind, and
even more truly his temperament, are made up from the outset. Certain
ideas grip him so tensely, and for him, at any rate, constitute so
fiery and omnipresent a reality, as to be from his standpoint things
transcending the mere cavillings of logicians and scientists.

"You ask me why," says Zarathustra, "but I say unto you I am not one of
those whom one may ask their why."

The same idea is more technically expressed in the preface to the
Genealogy--"that new immoral, or at least, 'amoral' _a priori_, and
that 'categorical imperative,' which was its voice (but, oh I how
hostile to the Kantian article, and how pregnant with problems), to
which since then I have given more and more obedience (and, indeed,
what is more than obedience)." For, startling though it may seem to
the orthodox, albeit acceptable enough to the acolytes of the new
faith, the fact stands out irresistibly, that all the later writings of
Nietzsche are saturated through and through with the religious spirit.

For Nietzsche was inspired with as supreme a consciousness of the
infallibility and paramount necessity of his message, as rigid a belief
in exclusive salvation through his own teachings, as has overwhelmed
the brain of any prophet or Messiah known to human history. "I have
given mankind the deepest book it possesses," writes Nietzsche to
Brandes, and means it quite deliberately and quite literally. The
content, indeed, of the religion of this converse Christ may be
diametrically opposed to that of the original, but the machinery is the
same. With the same exalted spirit in which Jesus preached the kingdom
of heaven, so did Nietzsche preach the kingdom of this earth, while it
may be noted incidentally that both kingdoms were the perquisites of
a select few; and as the spurned god of Israel taught self-abasement
to the weak with an intensity that, rightly or wrongly, seems a little
extravagant to our modern taste, so does Nietzsche, and with every whit
as honest a fanaticism, thunder forth to the strong the sublime dogma
of self-expression and self-glorification. Turn, in fact, the doctrines
of Christianity upside down, but leave constant the missionary
enthusiasm of its founder, his chronic fits of extreme depression and
extreme exaltation, and you have the quintessence of Nietzsche.

As, however, it is the boast of all religions that they are beyond the
realms of exact logic and empirical science, it would be as unfair
to look in our prophet's polemic for the mathematical accuracy of a
Euclidian proposition, as it would be to search for such accuracy amid
the many grandiose and tragic thoughts that loom over the invectives of
Isaiah, Jesus, and Jeremiah.

Not, indeed, but what there are many new, swift, and illuminating
truths in our philosopher's gospel, just as there were in the
pronouncements of his afore-said Hebrew brethren. But the essence, the
_raison d'être_ of the whole book is purely polemical. Nietzsche is out
to kill, and so long as his weapons effectually subserve that object,
he is, and quite logically, indifferent to aught else.

Before, however, we analyse in detail the philosophy of this book, it
is advisable to adjust our sights to those particular targets on which
Nietzsche trained his gigantic and murderous artillery. We shall also
have a better prospect of getting really into touch with "the very
inner pulse of the machine," the real core of this philosophy, if we
take a necessarily short, but it is to be hoped none the less vivid,
glance at those reasons which induced Nietzsche to envisage the objects
of his attack with so tense and implacable a hatred.

Now Nietzsche found his intellectual jumping-off ground in that
hybrid of Christianity and Buddhism stuck on a pedestal of sex, which
constituted the philosophy of Schopenhauer and the essence of the
fashionable pessimism of mid-century Germany. To endeavour to condense
one of the most brilliant and elaborate systems of the last century
into a few words is at best a delicate and hazardous task, yet perhaps
we may adumbrate tentatively the radical elements which spurred
Nietzsche to so sanguinary a revolt.

Life according to Schopenhauer was a sorry failure, a thing not worth
living on its merits, but kept going by the driving impetus of a blind
life-force and knit with a mutual pity. Life then being intrinsically
evil, the remedy for the evil was to live as little as possible--"Draw
your desire back from the world so that there may be an end of that
phenomenal life which is nothing but grief." Apart from general
asceticism, there were two specific anodynes prescribed by Schopenhauer
for the disease called life--art which transcended life, and lifted
the spectator or listener on to another plane, and philosophy which,
as it were, blunted the sting of life by the contemplation of the
essentially unreal nature of the phenomenal universe. But the greatest
good was Nirvana, a kind of Pantheistic Absolute of negativity, into
which one eventually merged, to enjoy the supreme paradox of a peaceful
self-consciousness of one's own nothingness.

It is easy for us to sneer, nowadays, at this bilious and suicidal
system, and to explain the whole theory of the Will to Live by the
keen and chronic tyranny which the sexual instinct exercised over
the philosopher himself; the fact remained, Schopenhauer was the
dominant influence of the day--how dominant, can be seen from the
fact that the whole of later Wagnerian music is merely a translation
of his philosophy into the language of sound. It is easy to see the
extent to which Schopenhauer and Wagner were saturated with the whole
spirit of primitive and mediæval Christianity. Human life, forsooth,
is essentially bad and essentially unreal; salvation only lies in
the mortification and annihilation of the self. Apart, however,
from philosophical and theological technicalities, the profound
psychological import of this nihilistic pessimism and neo-Christian
romanticism is patent. Man looks at man's life on earth, and gives it
up as a bad job, or at best makes some fantastic effort to create a
new world to redress the balance of the old. "They wanted to run away
from their misery, and the stars were too far away. Then they sighed,
Oh, that there were heavenly ways, forsooth, to slink into another
Being and Happiness."

It has, in fact, been well put that, as the motto of Goethe was
"_Memento vivere_," so was the motto of Schopenhauer, "_Memento mori_."

Now, Nietzsche voiced the revolt of those temperaments whose ears
were attuned rather to "_Memento vivere_" than "_Memento mori_." We
must remember, moreover, that that Christian romanticism which finds
its best metaphysical formulation in Schopenhauer was in itself but
a reaction from the real spirit of the century, that ebullience and
exuberance of the human ego of which Stendhal is perhaps the most
typical manifestation. It might well indeed be instructive to trace the
intellectual descent of Nietzsche from Stendhal, and, applying again
the sociological method, to speculate as to how far he derived some of
the impetus for his philosophy of egoism from the aggressive wars of
Prussia, as exemplified in the Sadowa campaign and the Franco-German
war. It is time, however, that we came to the temperament of the
philosopher himself. It is indeed a platitude, that as man makes his
gods in his own image, so does the philosopher create his systems.
What is Aristotle's ideal of the _βίος θεωρήτικος_, and
his conception of the self-contemplative god but the erection into
a universal norm of the thinker's natural philosophic idiosyncrasy?
What is the elaborate "I and Me" of the cosmology of Fichte but the
attribution to the universe of the personal idiosyncrasies of Fichte,
the self-conscious Doppelgänger? And how Schopenhauer promoted sex
into the devil, whose heat animates this earthly hell, we have
already seen. What, then, was the impetus which impelled Nietzsche
to batter down the walls of the contemporary moral and philosophic
universe? The theory of an innate _joie de vivre_, a system highly if
not over-charged with vitality, supplies but half the answer. The real
explanation lies in the stiffening of this natural exuberance beneath
the tension of a grim incessant struggle with a nervous malady.

It is not actually necessary to go as far as the Swedish writer,
M. Bjerre, who finds in Nietzsche's deliberate and revolutionary
transvaluation of values that break up of the cerebral system from
its previous condition which signalises the earlier stages of general
paralysis. Yet Nietzsche's own writings, particularly his letters,
reveal how potent was the stimulus exercised on his ego by those
nervous headaches which hounded him over the Continent. To prevent
defeat his will had to be perpetually strained to the maximum pitch of
tension. The sweets of comfort being denied him, the only alternative
left was to find a kind of super-happiness in the ecstasies and
exultations of that Titanic contest which was perpetually fought on
the battlefield of his own person. Let him speak for himself: "I made
of my wish to get well, to live, my philosophy--it should, in fact, be
noted--the years when my vitality descended to its minimum were those
when I ceased to be a pessimist."

We have not, however, at this juncture space to elaborate further
the theory of the superman. Let it be enough to say that it is the
raising to the _n_th power of the spirit of struggling and aggressive
efficiency, and the venting of an over-full vitality by the creation of
new values out of the wealth of the individual ego. As, however, the
glorification of strength involves, and logically so, the degradation
of weakness, and "to build up a sanctuary it is necessary for a
sanctuary to be destroyed," it is not surprising that Nietzsche should
clear the ground for his new creations by a ferocious bombardment of
the crumbling ruins that still encumbered the site. Schopenhauer,
who had been the fount from which Nietzsche's philosophic youth had
drawn its inspiration before, as it were, he had found him out, is
always treated with a certain amount of respect. But the arch-enemy
was the, to him, poisonous system of altruism, self-annihilation, and
world-renouncement which was called Christianity.

The cynical may smile at the inordinate and concentrated frenzy of this
attack. "Is not your wildly militant prophet simply wasting his powder
and shot? Who in his senses ever heard of Christianity being taken _au
pied de la lettre_, even by the most orthodox of modern bishops? What
is it, to use another metaphor, but flogging a dead horse?" To which
Nietzsche's answer would be that it is by removing the foundations
that you remove also the superstructure, or to translate our metaphor,
"Let me kill Christianity, and I kill at the same time all that system
of altruism for altruism's sake, of abstract truth for the sake of
abstract truth, which is built on that hateful foundation." It may also
be observed that, even apart from the poetic and prophetic licence to
which a man writing under such circumstances would be legitimately
entitled, there are even now not wanting people who do in point of fact
take Christianity with all the implicit seriousness of the mediæval
monks or the early Fathers. It is, indeed, a phenomenon not without a
certain intrinsic humour, that almost at the very moment when Tolstoi
was making his pathetic efforts to resuscitate literal Christianity
with the abortive tears of pity, Nietzsche should swing along to
flagellate the semi-inanimate ghost of the bleeding God, in no monkish
spirit, forsooth, but with all the grim and scientific energy of the
most enthusiastic of executioners, compared to whom Voltaire was but
the most urbane of wits, and Heine the most innocuous of schoolboys.
Having thus taken a brief view of the targets, and of the implacable
and very serious spirit that animates the assailant, let us glance
briefly at the chief lines of attack.


The first essay of the Genealogy consists of an essay on "Good and
Evil, Good and Bad." The line of attack is double, being first
etymological, and secondly historical.

Without going into philological exactitudes, it is, we think, fairly
safe to follow Nietzsche in his theory that the word "good" and its
analogues were originally applied to designate those qualities which
were peculiar to the governing aristocratic classes, albeit qualities
by no means susceptible of the title of "ethical" goodness. Physical
valour being in primitive times the most valuable asset of the
community, it is not unnatural that that quality should be held in
universal esteem. We would remark, however, in passing, that though
Nietzsche professes to make a flying expedition into the domain of
early Greek ethics, which would appear, according to his teachings, to
be represented as an ideal system worthy of modern imitation, he is
apparently oblivious to the fact that the spirit of cunning prudence,
of which he so emphatically disapproves, was one of the most admired
qualities of primitive Greece.

On the general question, however, we may perhaps supplement Nietzsche's
by Spencer's argument on the meaning of the English word "good,"
which, as is notorious, has the double meaning of "ethical" and
"efficient." Instructive, however, though this argument is, it cannot
be said to clinch the question, since, even in the times of ancient
Greece, there were not wanting words such as _κάλος, αἴχρος,
ὅσιος_ to denote, albeit mostly in æsthetic terminology, that ethical
meaning, of which the word _ἄγαθος_ fell so signally short.
In other words, to use Nietzschean terminology, the ethical taint even
then existed, though in a less virulent form.

The other line of attack, however, is more serious, and penetrates to
the very core of the modern moral system with its savage onslaught on
Christianity. What is Christianity, says Nietzsche, but the revolt
of the slaves in the sphere of morals? Our philosopher's suggestion,
of course, that Christianity was a deliberate stratagem on the part
of a revengeful Israel to square accounts with the conqueror, has,
on the face of it, no claim to serious consideration as anything
but a poetic thought. The fact, however, that Christianity from its
beginning catered avowedly for the poor, the weak, the oppressed, the
inefficient, is admittedly true, whatever disputes may range as to the
inferences to be drawn from this fact. And that the accusation of being
a slave-morality is something more than empty abuse, is substantiated
by the numerous slaves who did, in fact, subscribe to the infant
creed. It is, moreover, not without its interest to watch nowadays a
recurrence of the same phenomenon. Just, indeed, as at present the
proletariate are _ipso facto_ ready to believe, quite apart from any
question of any economic justification of the doctrine, in the genuine
iniquity of the rich capitalist, so in the early Christian era the
proletariate were not reluctant to put their faith in the saying, that,
"it was as easy for a camel to go through the eye of a needle as for
a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." The difference, however,
between modern and ancient Christianity stands out clearly from the
fact that though this identical creed is invoked with something
approaching equal facility on the sides both of the angels and the
devils, it is, on the whole, now identified with the richer and more
prosperous classes.

It must, however, be frankly admitted that Nietzsche somewhat
overshoots the mark, both in dubbing the history of the world a
conflict between the two ideals, of Rome and Judæa, the egoistic and
altruistic ideals, and in asseverating that the primitive "beast of
prey prowling avidly after booty and victory" was the only type of the
human species worthy of admiration, and that the tamed modern species
is but a diseased distortion. We will deal later with the lacuna
caused in Nietzsche's philosophy by his refusal to recognise the true
significance of the Aristotelian doctrine that man is a _ζῶον
πολιτικον_ when we show that even from his own standpoint the modern
state of man is preferable to the primal. Suffice it for the present
to say that, however large a part of the truth Nietzsche captured with
this potent theory, there remains a not inconsiderable part which still
eluded him.


Having endeavoured thus to dispose of the "ethically good" and
"ethically bad" by the theory that such ideas are merely distortions
of the ideas of "practically good and practically bad," Nietzsche in
the second essay of the Genealogy makes a similar effort to take the
sting out of the ideas of "Schuld" (guilt, debt), and "schlechtes
Gewissen" (bad conscience). But here, again, difficulties beset our
revolutionary. He approves of responsibility and the sacredness of the
promise, but disapproves of the bad conscience by which the individual
would enforce these things on himself. He blesses justice, but damns
the social system. We shall find it hard to follow him in his attempted
reconciliation of these divergent standpoints. When, for instance,
he alludes with almost paternal approbation to the savage mnemonics
by which the "conscience" (_per se_) was produced, and then proceeds
to an envenomed, if none the less brilliant polemic against the "bad
conscience," we see that in reality it is not so much the existence of
a conscience _quâ_ conscience, to which he objects, but the existence
of a conscience functioning on what he conceives to be a vicious
basis. Indeed, even the most faithful of our prophet's disciples would
admit that the Nietzschean teaching lays down as thorny and toilsome
a path for the "bold, bad man," or _übermensch_, as Christianity ever
decreed for the good man or weakling. The only difference, in fact,
between Nietzschean and Christian ethics is that between excessive
self-affirmation and excessive self-negation. But one has only to read
_Zarathustra_ to realise immediately that this self-affirmation is no
heedless hedonism, but a tense and chronic struggle of the ego against
the world, subject to as rigid rules and braving as intense martyrdoms
as does the Christian struggle of the spirit against the flesh. We may
say, in fact, that on an officially Nietzschean basis the "bad" man who
fails in being thoroughly and perfectly bad is, and apparently properly
so, subject to as poignant pangs as is the "good" man who fails in
being thoroughly and perfectly good.

Granted, however, that it is the content of the bad conscience rather
than the existence of a bad conscience _per se_, which provokes his
righteous indignation, let us make some attempt to see how far
Nietzsche is logical in condemning, as he does, existing ethics as the
bastard child of contract and revenge, thriving amid a civilisation
which has no real right to exist. Nietzsche starts off in fine
feather to prove that the word "Schuld" (guilt) is the same as the
word "Schuld" (debt), as though that momentous piece of philological
research crushed all ethics once and for all. We do not for a moment
dispute the philology. Moreover, as far as the general principle is
concerned, it had been previously pointed out by Maine that all crimes
were in their origin torts--that is to say, private wrongs against the
individual (though doubts as to how far this theory is to be carried
are raised by the universal execration which even in the most primitive
societies was visited on murderers like Cain or Orestes).

It may, moreover, be true that in many cases the local god is simply
a deceased ancestor promoted to a heavenly status, who requires
payment for protecting his descendants. But such arguments can at the
best merely have effect on the theological conception of morality
as a divine ordinance descending immediately from heaven. From the
sociological standpoint, indeed, to derive "ethics" from "contract"
is simply to consolidate one phase of the social instinct by deriving
it from another. As, however, has been hinted before, it was the
theological conception that was Nietzsche's main objective. So long
as he could kill that, he was indifferent to the price, if, indeed,
his morbidly classic and aristocratic standpoint did not hold that
the taint of the bourgeois and the _βάναυσος_ attached
automatically to everything commercial.

The shifts, however, to which Nietzsche is driven are well illustrated
when we come to that further stage in his evolution of the moral idea,
which consists in deriving modern ethics or the "bad conscience" from
the principle of "resentment" or "revenge," which is alleged to be
a totally distinct thing from the "active feeling" by which Justice
enforces its sanctions. But with all due respect to Nietzsche and his
official expounders, we find it hard to appreciate any real difference
in principle between the various drastic measures by which the social
organism enforces its decree. The punishment for murder, we suggest,
would be equally death both in a Nietzschean and in a non-Nietzschean
state, and how anything more than the merest verbal distinction is
achieved by labelling one sanction the "active emotion of justice" and
the other "the principle of resentment" we are frankly at a loss to
conceive. We can only say that the basing of the "bad conscience" on
the spirit of revenge is true in the sense that from one aspect the
function of the social organism is to protect the many against the few
by the enforcements of drastic punishments against its transgressors.
That, moreover, the strong are unduly restricted to pamper the weak is
an arguable proposition, how arguable, can be seen from the present
volubility of the financially strong when menaced nowadays with
taxation for the benefit of the financially weak. But to go to the
length of saying that the whole social fabric is a morbid distortion,
a thing intrinsically bad, a kind of quasi-theological fall from an
ideal state of primitive anarchy, is, at the most charitable estimate,
a mere piece of poetic extravagance. Yet to this length Nietzsche goes
when he pictures his blonde primæval beast swung into "new situations
and conditions of existence"; in other words, into the "pale of society
with a spring and rush." The apparent suddenness of the transition
strikes us, indeed, as naïf as the philosophy of Rousseau or of Hobbes,
who actually conceived the social contract as a specific bargain
entered into at a specific time.

One of the most interesting parts, however, of the whole essay is
Nietzsche's explanation of the "bad conscience" as the result of
the primitive energy of the savage venting itself in psychological
self-torture when debarred from its natural outlet of physical
violence. "All instincts which do not vent themselves without vent
themselves within," so runs the dictum of the prophet, a dictum
no doubt of great psychological truth, and capable of concrete
illustration when applied to nuns, monks, and other ascetics, or to
definite cases of neurotic introspection, but clearly not deserving to
be treated as the key to the whole social fabric.

We have already remarked that the real weakness of the Nietzschean
philosophy lay in the neglect of the Aristotelian theory that man was a
_ζῶον πολιτικον_ or a social animal. Let us resume this line
of inquiry. Nietzsche does, it is true, refer to the "herd instinct"
of the weak, but only to exhibit his very palpable contempt against
the weak who herd together so as to be able effectually to combat the
strong. A yet further proof of Nietzsche's bitter hatred of the social
organism is supplied by the celebrated phrases in _Zarathustra_, "as
little state as possible," and "the slow suicide which we call the
state." In our view, however, the real test of Nietzsche's position
is touched when we come to the position of the aristocratic strong
man. "Are they," one wonders, "tainted or untainted with the herd
instinct?" Nietzsche's answer to this question seems to be that, so
far as concerns the vast bulk of the herd, they are inimical to the
social instinct, but that none the less they find social organisation
(apparently that identical state which we have seen spoken of as
"slow suicide") necessary, not only for keeping the herd in proper
order, but for the purpose of "their own fight with other complexes
of power." Viewed impartially, however, it does not seem to us that
Nietzsche pays sufficient importance to the universality and value of
the social instinct. Perhaps the root of the whole matter lies in the
fact that Nietzsche fixes apparently the human unit as the individual,
whereas, in point of fact, it is that state in miniature, the family.
The origin of the family may no doubt be found in the primæval
instincts of sex and parentship. None the less, it is an indisputed
sociological fact that the family, or its larger manifestation the
tribe, is, as is evident from the slightest perusal of the works of
Darwin, Maine, or Westermarck, the primitive form of human life. It
would obviously be outside the scope of this preface to go in detail
into the whole question of the origin of society, but it would also
appear an indisputable platitude that man, _quâ_ man, thrives by
co-operation and association. In economical terminology this truth is
known as the division of labour, in sociology by our frequently quoted
Aristotelian dictum that man is a social animal. Nietzsche, it is
true, tries to evade, or at any rate minimise, the force of this fact
by treating law as the concrete exemplification of might is right.
This, of course, is true as far as it goes, but it is only one side
of the medal. All law is based on sovereignty, and all sovereignty is
in the last resort based on force. It is possible, no doubt, for this
force, this ultimate sanction to be exercised on approved Nietzschean
principles by the few against the many. To quote the words of Ihering,
the great Austrian jurist: "And so force, when it allies itself with
insight and self-control, produces law. It is the origin of law out
of the power of the stronger who stands in opposition to another,
of which we now begin to get a glimpse." Yet, even though for the
moment we confine ourselves to this aspect, it is obvious that while
such a law subjugates the weak to the strong, it also regulates and
curtails the rights of the strong among themselves, creating, as it
were, a state within a state, or, to use once again the language of
Ihering, "the self-limitation of force in its own interest." Equally
important, however, is the obverse side of the medal, on which appears
the exercise of the ultimate sanction by the many against the few.
To quote Ihering for the last time: "The crucial point in the whole
organisation of law is the preponderance of the common interests of
all over the particular interests of the individuals." The vice, then,
of Nietzsche's theory is that he bisects law into its two constituent
phases, ignores one phase and confines himself to the other, apparently
in blissful oblivion of the fact that even in the most aristocratic of
aristocracies there exists, even though in miniature, the "slow suicide
of the state."

There is a further criticism which seems to arise properly out of
Nietzsche's vehement denunciation of civilisation. The state and
civilisation are bad according to Nietzsche, because they take the
sting out of this struggle for existence, and cut the fangs of the
superman. But, according to Nietzschean principles, are they not
equally good in so far as they enable the superman to refine and
elaborate his scale of combat? It is, indeed, obvious that the
intellectualisation of the blonde beast of primitive times into the
newspaper proprietor, American financier, or revolutionary philosopher
of modernity would have been impossible but for the intervention of
a very highly developed social organism. Yet even the most confirmed
Nietzschean would admit that Mr. Rockefeller is, in spite of his
evangelistic proclivities, a more highly developed specimen of the
superman than Tamerlane, and Lord Northcliffe than, say, Cæsar Borgia.

One final observation: according to Nietzsche the test of merit is
efficiency and the test of efficiency is success. Supposing, however,
that a large number of individuals comparatively weak overpower through
sheer force of combination a small number of individuals comparatively
strong. Are not the weak changed into the strong, and conversely? We do
not say that this is necessarily so: we merely adduce the argument to
show how easily Nietzschean principles lend themselves to exploitation
at the hands of the Socialists.

Nietzsche's philosophy, however, was above all didactic, missionary.
He analysed contemporary morality, not by way of an academic or
scientific exercise, but with a view to striking, and striking hard,
at that aspect of it which he quite honestly believed to be vicious
and deleterious. Hence it is that having in his first two essays
dealt with the etymological and legal aspects of the question, he now
goes straight to the root of the whole matter. What is the practical
application of all these tendencies which he has analysed? The ascetic
ideal--and against this ideal our teacher proceeds to deliver as
tense and concentrated a sermon as ever fell from the lips of any
denouncer of the luxurious or non-ascetic ideal. We have not space,
unfortunately, to follow Nietzsche through his elaborate analysis both
of the ascetic ideal in its origin and in its eventual distortion and
corruption at the hands of the ascetic priest. We will only observe
that to grasp properly Nietzsche's position, stress should be laid
on the fact that in the same way in which it was not the conscience
_per se_, but the current content of the conscience, so it was not
asceticism _per se_, but the current content of asceticism to which
Nietzsche objected.

As he explains in drastic and elaborate style, the philosopher, like
the jockey or the athlete, would, through the simple exigencies of his
_métier_, live the ascetic life. In such cases asceticism is simply the
mechanical condition precedent of complete concentration. Similarly,
the _übermensch_ (superman) would no doubt be compelled to live the
ascetic life in his strenuous struggle with subsisting values. The
asceticism, however, to which Nietzsche in fact did object, was the
asceticism which was not like the philosopher's asceticism, a means to
creating or promoting actual human life, but was a means to destroying
and minimising actual human life, the asceticism which denied the right
to happiness, and which found in sin the solution to the riddle of the
human world.

Indeed, it is thoroughly characteristic of Nietzsche's whole attitude
that he demurs vigorously to almost any solution of the riddle of the
world. According to his reasoning, the need for any solution at all,
whether transcendental, after the pattern of Kant and the Idealists, or
quasi-transcendental, after the pattern of the pseudo-metaphysics of
the scientists, argues an inability to take life on its own merits and
on its own valuation.

Let us finally glance briefly at the practical application of the
Nietzschean philosophy, a course thoroughly consistent with the
intensely practical spirit of our prophet. We are at first almost
overwhelmed by the heterogeneous character of those who profess to be
the true disciples of the great master, a character so heterogeneous,
forsooth, that Nietzsche seems occasionally to be nothing but a
catch-word mouthed by every conceivable school of thought with
the rankest impunity. The Socialists, conveniently forgetting the
opprobrious designation by the sage as "spiders," and their apostolic
"Man is not equal," which he had thundered forth, find a bond of
sympathy in their common disapproval of Christianity, though even
here their standpoints are radically different, since while the
"tarantulæ" rebelled against it as being too narrow a prison, Nietzsche
scorns it as being too comfortable a lounge. Zarathustra, moreover,
showed himself truly Persian in his repudiation of the claims of
the child-bearing machine called woman to equal rights with the
warrior-man: "When thou goest with women," quoth the prophet, "forget
not the whip." Nothing daunted, however, the shrieking hordes of
the ultra-modern sisterhood, from the "Free Lover" to the "Ethical
Lifer," find in Nietzsche the most emphatic justification for alike
their theories and their practices. Does not _Es Lebe das Leben_, the
well-known drama of Sudermann, portray the philosophical dogma of
self-expression leading to highly unphilosophic applications? Does not
the Scandinavian writer and woman with a mission, Ella[1] Key, start
her book _Personality and Beauty_ with the following quotations from
Nietzsche: "Follow after thyself--what says thy conscience?--thou shalt
be that which thou art--let the highest self-expression be thy highest
expression." Truly the Nietzschean aphorisms seem caps guaranteed
to fit the most diverse heads so, but they show the slightest
disposition to tumidity. Young men and nations in a hurry, Socialists
and aristocrats, æsthetes and "woman's righters," all combine in a
cacophonous chorus well calculated to make the shade of Zarathustra,
should he visit Europe, hasten back in disgust to the mountain peaks of
his solitude.

Yet, however susceptible to abuse the Nietzschean philosophy may be,
such a multifarious exploitation, though repudiated from the official
standpoint, does not strike us as necessarily illogical. The doctrine
of the superman, indeed, has in Nietzsche two distinct meanings--the
evolution of generic man to his extreme limit, as exemplified in the
aphorism, "Man is a bridge between beast and superman," and secondly
the idealisation of the clash between the individual and society, the
apotheosis of the aggressive combatant element in man, the
_τὸ θυμοεῑδες_ of the Platonic trinity. Yet, whatever meaning may
be chosen, it is well-nigh impossible to prevent individuals from
cherishing the honest and sincere belief that in developing themselves
(whether with or without the rigid discipline incumbent upon the
orthodox superman), they are either helping the development of the
race, or providing a picturesque expression of a considerably altered,
but still authentic, "Athanasius contra mundum." With the present boom
no doubt Nietzscheanism may become a craze (in Germany, of course, it
is already _passé_ and has become academic and respectable), like the
æstheticism of the Wilde period and grown liable to equal if dissimilar

Yet none the less, if taken very broadly and very sanely, Nietzsche
is capable of constituting a valuable modern bible for the
twentieth-century man who proposes to live vastly and to play for grand
stakes. It may no doubt be true that while Heine and Voltaire merely
shot poisoned arrows at Christianity, Nietzsche blew it clean away with
the giant salvos of his artillery; yet on the tremendous space that he
cleared he built a temple to Energy and Efficiency. And note, that he
worships these deities not for any ulterior advantage, but for their
own sake solely. His frenzy for life precludes him at once from being
a pessimist; it does not follow, however, that he is an optimist (in
the hedonistic sense of the word), for neither in his own life, nor in
his conception of that of others, do we find it clearly expressed that
the pleasures of life outweigh the pains. More accurate is it to say
that he is a philosophy transcending optimism. "On! On!! On!!! Live!
Live!! Live!!! whatever the result and whatever your fate. Fight life
and chance everything, for the fight's the thing rather than the mere
trumpery guerdon." So we would venture to phrase the true Nietzschean
spirit, or if an actual quotation is required, "_I say unto you it is
not the good cause which sanctifies the war, but the good war which
sanctifies the cause_."

The most marvellous thing, however, about this grim lust of life is
that it is absolutely insatiate, absolutely infinite. According to
the theory of the Eternal Return, the events of this life will repeat
and repeat with the tireless inevitability of a recurring decimal.
Taken literally, no doubt this theory is simply the mystical dance
of a Titanic mind striving to scale infinity. But the psychological
significance is none the less profound. Is it not turning the tables
with a vengeance on the Christian idea of a prospective non-earthly
existence, compared with which this existence is a mere shadowy
preparation, to pile future life on future life on future life, and
every one of them a repetition of man's life on earth? It is impossible
for the affirmation of human existence to be carried further. And
this human existence, what is its solution, None, or rather itself!
Existence is its own sanction, its own _raison d'être_, and he who
coldly ravishes the sphinx of life has found a drastic solution far
excelling that of any Œdipus.

[Footnote 1: transcriber's note: "Ella" (sic). Should be "Ellen" Key.


        "I seek God and find the Devil."

        "My hate is boundless as the wastes, burning as the sun,
        and stronger than my love."

The above quotations give some idea of that black pessimism which is,
at any rate, the most patent characteristic of Strindberg. Yet neither
quotation, motto, nor catch-word can do justice to the multifarious
life and character of this man. For Strindberg, more than any other
European author of our age, has boxed the whole compass of our
modernity with its tumults, its aspirations, its perversities; its
glaring searchlights of science, its pallid flames of mysticism, and
its needle ever pointing to the two opposite though connected poles
of sex. He is in turns the most rabid of atheists, the most devout of
Catholics, the most esoteric of occultists; now the most Utopian of
Socialists, now the most uncompromising of individualists. Running the
gauntlet of three unhappy and dissolved marriages, he has become the
European specialist in conjugal infelicity, to say nothing of being
credited with innumerable conquests, which he himself would doubtless
have designated as captures. His novels, his autobiographies, and his
equally subjective dramas all exhale the most sulphurous hate against
the distorted anomaly of the new woman, yet he is an Orpheus who,
scorning the prosaic joys of some normal and uninteresting Eurydice,
surrenders himself with almost pathological gusto to be torn to
pieces by the monstrous mænads of modernity. The paroxysms of his hate
alternate with moods of the most sentimental idealism, and the harsh
impetus of his onslaught is only equalled by the, at times, abject
meekness of his romantic devotion.

Before, consequently, we embark on some slight survey of Strindberg's
life and of the more characteristic of his numerous works, let us
endeavour to lay hold of the clues of one or two primary features
which will serve as a guide in the, at first sight, extremely tangled
labyrinth of his psychology.

Now the dominant emotion in Strindberg's temperament is fear. It is
this fear which, at times assuming the dimensions of _paranoia_ or
systematised delusion and persecution mania, largely supplies the
explanation to his whole attitude towards Man, Woman, and God. He
possessed also a vehemently explosive egoism and a gigantic intellect,
at times dominating his fear and functioning with the most powerful
precision, but as often as not interpreting the whole external world in
the terms of some preconceived subjective emotion. Add also a morbidly
hypertrophied sexual sensibility, together with a distinct strain of
genuine idealism, and one may perhaps be able to envisage with some
accuracy the cardinal points of our author's brain.

August Strindberg was born in 1849, the son of a _mésalliance_ between
a shipping agent and a servant girl. The circumstances of his childhood
tended to magnify that morbid sense of fear which, according to our
most eminent psychologists, is always innate and never altogether
acquired. The two parents, the seven children, and the two servants
lived in two rooms, and the family always appeared to him like "a
prison in which two prisoners watched each other, a place where
children were tortured and maids brawled." His mother died when he was
thirteen, to be succeeded by the inevitable stepmother. His school life
also was unhappy, but his description of it, though no doubt perfectly
consistent with actual hardship, exhibits at the same time the
reactions of a morbid sensibility to the hard facts of external life.
"Life was a penitentiary for crimes which one had committed before one
was born, so that the child always went about with a bad conscience."

Note also, at the same time, the presence of the combative aggressive
element in the boy who would lose nearly every game of chess by the
inconsidered vehemence of his attack, or would break open chests of
drawers in the fury of his desire to obtain their contents. And observe
the early manifestations of that fundamental emotion which was to
obtain throughout his life alternative outlets in the two parallel
channels of religion and sex. Thus, like Byron, he experienced a
violent passion for a girl before the age of puberty. So far, again,
as religion was concerned, he had a great horror of darkness and the
unknown, and his deity would appear to have been a god rather of fear
than of love. And though Scandinavians as a race take Christianity far
more seriously than the inhabitants of any other European country, he
would appear to have possessed, even for a Scandinavian, the religious
temperament to an unusual degree. Thus, he said his prayers on his way
to school, and evinced a precocious desire to become a priest. But
the religious element became dormant amid the chequered vicissitudes
which signalised his youth and his adolescence. He started to study
medicine at the University of Upsala, but his lack of funds broke into
his college career and compelled him to earn his own living. He is by
turns telegraph clerk, editor of an insurance paper (for which purpose
he specially learns the higher mathematics), tutor in the family of a
rich Jewish physician, actor in the Karl Moor of Schiller's _Robbers_,
journalist on a daily paper (where the drastic offensiveness of his
criticisms made his position on the staff intolerable), and librarian
in the Royal Library of Stockholm (when he specially learns Chinese
for the purpose of compiling a catalogue). His struggles were bitter
and continued, and the acuteness of his privations manifests itself in
a deep consciousness of class hatred against the prosperous and not
infrequently dishonest philistinism of the day.

Note, also, the occurrence of combined religious and persecution mania
in the crises of his illness and despondency. For at such times he
takes the Devil himself as seriously as the Deity, believes in an
"Evil God to whom the Creator had handed over the world," and "has the
consciousness of being personally persecuted by personal powers of
evil." These emotional outbursts are all the more interesting because
intellectually he had become the most fanatical of freethinkers, had
read with profit Buckle's _History of Civilisation in England_, and
was a fervent disciple of the new naturalism. During this period he
had already begun to write dramas, none of which, however, have any
substantial significance with the possible exception of the historical
drama _Meister Olof_, which was unsuccessfully performed in 1877-8, and
into which the already misogynous author had introduced the character
of the prostitute, "in order to show that the difference between her
and the ordinary woman is not so enormously great."

In 1879, however, Strindberg achieved a _succès de scandale_ with
his novel _The Red Room_. The satire of this book (written, it will
be remembered, during his freethought years), may, no doubt, be the
milk of Christian charity when compared with the concentrated vitriol
of the _Black Flags_ of his Catholic period, and the various scenes
and pictures may, no doubt, strike the critic as episodic and lacking
in systematic cohesion, yet the work has some claim to recognition
by reason of the vivid force of its description of contemporaneous
life. The naïvely idealistic hero, the shady actress passing from
seduction to seduction with all the facility of the experienced
_ingénue_, the respectable director of the shoddy insurance company,
the insidious Jewish financial broker, the cynical journalist, the
grim but benevolent doctor, are all portrayed in a style which at once
shines and chills with all the brightness of the coldest steel. Viewed
psychologically, the book is significant as exhibiting the Socialistic
fury of an embittered man "whose class-hatred lay in his blood and in
his nerves," and who revenges himself on the system which had conspired
against him, by exposing with sinister precision its most repulsive

The cynicism of _The Red Room_ was succeeded by the Utopian
romanticism of the dramas, _Das Geheimniss der Gilde_, _Frau Margit_,
_Gluckspeter_. The change in mood is probably to be ascribed to the
vogue of _The Red Room_, and to the initial success of his alliance
with his first wife, Siri von Essen, the actress, whom he had married
in 1878, and who was subsequently to enjoy the ambiguous blessing of
being officially immortalised in _The Confession of a Fool_.

This mood, in its turn, was soon replaced by a concentrated and
fanatical misogynism which was to dominate practically every book
which Strindberg was subsequently to write. The fundamental cause
was, no doubt, the morbidly irritable and suspicious nature of the
man himself. Strindberg's whole attitude towards woman, however, is
only fully understood by some appreciation of the New Woman Movement,
which under the auspices of Ellen Key flourished vigorously in Sweden
in the "eighties." Like, for instance, our own Suffragette agitation,
or indeed, any popular craze, however intrinsically meritorious, this
movement, which was, above all, a crusade for sexual equality, was
attended by wild and perverse extravagances. Not merely the genuinely
masculine woman, but every little doll of a woman in every little
doll's house, became obsessed with the imperative necessity of the
emancipation of her own body and the self-development of her own soul.
A holy war of the sexes was proclaimed, and the sacred shibboleth of
the New Thought, the New Ethics, and the New Love was soon in the mouth
of every woman possessed of the true feminine _esprit de corps._ And
with the praiseworthy object of adjusting the balance of nature, and of
arriving so far as possible at the ideal harmony of an almost perfect
equation, in some cases even the little boys would be brought up as
girls, while, conversely, the little girls would be educated as boys.

But the misogynism of Strindberg was something far more than a merely
intellectual appreciation of the Anti-Feminist standpoint. Even making
allowance for the considerable impetus doubtless given to his attack
by reason of his personal matrimonial complications, the cause lay far
more deeply ingrained in his own constitution. For the arrogation by
the female of equal rights to the male would of itself tend to provoke
the violent apprehensiveness of a man always morbidly alarmed at the
slightest suggestion of any interference with his own personal rights,
and always scenting a grievance with all the superhuman _flair_ of
the true maniac of persecution. Strindberg's hatred of woman is thus
to a large extent the hatred self-begotten of fear out of its own
spirit, and without the superfluous aid of a concrete reality. If,
too, we identify Strindberg himself with some of his men characters
(_e.g._ Kurt in _The Death Dance_, Axel in _Playing with Fire_, or the
narrator of _The Confession of a Fool_), who render to the objects
of their passion acts of the most abject servility, and who kiss the
feet of women almost as frequently as their lips, we would hazard the
suggestion that he himself (who owns to having found in his reverence
for woman a substitute for his reverence for God) would in certain
moods welcome with morbid alacrity this new feminine domination, while
his reaction from this inverted attitude would but lash his misogynism
to even more hysterical paroxysms.

These considerations may perhaps explain why in so many of his works
the Strindberg woman and the Strindberg man are so highly specialised.
The typical Strindberg woman is a fiend with the physique of a Madonna
and the soul of a vampire, who sucks dry the life-blood of her heroic
victim. The typical Strindberg man is a Samson shorn of his strength,
writhing in the toils of some Delilah, protesting vociferously, and
yet taking a morbid delight in his own bondage. English readers
will remember the not altogether unanalogous case of John Tanner,
that converse Don Juan of Mr. Shaw, who, with all his fanfaronnade
of masculine independence, is, as he has from the beginning feared,
anticipated and desired, successfully hunted down by his sly and
dashing _Donna Juana_.

After the publication of _The Red Room_, Strindberg visited both
Switzerland and Paris, where he was invited to meet Björnsen, entered
into relations with the Théätre Libre of M. Antoine, had one or two of
his plays produced, and meditated an unfortunately written satire on
the French capital. In 1883 he produced _Swedish Destinies_, a volume
of essays on contemporary problems, whose romantic masquerade would
seem to have effectively concealed its underlying satire.

The most significant work, however, which he published at this period
was the volume of twelve (subsequently expanded to twenty) short
stories, entitled _Marriage_. These tales all treat of the various
phases, economic, social, psychological, and physiological, of the
sexual problem, which he observed either in his own life or in the
couples whom he saw in a Swiss _pension._ The characteristic of this
work is its extraordinary seriousness. For to Strindberg the sexual
problem provides neither the excuse for the philosophic flippancy
of the cynic, nor for the priggish modernity of the ethical or
intellectual snob, but is the one obsessing reality of actual life.

Compared with the black pessimism of this work (relieved though it may
be at times by a ray of tender sentiment or deep paternal feeling), the
grimmest stories of Wedekind are benignly jovial and the most scabrous
tales of De Maupassant but innocently sportive. Neither smile, nor
even leer, ever breaks the set visage of this stern irony, which seems
indistinguishable from life itself. There are no artificial climaxes
or ostentatious flourishes of style to prick the senses of the reader.
Described in a language of the most brutal phlegm and the most forceful
simplicity, the facts of reality do their own unaided work. Each story
is no mere dexterously elaborated incident, but a condensed life. How
powerful, for instance, is such a story as _Asra,_ the history of the
pious youth afflicted with anæmia by reason of his own continence,
and dying two years after his marriage with that superabundantly
healthy ethical worker who subsequently married twice again, had eight
children, and wrote articles on over-population and immorality. And how
genuinely awful is _Autumn_, that frigid anti-climax of a stale and
re-hashed honeymoon:

        "And she sang, 'What is the name of the land in which
        my darling dwells?' But, alas, the voice was thin and
        sharp. It was at times like a shriek from the depths of
        the soul that fears that the noon is passed, and that
        the evening is approaching. When the song was over, she
        did not at first dare to turn round, as though she was
        expecting that he would come to her and say something.
        But he did not come; and there was silence in the room.
        When at last she turned round on her chair, he sat on
        the sofa and cried. She wanted to get up, take his head
        in her hands, and kiss him as before; but she remained
        seated, motionless, with her gaze turned to the floor....

        "They drank coffee, and spoke about the coolness of the
        summer weather, and where they would spend the summer
        next year. But the conversation began to dry up; and
        they repeated themselves. At last he said, after a long,
        undisguised yawn, 'I'm going to bed now.' 'So will I,'
        she said, and got up, 'but I will go first and have a
        look on the balcony.'

        "When she came back, she remained standing and listening
        at the door of the bedroom. All was quiet inside, and
        the boots were outside the door. She knocked, but there
        was no answer. Then she opened the door, and went in. He
        slept! He slept!"

Though, moreover, the characters in _Marriage_ are more normal and
average than in any other of Strindberg's works, the author airs again
and again his pet sexual grievances. _Corinna_, in particular, and
_The Duel_, are savage attacks respectively on the ethical amazon and
the womanly woman who makes her very womanliness an engine of tyranny,
while the _Breadwinner_ narrates how an apparently quite impeccable
husband and father, writing himself to death to support his family,
was driven to suicide by the naggings and exactions of a querulous and
discontented wife.

_Marriage_ was succeeded by the Utopian _Swiss Tales_; but the
strenuous economic struggles to which Strindberg was now subjected
forced him to discard as insipid the vague compromise of free-thought
and to drink the bracing tonic of a Nietzschean and self-reliant
atheism. "God, Heaven, and Eternity had to be thrown overboard if the
ship was to be kept afloat; and it had to be kept afloat because I was
not alone ... I became an atheist as a matter of duty and necessity."

Yet it is interesting to observe that, taking the solution of the
World-Riddle as a matter of acute personal importance, he studies the
whole history of mankind to satisfy himself that he is right in his
conclusion, and that the element of superstition is still so strong
that when his child is ill he prays, atheist that he is, with all the
fervour of a Christian Scientist. To the period of his atheism are to
be ascribed, with the exception of _Black Flags_, his most powerful,
most drastic work, his two packed volumes of one-act plays, the
autobiographic _Confession of a Fool_, and the Nietzschean novel, _The
Open Sea_.

Note also that his matrimonial misery and his divorce from his first
wife had given an additional poison to a sting which was always
morbidly eager to inject its venom.

The plays of Strindberg belong to the naturalistic school of
problem-play which was in full vogue during the period of their
composition. Technically their originality lies in the intensity of
their concentration. Though many of them are one-acters and they nearly
all observe the unity of place, they resemble less the ordinary
curtain-raiser than the one solitary act round which the ordinary
modern play is usually written. Each play is nothing but climax. Though
in some cases they are nearly as long as ordinary drama, it is rare
that they have any subsidiary characters. Even the protagonists are too
occupied with the urgencies of their own immediate crises, and with
exposing the nakedness of their own souls, to have time for either the
artificial jewels of the Pinerovian epigram or the flying rockets of
the Shavian dialectic. The problem is stuck too deep into their lives
to require any artificial flourishing. Observe, too, that nearly every
play is a variation on one theme, the mutual hate, fear, and war of a
malevolent humanity. Their very love but sharpens their enmity, and
they draw blood with nearly every word.

The three-act play, _The Father_, ventilates the author's chronic
grievance of the ruin of the man by the woman. The plot is cruel
in its simplicity. The husband, though in a state of acute nervous
disorder, is not certifiable. The wife, anxious for a freer life,
smuggles a doctor into the house, plays adroitly on the man's pet
mania that he is not the father of his own daughter, forges in his
handwriting a letter branded with insanity, goads him into throwing
a burning lamp at her, and with the aid of his old nurse gets him by
a ruse into a strait-jacket, in which he succumbs to a stroke. Yet
with all its concentrated sensationalism, and work though it may be
of a constitutional maniac of persecution, the play is too deep, too
sincere, too fundamentally convincing to be ever near that line which
separates the realm of tragedy from the pandemonium of melodrama. With
what ghastly irony does the daughter innocently prick the sensitive
sore in her father's brain:

        [Rittmeister _sits huddled up on the settee_.

        BERTHA. Do you know what you've done? Do you know you've
        thrown the lamp at Mamma?

        RITTMEISTER. Have I?

        BERTHA. Yes, you have. Just think if she'd been hurt?

        RITTMEISTER. What would that have mattered?

        BERTHA. You are not my father if you can talk like that.

        Rittmeister (_gets up_). What do you say? Am I not your
        father? How do you know that? Who told you so? And who
        is your father, then? Who?

But of all Strindberg's plays, indisputably the most powerful is _Miss
Julie_, that gripping tragedy of the over-sexed young woman who on an
oppressive mid-summer evening insists on being seduced by her father's
butler. The girl is of noble birth, and the duel of sex is intensified
by the duel of class. In the fifty pages of this play, with its three
characters of the woman, the butler, and the cook, which observes
rigorously the Aristotelian unities, every element of the highest
and gravest tragedy is introduced with the most accurate and natural
psychology--the exaggerated dancing of the daughter of the house, who
competes with her own cook for the favours of her own butler-lover; the
ribald grins and songs of the servants; the mingled insolence, common
sense, and respectfulness of the domestic; the hysterical reaction
of the _déclassée_ and dishonoured girl. The following passages may
perhaps give some faint idea of this work's sustained and infernal

        [John _opens the cupboard, takes a bottle of wine out,
        and fills two used glasses_.

        THE YOUNG LADY. Where do you get the wine from?

        JOHN. From the cellar.

        THE YOUNG LADY. My father's burgundy.

        JOHN. Ain't it good enough for his son-in-law?

        THE WOMAN. Thief!

        JOHN. Are you going to blab?

        THE LADY. Oh--oh--the accomplice of a thief....

        JOHN. You hate men-folk, miss?

        THE LADY. Yes, as a rule!... But at times, when I feel

        JOHN. You hate me, too?

        THE LADY. Infinitely! I could have killed you like an

And how clutching is the climax, when the girl, a simultaneous prey
to nausea with life and to fear of death, persuades her domestic to
hypnotise her into suicide at almost the precise minute when her father
is ringing for his boots:

        THE YOUNG LADY. Have you never been in a theatre and
        seen the mesmerist? He says to the subject: "Take the
        broom"; he takes it. He says "Sweep"; and he sweeps....

        JOHN (_takes his razor and puts it into her hand_). Here
        is the broom--go now where there's plenty of light--into
        the barn--and--(_whispers into her ear_).

_Miss Julie_ is remarkable as being the only one of Strindberg's
works in which the man comes off victorious with the exception of the
four-act _Comrades,_ that sombre comedy of Parisian artist life, where
the crowing wife bullies her self-sacrificing husband on the score of
having ousted him from the Salon by her own successful picture, only
to be told that he had simply changed the numbers, and to be finally
ejected from her perverted home by that reasserted man whose efficiency
she had despised and exploited, but whose virile despotism she now
begins to love.

In _The Creditor_, Strindberg treats again his favourite theme of the
vampire woman and the spoliated man. Thekla, the usual worthless,
demoniac female, having dissolved her marriage with the schoolmaster
Gustav, has married the artist Adolph. The scene is the sea-side.
Thekla has gone off on some jaunt. Her new husband, who is apparently
even more miserable without than with his wife, is a nervous wreck.
He makes the acquaintance of the old husband, who presents himself
incognito to readjust the balance of his matrimonial account. Gustav
plays with masterly hypnotism on the suggestibility of his colleague,
making him doubt himself, his vocation, his health, and at last his
wife. And then when his wife returns, and the enfeebled husband has
made an abortive attempt at asserting his theoretic virile superiority,
he makes love to the wife, is detected by the visitors, and goes
back to his own solitary misery, to leave his wife stranded and his
new confrere dead. Note, too, that here again the human triangle is
complete in itself, and that the agony is protracted to the last shred
of its passion without ever flagging for one single moment.

Space prohibits any complete discussion of the remaining plays in
the cycle of Strindberg's _Eleven One-acters_. Yet we would mention
_Motherly Love,_ a variation on the theme of Mrs. Warren. The
_souteneuse_ mother, with all her loathsome affectation of wounded
parental feeling, plays judiciously on the morbidly filial conscience
of a clean-minded but weak-willed actress-daughter, prevents her from
obtaining respectable friends or advancement on the stage, in order to
preserve for herself her sole professional stock-in-trade.

Equally impressive is _The Bond_, which expresses in one divorce-court
scene the whole mordant tragedy of wrangling matrimony and authentic
parental affection.

In a lighter vein is _Playing with Fire_, the one real comedy which
Strindberg ever wrote. In this the delightful _ménage_ of a young son,
a young wife, a young friend of the family, a young charity cousin,
and a philistine but by no means senile father, everybody is flirting
with everybody else. Particularly admirable in its mixture of the comic
and the ironic is the character and attitude of the conceited and
ultra-modern artist-husband, genuinely jealous of that friend and of
that wife whom he loves so sincerely, and yet throwing them into each
other's arms in a compounded mood of priggish bravado and authentic
affection. The friend, apprehensive lest he may have a bad conscience,
is anxious to take a room in the village.

        THE WIFE. Why don't you stay with us? Out with it.

        THE FRIEND. I don't know. I think you ought to be left
        quiet. Besides it might happen that we should get fed up
        with each other.

        THE WIFE. Are you fed up with us already? I tell you, it
        won't do. I tell you that if you stay out there in the
        village, people will begin to talk.

        THE FRIEND. Talk? What will they talk about?

        THE WIFE. Oh, you know perfectly well how stories get
        put together.

        THE SON. You stay here--there's an end of it. Let them
        talk. If you stay here, it goes without saying that
        you're my wife's lover, and if you stay in the village,
        it goes without saying that you've broken with each
        other, or that I've kicked you out. Consequently, I
        think it more honourable for you to be regarded as her
        lover--eh, what?

        THE FRIEND. You certainly express yourself with
        considerable lucidity; but in a case like this, I'd
        rather prefer to consider which is honourable for you

As we have already hinted, an additional bitterness had been introduced
into Strindberg's misogynism by the unhappiness of his own first
marriage, which was dissolved in 1889. It is this marriage which
Strindberg celebrates in that phenomenal piece of official sexual
autobiography, _The Confession of a Fool_, which has successfully
scandalised the whole Continent of Europe. In comparison with this book
the _New Machiavelli_ is but the tamest Sunday-school reading, and
the romantic confessions of Mr. George Moore the merest healthy pranks
of robustious youth. This work throughout has the real spontaneity of
the genuine diary rather than the studied frankness of the elaborate
literary artificer. The young librarian is in Stockholm. A young lady
makes advances to him. "She has an adventurous appearance, hovering
between the artist, the blue-stocking, the daughter of the house,
the _fille de joie_, the new woman, and the coquette." She presses
her suit, looks at him in an unambiguous manner, and "he only owes
his virtue to her extraordinary ugliness." He is introduced to her
friends, the Baron and Baroness X. He becomes the _ami de famille_.
But the demon of sex is at work, and simply through keeping step with
her in walking he will experience a unification of their whole nervous
systems. Honourable man that he is, he runs away from danger, starts
for Paris in a steamship, and is seen off amid the combined tears
of the married pair. The ship sails. His nerves break down; and in
an hysterical paroxysm he insists on being disembarked, is attended
by a priest and doctor at a small hotel, and returns post-haste to
Stockholm. The Baroness runs away to a watering-place. But matters only
progress with even greater rapidity on her return. The Baron is largely
occupied with a cousin; and an official declaration takes place between
the wife and the lover. With ultra-modern honesty they immediately
apprise the husband, who while giving them the widest margin within
which to exercise their platonic affections, yet reposes implicit trust
in their combined honour. A financial crash, however, disposes of the
Baron; and the gentleman is landed with his lady. There ensue all the
joys and agonies of a ten-years' union. The couple are linked in the
burning bonds of a mutual love and a mutual hate. The author has to
sacrifice his own well-being and career to push forward his wife in
her amateurish efforts in journalism and acting. From that time "legal
prostitution enters into the marriage...." She belongs to the public,
she makes up and dresses for the public, and she consequently becomes
"a prostitute who will finally send in her bill for such and such

The moods alternate with the regularity of a pendulum. If at one moment
"the nest of love has become transformed into a dog-kennel," and the
author is morbidly jealous of nearly every man and every woman with
whom his wife has the slightest acquaintance, strikes his wife, and
endeavours to drown her; it is only subsequently, in the last stages of
servile uxoriousness, to idolise her again as a martyr and as a saint.
Six times does he leave her (expending on one occasion in debauchery
the proceeds of his pawned wedding-ring), and six times does he return,
only to draw up at last this monstrous dossier of his conjugal life:
"The story is at an end, my beloved one; I have revenged myself; the
account is squared."

Not altogether inexplicably, Strindberg has been much attacked on the
score of this book. He has been charged with wickedly defaming an
innocent and deserving woman. Yet even though the book be objectively
false, it is subjectively true. It is impossible to doubt its
prodigious sincerity, even though this merely be the implicit sincerity
of persecution mania. Every single nuance of the emotions of a man who
honestly thinks that he is being unscrupulously exploited is faithfully
described. The book may shock by its vehement coldness, its abnormal
callousness, its matter-of-fact explicitness; yet from the literary
standpoint, its entire absence of affectation, the drastic ease of
its simplicity, the swift naturalness of its diction, cannot fail to
convince. It stands out from the whole of European literature as the
superlative masterpiece of suspicious love and monstrous morbid hate.

In the great novel, _By the Open Sea_ (1890), Strindberg's Nietzschean
mood achieves its grand zenith. The hero, Axel Borg (whom we may
already remember from _The Red Room_), "instead of, like the weak
Christians, embracing a God outside himself, took what he could seize
with his own hands and in his own self, and sought to make his own
personality into a complete type of humanity." Borg, who combines with
the ideals of the superman the hyper-sensitiveness of the neurotic,
lives the single life as an inspector of fishery in a little village on
the Swedish coast, where the sea "frightens not like the forest with
its dark mystery, but brings quietude like an open great big true eye."
He is pursued and caught by an over-sexed young woman, realises her
worthlessness, and sails out to commit suicide.

        "Out toward the new Star of Christmas, ran his voyage,
        out over the Sea, the All-Mother, from whose bosom the
        first spark of life was kindled, the inexhaustible
        source of fertility and love, life's origin and life's

This book, with its splendid nature-descriptions, the tragic dignity
of its hero, and the azure swiftness of its limpid style, is one
of Strindberg's most impressive feats. Yet even here the author's
characteristic traits can be distinctly traced. The noble male is
ruined by a despicable woman; while here, too, the cosmic mysticism of
the professed atheist (whose mood can perhaps be best expressed by the
worn _cliché_ of "being in tune with the infinite"), reveals only too
clearly the emotional bias of a fundamentally religious temperament.

This temperament was soon to manifest itself in the most tragic form.
Jaded with literature, and unhappy again in his second marriage with
the Austrian authoress, Frida Uhl, in 1893, Strindberg embarked on
the study of chemistry, took rooms in the Latin quarter, attended the
Sorbonne laboratories, and imagined that he had revolutionised science
by the discovery of a new element in sulphur. He had by now attained
the, to him, crucial period of the late "forties," and the chronic
excesses of his emotionalism now assumed a religious form, to the
accompaniment of the most acute mania of persecution.

His experiences in these years, 1895-8, are described in the _Inferno_
and the _Legends_, works which the mystic and the psychologist can read
with equal if heterogeneous edification. In these books, which are
based on Strindberg's diaries during the actual time, the aberrations
of a disorganised brain are set out with the most unconscious literary
art. His delusions became systematised with all the ingenuity of the
_paranoiac_. Every casual suggestion thrown up by his memory, or the
events and associations of every-day life, every bit of science that
he had ever studied or of mysticism that he had ever felt, are all
utilised to build the infernal scheme of his mania. He is "the innocent
sacrifice of an unjust persecution," the prey of unknown powers, the
conducting-point of electrical streams from unknown agencies. He asks
for a miracle and sees in the heavens the ten commandments and the name
of Jehovah. His friend Popoffski (in point of fact, the Polish-German
novelist Przybeszewski) has come to Paris; it is with the sole object
of killing him by poison. His usual seat at his usual café is occupied;
he is the victim of a universal conspiracy. Eventually the hells of
his torment burn themselves out in an abject ecstasy of atonement, in
Catholicism, Swedenborgianism, and the bastard hybrid of a scientific

From this time the religious obsession sits upon most, if not
all, of his subsequent work. To this mood are due the officially
religious dramas _To Damascus, Midsummer_, the extremely weak
_Advent and Easter_, his new-found theory of _The Conscious Will in
the World-History_, his historical dramas (where the characters,
particularly Luther, were too subjectively conceived to be historically
convincing), and his _Dream-Play_ (where telephones, lawyers, theatres,
enchanted woods, Indra's daughter, military officers, married
couples, casinos, poets, and ballet-dancers all combine to weave the
filmy phantasmagoria of a Buddhistic reality). We may also mention
in this connection the _Blue Books_, the official synthesis of his
life (a series of miniature essays on such apparently heterogeneous
subjects as, _inter alia_, Troy, Christ, electro-chemistry, botany,
surds, Assyriology, optics, geology, Hammurabi, astrology, morphium,
Swedenborgianism, spermatozoic analysis, mystic numbers, Kipling, and

Although, speaking generally, Strindberg achieved his masterpieces
during the period of his atheism, many of his later works have
indisputable value. The play _Intoxication_ (1900), for instance
(though the killing through sheer unconscious force of will, by the
hero, of the child of one mistress, in order to gratify the caprice of
another, may strike the unimaginative critic as slightly melodramatic,
and his eventual retirement into a Catholic monastery as somewhat of an
anti-climax), is a work of extraordinary power.

So also is the _Death Dance_ (1900), in which the middle-aged captain
and his _passée_ wife grind each other to ruin and despair beneath
the mutual mill-stones of their hate, "that most unreasonable hate,
without ground, without object, but also without end." Does not the
author plumb the extreme depths of human malevolence in the passage in
which the wife in company with her cousin is expecting her paralytic
husband to fall down dead?

        KARL. What are you looking at over there, dear, by the

        ALICE. I'm seeing if he's tumbled down.

        KARL. Has he tumbled down?

        ALICE. NO, more's the pity. He deceives me in everything.

We would also mention the Maeterlinckian beauty of the _Crown Bride_
and _Swan White_ (1900), the heroine of which is an idealisation of
the author's third wife, the actress, Harriet Bosse; the delicate
fantasy of _Tales_ (1908); and the _Swedish Miniatures_, of which the
_Sacrifice Dance_ in particular is a positive masterpiece of swift

Cruelty, moreover, is an integral element in at any rate primitive
religion. This may conceivably explain why, faithfully fulfilling
what he personally professed to have found a joyless duty, Strindberg
successfully performed in _Black Flags_, his celebrated _roman à clef,_
the intellectual flaying and dismemberment of all Stockholm Bohemia.
It is amusing to remember that he successfully consulted the oracle
of the Book of Job before he published the work in 1905, to face the
protesting shrieks of his victims with all the devout conscience of
some early priest of Thor who gravely officiates at some blood-stained
human sacrifice.

It is outside the purpose of this essay to discuss whether these
descriptions of the intellectual and sexual clique of the Swedish
capital constitute a fair portrait or a monstrous defamation, or
whether, for instance, Hanna Paj is a malignant travesty or a
euphemistic delineation of that lady whom all who have the slightest
acquaintance with the Continental Feminist Movement will immediately

As a sheer piece of satire the book waves its black flag unchallenged
amid all the fluttering multicoloured pennons of modern European
literature. What matter if the characterisation be true or false? So
far, at any rate, as the non-Swedish reader is concerned, the illusion
is complete. Kilo, "the little bookseller, with the suffering eyes
of a sick dog"; Falkenstrom, the idealist, whose wife is induced by
her bosom friend to join some alleged monstrous cosmopolitan masonic
sisterhood; Hanna Paj, the feminist lecturer, the fury with the flag
of hate on which was written the device, "Revenge on Man"; Smartman,
the debonair intriguing editor with his two sets of rooms--all these
pictures of "the galley-slaves of ambition linked together in the
fetters of interest, these murderers and thieves who steal each other's
thoughts, addresses, friends, and personalities," are perfectly
convincing. Above all there stands out the delineation of Lars Peter
Zachrisson, "the intellectual cannibal," the "broker of literature, the
promoter of mutual admiration societies, the speculator in reputations,
the founder of syndicates for the manufacture of celebrities," the
morphia maniac, the tippler "who laughs humorously in his moustache and
weeps tears of whisky from his eyes," the father of "that resurrected
corpse, that wandering shame, whose face was known to all, and who was
branded with his own name." And how devilish is the description of this
domestic hell of human hate, where he mocks his wife on her failing
charms and encourages her gluttony with the specific object of spoiling
her figure, where the mother in her turn brings up her children like a
breed of dachshunds whom she sets to bait their father, and where the
two spouses yet feel some inexplicable need of being together in the
same room for the purpose of that mutual nagging and mutual reviling
which constituted the chief interest in their miserable existence.

To sum up, we have seen how throughout his life the persecution mania
of Strindberg expressed itself in his attitude to sex, religion, and
society, as like at once some veritable Rhadamanthine recorder, and
some cowering victim of divine vengeance, he dispenses and fears those
words of doom in his black adamant of diction. Yet it is impossible
casually to brush the man aside as some mere _paranoiac_. The very
torments of his soul fructified in the stupendous genius of his
intellectual production. With all his perversities, with all his
aberrations, Strindberg remains the blackest, and in his own particular
spheres the most drastic, intelligence in the whole of our European


        "By my faith I would as soon listen to the gabbling of
        geese in a farmyard as to the silly glibness of such
        inflated twaddling, such mawkish sentiment, such turgid
        garrulity, such ranting verbosity."

        "Clearness of thought, brilliancy of style, beauty of
        diction, all these were hers united to consummate ease
        of expression and artistic skill."

The above quotations, extracted from _Ardath_ and from the
autobiographical if unofficial description of Mavis Clair in _The
Sorrows of Satan_, are well adapted to express the two extreme views
concerning the merits and the demerits of the lady who, rightly or
wrongly, certainly occupies the most conspicuous position among our
English women-novelists. It is not surprising that such divergent views
should be provoked by a character who, however simple she may be in her
own personal psychology, is from the literary standpoint essentially

In _The Romance of Two Worlds_, for instance, the first fruits of
her literary genius, the novelist's theory of the "Soul Germ" and
her conception of the "Electric Principle of Christianity" running
through the whole cosmology would seem unmistakably to foreshadow the
Bergsonian theory of the _élan de vie,_ while the subtly delineated
character of the twentieth-century Chaldæan magician, Heliobas, "who
never promises to effect a cure unless he sees that the person who
comes to be cured has a certain connection with himself," bears a
distinct analogy to the cabalistic mysticism of Mr. Aleister Crowley.
On the other hand, that grim tragedy entitled _Vendetta_ is in almost
equal degrees reminiscent of the stark inexorableness of Æschylus,
and of the human, all-too-human, humanity of Mr. Walter Melville. In
_Ardathy_ that "tale of beauty, of horror, and of extraordinary amours"
(if we may quote from the authorised biography of our novelist), a
subject-matter that might well have emanated from the pen of a Pierre
Louys, is handled with the unimpeachable correctness of a Samuel
Smiles. So, too, the great _Tendenzroman_ "Wormwood" is a dexterous
combination of the _macabre_ phantasy of Mr. Ranger Gull and the
ethical "uplift" of Mr. Guy Thorne. She is, moreover, an authoress who
is keenly alive to the social problems of the day, treating in _Boy_
and _The Mighty Atom_ of the Wedekindian problem of the influence
of free-thought on the mind of puberty (though it must be confessed
that her solution of that exceedingly thorny problem is by no means
identical with that of the slightly cynical author of _Spring's
Awakening_), and handling in _The Murder of Delicia_ the almost equally
delicate subject of the modern _maquereau_.

While, too, Miss Corelli has enriched the literature of Anti-Semitism
with such novel and crushing phrases as "Jew-speculator,"
"Jew-proprietor of a stock-jobbing newspaper," "the fat Jew-spider
of several newspaper webs," her denunciation of certain phases of
Continental Christianity as "the sickening and barbarous superstition
everywhere offered as the representation of sublime Deity" indicates
some cleavage between her own Protestant theology and that rigid
Ultramontanism which would appear nowadays to be one of the essential
qualifications for the really full-fledged Anti-Semite. And if at
times with the thyrsus of her ecstatic style she is frequently the
Juvenalian flagellant of that "brilliant fashionable dress-loving crowd
of women who spend most of their time in caring for their complexions
and counting their lovers," her features exhibit not so much the sadic
grin of the mænad as the seraphic loving-kindness of some mediæval
saint dumped down by a caprice of a fantastic Providence amid all the
howling welter of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. While too
such phrases as "retrospective and introspective repentance" show
an almost Jamesian preciosity in the fine-drawn distinction between
the repentance for the sins that have been already committed in the
past and for those which are about to be committed in the future,
and between the repentance which takes place within the four corners
of the human soul, and that which occurs within some other sphere of
psychological activity, our lady's entire lack, generally speaking, of
all the affectations of our ultra-modern subtlety are more reminiscent
of the downright horse-sense of President Roosevelt or the transparent
but by no means necessarily shallow simplicity of such writers as Mrs.
L. T. Meade, Mrs. Annie Swan, Mr. Charles Garvice, and Mr. William Le

It is then in view of the fundamentally complex problem constituted by
Miss Corelli that, disregarding alike the convention of her admirers
that she is above criticism, and the convention of her detractors that
she is beneath it, we propose to examine our authoress with the maximum
of seriousness at our command, and to await with sanguine interest the
result of what from the point of view at any rate of the critic is so
revolutionary a procedure. The contents of at any rate the majority of
the volumes of Miss Corelli being necessarily familiar to all readers
of culture, we propose to confine our analysis to a survey of the
cardinal points in our lady's _Weltanschauung_. Strange though it may
seem to "the fashionable atheism of the day" (if we may quote one
of our authoress's favourite and most persistent phrases), it is the
religious instinct which supplies the key of the Corellian psychology.
In this connection it is interesting to remember parenthetically the
pretty anecdote of how when the future novelist, then quite a little
girl, was rejoicing in the sobriquet of "The Rosebud," she would always
have the nocturnal consciousness that angels were present in her
bedroom, and that Dr. Mackay, the mid-Victorian littérateur who had
adopted the child at the early age of three months, is reported to have
made the gentle but not inapposite remark, "Never mind, Dearie! It is
there, you may be sure, and if you behave just as if you saw it, you
will certainly see it some day."

It was perhaps a few years later that the little girl dreamt of
founding a new religious order, and that an education at a French
convent left on her virgin soul that white cachet which even the
corruptness of Edwardian society, "when the infidelity of wives is
most unhappily becoming common--far too common for the peace and good
repute of society," has signally failed to in any way pollute (if as
a mere matter of grammatical conviviality we may venture to split an
infinitive with our distinguished _consœur_). When, however, Miss
Corelli attained the ripeness of complete womanhood, the voice of the
angels would appear to have whispered in her ear the great injunction
"to leave the world a little better than she found it," and the
sacred odour of her exceedingly important mission is to be detected
practically in every work that has issued from her pen. Holding,
like Torquemada, Mr. Torrie, Attila, Loyola, and the late Dr. Elijah
Dowie and many other great religious enthusiasts of all epochs, that
conversion is the most efficient method of spiritual improvement, she
concentrates her fire with especial vehemence on the "women-atheists,
who had voluntarily crushed out the sweetness of the sex within them,
the unnatural product of an unnatural age," who have "as haughty a
scorn of Christ and His teaching as any unbelieving Jew," and on
"the common boor who, reading his penny Radical paper, thinks he can
dispense with God and talks of the carpenter's son of Judæa with the
same easy flippancy and scant reverence as his companion in sin."

Thus it comes that Miss Corelli, with her full share of that
intolerance which is the classical concomitant of all true religion,
would close the harbour of England to the exiled Jesuits of France,
and exclude the Jews from their prominent position in contemporary
society and finance. So far from shedding a single tear over the
tragic death of Zola, she gloats with righteous gusto over his
asphyxiation, which she ascribes to a specific piece of theological
revengefulness on the part of an orthodox and insulted Providence. At
times her strictures come nearer home, and more frequently perhaps
than any other woman-novelist of the day does she castigate those
Episcopalian clergymen who indulge in the mental and physical enjoyment
of illicit sex in wilful disregard of the most fundamental elements
of their professional etiquette, "the vicious and worldly clerical
bon-vivants ... talking society scandal with as much easy glibness
as any dissolute lay decadent that ever cozened another man's wife
away from honour in the tricky disguise of a soul." In _Thelma_, for
instance, the lascivious minister of Christ intent on compassing the
almost compulsory seduction of the prettiest of his own parishioners,
while his "conscience was enveloped in a moral leather casing of
hypocrisy and arrogance," is a piece of characterisation which in its
own particular line of vice forms a fitting analogue to the monstrous
clergyman in Mrs. Voynich's _Jack Raymond_.

So far, moreover, as the nuances of dogma are concerned our teacher
takes the delicate and middle course, being as deeply shocked by the
ritualistic excesses of the High Church as by what Mr. G. K. Chesterton
has epigrammatically described as the "tea-leaves of Nonconformity." In
fact her theology may perhaps be crystallised in the following formula,
which however difficult in actual practice is from the stylistic
standpoint of perfect simplicity:

        "Why should we be followers of Luther, Wesley, or
        any other human teacher or preacher when all that is
        necessary is that we should be followers of Christ?"

But Miss Corelli is no credulous bigot. She is as sceptical of the
historical trustworthiness of part of the initial chapters of Genesis
as Colonel Ingersoll, Mr. G. W. Foote, or Mr. Horatio Bottomley. Let
us quote from _Free Opinions_ the following eloquent parenthesis: "A
legend, which, like that of the Tree of Good and Evil itself requires
stronger confirmation than history as yet witnesseth, which, by the
way, was evidently invented by man himself for his own convenience."

Let us, however, now turn from Miss Corelli's solitary excursion into
the sphere of the Higher Criticism to some brief survey of her more
positive and constructive philosophy.

The Corellian cosmology is most fully expounded in _The Romance of Two
Worlds_. This novel is the story of a young girl who, sick in body and
mind, visits the Continent. She makes the acquaintance of a Chaldsean
_mage_ of magnetic personality called Heliobas. Heliobas, realising at
the first sight of the young girl "that her state of health precludes
her from the enjoyment of life natural to her sex and age," gives her
to drink of some rare and special potion with the result that her
soul, dissociated for the time being from her body, takes a flying
trip through space and purgatory, and the lady awakens to a more
complete spiritual harmony. In this book the authoress's individual
theories of the Soul Germ and the Electric Circle are expressed in
voluminous digressions and dialogues whose inexhaustible opulence
might well be called a Platonic Dialectic brought up to the date of
nineteenth-century science.

This fusion of science and mysticism, which at first sight seem as far
apart as the poles or the sexes, into a harmonious if heterogeneous
unity, can also be traced in the Corellian physiology. Thus in _Thelma_
we meet the unfortunate creature Sigurd, "an infant abortion, the evil
fruit of an evil deed," destined to so tragic and well-described a
death, while in _Temporal Power_ we are confronted with the strange
character of Paul Zouche, "the human eccentricity, the result of an
amour between a fiend and an angel."

In the sphere of ethics, Miss Corelli is careful to avoid that
misplaced originality which is so often the gaudy masquerade for a
pallid and degenerate licentiousness. Our authoress finds sufficient
both for her own personal requirements and the spiritual health of her
reader in those good old maxims enshrined in the Bible, the _Family
Herald_, and the copy-books of all self-respecting seminaries. Good
is Good, she says, and Right is Right. We may note also the Corellian
principle of the inevitable triumph of the hero or heroine and the
inevitable damnation of the villain or villainess, a principle which
bears a distinct affinity to the Jewish and Christian doctrines of
Recompense, the Æschylean doctrine of _νέηεσις_, and the
dramaturgy of the Transpontine Theatre. It may perhaps be urged by the
ultra-modern critic that novels of the stamp of _Anne Veronica, The New
Machiavelli_, or _Esther Waters_, where sin emerges from its slough,
sometimes in triumph, yet always in dignity and comfort, have a closer
correspondence with the actual facts of our modern civilisation. But
our authoress would no doubt confidently retort that it is the pious
duty of the moral missionary to censor ruthlessly such pernicious
intelligence, and that she is proud to prefer the higher if not always
accepted truths of ethics to the lower and degrading truths of a sordid

This sublime principle of Divine Justice is perhaps best exemplified
in _Holy Orders_. In this extraordinary book, Jacqueline, the local
prostitute of a picturesque English village, marries a man named
Nordheim, "one of the smartest Jew-millionaires that ever played with
the money-markets of the world." But the wages of sin, though for a few
years a motor car and a Rockefellerian income, turn out in the long
run to be death in a balloon in the illicit company of an aristocratic
drunkard. For sheer psychology and for sheer English the following
portrayal of the villain which represents the cream of two or three
separate passages merits quotation.

        "Claude Ferrers? Why, he is a famous aeronaut; a man
        who spends fabulous sums of money in the construction
        of balloons and aeroplanes and airships. He is the
        owner of a gorgeous steerable balloon in which all the
        pretty 'smart' women take trips with him for change of
        air. He is an atheist, a degenerate, and--one of the
        most popular 'Souls' in decadent English society--just
        to have a look at the fat smooth-faced sensualist and
        voluptuary whose reputation for shameless vice makes him
        the pride and joy of Upper-Ten Jezebels will help you
        along like a gale of wind. Claude Ferrers is a modern
        Heliogabalus in his very modern way, and by dint of
        learning a few salacious witticisms out of Molière and
        Baudelaire he almost persuades people to think him a wit
        and a poet."

In view, no doubt, of the high moral tendency of most of the comedies
of Molière, who in _Tartuffe,_ for instance, satirises hypocrisy almost
as effectively, if with a less palpable directness than does Miss
Corelli herself, and in view of the essentially religious or at any
rate mystical spirit that animates so many of the poems of the author
of _Les Fleurs de Mai,_ it must be reluctantly confessed that Miss
Corelli is more impressive as a moralist and as a psychologist than as
a woman of letters and an expert in French literature. It is possible,
however, that this slight error may be explained by the fact that her
acquaintance with these authors may only be second-hand, that she
was involuntarily misled by the rhyme in the two names, and that her
unimpeachable principles have debarred her from even hearing the names
of such refined exponents of the Gallic spirit as M. Abel Hermant and
M. Octave Mirbeau.

It is, of course, highly characteristic of our authoress's simplicity
of vision that all her characters are either very, very, very good
or very, very, very bad. Realising that complexity of temperament
is but too frequently the mere euphemism for dissoluteness of life,
she is content that her young heroes should be immaculate with all
the immaculacy of the _jeune premier_, that her middle-aged heroes
should be those strong silent men who have contributed so largely
to make England what she is, and that her heroines should be all
equally typical and equally sweet flowers of our English womanhood.
Her villains invariably smile with all the depraved and diabolical
cynicism of Drury Lane, and her villainesses are branded as degenerate
super-women of intrigue and lust. And if the authoress by thus
delineating her characters in the two primary colours of black and
white thus denies herself the intellectual pleasure of minutely
analysing some ultra-modern soul torn a myriad ways by unnumbered and
unmentionable emotions, she has the consolation that she certainly
points her moral with a more obvious precision.

The only character who in any way suffers from a complex temperament
is Maryllia, the sweet-named heroine of _God's Good Man_. By nature
as white and pure a specimen of Anglo-Saxon girlhood as ever spent to
some good moral purpose her fragrance in the pages of the prettiest
novelette, Maryllia is so corrupted by the fashionable whirl of smart
society, "where without mincing matters it can be fairly stated that
the aristocratic Jezebel is the fashionable woman of the hour, while
the men vie with one another as to who shall best screen her from
their amours with themselves," that she becomes addicted to the vice
of smoking. God's Good Man, however, in the person of that high-minded
clergyman the Rev. John Walden, has the courage to rebuke her at a
dinner-party with an incivility which is, fortunately, more than
counterbalanced by the fundamental kindness of his intention:

        "I have always been under the impression that English
        ladies never smoke."

Maryllia, it is true, at first bridles at this essentially well-meant
reprimand, only, however, to return finally repentant and converted to
her prospective husband.

It is, consequently, not surprising to find that Miss Corelli's
attitude to modern problems is one of a rugged and uncompromising
conservatism. Thus she disapproves not merely of smoking but also of
the bridge-party and the motor-car and of the _décolleté_ dress which
she so severely satirises in the phrase, "the brief shoulder-strap
called by courtesy a sleeve which keeps her ladyship's bodice in place."

Consistently enough, also, in the sphere of philosophy she chaffs
the agnostic dilettantism of Mr. Balfour with the most delicate of
badinage: "His study of these volumes is almost as profound as that of
Mr. Balfour must have been when writing _The Foundations of Belief_,"
and flicks with a deadly though gentle irony the "sort of cliquey
reputation and public failure attending a certain novel entitled
_Marius the Epicurean_."

True Englishwoman that she is, Miss Corelli yields to none in her
reverence for established institutions, and does not shrink from
attacking boldly the complex questions of contemporary royal and
political life. Thus, in the 600-page romance, _Temporal Power_,
apparently disapproving of that democratic shuffling of the classes
which is so marked a feature of our ultra-modern age, she treats with
exquisite taste of the problems of the sinister Semitic capitalist,
the intriguing politician who was once a manufacturer, and of the
morganatic marriage of a sailor-prince.

For our authoress has at bottom a true respect for the social order
of England. What though the monarch masquerade as an anarchist in
_Temporal Power_ and sign his name in the red letters of a woman's
blood? Does not the repeated insistence on the title "Sir Philip," in
referring to the virile and delectable hero of _Thelma_, show that it
is less society _per se_ than the abuses and perversions of society
which constitute the target of the Corellian invective? Does not
again the following passage show the bias of a soul which inclines
with the sincerest sympathy to that innate munificence which forms
the chief petal in the "fine flower" of the English gentry: "They got
their overcoats from the officious Briggs, tipped him handsomely, and
departed arm in arm?" Does not similarly such a phrase as "a dignified
_grande dame_ clad in richest black silk" show that most generous of
loyalties which will not allow the true majesty of the aristocracy to
be imperilled through the stinting of an extra adjective or the lack of
a superlatively appropriate dress.

Unfortunately many passages in Miss Corelli's novels may occasion
her admirers some heart-searchings as to the reliability of her
social psychology. In such a sentence, for instance, as "Why does
an English earl marry a music-hall singer? Because he has seen her
in tights," it would appear that the real heart of the matter is
tactfully adumbrated rather than specifically described. When again
that lecherous Jew, David Jost, the chief villain in _Temporal Power_,
is sitting at home in his study a few minutes before midnight, after
he had already "supped in private with two or three painted heroines
of the foot-lights," does not our authoress attribute to the horrible
Hebrew a capacity for concentrating an amount of pleasure into a
brief period, more consistent with the powers of some hustling and
record-breaking American than with the more protracted languors of
the Oriental? Similarly, when she writes that "the public are getting
sick of having the discarded mistresses of wealthy Semites put forward
for their delectation in 'leading' histrionic parts," Miss Corelli is
either inverting the more natural and logical order of events, or is
attributing to such isolated members of the Jewish race as happen to be
licentious a retrospective generosity in respect of past kindness which
however gratifying to their co-religionists seems somewhat inconsistent
with the general trend of her attitude.

The Corellian dialogue also frequently gives the psychologist food
for thought. "O God" (cried impetuously the heroine of _Thelma_ after
she had listened virtuously to the illicit overtures of the villain,
a "lascivious dandy and disciple of no creed and self-worship"), a
magnificent glory of disdain flashing in her jewel-like eyes, "what
thing is this that calls itself a man--this thief of honour--this
pretended friend of me, the wife of the noblest gentleman in the land!"

Or take again so characteristic a specimen as the following:

        "You will be made the subject for the coarse jests of
        witticisms at your expense--your dearest friends will
        tear your name to shreds--the newspapers will reek of
        your doings, and honest housemaids reading of your fall
        from your high estate will thank God that their souls
        and bodies are more clean than yours."

If, however, Miss Corelli disdains the more gramophonic accuracy of
Mrs. Humphry Ward, she is none the less perfectly entitled to answer
that her characters like those of Mr. G. Bernard Shaw, being something
more than mere mechanical and objective copies of humanity, subserve
the far higher function of being the mouthpieces of the subjective
philosophy of their creator.

Our last quotation, however, brings us to the burning question of Miss
Corelli's attitude towards the sexual problem. In this connection it
will not be without its interest to draw some slight analogy between
Miss Corelli and her equally distinguished if not equally popular
sister-in-letters, Mrs. Elinor Glyn.

We would remark in the first place that the sexual problem clutches
Miss Corelli hotly in its drastic grip. Her religious temperament
may no doubt occasion a profound and genuine abhorrence for physical
sin, but as was the case with the even more religious Tolstoi, or
that strangely interesting character Elfrida (the ethical sexual
reformer in Herr Frank Wedekind's _Totentanz_), her abhorrence merely
supplies an added vehemence to the unflinching nature of her treatment
and the drastic audacities of her missionary work, while the proud
consciousness of her own personal virtue may conceivably entitle her to
find at once a duty and a recompense in the sanguinary flagellation of
her less immaculate sisters. Though, moreover, a moral teacher, Miss
Corelli is also a psychologist, and her aphorism "Men never fall in
love with a woman's mind, only with her body," can be well compared
for its bold but delicate cynicism with Mrs. Glyn's maxim, "Love is a
purely physical emotion."

But Miss Corelli with all her unimpeachable correctness is by no means
blind to the temperamental significance of a _grande passion_, though
of course she does not specialise on this subject to the same extent
as her distinguished colleague. It is none the less instructive to
compare Miss Corelli's saving grace of a _grande passion_, "the one of
those faithful passions which sometimes make the greatness of both man
and woman concerned and adorn the pages of history with the brilliancy
of deathless romance," with the following fine passage from Mrs. Glyn
in which she admonishes those philistine readers "who have no eye to
see God's world with the stars in it and to whom Three Weeks will be
but the sensual record of a passion" with a dignified apologia for the
life of her heroine--"Now some of you who read will think her death was
just, in that she was not a moral woman, but others will hold with Paul
that she was the noblest lady who ever wore a crown."

The latter quotation, however, brings us to an important distinction
in the sexual ethics of our two novelists. For while Miss Corelli
on the one hand is no respecter of persons and would be prepared to
treat an "Upper-Ten Jezebel" or a "soiled dove of the town" (if we may
borrow two typically Corellian phrases) with scrupulous impartiality
according to their respective deserts, the novels of Mrs. Elinor Glyn
constitute a valuable sexual hierarchy by which the degree of license
to be enjoyed and condoned is in direct proportion to the social rank
of the lady or her paramour. Thus the continued adultery on the part
of the Princess throughout a period of three weeks in the novel of
that name is freed from any taint of offensiveness or indignity by the
exalted rank of that royal personage who is decorated in this one book
with several sets of stars. The ordinary untitled gentlewoman, however
(if we except Agnes the lady in _Elizabeth's Visits to America_, who
"had an affair with her chauffeur," and the Mildred in _Beyond the
Rocks_, whose lovers, however, were "so well chosen and so thoroughly
of the right sort"), though she may frequently infringe the spirit
of the seventh commandment, is usually far too prudent to break the
letter. Thus the romantic young wife in _Beyond the Rocks_, in spite
of the assiduous attentions of an extremely fascinating peer, "an
ordinary Englishman of the world who had lived and loved and seen many
lands," succeeds by the most heroic self-control in preserving the
technical chastity of a Prévostian _demi-vierge_. Note, however, by way
of contrast the extremely wide margin which is allowed to the hale and
energetic duchess: "Her path was strewn with lovers and protected by a
proud and complacent husband who had realised early he never would be
master of the situation and had preferred peace to open scandal. She
was a woman of sixty and, report said, still had her lapses."

But the paramount importance of social etiquette in sexual relationship
is most effectively illustrated in _His Hour_. This novel deals with
the mutual physical passion between a barbaric and dissolute Russian
prince and a typical and refined modern Englishwoman. Matters reach a
crisis when the prince lures the lady by night to the sinister solitude
of a deserted hut. "His splendid eyes blazed with the passion of a
wild beast"; the lady faints, and when she wakes up in the morning of
course assumes that she has been ravished. Not unnaturally she is quite
upset that she should have been the victim of such insulting behaviour,
"she, a lady, a proud English lady." The commands of society, however,
are inexorable in such matters and she consequently writes proposing
marriage with dignified irony to that bestial nobleman, who had,
according to her own theory, put her own status as a gentlewoman into
such delicate jeopardy: "I consent--I have no choice--I consent. Yours
truly, Tamara Lorane."

So far as mere erotic description and dialogue is concerned, there is
very little to choose between our authoresses. The following passages
are fair examples of Mrs. Glyn's conception of romantic love-making:

        "Then, sweet Paul, I shall teach you many things, and
        among them I shall teach you how to LIVE."
            * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
        "Beloved, beloved," he cried, "let us waste no more
        precious moments. I want you, I want you, my sweet."
            * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
        "My darling one," the lady whispered in his ear, as she
        lay in his arms on the couch of roses, crushed deep and
        half-buried in their velvet leaves, "this is our soul's
        wedding, in life and in death they can never part us more."
            * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If, however, we would make any distinction between the respective
techniques of the two ladies, we would say that while Mrs. Glyn tends
to exhibit the practical modernity of Mayfair or Continental society,
Miss Corelli is at times more exotic and luxuriant, at times more
explicit and direct, for blunt, plain woman that she is, she never even
once dabbles in those mystic messages of the stars which Mrs. Glyn
interprets with so facile and consummate a felicity. We search in vain,
for instance, in the works of Mrs. Elinor Glyn for a passage like the
following, which but for the pendent nominative might quite well have
come out of the _Aphrodite_ of M. Pierre Louys or the _Mafarka le
Futuriste_ of M. Marinetti:

        "This done, they rose and began to undo the fastenings
        of her golden domino-like garment; but either they were
        too slow, or the fair priestess was impatient, for
        she suddenly shook herself free of their hands, and
        loosening the gorgeous mantle herself from its jewelled
        clasps it fell slowly from her symmetrical form on the
        perfumed floor with a rustle as of fallen leaves."

Again, the delicious sachets of Mrs. Elinor Glyn's diction never
somehow exhale such whiffs of unadulterated English as the following:

        "With the seduction of your nude limbs and lying eyes
        you make fools, cowards, and beasts of men."

We may, perhaps, conclude this portion of our comparative analysis by
suggesting for the erotic crest of Mrs. Elinor Glyn a Debrett and an
Almanach de Gotha enveloped in a silk and scented "nightie"; for that
of Miss Marie Corelli, a volume of the Self-and-Sex series lying open
between a doffed domino and a crinoline.

It is also noticeable that while Miss Corelli, with whatever detail she
may feel it her duty to portray their erotic sins, is always primarily
concerned with her characters' ethical significance for good or for
evil, Mrs. Glyn devotes herself more specifically to their physical
qualifications. Miss Corelli's typical hero, for instance, is the
Rev. John Walden, that middle-aged God's Good Man whose ripe dignity
of manhood is subordinated to the description of his more spiritual
qualities. Mrs. Glyn's typical hero is the Paul of _Three Weeks_, "a
splendid young English animal of the best class."

We thus find that the space which Mrs. Elinor Glyn will devote to
telling us that her heroine's skin "seemed good to eat," or that her
hero had "fine lines" and "velvet eyelids," will be devoted by Miss
Corelli to the description of the corresponding attributes of her
hero or heroine's soul. Miss Corelli, however, is by no means obtuse
to the baleful effect on the spiritual life exercised by physical
blandishments. She will thus explain the precocious corruption by
senile perversity of a young girl in a remarkable passage whose stark
realism certainly succeeds in portraying fully an important ethical and
physiological truth:

        "Old roués smelling of wine and tobacco were eager to
        take me on their knees and pinch my soft flesh;--they
        would press my innocent lips with their withered
        ones--withered and contaminated by the kisses of
        cocottes and soiled doves of the town."

As showing the comprehensive ultra-modernity of Miss Corelli's outlook
on the sexual question, we would refer finally to her frequent
allusions to "the unnatural and strutting embryos of a new sex which
will be neither male nor female." Though, however, she is in one of
her maxims apparently of opinion that "true beauty is sexless," we
would infer from the following passages that she does not go so far as
Péladan in ascribing an important ethical and sociological significance
to this new type:

        "Men's hearts are not enthralled or captured by a
        something appearing to be neither man nor woman. And
        there are a great many of these Somethings about just
        now.... Beauty remains intrinsically where it was first
        born and first admitted into the annals of Art and
        Literature. Its home is still in the Isles of Greece
        where burning Sappho loved and sang."

Returning, however, from Lesbos to Stratford-on-Avon, let us make some
brief survey of Miss Corelli's style. To condense into a few phrases
so delicate and baffling a phenomenon is difficult. At one moment her
weighty nouns, guarded not infrequently by a triple escort of epithets,
possess the pomp and luxuriance of the true Asiatic style, at another
the brisk horsiness of her diction has all the spontaneous force of
English as it is actually spoken. At times such passages as "A moisture
as of tears glistened on the silky fringe of his eyelids--his lips
quivered--he had the look of a Narcissus regretfully bewailing his own
perishable loveliness. On a swift impulse of affection Theos threw one
arm round his neck in the fashion of a confiding schoolboy walking
with his favourite companion.... Sah-lûma looked up with a pleased yet
wondering glance. 'Thou hast a silvery and persuasive tongue,' he said
gently," are reminiscent of the mellifluous cadences of _Dorian Gray_.
Anon she will indulge in a vein of frank but militant simplicity that
bears a greater resemblance to the style of Mr. Robert Blatchford, the
celebrated atheist:

        "A small private dinner-party at which the company are
        some six or eight persons at most is sometimes (though
        not by any means always) quite a pleasant affair; but a
        'big' dinner in the 'big' sense of the word is generally
        the most painful and dismal of functions except to
        those for whom silent gorging and after-repletion are
        the essence of all mental and physical joys. I remember
        --and of a truth it would be impossible to forget--one
        of those dinners which took place one season at a very
        'swagger' house--the house of a member of the old
        British nobility, whose ancestors and titles always
        excite a gentle flow of saliva in the mouths of snobs."

We would incidentally mention that Miss Corelli is above all a purist
in her diction, and that she has registered her emphatic protest
against the use of the expression "Little Mary," "a phrase which,
although invented by Mr. J. M. Barrie, is not without considerable
vulgarity and offence." Though, moreover, her language is on the whole
essentially English, Miss Corelli by no means disdains the use of
classical figures. For instance in the phrase "after-repletion" from
our last quotation we meet an interesting survival of the Greek use
of a preposition to qualify a noun. The occasional anacoluthon also
(or lack of orthodox syntax) which is found in her works points to a
by no means unprofitable study of Thucydides, unless indeed it is
simply in order to emphasize her lack of any literary snobbery that our
authoress so frequently declines to curtsey to the affected rigidities
of pedantic grammar. Her frequent use, again, of compound words such
as "socially-popular," "brilliantly-appointed," "Jew-spider" betrays
the distinct influence of the Teutonic idiom, while such a phrase as
"braced with the golden shield of Courage" shows what unique results
can be obtained by a metaphor simultaneously fashioned out of the
defensive article of war of the ancient Spartan and the preservative
article of attire of the modern European.

Finally, what is the real secret of Miss Corelli's success? It is
that she is sincere and that she means well. Whether her invective
rises to the lofty scorn of an Isaiah, a Mrs. Ormiston Chant, or a
Juvenal, or whether the smooth current of her hate meanders along
with all the tepid benevolence of a grandmotherly facetiousness, it
is impossible to doubt her portentous sincerity. It is this quality
which distinguishes her most effectively from the merely journalistic
authors of the "big" serials. These ladies and gentlemen, it is true,
effect their object and succeed in presenting the outlook on life of
the typical man or woman in the typical street or alley. But their
most brilliant productions but produce the effect of an intellectual
_tour de force_, as though achieved in despite of the natural bias
of their temperaments, by dint of a diligent study of the well-known
Manual of Serialese. Miss Marie Corelli needs no such manual. Her
_Weltanschauung_, broad, plain, simple, touched at once with a high
consciousness of her ethical mission and a ruthless observation for
all the sins and follies of the age, is the authentic and spontaneous
outcome of her own unique psychology.


        "Alike in the comedies and dream-plays too You see but
        a domesticated Zoo, Their blood so thin that in that
        hot-house air They batten on a vegetable fare, And revel
        chronically in chat and calls, Sitting like our friends
        yonder in the stalls, _One's_ stomach of liqueurs will
        disapprove, Another wonders if he really love, Another
        hero starts with threats to pass From this foul world to
        one perhaps more divine, But through five mortal acts
        behold him whine, Yet no kind friend supplies the _coup
        de grâce_, But the real thing, the wild and beauteous
        beast, I, ladies, only I provide that feast."

These lines, delivered by a lion-tamer in the due professional
panoply of riding-coat, top-boots, and a revolver, are extracted
from the prologue of Frank Wedekind's tragedy, _Die Erdgeist_, and
illustrate efficiently the bizarre and Mephistophelian genius of a
German dramatist alike in his qualities and his defects indisputably
unique. Buccaneering no small way in front of the very left wing of
the æsthetic movement, Wedekind is at once the _bête noire_ of the
reactionaries and the spoilt darling of the ultra-moderns. To his
enemies he is a mere shoddy Anti-Christ, to his friends a dramatic
Messiah leading back the inner circles of the chosen intellects into
the promised land of vice and crime. It cannot be denied that his
subject-matter gives considerable colour to both these theories. Life,
as seen through the medium of his plays, is but a torrent of sex
foaming over the jagged rocks of crime and insanity. Take examples
from his three most powerful plays. In _Die Erdgeist_, the theme
of which is the baleful glamour of the "Evil Woman," three of the
four acts are punctuated with almost complete regularity by a death;
_Frühlingserwachen_, again, deals with hoydens and hobbledehoys, whose
only occupation appears to be the creation, discussion, and destruction
of life: In _Die Totentanz_, on the other hand, the scene is laid in
a "private hotel" (if one may borrow the highly convenient euphemism
of Mr. Shaw), while a charming interlude in lyrics is provided by one
of the boarders and a temporary visitor, and the hero and proprietor
is a "marquis," who psychologically is much more closely related to
Hamlet than to Sir George Crofts. Add to this choice of subject-matter
a violently impressionist technique and a hangman humour, whose grin is
at its broadest amid the sharpest agonies of the victims, and one can
form an approximately accurate idea of an author, conceivably somewhat
poisonous to anæmic constitutions, but certainly both piquant and
stimulating to the hardened and the adventurous. To arrive, however,
at a correct appreciation of so monstrous a phenomenon, it will be
advisable to investigate first the literary and social tendencies by
which it has been produced, together with the character of the audience
for whose edification it disports itself, and then by the light of such
investigations to proceed to an analysis of his individual works.

For the ten or fifteen years following 1880, both the novel and the
drama in Germany were transformed into a Zolaesque laboratory, where
interesting human experiments were conducted by skilled operators
with scientific precision. There were three chief causes for this:
firstly, a healthy reaction against the colourless and conventional
school which had held the stage for so many years, a school somewhat
analogous to that of our own Mid-Victorians with their strong silent
men and sweet insipid women; secondly, a dogmatic and uncompromising
materialism was the creed of the most ambitious and efficient
intellects who found their chief mental diet in Zola, Taine, Darwin,
and Haeckel; thirdly, the abstract theory of the struggle for
existence had received an excessively concrete exemplification in the
Franco-German war and the colossal commercial impetus that followed
in the wake of a united Germany. Naturalism, however, was destined by
the very character of the nation to be but a passing phase. Even apart
from the inevitable swing of the pendulum and the powerful Catholic and
religious reaction, whose force is seen at a glance in the numerical
majority of the Centrum, the German temperament is in its essence as
romantic as the French is logical. The nation, moreover, being at
bottom religious, "the death of God," to use the classic phrase of
Nietzsche, left a most crying lacuna. The philosopher of the Superman
adroitly filled the vacancy by the deification of Man. Human life
became an end in itself embraced with the most poetic exaltation and
pursued with all the zeal of religious martyrdom. The struggle for
existence, ceasing to be a bare scientific formula, was metamorphosed
into a classic arena in which the "life-artist" battled for the crown
of his Dionysiac agonies, finding the most delicious music in the
perpetual clash of brain with brain, and experiencing a sweetness in
the very bitterness of the conflict.[1]

Crushed then by the force of these tendencies, pure realism died. _Die
Ehre_ and _Die Weber_, it is true, still hold the German stage, but in
_Johannes_ and in _Die Versunkene Glocke_ respectively both Sudermann
and Hauptmann have deserted to the Romantic camp, taking with them,
however, a good proportion of the Realistic equipment. Particularly
typical of this amalgamation of the two forces is _Hannele_, where the
pathological and mystical explanations are to be accepted concurrently
and not as alternatives, as in Mr. Henry James's _Turn of the Screw_.
As was, however, only natural, there was a considerable reaction, and
orthodox naturalism was deliberately flouted by the Secessionsbühne in
1899 with their penchant for fairy-dramas and their genuinely æsthetic
project of stretching between the stage and the audience a veil of
transparent gauze intended to draw the scene into a misty distance. The
rankest idealism seemed for a time the order of the day. "All that the
young and the moderns have fought against with such animosity between
1880 and 1890, pseudo-idealism, bookish dialogue, false and artificial
characterisation, clap-trap stagecraft, all this celebrates in this
drama a joyous resurrection; let us acknowledge it; we have lost the
battle against falsehood and stupidity, conventionalism, and the
public, lost it absolutely," writes Julius Hart in the _Tag_ of 1902.

But the most interesting direction was given to this neo-romanticism by
the æsthetic movement and _Kunstschwarmerei_ which began to sweep over
music, literature, painting, and the drama with an almost Nietzschean
intensity. Pure realism and pure romanticism, then, both being extinct,
and an agressive horde of exuberant and heretical artists being alive,
the solution for the artistic problem was found in the æsthetic and
romantic treatment of realistic themes. The prose of the human document
became illuminated with the poesy of the human imagination. Realism
and Romanticism went into partnership in the freest of unions, and
Wedekind is one of the most interesting fruits of this drastic alliance.

The realistic method might be worse than useless for æsthetic purposes,
but the realistic stock-in-trade was invaluable material for spirits
bursting with an almost morbid healthiness, spirits for whom no subject
was too terrible, no sensation too violent. Let us, however, turn to
the official pronouncement of Wedekind's preface to his revised and
expurgated edition of _Die Büchse von Pandora_, in which he states his
defence to the prosecution which the first edition of that interesting
book had brought upon his martyred head: "Wedekind is an apostle
of the modern movement. It is the motto of this movement to effect
a transvaluation of æsthetic values in style and stagecraft. The
followers of this movement have for over fifteen years repudiated the
claims of the so-called 'æsthetic-content' and of mere formal beauty;
they hold it permissible to depict artistically and to represent on
the stage the ugly, the crude, the repulsive, and even the vulgar,
provided always that such characteristics are not treated as ends in
themselves--that is to say, when the work is not created by love of the
abhorrent for its own sake but is merely the medium for the expression
of an artistic idea. Wedekind, accordingly, as the disciple of these
authors, chooses to shed a light upon the darkest crannies of vice, and
in particular to surround with a poetic framework those sexual subjects
which have been the peculiar subject of medical science. The end and
goal of his writings is to awaken fear and pity."

Such an apologia can scarcely be said to be superfluous when one of the
sub-plots of the play in question deals with the heroic, if somewhat
nauseating, rebellion of a woman in the determination of whose lot
nature has made a somewhat unfortunate mistake.

Before, however, we proceed to gaze upon the black and lurid pictures
of our dramatic artist, it is advisable to turn very briefly to the
audience for whose particular benefit they exercise their hellish
fascination. Wedekind's audience, in a word, is the extreme left
wing. The German left wing, however, is considerably more numerous,
more advanced, and more dangerous than the English. Our own æsthetic
movement was killed almost instantaneously by the Wilde debacle. We
still, of course, have our ultra-modern movement, such as it is, but
for practical purposes no one could be more amiable or innocuous
than the ladies and gentlemen who used to constitute the highly
respectable audiences of the Court Theatre, or who find in the Stage
Society a mildly audacious means of spending their Sabbath evenings.
Germany, however, with its vastly superior education, and its horde
of professional men and women, schoolmasters and piano-mistresses,
lawyers, doctors, poets, and littérateurs, has the disease of modernity
with a vengeance, carrying through each symptom to its logical
conclusion with a violence and intensity to which our own fluttering
unconventionalism affords but the faintest and most shadowy parallel.
Free-love, which, with the possible exception of a certain ephemeral
incident successfully immortalised in three or four recent novels,
is in England little more than a name, the mythical bogey with which
the halfpenny press pretend to frighten their delighted readers, or
is at best among the smart and the semi-educated rich the philosophic
sanction for highly unphilosophic impulses, is in Germany a theoretic
dogma almost as sacred as that of woman suffrage and demanding almost
as devout sacrifices on the shrine of its philosophic altar. When again
the subtle souls of Great Britain will so far break the ice of their
insular reserve as to discourse about the tragedy of existence, the
far more heroic spirits of German modernity will have recourse to all
the æsthetic delights of a fine and artistic suicide, which indeed
in the most advanced circles is almost a fashionable analogue to our
own appendicitis, or will find in the modern dogma of "living their
own life" the substantial though possibly slightly less exhausting
equivalent to our English hunger-strike. How strong is the neo-æsthetic
movement may be gauged by the phenomenal success in Berlin of _Salome_
and _Monna Vanna,_ the great scenes of which were followed avidly
by young girls with an enthusiasm which was more than æsthetic. It
may also be mentioned incidentally that Wilde's _De Profundis_ was
published in German before it appeared in England, a circumstance
due quite as much to a keener intellectual enthusiasm as to superior
commercial enterprise.

Realising, then, that while it is orthodox in England to be ashamed of
one's passions and emotions, the German ambition is to plume oneself on
taking everything _an grand sérieux_, let us turn to a consideration
of those plays in which, on a large canvas and in big bold splashes
reminiscent of the not unanalogous methods of the Secessionist
painters, Wedekind is pleased to present framed in gigantic irony:

    "Les immondes chacals, les panthères, les lices,
    Les singes, les scorpions, les vautours, les serpents,
    Les monstres glapissants, hurlants, grognants, rampants,
    Dans la ménagerie infâme de nos vices."

It will, perhaps, be well to start with that little masterpiece of
a dramatic caricature, _Der Kammersänger_. A fashionable singer,
having completed his engagements in a provincial town, is snatching
at last a few minutes' well-earned repose prior to catching his
train. He has given strict orders that he is at home to no one. But
there is no repose for the famed. An English school miss, who has
waited two hours in the rain, smuggles herself into the room: she
prattles her enthusiasm with pretty infantile gush: a few deft words
of paternal advice and she is summarily dismissed. But again the great
man's seclusion is desecrated by the entrance of a brother artist, a
pathetically grotesque figure of a megalomaniac failure whose publisher
complains that he spoils his one chance of success by refusing to die
and thus afford an opportunity for posthumous discovery. But the genial
tolerance of the illustrious one is considerably harshened when his
colleague insists on playing his own compositions in a scene every whit
as racy and delightful as the classic episode in Wycherley's _Plain
Dealer_, where Major Oldfox, having tied down the Widow Blackacre,
discharges at her helpless person the most deadly poetical fusillade.
Exit, however, the composer, after an interesting philosophic lecture
by his victim on the singer's life and of the contempt which as
a practical man (for at an early period in his career he was "in
carpets") he has for his fashionable bourgeois audience for whom he is
a mere article of luxury as much in request as a motor-car or a new
dress. Then, as the climax of this crescendo of invaders, enter Helene:
a formal invitation to elope: the artist, however, has his contracts
to fulfil and his train to catch, and the favour is declined with
thanks: tears and threats of suicide: he endeavours to pacify her, and
she promises to be good: he will miss his train if he is not quick.
The romantic woman, however, unable to bear the final parting, shoots
herself on the spot. The remorseful lover follows her example? Not a
bit of it. He is politely regretful for the contretemps, but after all
business is business, and he must catch his train. It is impossible
without copious quotations to give a full idea of the piquant irony
with which the comedy is salted; the truth and reality of the theme
stand out all the more brilliant from their garb of romantic travesty,
while the superb impudence of utilising death as an essentially comic
climax is without parallel in European literature.

Let us, however, now turn from light comedy to serious tragedy in
the shape of _Der Totentanz_. The scene, as already mentioned, is
laid in a "private hotel." Where Shaw, however, sees but the problem,
Wedekind has only eyes for the poetry. To Shaw the irony is a weapon,
to Wedekind an end in itself. Elfrida, a young lady in Reformkleid,
one of the most militant members of a suppression society, interviews
the proprietor, the Marquis Casti Piani, on the subject of a former
maid of hers, for whom she has been searching for some years. The girl
is identified, and the whole question philosophically discussed. The
proprietor, moreover, who is an extremely well-dressed gentleman with
a first-class education, polished manners, and all the introspective
subtlety of the most modern of decadents, neatly turns the tables
by announcing that the real impetus which made the girl change her
calling was the "suppression literature" which the puritanical young
woman had with unpardonable carelessness left lying about. The ice
being thus broken, he proceeds in his capacity of sexual expert to
diagnose the respective psychologies of his _tête-à-tête_ and himself.
Why, they are both tarred with the same brush. If he, the trafficker,
pursues his unpopular vocation even more as a matter of sexual mania
than of commercial enterprise, so does she, the philanthropist, ply
her good work out of an equally morbid craving to move in a congenial
atmosphere. Are they not both but the obverse and reverse of the same
medal? Paradoxical and super-Shavian dissertations on the theory of
woman are then followed by blandishments and caresses, in respect of
which with a marvellous genius for brutality he chaffs her on the
crudity and inexperience of her technique. Then comes the most _outré_
scene of the play when Casti Piani and Elfrida watch from behind
a screen the courtship of Lisiska, the missing servant-girl, by a
young man in a check knickerbocker suit; the bizarre paradox is but
accentuated by the swing and beauty of the lyrics in which this wooing
is conducted, and the distorted idealism of the girl, who, as the
martyr-priestess of the _joie de vivre_, is almost genuinely convinced
of the sanctity of her mission. The interlude over, the audience come
from behind the curtain. Stung to the wildest pitch of emulation, the
extreme limit of self-sacrificing ecstasy, the neurotic woman completes
the cycle of her psychic revolution by the supplication, "Verkaufen Sie
mich." The marquis, who has thus succeeded beyond his most sanguine
expectations, in a fit of nervous revulsion shoots himself before the
girl's eyes. Three of the inmates rush from three distinct doors,
and the over-civilised satyr expires with their kisses on his lips,
kisses savoured and criticised with all the frenzy of the moribund
connoisseur--"Küsse mich--nein, das war nicht--Küsse--küsse mich

It is impossible to express more cogently the whole tragedy of the
dying sensualist.

No normal Englishman can be expected to enjoy such a play; in justice,
however, to the author, this freny is æsthetic as well as sexual. New
worlds, in fact, have been needed to regale the insatiate appetites of
the dramatist and his hearers; "Heaven has been blown to pieces by the
artillery of science; earth is cold, stale and unpalatable; perforce
let us batten on the fires of hell," would run his motto. As Baudelaire
in verse, and Beardsley in painting, found their theme in the vicious
and the abhorrent, so does Wedekind in the drama. As an ordinary play,
_Der Totentanz_ falls outside judgment; as a sheer literary curiosity,
a dramatic fantasia on the sex-motif, a deliberate essay in the art of
the ironical and the brutal, the piece achieves its own and peculiar

_Die Junge Welt_, on the other hand, flows in a current which, in
spite of the eventual madness of the principal male character, is
limpid and playful by comparison with the Phlegethontian course of the
_Totentanz._ The theme of the comedy is the woman movement. In the
prologue, one of his most aery and delicious pieces of work, Wedekind
shows us a bevy of schoolgirls at lessons, chattering, fooling, and
"ragging" their master with the most delightful _naïveté_. They have a
pretty taste in literature, forsooth, reading surreptitious copies of
_The Arabian Nights_, talking gravely of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche,
and quoting with the prettiest of pedantry Schiller, Goethe, and even
Ovid. No mere prattlers, however. Glorying in their grievance, they
found a league, the solemn oath of whose members is never to marry
until the most glaring outrages in the education of the young are
remedied. Towards the end of the scene some youthful figures of the
opposite sex enter. How long will the league last?

Then we come to the actual play where the sacred circle has been
already cut by a marriage of one of the members. The whole comedy, in
fact, shows how irresistibly the Life Force claims its own. The brisk
racy dialogue and the satiric character drawing of the ultra-moderns
are equally delicious. Particularly charming are Anna, masking the
temperament of her Shavian namesake beneath the pose of the new woman;
Karl, the picturesque scamp, who has married a seamstress on abstract
socialistic principles; and Meyer, the modern poet, who, when his
fiançée presents herself to recite a poem which he has written, in
the most faithful of Cupid costumes, is most righteously indignant
because--the dress fails to harmonise with the subtle spirit of his

A masterly little piece of irony, again, is the celebrated
stage-direction, when, at the climax of an intense passage, a
baby squalls, and is carried off the stage by its mother, to the
accompaniment of music. Perhaps, however, the deftest touch of
satire is the analysis of the decline of the _détraqué littérateur,_
accustomed to transcribe each kiss fresh from the lips of his beloved
into his artistic note-book.--"When I made my psychological studies on
Anna, then Anna becomes unnatural--on some other specimen--she became
jealous--there was no other alternative but to make them on myself."

Wedekind's dramatic masterpieces, however, are _Die Erdgeist_. and
_Frühlingserwachen_, which merit, consequently, a somewhat more
detailed analysis. _Die Erdgeist_, as has been already remarked,
deals with the theme of the modern Lilith, not from the point of view
of orthodox dramatic technique like Mr. Pinero, not scientifically
like Zola, but æsthetically. No show of esoteric detail, no orthodox
_dénouement_; simply atmosphere. The play, together with its sequel,
_Die Büchse von Pandora_, constitutes the epic of the courtesan. In the
first act, Schwarz, a painter, is at work on the portrait, in pierrot
costume, of the wife of a Dr. Goll, a lady rejoicing in the various
Christian names of Nellie, Eva, and Lulu. A middle-aged journalist,
named Schön, who is in the studio, is on old and friendly terms with
Frau Goll. The fact that female beauty is the _raison être_ of the
creature's existence is soon made apparent by the following dialogue:

        LULU. Here I am.

        SCHÖN. Splendid.

        LULU. Well?

        SCHÖN. You put the wildest imagination to the blush.

        LULU. Do you find me nice?

        SCHÖN. You're a picture that makes artists despair.

The pompous conventionalism of the doctor is seen almost immediately,
when he suggests with heavy gravity that she is not wearing her costume
with sufficient reserve. The artist proceeds to work, and the mere
mechanism of posing brings out at once the sheer sexuality of the
animal which he is painting. Goll is carried off by Schön, and the
artist and the pierrot are left alone. The young painter proves more
attractive than the old professor, who arrives towards the climax of a
wild scene. In the scuffle, Goll is killed. Death, however, is a pet
theme of Wedekind, who proceeds to batten thereon with abnormal gusto.

        SCHWARZ. The doctor is bound to be here in a minute.

        LULU. Doctoring won't help him.

        SCHWARZ. Still, in a case like this, one does what one

        LULU. He doesn't believe in doctors.

        SCHWARZ. Won't you, at any rate, change?

        LULU. Yes, at once.

        SCHWARZ. Why are you waiting?

        LULU. I say--

        SCHWARZ. What?

        LULU. Please close his eyes.

        SCHWARZ. They are awful.

        LULU. Nothing like as awful as you.

        SCHWARZ. As I?

        LULU. You're a depraved character.

        SCHWARZ. Doesn't all this affect you?

        LULU. Yes, I too am as well moved.

        SCHWARZ. Then I ask you not to say anything.

        LULU. You are moved as well.

Shocked by her comparative callousness, Schwarz subjects her to a
catechism--does she believe in a Creator, a soul, or anything--only to
find himself beating against an eternal "I don't know."

So ends the first act, and this creature, whose hair is a net of
murder, whose lips are poisoned fruit, and whose eyes are pits of hell,
has already one death to her credit.

The second act discloses Schwarz married to Lulu, and in the heyday of
artistic fame and fortune. A fleeting light is cast on the swamp, from
which the fiend has emerged, by the entry and departure of Schigolch,
her old ragamuffin of a sire. Then follows a _tête-à-tête_ between Lulu
and Schön. Combining, as she does, the soul of an Ibsen woman with
the body of a Phryne, she complains of her husband's obtusity: "He
is not a child--he is commonplace--he has no education--he realises
nothing--he realises neither me nor himself--he is blind, blind--he
doesn't know me, but he loves me; that is an unbridgeable gulf." The
painter returns, and is given by Schön the outlines of his wife's past.
Schön had picked her out of the gutter at the age of twelve, and had
had her educated; her antecedents were ghastly; after the death of
Schön's wife, Lulu wished to marry him; to obviate that, he made her
marry Dr. Goll with his half a million. Lulu is anxious to be good,
but must be taken seriously. The painter then commits suicide, and the
author feasts again on the carnage in a scene which, for sheer horror,
challenges even _Macbeth_.

"After you," says Lulu, after they have heard the body fall, and Schön
has opened the door.

        SCHÖN. There's the end of my engagement. Ten minutes ago
        he lay here.[2]

           . . . . . . . . . . . . .

        SCHÖN. That is your husband's blood.

        LULU. It leaves no stain.

        SCHÖN. Monster!

        LULU. Of course you will marry me.

Then, by way of a really strong curtain, they send for a reporter, and
dictate the official version of the thrilling story. The third act is
the dressing-room of Lulu; she has gone on the music-hall stage as a
barefoot dancer of classical measure; Schön, having temporarily freed
himself from the spell, is about to marry a charming, "innocent child,"
whom he has brought to witness the spectacle. The insult stimulates
the girl to a supernormal fascination. Having refused the proposals
of a prince, she deliberately sets herself to cast her wand over the
journalist. She mocks him brazenly, with her magic potency over him, in
a scene of the most subtle cruelty.

        SCHÖN. Don't look at me so shamelessly.

        LULU. No one is keeping you here.

The Circæan witchery is complete, and the man, transformed, writes, at
the dictation of the enchantress, a letter breaking off his engagement.

In the fourth act, nemesis is at hand. His marriage with Lulu shatters
the constitution of the aging journalist, who falls a victim to
persecution-mania. Lulu, though genuinely in love with him, surrenders
herself almost mechanically to the kisses of his son. The journalist
can stand no more--such a creature is not fit to live--she must commit
suicide with the revolver which he produces. Simply as a matter of
self-preservation, she turns the weapon against the man himself. Then
ensues the most devilish scene of all. Fearing the prison-cage, the
brute turns for help to the child of its prey: "I shot him because he
wanted to shoot me. I loved no man in the world like I did him. Alwa,
demand what you will. Look at me, Alwa; look at me, man, look at me."

Those anxious for the further history of Lulu should turn to the livid
pages of _Die Büchse von Pandora._ There, in flaming characters, they
will read of her imprisonment, of how, being deprived of a mirror,
she at last found relief by seeing her reflection in a new spoon, of
her rescue therefrom by her inamorata, the Countess Geschwitz, and of
her flight to Paris with Alwa Schön; they will read of her life there
among _souteneurs_, blackmailers, and millionaires, of her migration
from Paris to London, of her degradation to the streets, and her final
assassination at the hands of Jack the Ripper.

Wedekind, who to the _métier_ of the artist joins that of the
_enfant terrible_, strains in this play every nerve to shock. As the
susceptibilities of the left wing of most of the English intellects
are about on a par with those of the right wing of the German æsthetic
movement, from our own point of view he more than overshoots the mark.
None the less, the English reader, though stifled amid the fumes of the
monstrous debauch, is forced to admire here and there passages of a
potency truly infernal. The final scene in the wet and noisome garret
is indisputably tragic, when the squalid thing gazes at Schwarz's
pierrot picture of her dead beauty, only to throw it in revulsion out
of the window, or where Alwa and Schigolch analyse the melancholy past.

        ALWA. She should have been a Catherine of Russia.

        SCHIGOLCH. That beast!

        ALWA. Although her development was precocious, she
        once had the expression of a gay and healthy child of
        five years old. She was then only three years younger
        than I. In spite of her marvellous superiority to me
        in practical matters, she let me explain to her the
        meaning of _Tristan and Isolde_, and how fascinating
        she was when I read it to her and she grasped its
        meaning. From the little sister that felt herself like
        a schoolgirl in her first marriage, she became the wife
        of an unfortunate and hysterical artist; from being
        the wife of the artist, she became the wife of my late
        father; from being the wife of my father, she became my
        mistress; so flows the stream of the world. Who can swim
        against it?

So ends a play not without some resemblance to Hogarth's _Harlot's
Progress_, if one can imagine the fanatical moralist treating such
a subject with the artistic irony of a very much Germanised Aubrey

But Wedekind's most serious contribution to dramatic literature is to
be found in _Frühlingserwachen._ The orthodox stage-conventions, it
is true, are sweepingly ignored; the scene is changed with more than
Shakespearean frequency; the characters indulge in prolonged romantic
soliloquies; none the less, the night of genuine tragedy broods over
the whole piece.

The first act opens with a conversation between Frau Bergman and her
daughter Wendla. The girl is growing up, fit to wear longer dresses,
and exhibiting the morbidity appropriate to her years. In the next
scene we see schoolboys at talk; with intense gravity they travel
from their work to religion, and from religion to sex, discussing the
Platonic and American systems of education, remarking that Superstition
is the Charybdis into which one flies out of the Scylla of religious
mania, or comparing notes on the growth of their respective manhoods.
Melchior, the leading spirit of the knot, promises to provide his less
experienced friend, Moritz, with a written synopsis of the mechanism
of life. In the third scene, we get the other side of the medal, when
a bevy of girls discuss life. How shall we dress our children? Which
is it better to be--a girl, or a man? Then, again, the scene is filled
with schoolboys, and we see the academic enthusiasm of young Germany.

"I've got my move," cried Melchior. "I've got my move--now the world
can go to pot--if I hadn't got my move, I'd have shot myself." A
British youth with his cricket or football "colours" fresh on his
victorious head could not possibly have manifested a more sacred joy,
and one thinks incidentally of the Viennese student who shot the
professor who had ploughed him in his viva voce.

Scene V, after a short philosophic exposition by Melchior of the
universality of egoism, contains an episode between himself and Wendla,
when at her own request he hits and beats her, so that, forsooth, she
may realise the sufferings of a friend of hers similarly handled by her
parents. After we have paid a visit to Melchior's study, where Melchior
and Moritz are reading _Faust_ together, we are transported once again
to the house of Wendla and her mother. This scene is the most pathetic
in the first act. The old fairy tales about the stork cease to obtain
credence, but the birthright of knowledge claimed by the child is
refused by the mother.

        "Why can't you tell me, Mother dear--see, I kneel at
        your feet and lay my head upon your lap--you put your
        skirt over my head and tell me, and tell me as if you
        were alone in the room. I promise not to move--I promise
        not to shriek."

Could the dim forebodings of innocence, the harrowing consciousness of
mystery, be more poignantly delineated?

In the third act, events move apace. A poetic nemesis befalls the
prudish mother, for the child surrenders all unwitting to the ardour
of Melchior. Spring has indeed awakened. Moritz, however, has been
unsuccessful at school; he wanders into the forest to make the end.
Four pages of soliloquy; a dramatic device, no doubt, but none the less
indicative of the exaggerated introspective pedantry of the average
German schoolboy. "I wander to the altar like the youth in old Etruria,
whose death-rattle purchased deliverance for his brothers in the coming
year." Then, when his thoughts are at their darkest, a pretty little
artist's model comes tripping along barefoot; gay and sparkling is her
careless life. "Come home with me." But the schoolboy has his lessons
to do, and he hies himself to his final task. Act III.--Apprehensive of
a suicide epidemic, the masters hold a meeting in which the question
of whether the window shall be open or shut is apparently of as much
importance as the expulsion of Melchior. Then comes the funeral of
Moritz; the father repudiates the paternity of so prodigal a son, while
the classical professor sapiently remarks, "If he had only learnt his
history of Greek literature, he would have had no occasion to hang
himself." Melchior, however, is still at large, and after a harrowing
dialogue between his father and mother, is packed off to a reformatory.

But the transformation scene goes merrily on, and we behold first the
reformatory, from which Melchior effects an escape, and then Wendla's
sick-room. Amid the most trenchant satire on the pompous fashionable
doctor, it becomes apparent that the child has brought home to her
mother the full wages of innocence.

        FRAU BERGMANN. You have a child.

        WENDLA. But that is not possible, Mother. I am not
        married. Oh, Mother, why did you not tell me everything?

The finale of the play is laid in the churchyard, over whose wall there
clambers the escaped Melchior; he walks past the tombstone of Wendla,
dead from her mother's heroic efforts to save her reputation; after an
interview with Moritz, out for a nocturnal stroll, with his head tucked
under his arm, he meets a mysterious stranger, who launches him in the

Such is a synopsis of a play produced in Germany amid the wildest
acclamation and disparagement. Its success is largely due to the fact
that it is pregnant with a problem which, in Germany, at any rate, is
of peculiar moment. "Is such a subject capable of artistic treatment?"
demands the man of the old school. If, however, the treatment is
somewhat more drastic than in Longfellow's

    "Standing with reluctant feet
    Where the brook and river meet,"

the subject is the same, the reason for the difference being that
German blood flows with a swifter current and a fuller volume than the
thin New England trickle of the early nineteenth century. As a sheer
piece of psychology, the work is as great as James's _The Awkward Age_,
if one may compare a Vulcanic forge with a Daedalean web. That, indeed,
the theme is unfit for tragic treatment, let those maintain whose
ideally balanced temperaments have never experienced the throes and
travails that attend the birth of manhood or womanhood.

Some reference should be made to Wedekind's less important works--to
the somewhat inferior farce, _Der Liebestrank_; to the highly
serious _So ist das Leben_, a work whose psychology and symbolism
are analogous to Ibsen's _Volksfiend_[3]; to the amusing, but not
particularly significant _Marquis von Keith_, with its mixture of
the problem, the extravaganza, and the character study, and its
delightful comedy passage, when a boy wins his way with his father
by blackmailing him with suicide; to _Minnehaha_, the prose-poem,
compounded of the spirits of the classics and the coulisses; to the
satiric grotesque, _Oaha_, an elaborate skit on the celebrated Munich
journal with its chronic confiscations by the police and its special
"prison-editor"; and to _Hidalla_, that rollicking burlesque tragedy
of Free Love and Eugenics. On a higher plane, however, are the volume
of short stories, _Feuerwerk_, and the collection of poems entitled
_Die Vier Jahrzeiten_. Like Guy de Maupassant, Wedekind treats only
the one subject. His technique, however, is different, and while the
Frenchman crowns each tale with a climax, the German clothes it with an
atmosphere. _Feuerwerk,_ moreover, is worth reading, if only for the
style, with its noble simplicity and its majestic roll. The masterpiece
of the series is _Der Greise Freier_, where, set in the background of
an Italian honeymoon, lies painted the grey romance of a young girl
realising her love in the very arms of death. Matchless, again, as a
mock heroic _tour de force_ is _Rabbi von Ezra_, a philosophic sermon
by an aged Hebrew, delivered in the grandiose style of the prophets,
on his comparative experiences with the wife of his bosom and the
strange woman. The poems, also, are, with a few exceptions, innumerable
variations of the eternal theme. With all its fantastic bizarrerie,
reminiscent of Baudelaire, Poe, or Verlaine, the mood is throughout
more masculine, not to say more brutal. No lover has yet set his
enamoured features to a grin of such tigerish ferocity; no writer of
songs has yet refined melodious lyrics with such Nietzschean gusto,
such Satanic exultation. _Keuscheit_, in particular, is truly the
apotheosis of the super-brutal. In a more normal vein, making quite a
new departure in the art of light verse, is the charming poem beginning:

    "Ich habe meine Tante geschlachtet,
    Meine Tante war alt und schwach."

Of course it is inevitable that, like the Secessionist painters,
seeking, as he does, such drastic effects by such drastic means, when
he falls, he should fall with overwhelming heaviness. Occasionally,
instead of being powerful, he is merely crude. At his best, however,
his poems exhibit the swing and ripple of the authentic lyric. Typical
of him at his best are _Heimweh_ and _Der Blinde Knabe_. Yet now and
again the cry of the sufferer pierces the cynic's mask.

    "Ich stehe schuldlos vor meinem Verstand,
    Und fühle des Schicksals zermalmende Hand."

Among Wedekind's more recent works we would mention _Zensur_ and
_Schloss von Wetterstein_ and, far more particularly, _Musik_ and

_Zensur_, with its sub-title _a Theodicy_, is an _apologia pro vitâ
suâ_, arising more particularly out of the fact that the play, _Die
Büchse von Pandora_, was actually censored even in Munich. The
protagonist of this work, _Walter Buridan_, is without disguise
Frank Wedekind, for the postulate of the Wedekindian personality,
as a fundamental element in contemporary national culture, is as
important in Germany as was some years ago the postulate of the Shavian
personality in England. And, indeed, with all his clownings and
buffooneries, Wedekind is frequently as serious as Mr. Shaw himself. It
will therefore be appreciated that the passage which we are now going
to quote out of the dialogue between Buridan and the Court official
is meant deliberately, not as a mere piece of impudence but in all

        BURIDAN. But can you adduce anything out of my writings
        which hasn't for its ultimate object to glorify and
        represent artistically that eternal justice before which
        we all bend the knee with all humility?

        DR. PRANTL. What do you mean by eternal justice?

        BURIDAN. I understand by eternal justice the same thing
        as that which John the Evangelist called the Logos. I
        understand by it the same thing as that which the whole
        of Christendom worships as the Holy Ghost. In no one
        of my works have I put forward the good as bad or the
        bad as good. I have never falsified the consequences
        which accrue to a man as the result of his actions. I
        have simply portrayed those consequences in all their
        inexorable necessity.

In a somewhat different vein is the weird trilogy, _In Allen Satteln
Gerecht_ (_Ready for Everything_), _Mit Allen Hüden Gehetzt_ (_Up
to Everything_), and _In Allen Wassern Gewaschen_, which have
been recently published together, under the title of _Schloss von
Wetterstein._ In these three plays the lascivious and the intellectual,
the monstrous and the real, the comic and the tragic, are linked
together in a union which, though to some extent burlesque, is on
the whole successful. The dialogue, in particular, in this hybrid
of tragedy and extravaganza, with its ingenious twists, its lusty
thwackings, its shrewd, violent thrusts, not merely home, but, as it
were, right through the body, is in its own way packed with genius.
Effie, in particular, with her insatiable appetite in the erotic
sphere, is the greatest _enfant terrible_ in the whole of modern
European literature. And truly tragic is her dismay when she discovers
that that _Unersättlichkeit in Liebe_, on which she has built her whole
philosophy of life, is simply to be attributed to chronic indigestion,
and that the instantaneous effect which she produces upon males is
simply due to a diseased liver.

More serious, though with the usual Wedekindian sardonic undercurrent,
is _Musik_. This play consists of four "pictures" from the life of
a young singing student, Klara Hûhnerwadel, studying her art in the
household of a professor who is married to another woman. Events take
their normal course, but there is a great uproar owing to the arrest
and trial of the woman, through whose illegal assistance Klara had
successfully escaped the natural corollary of her rash romanticism.
Klara is consequently packed off across the frontier to avoid arrest
herself. She returns, however, is duly arrested, and the second
"picture" shows her in prison. In the third "picture," she is once
more back at the professor's house, and once more does history repeat
itself, though in this case the legal ordinances are not infringed. In
the fourth "picture," Klara has given birth to a son, of whom she is
devotedly fond. With true Wedekindian irony, however, the child dies on
the stage. Such is the skeleton of the plot, squalid, though no doubt
highly plausible. But the play must be read itself to appreciate the
sheer force of its sinister realism. The characters in this piece are
among the most convincing that ever walked the boards of a Wedekind
play, painted too in colours far more sober than those fantastic
luridities with which this author is accustomed to disport himself.
It is, in fact, if we may draw a slightly startling analogy, a "slice
of life" play of the Galsworthian genre. Before passing from _Musik_,
we would like to quote the passage describing the child's death as
typically characteristic of the author's brutal pathos.

        ELSE. The bath will do him good (_with her bare arm in
        the water_)--it's all cooking salt--the salt won't hurt
        him, will it, doctor?

        DR. SCHWARZKOPF (_by the cot, dully_). There is nothing
        more to be done. The child is dead.

        KLARA (_gives an agonised shriek_).

        [_The_ Landlady _picks up the tub of water from the
        floor and carries it out_.

In _Franziska_ (1912), Wedekind has given fresh rein to his fantastic
exuberance. This weird drama deals with the experiences of an
ultra-modern Mademoiselle de Maupin, who, having sold herself to the
devil in the shape of an impresario, who holds her strictly to her
bargain, proceeds to see life like a veritable twentieth-century female
Faust. And life, forsooth, she sees with a vengeance, playing the smart
"blood" in a gay _Weinstube_; marrying a rich heiress, so naïve and
so unsophisticated as to put everything down to sheer frigidity on
the part of her imagined husband; successfully masquerading in silk
knee-breeches to a silly old monarch as a genuine spirit, only finally,
like a contemporary

    "In veterem Cæneus revoluta figuram,"

to subside both purified and enlightened byher kaleidoscopic
experiences into the healthy bliss of the quasi-domestic life with a
new, honest, and well-meaning lover.

The wild, rollicking humour of this play will perhaps appeal in vain
to the more stolid of our English minds. Some help may perhaps be
found for the due appreciation of this, and, indeed, of all Wedekind's
plays, if it be borne in mind that for a modern woman to live her own
life in Southern Germany (_sich auszuleben_, to employ the technical
and official phrase) is not revolutionary but elementary, and is far
more of a cliché than a new departure. Further, the play claims to be
treated not by the standards of the ordinary drama, but as a problem
farce, an Aristophanic modernity, a philosophic extravaganza, a
dramatic anomaly, very much _sui generis_, and consequently requiring
very special critical standards. Judging it by these standards, it is
impossible not to be swept away by the high spirits of this strange
piece of art. Who, too, can gainsay the practical up-to-dateness of a
play where maidens insure against children, wives against infidelity,
monarchs against madness? And who will not admire the almost morbid
conscientiousness of Franziska, who, having had one lover of the
name of Veit, and another lover of the name of Ralph, and becoming
subsequently a mother, determines, out of comprehensive precaution
and sheer sense of fairness, to call the little boy by the impartial
designation of Veitralph? It is, however, only fair to state, as we
have already hinted, that the play finishes up on a note of genuine
pathos and semi-conjugal affection.

What, then, is Wedekind's final claim? As a play-wright in the ordinary
sense of the word, his pretensions are negligible. One of the most
marked features, however, of the last decade and a half has been the
evolution of fresh species in the genus drama. Thus, apart from the
drama or play of action, with its orthodox _dénouement_ and climax, we
have the "idea" play, as in Mr. Shaw; the "slice of life" play, as in
Mr. Galsworthy; or the "æsthetic atmosphere" play, as in Maeterlinck.
Whether we call such work drama, or quasi-drama, is as immaterial
from the larger standpoint as the surname we choose to give to the
individual who did, or who did not, write _Hamlet_. Even, however,
with this extended classification, it is difficult to docket into any
definite pigeon-hole so idiosyncratic a temperament. If we have to
commit ourselves, we would say that the Wedekind play is the lyric play
of irony--irony both comic and tragic. Even making all due allowances
for defects, for the superfluous thickness with which sometimes he
places his harsh and violent colours, or for occasional amorphous
construction, as in _Frühlingserwachen_, as a master of irony he is
indisputably a genius. No _sœva indignatio_, it is true, lends its
ethical sanction, no Hellenic _εἰρονεία_ its delicate grace:
it is for his own fiendish delectation that he plies his knout on that
world of abnormalities called into existence for this express purpose,
and writhing prettily in the most ingenious of dances. Yet with what
art and dexterity does he operate, finding with unerring aim the raw
place of his victims, and drawing from these apparent grotesques the
blood of genuine humanity. Your specialist will no doubt diagnose him a
decadent, yet he is tense with a frenzied virility. It is, as we have
said before, the very exuberance and violence of his energy that leads
him plumb the abyss. He has himself well expressed his whole outlook
on life, and indeed the whole Nietzschean standpoint, in the following

    "For them your kind and gracious face,
      For me the sword smiles sweet,
    For me the savage bear's embrace,
      For them old Bruin's meat.
    The brutal foe's own strife I choose,
  They the humanities of truce."

[Footnote 1: _Cf._ the lines of Ricarda Huch to life: "Denn du bist
suss in deinen Bitternessen."]

[Footnote 2: It is curious to notice that almost identical words were
used in _Irene Wycherley_.]

[Footnote 3: "Volksfiend" (sic); German is "Volksfeind", Norwegian is
"Folkefiende"--transcriber's note--M.D.]


        "My dear friend, as far as that grotesque realism is
        concerned, which considers it its duty to get along
        without stage management or prompter, that realism in
        which a fifth act frequently fails to be reached because
        a tile has fallen upon the hero's head in the second
        act--I am not interested. As for myself, I let the
        curtain go up when it begins to be amusing, and I let it
        go down at the moment which I consider fit."

In these words, touched with a delicate flippancy which is thoroughly
characteristic, Arthur Schnitzler endeavours to summarise that
technique which, though it has lifted him to the summit of the Austrian
drama, is as yet comparatively unknown to the English public, if one
excepts the recent performance by the Stage Society of _The Green
Cockatoo_ and _Countess Mizzi_, and the production of _Anatol_ at the
Palace Music Hall.

It is, in fact, because Schnitzler's plays combining, and on the whole
combining efficiently, the psychological interest of pure "problem"
with the emotional interest of pure "drama," afford specimens of a
type novel to, at any rate, the majority of our theatre-goers, that
they provoke something more than a cursory examination, not only of
themselves, but of the standpoint and method of the man who wrote
them. Above all is this the case in a country like England, where
the problem play is hampered by so many handicaps. The exaggerated
officialdom of our English propriety, beneficial though it may be
from the moral aspect, produces artistically unfortunate results.
Many first-class problem plays are exiled from the stage, but that is
not where the mischief ends. Even when they are produced, it is only
to be looked on with suspicion as eccentric symptoms of dangerous,
not to say anarchistic tendencies. When, however, official and
"respectable" dramatists (_i.e._ dramatists of the stamp of Mr. Pinero
or of Mr. Sutro) produce so-called problem plays before official and
"respectable" audiences (_i.e._ audiences of a calibre other than
that of those who patronise the Little Theatre and Stage Society
performances), it will be usually found (if, indeed, the play is not
an innocuous family drama, or simply a comedy of intrigue, for in many
cases the word "problem" has degenerated into a mere euphemism for some
slight forgetfulness of the Seventh Commandment) that the dramatist
has sacrificed the duty of working out his problems logically and
artistically to the still more paramount duty of appeasing the moral
consciousness of his audience.

Further, it is one of the precepts of our dramatic technique, most
honoured in the observance, that the action should take place among
people of high social position; as, however, it so happens that it is
rather among the more intellectual and introspective of the middle
classes that genuine problems tend to arise, the scope of the dramatist
becomes automatically narrowed. Of course we have our dramatic left
wing, Mr. Shaw, Mr. Galsworthy, Mr. Barker, our ultra-modern exponents
of the drama of ideas and the drama of psychology. But here, again,
our revolutionaries overshoot the mark in their reaction from the
orthodox. Mr. Shaw will bombard us with ideas till we can hardly
stand. When, however, we have recovered our balance, we observe that,
however indisputable may be his pre-eminence as a thaumaturgic apostle
of a successfully dechristianised Christianity, his characters are
marked by comparatively few traits of individual psychology, and
participate in comparatively little dramatic action. It is, indeed,
with profound appreciation of his weakness that "talking" is set by
Mr. Shaw as a final seal on the _Superman_. Mr. Galsworthy and Mr.
Barker, it is true, do give us not only elaborate discussion of social
problems (though not infrequently an airy discussion of things in
general is dragged in forcibly with no, or little, reference to the
action of the play), but also refined and delicate delineations of
individual character. But with the possible exception of the grandiose
and monstrous _Waste_ and the statuesque thesis and antithesis of the
sociological _Strife_, their plays are not dramatic. To express it with
almost childish implicity, their plays are not "exciting." With a few
exceptions, they are charged with no atmosphere and abut at no climax.

Mere ideas, however, will not make the dramatic world go round, and
mere psychology often only makes it go flat. Few words are mouthed with
such fluent irresponsibility as "technique," but it may be said--and
said, we think, truly, and without affectation--that no play can be
a success without a certain minimum of "technique"; that is to say,
either one continuous thread of dramatic interest on which successive
acts are strung, or some particular arch-effect to which (especially if
a one-acter) the whole play abuts, and to the atmosphere of which all
the elements are harmoniously toned.

The vice of the English drama, then, is this: plays of good technical
mechanism possess little or no "problem" interest; plays of "problem"
or psychological interest possess little or no technical mechanism.

Let us, consequently, glancing first at his plays, and perhaps later
at those short stories which stand in the most intimate relation
to his one-acters, ascertain to what extent Schnitzler has solved
successfully the great "problem of the problem."

_Liebelei_, which was produced first in 1895, is an excellent example
both of Schnitzler's powers and of Schnitzler's limitations. The
_motif_ of the play is the problem of the refined middle-class girl,
who stands, if we may borrow the terminology of popular melodrama, at
the cross-roads. Which turning is it better for her to take--the right
turning, or the wrong turning?

Fritz, a sentimental young Viennese student, is discussing in his rooms
the affairs of his heart with the saner and more practical Theodor.
Fritz is melancholy. He has been sustaining a grand passion for a
married woman, but the looming shadow of the husband obsesses him. Are
his nerves playing him tricks, or has the husband ascertained?

Theodor advises him to sail in shallower and less troubled waters. "You
must go for your happiness where I did--and found it, too--where there
are no great scenes, no dangers, and no tragic developments, where
the first steps are not particularly hard and the last, again, are
not painful, where one receives the first kiss with a smile and parts
finally with the softest feeling."

Scruples are out of place on the principle, "Better myself than someone
else, and the someone else is as inevitable as Fate."

Theodor, moreover, has not only prescribed the cure, but has ordered
the medicine. Enter Mizzi, the actual "happiness" of Theodor,
and Christine, the prospective "happiness" of Fritz. Mizzi the
practical prepares supper, while the sweet _naïveté_ of the genuinely
unsophisticated Christine captivates the jaded soul of our _fin de
siècle_ romantic. There ensues a scene of the most delicate gaiety
and camaraderie. All is health and goodwill. Even Mizzi the prosaic
shows her passion for the picturesque on learning that Fritz is in the

        MIZZI. Are you in the yellow or the black?

        FRITZ. I'm in the yellow.

        MIZZI. (_dreamily_). In the yellow.

Could there be a more subtle probing into the soul of the
novelette-reading shopgirl?

Then, at the zenith of the feast, when glasses are clinking and souls
are flowing, enter the skeleton. The company is packed into the next
room, and Fritz is left to arrange a duel with the man whom he has
wronged. Exit the skeleton, re-enter the revellers; yet the shadow of
the looming death casts a gloom even over the unconscious minds of
the others. The girls bid a gay farewell to the young men, but the
aftermath of the old love is already poisoning the sweets of the new.

The next scene is in the lodgings of Christine on the eve of that duel
of which the love-stricken girl is in blissful ignorance. Christine,
_bien entendu_, in contradistinction to the casual and heart-whole
Mizzi, is taking her love-affair with the maximum of seriousness.
Katherine, a benevolent busybody of a neighbour, puts Weiring, the
musician father of Christine, on his guard. Weiring, however, having
been the uncomplaisant brother of his sister, is determined, on the
strength of his experience, to be the complaisant father of his

        WEIRING. I became, Heaven knows, proud, and gloried in
        my conduct--and then, little by little, the grey hairs
        came and the wrinkles, and one day went by another
        till her whole youth was gone--and gradually, so that
        one could scarcely notice it, the young girl became an
        old maid, and then I first began to suspect what I had
        really done.

        KATHERINE. But, Herr Weiring....

        WEIRING. I can see how she often used to sit with me in
        the evening by this lamp in this room, with her silent
        smile, with a strange kind of devotion, as if she still
        wished to thank me for something, and I--the one thing
        I wanted most to do was to throw myself on my knees and
        ask for her forgiveness for guarding her so well from
        all dangers and from all happiness.

The act ends with a love-scene between Christine and Fritz, poignant in
its irony. He is all-in-all to her, she is just something to him; but
he goes off to fight a duel on account of another woman without so much
as bidding her a real farewell.

In the third act the news of Fritz's death is broken to Christine,
and here comes the most subtle and delicate touch of all. Poignant as
is her grief at his death, her grief at the casual flippancy of his
treatment is even more poignant. Our _fin de siècle_ Ophelia rushes
madly out of the house to commit suicide in the nearest brook, or
perhaps more probably under the nearest train, to point the philosophic
moral, "_A bas la grande passion! Vive l'Amourette!_"

The play, however, should be read or seen to obtain an adequate
appreciation of the precision with which each character is drawn, the
spontaneity with which the dialogue flows, and the lyric pathos with
which the whole is invested. The limitations, such as they are, simply
lie in the fact that each act is self-complete in itself. However
good they may be, three consecutive one-acters never made a drama.
To compare great things with low, each act of a drama, like each
instalment of a _feuilleton_, should leave, as it were, the hanging
tag of some vital interrogation. The dramatic banquet should not only
regale the mind of the spectator during, but titillate it with the
aftermath between the acts.

As we shall see later, when he comes to dramatise on the larger
scale, Schnitzler not infrequently exhibits the defects of those very
qualities which make him so supreme in the sphere of the one-acter.

In _Märchen_ (the Fairy Tale), on the other hand, the problem is
brought more officially into the foreground of the play, while each
act is more closely connected with those which follow or precede it.
Fedor Denner, a romantic young journalist (nearly all Schnitzler's
young men are highly romantic), is in love with Fanny, a young actress
on the threshold of theatrical success, and of those dangers which
follow so closely in the wake of theatrical success. Fedor, moreover,
is not only romantic, he is modern--ultra-modern. And so, in the
inspiring atmosphere of Fanny's home circle, where the mother bustles
about with the refreshments and the "good" piano-teacher of a sister
discourses music for the edification of the journalists, painters, and
students who frequent the house, he gives an impassioned little lecture
on the "Fairy Tale of the Fallen Woman" and on the "washed-out views
and dead-beat ideas" of which the fairy tale is composed. The little
lecture, however, goes off just a little too successfully. In a climax,
marvellous in its tacit concentration, Fanny takes an opportunity
of kissing his hand. Fedor is revolted, however, by the revelation
implied in this pathetic gratitude. He had contemplated marriage, but
now----. For the time being he nurses in solitary misery all the pangs
of retrospective jealousy. Then Fanny, unable to bear the separation,
rushes headlong into his arms. Then comes the great act of the play. We
are back once more in the house of Fanny's mother. The young actress,
having scored a brilliant success on the Vienna stage, has been offered
a splendid contract in St. Petersburg by Moritzki, the agent. If,
however, she goes to St. Petersburg, she will have to face the pains
and pleasures of life unsheltered by the respectability of a family.
The problem is acute. Fanny, however, places the Fate of her life on
the knees of--Fedor. And Fedor shuffles and vacillates.

        FANNY. Come, and you--what do you say yourself?

        FEDOR. After you have received Herr Moritzki at the
        house you can scarcely seriously mean to refuse him.

        FANNY. Herr Denner, I consider you an exceptionally
        shrewd man, I ask you for your advice.

        FEDOR. Yes, I think ... I would accept.

        Fanny. Good! [_To_ Moritzki.] Herr Moritzki.

Woman-like, however, having signed the contract, she craves time to
reconsider. Fedor looks at it again.

        FANNY. Fedor--you gave me the contract back.

        FEDOR. Well, yes.

        FANNY. You should have torn it up, dear. Why didn't you
        do it?

        FEDOR. You should not have signed it, Fanny.

        FANNY. Fedor! It is unbearable--you're driving me out of
        my senses.

        FEDOR. But you yourself don't quite know your own mind.
        There's something in you which craves for adventures.

        FANNY. Fedor--if you would only put me to the test--I
        will do anything you want--only tell me.

And then, eventually, Fedor owns up.

        FEDOR. Would I not still have to kiss away from your
        lips the kisses of other men?

And so Fanny forsakes the life of domesticity for the life of the

The chief defect, however, in this play is that, in spite of all its
dramatic compound of psychology, pathos, and problem, the problem is
not fairly presented, in that Fanny, being of inferior social status
to Fedor, the question of whether he shall marry her must inevitably
be influenced by purely snobbish considerations. It is only when the
woman is of equal, if not slightly superior, rank to the man that the
real problem of her ante-nuptial chastity can be discussed with real
sociological fairness.

In _Die Vermächtniss_ (produced in Berlin in 1898), the problem which
our dramatist has made the centre of his play is the relation to the
family of the mistress and child of the dead son of the house. The
dashing young cavalry officer is brought home fatally wounded from
a fall from his horse. Realising his approaching death, he informs
his parents of his responsibilities. Death raises the home circle to
a pitch of more than ordinary humanity. In spite of their poignant
jealousy at the existence of other affections and another home life,
they send for their son's household, and accede to his dying request to
incorporate it into the family.

Act II shows the mistress installed in the bosom of her lover's family.
Modernity, however, though satisfying to the heroic pose, has its
penalties. Our ultra-modern family finds itself confronted with social
ostracism. Still, they love their grandchild, and the mother of the
grandchild is the price that they must pay. But the grandchild dies.
The semi-official daughter-in-law consequently becomes a somewhat
unprofitable luxury, and in the final act is given her _congé_. Even
more than in _Liebelei_, however, the claim to merit lies almost
exclusively in the precision with which each successive phase of
the problem is portrayed. As a series of family pictures, the play
succeeds, and succeeds brilliantly; as a drama of continuous interest,
it fails, and fails hopelessly.

The next play of Schnitzler is _The Veil of Beatrice._ This "tragedy
of sensualism" has qualities too arresting to be lightly disregarded.
The dramatist has forsaken his problems to portray how the fatal
temperament of a young girl of the Italian Renaissance works out its
own destruction.

In the first act, we are shown the garden of Filippo, a poet of
Bologna, which is on the eve of being plundered by the enemy. The
heads on Bolognese shoulders are worth little purchase, and who leaves
not the town to-night will never leave the town at all. The Duke
invites Filippo to the palace to recite his poems. Filippo refuses,
so that he may leave the city of doom with his beloved Beatrice,
a daughter of the people. On learning, however, that Beatrice has
dreamt of the Duke, he spurns her in an egoistic paroxysm of refined
jealousy, typical in its subtlety more of the twentieth century than
the Renaissance.

    "So much I give thee, more than thou canst dream,
    So much that to be worthy of my love,
    Loathing should fasten on thee at the thought
    This earth is trod by other men than I."

Beatrice leaves him with the vague intimation--

    "Feel I that without thee I cannot live
    And have desire for death, I come again
    To take thee with me."

In the second act, Beatrice is on the point of marrying her legitimate
suitor, Vittorino, and escaping from the town, when the Duke appears
and proposes to exercise the _jus ultimæ nodis_. Owing to the
remonstrances of her brother Francesco, he generously offers to
relinquish his intentions. Beatrice is bidden to go on her way, but
stands riveted to the spot by a fatalistic impulse to realise her
dream. And what is more, she insists on being the wife of the Duke.
Her wish is granted. The nuptials are celebrated by a gigantic _fête_
in the palace, whose doors are thrown open to rich and poor. Beatrice,
however, with the placid _naïveté_ of her will-less temperament, flies
to Filippo.

                               "What boots it,
    Were I this eve an empress to whom worlds
    Bowed, or the callat of a fool? For I
    Am with thee now to die by thine own side."

Filippo pretends to poison both her and himself, and on her discovering
the ruse, commits suicide in earnest. Beatrice rushes back to the
palace, but discovering that she has left behind that priceless veil
which was the wedding-gift of her husband, leads back the Duke to the
chamber of love and death. The living is confronted with the dead
rival, and the indignant Francesco slays his sister.

The power of this tragedy, however, lies not so much in the actual
plot or even in the marvellous delineation of Beatrice, gracefully and
innocently childish in the very irresponsibility of her fated sin,
as in the rich tints of the picture and the gorgeous frame in which
the picture is set. All the multicoloured elements of the Renaissance
take their place in the vivid scheme--poets, sculptors, courtiers,
courtesans, soldiers, and populace. Annihilation and vitality grow each
more grandiose from their mutual juxtaposition, and the red blood of
life flows but the quicker and the warmer beneath the black shadow of
doom. Few more eloquent tragedies have been written on the great twin
themes: "In the midst of life we are in death; in the midst of death we
are in life."

Reverting back to prose, we come to _Der Einsame Weg_ (_The Lonely
Way_, 1903). If, however, the tendency to import the methods of
the short story and the long novel were apparent in _Liebelei_ and
_Vermächtniss_, it is even more marked in this play. A son, finding
a sire in the shape of the middle-aged lover of his now dead mother,
repudiates the natural for the putative father; a neurotic and
over-sexed young girl, finding that her lover, unknown to himself, is
suffering from an incurable disease, dies by her own act. These are the
two _motifs_, knit together by no shred of logical connection, which
form the threads on which the drama is hung. Yet, if here we have
Schnitzler at his worst, the many excellences even of this play attest
by implication the merits of Schnitzler at his best. The scene between
father and son is a sheer masterpiece. How delicately does the father
intimate that "mothers also have their destinies like other women." And
how complete is his rejection.

        JULIAN. It is now absolutely impossible for you to
        forget that you are my son.

        FELIX. Your son--it is nothing but a word--it is a mere
        empty sound--I know it, but I don't realise it.

        JULIAN. Felix!

        FELIX. You are further away from me since I know it.

Interesting, again, is the Nietzschean sanction for intrigue: "One has
the right to exploit to the completest extent all one's life with all
the ecstasy and all the shame which is involved."

Far superior, however, to _Der Einsame Weg_, with its heavy Ibsenite
atmosphere, is _Zwischenspiel_ (1905), where that problem of the
quadrangle, compared to which that of the triangle is from the more
advanced standpoint but _vieux jeu_, is treated with the most delicate
and biting raillery. Victor Amadeus, the pianist, and his wife
Cecilie, the singer, love each other with as much genuine constancy
as can be expected from normal persons of the artistic temperament.
Victor Amadeus, however, philanders with a countess, and his wife
with a prince. Mutual jealousy! Too civilised, however, to interfere
by any display of primitive emotion with the sacred love of the
new modernity, they grant each other, on general principles, _carte
blanche_. And so, at the end of Act I, they separate for their mutual
holiday. Henceforward the husband and wife are to be the most Platonic
of comrades. The necessities of their professional engagements,
however, bring about their meeting in their old home. But the
affair with the countess is dead, and the affair with the prince has
apparently not yet matured. Then do Victor Amadeus and Cecilie forget
the ultra-modern theories which they are bound in duty to exemplify,
and only realise that they are man and woman. Bursting with his new
humanity, Victor Amadeus begins in the third act to be quite jealous
of the prince. His astonishment can consequently be imagined when his
Serene Highness presents himself to ask the husband formally for the
hand of the wife. On the situation being explained to him, the prince
gracefully retires, gallant gentleman that he is. But the reunited pair
cannot live happily ever after. Cecilie, it is true, had been faithful,
but faithful, she explains, by the narrowest of margins. She cannot
guarantee the future; and does not history repeat itself? True, they
had loved each other, but what love can be proof against the theories
of the newer sexual ethics?

"If we had only before," says Cecilie, "shrieked into each other's
faces our rage, our bitterness, our despair, instead of posing as
superior people who never lost their heads, then we should have been
true to ourselves--and that we never were."

And so that parting, taking place, as it does, when all barriers but
their two selves have disappeared, rings down the curtain on this most
brilliant of satires on the ultra-modern.

On almost as high a level is _Freiwild_[1], a piece which gains an
added interest from the fact that it has not only been censored because
an army officer is given a box on the ears, but that the actors on one
occasion refused to play it till solemnly assured by the author that
the apparent realism of the portrayal of the _procurer-impresario_
was, after all, merely poetic licence. The play is a vehement satire
on the duel. In a scene marvellous in its ingenious stagecraft
and airy atmosphere, we are shown the picturesque gardens of an
Austrian pleasure resort. Close by is the local theatre, where
musical comedy is performed for the entertainment of officers. One
of the actresses, however, Anna, shocks all orthodox traditions by
refusing to participate in that social life which, according to the
manager, is the sacred duty of the efficient chorus girl. For Anna,
Paul Rohring, an analytical painter, entertains feelings which are
quixotic, and Karinski, a heavy bully of a fire-eater, feelings typical
of a less exalted Don. But the overtures of Karinski are rebuffed
ignominiously. Rohring[2] cannot repress the smile of sarcastic
triumph. The discomfited lady-killer, aspersing the name of Anna
with an insolent _gaucherie_, has his ears boxed for his pains. The
inevitable challenge is brought to Rohring by one Poldi, the complete
exponent of punctilious aristocracy, the past-master in all the
intricacies of the _duelli codex_, the super-gentleman. But Rohring,
who is anxious to marry Anna and live a long and happy life, rejects
the inevitable challenge. Genuine consternation on the part of Poldi,
who explains that the unpurged shame of the box on the ears spells
ruin to Karinski's military career. Poldi proposes a compromise--the
solemn farce of a bloodless duel. Rohring, however, disdains playing
dummy parts in solemn farces. It is all madness. It is in vain that the
incarnation of military honour expostulates.

"For you it is madness, but others have grown up in this madness; what
is madness to you is for others the very element in which they live."

Finally, Rohring is given to understand that, unless he flees, the
outraged Karinski will shoot him at sight. But with a somewhat human
perversity our heroic painter refuses to run away. An encounter _à
l'Américaine_ takes place in the gardens, but Rohring, drawing just
a second too late, is shot dead. And now, as orthodox applause to the
red-handed, cold-blooded murderer, comes from the mouth of Karinski's
own friend in six words the indictment of the duel, irrevocably damning
in the cold subtlety of its satire: "And now you have won back your

If, however, in this play Schnitzler proved his ability to write a
problem drama which should be something more than a mere series of
isolated phases, we find again in his next play, _The Call of Life_, in
spite of its many excellences, the old taint of the one-acter.

The _motif_ of the play is the claim of the desire for life to ride
rough-shod over all other claims. A beautiful daughter is wasting the
best years of her life in the care of a querulous father, incurably
ill, but never dying. The little garrison town is agog with the
excitement of a newly declared war. This war, moreover, has a special
interest, in that the local regiment, the Blue Cuirassiers, had in
the last war, by ignominious flight, branded itself with shame.
Though this episode took place over thirty years ago and none of the
actual renegades are now in the regiment, the Blue Hussars, with that
inflated idea of honour only found in Teutonic countries, resolve
to purge the disgrace by dying gloriously in the front of the fray.
Among the officers is Lieutenant Max, who has cast on Marie, the
beautiful daughter, eyes of admiration. Irony, moreover, sharpens the
situation when the bedridden father, who was once a member of the Blue
Cuirassiers, explains he himself was responsible for the historic

        "What was the good of it? Who would have thanked me?
        They would have put me in a grave with a thousand others
        and piled the earth on top, and that would have been the
        end of it. And I wouldn't have it. I wanted to live--to
        live like others. I wanted to have a wife and children
        and live. And so I rushed from the field; and so it has
        happened that the young men whom I don't know are going
        to their death and that I still live on at seventy-nine
        and will survive them all--all--all."

The old soldier, however, is unduly sanguine as to the protraction of
his life, for the same call of life which ordered him from the battle
orders his daughter to pour poison into the water for which he now

It is outside the purpose of this essay to argue the ethics of this
precipitation of the inevitable. Suffice it that it constitutes a most
efficient curtain--a curtain, however, so efficient that there seems no
compelling necessity for a continuation of the play. A continuation,
however, there is, and in the rooms of Max, which are visited at night
by Marie, who ensconces herself behind a curtain. She sees the major's
wife come to urge a vain prayer that he should desert the army and
elope with her. They are discovered by the major, who, shooting the
wife, spares the lover. It is, however, when the major leaves that we
understand the intense hypertrophy of life evoked by imminent death.
Marie, knowing all, yet presents herself. Max can only realise that
his life has but a few remaining hours, and that these remaining hours
stand now before him. Another curtain, strong, if slightly crude, yet
followed by a third act, which is nothing but an epilogue.

This somewhat exaggerated scorn, however, of such of the more
complicated effects of theatricalism as are manifested in the ingenious
concatenation of the plot, or the representation of sensational
incidents which have no justification but their own inherent dramatic
force, fails absolutely to affect Schnitzler's position as a writer of
one-act plays. Indeed, it is his subordination of plot to atmosphere
that constitutes in this sphere his paramount excellence. As, moreover,
Mr. Henry James in his _Embarrassments and Terminations_ wrote short
stories independent in themselves yet harmonising with some permeating
_motif_, so has Schnitzler in his _Anatol_, _Marionetten_, and
_Lebendigen Stunden_ given us symmetrical one-act sequences.

Let us deal first with the Anatol-Cyclus, a series of one-acters
portraying the amoristic vicissitudes of a _fin de siècle_
sentimentalist, flitting prettily from heart to heart, till he is
eventually encompassed by the matrimonial net. Little action weighs
down these delicate pieces. Anatol and the flame of the moment
participate in a dialogue, or Anatol appeals to the worldly wisdom of
his friend Max to rescue him from some dilemma in which he has been
landed by his own weakness or his own folly. That is all. Yet each
piece sheds a little more light upon the holy of holies of Anatol's
heart, and illumines with equal clarity and colour the charm and
individuality of each successive priestess of the temple. Though
no doubt the chief effect of the cycle lies in its accumulative
force, some idea of the general airiness and brilliance may perhaps
be obtained by a short sketch of two of the most striking. In _The
Question to Fate_ Anatol confides to Max his anxiety. Does the flame
of the moment burn true and for him alone? By hypnotism he proposes
to extract from his unconscious love that answer which will make him
either the happiest or the most miserable of mankind. Cora enters, and
is duly soothed into a hypnotic trance. Anatol, however, insists on
being left alone with her at this critical moment of his fate, so Max
retires into the adjoining room. And now, when the helpless girl is
ready to answer every question, and, what is more, to answer it with
automatic accuracy, and the book of truth lies ready in his trembling
hand, the seeker of knowledge has not the courage to know. Waking her
up with a kiss, he expresses complete reassurance to the re-entering
Max. Cora, however, manifests a perhaps intelligible anxiety as to the
nature of her answers.

In the _Farewell Supper_, the scene of which is laid in the _cabinet
particulier_ of a Viennese restaurant, Anatol describes to Max the
ineffable woes of being on with the new love before he is off with the
old. What a strain it is, moreover, to be compelled to eat two suppers
every night! However, he and Anna (the old love) had at the initiation
of their romance arranged to confide to each other the first symptom
of approaching _ennui_. To-night at this supper he will tactfully
intimate that she is no longer indispensable to his soul's happiness.
He implores Max to stay as the helpful buffer in an inevitable scene.
Enter Anna, fresh from the stage and hungry for oysters. The pangs of
starvation temporarily appeased, Anna announces that she has something
important to communicate. She has grown tired of Anatol and fallen in
love with another. She hopes he will not mind, but better she should
tell him now than when it was too late. Collapse of Max into uproarious
laughter. With pique mingling with his relief, Anatol rises to the
occasion, professing the righteous indignation of a wounded spirit. To
vindicate his _amour-propre_, he contemptuously informs her that he
too has fallen in love with another, but as far as he is concerned his
confession does come too late. "Only a man could be so brutal," retorts
Anna; "a woman would never be so tactless as to say anything so crude."
And so the comedy ends with the girl carrying off the remains of the
supper to her cavalier round the corner.

The whole cycle, however, should be read to appreciate the racy ripple
of the dialogue, the subtle malice of the characterisation, and the
general verve and irony of these most sparkling of comedies.

Perhaps at this moment it may be convenient just to mention the
audacious psychology of the super-Boccacian _Reigen_. English decorum,
no doubt, for-bids anything but the most casual allusion to this
sequence of duologues, where all the members of the social hierarchy
are linked together by participation in the same eternal plot.

Yet in its way, this book, written originally for a select circle
and subsequently published by universal request, is one of the most
refined feats of intellectualism which Schnitzler has ever performed.
For the delicacy of the style is in inverse ratio to the delicacy
of the subject-matter, and the various nuances of social technique
are described and differentiated with the masterly touch of combined
experience and intuition. Scarcely suited, no doubt, as a Sunday School
prize, the book will, none the less, well repay perusal by modern men
and women of the modern world.

The series _Marionetten_, to which allusion has already been made, has
for its _motif_ the ironic tragedy of those who essay to manipulate
the lives of others. The best of three plays is _The Puppet-player_.
To the happy fireside of Eduard and Anna there is introduced an old
friend, George Merklin, whom the husband had casually encountered.
Merklin is a picturesque, if battered, Bohemian who encircles himself
somewhat showily with a halo of alleged mysticism. The whole art of
the dramatist, however, in this little piece is devoted to creating
an atmosphere of light melancholy, in which the poetic isolation of
the second-rate genius, Merklin, stands in vivid contrast to the
prosaic happiness of his less gifted friend. The climax comes when it
transpires that Merklin had loved Anna in the past and had brought the
two together by way of a psychological experiment at a Bohemian supper.

        "The little girl who was so nice to you simply did what
        I wished. You two were the puppets in my hand. I pulled
        the strings. It was arranged that she should pretend to
        be in love with you. For you always roused my sympathy,
        my dear Eduard; I wanted to awake in you the illusion
        of happiness, so that you should be ready for true
        happiness when you found it."

And so this shoddy superman goes out into this lonely world, having
played with the fates of others only to have played away his own life's

Perhaps, however, Schnitzler's most characteristic series of one-acters
is the one headed _Lebendige Stunden_. Life should be weighed as
much by quality as by quantity. One man can traverse more life in a
few seconds than another in whole years. It is typical, however, of
Schnitzler's method that he essays not merely to lead up to a violent
climax by artifices of calculated stagecraft, but to set the vivid hour
in an harmonious and poetic frame. The most striking of the series is
the extraordinary fantasia, _The Woman with the Dagger_.

Leonhardt, a seriously romantic youth, in apparently the full flush of
his first grand passion, meets the wife of a dramatic author in the
Renaissance saloon of a picture gallery. Pre-eminent among the pictures
on the wall is that of a woman robed in white, holding a dagger in her
uplifted hand, and gazing at the floor as if there lay someone whom
she had murdered. It is then in this atmosphere that our gallant urges
his suit to the unresponsive Pauline, who coolly informs him that she
has confessed to her husband that she is in danger, and that they are
travelling away to-morrow. And then, as she is on the point of saying
farewell, she stands before the picture.

        PAULINE (_looking closer_). Who lies there in the shadow?

        LEONHARDT. Where?

        PAULINE. Do you not see?

        LEONHARDT. I see nothing.

        PAULINE. It is you.

        LEONHARDT. I? Pauline, what an extraordinary jest!

And then, as they look and look, they fall into an hypnotic trance and
the clock of the world goes back some five hundred years. Pauline has
become Paola, and Leonhardt, Lionardo, while the racy Viennese idiom is
turned to classical blank verse. It is early dawn in the studio of the
Master Remigio, and Remigio is away on his travels. Lionardo arrogates
the claims of love on the strength of the favours which he has just
enjoyed. Paola spurns him as the mere mechanical toy of her passion.
She loves and has always loved her husband. That this is no mere pose
is apparent from the fact that on the sudden entrance of the husband
she immediately elucidates the situation. Remigio, however, with a
sublime tolerance, perhaps more typical of the husband in Mr. Shaw's
_Irrational Knot_ than of a hot-blooded Italian, pardons Paola on the
general principles of twentieth-century philosophy. Lionardo, however,
piqued and insulted as being regarded as

                 "The glass, the poor mean glass
    From which a child drank a forbidden draught,
    The merest pitiful tool of a chance and fate,"

vows vengeance on Remigio. Paola anticipates this vengeance by killing
Lionardo on the spot with a dagger, thus exemplifying the pose of the
picture. Remigio rises to the occasion and seizes on this splendidly
tragic attitude to complete an unfinished portrait of this loyalest of

And then they awaken from their trance. But the magnet of destiny draws
them inexorably. Pauline grants the assignation, with an air, however,
of mystic fatality, which shows only too well with what precision the
present must once again mirror the past.

But perhaps the most sustained and elaborated specimen of our author's
method is the ironic tragedy of the French Revolution, _The Green
Cockatoo._ The "Green Cockatoo" is an underground tavern where
brilliant, if disreputable, actors give, for the edification of their
aristocratic audiences, impromptu representations of crime and vice.

Henri, the star-man, moreover, has just married the actress Léocadie,
not for the sake of paradox, but in all seriousness. When his turn
comes, he rushes on to the stage shouting out that he found his wife,
Léocadie, with her lover the duke, and killed her. Such a calamity
being not apparently _primâ facie_ improbable, even the manager is
almost as alarmed as the audience, till he realises that the whole
thing is but an histrionic _tour de force_. And then, as the play
progresses, the atmosphere becomes more and more lurid with impending
gloom. Jest and reality intermingle in the subtlest of ironies. It is
part of the entertainment that the ragamuffins should lavish on their
patrons the freest of insults. But is there not a paradox within the
paradox, when one remembers that the Bastille has fallen that very
day? The various types, moreover, of an aristocracy exhibiting the
levity of people who are shortly going to be hanged are delightfully
portrayed--the _viveur_, "for whom every day is lost in which he
has not captured a woman or killed a man," the pretty young noble
whose corrupt flirtation is so deftly adumbrated, and the lascivious
_grande dame_, who, in spite of her husband's anxiety, is very far
from shocked at these spectacular novelties. And then Henri snaps
up the truth from the demeanour of the manager and his colleagues.
The Duke comes on to the stage and the actor then gives yet another
representation of the avenging husband--and this time he surpasses
himself, for he is but acting the truth.

Less sensational, but of equal psychological grimness, is the play
_The Mate_, which is in the same series as the _Green Cockatoo_. The
theme is the pathetic irony of the illusion of a middle-aged professor,
who gives an almost paternal benediction to what he fondly imagines
to be the grand passion of his young and temperamental wife. When,
consequently, his wife dies suddenly, the husband is prepared quite
honestly to condole with the lover, for after all has he not a right to
be pitied even more than himself? When, therefore, he learns from his
young colleague that he has just become engaged to another girl with
whom he has been in love for some time his righteous indignation is

        "I would have raised you from the ground if you had
        been broken by grief. I would have gone with you to her
        grave, if the woman who is lying over there had been
        your love; but you have turned her into your wanton,
        and you have filled this house with lies and foulness
        right up to the roof till it makes me sick--and that's
        why--that's why, yes, that's why I'm going to kick you

But there is an anti-climax within an anti-climax, for the man learns
from a mutual woman friend of the dead woman and of himself, that the
imagined _grande passion_ had been even from the standpoint of the lady
nothing more or less than a miserable trumpery adventure.

Reverting now to Schnitzler's longer plays, some mention should be
made of _Komtesse Mizzi_, _Der Junge Medardus_, and, above all, _Das
Weites Land_.

_Komtesse Mizzi_, entitled, appropriately enough, "A Family Day" is in
form a one-acter, though of sufficient length and substance to have
obtained separate publication. There is little, if any, action. The
play is based on character, dialogue, and situation. Yet it possesses
distinct psychological titillation in its presentation of a daughter
who takes a filial interest in her father's "actress-mistress," and who
is sensible enough, aristocrat though she is, to meet the lady herself
with all friendliness, and chat with her as woman to woman without the
slightest affectation. This feminine freemasonry, however, is perhaps
explained by the fact that the countess herself has lived her own
life, to such good effect that she is the mother of a grown-up boy by
her father's best friend, Prince Egon. When, consequently, the prince
introduces the boy as his own natural child by an unknown mother, the
atmosphere becomes somewhat rare. At first highly irritated, she treats
with frigid indifference the frank exuberant youth, who divines the
truth with instinctive intuition, only, however, shortly afterwards to
consent to marry the prince, and thus become the official stepmother
of her own long-lost child. The racy worldly optimism of this play is
particularly characteristic of the essentially benevolent malice of the
Schnitzlerian cynicism.

Of a totally different order is _Der Junge Medardus_, a long play
of historical patriotism, specially written for the respectable and
official Burg Theater of Vienna. It might seem indeed at first sight
that Schnitzler, the refined, ultra-modern analyst, would be somewhat
out of his element amid all the blood and thunder of the Napoleonic
campaigns, which _primâ facie_ offer but small scope for psychological
subtleties. The _tour de force_ consequently becomes all the more
creditable when the author, in spite of all his trappings of patriotic
melodrama, manages successfully to execute his own favourite tricks.
The canvas on which this drama is portrayed is so vast as to render
any synopsis necessarily inadequate. The idyll, however, and double
suicide of the young French prince Franz and the bourgeois girl Agatha,
is one of the purest and sweetest love episodes which Schnitzler
has ever written. But it is Agatha's brother, the young, brave, and
picturesque Medardus, who provides the most precious examples of
recherche psychology. The suicide of the dead couple, Agatha and Franz,
had been occasioned by the refusal of Franz's family to consent to
the marriage. When, consequently, Franz's sister, Helene (a character
somewhat analogous to Mathilde de la Môle in Stendhal's _Le Rouge et le
Noir_) wishes to put flowers on the graves of the dead pair, Medardus
refuses to allow her. Helene has him challenged by her suitor, but
Medardus emerges triumphantly from the duel. Anxious to carry the
war into the enemy's camp, and to redress the balance of the family
account, he succeeds, by the dashing conquest of the most perilous
difficulties, in becoming the lover of Helene, with the eventual object
of rousing the whole household and flaunting to her own family the
haughty girl's dishonour. Helene, however, is erratic in her favours.
Medardus, like Julien, is scorched by his own fire. The ending,
moreover, of the play, though extremely effective theatrically, strikes
us from the psychological standpoint as distinctly false. Helene and
Medardus both plot to assassinate Napoleon. Hearing that Helene is
Napoleon's mistress, Medardus kills her instead of Napoleon. So far,
so good. But when our quixotic hero, when offered a free pardon on the
sole condition that he undertakes to make no further attempt against
Napoleon's life, obstinately refuses to give the required word, one can
only say that he is observing the etiquette neither of melodrama nor
even of life, but solely of patriotic tragedy.

But of all the longer plays of Schnitzler, the best and most
distinctive in that erotic "General Post" entitled _Das Weite
Land_ (The Wide Country). This drama, which is the only full-dress
drawing-room comedy which Schnitzler has written, belongs to what we
have already designated as the "slice of life" school. It depends for
its convincingness neither on any particularly drastic situation nor
on the disproportionate merit of any individual act. The author simply
takes a group of representative modern people, rich, intellectual, and
energetic, and shows the respective crossings and intertwinings of
their various lives. The complexity of the intrigue is overwhelming,
not to say bewildering, for practically every character, from the
prolific Aigon to the virginal Erna, and from the active business man
Friedrich to his polyandrous wife Genia, is subject to one or more
erotic moods, with whose more or less simultaneous conjugation in the
past, present, and future tenses the play specifically deals. Though,
too, all the characters lead emotional lives, they deserve credit in
that they none of them wear their souls upon their sleeves, or carry
their temperaments in their pockets with the ostentatious affectation
of those Sudermannic personages who never for a moment lose the
consciousness that they are living in an atmosphere of "high problem."
For the people with whom we have now to deal are so occupied with the
concrete acts of their actual lives that they have little time to waste
in mere airy generalities. When consequently they do philosophise,
shortly, crisply, and in the light of personal experience, they are for
that very reason all the more convincing. The whole _motif_ of this
play, where the spirits of Congreve and Henry James seem to amalgamate
in so strange but yet so harmonious a compound, is well crystallised
in the following quotation: "Love and deception--faithfulness and
unfaithfulness--adoration for one woman and desire for another woman or
several others, yes, my good Hofreiter, the soul is a wide country."

As can be seen from these tolerant words, which have all the greater
force in that the man who speaks them is at any rate temporarily more
or less in love with his friend's wife, the mood in which the problem
of promiscuity is treated is less one of indignant satire than of
an ironic charity, which, while finding the complications at once
comic and tragic, yet assigns to every phase of love from the kiss
Friedrich gave to Erna three thousand metres above the sea, to Otto's
nocturnal escalades of Genia's room, its own specific emotional value,
even though the final verdict is to be found in the words of the
middle-aged Friedrich, refusing to elope with the twenty-year-old Erna:
"Everything's an illusion!"

From the point of view, also, of concentrated crispness of dialogue
and characterisation, Schnitzler has never achieved anything better
than this play. How telling in particular is the dialogue between
the mutually unfaithful spouses, Genia and Friedrich. The husband is
interrogating his wife about a young Russian virtuoso who had just
blown out his brains.

        GENIA. He was not my lover. I'm sorry to say he was not
        my lover. Is that enough for you!

Or take again the passage between Friedrich and Genia after Friedrich
has just fought a fatal duel with the twenty-five year old naval
officer, Otto.

        GENIA. But why? If you cared the least bit about
        me--if it had been a case of hate--if it had been

        FRED. No--I feel at any rate damned little of all that.
        But no man likes to be made an ass of.

In his new asexual play, _Professor Bernhardi_, Schnitzler strikes
out an entirely new line, leaves that light, airy sphere which he had
made so peculiarly his own, and embarks into the grim realms of pure
problem. The play is an avowed and deliberate tract in the manner of
Granville Barker, Galsworthy, or Brieux. Yet however devoid it may be
of those qualities which one is accustomed to label Schnitzlerian, it
is the most earnest, the most ethical, the most convincing of all his

Put shortly, the piece deals with an "affaire Dreyfus" in the medical
profession. Professor Bernhardi, a great Jewish doctor, has in the
face of numerous obstacles succeeded in building up the prosperity of
a new hospital, the Elisabethinum, treating mainly Catholic patients,
but supported mainly by Jewish funds. A substantial percentage of
the staff are Jewish, and it is instructive to observe how almost
instinctively the Jews and Catholics range themselves into two camps.
In the first act a Catholic girl is dying of septic poisoning as the
result of some outside doctor's clumsy attempt to help her to escape
the consequences of her own indiscretion. The patient herself, however,
in a state of blissful delirium, confident of recovery, and expecting
the speedy advent of her lover, is deriving the maximum of enjoyment
out of the few minutes she has yet to live. Under these circumstances
there arrives a Catholic priest, sent for, not by the girl but by a
nurse, with the object of administering the last sacrament. Out of
sheer humanity and medical conscientiousness, Professor Bernhardi is
reluctant to have his patient's last hours marred by the realisation of
her death and the shattering of her happy dream. The Catholic priest
is insistent. The Professor is politely firm. There is an animated
dialogue in the course of which the Professor touches the priest very
lightly on the shoulder, though there is nothing in the nature of an
assault. In the meanwhile the patient dies comfortably. The Clerical
and Anti-semitic parties exploit the incident with inaccurate though
artistic journalistic embellishments. There is a tremendous uproar.
The Governors of the hospital threaten to resign. Under pressure
from his friends, the Professor is willing to tender, not indeed an
abject apology, but a polite explanation. The Clerical party thereupon
blackmail him by threatening to raise the question in Parliament, if he
does not secure the election to a vacant post on the hospital staff of
a Catholic candidate who is on the one hand the protégé of the cousin
of their leader, and on the other hand incompetent. Refusing to be a
party to the job, Bernhardi secures the election to the post of a man
who is both competent and a Jew. Bernhardi, moreover, relies on the
personal assurance of Flint, the Minister for Education and Public
Worship, that he will help him by his support in Parliament. When,
however, matters came to a head, Flint, scenting in the middle of his
speech with the divine flair of the true politician the actual state
of public opinion, throws Bernhardi to the wolves and himself suggests
a prosecution for sacrilege. The Executive Board of the hospital are
divided as to what course they shall pursue. Shall they pass a vote of
confidence in their chief, or, on the other hand, suspend him until the
determination of the proceedings. By a fine stroke of irony Bernhardi
realises that he will be in a minority through the vote of the very
Jew through the conscientious insistence on whose election to the
Board he had lost the proffered opportunity of bribing the Clericals
and squaring the whole matter. He consequently resigns from the Board.
The trial takes place. The priest himself denies that there was any
assault. Bernhardi, however, is defended by a converted Jew, who,
sinking the advocate in the Catholic, conducts the case so lukewarmly
that Bernhardi is convicted on the perjured evidence of a vindictive
colleague and a hysterical lay sister. During the trial the priest
is convinced that Bernhardi was morally right in the course which he
adopted, but, as he feels subsequently driven as a matter of conscience
to inform him, refrained out of sheer religious duty from telling the
truth. Bernhardi serves his term and becomes, much to his disgust,
a political hero and a popular martyr. The hysterical lay sister
eventually confesses her perjury and Bernhardi is finally righted,
though the final note in the play is that Bernhardi was really rather
a fool to have involved himself in such grave consequences for the
mere sake of a quixotic principle. Some portion possibly of the effect
produced by this play depends on the full appreciation of its personal
allusions and some knowledge of the circumstances on which it was
substantially founded. Nevertheless, present symptoms would appear to
indicate that this play will have especial interest, not only to Jews
and Anti-Semites, but to impartial students of ethics and sociology.
Though, moreover, "pure problem" and studded with long didactical
speeches, the dramatic interest is well sustained, at any rate up
to the fourth Act, while the different characters are distinguished
with the sharpest precision. We would refer in particular to Flint,
that delightfully bland opportunist, that benevolently unscrupulous
politician, that perfectly conscientious hypocrite who honestly
believes that there is a higher and larger duty both in politics and
in life than the observance of one's own principles and the keeping of
one's given word.

Schnitzler, moreover, is not only a dramatist, but a writer of short
stories and novels, which stand on practically as high a level as
his plays. Like De Maupassant, Schnitzler has only one real _motif_.
Unlike De Maupassant, however, it is the psychological complications in
which he is chiefly interested. In further contrast, his short stories
lack that inevitable precision of climax which is the chief mark of
the French author. Yet perhaps it is for this very reason that, with
their picturesque atmosphere and pathetic simplicity, they obtain an
added reality. In the almost clinical minuteness of his psychology,
explicable from the fact that he was once a doctor, he is reminiscent
of Mr. Henry James, of a Mr. James, however, who writes without
preciosity about individuals linked with ordinary human beings by very
much more than just some shred of normality. Among his earlier short
stories we would mention in particular _Die Frau der Weisen, Das neue
Lied_, and the hypnotic fantasia at the beginning of _Dämmerseelen_.

The more recent series, _Masken und Wunder_, also possesses a
well-merited claim to recognition for its series of studies, some
modern, some symbolical, yet all written with that almost intangible
softness, combined at the same time with a certain neat strength,
which is the essential mark of Schnitzler's literary style. One of the
most striking is the telepathic romance, _Redegonda's Diary_; but in
our view the best short story in the whole book is that Maupassantian
_Death of the Bachelor_ where the three intimate friends of a dead man
are summoned to his bedside, only to find their friend dead and to read
in a letter addressed to them all, of the three separate yet identical
domestic reasons which were responsible for their participation in this
superb piece of posthumous buffoonery.

Far more significant than any of his short stories is Schnitzler's
comparatively recent novel, _Der Weg ins Freie_ (The Road to the Open),
a novel which both by its actual success and its intrinsic merit,
stands out conspicuously among modern German literature. This book is
an admirable example of what one can perhaps call the "slice of life"
novel. Actual plot in the stereotyped sense of the term it has none.
Georg von Wergenthin, a young aristocratic Viennese dilettante, has,
in the course of an active emotional life, a fairly serious _liaison_
with Anna Rosner, a music-mistress belonging to a good Jewish set.
The child to which Anna and Georg had both been looking forward,
though in somewhat varying degrees, dies. Georg accepts a post of
conductor in a German town. Anna reassumes the normal tenor of her
spinster life. Finis. Neither conventional marriage nor even more
conventional suicide, but just life, a slice of sheer probable real
convincing life. But the book is far more than the history of Anna,
and far more than the history of Georg, even though it would appear at
first sight that the enumeration of Georg's emotions tends somewhat
to swamp the four hundred and sixty pages of this novel which yet
reads so shortly. For Georg's soul is a mirror which reflects not only
itself but a considerable number of the more interesting characters
of a specific modern Viennese set. And the lives of Anna and Georg
touch the lives of numerous other persons, persons too who, at any
rate, give the impression of being no mere characters in novels, but
of having been honourably plagiarised, and without suffering either
caricature or idealisation in the process, from the pages of the
book of life itself. And all these various lives are followed up and
adumbrated and described at greater or lesser detail. Of course they
have nothing to do with the story of Georg von Wergenthin. But they
play an important part in the life of Georg von Wergenthin, just as he
plays a more or less important part in their existence. And though of
course Georg is the nominal hero of the book, it is the modern Jewish
set with, of course, its Gentile appanages which constitutes the real
subject-matter. And how vivid and interesting on their merits are all
these characters--old Ehrenberg, the Jewish millionaire, with his
delightful habit of talking Yiddish before smart company, specially
to annoy his snobbish son Oskar; Oskar himself, who, on being caught
by his father in the flagrant act of posing as a Catholic in front
of a church and given a box on the ears by way of reproof, makes an
abortive attempt to commit hara-kiri with a revolver; Else Ehrenberg,
the temperamental, but unmarried sister of Oskar; Heinrich Bermann, the
brilliant self-centred author, with his grand passion for his faithless
actress in the foreign town; Leo Golowski, the enthusiastic Zionist;
Therese Golowski, the Socialist agitatress, with her temporary trip
with that fascinating hussar-officer, Demeter Stanzides; Winternitz,
the poet, with his not very _soigné_ hands and his naïf mania for
reciting his own erotic verses; Dr. Stauber, the benevolent modern of
the last generation; Anna herself, with her soft wistfulness and her
essential dignity; Sissy Wyner, with her high wanton spirits and pretty
English accent; and of course Georg himself, Georg the aristocrat,
Georg the _grand amoureux_, Georg the composer, Georg the dilettante,
Georg the drifter, Georg the ineffectual.

In the technique of this novel Schnitzler marks what we suggest to be a
new departure, by the insertion of substantial slabs of past life into
the analysis of his hero's thoughts, a process which by a tremendous
economy of space and time thus describes simultaneously the inner
workings of Georg's mind, and simultaneously narrates important pieces
of antecedent history which have no place in the official action of the

Some tribute, also, must be paid to the style, which is at times
soft and sweet, at times light and crisp, yet always lucid, always
individual, and always possessed of that gracefulness which is so rare
a quality in German prose literature.

To revert to Schnitzler the dramatist, what are his chief claims, his
chief excellences, his chief defects? It seems to us that the essence
of his merit lies in the fact that, speaking broadly, he handles
problems neither as ends in themselves, as do the more advanced of our
own dramatists, nor yet, like Sudermann, as mere pegs on which to hang
violently theatrical stage effects. Some problem may constitute the
centre of most of his plays; yet, with a few exceptions, this problem
is not presented too nakedly or without sufficient relief. Each problem
is bathed in an artistic atmosphere, and each character in the picture
limned with the most subtle psychology. It is true that, as has already
been pointed out, many of the acts in his early longer dramas exhibit
too strong a tendency to form self-independent pictures; yet it is this
defect which forms the chief charm of his one-acters. It is true that
nearly all his characters are Bohemian--artists, flâneurs, actresses,
journalists, doctors, painters--yet each author creates, as of right,
the population of his own individual world; and is it not rather a
claim to glory to have attained such heights of dramatic celebrity
without having written more than one single play specifically devoted
to fashionable life? It is true that the ethics of these plays, with
their chronic and inevitable intrigues, may strike the English mind as
somewhat unusual; yet Schnitzler enjoys the reputation of being the
most brilliant and accurate portrayer of contemporary Viennese life.
It is, moreover, in the nature of all problem plays that they should
be pieces of special pleading, where the other side is allowed just so
much of a hearing as will not permit of its convincing. After all, from
the standpoint of dramatic art, that which counts is not the ethics,
but the presentation of the problem.

Yet, with all his subtlety and all his problems, he is never heavy.
Vienna stands intellectually nearer to Paris than to Berlin, so that
the Teutonic introspection and sentimentalism are touched with a Gallic
sprightliness and a Gallic grace. No dramatist has written tragedy with
so light a hand, or comedy with so ironically pathetic a smile, as has
Arthur Schnitzler.

[Footnote 1: "Der Freiwild" (sic); correct title is
"Freiwild"--transcriber's note (M.D.)]

[Footnote 2: "Rohring" is "Rönning" in the original play--transcriber's
note (M.D.)]


        "Mais les plus exaltés se dirent dans leur cœur,
        'Partons quand même avec notre âme inassouvie
        Puisque la force et que la vie
        Sont au delà des vérités et des erreurs.'"

        "Vivre c'est prendre et donner avec liesse.
        Toute la vie est dans l'essor."

The above principles, prefixed to the _Forces Tumultueuses_ of Émile
Verhaeren, are well fitted to supply the key to a man who both in
thought and in technique is indisputably the most modern and the
most massive force in the whole of contemporary European poetry.
For Verhaeren is no narrow specialist with an outlook limited to
some particular sphere. He is the singer of the whole fulness of
modern European life as a whole, with its clashes, its complexities,
its agonies and its tensions, its deserted country-sides and its
pullulating metropoles, its armaments and its Armageddons, its
brothels, cathedrals, laboratories and Stock Exchanges, its sciences
and its sensualities, its arts, philosophies and aspirations. His muse
is no serene nymph piping delicately on some Parnassian slope, but
an extremely tumultuous Amazon, at once primeval, and ultra-modern,
chanting the pæan of battle, steeped in the wine of victory, and
suckling the supermen of the future on her universal breasts. No muse
in the whole of literature is more highly charged with vitality, and
no reader is qualified to enjoy her unless he, too, is charged to the
maximum with "the red tonic liquor of a harsh and formidable reality."

Let us then glance first at the early _milieu_ of a man who
combines the exultant fury of the lyric with the wide outlook of the
cosmopolitan sociologist, and who can incidentally beat both Baudelaire
and Wordsworth at their own respective game.

Verhaeren was born on the 21st May 1855 at St. Amand in Belgium, one
of the most strenuous countries in the modern world, which, it is
interesting to remember, holds the European record for sensualism,
alcoholism, and clericalism. St. Amand is situated on the broad plains
of the Scheldt, and it is not unimportant to lay some stress on the
Flemish ancestry and environment of a man who, though he wrote in the
French language, is more Germanic than Gallic in his temperament, and
who represents in the sphere of verse perhaps the nearest analogue
to the crass majesty and red sensuality of Rubens. His early country
upbringing, moreover, is responsible for that _joie de vivre_ in
the fields, and, above all, the wind, the symbolisation of fury and
rebellion which was to inspire those nature lyrics, many of which are
nearly as great, though by no means as interesting, as his cosmic and
metropolitan poems.

Verhaeren was originally intended for the priest-hood, and was
educated at the Jesuit school of St. Barbe in Ghent, where he had
for his schoolfellows such men as Maeterlinck, Van Lenbergh, and
Rodenbach. Leaving school, he went to Brussels, where he felt "his
multiplied heart grow and become exalted" with the roaring intensity
of metropolitan life. All thoughts of a holy life were now abandoned,
and in 1881 the poet was called to the Bar. His chief interests,
however, were literature, Socialism, and Brussels life. Joining the
Young Belgian group under the leadership of Edmond Picard, he became
a frequent contributor to _L'Art Moderne_ and _La Jeune Belgique_.
Politically he was a Socialist, associated himself with the Socialist
leader Vandervelde, and was one of the founders of the philanthropic
_Maison des Peuples_.

But it was in the poetic representation of "the monstrous scenery of
the crass Flemish Kermesses" (_Les Flamands_, 1883) that Verhaeren gave
the first vent to his violent virility. In this work a Rubensesque and
Rabelaisian subject-matter is treated with poetic exaltation by a man
who found in the great national festivals of past and present Flanders,

    "Des chocs de corps, des heurts de chair et des bourrades,
    Des lèchements subis dans un etreignement,"

the same patriotic inspiration which Mr. G. K. Chesterton has
discovered in that beer; into which he has, as it were, so successfully
transubstantiated the whole national spirit of our English
body-politic. Thus our poet wallows defiantly in the black roughness of
his Flemish peasants:

    "Les voici noirs, grossiers, bestiaux--ils sont tels,"

or casts regretful glances towards the healthier grossness of the
artists of old Flanders:

    "Vos pinceaux ignoraient le fard,
    Les indécences, les malices,
    Et les sous-entendus de vice
    Qui clignent l'œil dans notre art,
    Vos femmes suaient la santé,
    Rouge de sang blanche de graisse,
    Elles menaient les ruts en laisse
    Avec des airs de royauté."

But these poems are far more than mere erotic or gastronomic
diversions. Somewhat turgid, no doubt, with red health, they yet
possess the same sweep and the same impetus with which Aristophanes
himself once gave expression to the riotous fecundity of the earth and
the Dionysian forces of nature.

In _Les Moines_ (_The Monks_, 1886), Verhaeren treats a subject-matter
which _primâ facie_ would seem to denote the abandonment of the cult of
the flesh for the cult of the spirit. Yet such veneration as the poet
may ever have possessed for the Catholic creed was æsthetic rather than
religious. He penetrates, it is true, into the "enormous shrine where
the Middle Ages slumber," but it is less to worship than to describe
in a rigid, but majestic prosody "the grand survivors of the Christian

    "Moines venus vers nous des horizons gothiques
    Mais dont l'âme mais dont l'esprit meurt de demain."

Psychologically the interesting feature of this work is that, so far
from being in any way obsessed by any Chestertonian nostalgia for a
dead and mediæval past, the poet anticipates with all apparent serenity
the day when "the final blasphemy will have transpierced God like to
an immense sword." Even, moreover, in these, as it were, antiquarian
descriptions the poet emphasizes the contrast between the visionary
life of the cloister (a life, albeit, where occasionally

    "Un repas colossal souffle fourneaux béants
    Éructant vers l'azur sa flamme et sa fumée")

and the real life of the outside world, and seems by no means
unsympathetic to the rebellious monk who requires

    "Le ciel torride et le désert et l'air des monts
    Et les tentations en rut des vieux demons
    Agaçant de leurs doigts la chair enflée des gouges
    En lui brûlant la lèvre avec de grands seins rouges."

Yet both _Les Flamands_ and _Les Moines_ seem quite innocent and
playful in comparison with the great black trinity of _Les Soirs, Les
Débâcles_, and _Les Flambeaux Noirs_ (1887-1891), in which Verhaeren
gave expression to the mental and physical crisis which for a time
seemed to imperil both his life and his reason. In these poems, many of
which were written in London and its

    "Gares de suie et de fumée ou du gaz pleure
    Ses spleens d'argent lointain vers des chemins d'éclair,
    Où des bêtes d'ennui baillent à l'heure
    Dolente immensément qui tinte à Westminster,"

Verhaeren leaves the objective mood of his earlier poems to clothe his
soul in the Nessian shirt of the most poisonous subjectivity. But true
tragic dignity stalks in the very extremity of his agony. Compared,
indeed, with the gigantic bass of this unhappiness, black, definite,
drastic, what is the grey wistfulness of Verlaine but the hysterical
falsetto of a whining child? Verhaeren, on the other hand, with the
ecstatic defiance of a kind of Nietzschean Prometheus sets himself to
plumb the lowest abysses of despair, and himself eggs on the eagles
of torment to devour every shred of his own soul. With "brutal teeth
of fire and madness he bites and outrages his own heart within him,"
lashes himself in his thought and in his blood, in his effort, in his
hope, in his blasphemy:

    "Et quand lève le soir son calice de lie
    Je me le verse à boire insatiablement."

Or take again the sinister gusto of the passage:

    "Aurai-j'enfin l'atroce joie
    De voir nuits après nuits comme une proie
    La démence attaquer mon cerveau,
    Et détraque, malade, sorti de la prison
    Et des travaux forcés de sa raison
    D'appareiller vers un lointain nouveau?"

The technique of these poems is worthy of some study. Having little use
for the orthodox alexandrine (except in a few instances like _Le Gel_,
where the icy massiveness of the blocked couplets faithfully mirrors
the polar desolation of his own soul), he fashions his own metres to
incarnate his own moods. Such a refrain as "Ce minuit dallé d'ennui"
will boom out again and again the dull monotonous clank of his own
weary spirit. At other times the grinding engines of a disorganised
mind whirr and jar with spasmodic feverishness:

    "C'est l'heure où les hallucinés,
    Les gueux, et les déracinés
    Dressent leur orgueil dans la vie."

Note, too, the ghastly effectiveness of the internal rhymes. Is not,
for instance, such a line as

    "Les chiens du noir espoir out aboyé ce soir"

a triple series, as it were, of metrical mirrors, where the bitten mind
barks savagely back at its own mad image. Or listen to the Titanic thud
of such a line as

    "La Mer choque ses blocs de flots contre les rocs,"

or the silent smash of

    "Dites suis-je seul avec mon âme,
    Mon âme hélas maison d'ébène
    Où s'est fendu sans bruit un soir
    Le grand miroir de mon espoir?"

At times transcending the blank negativity of despair, the poet will
coquet positively with his own madness, as he wanders "hallucinated
in the forest of numbers," or wishes to march towards "madness and
her suns, her white suns of moonlight in the great weird noon, and
her distant echoes bitten by dins and barkings and full of vermilion
hounds." Or abandoning the more specific formulation of his own
emotions, he will give vent to his feelings by letting his brain dance
upon the lurid boards of some _macabre_ theme. The little poem, _La
Tête_, is dank with all the smooth bloodiness of the guillotine,
while the _Dame en Noir_, with the ghastly rhymes and assurances of
its refrain, is swathed in a black pathos, in comparison with which
the most lurid horrors of Baudelaire appear the mere artificial
extravagances of a perverse mind.

As we have already seen, the blackness of the trilogy which we have
just considered was no mere dabbling in morbidity, but the genuine
expression of a genuine unhappiness. In, however, _Les Apparus dans
Mes Chemins, Les Vignes de Ma Muraille_ the storm gradually exhausts
itself, and is replaced by a more serene and confident mood. Contrast,
for instance, with the drastic violence of _Les Débâcles_ the jaded
weariness of such a lyric as _Celui de la Fatigue_, where the poet
sings of an "ardour broken on the whirling staircase of the infinite,"
or of such a passage as

    "Je m'habille des loques de mes jours
    Et le bâton de mon orgueil il plie,
    Mes pieds dites comme ils sont lourds
    De me porter de me trainer toujours
    Au long de siècle de ma vie."

And as a complete antithesis, again, to the black bloodiness of such
poems as _La Tête_ or _Un Meurtre,_ take the white suavity of _St.

    "Il vient un bel ambassadeur
    Du pays blanc illuminé de marbres
    Où dans les pares au bords des mers sur l'arbre
    De la bonté suavement croit la douceur."

But this serenity marked rather a respite in Verhaeren's development
than a real abatement of his poetic fury. With the furnaces of his mind
recharged to their maximum capacity with blazing health, he starts to
race his muse over the main lines of the modern civilisation, which
lead from _The Hallucinated Country-sides_ to _The Tentacular Towns_.
Though written at different times, these two sets of poems constitute
the contrasting halves of a complete whole, and were published together
in 1895 with two prologues, _La Ville_ and _La Plaine_. The prologues,
in particular, well illustrate the new rushing irregular prosody,
specially forged for the purpose of hammering out that white-hot
steel of the modern civilisation which enmeshes in its fabric all the
helpless flotsam of the agricultural economy. The academic harmony
of the alexandrine is here abandoned. The rhymes crash out at lesser
and greater intervals as they march along on feet that range from the
quick spasm of some dissyllabic line to the spondaic emphasis of a
full-length alexandrine.

In _Les Campagnes Hallucinés_ itself the prosody is no doubt simpler,
as the poet describes the ruined and pestilential country with its
fevers, its sins, its beggars, its pilgrims, its diseases, insanities
and débauchés, and the immense monotony of its interminable plains.

    "C'est la plaine, la plaine blême
    Interminablement toujours la même,
      Par au-dessus, souvent
      Rage si forte le vent,
    Que l'on dirait le ciel fendu
      Au coup de boxe
      De l'équinoxe;
    Novembre hurle ainsi qu'un loup
    Lamentable par le soir fou."

Perhaps, however, the most sinister poems in _Les Campagnes_ are the
_Chansons de Fou_, with their naïf absurdities and their intuitive
reason, where the rhymes laugh and clatter like rows of grinning teeth,
and the almost Dureresque _Le Fléau_, from its exordium,

    "La Mort a bu du sang
    Au cabaret des Trois Cercueils
    La Mort a mis sur le comptoir
    Un écu noir,
    'C'est pour les cierges, pour les deuils,'"

down to its ghastly climax,

    "Et les foules suivaient vers n'importent où,
    Le grand squelette aimable et soûl
    Qui trimballait sur son cheval bonhomme
    L'épouvante de sa personne,
    Jusqu'aux lointains de peur et de panique,
    Sans éprouver l'horreur de son odeur,
    Ni voir danser, sous un repli de sa tunique,
    Le trousseau de vers blancs qui lui têtaient le cœur."

The final significance of _Les Campagnes_ lies in its last poem, _Le
Départ_, describing the desertion by the whole country-side of that
dead mournful plain which is being eaten up by the town.

    "Tandis qu'au loin là-bas
    Sous les cieux lourds fuligineux et gras,
    Avec son front comme un Thabor,
    Avec ses sugoirs noirs et ses rouges haleines
    Hallucinant et attirant les gens des plaines,
    C'est la ville que le jour plombe et que la nuit éclaire
    La ville en plâtre, en stuc, en bois, en marbre, en fer, en or--

It is, however, in _Les Villes Tentaculaires_, where the fever and
indefatigable aspiration of the town are described with a Zolaesque
exaltation, that the originality of the departure initiated by
Verhaeren is more specifically manifested. For he now boldly stalks
forward as the pioneer realist in European poetry. Disregarding alike
the orthodox subject-matter and the orthodox terminology of official
poesy, he seeks and finds his inspiration in the vast forces at work
in actual modern life. The realism of Verhaeren, in somewhat pointed
contrast to the realism of some of our own patriotic or fashionable
poets, even though such expressions as "cabs" and "steamers" are to be
found in his work in the original English, depends for its æsthetic
value neither on the swing of its slang nor the egregiousness of
its expletives. The hot blast of his sincerity sweeps away at once
any impeachment of mere dabbling in the ultra-modern. His diction
is frequently brusque, and even red, if we may borrow his favourite
colour, if not his favourite adjective; yet it never loses the dignity
of authentic poetry. For the poet would seem to have been personally
susceptible, in the highest degree, to that peculiar multiplication of
vitality and intensification of emotion which is the essential effect
produced by big metropoles upon certain temperaments. And this cerebral
ecstasy is increased by the consciousness of being on the threshold of
a new age, "for the ancient dream is dead, and the new one is now being
forged." Thus the poet will wander into _The Cathedrals_, take pity on
the multitudinous misery of the praying hordes, and boom out again and
again the refrain:

    "Ô ces foules, ces foules
    Et la misère et la détresse qui les foulent."

But note the sociological symbolism of the climax:

    "Et les vitraux grands de siècles agenouillés
    Devant le Christ avec leurs papes immobiles
    Et leurs martyrs et leurs héros semblent trembler
    Au bruit d'un train lointain qui roule sur la ville."

For refusing to bear the cross of Gothic ideas, the poet plunges
deliberately into the inferno of modern life. And each fresh circle but
kindles his ardour and inflames his Muse. For he will pass with growing
exaltation from the muscled teeming life of the port to the garish
ballet of a music hall where

    "Des bataillons de chair et de cuisses en marche
    Grouillent sur des rampes ou sous des arches,
    Jambes, hanches, gorges, maillots, jupes, dentelles,"

and then, as midnight strikes and the crowd ebbs away, he will stalk
into the "brilliant chemical atmosphere" where

    "Au long de promenoirs qui s'ouvrent sur la nuit
    --Balcons de fleurs, rampes de flammes--
    Des femmes en deuil de leur âme
    Entrecroisent leurs pas sans bruit."

Nor does the poet disdain the grinding factories where

    "Entre des murs de fer et pierre
    Soudainement se lève altière
    La force en rut de la matière,"

or even the Bourse itself, where he sings in feverish staccato rhythm

    "Langues sèches, regards aigus, gestes inverses,
    Et cervelles qu'en tourbillons les millions traversent."

But it is typical of Verhaeren's essential optimism that after
describing with Zolaesque detail both a strike and a "shop of luxury,"
he should find the ransom of the future in

    "La maison de la science au loin dardée
    Obstinément par à travers les faits jusqu'aux idées."

In _Les Heures Claires_ (1896) the drastic violence of _Les Villes
Tentaculaires_ abates for the time being into a mood of resigned, but
yet robust melancholy, which immortalises the sweetness, deepness, and
softness of the poet's love for his wife.

In _Les Forces Tumultueuses_, however, the poet has got once again
into the full swing of his drastic stride. The mood is to some extent
the same as that of _Les Villes Tentaculaires_, though the Zolaesque
concreteness of detail is merged in the broadness of a genuine
Lucretian sweep. The book consists of a series of lyrical poems,
lyrical, albeit, in the sense rather of Pindar than of Herrick, which
exalt the various phases of human energy. Thus in the poem, _L'Art,_
Verhaeren soars upwards with a tremendous rush:

    "D'un bond
    Son pied cassant le sol profond
    Son double aile dans la lumière
    Le cou tendu, le feu sous les paupières
    Partit, vers le soleil et vers l'extase,
    Ce dévoreur d'espace et de splendeur Pégase."

In _Les Maîtres_ the poet describes the various types of superman, from
"the monk" of the Middle Ages to the banker of the twentieth century,
who dominates the world as he "binds sinister destiny to his bourgeois
will," and sows in the distance his winged gold.

    "Son or aile qui s'enivre d'espace,
    Son or planant, son or rapace,
    Son or vivant,
    Son or dont s'éclairent et rayonnent les vents,
    Son or qui boit la terre
    Par les pores de son misère
    Son or ardent, son or furtif, son or retors.
    Morceau d'espoir et de soleil--son or!"

Some mention must also be made of the poem, _Les Femmes_, which,
subdivided into _L'Éternelle, L'Amante,_ _L'Amazone_, ranks in our view
as the greatest sex poem of the century. In contrast, for instance,
with Swinburne, who treats sex rather as a thing of beauty and of
pleasure than as an underlying world-force, and who has both the
advantage and the disadvantage of the specifically classical conception
of life, Verhaeren, whether he rings his changes in _L'Amante_ on the
soft refrain, "Mon rêve est embarqué dans une île flottante," shows in
_L'Amazone_ that the New Woman can be something considerably more poetic
than a Strindbergian monstrosity, or sings in _L'Éternelle_ her "who
thinks she encloses the whole world within her flesh," will boom out
again and again the cosmic and universal peal. The verse throughout is
as beautiful as can be desired. But it has something more than beauty;
it has stature, majesty, speed, force, that exaltation of reality which
is the essence of the highest poetry.

In the poems, _La Science_, _L'Erreur, La Folie_, _Les Cultes_,
Verhaeren proceeds to formulate his own philosophy of life, and his
prophetic enthusiasm for the new modern truths, under whose clear feet
the old texts have crumbled, as he expounds

    "Comment la vie est une à travers tous les êtres
    Qu'ils soient matière instruit esprit ou volonté
    Forêt myriadaire et rouge où s'enchevêtrent
    Les débordements fous de la fécondité."

Put shortly, his philosophy is a compound of those of Nietzsche and
of Bergson. His soul, no doubt, swings in unison with the universal
rhythm of the world, but, like Nietzsche, he finds in force and life
realities transcending all errors, and after a historic survey of the
more popular deities of humanity from Gog to Jehovah, and from Satan
to Christ, enunciates his belief in humanity in stanzas of sublime
blasphemy, far more truly religious than the ambiguous scrolls and
rubrics of any antiquarian creed:

    "L'homme respire et sur la terre il marche, seul.
    Il vit pour s'exalter du monde et de lui-même,
    Sa langue oublie et la prière et le blasphême;
    Ses pieds foulent le drap de son ancien linceul.
    Il est l'heureuse audace au lieu d'être la crainte;
    Tout l'infini ne retentit que de ses bonds
    Vers l'avenir plus doux, plus clair et plus féconds
    Dont s'aggrave le chant et s'alentit la plainte.
    Penser, chercher, et découvrir sont ses exploits.
    Il emplit jusqu'aux bords son existence brêve;
    Il n'enfle aucun espoir, il ne fausse aucun rêve,
    Et s'il lui faut des Dieux encore--qu'il les soit!"

In _La Multiple Splendeur_ and _Les Visages de la Vie_ the same
insatiable gusto for an infinitude of life darts again and again its
red tongue. It is impossible by mere quotation to do justice to the
full vastness of Verhaeren's lyric sweep. We would, however, at any
rate, refer to the majesty of _Le Monde_ with its combined crash and
concord of incessant life and the Cyclopean weight of the adamantine
line which buttresses at either end the flaming rivers of its verse,

    "Le monde est fait avec des astres et des hommes,"

or to the sublimity of _Les Penseurs_ in which the poet tells how

    "Autour de la terre obsédée
    Circule au fond des nuits, au cœur des jours
    L'orage amoncelé des idées,"

and how

    "Descartes et Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant et Hegel"

"fixed the highest pinnacles of inaccessible problems for the goal of
their silver arrows, and carried within themselves the grand obstinate
dream of one day, imprisoning eternity in the white ice of immobile

The very names, too, of some of the poems may possibly reflect some
of the facets of their multiplied splendour: _Le Verbe, Les Vieux
Empires, La Louange du Corps Humain, A la Gloire des Cieux, A la Gloire
du Vent, Les Rêves, L'Europe, La Conquête, Les Souffrances, La Joie,
La Ferveur, Les Idées, La Vie, L'Effort, L'Action, Plus Loin que les
Gares, Le Soir_. And again and again rings out in various keys the true
Nietzschean note. For "vast hopes come from the unknown" has displaced
the ancient balance whereof souls are now tired. But the only reality
is life:

    "La vie en cris ou en silence,
    La vie en lutte ou en accord
    Avec la vie avec la mort
    La vie âpre, la vie intense,
    Elle est ici dans la fureur ou dans la haine
    De l'ascendant et rouge ardeur humaine."

It is fine proof also of the vast vitality of Verhaeren that even in so
recent a work as _Les Rhythmes Souveraines_ the muscled majesty of his
verse, though possibly a trifle less violent, shows no abatement of its
essential strength. We would mention in particular the poems _Michel
Ange, Chant d'Hercule, Les Barbares_ with the swift crispness of its
one-foot lines, and above all _Le Paradis_ with its almost Miltonic
picture of

    "L'archange endormant Ève au creux de sa grande aile."

But does not Verhaeren transcend Milton in the wideness of his humanity
when he describes not with regret but with the maximum of exalted
exultation how

    "Ève bondit soudain hors de son aile immense,
    Oh l'heureuse subite et féconde démence,
    Que l'ange avec son cœur trop pur ne comprit pas."

In his latest volume, _Les Blés Mouvants_, Verhaeren sinks back no
doubt to a quieter and serener mood, but who shall say that these
eclogues do not simply represent the sage crouch for another leonine

We do not propose to make more than a passing reference to Verhaeren's
plays, for it is the lyric rather than the drama which is his true
medium of expression.

_Hélène de Sparte_, with all its graceful Alexandrines, is inferior
to any play by D'Annunzio, and even the socialist drama _Les Aubes_
is, notwithstanding the fine verses with which it is sown, simply
stiff and heavy when compared with Hauptmann's _Weavers_. It is by
his lyrics that Verhaeren lives, and will continue to live beyond his
mere death whenever it comes, as the greatest and most essentially
European poet of our new age. For his lyrics are equally great, both
in their message and the method of their expression. Disdaining alike
the cowardice and the perversity of those who, refusing to face the red
realities of the present century, fly for their comfort to the pale
shadows of the Middle Ages, Verhaeren has plunged boldly into the very
brazier of our modern existence. He affirms, he combats, he prophesies,
but he rarely, if ever, rests. He hymns every phase of life, from the
human brain to the human body, and from the winds and seas of nature
to the towns and marts of man. And no message is more virile, more
tonic, more essentially healthy, for is not his message the phœnix
of a new humanitarian faith soaring aloft on its fiery wings out of
the corpses of the decomposing dogmas? And his prosody has the supreme
excellence that it is not a mere æsthetic end in itself, but a drastic
instrument of expression. Your pure æsthete, no doubt, may cavil at
his ruggedness. For he is the Rodin of poetical rhyme, the veritable
Vulcan of verse, or rather a Siegfried forging the sword of the future
on the anvil of the present, as he drives in the stubborn nails of his
nouns with the hissing hammers of his adjectives. His lines no doubt
at times will growl, grind and boom, hit the reader in the face with
all the force of a clenched fist, and palpitate with a full-bloodedness
somewhat overpowering for the jaded and the anæmic. But is not this the
very seal of success in a man who specifically sets himself to sing
not the mere beauty of beauty, but the beauty of force, the beauty of
life, "life violent, prodigious, unsatiated, the universal spasm of all


    "Repose-toi!... Repose-toi!... il n'est doux que dormir!..."

    "Non, la vie est à brûler comme un falot de paille,
    Il faut l'ingurgiter d'une lampe hardie,
    Tels ces jongleurs de foire qui vont mangeant du feu
    D'un coup de langue, escamotant la Mort dans l'estomac."

The above quotation from M. Marinetti's poem, _Le Démon de la Vitesse_,
is well adapted to give some idea of the feverish but sustained energy
of those pictures whose recent exhibition in the Sackville Gallery so
successfully scandalised not only the _doyens_ of the Royal Academy but
even the official champions of all that is new and progressive in our
modern English art. But for a correct appreciation even of the Futurist
pictures themselves, it is essential to realise that, so far from
being the mere isolated extravagances and _tours de force_ of a new
technique, they constitute an integral part of a living scheme, which
with all its lavish use of the most ostentatious hyperbolism, has yet
claims to be seriously considered as a substantial movement, artistic,
literary, economic, sociological, and above all human.

Let us then make some scrutiny of this "Rising City" of Futurism, as
it rears with such vehement exaltation from out the trampled debris
of a superseded and dishonoured past. For this purpose, having first
examined those conditions of contemporary Italy which more immediately
provoked this "Red Rebellion," we shall proceed to some analysis of
the general character of the movement and of the aggressive and
sensational works of M. Marinetti himself, the audacious Mercury of
this new message.

The direct cause of the Futurist movement is to be found in the fact
that that modern current of electric energy, which has been galvanising
the states of Northern and Central Europe to a more and more strenuous
and a more and more complicated activity has, so far as Italy is
concerned, not succeeded in flowing further south than Milan. In this
connection it is not without its significance that, while Milan is
indubitably the vital and commercial capital of the peninsula, the
official capital should be merely Rome, aureoled with its hybrid halo
of majesty and malaria, the centre of the tourist, the archæologist,
and the Papacy, that august shadow of a once living empire.

Even, moreover, the great heroes of the _Risorgimento Italiano_,
the euphonious title by which Italians designate the unification of
their country, suffered from an undue obsession with the democratic
ideals of a mediæval past. Dissipating their energy in rushing reams
of republican rhetoric or the purple pomp of patriotic platitudes,
they remained sublimely oblivious to the crying economic needs of
a country which, with all its natural richness and all its natural
genius, still, so far as general material and intellectual progress
is concerned, lags no inconsiderable distance behind the increasingly
quick march of the European civilisation. Nor did matters improve
when the régime of the naïf idealists was succeeded by that of the
opportunist bureaucracy which has since governed Italy. A vast portion
of the country still remains unforested, uncultivated, unirrigated,
and above all uneducated. The taint of malaria still infects wide
tracts of land, which with proper treatment might have been profitably
developed by those masses of sturdy labourers who have emigrated to
America with an almost Irish eagerness. Indeed with all respect to
M. Marinetti, who has himself fought in the Tripolitan trenches, the
Italo-Turkish war was occasioned (if we can rely on one of the most
brilliant and responsible of the Parisian reviews) not so much by a
_bonâ fide_ desire to find a place in the sun for the not yet surplus
population of a not yet fully developed country, as by an indisputably
authentic ambition to find a lucrative outlet for the money of the
clique of clerical capitalists who control the Bank of Rome. So far,
however, as no inconsiderable portion of Italy itself is concerned,
we are confronted with a country of museums, ruins, and ciceroni
which, exploiting the _Fremdenindustrie_ after the manner of some
more perverse and inexcusable Switzerland, prostitutes with venal
ostentation the faded beauties of its undoubtedly glorious past to the
complete ruin of its only potentially splendid present.

A certain pseudo-Nietzscheanism has no doubt been introduced into Italy
beneath the auspices of D'Annunzio. Yet, with all his fanfaronnade of
tense and exuberant virility, the atmosphere of D'Annunzio is, speaking
broadly, moistly rank and exotically enervating. With the possible
exception of his latest novel, his heroes are languidly feverish
dilettantes whose lives are principally devoted to the literary and
æsthetic cultivation of all the neurotic luxuriance of their own erotic
morbidities. This brings us to the important sociological fact of that
rigid obsession with sex, as the one paramount emotional, artistic,
and vital value which, sapping the manhood not only of Italy but also
indeed of France, tends to corrupt the whole social, political, and
economic life of the two nations.

It is this exaggerated preoccupation with the sexual aspect of life
which has produced, by way of a vehement but deliberate _riposte_, the
important Futurist maxim, "Méprisez la femme." With an enthusiasm in
fact almost worthy of our own Young Men's Christian Association, these
comparative Hippolyti of a young mother-country, only recently wedded
in the bonds of political union, flaunt themselves as the unscrupulous
iconoclasts of such firmly established national ideals as "the glorious
conception of Don Juan and the grotesque conception of the cocu."
Thus the Futurists would banish the nude from painting and adultery
from the novel, so that they may be able to substitute the sublime
male fury of creation of artistic and scientific masterpieces for all
the sterile embraces of hedonistic eroticism, and, like some gallant
band of twentieth-century Hercules, cleanse the Augean stables of the
Latin civilisation of its vast surplus of malignant mud vomited forth
by that stewing and pestiferous swamp of sex. As an antidote to that
virulent plague of luxurious and diseased sexuality, which it is their
self-imposed mission to eradicate, they pen the drastic prescription
of "patriotism and war, the only hygiene of the world." So hot indeed
is the ardour of these militant apostles of a new Latin civilisation,
that they once incurred the displeasure of established authority by
insisting on a war with Austria with such a maxim of vehemence that
an Austrian journal actually demanded the intervention of the Italian

And whether this policy indicates the mere tetanic spasms of a
delirious Chauvinism, or the lucid vision of an inspired if heretical
diplomacy, it is certainly symptomatic of a tense, combative, and
drastic energy which is, in the deepest sense of the word, essentially
Nietzschean. In this connection the attitude of the Futurists towards
Nietzsche is instructive. They have read his books, thrilled to his
magic, and yet they repudiate him. For they cavil, and not altogether
unreasonably, at the bigoted and hidebound dualism of Nietzsche's
political philosophy, and his obstinate and obsolete division of the
political world into the divine spirit of a few strong geniuses and the
brute matter of a weak and numerous proletariate.

Yet, taking the matter in its broad lines, M. Marinetti's programme
for "the indefinite physiological and intellectual progress of man"
expresses admirably the whole theory of the Nietzschean Superman.
Nietzschean also are such phrases as, "the type inhuman, mechanical,
cruel, omniscient and combative," or "the multiplied man who mingles
with iron, nourishes himself on electricity, and only appreciates the
delight of the danger and of the heroism of every single day." The
real distinction lies in the fact that the Futurist Superman is more
practical, more concrete, more up-to-date, and, above all, infinitely
less dreamy than his elder and more pedantic brother.

And in spite of M. Marinetti's analysis of Nietzscheanism as nothing
but the artificial resurrection of a dead and past antiquity, the two
ideals are harmonious in their denunciation of the facile and automatic
reverence for "the good old days," and their savage exhortation to
"sweep away the grey cinders of the Past with the incandescent lava of
the Future."

This announcement of a virile desire to improve and improve and
improve, not only on the past but also on the present, constitutes
the principal mark in the Futurist platform. Hence the leaders of
the movement have coined the two words _passéisme_, the object of
their onslaught, and _Futurism_, the watch-word of their faith. And
truculently pushing their theories to the extreme limit of extravagant
logic, M. Marinetti and his brothers in arms exhorted the assembled
Venetians, in the 200,000 multicoloured manifestos which on a certain
memorable day they flung down into the Piazza San Marco, "to cure
and cicatrize this rotting town, magnificent wound of the Past, and
to hasten to fill its small fœtid canals with the ruins of its
tumbling, leprous palaces." But the remedy is constructive as well as

"Burn the gondolas, those swings for fools, and erect up to the sky
the rigid geometry of large metallic bridges and factories with waving
hair of smoke; abolish everywhere the languishing curve of the old

We see at once how, in this more than Wellsian enthusiasm for all the
romantic possibilities of a scientific civilisation, they declare
the most sanguinary war _à l'outrance_ with that Ruskinian and
Pre-Raphaelite sentimentalism which, sublimely burying its mediæval
head in the immemorial sands of a crumbling past, is somewhat
ill-adapted to confront the onrushing simoon of an increasingly
definite and formidable future. And with the deliberate object of
emphasizing his point with the maximum of provocative aggressiveness,
the Futurist will fling at his enemies the insolent paradox that a
motor-car in motion has a higher æsthetic value than the Victory of
Samothrace, or announce with theatrical solemnity that the pain of
a man is just about as interesting in their eyes as the pain of an
electric lamp, suffering in convulsive spasms and crying out with the
most agonising effects of colour.

Yet if we strip this new "beauty of mechanism" and "æsthetic of speed"
of its loud garb of ostentatious extravagance, the intrinsic theories
themselves strike us as neither monstrous nor unreasonable. For if
we may presume to put our own unauthorised gloss on M. Marinetti's
vividly illuminated manuscript, what the Futurist really wishes is to
break down the conventional divorce that is so often thought to exist
between ideal Art and actual Life, so as to bring the two elements
into the most drastic and immediate contact. Art, in fact, should not
be an escape _from_ but an exaltation _of_ the red impetus of life.
Art's function is not merely to titillate the dispassionate æsthetic
feeling of the dilettante or connoisseur, but to thrill with a keen
vital emotion the actual experiencer of life. Form is not an end in
itself, its sole function is to extract the whole emotional quality
of its content. And when confronted with the problem of what content
is best fitted to be the proper subject of artistic representation,
your Futurist would promptly retort that, inasmuch as the tumultuous
twentieth-century emotions of "steel, pride, fever, and speed" are
those to which the twentieth-century civilisation will naturally
vibrate with the most authentic sympathy, those emotions and those
alone are the proper subject-matter for twentieth-century art.

Having thus obtained some rough idea of the broad lines of the new
Futurism, let us proceed to examine its manifestation in the spheres
of painting and literature. So far as their painting is concerned, the
primary principle of the Futurists is their subordination of intrinsic
æsthetic form to emotional content. This principle, though carried to a
pitch far transcending anything which had ever been previously essayed,
is by no means without its exemplifications, in the history both of
past and contemporary art. Even indeed in the eighteenth century Blake
had transferred on to the painted canvas his highly abstract ideas of
esoteric mysticism. The content of the pictures of Blake is of course
diametrically opposed to the content of the Futurists, yet an authentic
analogy lies in the fact that a content at all should have been
specifically painted. With a similar qualification we can remember with
advantage how Rossetti and Burne-Jones, as indisputably modern in the
fact that they had the courage to paint a content at all, as they were
indisputably reactionary in the actual content which they felt inspired
to portray, gave pictorial representation to the Pre-Raphaelite
nostalgia for a præ-mediæval past. More analogous are the canvases of
Franz von Stuck, the Munich Secessionist, who also sets out to paint
ideas and to give æsthetic form to psychological contents. Thus his
_Krieg_, with its grimly triumphant rider, steadfastly pursuing the
goal of an ideal, future over the wallowing corpses of a transcended
present, expresses perfectly in the sphere of paint the whole spirit of
the Nietzschean Superman.

Even better examples of the growing predominance of the content in the
sphere of art are to be found in Rodin, who moulds even in immobile
statuary something of the tumultuous sweep of the present age, or in
Max Klinger the creator in concrete form of the most abstract and
impalpable ideas.

So also modern music, as represented at any rate by the tense
restlessness of Richard Strauss with all his fine shades of crouching
fear and exultant cruelty, or the mystical sensuousness of Debussy,
ceases to be a mere meaningless euphony of pleasing melody, devoid of
any vital significance except its own æsthetic beauty, sets itself more
and more to travel, in the sphere of sound, over the whole vibrant
gamut of the human emotions.

To achieve the presentation of a content with the maximum of drastic
effect, the Futurists have invented a new technique. Without embarking
oh any elaborate technical discussion, we would say that their chief
principle in the painting of apparently even the most objective
phenomena is that it should be the aim of the artist to reproduce no
mere picturesque copy of some stationary pose, but that whole sensorial
or emotional quality inherent in all dynamic life which radiates to
the mind of the spectator, or which again may be simply flashed into
dynamic life by the mind of the spectator himself.

And as, according to our latest and most fashionable metaphysical
authority, the ego, whether of a man, an insect, or a cosmos, is merely
a movement, it should not strike us as altogether unreasonable if
the dynamic idea of movement should enter very prominently into the
Futurist paintings. For, realising fully that consciousness is a stream
and not a pond, and that both cerebral memories and visual impressions
are but, as it were, the flying nets hastily created and re-created
to catch a world that is perpetually on the run, the Futurists make
boldly ingenious efforts to capture the jumping chameleon of truth, by
portraying not one but several phases of the unending series of the
human cinematograph.

Thus in Severini's picture of the "Pan-Pan dance at the Monico," the
artist sets himself to paint the whole moving, multicoloured soul of
this by no means spiritual Montmartre tavern, with all its various
subdivisions of male and female customers engaged in their mutual
revels and their mutual dances, the deviltry of its _rigolo_ music, and
all the hustling clash and clatter of its insolent carouse.--

It is also significant of their general _Weltanschauung_ that the
Futurists should frequently find their inspiration in the speed,
stress, and creativity of a glorious modernity. Thus Russolo's
"Rebellion," angular, aggressive, rampant, reproduces the whole red
energy of an insurgent proletariate, while the same painter's "Train"
essays, and not unsuccessfully, to paint the very lights and ridges of
velocity itself.

The feats of the new culture in the realm of literature are quite as
impressive and as sensational as in that of painting. This brings us
to some consideration of M. Marinetti himself, both the real and the
official, chief of the new movement.

To comprehend the true essence of this man, who certainly constitutes
a European portent which, whether hated or loved, can scarcely be
ignored, it is necessary to realise that while a poet he is above all a
man of the world and of action. While, also, as would appear from his
visit to the _Morning Post_ correspondent in Tripoli, he is a gentleman
inflamed by a genuine if no doubt slightly truculent patriotism, he
has all the advantages of being an almost perfect cosmopolitan. Born
in Egypt of Italian parents, educated in France, and now directing the
Futurist movement from Milan, M. Marinetti combines all the heat of an
African temperament with all the mercurial dash and aggressiveness of
the modern Latin civilisation. At present only in the early thirties,
M. Marinetti founded in the years 1904--1905 his international review
_Poesia_. To this journal he endeavoured to attract all that was
strenuous, aspiring, and daring in the artistic youth of the Latin
civilisation. Eventually the various tentative ideals and ideas which
he and his colleagues entertained became crystallised in the word
_Futurism_, which grew more and more a definite creed with a more and
more definite catechism of literature, music, painting, politics, and
life. Since the publication of the first Futurist manifesto in the
_Figaro_ in 1909, M. Marinetti has devoted himself to waging with
all his militant energy of tongue, sword, and pen the campaign of
Futurism. Meeting after meeting, demonstration after demonstration has
he addressed in Italy, and, carrying the war into the enemy's country,
he has even had the audacity to hurl his defiance from Trieste itself.
And if the deliberate provocativeness at which he has pitched his
propaganda has brought upon him the venomous hatred of both numerous
and powerful enemies, it has merely served to give but an additional
fillip to the fury of his impetus.

It is indeed not only amusing, but also an indication of the man's
verve and defiance, to remember that when he had been hissed for
a whole hour on end in the Theatre Mercadante of Naples, where he
was delivering a lecture, and an apparently quite edible orange was
eventually thrown at him, he should with fine _bravura_ take out
his penknife and both peel and eat the orange. In Italy, at any
rate, Futurism has swept the universities, and the disciples of the
new faith number 50,000. Endeavouring to give to the campaign a
cosmopolitan significance, the Futurists have carried their pictures,
their manifestos, and their books to Madrid, to Berlin, to Paris
(where they were enthusiastically toasted by the "Association Générale
des Etudiants," the Parisian equivalent of the Oxford and Cambridge
Unions), and even to England itself, which, with a surprising lack of
its usual insularity, would actually appear to be taking an intelligent
interest in a new movement without waiting, as was the case with
Nietzscheanism, until it has first become the respectable if _passée_
object of the devotion of Continental academicism.

Before we proceed on our short survey of the chief works of M.
Marinetti, which have been written in French and only subsequently
translated into Italian, it is necessary to make some brief mention
of the new technique which he employs. This new technique is Free
Verse, first introduced into French literature in the _Palais Nomades_
of M. Gustave Kahn. It should be remembered, of course, that French
Free Verse is an article totally distinct from that mixture of rolling
dithyramb and conversational slap-dash which characterises the work of
Walt Whitman.

So far indeed as M. Gustave Kahn is concerned, the innovation
simply consisted not in any repudiation of rhyme in itself, but in
the emancipation of French verse from the strait-waistcoat of the
Alexandrine and the strict disciplinary rules of academic composition.

M. Marinetti, on the other hand, in the three volumes which it is now
proposed to consider, viz. _La Conquête des Étoiles_ (Sansot, 1902),
_Destruction_ (Vanier, 1904), _La Ville Charnelle_ (Sansot, 1908),
carries the metrical revolution considerably further. For while the
essence of classicism itself when compared with the polyphonic though
at times majestic ebullitions of Walt Whitman, they subserve no
specific rule. Metre, genuine metre, is invariably present, but the
precise shape which it happens to take is determined by the exigencies
not of the particular metre in which the poet happens to be writing,
but of the particular mood or emotion which clamours for expression
in the form most specifically appropriate to its own particular
idiosyncrasies. If, in fact, we may endeavour to crystallise the theory
of this verse, which though free from mechanical restraint is always
subordinate to the command of its own dynamic soul, we should say that
it is simply the principle of onomatopœia carried from the sphere of
words to the sphere of metre.

In the _Conquête des Étoiles_ the twenty-four-year-old Marinetti,
with the characteristic verve of audacious adolescence, essays to open
the oyster of the poetical world with the sword of a romantic epic.
Bearing evidence at times, in its grandiose anthropomorphism of natural
phenomena, of the influence of "his old masters the French Symbolists,"
the poem of this future champion of a concrete modernity challenges,
at any rate in the gigantic massing of its imagery, that grandiose
if somewhat bourgeois romantic Victor Hugo. For here poetic Pelion
is piled upon poetic Ossa with the most drastic vengeance. For the
Sovereign Sea, chanting her inaugural battle-cry,

        "Hola-hé! Hola-ho! Stridionla, Stridionla, Stridionla!

to her ancient waves, puissant warriors with venerable beards of foam,
lashes them to conquer Space and mount to the assault of the grinning
Stars. And missiles are there in her Reservoir of Death--"petrified
bodies, bodies of steel, embers and gold, harder than the diamond,
the suicides whose courage failed beneath the weight of their heart,
that furnace of stars, those who died for that they stoked within
their blood the fire of the Ideal, the great flame of the Absolute
that encompassed them." And for an army has she the legions of her
amazon cavalry, the veterans of the Sea, the great waves, the riotous,
prancing narwhals with their scaly rings, the typhoons, the cyclones
and the haughty trombes (water-spouts), "draping around their loins
their fuliginous veils, or lifting masses of darkness in their great
open arms." And so this feud of the elements proceeds from climax to
climax, from crescendo to crescendo, till the astral fortresses succumb
to the shock of an infernal charge, and the last star expires "with her
pupils of grey shadow imploring the Unknown, oh how sweetly."

No doubt the poem almost reels at times as though intoxicated with
the excesses of its own imagery. Yet making all due discount for this
healthy turgidity of adolescence, it is impossible to dispute the
authentic poetical value of this brilliant epic.

By so masterly a grasp is the metre handled that the reader, quite
oblivious of the immaterial question of whether he is perusing verse
or prose, is only conscious of the ideas and emotions themselves.
The following passage is typical not only of the poem's potency of
expression, but of the intimate union which is effected between the
meaning and the form.

    "C'est ainsi que passe le Simoun,
    aiguillonant sa furie de désert en désert,
    avec son escorte caracolante
    de sables soulevés tout ruisselants de feu;
    c'est ainsi que le Simoun galope
    sur l'océan figé des sables,
    en balangant son torse géant d'idole barbare
    sur des fuyantes croupes d'onagres affolés."

In the series of poems, however, known as _Destruction_,

    "Since there is only splendour in this word of terror
    And of crushing force like a Cyclopæan hammer,"

that boyish robustness which we have seen playing so naïvely in the
romantic limbo, has attained the solidity of manhood. Finding it no
longer necessary to have recourse for his subject-matter to some set
theme of an Elemental War, the author reproduces the experiences of
his own inner life in a new lyrical language, whose rhythm vibrates
responsively to every thrill of its creator's spirit, and takes
faithfully every colour of his chameleon soul.

For the poet is now reverential:

    "Tu es infinie et divine, o Mer, et je le sais
    de par le jurement de tes lèvres, écumantes
    de par ton jurement que répercutent de plage en plage
    les echos attentifs ainsi que des guetteurs."

now jocund:

    "O Mer, mon âme est puerile et demande un jouet";

now, almost sensually, adoring:

    "O toi ballerina orientale au ventre sursautant,
    dont les seins sont rouges par le sang des naufrages";

now sunk in the abject ecstasies of opium:

    "Derrière des vitres rouges des voix rauques criaient
    'De la moelle et du sang pour les lampdes d'oubli
    C'est le prix des beaux rêves!... c'est le prix....'
    Et j'entrais avec eux au bouge de ma chair";

now gentle:

    "C'est pour nous que le Vent las de voyages eternels,
    désabusé de sa vitesse de fantôme,
    froissant d'une main lasse, au tréfonds de l'espace,
    les velours somptueux d'un grand oreiller d'ombre
    tout diamantés de larmes siddrales";

now bitterly conscious of the ironic raillery of the sea:

    "Vos caresses brûlantes, vos savantes caresses,
    sont pareilles à des tâtonnements d'aveugles
    qui vont ramant par les couloirs d'un labyrinthe!
    Vos baisers out toujours l'acharnement infatigable
    d'un dialogue enragé entre deux sourds
    emprisonnés au fond d'un cachot noir."

Even more characteristic of the feverish, but not unhealthy ardour of
the book is that series of ten poems entitled _Le Démon de la Vitesse_,
a kind of railway journey of the modern soul. For now the poet, stoking
the engines of his pounding brain with the monstrous coals of his own
energy, drives his train of Æschylean images (well equipped with all
the latest modern inventions) with all the record-breaking rapidity of
some Trans-American express, from the "vermilion terraces of love,"
across "Hindu evenings," "tyrannical rivers," "avenging forests,"
"milleniar torrents," and "the dusky corpulence of mountains," to
traverse "the delirium of Space," and "the supreme plateaux of an
absurd Ideal," to end finally in the grinding shock of a collision and
all the agony of a shipwrecked vessel. It is in this series of poems
that the author's wealth of imagery, always superabundant, lavishes its
most profound and incessant exuberance.

For such phrases as "the drunken fulness of streaming stars in the
great bed of heaven," "oh, folly, my folly, oh, Eternal Juggler," "O
wind, crucified beneath the nails of the stars," "the flesh scorched in
the burning tunic of a terrible desire," "the sad towns crucified on
the great crossed arms of thewhite road" are not mere isolated flashes
of poetical riches, but casual samples of an opulence displaying
itself on this same grandiose scale throughout every line of every
poem. Note, also, that the poet has completely fused himself with the
whole scientific universe. He will thus portray a man in the terms of
some dynamic entity of mechanical science, which as likely as not will
itself be represented in terms of humanity. Contrast, for instance,
such phrases as--

        "Les géantes pneumatiques de l'Orgueil," or "train
        fougueux de mon âme,"


    "Colonnes de fumée, immenses bras de nègre,
    annelés d'étincelles et de rubis sanglants."

To sum up the essential character of _Destruction,_ we would say that
releasing poetry from the shackles of the conventional subject-matter,
the conventional language, and the conventional metres to which it
had been so long confined, it lays the hitherto untravelled lines of
the speed and beauty of the whole of modern civilisation, with its
all-unexplored scientific and psychological regions, as it sings the
rushing rhapsody of the whole spirit of the twentieth century.

    "I bid ye pant your fury and your spleen,
    I reck not the long roarings of your wrath,
    O galloping Simoons of my ambition,
    Who heavily the city's threshold paw,
    Nor ever shall ye cross her sensual walls,
    Ye neigh in vain in my stopped ears, already
    With rosy murmurs steeped and stupefied
    (And subterranean voices of the deep),
    Like spells of freshness full of the sea's song."

The above quotation may perhaps give such readers as have not the
luxury of the French language some faint shadow of the warm charm of
_La Ville Charnelle_, which, at any rate from the conventional standard
of ordinary æsthetic beauty, represents the zenith of M. Marinetti's
poetical achievement. For in his second volume of verse, our author
abandons the furious pace of his rushing modernity to sing the almost
sensual beauty of a tropical town, with "the silky murmur of its
African sea," its pointed "mosques of desire," and its "hills moulded
like the knees of women, and swathed in the linen billows of its
dazzling chalk." The swift piston rhythm of _Destruction_ is exchanged
for a measure which, though untrammelled by any tight convention, is
often clad in the Turkish trousers of some languorous rhyme, or slides
with the voluptuous swish of some blank alexandrine. But if the flood
of images has abated its turbulence to a serener beauty, it has not
thereby suffered any loss of volume, as is evidenced by such phrases
as "les molles éméraudes de prairies infinies," "la bouche éclatée des
horizons engloutisseurs," or "jusqu'au volant trapeze de ce grand vent

Or take the following passage from _The Banjoes of Despair and of

    "Elles chantent, les benjohs hystériques et sauvages,
    comme des chattes énervées par l'odeur de l'orage.
    Ce sont des nègres qui les tiennent
    empoignées violemment, comme on tient
    une amarre que secoue la bourrasque.
    Elles miaulent, les benjohs, sous leurs doigts frénétiques,
    et la mer, en bombant son dos d'hippopotame,
    acclame leurs chansons par des flic-flacs sonores
    et des renaclements."

More aery and fantastic in their radiance are the _Little Dramas of
Light_, which in the same volume play outside the walls of _La Ville
Charnelle_. For pushing the pathetic fallacy to the extreme limit of
pantheism, or anthropomorphism, as one cares to put it, our author
constructs his miniature scenes out of the interplay of plants,
elements, and the very fabrics of human invention, all participating in
something of the mingled dash, despair, and desire which go to weave
the somewhat complex tissue of our ultra-modern humanity.

Even the titles of a few of these delicate poems give some idea of
their darting beauty--"The Foolish Vines and the Greyhound of the
Firmament" (the Moon), "The Life of the Sails," "The Death of the
Fortresses," "The Folly of the Little Houses," "The Dying Vessels,"
"The Japanese Dawn," "The Courtesans of Gold" (the Stars).

Observe, also, the eminently twentieth-century temperament of the
"coquettish vessels," who, "half-clothed in their ragged sails, and
playing like urchins with the incandescent ball of the sun," have yet
experienced "amid the disillusioned smile of the autumn evenings" the
desire for a fuller and more tumultuous life than is afforded by the
"ventriloquist soliloquies of the gurgling waters of the quays."

    "C'est ainsi, c'est ainsi que les jeunes Navires
    implorent affolées délivrance,
    en s'esclaffant de tous leurs linges bariolés,
    claquant au vent comme les lèvres brulées de fièvre.
    Leurs drisses et leurs haubans se raidissent
    tels des nerfs trop tendus qui grincent de désir,
    car ils veulent partir et s'en aller
    vers la tristesse affreuse (qu'importe?) inconsolable
    et (qu'importe?) infinie
    d'avoir tout savouré et tout maudit (qu'importe?)."

We can perhaps best formulate the dynamic _élan de vie_, which pulses
through every line of M. Marinetti's poems, by indulging in the
perversion of the great line of Baudelaire, so that we can give to our
poet for his motto:

    "Je haïs la ligne qui tue le mouvement."

M. Marinetti's activity, however, is not limited to the sphere of
verse. In 1905 he published _Le Roi Bombance_ (_Mercure de France_),
a satyric tragedy, compound of the scarcely harmonious temperaments
of Rabelais and Maeterlinck, a wild extravaganza of anthropophagy and
resurrection, which satirises the prominent figures in contemporary
Italian politics, including the recently dead Crispi, Ferri, and
Tenatri, and contains withal a profound undercurrent of sociological
truth. _Poupées Electriques_ (Sansot) followed in 1909, a play which,
with all its brilliance and originality, somehow just misses the real
dramatic pitch.

Far more significant are the _belles lettres_ of _Les Dieux s'en vont
D'Annunzio reste_ (Sansot, 1908), with its steely dash of style and its
criticism at once singularly acute and delightfully malicious of the
official protagonist of all Italian culture, and the recently published
_Futurisme_ (Sansot, 1911).

But of all the works of M. Marinetti, the most impressive is the great
prose epic, _Mafarka Le Futuriste_. It is in the three hundred pages
of this novel, which describes the destructive and creative exploits
of a militant and intellectual African prince, that the Futurist
leader has given the most complete expression to the vehement surge
of his genius. In this book, the spirits of the East and of the West
strangely combine. The gross heat of an African sun beats incessantly
down upon these torrid pages, yet even the most oriental passages have
such a Homeric freshness of epic sweep as to render them immeasurably
cleaner than the sniggering indecencies of not a few of even the more
fashionable and respectable of our lady novelists. Incident follows
on incident, adventure on adventure, with the magic bewilderment of
some Arabian Night, an Arabian night illumined by the galvanic current
of some twentieth-century genie, as it flashes image after image on
the multicoloured sheet of some dancing cinematograph. The style
bounds with a lithe male crispness, in comparison with which even the
luxuriant and self-complacent flowers of D'Annunzio himself seem at
times to offer but rank and androgynous beauties.

How admirable, for instance, is such a passage as--

        "And Mafarka-el-Bey bounded forward, with great elastic
        steps, sliding on the voluptuous springs of the wind and
        rolling--like a word of victory--in the very mouth of

or such a perfect Homeric simile as--

        "All the beloved sweetness of his vanished youth mounted
        in his throat, even as from the courtyard of schools
        there mount the joyous cries of children towards their
        old masters, leaning over the parapet of the terrace
        from which they see the flight of the vessels upon the

or such a perfect description as--

        "Et d'en haut descendaient les rayons des étoiles des
        milliers de chainettes dorées tintinabulantes, qui
        balançaient au ras de l'eau leurs tremblants reflets,
        innombrables veilleuses."

But the wondrous story of how Mafarka-el-Bey exhorted to the work of
war the thousands of his wallowing soldiers from the putrescent bed
of that dried-up lake; of how, disguising himself as an aged beggar,
he visited the camp of the negroes; of the monstrous tale which he
there told his Ethiopian foes; of the stratagem by which he drew the
two pursuing wings of the infatuated army to the stupendous shock of
an internecine collision; of how he annihilated the maddened hordes of
the Hounds of the Sun with the stones flung by the mechanical Giraffes
of War; of the Neronian banquet in the grotto of the Whale's Belly; of
the agonised hydrophobic death of his brother Magamal, the light of his
eyes; of the nocturnal journey in which he conveyed across the sea his
brother's body in a sack to the land of the Hypogeans; of the Futurist
Discourse which he there held; of his passing encounter with the
fellahin Habbi and Luba; of how, disdaining the more banal method of
filial creation, he compelled the weavers of Lagahourso and the smiths
of Milmillah to make the body of that Airgod Gazourmeh, whose spirit he
had fashioned out of the glory of his own unaided brain; and of how he
died exultantly, brushed away beneath the gigantic wings of his son, as
it flew like some hilarious parricide into the clear infinitude, is it
not all written in the pages of _Mafarka Le Futuriste_? (E. Sansot &
Cie, Paris, 3 fr. 50 c.)

Note, also, the religious exultation of martial and intellectual
energy, whose hoarse prayer is uttered on almost every page. For
Mafarka is the prophet of that "new voluptuousness which shall have
rid the world of love when he shall have founded the religion of the
concrete will and of the heroism of every single day."

And to still further exemplify his new religion of war and energy,
and inspired, too, no doubt by the airy message of the Arab bullets,
M. Marinetti finished on the 29th November 1911 in the trenches of
Sidi-Missri, near Tripoli, the great free-verse epic of three hundred
and fifty pages, entitled _The Popes Monoplane_. The function of this
poem, which is certainly the most original epic known to literary
history, is to serve as an anti-clerical, an anti-pacifist, and
anti-Austrian polemic. And this function it accomplishes by a technique
which in its successful audacity transcends even itself. For nowhere
is the free verse of Marinetti more free. New harmonies and even new
dissonances are conjured up according to the emotion to be expressed
and the object to be described, while the terminology of mechanics
and physiology is judiciously mingled with just a trace of the old
romanticism. The whole epic quite literally flies with inordinate
swiftness. For the poet is, on his monoplane, careering over the heart
of Italy. He takes counsel of his father the volcano, and, flying back
to Rome, fishes up by means of an iron chain with a spring-trap the
great polished Seal, or, as he exultantly describes it,

        "Un pape, un vrai pape, le saint Pontif lui-même."

And on he flies on his missionary career, with the miserable Vicar of
God dangling helplessly beneath him, now present at the debates of
_Les Moucherons Politiciens_, now assisting at the tumultuous congress
of _Les Syndicate Pacifistes_, now side by side with the moon, now
exhorting the Italian youth to shake off their execrable lethargy,
and, finally, participating in the eventual overthrow of the Austrian
enemy. This poem marks an immense advance on the earlier epic, _La
Conquête des Étoiles_, to which we have already referred. It pullulates
with an equal energy, but this energy is tenser and far less turgid. It
is an energy, moreover, whose impetus is expended not on imaginative
abstractions, but on the drastic attack of concrete political problems.
As a sheer piece, too, of description, Marinetti's description of the
_Battle of Monfalcone_ is in our view superior to any of the military
verse even of Kipling himself. _The Pope's Monoplane_ is, of course, an
aggressively specific example of realism in poetry. But it is a realism
which, so far from clipping the wings of Pegasus, rather spurs him to
higher and more strenuous flights. We may perhaps conclude our survey
of this work by an endeavour to render into English a characteristic
passage from the dialogue between the Poet and the Volcano.


    Ne'er have I slept; I labour endlessly,
    Enriching space with many a masterpiece
        That lives and dies in a day.
    Over the baking of the chiselled rocks
    Upon the vitrefaction of the many-coloured sands
        I keep my watch
    So well that the clay 'neath my fingers
        Will metamorphose
        To a porcelain of perfect rose,
    Which I shatter with the buffets of my steam.

    My accomplice is the Strait of Messina
    Which dozes in the dawn, couching white and glossy
        As an Angora cat...
    My accomplice is the Strait of Messina
    Lolling like a cushion of lazy turquoise silk,
    With soft Arabian words embroidered by the wake
        Of clouds and languorous sails,
        Words woven silently methinks
    With a fair silver thread upon the ocean's robe.

    The perfidious moon is my accomplice,
    The arch-courtesan of the painted stars,
    For nowhere are the moon's cajoleries
    So luring and persuasive.

    And nowhere does the moon cast such assiduous eyes
    To seduce the hard red funnels of the steamers,
        Those surly strollers South
        With a fat cigar in their mouth
    Whose smoke they spit against the azure sky.

    And nowhere does the moon throw such a tender shower
        Of soft and violet ashes,
    As that which lulls to sleep the lava petrified
    On the black houses hanging on my flanks.
    And nowhere has the moon such poignancy
    Of inundations of light and ecstasy,
        As on the gashed paths
        Carved by my surgical fire.

    But woe to those who follow the bleating light of the moon,
        And the plaintive bells of the flocks,
    And the bitter flutes of the shepherds whose world-weary notes
    Are long, long threads that vanish in the blue!
    Woe to those who refuse to make their galloping blood
    Keep step with the gallop of the blood of my devastation!

    And woe to those who wish to root their heads,
        To root their feet and houses
        In a craven hope of eternity!
    A truce to building, for ye must encamp!
    Nay, am I not shaped even as a tent
    Whose truncated top fanneth my wrath?
    I only love the acrobatic stars
    Who balance on the rolling balls of smoke
        Wherewith I juggle!

    I can dance to them, and juggle in mid air,
    And shower my song on the reverberations
        Of thy storms that breed
        In subterranean depths!...
        And I descend
    To hear the diapasons of thy voice.
        So make a pause
    In the electrical discharges of thy tubes
    That tear from thy base the underlying rocks.
    Enjoin to silence all thy babbling grottoes,
    That all a-flutter quiver ceaselessly.
        Gag with thick cinders
    The basaltic echoes whose chorus rings thy praise.

    What good are thy volcanic bombs
    That serve as punctuations for the growlings of thy speech?
    And what care I for the ruddy jets
        Of thine aggressive foam?
    Thy deluges of mud have soiled my wings of white,
    But check me not, for proof against thine avalanche
    Of scoria I descend, gilded and aureoled
    By all the powdery shower of thy dumbfounded gold.

It is also relevant to mention that M. Marinetti has been recently
formulating new rules and principles for his new literary code. Among
the more drastic phases of this stylistic revolution we would mention
the employment of mathematical signs and symbols, the rebellion from
too rigid and pedantic a syntax, the minimum use of the adjective and
the infinitive, the opening up of new fields of images and metaphors,
and the freer and more increased use of onomatopœia. These ideas
are succinctly, though no doubt extravagantly, set out in the two
manifestos entitled _Wireless Imagination and Words at Liberty_ and
_The Futurist Anti-Tradition_.

Space vetoes more than the enumeration of the other Futurist
poets--Luccini, Palazzescho, Folgore, and Altomare--though we may
perhaps mention the recently published _Poesie Electrichie_ of Govoni,
and the _A Claude Debussy_ of Paolo Buzzi, which won the first prize of
the first international competition of "Poesia," and which transfers
into a marvellously fluid Italian verse the at once ethereal and
faunish emotions of the composer's music.

But if, finally, we may speculate on the Future of Futurism, its real
prospects and its real significance are to be found in the fact that,
though extravagant and aggressive, it is in essence a concentrated
manifestation of the whole vital impetus of the twentieth century. Its
relationship to Nietzscheanism we have already examined. Almost equally
close is its affinity to the standpoints of such representative spirits
of the real genius of this particular age as Verhaeren and Mr. Wells;
Verhaeren, the gazer on the _Multiple Splendour_ of the _Tumultuous
Forces_ of the _Visages of Life_, with his motto, "Life is to be
mounted and not to be descended; the whole of life is in the soaring
upwards," who expresses in the strenuous majesty of his verse the whole
raging complex of our psychological and material civilisation; Mr.
Wells, too, the glorifier of all the new machinery of our scientific
fabric; Mr. Wells, who, with all his intoxication for the "gigantic
syntheses of life," expresses himself most effectually by the maxim,
"The world exists for and by initiative, and the method of initiative
is individuality."

Even if we go to more concrete and more topical manifestations, there
is not wanting evidence that the fiery blast of the Futurists is fanned
by the huge bellows of our own labouring _Zeitgeist_.

If indeed we may meddle with the very latest metaphysical terminology,
we would suggest that it is by a singularly brilliant and apposite
stroke of intuition on the part of, the newly discovered _élan de vie_
that, at a time which is moving at an unprecedented rapidity, at a time
when the two great brother nations of the Teutonic race are preparing
their rival sacrifices for the God of War with all the mocking and
drastic fraternity of a Cain and of an Abel; when the air is thick
with the wings of a new and regenerated France; when the militant
mænads of both the West and the East, under the inspiration of their
dashing and elusive Pythoness, are waging with foaming fanaticism a
Holy War of Sex; when even one of the most responsible of our lawyers
is coquetting dangerously with both the theory and the practice of the
superior ethical value of Active Resistance; when the most venerable
of our Lord Justices recently interpolated a homily on the Law of
Change into the middle of an otherwise purely legal judgment; when
the two young, but patriotic _condottieri_ of either political party
are fast leaping into a more and more aggressive prominence; when the
insurgent masses of our industrial proletariat have made a vehement and
not entirely unsuccessful charge against existing economic fabric of
the country; when Mr. Thomas Hardy has attended, in the pages of even
the _Fortnightly Review_, the funeral of the old God of pity, and when
Bergsonism, judiciously advertised in the masquerade of a religious
revival, has replaced the old Eternal Absolute with the creative
activity of an endless Movement, the Futurists should now exalt the
sublime vehemence of war, and the aggressive fury of youth, while M.
Marinetti chants the strident hallelujahs of the new God of sweat and
agony and tension, and Signor Russolo and his _confrères_ exhibit to us
in the actual canvases of the Sackville Galleries the rampant hordes of
rebellion and the painting of Movement itself.


    Abel, 237
    _Advent_, 110
    Æschylus (_cf_. Corelli), 115
    Alcibiades, 61
    _Almansor_, 32
    _Alroy_, 55
    Altomare, 236
    _Amour, De l'_, 13, 14
    _Anatol_, 161, 176-9
    _Anne Veronica_, 120
    Anti-Semite, 115, 190
    Anti-Semitism, 115
    Antoine, 98
    _Aphrodite_, 129
    _Arabian Nights_, 144
    _Ardath_, 114, 115
    Aristotle, 74
    _Armance_, 15-16
    Athanasius, 89
    Attila, 117
    _Aubes, Les_, 210
    Austria, 215
    _Awkward Age, The_, 153

    BALFOUR, Mr., 123
    Balzac, 38, 201
    _Banti, Consultation de_, 9
    Barker, 162
    Barrie, J. M., 132
    _Baths of Lucca_, 35
    Baudelaire, 121, 144, 154
    Beaconsfield. _See_ Disraeli
    Beardsley, 144
    Belgium, 197
    Bergson, 208
    Bergsonism, 238
    Berlioz, 38, 44
    Beyle. _See_ Stendhal
    _Beyond the Rocks_, 128
    Bible, 89, 120
    Bigillon, 5
    Birrell, 64
    Björnsen, 98
    _Black Flags_, 95, 100, 111-13
    Blake, 219
    Blatchford, Robert, 132
    _Blés Mouvants, Les_, 210
    Bohair, 38
    _Bond, The_, 104
    _Book of Songs_, 30, 31, 35, 36, 49
    Borgia, 86
    Borne, 38, 39
    Bottomley, Horatio, 119
    Bourget, 24
    _Bovary, Madame_, 16
    _Boy_, 115
    Brandes, 71
    Brieux, 188
    Browning, 63
    Brummel, 61
    Bryce, 60
    _Büchse von Pandora_, 138, 145, 149, 150, 155
    Buddhism, 72
    Burne-Jones, 219
    Buzzi, 236
    Byron, 30, 52, 93

    CAIN, 81, 237
    _Call of Life_, 175-6
    _Campagnes Hallucinés_, 202-4
    Carlyle, 44, 66
    Carpani, 11
    Casanova, 64
    Catholicism, 39, 110
    Cervantes, 30
    Chant, Mrs. Ormiston, 133
    _Chartreuse de Parme_, 20, 21
    Chateaubriand, 6
    Chauvinism, 215
    Chesterton, G. K., 119, 198
    Christ, 71, 110, 118, 208
    _Childe Harold_, 52
    Christianity, 71, 72, 73, 76, 78, 79, 80, 88, 93;
       Electric Principle of, 114
    _Comédie Humaine_, 16
    _Confession of a Fool_, 95, 97, 105-8
    Congreve, 187
    _Conquête des Étoiles_, 223-5
    _Conrad_, 52
    Conservatism, 67
    _Contarini Fleming_, 55, 62
    Corelli, Miss Marie, 114-33
    _Countess Mizzi_, 161, 184
    Court Theatre, 139
    Craigie, Mrs., 69
    _Creditor, The_, 103
    Crispi, 230
    Crowley, Aleister, 114
    _Crown Bride_, ill

    _Damascus, To_, 110
    _Dämmerseelen_, 191
    D'Annunzio, 210, 214, 231
    Daru, 3, 4, 9, 12, 18
    Darwin, 84, 136
    _Death Dance_, 97, 110-11
    _Débâcles, Les_, 199
    Debussy, 219
    Dembowska, Countess, 12
    Democracy, 67
    _Démon de la Vitesse_, 212, 226
    _De Profundis_, 140
    _Destruction_, 223, 225
    _Deutschland_, 40
    Disraeli, 50-69
    Disraeli, Mrs., 62, 63, 68
    Don Juan, 19, 50, 97, 215
    _Dorian Gray_, 132
    D'Orsay, 61
    Dowie, Dr., 117
    _Dream Pictures_, 30, 32
    Drury Lane, 122
    Dugazon, 7
    Dumas, 38

    _Easter_, 110
    _Ehre, Die_, 136
    _Einsame Weg, Der_, 171, 172
    Eldon, 67
    _Elizabeth's Visits to America_, 128
    _Embarrassments_, 177
    _Endymion_, 52
    _Erdgeist_, 134, 135, 145-9
    Essen, Siri von, 95
    _Esther Waters_, 129
    Eugenics, 154

    FAGUET, 24
    Fakredeen, 52
    _Father, The_, 101, 102
    Faust, 158
    Ferri, 230
    _Feuerwerk_, 154
    Fichte, 74

    _Flamands, Les_, 198, 199
    _Flambeaux Noirs_, 199-202
    _Fleurs du Mal_, 121
    Foote, G. W., 119
    _Forces Tumultueuses_, 196
    _Foundations of Belief_, 123
    France, 214, 237
    _Franziska_, 155, 157-9
    _Frau Margit_, 95
    Free Love, 139, 154
    _Free Opinions_, 119
    Free Verse, 223
    _Freiwild_, 173-5
    Froude, 51
    _Frühlingserwachen_, 135, 145, 150-3, 159
    Futurism, 212-38

    GALSWORTHY, 157, 159, 162, 163
    Gambetta, 67
    Garvice, Charles, 116
    Gautier, 38
    _Geheimniss der Gilde_, 95
    _Genealogy of Morals_, 70-90
    Genesis, 119
    Germany, 72, 135-9
    Gladstone, 53, 54, 61, 65, 66, 68
    _Gluckspeter_, 95
    Glyn, Elinor, 126-30
    _God's Good Man_, 122
    Goethe, 74, 144
    Gog, 208
    Govoni, 236
    _Green Cockatoo_, 161, 182-3
    Guilbert, Mélanie, 7
    Gull, Ranger, 115

    HALEVY, Jehudah, 43
    _Hallucinated Country-sides_, 202-4
    _Hannele_, 137
    Hardy, 238
    Hart, Julius, 137
    _Harzreise_, 34
    Hauptmann, 137, 210
    _Haydn and Mozart, Lives of_, 11
    _Heimkehr_, 34
    Heine, 26-49, 60, 77, 89
    Heine, Amalie, 31, 32
    Heine, Samson, 29
    Heine, Solomon, 30
    _Hélène de Sparte_, 210
    Heliogabalus, 121
    Hermant, Abel, 122
    _Hidalla_, 154
    Higher Criticism (Corelli), 119
    _His Hour_, 128
    _History of Painting in Italy_, 12
    Hitchman, 50
    Hobbes, 83
    Hofmann, 28
    Hogarth, 150
    Holy Alliance, 27
    _Holy Orders_, 121
    Hugo, 38, 224
    Humboldt, 38

    IBSEN, 153
    Idealists, 87
    Ihering, 85
    _In Allen Satteln Gerecht_, 156
    _In Allen Wassern Gewaschen_, 156
    _Inferno_, 109
    Ingersoll, 119
    _Intoxication_, 110
    Isaiah, 72, 133
    Israel, 71, 78
    _Italian Travels_, 11
    _Italy_, 35, 213

    JACK the Ripper, 149
    James, Henry, 137, 153, 177, 187
    Jeremiah, 72
    Jesuits, 118
    Jesus, 71, 72
    Jew-Millionaires, 121
    Jews, 118
    Jezebels, Upper-Ten, 121, 127
    Job, 111
    _Johannes_, 137
    Josepha, 30
    _Journal, Le_, 24
    Judæa, 78
    _Julien_, 17-20
    _Junge Leiden_, 35
    Juvenal, 133

    KABLY, Mdlle., 3
    Kahn, Gustave, 223
    _Kammersänger, Der_, 140-142
    Kant, 40, 87
    Karl Moor, 19
    Key, Ellen, 88, 96
    Kipling, 110, 234
    Klinger, 219

    _Lamiel_, 22-23
    _Lebendige Stunden_, 177, 180-182
    _Legends_, 109
    _Les Dieux s'en vont D'Annunzio reste_, 230
    Lesbos, 131
    _Liebelei_, 164-166, 169
    _Liebestrank, Der_, 153
    Life Force, 145
    "Little Mary," 132
    Longfellow, 153
    Louason, 7, 8
    Louis XVI, 2
    Louis Philippe, 21
    Louÿs, 115, 129
    Loyola, 117
    Luccini, 236
    _Lucien Leuwen_, 21-22
    _Lyrisches Intermezzo_, 32, 35, 36

    MADONNA, 96, 97
    Maeterlinck, 197, 230
    _Mafarka le Futuriste_, 129, 231, 232
    Maine, 81, 84
    _Märchen, Das_, 167, 168
    Marinetti, 129, 212-238
    _Marionetten_, 177, 179
    _Marius the Epicurean_, 124
    _Marquis von Keith_, 153
    _Marriage_, 98-100
    _Masken und Wunder_, 191
    _Mate, The_, 183
    Maupassant, 98, 191
    Maupin, Mademoiselle de, 157
    Meade, L. T., 116
    _Medardus, Der Junge_, 184-186
    Meissner, 38
    _Meister Olof_, 94
    _Meister, Wilhelm_, 55
    Melville, Walter, 115
    _Mighty Atom, The_, 115
    Milan, 4, 12, 13, 213
    Milton, 210
    _Minnehaha_, 153
    Mirbeau, Octave, 122
    Mirat, Matilde, 41
    _Miss Julie_, 102, 103
    _Mit Allen Hünden Gehetzt_, 156
    _Moines, Les_, 199
    Molière, 3, 121
    _Monna Vanna_, 140
    Moore, George, 106
    _Motherly Love_, 104
    Mouche, La, 48
    _Multiple Splendeur, Le_, 208-209
    _Murder of Delicia_, 115
    _Musik_, 155, 156, 157

    NAPOLEON, 29, 30, 69
    Nerval, Gérard de, 38
    New England, 67, 153
    _New Machiavelli_, 105, 120
    New Woman Movement, 96
    Nietzsche, 24, 70-90, 136, 144, 208, 216
    Nirvana, 73
    Nonconformity, 119
    _Nordsee Cyklus_, 33, 34
    Northcliffe, 86
    _Nouvelle Héloïse_, 3

    _Oaha_, 154
    O'Connell, 57
    O'Connor, T. P., 50
    _Open Sea, The_, 100, 108
    Opportunism, 67
    Orestes, 81
    Ovid, 144

    Papacy, 213
    Peel, 64
    Péladan, 131
    Pietragrua, Countess, 4, 10, 12
    Pinero, 145
    _Plain Dealer, The_, 141
    _Playing with Fire_, 97, 104-105
    Poe, 154
    _Poesia_, 221, 236
    _Poetische Nachlese_, 35, 47
    _Pope's Monoplane, The_, 233-236
    _Professor Bernhardi_, 188-190
    Przybyszewski, 109
    _Puppet-player_, 179-180

    QUEUX, Le, 116

    _Racine and Shakespeare_, 14, 15
    _Ratcliff_, 32
    _Raymond, Jack_, 119
    Realism, 138
    _Red Room_, 95
    _Reigen_, 179
    _Reisebilder_, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 49
    René, 19
    Restoration, French, 17
    Revolution, French, 27, 28, 53
    _Revolutionary Epicke_, 67
    _Rhythmes Souveraines, Les_, 210
    Richter, 38
    _Risorgimento Italiano_, 213
    _Road to the Open, The_, 192-194
    Robespierre, 40
    Rockefeller, 86
    Rodenbach, 197,
    Rodin, 211
    _Romance of Two Worlds_, 114
    _Romantic School, The_, 40
    Romanticism, 14, 27, 28, 138
    _Romanzero_, 35, 47, 48
    Rome, 79, 213
    _Rome, Naples, and Florence_, 11
    Roosevelt, President, 116
    Rossetti, 219
    _Rossini, Life of_, 15
    _Rouge et le Noir, Le_, 9, 16, 17-20, 56, 185
    Rousseau, 46, 83
    Rubens, 197
    Russolo, 220, 238

    _Salome_, 140
    Sand, 38
    Sappho, 131
    Satan, 208
    _Satan, Sorrows of_, 114
    Schiller, 144
    Schlegel, 38
    _Schloss von Wetterstein_, 155, 156
    Schnitzler, 161-195
    Schopenhauer, 72, 73, 74, 144
    Secessionists, 140
    Secessionsbühne, 137
    Sefchen, 30
    Selden, Camille, 48
    Self-and-Sex Series, 130
    Semites, 125
    _Serialese, Manual of_, 133
    Severini, 220
    Shaw, G. B., 126, 135, 155, 159, 162, 163
    Sichel, 51
    Sidonia, 52
    Smiles, Samuel, 115
    Smith, Adam, 7
    Socialists, 88
    Sorel, Julien, 16-20
    _Souvenirs d'Egotisme_, 24
    Spencer, 77
    _Spring's Awakening_, 115. See
    St. Amand, 197
    St. Barbe, 197
    St. Beuve, 24
    Staël, Mme. de, 40
    Stage Society, 139, 161, 162
    Stendhal, 1-25, 74, 185
    Sterne, 30
    Stratford-on-Avon, 131
    Strauss, 219
    _Strife_, 163
    Strindberg, 91-113
    Stuck, 219
    Sudermann, 88, 137
    Suffragette, 96
    Superman, 75, 80 85, 87, 136, 163
    Sutro, 162
    Swan, Annie, 116
    _Swan White_, 111
    Sweden, 96
    Swedenborgianism, 110
    _Swedish Destinies_, 98
    _Swedish Miniatures_, 111
    Swift, 30, 44
    _Swiss Tales_, 100
    Switzerland, 215
    Symbolists, 224

    TAINE, 20, 24, 136
    Tamerlane, 86
    _Tancred_, 55, 60, 65
    Tanner, John, 97
    _Tartuffe_, 121
    Technique, 163
    _Temporal Power_, 120, 124
    Tenatri, 230

    _Tentacular Towns_, 202-205
    _Terminations_, 177
    _Thelma_, 119, 124
    Thorne, Guy, 115
    _Three Weeks_, 127, 130
    Thucydides, 132
    Tolstoi, 76, 126
    Tories, 65, 66, 67
    Torquemada, 117
    _Totentanz_, 126, 135, 142-4
    Tracy, 7
    _Turn of the Screw_, 137

    UHL, Frida, 109
    Ultramontanes, 21
    Ultramontanism, 115

    VAN Lenburgh, 197
    _Veil of Beatrice_, 169-171
    _Vendetta_, 115
    _Venetia_, 56
    Verhaeren, 196-211, 237
    Verlaine, 154, 200
    _Vermächtniss, Die_, 169
    _Versunkene Glocke, Die_, 137
    _Vie de Henri Brulard, La_, 24
    _Vier Jahrzeiten, Die_, 154
    _Ville Charnelle La_, 223, 228-230
    _Villes Tentaculaires, Les_, 202-205
    _Visages de la Vie_, _Les_, 208
    _Vivian Grey_, 19, 52, 55, 56, 59
    Voltaire, 42, 46, 77, 89
    Voynich, Mrs., 119

    WAGNER, 73
    Ward, Mrs., 126
    _Waste_, 163
    _Weber, Die_, 136, 210
    Wedekind, 98, 126, 134-160
    _Weg ins Freie, Der_, 192-194
    _Weites Land, Das_, 184, 186-188
    Wells, 237
    Werther, 19
    Westermarck, 84
    Whigs, 65, 66, 67
    Whitman, Walt, 223
    Wilde, 89, 139, 140
    Will to Live, 73
    Williams, Mrs. Brydges, 63
    _Woman with the Dagger_, 180-182
    Women atheists, 118
    _Wormwood_, 115
    Wycherley, 141

    YOUNG Men's Christian Association, 215

    _Zarathustra_, 70, 80-3, 88
    _Zensur_, 155, 156
    _Zwischenspiel_, 172, 173
    Zola, 118, 136, 145

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