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Title: On Something
Author: Belloc, Hilaire
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "On Something" ***

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                             ON SOMETHING

                                 BY

                              H. BELLOC



                             DEDICATION

                                _To
                              Somebody_



         CONTENTS

A PLEA FOR THE SIMPLER DRAMA

ON A NOTEBOOK

ON UNKNOWN PEOPLE

ON A VAN TROMP

HIS CHARACTER

ON THRUPPENNY BITS

ON THE HOTEL AT PALMA AND A PROPOSED GUIDE-BOOK

THE DEATH OF WANDERING PETER

THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE

A NORFOLK MAN

THE ODD PEOPLE

LETTER OF ADVICE AND APOLOGY TO A YOUNG BURGLAR

THE MONKEY QUESTION: AN APPEAL TO COMMON SENSE

THE EMPIRE BUILDER

CAEDWALLA

A UNIT OF ENGLAND

THE RELIC

THE IRONMONGER

A FORCE IN GAUL

ON BRIDGES

A BLUE BOOK

PERIGEUX OF THE PERIGORD

THE POSITION

HOME

THE WAY TO FAIRYLAND

THE PORTRAIT OF A CHILD

ON EXPERIENCE

ON IMMORTALITY

ON SACRAMENTAL THINGS

IN PATRIA



Of the various sketches in this book some appear for the first time,
others are reprinted by courtesy of the Proprietors and Editors of _The
Westminster Gazette_, _The Clarion_, _The English Review_, _The Morning
Post_ and _The Manchester Guardian_, in which papers they appeared.



A PLEA FOR THE SIMPLER DRAMA


It is with the drama as with plastic art and many other things: the plain
man feels that he has a right to put in his word, but he is rather afraid
that the art is beyond him, and he is frightened by technicalities.

After all, these things are made for the plain man; his applause, in the
long run and duly tested by time, is the main reward of the dramatist as
of the painter or the sculptor. But if he is sensible he knows that his
immediate judgment will be crude. However, here goes.

The plain man sees that the drama of his time has gradually passed from
one phase to another of complexity in thought coupled with simplicity of
incident, and it occurs to him that just one further step is needed to
make something final in British art. We seem to be just on the threshold
of something which would give Englishmen in the twentieth century
something of the fullness that characterized the Elizabethans: but somehow
or other our dramatists hesitate to cross that threshold. It cannot be
that their powers are lacking: it can only be some timidity or self-torture
which it is the business of the plain man to exorcise.

If I may make a suggestion in this essay to the masters of the craft it is
that the goal of the completely modern thing can best be reached by taking
the very simplest themes of daily life--things within the experience of
the ordinary citizen--and presenting them in the majestic traditional
cadence of that peculiarly English medium, blank verse.

As to the themes taken from the everyday life of middle-class men and
women like ourselves, it is true that the lives of the wealthy afford
more incident, and that there is a sort of glamour about them which it is
difficult to resist. But with a sufficient subtlety the whole poignancy
of the lives led by those who suffer neither the tragedies of the poor
nor the exaltation of the rich can be exactly etched. The life of
the professional middle-class, of the business man, the dentist, the
money-lender, the publisher, the spiritual pastor, nay of the playwright
himself, might be put upon the stage--and what a vital change would be
here! Here would be a kind of literary drama of which the interest would
lie in the struggle, the pain, the danger, and the triumph which we all so
intimately know, and next in the satisfaction (which we now do not have)
of the mimetic sense--the satisfaction of seeing a mirror held up to a
whole audience composed of the very class represented upon the stage.

I have seen men of wealth and position absorbed in plays concerning
gambling, cruelty, cheating, drunkenness, and other sports, and so
absorbed chiefly because they saw _themselves_ depicted upon the
stage; and I ask, Would not my fellows and myself largely remunerate a
similar opportunity? For though the rich go repeatedly to the play, yet
the middle-class are so much more numerous that the difference is amply
compensated.

I think we may take it, then, that an experiment in the depicting of
professional life would, even from the financial standpoint, be workable;
and I would even go so far as to suggest that a play could be written in
which there did not appear one single lord, general, Member of Parliament,
baronet, professional beauty, usurer (upon a large scale at least) or
Cabinet Minister.

The thing is possible: and I can modestly say that in the little effort
appended as an example to these lines it has been done successfully; but
here must be mentioned the second point in my thesis--I could never have
achieved what I have here achieved in dramatic art had I not harked back
to the great tradition of the English heroic decasyllable such as our
Shakespeare has handled with so felicitous an effect.

The play--which I have called "The Crisis," and which I design to be
the model of the school founded by these present advices--is specially
designed for acting with the sumptuous accessories at the disposal of
a great manager, such as Mr. (now Sir Henry) Beerbohm Tree, or for the
narrower circumstances of the suburban drawing-room.

There is perhaps but one character which needs any long rehearsal, that
of the dog Fido, and luckily this is one which can easily be supplied by
mechanical means, as by the use of a toy dog of sufficient size which
barks upon the pressure of a pneumatic attachment.

In connexion with this character I would have the student note that I
have introduced into the dog's part just before the curtain a whole line
of _dactyls_. I hope the hint will not be wasted. Such exceptions
relieve the monotony of our English _trochees_. But, saving in this
instance, I have confined myself throughout to the example of William
Shakespeare, surely the best master for those who, as I fondly hope, will
follow me in the regeneration of the British Stage.



THE CRISIS

PLACE: _The Study at the Vicarage_. TIME 9.15 _p.m._


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

THE REV. ARCHIBALD HAVERTON: The Vicar.

MRS. HAVERTON: His Wife.

MISS GROSVENOR: A Governess.

MATILDA: A Maid.

FIDO: A Dog.

HERMIONE COBLEY: Daughter of a cottager who takes in washing.

MISS HARVEY: A guest, cousin to Mrs. Haverton, a Unitarian.

(_The_ REV. ARCHIBALD HAVERTON _is reading the "Standard" by a lamp
  with a green shade_. MRS. HAVERTON _is hemming a towel_. FIDO
  _is asleep on the rug. On the walls are three engravings from Landseer,
  a portrait of Her late Majesty Queen Victoria, a bookcase with books in
  it, and a looking-glass_.)

  MRS. HAVERTON: My dear--I hope I do not interrupt you--
Helen has given notice.

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_looking up suddenly_).
                                        Given notice?
Who? Helen? Given notice? Bless my soul!
  (_A pause_.)
I never thought that she would give us notice.
  (_Ponders and frowns._)

  MRS. HAVERTON: Well, but she has, and now the question is,
What shall we do to find another cook?
Servants are very difficult to get. (_Sighs._)
Especially to come into the country
To such a place as this. (_Sighs._) No wonder, either!
Oh! Mercy! When one comes to think of it,
One cannot blame them. (_Sighs._) Heaven only knows
I try to do my duty! (_Sighs profoundly._)

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_uneasily_): Well, my dear,
I cannot _make_ preferment.

(_Front door-bell rings._)

  FIDO:                               Bow! wow! wow!

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_patting him to soothe him_):
    There, Fido, there!

  FIDO:                               Wow! wow!

  REV. A. HAVERTON:                   Good dog, there!

  FIDO:                                               Wow,
    Wow, wow!

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_very nervous_): There!

  FIDO:                                   Wow! wow!

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_in an agony_):  Good dog!

  FIDO:                              Bow! wow! wow!
    Wow, wow! Wow!! WOW!!!

  MRS. HAVERTON (_very excited_): Oh, Lord, he'll
    wake the children!

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_exploding_): How often have
    I told you, Dorothy,
Not to exclaim "Good Lord!"... Apart from manners--
Which have their own importance--blasphemy
(And I regard the phrase as blasphemous)
Cannot--

  MRS. HAVERTON (_uneasily_): Oh, very well!...
    Oh, very well!
      (_Exploding in her turn_.)
Upon my soul, you are intolerable!
      (_She jumps up and makes for the door. Before she gets to
        it there is a knock and_ MATILDA _enters_.)

  MATILDA: Please, m'm, it's only Mrs. Cobley's daughter
To say the washing shall be sent to-morrow,
And would you check the list again and see,
Because she thinks she never had two collars
Of what you sent, but only five, because
You marked it seven; and Mrs. Cobley says
There must be some mistake.

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_pompously_): I will attend to it.

  MRS. HAVERTON (_whispering angrily_): How can
    you, Archibald! You haven't got
The ghost of an idea about the washing!
Sit down. (_He does so_.) (_To Matilda_) Send the
    Girl in here.

  MRS. HAVERTON _sits down in a fume_.

  REV. A. HAVERTON: I think....

  MRS. HAVERTON (_snapping_): I don't care what you think!
      (_Groans_.)   Oh, dear!
I'm nearly off my head!

      _Enter_ MISS COBLEY. (_She bobs_.)

                                Good evening, m'm.

  MRS. HAVERTON (_by way of reply_):
Now, then! What's all this fuss about the washing?

  MISS COBLEY: Please, m'm, the seven collars, what you sent--
I mean the seven what was marked--was wrong,
And mother says as you'd have had the washing
Only there weren't but five, and would you mind....

  MRS. HAVERTON (_sharply_): I cannot understand a word you say.
Go back and tell your mother there were _seven_.
And if she sends home _five_ she pays for _two_.
So there!  (_Snorts_.)

  MISS COBLEY (_sobbing_): I'm sure I....

  MRS. HAVERTON (_savagely_): Don't stand snuffling there!
Go back and tell your mother what I say....
Impudent hussy!...

      (_Exit_ MISS COBLEY _sobbing. A pause._)

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_with assumed authority_): To return to Helen.
Tell me concisely and without complaints,
Why did she give you notice?

      (_A hand-bell rings in the passage_.)

  FIDO:                             Bow-wow-wow!

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_giving him a smart kick_): Shurrup!

  FIDO (_howling_). Pen-an'-ink! Pen-an'-ink
                            Pen-an'-ink! Pen-an'-ink!

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_controlling himself, as well as he can, goes to
    the door and calls into the passage_): Miss Grosvenor!
(_Louder_) ... Miss Grosvenor!... Was that the bell for prayers?
Was that the bell for prayers?... (_Louder_) Miss Grosvenor.
(_Louder_) Miss Gros-ve-nor! (_Tapping with his foot_.)
    Oh!...

  MISS GROSVENOR (_sweetly and, far off_): Is that Mr. Haverton?

  REV. A. HAVERTON: Yes! yes! yes! yes!...
Was that the bell for prayers?

  MISS GROSVENOR (_again_): Yes? Is that Mr. Haverton? Oh! Yes!
I think it is.... I'll see--I'll ask Matilda.

      (_A pause, during which the_ REV. A. HAVERTON
        _is in a qualm_.)

  MISS GROSVENOR (_rustling back_): Matilda says it
    _is_ the bell for prayers.

      (_They all come filing into the study and arranging the chairs.
        As they enter_ MISS HARVEY, _the guest, treads heavily on
        MATILDA'S foot._)

  MISS HARVEY: Matilda? Was that you? I _beg_ your pardon.

  MATILDA (_limping_): Granted, I'm sure, miss!

  MRS. HAVERTON (_whispering to the_ REV. A. HAVERTON): Do not read
    the Creed!
Miss Harvey is a Unitarian.
I should suggest some simple form of prayer,
Some heartfelt word of charity and peace
Common to every Christian.

  REV. A. HAVERTON (_in a deep voice_): Let us pray.

                         _Curtain._



ON A NOTEBOOK


A dear friend of mine (John Abdullah Capricorn, to give him his full
name) was commandeered by a publisher last year to write a book for £10.
The work was far advanced when an editor offered him £15 and his expenses
to visit the more desperate parts of the Sahara Desert, to which spots he
at once proceeded upon a roving commission. Whether he will return or no
is now doubtful, though in March we had the best hopes. With the month of
May life becomes hard for Europeans south of the Atlas, and when my poor
dear friend was last heard of he was chancing his popularity with a tribe
of Touaregs about two hundred miles south of Touggourt.

Under these circumstances I was asked to look through his notebook and see
what could be done; and I confess to a pleased surprise.... It would have
been a very entertaining book had it been published. It will be a very
entertaining book if it is published.

Capricorn seems to have prepared a hotchpotch of information of human
follies, of contrasts, and of blunt stupidities of which he intended
to make a very entertaining series of pages. I have not his talent for
bringing such things together, but it may amuse the reader if I merely
put in their order one or two of the notes which most struck me.

I find first, cut out of a newspaper and pasted into the book (many of
his notes are in this form), the following really jovial paragraph:

"Archdeacon Blunderbuss (Blunderbuss is not the real name; I suppress
that lest Capricorn's widow should lose her two or three pounds, in case
the poor fellow has really been eaten). Archdeacon Blunderbuss was more
distinguished as a scholar than as a Divine. He was a very poor preacher
and never managed to identify himself with any party. Nevertheless, in
1895 the Prime Minister appointed him to a stall in Shoreham Cathedral as
a recognition of his great learning and good work at Durham. Two years
later the rectory of St. Vacuums becoming vacant and it being within the
gift of Archdeacon Blunderbuss, he excited general amazement and much
scandal by presenting himself to the living."

There the paragraph ends. It came in an ordinary society paper. It bore
no marks of ill-will. It came in the midst of a column of the usual
silly adulation of everybody and everything; how it got there is of no
importance. There it stood and the keen eye of Capricorn noted it and
treasured it for years.

I will make no comment upon this paragraph. It may be read slowly or
quickly, according to the taste of the reader; it is equally delicious
either way.

The next excerpt I find in the notebook is as follows:

"More than 15,000,000 visits are paid annually to London pawnbrokers.

"Jupiter is 1387 times as big as the earth, but only 300 times as heavy.

"The world's coal mines yield 400,000,000 tons of coal a year.

"The value of the pictures in the National Gallery is about £1,250,000."

This tickled Capricorn--I don't know why. Perhaps he thought the style
disjointed or perhaps he had got it into his head that when this
information had been absorbed by the vulgar they would stand much where
they stood before, and be no nearer the end of man nor the accomplishment
of any Divine purpose in their creation. Anyhow he kept it, and I think
he was wise to keep it. One cannot keep everything of that kind that
is printed, so it is well to keep a specimen. Capricorn had, moreover,
intended to perpetuate that specimen for ever in his immortal prose--pray
Heaven he may return to do so!

I next find the following excerpt from an evening paper:

"No more gallant gentleman lives on the broad acres of his native England
than Brigadier-General Sir Hammerthrust Honeybubble, who is one of the
few survivors of the great charge at Tamulpuco, a feat of arms now
half forgotten, but with which England rang during the Brazilian War.
Brigadier-General, or, as he then was, plain Captain Hammerthrust
Honeybubble, passed through five Brazilian batteries unharmed, and came
back so terribly hacked that his head was almost severed from his body.
Hardly able to keep his seat and continually wiping the blood from his
left eye, he rode back to his troop at a walk, and, in spite of pursuit,
finally completed his escape. Sir Hammerthrust, we are glad to learn, is
still hale and hearty in his ninety-third year, and we hope he may see
many more returns of the day upon his patrimonial estate in the Orkneys."

To this excerpt I find only one marginal note in Capricorn's delicate
and beautiful handwriting: "What day?" But whether this referred to some
appointment of his own I was unable to discover.

I next find a certain number of cuttings which I think cannot have been
intended for the book at all, but must have been designed for poor
Capricorn's "Oxford Anthology of Bad Verse," which, just before he
left England, he was in process of preparing for the University Press.
Capricorn had a very fine sense of bad taste in verse, and the authorities
could have chosen no one better suited for the duty of editing such a
volume. I must not give the reader too much of these lines, but the
following quatrain deserves recognition and a permanent memory:

Napoleon hoped that all the world would fall beneath his sway. He failed
in this ambition; and where is he to-day? Neither the nations of the East
nor the nations of the West Have thought the thing Napoleon thought was to
their interest.

This is enormous. As philosophy, as history, as rhetoric, as metre, as
rhythm, as politics, it is positively enormous. The whole poem is a
wonderful poem, and I wish I had space for it here. It is patriotic and it
is written about as badly as a poem could conceivably be written. It is a
mournful pleasure to think that my dear friend had his last days in the
Old Country illuminated by such a treasure. It is but one of many, but I
think it is the best.

Another extract which catches my eye is drawn from the works of one in a
distant and foreign land. Yet it was worth preserving. This personage,
Tindersturm by name, issued a pamphlet which fell under the regulations,
the very strict regulations, of the Prussian Government, by which any
one of its subjects who says or prints anything calculated to stir
up religious or racial strife within the State is subject to severe
penalties. Now those severe penalties had fallen upon Tindersturm and
he had been imprisoned for some years according to the paragraph that
followed the extract I am about to give. That the aforesaid Tindersturm
did indeed tend to "stir up religious and racial strife," nay, went
somewhat out of his way to do it, will be clear enough when you read the
following lines from his little broadsheet:

"It is time for us to go for this caddish alien sect. If on your way home
from the theatre you meet the blue-eyed, tow-haired, lolloping gang,
whether they be youths or ladies, go right up to them and give them a
smart smack, left and right, a blow in the eye; and lift your foot and
give the tow-headed ones a kick. In this way must we begin the business.
My Fatherland, wake up!"

To this extract poor Capricorn has added the word "Excellent," and the
same comment he makes upon the following conclusion to a letter written
to a religious paper and dealing with some politician or other who had
done something which the correspondent did not like:

"That his eyes may be opened _while he lives_ is the prayer of

"Yours truly,

"AN EARNEST MEMBER OF THE FOLD"

From such a series it is a recreation to turn to the little social
paragraphs which gave Capricorn such acute and such continual joy; as, for
instance, this:

"Mrs. Harry Bacon wishes it to be known that she has ceased to have any
connection whatsoever with the Boudoir for Lost Dogs. Her address is still
Hermione House, Bourton-on-the-Water Fenton Marsh, Worcester."

There is much more in the notebook with which I could while away the
reader's time did space permit of it. I find among the very last entries,
for instance, this:

"It was a strenuous and thrilling contest. Some terrible blows were
exchanged. In the last round, however, Schmidt landed his opponent a very
nasty one under the chin, stretching him out lifeless and breaking his
elbow; whereupon the prize was awarded him."

To this joyous gem Capricorn has added a whole foison of annotations. He
asks at the end: "Which was 'him'? Important." And he underlines in red
ink the word "however," perhaps as mysterious a copulative as has ever
appeared in British prose. I should add that Capricorn himself was an
ardent sportsman and very rarely missed any of the first-class events of
the ring, though personally he did not box, and on the few occasions when
I have seen the exercise forced upon him in the public streets he showed
the greatest distaste to this form of athletics.

Lastly, I find this note with which I must close: it is taken from the
verbatim report of a great case in the courts, now half forgotten, but ten
years ago the talk of London:

"The witness then said that he had been promised an independence for life
if he could discover the defendant in the act of enclosing any part of
the land, or any document or order of his involving such an enclosure. He
therefore watched the defendant regularly from June, 1896, to the middle
of July, 1900. He also watched the defendant's father and mother, three
boys, married daughter, grandmother and grandfather, his two married
sisters, his brother, his agent, and his agent's wife--but he had
discovered nothing."

That such a sentence should have been printed in the English language and
delivered by an English mouth in an English witness-box was enough for
Capricorn. Give him that alone for intellectual food in his desert lodge
and he was happy.

Shall I tempt Providence by any further extracts? ... It is difficult to
tear oneself away from such a feast. So let me put in this very last,
really the last, by way of savoury. There it is in black and white and no
one can undo it: not all her piety, nor all her wit. It dates from the
year 1904, when, Heaven knows, the internal combustion engine and its
possibilities were not exactly new, and I give it word for word:

"The Duchess is, moreover, a pioneer in the use of the motor-car. She
finds it an agreeable and speedy means of conveyance from her country seat
to her town house, and also a very practical way of getting to see her
friends at week-ends. She has been heard to complain, however, that a
substitute for the pneumatic tyre less liable to puncture than it is would
be a priceless boon."

There! There! May they all rest in peace! They have added to the gaiety of
mankind.



ON UNKNOWN PEOPLE


You will often hear it said that it is astonishing such and such work
should be present and enduring in the world, and yet the name of its
author not known; but when one considers the variety of good work and the
circumstances under which it is achieved, and the variety of taste also
between different times and places, one begins to understand what is at
first so astonishing.

There are writers who have ascribed this frequent ignorance of ours to all
sorts of heroic moods, to the self-sacrifice or the humility of a whole
epoch or of particular artists: that is the least satisfactory of the
reasons one could find. All men desire, if not fame, at least the one poor
inalienable right of authorship, and unless one can find very good reasons
indeed why a painter or a writer or a sculptor should deliberately have
hidden himself one must look for some other cause.

Among such causes the first two, I think, are the multiplicity of good
work, and its chance character. Not that any one ever does very good work
for once and then never again--at least, such an accident is extremely
rare--but that many a man who has achieved some skill by long labour does
now and then strike out a sort of spark quite individual and separate from
the rest. Often you will find that a man who is remembered for but one
picture or one poem is worth research. You will find that he did much
more. It is to be remembered that for a long time Ronsard himself was
thought to be a man of one poem.

The multiplicity of good work also and the way in which accident helps it
is a cause. There are bits of architecture (and architecture is the most
anonymous of all the arts) which depend for their effect to-day very
largely upon situation and the process of time, and there are a thousand
corners in Europe intended merely for some utility which happen almost
without deliberate design to have proved perfect: this is especially true
of bridges.

Then there is this element in the anonymity of good work, that a man very
often has no idea how good the work is which he has done. The anecdotes
(such as that famous one of Keats) which tell us of poets desiring to
destroy their work, or, at any rate, casting it aside as of little value,
are not all false. We still have the letter in which Burns enclosed "Scots
wha' hae," and it is curious to note his misjudgment of the verse; and
side by side with that kind of misjudgment we have men picking out for
singular affection and with a full expectation of glory some piece of
work of theirs to which posterity will have nothing to say. This is
especially true of work recast by men in mature age. Writers and painters
(sculptors luckily are restrained by the nature of their art--unless they
deliberately go and break up their work with a hammer) retouch and change,
in the years when they have become more critical and less creative, what
they think to be the insufficient achievements of their youth: yet it is
the vigour and the simplicity of their youthful work which other men often
prefer to remember. On this account any number of good things remain
anonymous, because the good writer or the good painter or the good
sculptor was ashamed of them.

Then there is this reason for anonymity, that at times--for quite a short
few years--a sort of universality of good work in one or more departments
of art seems to fall upon the world or upon some district. Nowhere do
you see this more strikingly than in the carvings of the first third of
the sixteenth century in Northern and Central France and on the Flemish
border.

Men seemed at that moment incapable of doing work that was not marvellous
when they once began to express the human figure. Sometimes their mere
name remains, more often it is doubtful, sometimes it is entirely lost.
More curious still, you often have for this period a mixture of names. You
come across some astonishing series of reliefs in a forgotten church of a
small provincial town. You know at once that it is work of the moment when
the flood of the Renaissance had at last reached the old country of the
Gothic. You can swear that if it were not made in the time of Francis I or
Henry II it was at least made by men who could remember or had seen those
times. But when you turn to the names the names are nobodies.

By far the most famous of these famous things, or at any rate the most
deserving of fame, is the miracle of Brou. It is a whole world. You would
say that either one transcendent genius had modelled every face and figure
of those thousands (so individual are they), or that a company of inspired
men differing in their traditions and upbringing from all the commonalty
of mankind had done such things. When you go to the names all you find is
that Coulombe out of Touraine began the job, that there was some sort of
quarrel between his head-man and the paymasters, that he was replaced in
the most everyday manner conceivable by a Fleming, Van Boghem, and that
this Fleming had to help him a better-known Swiss, one Meyt. It is the
same story with nearly all this kind of work and its wonderful period. The
wealth of detail at Louviers or Gisors is almost anonymous; that of the
first named perhaps quite anonymous.

Who carved the wood in St. James's Church at Antwerp? I think the name
is known for part of it, but no one did the whole or anything like the
whole, and yet it is all one thing. Who carved the wood in St. Bertrand
de Coraminges? We know who paid for it, and that is all we know. And as
for the wood of Rouen, we must content ourselves with the vague phrase,
"Probably Flemish artists."

Of the Gothic statues where they were conventional, however grand the
work, one can understand that they should be anonymous, but it is curious
to note the same silence where the work is strikingly and particularly
individual. Among the kings at Rheims are two heads, one of St. Louis,
one of his grandson. Had some one famous sculptor done these things and
others, were his work known and sought after, these two heads would be as
renowned as anything in Europe. As it is they are two among hundreds that
the latter thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries scattered broadcast;
each probably was the work of a different workman, and the author or
authors of each remain equally unknown.

I know not whether there is more pathos or more humour or more consolation
in considering this ignorance of ours with regard to the makers of good
things.

It is full of parable. There is something of it in Nature. There are men
who will walk all day through a June wood and come out atheists at the end
of it, finding no signature thereupon; and there are others who, sailing
over the sea, come back home after seeing so many things still puzzled as
to their authorship. That is one parable.

Then there is this: the corrective of ambition. Since so much remains, the
very names of whose authors have perished, what does it matter to you or
to the world whether your name, so long as your work, survives? Who was
it that carefully and cunningly fixed the sights on Gumber Corner so as
to get upon a clear day his exact alignment with Pulborough and then the
shoulder of Leith Hill, just to miss the two rivers and just to obtain the
best going for a military road? He was some engineer or other among the
thousands in the Imperial Service. He was at Chichester for some weeks
and drew his pay, and then perhaps went on to London, and he was born in
Africa or in Lombardy, or he was a Breton, or he was from Lusitania or
from the Euphrates. He did that bit of work most certainly without any
consideration of fame, for engineers (especially when they are soldiers)
are singular among artists in this matter. But he did a very wonderful
thing, and the Roman Road has run there for fifteen hundred years--his
creation. Some one must have hit upon that precise line and the reason for
it. It is exactly right, and the thing done was as great and is to-day as
satisfying as that sculpture of Brou or the two boys Murillo painted, whom
you may see in the Gallery at Dulwich. But he never thought of any one
knowing his name, and no one knows it.

Then there is this last thing about anonymous work, which is also a
parable and a sad one. It shows how there is no bridge between two human
minds.

How often have I not come upon a corbel of stone carved into the shape
of a face, and that face had upon it either horror or laughter or great
sweetness or vision, and I have looked at it as I might have looked upon
a living face, save that it was more wonderful than most living faces. It
carried in it the soul and the mind of the man who made it. But he has
been dead these hundreds of years. That corbel cannot be in communion with
me, for it is of stone; it is dumb and will not speak to me, though it
compels me continually to ask it questions. Its author also is dumb, for
he has been dead so long, and I can know nothing about him whatsoever.

Now so it is with any two human minds, not only when they are separated by
centuries and by silence, but when they have their being side by side
under one roof and are companions all their years.



ON A VAN TROMP


Once there was a man who, having nothing else to do and being fond of
that kind of thing, copied with a good deal of care on to a bit of wood
the corner of a Dutch picture in one of the public galleries.

This man was not a good artist; indeed he was nothing but a humpbacked
and very sensitive little squire with about £3000 a year of his own and
great liking for intricate amusements. He was a pretty good mathematician
and a tolerable fisherman. He knew an enormous amount about the Mohammedan
conquest of Spain, and he is, I believe, writing a book upon that subject.
I hope he will, for nearly all history wants to be rewritten. Anyhow, he,
as I have just said, did copy a corner of one of the Dutch pictures in one
of the galleries. It was a Dutch picture of the seventeenth century; and
since the laws of this country are very complicated and the sanctions
attached to them very terrible, I will not give the name of the original
artist, but I will call him Van Tromp.

Van Tromps have always been recognized, and there was a moment about fifty
years after the artist's death when they had a considerable vogue in the
French Court. Monsieur, who was quite ignorant of such things, bought
a couple, and there is a whole row of them in the little pavilion at
Louveciennes. Van Tromp has something about him at once positive and
elusive; he is full of planes and values, and he interprets and renders,
and the rest of it. Nay, he transfers!

About thirty years ago Mr. Mayor (of Hildesheim and London) thought it his
duty to impress upon the public how great Van Tromp was. This he did after
taking thirteen Van Tromps in payment of a bad debt, and he succeeded. But
the man I am writing about cared nothing for all this: he simply wanted to
see how well he could imitate this corner of the picture, and he did it
pretty well. He begrimed it and he rubbed at it, and then he tickled it up
again with a knife, and then he smoked it, and then he put in some dirty
whites which were vivid, and he played the fool with white of egg, and so
forth, until he had the very tone and manner of the original; and as he
had done it on an old bit of wood it was exactly right, and he was very
proud of the result. He got an old frame from near Long Acre and stuck it
in, and then he took the thing home. He had done several things of this
kind, imitating miniatures, and even enamels. It amused him. When he got
home he sat looking at it with great pleasure for an hour or two; he left
the little thing on the table of his study and went to bed.

Here begins the story, and here, therefore, I must tell you what the
subject of this corner of the picture was.

The subject of this corner of the picture which he had copied was a woman
in a brown jacket and a red petticoat with big feet showing underneath,
sitting on a tub and cutting up some vegetables. She had her hair bunched
up like an onion, a fashion which, as we all know, appealed to the Dutch
in the seventeenth century, or at any rate to the plebeian Dutch. I must
also tell you the name of this squire before I go any further: his name
was Hammer--Paul Hammer. He was unmarried.

He went to bed at eleven o'clock, and when he came down at eight o'clock
he had his breakfast. He went into his study at nine o'clock, and was very
much annoyed to find that some burglars had come in during the night and
had taken away a number of small objects which were not without value; and
among-them, what he most regretted, his little pastiche of the corner of
the Van Tromp.

For some moments he stood filled with an acute anger and wishing that he
knew who the burglars were and how to get at them; but the days passed,
and though he asked everybody, and even gave some money to the police, he
could not discover this. He put an advertisement into several newspapers,
both London newspapers and local ones, saying that money would be given if
the thing were restored, and pretty well hinting that no questions would
be asked, but nothing came.

Meanwhile the burglars, whose names were Charles and Lothair Femeral,
foreigners but English-speaking, had found some of their ill-acquired
goods saleable, others unsaleable. They wanted a pound for the little
picture in the frame, and this they could not get, and it was a bother
haggling it about. Lothair Femeral thought of a good plan: he stopped at
an inn on the third day of their peregrinations, had a good dinner with
his brother, told the innkeeper that he could not pay the bill, and
offered to leave the Old Master in exchange. When people do this it very
often comes off, for the alternative is only the pleasure of seeing
the man in gaol, whereas a picture is always a picture, and there is a
gambler's chance of its turning up trumps. So the man grumbled and took
the little thing. He hung it up in the best room of the inn, where he gave
his richer customers food.

Thus it was that a young gentleman who had come down to ride in that
neighbourhood, although he did not know any of the rich people round
about, saw it one day, and on seeing it exclaimed loudly in an unknown
tongue; but he very rapidly repressed his emotion and simply told the
innkeeper that he had taken a fancy to the daub and would give him thirty
shillings for it.

The innkeeper, who had read in the newspapers of how pictures of the
utmost value are sold by fools for a few pence, said boldly that his price
was twenty pounds; whereupon the young gentleman went out gloomily, and
the innkeeper thought that he must have made a mistake, and was for three
hours depressed. But in the fourth hour again he was elated, for the young
gentleman came back with twenty pounds, not even in notes but in gold,
paid it down, and took away the picture. Then again, in the fifth hour was
the innkeeper a little depressed, but not as much as before, for it struck
him that the young gentleman must have been very eager to act in such a
fashion, and that perhaps he could have got as much as twenty-one pounds
by holding out and calling it guineas.

The young gentleman telegraphed to his father (who lived in Wimbledon but
who did business in Bond Street) saying that he had got hold of a Van
Tromp which looked like a study for the big "Eversley" Van Tromp in the
Gallery, and he wanted to know what his father would give for it. His
father telegraphed back inviting him to spend one whole night under the
family roof. This the young man did, and, though it wrung the old father's
heart to have to do it, by the time he had seen the young gentleman's find
(or _trouvaille_ as he called it) he had given his offspring a cheque
for five hundred pounds. Whereupon the young gentleman left and went back
to do some more riding, an exercise of which he was passionately fond, and
to which he had trained several quiet horses.

The father wrote to a certain lord of his acquaintance who was very
fond of Van Tromps, and offered him this replica or study, in some ways
finer than the original, but he said it must be a matter for private
negotiation; so he asked for an appointment, and the lord, who was a tall,
red-faced man with a bluff manner, made an appointment for nine o'clock
next morning, which was rather early for Bond Street. But money talks, and
they met. The lord was very well dressed, and when he talked he folded his
hands (which had gloves on them) over the knob of his stick and pressed
his stick firmly upon the ground. It was a way he had. But it did not
frighten the old gentleman who did business in Bond Street, and the
long and short of it was that the lord did not get the picture until he
had paid three thousand guineas--not pounds, mind you. For this sum the
picture was to be sent round to the lord's house, and so it was, and there
it would have stayed but for a very curious accident. The lord had put
the greater part of his money into a company which was developing the
resources of the South Shetland Islands, and by some miscalculation or
other the expense of this experiment proved larger than the revenues
obtainable from it. His policy, as I need hardly tell you, was to hang on,
and so he did, because in the long run the property must pay. And so it
would if they could have gone on shelling out for ever, but they could
not, and so the whole affair was wound up and the lord lost a great deal
of money.

Under these circumstances he bethought him of the toiling millions who
never see a good picture and who have no more vivid appetite than the
hunger for good pictures. He therefore lent his collection of Van Tromps
with the least possible delay to a public gallery, and for many years they
hung there, while the lord lived in great anxiety, but with a sufficient
income for his needs in the delightful scenery of the Pennines at some
distance from a railway station, surrounded by his tenants. At last even
these--the tenants, I mean--were not sufficient, and a gentleman in the
Government who knew the value of Van Tromps proposed that these Van Tromps
should be bought for the nation; but a lot of cranks made a frightful row,
both in Parliament and out of it, so that the scheme would have fallen
through had not one of the Van Tromps--to wit, that little copy of a
corner which was obviously a replica of or a study for the best-known of
the Van Tromps--been proclaimed false quite suddenly by a gentleman who
doubted its authenticity; whereupon everybody said that it was not genuine
except three people who really counted, and these included the gentleman
who had recommended the purchase of the Van Tromps by the nation. So
enormous was the row upon the matter that the picture reached the very
pinnacle of fame, and an Australian then travelling in England was
determined to get that Van Tromp for himself, and did.

This Australian was a very simple man, good and kind and childlike, and
frightfully rich. When he had got the Van Tromp he carried it about with
him, and at the country houses where he stopped he used to pull it out and
show it to people. It happened that among other country houses he stopped
once at the hunchback squire's, whose name, as you will remember, was Mr.
Hammer, and he showed him the Van Tromp one day after dinner.

Now Mr. Hammer was by this time an old man, and he had ceased to care much
for the things of this world. He had suffered greatly, and he had begun to
think about religion; also he had made a good deal of money in Egyptians
(for all this was before the slump). And he was pretty well ashamed of
his pastiches; so, one way and another, the seeing of that picture did
not have the effect upon him which you might have expected; for you, the
reader, have read this story in five minutes (if you have had the patience
to get so far), but he, Mr. Hammer, had been changing and changing for
years, and I tell you he did not care a dump what happened to the wretched
thing. Only when the Australian, who was good and simple and kind and
hearty, showed him the picture and asked him proudly to guess what he had
given for it, then Mr. Hammer looked at him with a look in his eyes full
of that not mortal sadness which accompanies irremediable despair.

"I do not know," he answered gently and with a sob in his voice.

"I paid for that picture," said the Australian, in the accent and language
of his native clime, "no less a sum than £7500 ... and I'd pay it again
to-morrow!" Saying this, the Australian hit the table with the palm, of
his hand in a manner so manly that an aged retainer who was putting coals
upon the fire allowed the coal-scuttle to drop.

But Mr. Hammer, ruminating in his mind all the accidents and changes and
adventures of human life, its complexity, its unfulfilled desires, its
fading but not quite perishable ideals, well knowing how men are made
happy and how unhappy, ventured on no reply. Two great tears gathered in
his eyes, and he would have shed them, perhaps to be profusely followed by
more--he was nearly breaking down--when he looked up and saw on the wall
opposite him seven pastiches which he had made in the years gone by. There
was a Titian and a George Morland, a Chardin, two cows after Cooper, and
an impressionist picture after some Frenchman whose name he had forgotten.

"You like pictures?" he said to the Australian, the tears still standing
in his eyes.

"I do!" said the Australian with conviction.

"Will you let me give you these?" said Mr. Hammer.

The Australian protested that such things could not be allowed, but he was
a simple man, and at last he consented, for he was immensely pleased.

"It is an ungracious thing to make conditions," said Mr. Hammer, "and I
won't make any, only I should be pleased if, in your island home...."

"I don't live on an island," said the Australian. Mr. Hammer remembered
the map of Australia, with the water all round it, but he was too polite
to argue.

"No, of course not," he said; "you live on the mainland; I forgot. But
anyhow, I _should_ be so pleased if you would promise me to hang them
all together, these pictures with your Van Tromp, all in a line! I really
should be so pleased!"

"Why, certainly," said the Australian, a little bewildered; "I will do so,
Mr. Hammer, if it can give you any pleasure."

"The fact is," said Mr. Hammer, in a breaking voice, "I had that picture
once, and I intended it to hang side by side with these."

It was in vain that the Australian, on hearing this, poured out
self-reproaches, offered with an expansion of soul to restore it, and then
more prudently attempted a negotiation. Mr. Hammer resolutely shook his
head.

"I am an old man," he said, "and I have no heirs; it is not for me to
take, but to give, and if you will do what an old man begs of you, and
accept what I offer; if you will do more and of your courtesy keep all
these things together which were once familiar to me, it will be enough
reward."

The next day, therefore, the Australian sailed off to his distant
continental home, carrying with him not only the Chardin, the Titian, the
Cooper, the impressionist picture, and the rest, but also the Van Tromp.
And three months after they all hung in a row in the great new copper room
at Warra-Mugga. What happened to them later on, and how they were all sold
together as "the Warra-Mugga Collection," I will tell you when I have the
time and you the patience. Farewell.



HIS CHARACTER


A certain merchant in the City of London, having retired from business,
purchased for himself a private house upon the heights of Hampstead and
proposed to devote his remaining years to the education and the
establishment in life of his only son.

When this youth (whose name was George) had arrived at the age of nineteen
his father spoke to him after dinner upon his birthday with regard to the
necessity of choosing a profession. He pointed out to him the advantages
of a commercial career, and notably of that form of useful industry which
is known as banking, showing how in that trade a profit was to be made by
lending the money of one man to another, and often of a man's own money to
himself, without engaging one's own savings or fortune.

George, to whom such matters were unfamiliar, listened attentively, and it
seemed to him with every word that dropped from his father that a wider
and wider horizon of material comfort and worldly grandeur was spreading
out before him. He had hitherto had no idea that such great rewards were
attached to services so slight in themselves, and certainly so valueless
to the community. The career sketched out for him by his father appealed
to him most strongly, and when that gentleman had completed his advice he
assured him that he would follow it in every particular.

George's father was overjoyed to find his son so reasonable. He sat down
at once to write the note which he had planned, to an old friend and
connection by marriage, Mr. Repton, of Repton and Greening; he posted it
that night and bade the lad prepare for the solemnity of a private
interview with the head of the firm upon the morrow.

Before George left the house next morning his father laid before him, with
the pomp which so great an occasion demanded, certain rules of conduct
which should guide not only his entry into life but his whole conduct
throughout its course. He emphasized the value of self-respect, of a
decent carriage, of discretion, of continuous and tenacious habits of
industry, of promptitude, and so forth; when, urged by I know not what
demon whose pleasure it is ever to disturb the best plans of men, the old
gentleman had the folly to add the following words as he rose to his feet
and laid his hand heavily upon his son's shoulder:

"Above all things, George, tell the truth. I was young and now am old. I
have seen many men fail, some few succeed; and the best advice I can give
to my dear only son is that on all occasions he should fearlessly and
manfully tell the truth without regard of consequence. Believe me, it is
not only the whole root of character, but the best basis for a successful
business career even today."

Having so spoken, the old man, more moved than he cared to show, went
upstairs to read his newspaper, and George, beautifully dressed, went out
by the front door towards the Tube, pondering very deeply the words his
father had just used.

I cannot deny that the impression they produced upon him was
extraordinary--far more vivid than men of mature years can easily
conceive. It is often so in early youth when we listen to the voice of
authority; some particular chance phrase will have an unmeasured effect
upon one. A worn tag and platitude solemnly spoken, and at a critical
moment, may change the whole of a career. And so it was with George,
as you will shortly perceive. For as he rumbled along in the Tube his
father's words became a veritable obsession within him: he saw their value
ramifying in a multitude of directions, he perceived the strength and
accuracy of them in a hundred aspects. He knew well that the interview he
was approaching was one in which this virtue of truth might be severely
tested, but he gloried in the opportunity, and he came out of the Tube
into the fresh air within a step of Mr. Repton's office with set lips and
his young temper braced for the ordeal.

When he got to the office there was Mr. Repton, a kindly old gentleman,
wearing large spectacles, and in general appearance one of those genial
types from which our caricaturists have constructed the national figure of
John Bull. It was a pleasure to be in the presence of so honest a man, and
in spite of George's extreme nervousness he felt a certain security in
such company. Moreover, Mr. Repton smiled paternally at him before putting
to him the few questions which the occasion demanded. He held George's
father's letter between two fingers of his right hand, moving it gently in
the air as he addressed the lad:

"I am very glad to see you, George," he said, "in this old office. I've
seen you here before, Chrm! as you know, but not on such important
business, Chrm!" He laughed genially. "So you want to come and learn your
trade with us, do you? You're punctual I hope, Chrm?" he added, his honest
eyes full of good nature and jest.

George looked at him in a rather gloomy manner, hesitated a moment, and
then, under the influence of an obvious effort, said in a choking voice,
"No, Mr. Repton, I'm not."

"Hey, what?" said Mr. Repton, puzzled and a little annoyed at the young
man's manner.

"I was saying, Mr. Repton, that I am not punctual. I have dreamy fits
which sometimes make me completely forget an appointment. And I have a
silly habit of cutting things too fine, which makes me miss trains and
things, I think I ought to tell you while I am about it, but I simply
cannot get up early in the morning. There are days when I manage to do
so under the excitement of a coming journey or for some other form of
pleasure, but as a rule I postpone my rising until the very latest
possible moment."

George having thus delivered himself closed his lips and was silent.

"Humph!" said Mr. Repton. It was not what the boy had said so much as the
impression of oddness which affected that worthy man. He did not like it,
and he was not quite sure of his ground. He was about to put another
question, when George volunteered a further statement:

"I don't drink," he said, "and at my age it is not easy to understand
what the vice of continual drunkenness may be, but I shouldn't wonder
if that would be my temptation later on, and it is only fair to tell
you that, young as I am, I have twice grossly exceeded in wine; on one
occasion, not a year ago, the servants at a house where I was stopping
carried me to bed."

"They did?" said Mr. Repton drily.

"Yes," said George, "they did." Then there was a silence for a space of
at least three minutes.

"My dear young man," said Mr. Repton, rising, "do you feel any aptitude
for a City career?"

"None," said George decisively.

"Pray," said Mr. Repton (who had grown-up children of his own and could
not help speaking with a touch of sarcasm--he thought it good for boys
in the lunatic stage), "pray," said he, looking quizzically down at the
unhappy but firm-minded George as he sat there in his chair, "is there
any form of work for which you do feel an aptitude?"

"Yes, certainly," said George confidently.

"And what is that?" said Mr. Repton, his smile beginning again.

"The drama," said George without hesitation, "the poetic drama. I ought to
tell you that I have received no encouragement from those who are the best
critics of this art, though I have submitted my work to many since I left
school. Some have said that my work was commonplace, others that it was
imitative; all have agreed that it was dull, and they have unanimously
urged me to abandon every thought of such composition. Nevertheless I
am convinced that I have the highest possible talents not only in this
department of letters but in all."

"You believe yourself," said Mr. Repton, with a touch of severity, "to be
an exceptional young man?"

George nodded. "I do," he said, "quite exceptional. I should have used a
stronger term had I been speaking of the matter myself. I think I have
genius, or, rather, I am sure I have; and, what is more, genius of a very
high order."

"Well," said Mr. Repton, sighing, "I don't think we shall get any
forrader. Have you been working much lately?" he asked
anxiously--"examinations or anything?"

"No," said George quietly. "I always feel like this."

"Indeed!" said Mr. Repton, who was now convinced that the poor boy had
intended no discourtesy. "Well, I wonder whether you would mind taking
back a note to your father?"

"Not at all," said George courteously.

Mr. Repton in his turn wrote a short letter, in which he begged George's
father not to take offence at an old friend's advice, recalled to his
memory the long and faithful friendship between them, pointed out that
outsiders could often see things which members of a family could not, and
wound up by begging George's father to give George a good holiday. "Not
alone," he concluded; "I don't think that would be quite safe, but in
company with some really trustworthy man a little older than himself, who
won't get on his nerves and yet will know how to look after him. He must
get right away for some weeks," added the kind old man, "and after that
I should advise you to keep him at home and let him have some gentle
occupation. Don't encourage him in writing. I think he would take kindly
to _gardening_. But I won't write any more: I will come and see you
about it."

Bearing that missive back did George reach his home.... All this passed in
the year 1895, and that is why George is to-day one of the best electrical
engineers in the country, instead of being a banker; and that shows how
good always comes, one way or another, of telling the truth.



ON THRUPPENNY BITS


Philip, King of Macedon, destroyer of the liberties of Greece, and father
to Alexander who tamed the horse Bucephalus, called for the tutor of that
lad, one Aristotle (surnamed the Teacher of the Human Race), to propound
to him a question that had greatly troubled him; for in counting out his
money (which was his habit upon a washing day, when the Queen's appetite
for afternoon tea and honey had rid him of her presence) he discovered
mixed with his treasure such an intolerable number of thruppenny bits as
very nearly drove him to despair.

On this account King Philip of Macedon, destroyer of the liberties of
Greece, sent for Aristotle, his hanger-on, as one capable of answering any
question whatsoever, and said to him (when he had entered with a profound
obeisance):

"Come, Aristotle, answer me straight; what is the use of a thruppenny bit?"

"Dread sire," said Aristotle, standing in his presence with respect, "the
thruppenny bit is not to be despised. Men famous in no way for their
style, nor even for their learning, have maintained life by inscribing
within its narrow boundaries the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten
Commandments, while others have used it as a comparison in the classes
of astronomy to illustrate the angle subtended by certain of the orbs of
heaven. The moon, whose waxing and waning is doubtless familiar to Your
Majesty, is indeed but just hidden by a thruppenny bit held between the
finger and the thumb of the observer extended at the full length of any
normal human arm."

"Go on," said King Philip, with some irritation; "go on; go on!"

"The thruppenny bit, Your Majesty, illustrates, as does no other coin, the
wisdom and the aptness of the duodecimal system to which the Macedonians
have so wisely clung (in common with the people of Scythia and of Thrace,
and the dumb animals) while the too brilliant Hellenes ran wild in the
false simplicity of the decimal system. The number twelve, Your
Majesty...."

"Yes, yes, I know," said King Philip impatiently, "I have heard it a
thousand times! It has already persuaded me to abandon the duodecimal
method and to consign to the severest tortures any one who mentions it in
my presence again. My ten fingers are good enough for me. Go on, go on!"

"Sovran Lord!" continued Aristotle, "the thruppenny bit has further been
proved in a thousand ways an adjuvator and prime helper of the Gods. For
many a man too niggardly to give sixpence, and too proud to give a copper,
has dropped this coin among the offerings at the Temple, and it is related
of a clergyman in Armagh (a town of which Your Majesty has perhaps never
heard) that he would frequently address his congregation from the rails
of the altar, pointing out the excessive number of thruppenny bits which
had been offered for the sustenance of the hierarchy, threatening to
summon before him known culprits, and to return to them the insufficient
oblation. Again, the thruppenny bit most powerfully disciplines the soul
of man, for it tries the temper as does no other coin, being small, thin,
wayward, given to hiding, and very often useless when it is discovered.
Learn also, King of Macedon, that the thruppenny bit is of value in ritual
phrases, and particularly so in objurgations and the calling down of
curses, and in the settlement of evil upon enemies, and in the final
expression of contempt. For to compare some worthless thing to a farthing,
to a penny, or to tuppence, has no vigour left in it, and it has long
been thought ridiculous even among provincials; a threadbare, worn, and
worthless sort of sneer; but the thruppenny bit has a sound about it
very valuable to one who would insist upon his superiority. Thus were
some rebel or some demagogue of Athens (for example) to venture upon the
criticism of Your Majesty's excursions into philosophy, in order to bring
those august theses into contempt, his argument would never find emphasis
or value unless he were to terminate its last phrase by a snap of the
fingers and the mention of a thruppenny bit.

"King Philip of Macedon, most prudent of men, learn further that a
thruppenny bit, which to the foolish will often seem a mere expenditure of
threepence, to the wise may represent a saving of that sum. For how many
occasions are there not in which the inconsequent and lavish fool, the
spendthrift, the young heir, the commander of cavalry, the empty, gilded
boy, will give a sixpence to a messenger where a thruppenny bit would have
done as well? For silver is the craving of the poor, not in its amount,
but in its nature, for nature and number are indeed two things, the one on
the one hand...."

"Oh, I know all about that," said King Philip; "I did not send for you
to get you off upon those rails, which have nothing whatever to do with
thruppenny bits. Be concrete, I pray you, good Aristotle," he continued,
and yawned. "Stick to things as they are, and do not make me remind you
how once you said that men had thirty-six, women only thirty-four, teeth.
Do not wander in the void."

"Arbiter of Hellas," said Aristotle gravely, when the King had finished
his tirade, "the thruppenny bit has not only all that character of
usefulness which I have argued in it from the end it is designed to serve,
but one may also perceive this virtue in it in another way, which is by
observation. For you will remember how when we were all boys the fourpenny
bit of accursed memory still lingered, and how as against it the
thruppenny bit has conquered. Which is, indeed, a parable taken from
nature, showing that whatever survives is destined to survive, for that
is indeed in a way, as you may say, the end of survival."

"Precisely," said King Philip, frowning intellectually; "I follow you.
I have heard many talk in this manner, but none talk as well as you do.
Continue, good Aristotle, continue."

"Your Majesty, the matter needs but little exposition, though it contains
the very marrow of truth," said the philosopher, holding up in a menacing
way the five fingers of his left hand and ticking them off with the
forefinger of his right. "For it is first useful, second beautiful, third
valuable, fourth magnificent, and, fifthly, consonant to its nature."

"Quite true," said King Philip, following carefully every word that fell
from the wise man's lips, for he could now easily understand.

"Very well then, sire," said Aristotle in a livelier tone, charmed to
have captivated the attention of his Sovereign. "I was saying that which
survives is proved worthy of survival, as of a man and a shark, or of
Athens and Macedonia, or in many other ways. Now the thruppenny bit,
having survived to our own time, has so proved itself in that test, and
upon this all men of science are agreed.

"Then, also, King Philip, consider how the thruppenny bit in another and
actual way, not of pure reason but, if I may say so, in a material manner,
commends itself: for is it not true that whereas all other nations
whatsoever, being by nature servile, will use a nickel piece or some other
denomination for whatever is small but is not of bronze, the Macedonians,
being designed by the Gods for the command of all the human race, have
very tenaciously clung to the thruppenny bit through good and through
evil repute, and have even under the sternest penalties enforced it upon
their conquered subjects? For when Your Majesty discovered (if you will
remember) that the people of Euboea, in manifest contempt of your Crown,
paid back into Your Majesty's treasury all their taxes in the shape of
thruppenny bits...."

At this moment King Philip gave a loud shout, uttering in Greek the word
"Eureka," which signifies (to those who drop their aitches) "I've got it."

"Got what?" said the philosopher, startled into common diction by the
unexpected interjection of the despot.

"Get out!" said King Philip. "Do you suppose that any rambling Don is
going to take up my time when by a sheer accident his verbosity has
started me on a true scent? Out, Aristotle, out! Or, stay, take this note
with you to the Captain of the Guard"--and King Philip hastily scribbled
upon a parchment an order for the immediate execution of the whole of the
inhabitants of Euboea, saving such as could redeem themselves at the price
of ten drachmae, the said sum upon no account whatsoever to be paid in
coin containing so much as one thruppenny bit.

But the offended philosopher had departed, and being well wound up could
not, any more than any other member of the academies, cease from spouting;
so that King Philip was intolerably aggravated to hear him as he waddled
down the Palace stairs still declaiming in a loud tone:

"And, sixteenthly, the thruppenny bit has about it this noble quality,
that it represents an aliquot part of that sum which is paid to me daily
from the Royal Treasury in silver, a metal upon which we have always
insisted. And, seventeenthly...."

But King Philip banged the door.



ON THE HOTEL AT PALMA AND A PROPOSED GUIDE-BOOK


The hotel at Palma is like the Savoy, but the cooking is a great deal
better. It is large and new; its decorations are in the modern style with
twiddly lines. Its luxury is greater than that of its London competitor.
It has an eager, willing porter and a delightful landlord. You do what you
like in it and there are books to read. One of these books was an English
guide-book. I read it. It was full of lies, so gross and palpable that I
told my host how abominably it traduced his country, and advised him first
to beat the book well and then to burn it over a slow fire. It said that
the people were superstitious--it is false. They have no taboo about days;
they play about on Sundays. They have no taboo about drinks; they drink
what they feel inclined (which is wine) when they feel inclined (which is
when they are thirsty). They have no taboo book, Bible or Koran, no damned
psychical rubbish, no damned "folk-lore," no triply damned mumbo-jumbo of
social ranks; kind, really good, simple-minded dukes would have a devil of
a time in Palma. Avoid it, my dears, keep away. If anything, the people of
Palma have not quite enough superstition. They play there for love, money,
and amusement. No taboo (talking of love) about love.

The book said they were poor. Their populace is three or four times as
rich as ours. They own their own excellent houses and their own land; no
one but has all the meat and fruit and vegetables and wine he wants, and
usually draught animals and musical instruments as well.

In fact, the book told the most frightful lies and was a worthy companion
to other guidebooks. It moved me to plan a guide-book of my own in which
the truth should be told about all the places I know. It should be called
"Guide to Northumberland, Sussex, Chelsea, the French frontier, South
Holland, the Solent, Lombardy, the North Sea, and Rome, with a chapter on
part of Cheshire and some remarks on the United States of America."

In this book the fault would lie in its too great scrappiness, but the
merit in its exactitude. Thus I would inform the reader that the best time
to sleep in Siena is from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon,
and that the best place to sleep is the north side of St. Domenic's ugly
brick church there.

Again, I would tell him that the man who keeps the "Turk's Head" at
Valogne, in Normandy, was only outwardly and professedly an Atheist, but
really and inwardly a Papist.

I would tell him that it sometimes snowed in Lombardy in June, for I have
seen it--and that any fool can cross the Alps blindfold, and that the
sea is usually calm, not rough, and that the people of Dax are the most
horrible in all France, and that Lourdes, contrary to the general opinion,
does work miracles, for I have seen them.

I would also tell him of the place at Toulouse where the harper plays
to you during dinner, and of the grubby little inn at Terneuzen on the
Scheldt where they charge you just anything they please for anything;
five shillings for a bit of bread, or half a crown for a napkin.

All these things, and hundreds of others of the same kind, would I put
in my book, and at the end should be a list of all the hotels in Europe
where, at the date of publication, the landlord was nice, for it is the
character of the landlords which makes all the difference--and that
changes as do all human things.

There you could see first, like a sort of Primate of Hotels, the Railway
Hotel at York. Then the inn at La Bruyère in the Landes, then the "Swan"
at Petworth with its mild ale, then the "White Hart" of Storrington,
then the rest of them, all the six or seven hundred of them, from the
"Elephant" of Chateau Thierry to the "Feathers" of Ludlow--a truly noble
remainder of what once was England; the "Feathers" of Ludlow, where the
beds are of honest wood with curtains to them, and where a man may drink
half the night with the citizens to the success of their engines and the
putting out of all fires. For there are in West England three little inns
in three little towns, all in a line, and all beginning with an
L--Ledbury, Ludlow, and Leominster, all with "Feathers," all with orchards
round, and I cannot tell which is the best.

Then my guide-book will go on to talk about harbours; it will prove how
almost every harbour was impossible to make in a little boat; but it would
describe the difficulties of each so that a man in a little boat might
possibly make them. It would describe the rush of the tide outside Margate
and the still more dangerous rush outside Shoreham, and the absurd bar
at Littlehampton that strikes out of the sea, and the place to lie at in
Newhaven, and how not to stick upon the Platters outside Harwich; and the
very tortuous entry to Poole, and the long channel into Christchurch past
Hengistbury Head; and the enormous tides of South Wales; and why you often
have to beach at Britonferry, and the terrible difficulty of mooring in
Great Yarmouth; and the sad changes of Little Yarmouth, and the single
black buoy at Calais which is much too far out to be of any use; and how
to wait for the tide in the Swin. And also what no book has ever yet
given, an exact direction of the way in which one may roll into Orford
Haven, on the top of a spring tide if one has luck, and how if one has no
luck one sticks on the gravel and is pounded to pieces.

Then my guide-book would go on to tell of the way in which to make men
pleasant to you according to their climate and country; of how you must
not hurry the people of Aragon, and how it is your duty to bargain with
the people of Catalonia; and how it is impossible to eat at Daroca; and
how careful one must be with gloomy men who keep inns at the very top of
glens, especially if they are silent, under Cheviot. And how one must not
talk religion when one has got over the Scotch border, with some remarks
about Jedburgh, and the terrible things that happened to a man there who
would talk religion though he had been plainly warned.

Then my guide-book would go on to tell how one should climb ordinary
mountains, and why one should avoid feats; and how to lose a guide which
is a very valuable art, for when you have lost your guide you need not pay
him. My book will also have a note (for it is hardly worth a chapter) on
the proper method of frightening sheep dogs when they attempt to kill you
with their teeth upon the everlasting hills.

This my good and new guide-book (oh, how it blossoms in my head as I
write!) would further describe what trains go to what places, and in what
way the boredom of them can best be overcome, and which expresses really
go fast; and I should have a footnote describing those lines of steamers
on which one can travel for nothing if one puts a sufficiently bold face
upon the matter.

My guide-book would have directions for the pacifying of Arabs, a trick
which I learnt from a past master, a little way east of Batna in the year
1905--I will also explain how one can tell time by the stars and by the
shadow of the sun; upon what sort of food one can last longest and how
best to carry it, and what rites propitiate, if they are solemnized in a
due order, the half-malicious fairies which haunt men when they are lost
in lonely valleys, right up under the high peaks of the world. And my book
should have a whole chapter devoted to Ulysses.

For you must know that one day I came into Narbonne where I had never been
before, and I saw written up in large letters upon a big, ugly house:

ULYSSES,

Lodging for Man and Beast.

So I went in and saw the master, who had a round bullet head and cropped
hair, and I said to him: "What! Are you landed, then, after all your
journeys? And do I find you at last, you of whom I have read so much and
seen so little?" But with an oath he refused me lodging.

This tale is true, as would be every other tale in my book.

What a fine book it will be!



THE DEATH OF WANDERING PETER


"I will confess and I will not deny," said Wandering Peter (of whom you
have heard little but of whom in God's good time you shall hear more). "I
will confess and I will not deny that the chief pleasure I know is the
contemplation of my fellow beings."

He spoke thus in his bed in the inn of a village upon the River Yonne
beyond Auxerre, in which bed he lay a-dying; but though he was dying he
was full of words.

"What energy! What cunning! What desire! I have often been upon the edge
of a steep place, such as a chalk pit or a cliff above a plain, and
watched them down below, hurrying around, turning about, laying down,
putting up, leading, making, organizing, driving, considering, directing,
exceeding, and restraining; upon my soul I was proud to be one of them! I
have said to myself," said Wandering Peter, "lift up your heart; you also
are one of these! For though I am," he continued, "a wandering man and
lonely, given to the hills and to empty places, yet I glory in the workers
on the plain, as might a poor man in his noble lineage. From these I came;
to these in my old age I would have returned."

At these words the people about his bed fell to sobbing when they thought
how he would never wander more, but Peter Wanderwide continued with a high
heart:

"How pleasant it is to see them plough! First they cunningly contrive an
arrangement that throws the earth aside and tosses it to the air, and
then, since they are too weak to pull the same, they use great beasts,
oxen or horses or even elephants, and impose them with their will, so that
they patiently haul this contrivance through the thick clods; they tear
up and they put into furrows, and they transform the earth. Nothing can
withstand them. Birds you will think could escape them by flying up into
the air. It is an error. Upon birds also my people impose their view. They
spread nets, food, bait, trap, and lime. They hail stones and shot and
arrows at them. They cause some by a perpetual discipline to live near
them, to lay eggs and to be killed at will; of this sort are hens, geese,
turkeys, ducks, and guinea-fowls. Nothing eludes the careful planning of
man.

"Moreover, they can build. They do not build this way or that, as a dull
necessity forces them, not they! They build as they feel inclined. They
hew down, they saw through (and how marvellous is a saw!), they trim
timber, they mix lime and sand, they excavate the recesses of the hills.
Oh! the fine fellows! They can at whim make your chambers or the Tower
prison, or my aunt's new villa at Wimbledon (which is a joke of theirs),
or St. Pancras Station, or the Crystal Palace, or Westminster Abbey, or
St. Paul's, or Bon Secours. They are agreeable to every change in the wind
that blows about the world. It blows Gothic, and they say 'By all
means'--and there is your Gothic--a thing dreamt of and done! It suddenly
veers south again and blows from the Mediterranean. The jolly little
fellows are equal to the strain, and up goes Amboise, and Anet, and the
Louvre, and all the Renaissance. It blows everyhow and at random as though
in anger at seeing them so ready. They care not at all! They build the
Eiffel Tower, the Queen Anne house, the Mary Jane house, the Modern-Style
house, the Carlton, the Ritz, the Grand Palais, the Trocadero, Olympia,
Euston, the Midhurst Sanatorium, and old Beit's Palace in Park Lane. They
are not to be defeated, they have immortal certitudes.

"Have you considered their lines and their drawings and their cunning
plans?" said Wandering Peter. "They are astonishing there! Put a bit of
charcoal into my dog's mouth or my pet monkey's paw--would he copy the
world? Not he! But men--my brothers--_they_ take it in hand and make
war against the unspeaking forces; the trees and the hills are of their
own showing, and the places in which they dwell, by their own power,
become full of their own spirit. Nature is made more by being their model,
for in all they draw, paint, or chisel they are in touch with heaven and
with hell.... They write (Lord! the intelligence of their men, and Lord!
the beauty of their women). They write unimaginable things!

"They write epics, they write lyrics, they write riddles and marching
songs and drinking songs and rhetoric, and chronicles, and elegies, and
pathetic memories; and in everything that they write they reveal things
greater than they know. They are capable," said Peter Wanderwide, in
his dying enthusiasm, "of so writing that the thought enlarges upon the
writing and becomes far more than what they have written. They write that
sort of verse called 'Stop-Short,' which when it is written makes one
think more violently than ever, as though it were an introduction to the
realms of the soul. And then again they write things which gently mock
themselves and are a consolation for themselves against the doom of
death."

But when Peter Wanderwide said that word "death," the howling and the
boo-hooing of the company assembled about his bed grew so loud that he
could hardly hear himself think. For there was present the Mayor of
the village, and the Priest of the village, and the Mayor's wife, and
the Adjutant Mayor or Deputy Mayor, and the village Councillor, and
the Road-mender, and the Schoolmaster, and the Cobbler, and all the
notabilities, as many as could crush into the room, and none but the
Doctor was missing.

And outside the house was a great crowd of the village folk, weeping
bitterly and begging for news of him, and mourning that so great and so
good a man should find his death in so small a place.

Peter Wanderwide was sinking very fast, and his life was going out with
his breath, but his heart was still so high that he continued although his
voice was failing:

"Look you, good people all, in your little passage through the daylight,
get to see as many hills and buildings and rivers, fields, books, men,
horses, ships, and precious stones as you can possibly manage to do. Or
else stay in one village and marry in it and die there. For one of these
two fates is the best fate for every man. Either to be what I have been, a
wanderer with all the bitterness of it, or to stay at home and hear in
one's garden the voice of God.

"For my part I have followed out my fate. And I propose in spite of my
numerous iniquities, by the recollection of my many joys in the glories of
this earth, as by corks, to float myself in the sea of nothingness until I
reach the regions of the Blessed and the pure in heart.

"For I think when I am dead Almighty God will single me out on account
of my accoutrement, my stirrup leathers, and the things that I shall be
talking of concerning Ireland and the Perigord, and my boat upon the
narrow seas; and I think He will ask St. Michael, who is the Clerk and
Registrar of battling men, who it is that stands thus ready to speak
(unless his eyes betray him) of so many things? Then St. Michael will
forget my name although he will know my face; he will forget my name
because I never stayed long enough in one place for him to remember it.

"But St. Peter, because he is my Patron Saint and because I have always
had a special devotion to him, will answer for me and will have no
argument, for he holds the keys. And he will open the door and I will come
in. And when I am inside the door of Heaven I shall freely grow those
wings, the pushing and nascence of which have bothered my shoulder blades
with birth pains all my life long, and more especially since my thirtieth
year. I say, friends and companions all, that I shall grow a very
satisfying and supporting pair of wings, and once I am so furnished I
shall be received among the Blessed, and I shall at once begin to tell
them, as I told you on earth, all sorts of things, both false and true,
with regard to the countries through which I carried forward my homeless
feet, and in which I have been given such fulfilment for my eyes."

When Peter Wanderwide had delivered himself of these remarks, which he did
with great dignity and fire for one in such extremity, he gasped a little,
coughed, and died.

I need not tell you what solemnities attended his burial, nor with what
fervour the people flocked to pray at his tomb; but it is worth knowing
that the poet of that place, who was rival to the chief poet in Auxerre
itself, gathered up the story of his death into a rhyme, written in the
dialect of that valley, of which rhyme this is an English translation:

   When Peter Wanderwide was young
     He wandered everywhere he would;
   And all that he approved was sung,
     And most of what he saw was good.

   When Peter Wanderwide was thrown
     By Death himself beyond Auxerre,
   He chanted in heroic tone
     To Priest and people gathered there:

  "If all that I have loved and seen
     Be with me on the Judgment Day,
   I shall be saved the crowd between
     From Satan and his foul array.

  "Almighty God will surely cry
     'St. Michael! Who is this that stands
   With Ireland in his dubious eye,
     And Perigord between his hands,

  "'And on his arm the stirrup thongs,
     And in his gait the narrow seas,
   And in his mouth Burgundian songs,
     But in his heart the Pyrenees?'

  "St. Michael then will answer right
     (But not without angelic shame):
   'I seem to know his face by sight;
     I cannot recollect his name....'

  "St. Peter will befriend me then,
     Because my name is Peter too;
   'I know him for the best of men
     That ever wallopped barley brew.

  "'And though I did not know him well,
     And though his soul were clogged with sin,
   _I_ hold the keys of Heaven and Hell.
     Be welcome, noble Peterkin.'

  "Then shall I spread my native wings
     And tread secure the heavenly floor,
   And tell the Blessed doubtful things
     Of Val d'Aran and Perigord."

       *       *       *       *       *

  This was the last and solemn jest
     Of weary Peter Wanderwide,
   He spoke it with a failing zest,
     And having spoken it, he died.



THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE


The nation known to history as the Nephalo Ceclumenazenoi, or, more
shortly, the Nepioi, inhabited a fruitful and prosperous district
consisting in a portion of the mainland and certain islands situated in
the Picrocholian Sea; and had there for countless centuries enjoyed a
particular form of government which it is not difficult to describe, for
it was religious and arranged upon the principle that no ancient custom
might be changed.

Lest such changes should come about through the lapse of time or the
evil passions of men, the citizens of the aforesaid nation had them very
clearly engraved in a dead language and upon bronze tablets, which they
fixed upon the doors of their principal temple, where it stood upon a
hill outside the city, and it was their laudable custom to entrust the
interpretation of them not to aged judges, but to little children, for
they argued that we increase in wickedness with years, and that no one
is safe from the aged, but that children are, alone of the articulately
speaking race, truth-tellers. Therefore, upon the first day of the year
(which falls in that country at the time of sowing) they would take one
hundred boys of ten years of age chosen by lot, they would make these
hundred, who had previously for one year received instruction in their
sacred language, write each a translation of the simple code engraved
upon the bronze tablets. It was invariably discovered that these artless
compositions varied only according to the ability of the lads to construe,
and that some considerable proportion of them did accurately show forth
in the vernacular of the time the meaning of those ancestral laws. They
had further a magistrate known as the Archon. whose business it was to
administrate these customs and to punish those who broke them. And this
Archon, when or if he proposed something contrary to custom in the opinion
of not less than a hundred petitioners, was judged by a court of children.

In this fashion for thousands of years did the Nepioi proceed with their
calm and ordinary lives, enjoying themselves like so many grigs, and
utterly untroubled by those broils and imaginations of State which
disturbed their neighbours.

There was a legend among them (upon which the whole of this Constitution
was based) that a certain Hero, one Melek, being in stature twelve foot
high and no less than 93 inches round the chest, had landed in their
country 150,000 years previously, and finding them very barbarous, slaying
one another and unacquainted with the use of letters, the precious metals,
or the art of usury, had instructed them in civilization, endowed them
with letters, a coinage, police, lawyers, instruments of torture, and all
the other requisites of a great State, and had finally drawn up for them
this code of law or custom, which they carefully preserved engraved upon
the tablets of bronze, which were set upon the walls of their chief temple
on the hill outside the city.

Within the temple itself its great shrine and, so to speak, its very cause
of being was the Hero's tomb. He lay therein covered with plates of gold,
and it was confidently asserted and strictly and unquestionably believed
that at some unknown time in the future he would come out to rule them for
ever in a millennial fashion--though heaven knows they were happy enough
as it was.

Among their customs was this: that certain appointed officers
would at every change in the moon proclaim the former existence and virtue
of Melek, his residence in the tomb, and his claims to authority. To enter
the tomb, indeed, was death, but there was proof of the whole story in
documents which were carefully preserved in the temple, and which were
from time to time consulted and verified. The whole structure of Nepioian
society reposed upon the sanctity of this story, upon the presence of the
Hero in his tomb, and of his continued authority, for with this was
intertwined, or rather upon this was based, the further sanctity of their
customs.

Things so proceeded without hurt or cloud until upon one most unfortunate
day a certain man, bearing the vulgar name of Megalocrates, which
signifies a person whose health requires the use of a wide head-gear,
discovered that a certain herb which grew in great abundance in their
territory and had hitherto been thought useless would serve almost every
purpose of the table, sufficing, according to its preparation, for meat,
bread, vegetables, and salt, and, if properly distilled, for a liquor that
would make the Nepioi even more drunk than did their native spirits.

From this discovery ensued a great plenty throughout the land, the
population very rapidly increased, the fortunes of the wealthy grew to
double, treble, and four times those which had formerly been known, the
middle classes adopted a novel accent in speech and a gait hitherto
unusual, while great numbers of the poor acquired the power of living upon
so small a proportion of foul air, dull light, stagnant water, and mangy
crusts as would have astonished their nicer forefathers. Meanwhile this
great period of progress could not but lead to further discoveries, and
the Nepioi had soon produced whole colleges in which were studied the arts
useful to mankind and constantly discovered a larger and a larger number
of surprising and useful things. At last the Nepioi (though this, perhaps,
will hardly be credited) were capable of travelling underground, flying
through the air, conversing with men a thousand miles away in a moment of
time, and committing suicide painlessly whenever there arose occasion for
that exercise.

It may be imagined with what reverence the authors of all these boons, the
members of the learned colleges, were regarded; and how their opinions had
in the eyes and ears of the Nepioi an unanswerable character.

Now it so happened that in one of these colleges a professor of more than
ordinary position emitted one day the opinion that Melek had lived only
half as long ago as was commonly supposed. In proof of this he put forward
the undoubted truth that if Melek had lived at the time he was supposed
to have lived, then he would have lived twice as long ago as he, the
professor, said that he had lived. The more old-fashioned and stupid
of the Nepioi murmured against such opinions, and though they humbly
confessed themselves unable to discover any flaw in the professor's logic,
they were sure he was wrong somewhere and they were greatly disturbed.
But the opinion gained ground, and, what is more, this fruitful and
intelligent surmise upon the part of the professor bred a whole series of
further theories upon Melek, each of which contradicted the last but one,
and the latest of which was always of so limpid and so self-evident a
truth as to be accepted by whatever was intelligent and energetic in the
population, and especially by the young unmarried women of the wealthier
classes. In this manner the epoch of Melek was reduced to five, to three,
to two, to one thousand years. Then to five hundred, and at last to one
hundred and fifty. But here was a trouble. The records of the State, which
had been carefully kept for many centuries, showed no trace of Melek's
coming during any part of the time, but always referred to him as a
long-distant forerunner. There was not even any mention of a man twelve
foot high, nor even of one a little over 93 inches round the chest. At last
it was proposed by an individual of great courage that he might be allowed
to open the tomb of Melek and afterwards, if they so pleased, suffer death.
This privilege was readily granted to him by the Archon. The worthy
reformer, therefore, prised open the sacred shrine and found within it
absolutely nothing whatsoever.

Upon this there arose among the Nepioi all manner of schools and
discussions, some saying this and some that, but none with the certitude
of old. Their customs fell into disrepute, and even the very professors
themselves were occasionally doubted when they laid down the law upon
matters in which they alone were competent--as, for instance, when they
asserted that the moon was made of a peculiarly delicious edible substance
which increased in savour when it was preserved in the store-rooms of the
housewives; or when they affirmed with every appearance of truth that no
man did evil, and that wilful murder, arson, cruelty to the innocent and
the weak, and deliberate fraud were of no more disadvantage to the general
state, or to men single, than the drinking of a cup of cold water.

So things proceeded until one day, when all custom and authority had
fallen into this really lamentable deliquescence, fleets were observed
upon the sea, manned by men-at-arms, the admiral of which sent a short
message to the Archon proposing that the people of the country should send
to him and his one-half of their yearly wealth for ever, "or," so the
message proceeded, "take the consequences." Upon the Archon communicating
this to the people there arose at once an infinity of babble, some saying
one thing and some another, some proposing to pay neighbouring savages
to come in and fight the invaders, others saying it would be cheaper to
compromise with a large sum, but the most part agreeing that the wisest
thing would be for the Archon and his great-aunt to go out to the fleet
in a little boat and persuade the enemy's admiral (as they could surely
easily do) that while most human acts were of doubtful responsibility and
not really wicked, yet the invasion, and, above all, the impoverishment
of the Nepioi was so foul a wrong as would certainly call down upon its
fiendish perpetrator the fires of heaven.

While the Archon and his great-aunt were rowing out in the little boat
a few doddering old men and superstitious females slunk off to consult
the bronze tablets, and there found under Schedule XII these words: "If
an enemy threaten the State, you shall arm and repel him." In their
superstition the poor old chaps, with their half-daft female devotees
accompanying them, tottered back to the crowds to persuade them to some
ridiculous fanaticism or other, based on no better authority than the
non-existent Melek and his absurd and exploded authority.

Judge of their horror when, as they neared the city, they saw from the
height whereon the temple stood that the invaders had landed, and, having
put to the sword all the inhabitants without exception, were proceeding to
make an inventory of the goods and to settle the place as conquerors. The
admiral summoned this remnant of the nation, and hearing what they had to
say treated them with the greatest courtesy and kindness and pensioned
them off for their remaining years, during which period they so instructed
him and his fighting men in the mysteries of their religion as quite to
convert them, and in a sense to found the Nepioian State over again; but
it should be mentioned that the admiral, by way of precaution, changed
that part of the religion which related to the tomb of Melek and situated
the shrine in the very centre of the crater of an active volcano in the
neighbourhood, which by night and day, at every season of the year,
belched forth molten rock so that none could approach it within fifteen
miles.



A NORFOLK MAN


Among the delights of historical study which makes it so curiously
similar to travel, and therefore so fatally attractive to men who cannot
afford it, is the element of discovery and surprise: notably in little
details.

When in travel one goes along a way one has never been before one often
comes upon something odd, which one could not dream was there: for
instance, once I was in a room in a little house in the south and thought
there must be machinery somewhere from the noise I heard, until a man in
the house quietly lifted up a trapdoor in the floor, and there, running
under and through the house a long way below, was a river: the River
Garonne.

It is the same way in historical study. You come upon the most
extraordinary things: little things, but things whose unexpectedness is
enormous. I had an example of this the other day, as I was looking up some
last details to make certain of the affair of Valmy.

Most people have heard of the French Revolution, and many people have
heard of the battle of Valmy, which decided the first fate of that
movement, when it was first threatened by war. But very few people have
read about Valmy, so it is necessary to give some idea of the action to
understand the astonishing little thing attaching to it which I am about
to describe.

The cannonade of Valmy was exchanged between a French Army with its back
to a range of hills and a Prussian Army about a mile away over against
them. It was as though the French Army had stretched from Leatherhead
to Epsom and had engaged in a cannonade with a Prussian Army lying over
against them in a position astraddle of the road to Kingston.

Through this range of hills at the back of the French Army lay a gap, just
as there is a gap through the hills behind Leatherhead. Not only was that
gap easily passable by an army--easily, at least, compared with the hill
country on either side--but it had running through it the great road from
Metz to Paris, so that advance along it was rapid and practicable.

It so happened that another force of the enemy besides that which was
cannonading the French in front was advancing through this gap from
behind, and it is evident that if this second force of the enemy had been
able to get through the gap it would have been all up with the French.
Dumouriez, who commanded the French, saw this well enough; he had ordered
the gap to be strongly fortified and well gunned and a camp to be formed
there, largely made up of Volunteers and Irregulars. On the proper conduct
of that post depended everything: and here comes the fun. The commander
of the post was not what you might expect, a Frenchman of any one of the
French types with which the Revolution has made us familiar: contrariwise,
he was an elderly private gentleman from the county of Norfolk.

His name was Money. The little that is known about him is entertaining to
a degree. His own words prove him to be like the person in the song, "a
very honest man," and luckily for us he has left in a book a record of the
day (and subsequent actions) stamped vividly with his own character. John
Money: called by his neighbours General John Money, not, as you might
expect. General Money: a man devoted to the noble profession of arms and
also eaten up with a passion for ballooning.

I find it difficult to believe that he was first in action at the age of
nine years or that he held King George's commission as a Cornet at the
age of ten. He does not tell us so himself nor do any of his friends. The
surmise is that of our Universities, and it is worthy of them. Clap on ten
years and you are nearer the mark. At any rate he was under fire in 1761,
and he was a Cornet in 1762; a Cornet in the Inniskilling Dragoons with a
commission dated on the 11th of March of that year. Then he transformed
himself into a Linesman, got his company in the 9th Foot eight years
later, and eight years later again, at the outbreak of the American War,
he was a major. He was quarter-master-general under Burgoyne, he was taken
prisoner--I think at Saratoga, but anyhow during that disastrous advance
upon the Hudson Valley. He got his lieutenant-colonelcy towards the end of
the war. He retired from the Army and never saw active service again. When
the Low Countries revolted against Austria he offered his services to the
insurgents and was accepted, but the truly entertaining chapter of his
adventures begins when he suggested himself to the French Government as
a very proper and likely man to command a brigade on the outbreak of the
great war with the Empire and with Prussia.

Very beautifully does he tell us in his preface what moved him to that act.
"Colonel Money," he says, in the quiet third person of a self-respecting
Norfolk gentleman, "does not mean to assign any other reason for serving
the armies of France than that he loves his profession and went there
merely to improve himself in it." Spoken like Othello!

He dedicates the book, by the way, to the Marquis Townshend, and carefully
adds that he has not got permission to dedicate it to that exalted
nobleman, nay, that he fears that he would not get permission if he asked
for it. But Lord Townshend is such a rattling good soldier that Colonel
Money is quite sure he will want to hear all about the war. On which
account he has this book so dedicated and printed by E. Harlow, bookseller
to Her Majesty, in Pall Mall.

Before beginning his narrative the excellent fellow pathetically says,
that as there was no war a little time before, nor apparently any
likelihood of one, "Colonel Money once intended to serve the Turks"; from
this horrid fate a Christian Providence delivered him, and sent him to the
defence of Gaul.

His commission was dated on the 19th of July, 1792; Marshal of the Camps,
that is, virtually, brigadier-general. He is very proud of it, and he
gives it in full. It ends up "Given in the year of Grace 1792 of our Reign
the 19th and Liberty the 4th. Louis." The phrase, in accompaniment with
the signature and the date, is not without irony.

Colonel Money could never stomach certain traits in the French people.

Before he left Paris for his command on the frontier he was witness to
the fighting when the Palace was stormed by the populace, and he is
our authority for the fact that the 5th Battalion of Paris Volunteers
stationed in the Champs Elysées helped to massacre the Swiss Guard.

"The lieutenant-colonel of this battalion," writes honest John Money,
"who was under my command during part of the campaign, related to me the
circumstances of this murder, and apparently with pleasure. He said: 'That
the unhappy men implored mercy, but,' added he, 'we did not regard this.
We put them all to death, and our men cut off most of their heads and
fixed them on their bayonets.'"

Colonel or, as he then was, General Money disapproves of this.

He also disapproves of the officer in command of the Marseillese, and says
he was a "Tyger." It seems that the "Tyger" was dining with Théroigne de
Méricourt and three English gentlemen in the very hotel where Money was
stopping, and it occurs to him that they might have broken in from their
drunken revels next door and treated him unfriendly.

Then he goes to the frontier, and after a good deal of complaint that he
has not been given his proper command he finds himself at the head of that
very important post which was the saving of the Army of Valmy.

Dumouriez, who always talked to him in English (for English was more
widely known abroad then than it is now, at least among gentlemen), had
a very great opinion of Money; but he deplores the fact that Money's
address to his soldiery was couched "in a jargon which they could not even
begin to understand." Money does not tell us that in his account of the
fighting, but he does tell us some very interesting things, which reveal
him as a man at once energetic and exceedingly simple. He left the guns
to Galbaud, remarking that no one but a gunner could attend to that sort
of thing, which was sound sense; but the Volunteers, the Line, and the
Cavalry he looked after himself, and when the first attack was made he
gave the order to fire from the batteries. Just as they were blazing away
Dillon, who was far off but his superior, sent word to the batteries to
cease firing. Why, nobody knows. At any rate the orderly galloped up and
told Money that those were Dillon's orders. On which Money very charmingly
writes:

"I told him to go back and tell General Dillon that I commanded there, and
that whilst the enemy fired shot and shell on me _I_ should continue
to fire back on them." A sentence that warms the heart. Having thus
delivered himself to the orderly, he began pacing up and down the parapet
"to let my men see that there was not much to be apprehended from a
cannonade."

You may if you will make a little picture of this to yourselves. A great
herd of volunteers, some of whom had never been under fire, the rest
of whom had bolted miserably at Verdun a few days before, men not yet
soldiers and almost without discipline: the batteries banging away in the
wood behind them, in front of them a long earthwork at which the enemy
were lobbing great round lumps of iron and exploding shells, and along
the edge of this earthwork an elderly gentleman from Norfolk, in England,
walking up and down undisturbed, occasionally giving orders to his army,
and teaching his command a proper contempt for fire.

He adds as another reason why he did not cease fire when he was ordered
that "without doubt the troops would have thought there was treason in it,
and I had probably been cut in pieces."

He did not understand what had happened at Valmy, though he was so useful
in securing the success of that day. All he noted was that after the
cannonade Kellermann had fallen back. He rode into St. Ménehould, where
Dumouriez's head-quarters were, ran up to the top of the steeple and
surveyed the country around the enemy's camp with an enormous telescope,
laid a bet at dinner of five to one that the enemy would attack again
(they did not do so, and so he lost his bet, but he says nothing about
paying it), and then heard that France had been decreed a Republic.
His comment on this piece of news is strong but cryptical. "It was
surprising," he says, "to see what an effect this news had on the Army."

Every sentence betrays the personality: the keen, eccentric character
which took to balloons just after the Montgolfiers, and fell with his
balloon into the North Sea, wrote his Treatise on the use of such
instruments in War, and was never happy unless he was seeing or doing
something--preferably under arms. And in every sentence also there is that
curious directness of statement which is of such advantage to vivacity
in any memoir. Thus of Gobert, who served under him, he has a little
footnote: "This unfortunate young man lost his head at the same time
General Dillon suffered, and a very amiable young man he was, and an
excellent officer."

He ends his book in a phrase from which I think not a word could be taken
nor to which a word could be added without spoiling it. I will quote it in
full.

"The reader, I trust, will excuse my having so often departed from the
line of my profession in giving my opinion on subjects that are not
military" (for instance, his objections to the head-cutting business),
"but having had occasion to know the people of France I freely venture to
submit my judgments to the public and have the satisfaction to find that
they coincide with the opinion of those who know that extraordinary nation
_still better than myself_."



THE ODD PEOPLE


The people of Monomotapa, of whom I have written more than once, I have
recently revisited; and I confess to an astonishment at the success with
which they deal with the various difficulties and problems arising in
their social life.

Thus, in most countries the laws of property are complex in the extreme;
punishable acts in connexion with them are numerous and often difficult to
define.

In Monomotapa the whole thing is settled in a very simple manner: in the
first place, instead of strict laws binding men down by written words,
they appoint a number of citizens who shall have it in their discretion to
decide whether a man's actions are worthy of punishment or no; and these
appointed citizens have also the power to assign the punishment, which may
vary from a single day's imprisonment to a lifetime. So crimeless is the
country, however, that in a population of over thirty millions less than
twenty such nominations are necessary; I must, however, admit that these
score are aided by several thousand minor judges who are appointed in a
different manner.

Their method of appointment is this: it is discovered as accurately as may
be by a man's manner of dress and the hours of his labour and the size of
the house he inhabits, whether he have more than a certain yearly revenue;
any man discovered to have more than this revenue is immediately appointed
to the office of which I speak.

The power of these assessors is limited, however, for though it is left to
their discretion whether their fellow-citizens are worthy of punishment
or not, yet the total punishment they can inflict is limited to a certain
number of years of imprisonment. In old times this sort of minor judge
was not appointed in Monomotapa unless he could prove that he kept dogs
in great numbers for the purposes of hunting, and at least three horses.
But this foolish prejudice has broken down in the progress of modern
enlightenment, and, as I have said, the test is now extended to a general
consideration of clothes, the size of the house inhabited, and the amount
of leisure enjoyed, the type of tobacco smoked, and other equally
reasonable indications of judicial capacity.

The men thus chosen to consider the actions of their fellow-citizens in
courts of law are rewarded in two ways: the first small body who are the
more powerful magistrates are given a hundred times the income of an
ordinary citizen, for it is claimed that in this way not only are the best
men for the purpose obtained, but, further, so large a salary makes all
temptation to bribery impossible and secures a strict impartiality between
rich and poor.

The lesser judges, on the other hand, are paid nothing, for it is wisely
pointed out that a man who is paid nothing and who volunteers his services
to the State will not be the kind of a man who would take a bribe or who
would consider social differences in his judgments.

It is further pointed out by the Monomotapans (I think very reasonably)
that the kind of man who will give his services for nothing, even in the
arduous work of imprisoning his fellow-citizens, will probably be the best
man for the job, and does not need to be allured to it by the promise of
a great salary. In this way they obtain both kinds of judges, and, oddly
enough, each kind speaks, acts, and lives much as does the other.

I must next describe the methods by which this interesting and sensible
people secure the ends of their criminal system.

When one of their magistrates has come to the conclusion that on the whole
he will have a fellow-citizen imprisoned, that person is handed over to
the guardianship of certain officials, whose business it is to see that
the man does not die during the period for which he is entrusted to them.
When some one of the numerous forms of torture which they are permitted
to use has the effect of causing death, the official responsible is
reprimanded and may even be dismissed. The object indeed of the whole
system is to reform and amend the criminal. He is therefore forbidden to
speak or to communicate in any way with human beings, and is segregated in
a very small room devoid of all ornament, with the exception of one hour a
day, during which he is compelled to walk round and round a deep, walled
courtyard designed for the purpose of such an exercise. If (as is often
the case) after some years of this treatment the criminal shows no signs
of mental or moral improvement, he is released; and if he is a man of
property, lives unmolested on what he has, and that usually in a quiet
and retired way. But if he is devoid of property, the problem is indeed a
difficult one, for it is the business of the police to forbid him to work,
and they are rewarded if he is found committing any act which the judges
or the magistrates are likely to disapprove. In this way even those who
have failed to effect reform in their characters during their first term
of imprisonment are commonly--if they are poor--re-incarcerated within
a short time, so that the system works precisely as it was intended to,
giving the maximum amount of reformation to the worst and the hardest
characters. I should add that the Monomotapan character is such that in
proportion to wealth a man's virtues increase, and it is remarkable that
nearly all those who suffer the species of imprisonment I have described
are of the poorer classes of society.

Though they are so reasonable, and indeed afford so excellent a model to
ourselves in most of their social relations, the people of Monomotapa
have, I confess, certain customs which I have never clearly understood,
and which my increasing study of them fails to explain to me.

Thus, in matters which, with us, are thought susceptible of positive
proof (such as the taste and quality of cooking, or the mental abilities
of a fellow-citizen) the Monomotapans establish their judgment in a
transcendental or super-rational manner. The cooking in a restaurant or
hotel is with them excellent in proportion, not to the taste of the viands
subjected to it, but to the rental of the premises. And when a man desires
the most delicious food he does not consider where he has tasted such food
in the past, but rather the situation and probable rateable value of the
eating-house which will provide him with it. Nay, he is willing--if he
understands that that rateable value is high--to pay far more for the same
article than he would in a humbler hostelry.

The same super-rational method, as I have called it, applies to the
Monomotapan judgment of political ability; for here it is not what a
man has said or written, nor whether he has proved himself capable
of foreseeing certain events of moment to the State, it is not these
characters that determine his political career, but a mixture of other
indices, one of which is that his brothers shall be younger than himself,
another that when he speaks he shall strike the palm of his open left hand
with his clenched right hand in a particular manner by no means commonly
or easily acquired; another that he shall not wear at one and the same
time a coat which is bifurcated and a hat of hemispherical outline;
another that he shall keep silence upon certain types of foreigners who
frequent the markets of Monomotapa, and shall even pretend that they are
not foreigners but Monomotapans; and this index of statesmanship he must
preserve under all circumstances, even when the foreigners in question
cannot speak the Monomotapan language.

Some years ago it was required of every statesman that he should, for at
least so many times in any one year, extravagantly praise the virtues
of these foreign merchants, and particularly allude to their intensely
unforeign character; but this custom has recently fallen into abeyance,
and silence upon the subject is the most that is demanded.

A further social habit of this people which we should find very strange
and which I for my part think unaccountable is their habit of judging the
excellence of a literary production, not by the sense or even the sound of
it, but by the ink in which it is printed and the paper upon which it is
impressed. And this applies not only to their letters but also to their
foreign information, and on this account they should (one would imagine)
obtain but a very distorted view of the world. For if a good printer
prints with excellent ink at five shillings a pound, and with beautiful
clear type upon the best linen paper, the statement that the British
Islands are uninhabited, while another in bad ink and upon flimsy paper
and with worn type affirms that they contain over forty million souls, the
first impression and not the second would be conveyed to the Monomotapan,
mind. As a fact, however, they are not misinformed, for this singular
frailty of theirs (as I conceive it to be) is moderated by one very wise
countervailing mental habit of theirs, which is to believe whatever they
hear asserted more than twenty-six times, so that even if the assertion be
conveyed to them in bad print and upon poor paper, they will believe it if
they read it over and over again to the required limits of reiterations.

No people in the world are fonder of animals than this genial race, but
here again curious limits to their affection are to be discovered, for
while they will tear to pieces some abandoned wretch who beats a llama
with a hazel twig for its correction, they will see nothing remarkable in
the tearing to pieces of an alpaca goat by dogs specially trained in that
exercise.

Generally speaking, the larger an animal is, the warmer is the affection
borne it by these people. Fleas and lice are crushed without pity,
blackbeetles with more hesitation, small birds are spared entirely, and
so on upwards until for calves they have a special legislation to protect
and cherish them. At the other end of the scale, microbes are pitilessly
exterminated.

Divorce is not common in Monomotapa. But such divorces as take place are
very rightly treated differently, according to the wealth of the persons
involved. Above a certain scale of wealth divorce is only granted after a
lengthy trial in a court of justice; but with the poor it is established
by the decree of a magistrate who usually, shortly after pronouncing his
sentence, finds an occasion to imprison the innocent party. Moreover, the
poor can be divorced in this manner, if any magistrate feels inclined to
exercise his power, while for the divorce of the rich set conditions are
laid down.

I should add that the Monomotapans have no religion; but the tolerance of
their Constitution is nowhere better shown than in this particular, for
though they themselves regard religion as ridiculous, they will permit
its exercise within the State, and even occasionally give high office and
emoluments to those who practise it.

We have, indeed, much to learn in this matter of religion from the race
whose habits I have discovered and here describe. Nothing, perhaps, has
done more to warp our own story than the hide-bound prejudice that a
doctrine could not be both false and true at the same time, and the
unreasoning certitude, inherited from the bad old days of clerical
tyranny, that a thing either was or was not.

No such narrowness troubles the Monomotapan. He will prefer--and very
wisely prefer--an opinion that renders him comfortable to one that in any
way interferes with his appetites; and if two such opinions contradict
each other, he will not fall into a silly casuistry which would attempt to
reconcile them: he will quietly accept both, and serve the Higher Purpose
with a contented mind.

It is on this account that I have said that the Monomotapans regard
religion as ridiculous. For true religion, indeed (as they phrase it),
they have the highest reverence; and true religion consists in following
the inclinations of an honest man, that is, oneself; but "religion in the
sense of fixed doctrine," as one of their priests explained to me, "is
abhorrent to our free commonwealth." Thus such hair-splitting questions as
whether God really exists or no, whether it be wrong to kill or to steal,
whether we owe any duties to the State, and, if so, what duties, are
treated by the honest Monomotapans with the contempt they deserve: they
abandon such speculation for the worthy task of enjoying, each man, what
his fortune permits him to enjoy.

But, as I have said above, they do not persecute the small minority living
in their midst who cling with the tenacity of all starved minds to their
fixed ideas; and if a man who professes certitude upon doctrinal matters
is useful in other ways, they are very far from refusing his services to
the State. I have known more than one, for instance, of this old-fashioned
and bigoted lot who, when he offered a sum of money in order to be
admitted to the Senate of Monomotapa, found it accepted as readily and
cheerfully as though it had been offered by one of the broadest principles
and most liberal mind.

Let no one be surprised that I have spoken of their priests, for though
the Monomotapans regard religion with due contempt, it does not follow
that they will take away the livelihood of a very honest class of people
who in an older and barbaric state of affairs were employed to maintain
the structure of what was then a public worship. The priesthood,
therefore, is very justly and properly retained by the Monomotapans,
subject only to a few simple duties and to a sacred intonation of voice
very distressing to those not accustomed to it. If I am asked in what
occupation they are employed, I answer, the wealthier of them in such
sports and futilities as attract the wealthy, and the less wealthy in such
futilities and sports as the less wealthy customarily enjoy. Nor is it a
rigid law among them that the sons of priests should be priests, but only
the custom--so far, at least, as I have been able to discover.



LETTER OF ADVICE AND APOLOGY TO A YOUNG BURGLAR


My dear Ormond,

Nothing was further from my thoughts. I had imagined you knew me well
enough--and, for the matter of that, all your mother's family--to judge
me better. Believe me, no conception of blaming your profession entered
my mind for a moment. Whether there be such a thing as "property" in the
abstract I should leave it to metaphysicians to decide: in practical
affairs everything must be judged in its own surroundings.

It was not upon any musty theological whimsy that I wrote; the definition
of stealing or "theft"--I care not by what name you call it--is not for
practical men to discuss. Nor was I concerned with the ethical discussion
of burglary (to give the matter its old legal and technical title); it was
lack of judgment, sudden actions due to nothing but impulse, and what I
think I may call "the speculative side" of a burglar's life.

You have not, as yet, any great responsibilities. No one is dependent upon
you--you have but yourself to provide for; but you must remember that such
responsibilities will arrive in their natural course, and that if you form
habits of rashness or obstinacy now they will cling to you through life.
We are all looking forward to a certain event when Anne is free again; in
plain English, my boy, we know your loyal heart, and we shall bless the
union; but I should feel easier in my mind if I saw you settled into one
definite branch of the profession before you undertook the nurture of a
family.

Adventure tempts you because you are brave, and something of a poet in
you leads you to unusual scenes of action. Well, Youth has a right to its
dreams, but beware of letting a dangerous Quixotism spoil your splendid
chances.

Take, for example, your breaking into Mr. Cowl's house. You may say Mr.
Cowl was not a journalist, but only a reviewer; the distinction is very
thin, but let it pass. You know and I know that the houses of _none_
in any way connected with the daily Press should ever be approached. It is
plain common sense. The journalist comes home at all hours of the night.
His servant (if he keeps one) is often up before he is abed. Do you think
to enter such houses unobserved?

Again, in one capacity or another, the journalist is dealing with our
profession all day long. Some he serves and knows as masters; others he is
employed in denouncing at about forty-two shillings the 1600 words; others
again it is his business to interview and to pacify or cajole in the
lobbies of the House--do you think he would not know what you were if he
found you in the kitchen with a dark lantern?

There is another peril--I mean that of alienating friends. Mr. Cowl is an
Imperialist--of a very unemphatic type: he wears (as you will say) gold
spectacles, and has a nervous cough, but he _is_ an Imperialist. I
never said that it was _wrong_ or even _foolish_ to alienate
such a man. I said that a great and powerful section of opinion thought it
a breach of honour in one of Ours to do it. Do not run away with the first
impression my words convey. Believe me, I weigh them all.

There has been so much misunderstanding that I hardly know what to choose.
Take those watches. I did not say that watches were "a mere distraction."
You have put the words into my mouth. What I said was that watches,
especially watches at a Tariff Reform meeting, were not worth the risk.
Of course a hatful of watches, such as your Uncle Robert would bring home
from fires, or better still, such a load as your poor cousin Charles
obtained upon Empire Day last year, has value. But how many gold watches
are there, off the platform, at a Tariff Reform meeting? And what possible
chance have you of getting _on_ the platform? Now church and purses,
that is another thing, but your mid-Devon adventure was simple folly.

Who is Lord Darrell? I never heard of him! For Heaven's sake don't get
caught by a title. Do you know any of the servants? His butler or his
secretary? The fellow who catalogues the library is useful. Do recollect
that lots of the ornaments in those Mayfair houses are fastened to the
wall. That is where your dear father failed over the large Chinese jar in
Park Street.... Your mother would never forgive me if you were to get into
another of your boyish scrapes.

There is another little matter, my dear Ormond, which I wish you to lay
to heart very seriously. Now do take an old man's advice and do not get
up upon your Quixotic hobby-horse the moment you sniff what it is--for I
suppose you have guessed it already. Yes, it is what you feared: I want to
urge you to follow your mother's ardent wish and add commission business
to your other work. I know very well that young men must dream their
dreams, but the world is what it is, and after all there is nothing so
very dreadful in the commission side of our profession. You do not come
into direct relation with the collectors of curios and church ornaments:
there is always an agent to break the crudeness of the connexion. And
it is a certain and profitable source of income with none of the risks
attached to it that the older branches of the profession unfortunately
show. Moreover, it affords excellent opportunities for foreign travel,
and gives one a special position very difficult to define, but easily
appreciable among one's colleagues.

George Burton made to my knowledge three thousand pounds last year in a
short season; he got this very large commission without the necessity of
breaking into a single public-house; he earned it entirely upon objects
taken out of churches upon the Continent, and in only three cases had he
to pick a pocket. It would have hurt him very much with his knowledge and
tastes to have had to break a stained-glass window.

Do consider this, my dear Ormond, for your mother's sake. Don't think for
a moment that I am advising you to take up any of those forms of work
which we both agree in despising, and which are quite unworthy of your
traditions, as for instance stealing pictures on commission out of the
houses of dealers and then turning detective to recover them again. It is
much too easy work for a man of your talents, much too ill-paid, and much
too dangerous. It is all very well for the picture dealer to leave the
door open, but what if the policeman is not in the know? No, you will
always find me on your side in your steady refusal to have anything to do
with this kind of business.

Ormond, my dear lad, bear me no ill-will. It is true of every profession,
of the Bar and of the City, of homicide, medicine, the Services, even
Politics--everything, that success only comes slowly, and that the
experience of older men is the key to it.

Tomorrow is Ascension Day, and I am at leisure. Come and dine with me at
the Colonial Club at eight for eight-fifteen. I will show you a
magnificent littla tanagra I picked up yesterday, and we will talk about
the new prospectus.

God bless you! (Dress.)

Your affectionate Uncle



THE MONKEY QUESTION: AN APPEAL TO COMMON SENSE


A privileged body slips so easily into regarding its privileges as common
rights that I fear the plea which the SIMIAN LEAGUE repeats in this
pamphlet will still sound strange in the ears of many, though the work of
the League has been increasingly successful and has reached yearly a wider
circle of the educated public since its foundation by Lady Wayne in 1902.
We desire to place before our fellow-citizens the claims of Monkeys, and
we hope once more that nothing we say may seem extreme or violent, for we
know full well what poor weapons violence and passion are in the debate of
a practical political matter.

Perhaps it is best to begin by pointing out how rarely even the best of us
pause in our fevered race for wealth to consider the disabilities of any
of our fellow-creatures: when that truth is grasped it will be easier to
plead the special cause of the Simian.

Were English men and women to realize the wrongs of the Race, or at any
rate the illogical and therefore unjust position in which we have placed
them; were the just and thoughtful men, the refined and golden-hearted
ladies who are ready in this country to support every good cause when it
is properly presented; were _they_ to realize the disabilities of the
Monkey, I do not say as vividly they realize the tragedies and misfortunes
of London life, they could not, I think, avoid an ill-ease, a pricking of
conscience, which would lead at last to some hearty and English effort for
the relief of the cousin and forerunner of man.

The attitude adopted towards Monkeys by the mass of those who, after all,
live in the same world, and have much the same appetites and necessities
and sufferings as they, is an attitude I am persuaded, not of
heartlessness, but of ignorance. To disturb that ignorance, and in some to
awake a consciousness which, perhaps, they fear, is not a grateful task,
but it is our duty, and we will pursue it.

Let the reader consider for one moment the aspect not only of formal law
but of the whole community, and of what is called "public opinion" towards
this section of sentient beings.

As things now are--aye! and have been for centuries in this green England
of ours--a Monkey may not marry; he may not own land; he may not fill any
salaried post under the Crown. The Papists themselves are debarred from
no honour (outside Ireland) save the Lord Chancellorship. Monkeys, who
are responsible for no persecutions in the past, whose religion presents
no insult or outrage to our common reason, and who differ little from
ourselves in their general practice of life and thought, _are debarred
from all_!

A Monkey may not be a Member of Parliament, a Civil Servant, an officer
in either Service, no, not even in the Territorial Army. It is doubtful
whether he may hold a commission for the peace. True, there is no statute
upon the subject, and the rural magistracy is perhaps the freest and most
open of all our offices, and the least restricted by artificial barriers
of examination or test; nevertheless, it is the considered opinion of the
best legal authorities that no Monkey could sit upon the Bench, and in any
case the discussion is purely academic, for it is difficult to believe
that any Lord-Lieutenant, under the ridiculous anachronism of our present
Constitution, would nominate a Monkey to such a position--unless (which is
by law impossible) he should be heir to an owner of an estate in land.

Nor is this all. The mention of unpaid posts recalls the damning truth
that all honorary positions in the Diplomatic Service, including even the
purely formal stage in the Foreign Office, are closed to the Monkey; the
very Court sinecures, which admittedly require no talents, are denied to
our Simian fellow-creatures, if not by law at least by custom and in
practice.

There have been employed by the League in the British Museum the services
of two ladies who feel most keenly upon this subject. They are (to the
honour of their sex) as amply qualified as any person in this kingdom for
the task which they have undertaken, and they report to the Executive
Commission after two months of minute research that (with one doubtful
exception occurring during the reign of Her late Majesty) no Monkey has
held any position whatever at Court.

All judicial positions are equally inaccessible to them; for though,
perhaps, in theory a Monkey could be promoted to the Bench if he had
served his party sufficiently long and faithfully in the House of Commons
(to which body he is admissible--at least I can find no rule or custom,
let alone a statute, against it), yet he is cut off from such an ambition
at the very outset by his inadmissibility to a legal career. The Inns of
Court are monopolist, and, like all monopolists, hopelessly conservative.
They have admitted first one class and then another--though reluctantly--to
their privileges, but it will be twenty or thirty years at least
before they will give way in the matter of Monkeys. To be a physician,
a solicitor, an engineer, or a Commissioner for Oaths is denied them as
effectually as though they did not exist. Indeed, no occupation is left
them save that of manual labour, and on this I would say a word. It is
fashionable to jeer at the Monkey's disinclination to sustained physical
effort and to concentrated toil; but it is remarkable that those who
affect such a contempt for the Monkey's powers are the first to deny him
access to the liberal professions in which they know (though they dare not
confess it) he would be a serious rival to the European. As it is, in the
few places open to Monkeys--the somewhat parasitical domestic occupation
of "companions" and the more manly, but still humiliating, task of acting
as assistants to organ-grinders, the Monkey has won universal if grudging
praise.

Latterly, since progress cannot be indefinitely delayed, the Monkey has
indeed advanced by one poor step towards the civic equality which is his
right, and has appeared as an actor upon the boards of our music-halls. It
should surely be a sufficient rebuke for those who continue to sneer at
the Simian League and such devoted pioneers as Miss Greeley and Lady Wayne
that the Monkey has been honourably admitted and has done first-rate work
in a profession which His late Gracious Majesty and His late Majesty's
late revered mother, Queen Victoria, have seen fit to honour by the
bestowal of knighthoods, and in one case (where the recipient was
childless) of a baronetcy.

The disabilities I have enumerated are by no means exhaustive. A Monkey
may not sign or deliver a deed; he may not serve on a jury; he may be
ill-treated, forsooth, and even killed by some cruel master, and the
law will refuse to protect him or to punish his oppressor. He may be
subjected to all the by-laws of a tyrannical or fanatical administration,
but in preventing such abuses he has no voice. He may not enter our
older Universities, at least as the member of a college; that is, he can
only take a degree at Oxford or Cambridge under the implied and wholly
unmerited stigma applying to the non-collegiate student. And these
iniquities apply not only to the great anthropoids whose strength and
grossness we might legitimately fear, but to the most delicately organized
types--to the Barbary Ape, the Lemur, and the Ring-tailed Baboon.
Finally--and this is the worst feature in the whole matter--a Monkey, by
a legal fiction at least as old as the fourteenth century, is not a person
in the eye of the law.

We call England a free country, yet at the present day and as you read
these lines, _any Monkey found at large may be summarily arrested_.
He has no remedy; no action for assault will lie. He is not even allowed
to call witnesses in his own defence, or to establish an alibi.

It may be pleaded that these disabilities attach also to the Irish, but we
must remember that the Irish are allowed a certain though modified freedom
of the Press, and have extended to them the incalculable advantage of
sending representatives to Westminster. The Monkey has no such remedies.
He may be incarcerated, nay _chained_, yet he cannot sue out a writ
for habeas corpus any more than can a British subject in time of war, and
worst of all, through the connivance or impotence of the police, cases
have been brought forward _and approved_ in which Monkeys have been
openly bought and sold!

We boast our sense of delicacy, and perhaps rightly, in view of our
superiority over other nations in this particular; yet we permit the
Monkey to exhibit revolting nakedness, and we hardly heed the omission!
It is true that some Monkeys are covered from time to time with little
blue coats. A cap is occasionally disdainfully permitted them, and not
infrequently they are permitted a pair of leather breeches, through a hole
in which the tail is permitted to protrude; but no reasonable man will
deny that these garments are regarded in the light of mere ornaments, and
rarely fulfil those functions which every decent Englishman requires of
clothing.

And now we come to the most important section of our appeal. _What can
be done_?

We are a kindly people and we are a just people, but we are also a very
conservative people. The fate of all pioneers besets those who attempt to
move in this matter. They are jeered at, or, what is worse, neglected. One
of the most prominent of the League's workers has been certified a lunatic
by an authority whose bitter prejudice is well known, and against whom we
have as yet had no grant of a _mandamus_, and we have all noticed the
quiet contempt, the sort of organized boycott or conspiracy of silence
with which a company at dinner will receive the subject when it is brought
forward.

There are also to be met the violent prejudices with which the mass of
the population is still filled in this regard. These prejudices are, of
course, more common among the uneducated poor than in the upper classes,
who in various relations come more often in contact with Monkeys, and who
also have a wider and more tolerant, because a better cultivated, spirit.
But the prejudice is discernible in every class of society, even in the
very highest. We have also arrayed against us in our crusade for right and
justice the dying but still formidable power of clericalism. Society is
but half emancipated from its medieval trammels, and the priest, that
Eternal Enemy of Liberty, can still put in his evil word against the
rights of the Simian.

Let us not despair! We can hope for nothing, it is true, until we have
effected a profound change in public opinion, and that change cannot
be effected by laws. It can only be brought about by a slow and almost
imperceptible effort, unsleeping, tireless, and convinced: something of
the same sort as has destroyed the power of militarism upon the Continent
of Europe; something of the same sort as has scotched landlordism at home;
something of the same sort as has freed the unhappy natives of the Congo
from the misrule of depraved foreigners; something of the same sort as has
produced the great wave in favour of temperance through the length and
breadth of this land.

We must not attempt extremes or demand full justice to the exclusion of
excellent half-measures. No one condemns more strongly than do we the
militant pro-Simians who have twice assaulted and once blinded for life a
keeper in the Zoological Gardens. We do not even approve of those ardent
but in our opinion misguided spirits of the Simian Freedom Society who
publish side by side the photographs of Pongo the learned Ape from the
Gaboons and that of a certain Cabinet Minister, accompanied by the legend
"Which is Which?" It is not by actions of this kind that we shall win the
good fight; but rather by a perseverance in reason combined with courtesy
shall we attain our end, until at long last our Brother shall be free! As
for the excellent but somewhat provincial reactionaries who still object
to us that the Monkey differs fundamentally from the human race; that he
is not possessed of human speech, and so forth, we can afford to smile at
their waning authority. Modern science has sufficiently dealt with them;
and if any one bring out against the Monkey the obscurantist insult that
His Hide is Covered with Hair, we can at once point to innumerable human
beings, fully recognized and endowed with civic rights, who, were they
carefully examined, would prove in no better case. As to speech, the
Monkey communicates in his own way as well or better than do we, and for
that matter, if speech is to be the criterion, are we to deny civic rights
to the Dumb?

We have it upon the authority of all our greatest scientific men, that
there is no substantial difference between the Ape and Man. One of the
greatest has said that between himself and his poorer fellow-citizens
there was a wider difference than that which separated them from the
Monkey. Hackel has testified that while there is a _boundary_, there
is no _gulf_ between the corps of professors to which he belongs and
the Chimpanzee. The Gorilla is universally accepted, and if we have won
the battle for the Gorilla, the rest will follow.

Tolstoy is with us, Webb is with us, Gorky is with us, Zola and Ferrer
were with us and fight for us from their graves. The whole current of
modern thought is with us. WE CANNOT FAIL!

_Questions submitted at the last Election by the Simian League_

1. Are you in favour of removing the present disabilities of Monkeys?

2. Are you in favour of a short Statute which should put adult Monkeys
upon the same footing as other subjects of His Majesty as from the 1st of
January, 1912? And _would you, if necessary, vote against your party in
favour of such a measure?_

3. Are you in favour of the inclusion of Monkeys under the Wild Birds Act?

(A plain reply "Yes" or "No" was to be written by the candidate under each
of these questions and forwarded to the Secretary, Mr. Consul, 73 Purbeck
Street, W.. before the 14th January, 1910. No replies received after
that date were admitted. The Simian League, which has agents in every
constituency, acted according to the replies received, and treated
the lack of reply as a negative. Of 1375 circulars sent, 309 remained
unanswered, 264 were answered in the negative, 201 gave a qualified
affirmative, _all the rest (no less than 799) a clear and, in some
cases, an enthusiastic adherence to our principles_. It is a sufficient
proof of the power of the League and the growth of the cause of justice
that in these 799 no less than 515 are members of the present House of
Commons.)



THE EMPIRE BUILDER


We possess in this country a breed of men in whom we feel a pride so
loyal, so strong, and so frank that were I to give further expression to
it here I should justly be accused of insisting upon a hackneyed theme.
These are the Empire Builders, the Men Efficient, the agents whom we
cannot but feel--however reluctantly we admit it--to be less strictly
bound by the common laws of life than are we lesser ones.

But there is something about these men not hackneyed as a theme, which is
their youth. By what process is the great mind developed? Of what sort is
the Empire Builder when he is young?

The fellow commonly rises from below: What was his experience there below?
In what school was he trained? What accident of fortune, how met, or how
surmounted, or how used, produced at last the Man who Can? In _that_
inquiry there is food for very deep reflection. It is here that our
Masters, whose general motives are so open and so plain, touch upon
mystery. That secret power of determining nourishment which is at the base
of all organic life has in its own silent way built up the boyhood and the
adolescence which we only know in their maturity.

I will not pretend to a full knowledge of that strange education of the
mind which has produced so many similar men for the advancement of the
race, but I can point to one example which lately came straight across my
vision--an accident, an illumination, a revealing flash of how our time
breeds the Great Type. I was acquainted for some hours with the actions of
a youth of whose very name I am ignorant, but whose face I am very certain
will reappear twenty years hence in a setting of glory, recognized as yet
one other of those superb spirits who will do all for England.

The occasion was a pageant--no matter what pageant--a great public pageant
which passed through the Strand, and was to be witnessed by hundreds of
thousands. Let us call it "The Function."

Well, I was walking down the Strand three days before this Function was
to take place, when I saw in an empty shop window about twenty-five
wooden chairs, arranged in tiers one above the other upon a sloping
platform, and lettered from A to Y. In the window was a large notice,
very clearly printed, and it was to this effect:

WHY PAY FANCY PRICES WHICH MUST INEVITABLY FALL BEFORE THE FUNCTION?
SEATS IN THIS WINDOW, COMMANDING A FULL VIEW OF THE PROCESSION, 5S.

At a little desk in the gangway by which the chairs were approached sat
a dark, pale child--I can call him by no other name, so frail and young
did he seem--and the delicacy of his complexion led me to wonder perhaps
whether he was not one of those whom the climate of England strikes with
consumption, and who, in the mysterious providence of our race, wander
abroad in search of health and find a Realm. His alertness, however, and
the brilliance of his eye; his winning, almost obsequious address, and the
hooked clutch of his gestures betrayed an energy that no physical weakness
could conquer. He invited me to enter, and begged me to purchase a seat.

I had no need of one, for I had made arrangements to spend the Great
Day itself and the next at a small hotel in the extreme north of
Sutherlandshire, but I was arrested by the evident mental power of my new
acquaintance, and I wasted five shillings in buying the chair marked D.

It was with some difficulty that I could purchase it, so eager was he that
I should have the best place; "seeing," said he, "that they are all one
price, and that you may as well benefit by being an early bird." I noted
the strict rectitude which, for all that men ignorant of modern commerce
may say, is at the basis of commercial success.

Something so attracted me
in the whole business that I was weak enough to take a chair in a tea-shop
opposite and watch all day the actions of the Child of Fate.

In less than an hour twenty different people, mainly gentlefolk, had come
in and bought places at the sensible price at which he offered them. To
each of them he gave a ticket corresponding to the number of the chair. He
was courteous to all, and even expansive. He explained the advantage of
each particular seat.

So far so good; but, what was more astonishing, in the second hour another
twenty came and appeared to purchase; in the third (which was the busiest
time of the day) some forty, first and last, must have done business with
the Favourite of Fortune. I pondered upon these things very deeply, and
went home.

Next morning the attraction which the place had for me drew me as with
a magnet, and I went, somewhat stealthily I fear, to the same tea-shop
and noticed with the greatest astonishment that the chairs were now not
lettered, but numbered, and that the boy was sitting at his little desk
with a series of white cards bearing the figures from one to twenty-five.
It was very early--not ten o'clock--but the Child was as spruce and neat
as he had been in the afternoon of the day before. He bore already that
mark of energy combined with neatness which is the stamp of success.

I crossed the road and entered. He recognized me at once (their memory for
faces is wonderful), and said cheerfully:

"Your D corresponds to the number 4."

I thanked him very much, and asked him why he had changed his system of
notation. He told me it was because several people had explained to him
that they remembered figures more easily than letters. We then talked to
each other, agreeing upon the maxims of simplicity and directness which
are at the root of all mercantile stability. He told me he required
cash from all who bought his chairs; that there was no agreement, no
insurance--no "frills," as he wittily called them.

"It is as simple," he said, "as buying a pound of tea. I am satisfied, and
they are satisfied. As for the risk, it is covered by the low price, and
if you ask me how I can let them at so low a price, I will tell you. It is
because I have found exactly what was needed and have added nothing more.
Moreover, I did not buy the chairs, but hired them."

I went back to my tea-shop with head bent, murmuring to myself those
memorable lines:

   We founded many a mighty State,
   Pray God that we may never fail
   From craven fears of being great

(or words to that effect).

That day no less than 153 people did business with the Youth.

Next day I found among my morning letters a note from a politician of my
acquaintance, telling me that the Function was postponed--indefinitely.
I wasted not a moment. I went at once to my post of observation, my
tea-shop, and I proceeded to watch the Leader.

There was as yet no knowledge of the calamity in London.

My friend seemed to have noticed me; at any rate a new and somewhat
anxious look was apparent on his face. With a firm and decided step I
crossed the road to greet him, and when he saw me he was all at his ease.
He told me that my seat had been especially asked for, and that a higher
price had been offered; but a bargain, he said, was a bargain, and so we
fell to chatting. When I mentioned, among other subjects, the very great
success of his enterprise, he gave a slight start, which did honour to his
heart; but he was of too stern a mould to give way. He was of the temper
of the Pioneers.

I assured him at once that it was very far from my intention to reproach
him for the talents which he had used with so much ability and energy. I
pointed out to him that even if I desired to injure him, which I did not,
it would be impossible for me, or for any one, to trace more than half a
dozen, at the most, of his numerous clients.

It is frequently the case that men of small business capacity will
perceive some important element in a commercial problem which escapes the
eyes of Genius; and I could see that this simple observation of mine had
relieved him almost to tears.

Before he could thank me, a newsboy appeared with a very large placard,
upon which was written

"POSTPONED."

In a moment his mind grasped the whole meaning of that word; but he went
out with a steady step, and paid the sixpence which the newsboy demanded.
Even in that uncomplaining action, the uncomplaining forfeiture of the
comparatively large sum which necessity demanded, one could detect the
financial grip which is the true arbiter of the fates of nations. He
needed the paper: he did not haggle about the price. He first mastered the
exact words of the announcement, and then, looking up at me with a face of
paper, he said:

"It is not only postponed, but all this preparation is thrown away."

I have said that I have no commercial aptitude; I admit that I was
puzzled.

"Surely," said I, "this is exactly what you needed?"

He shook his head, still restraining, by a powerful effort, the natural
expression of his grief, and showed me, for all his answer, a rail way
ticket to Boulogne which he had purchased, and which was available for the
night boat on the eve of the Function. I then understood what he meant
when he said that all his preparations had been thrown away.

I do not know whether I did right or wrong--I felt myself to be nothing
more than a blind instrument in the hands of the superior power which
governs the destinies of a people.

"How much did the ticket cost?" said I.

"Thirty shillings," said he.

I pulled out a sovereign and a half-sovereign from my pocket, and said:

"Here is the money. I have leisure, and I would as soon go to Boulogne as
to Sutherlandshire."

He did not thank me effusively, as might one of the more excitable and
less efficient races; but he grasped my hand and blessed me silently. I
then left him.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the steamer to Boulogne, as I was musing over this strange adventure, a
sturdy Anglo-Saxon man, a true son of Drake or Raleigh, came up and asked
me for my ticket. As I gave it him my eye fell idly upon the price of the
ticket. It was twenty-five shillings--but I had saved a directing and
creative mind.

If he should come across these lines he will remember me. He is probably
in the House of Commons by now. Perhaps he has bought his peerage.
Wherever he is I hope he will remember me.



CAEDWALLA


Caedwalla, a prince out of Wales (though some deny it), wandered in the
Andredsweald. He was nineteen years of age and his heart was full of anger
for wrong that had been done him by men of his own blood. For he was
rightfully heir to the throne of the kingdom of Sussex, but he was kept
from it by the injustice of men.

A retinue went with him of that sort which will always follow adventure
and exile. These, the rich of the seacoast and of the Gwent called broken
men; but they loved their Lord. So he went hunting, feeding upon what he
slew, and proceeding from steading to steading in the sparse woods of
Andred where is sometimes an open heath, and sometimes a mile of oak, and
often a clay swamp, and, seen from little lifted knolls of sand where the
broom grows and the gorse, the Downs to the south like a wall.

As he so wandered upon one day, he came upon another man of a very
different fashion, for Caedwalla would have nothing to do with the Cross
of Christ, nor with the customs of the towns, nor with the talk of foreign
men. But this man was a bishop wandering, and his name was Wilfrid. He
also had his little retinue, and, by an accident of his office or of his
exile, he had proceeded to a steading in the heaths and woods of the
Weald where also was Caedwalla: so they met. The pride and the bearing of
Wilfrid, seeing that he was of a Roman town and an officer of the State,
and a bishop to boot, nay, a bishop above bishops, was not the pride
Caedwalla loved, and the young man bore himself with another sort of
pride, which was that of the mountains and of pagan men. Nevertheless
Wilfrid put before him, with Roman rhetoric and with uplifted hands, the
story of our Lord, and Caedwalla, keeping his face set during all that
recital, could not forbid this story to sink into the depths of his heart,
where for many years it remained, and did no more than remain.

The kingdom of Sussex, cultivated by men of various kinds, received
Wilfrid the Bishop wherever he went. He did many things that do not here
concern me, and his chief work was to make the rich towns of the sea plain
and of Chichester and of Lewes and of Arundel, and of the steadings of
the Weald, and of the wealden markets also, Christian men; for he showed
them that it was a mean thing to go about in a hairy way like pagans,
unacquainted with letters, and of imperfect ability in the making of
raiment or the getting of victuals. Indeed, as I have written in another
place, it was St. Wilfrid who taught the King of Sussex and his men how to
catch fish in nets. They revered him everywhere, and when they had given
up their shameful barbarism and decently accepted the rules of life and
the religion of it, they pressed upon St. Wilfrid that he should found a
bishopric, and that it should have a cathedral and a see (all of which
things he had explained to them), and he did this on Selsey Bill: but
to-day the sea has swallowed all.

Time passed, and the young man Caedwalla, still a very young man in the
twenties, came to his own, and he sat on the throne that was rightfully
his in Chichester and he ruled all Sussex to its utmost boundaries. And
he was king of much more, as history shows, but all the while he proudly
refused in his young man's heart the raiment and the manner of the thing
which he had hated in his exile, nor would he accept the Latin prayers,
nor bow to the name of the Christian God.

Caedwalla, still so young but now a king, thought it shameful that he
should rule no more than the empire God had given him, and he was filled
with a longing to cross the sea and to conquer new land. Wherefore,
whether well or ill advised, he set out to cross the sea and to conquer
the Isle of Wight, of which story said that Wight the hero had established
his kingdom there in the old time before writing was, and when there were
only songs. So Caedwalla and his fighting men, they landed in that island
and they fought against the many inhabitants of it, and they subdued it,
but in these battles Caedwalla was wounded.

It happened that the King of that island, whose name was Atwald, had two
heirs, youths, whom it was pitifully hoped this conqueror would spare, for
they fled up the Water to Stoneham; but a monk who served God by the ford
of reeds which is near Hampton at the head of the Water, hearing that King
Caedwalla (who was recovering of wounds he had had in the war with the men
of Wight) had heard of the youths' hiding-place and had determined to kill
them, sought the King and begged that at least they might be instructed
in the Faith before they died, saying to him: "King, though you are not
of the Faith, that is no reason that you should deprive others of such
a gift. Let me therefore see that these young men are instructed and
baptized, after which you may exercise your cruel will." And Caedwalla
assented. These lads, therefore, were taken to a holy place up on Itchen,
where they were instructed in the truths and the mysteries of religion.
And while this so went forward Caedwalla would ask from time to time
whether they were yet Christians.

At last they had received all the knowledge the holy men could give them
and they were baptized. When they were so received into the fold Caedwalla
would wait no longer but had them slain. And it is said that they went to
death joyfully, thinking it to be no more than the gate of immortality.

After such deeds Caedwalla still reigned over the kingdom of Sussex and
his other kingdoms, nor did he by speech or manner give the rich or poor
about him to understand whether anything was passing in his heart. But
while they sang Mass in the cathedral of Selsey and while still the
new-comers came (now more rarely, for nearly all were enrolled): while
the new-comers came, I say, in their last numbers from the remotest parts
of the forest ridge, and from the loneliest combes of the Downs to hear
of Christ and his cross and his resurrection and the salvation of men,
Caedwalla sat in Chichester and consulted his own heart only and was a
pagan King. No one else you may say in all the land so kept himself apart.

His youth had been thus spent and he thus ruled, when as his thirtieth
year approached he gave forth a decision to his nobles and to his earls
and to the Welsh-speaking men and to the seafaring men and to the priests
and to all his people. He said: "I will take ship and I will go over the
sea to Rome, where I may worship at the tombs of the blessed Apostles, and
there I will be baptized. But since I am a king no one but the Pope shall
baptize me. I will do penance for my sins. I will lift my eyes to things
worthy of a man. I will put behind me what was dear to me, and I will
accept that which is to come." And as they could not alter Caedwalla
in any of his previous decisions, so they could not alter him in this.
But his people gave gladly for the furnishing of his journey, and all
the sheep of the Downs and their fleece, and all the wheat in the clay
steadings of the Weald, and the little vineyards in the priests' gardens
that looked towards the sea, and the fishermen, and every sort in Sussex
that sail or plough or clip or tend sheep or reap or forge iron at the
hammer ponds, gave of what they had to King Caedwalla, so that he went
forth with a good retinue and many provisions upon his journey to the
tombs of the Apostles.

When King Caedwalla came to Rome the Pope received him and said: "I hear
that you would be instructed in the Faith." To which King Caedwalla
answered that such was his desire, and that he would crave baptism at the
hands of the said Pope. And meanwhile Caedwalla took up good lodgings in
Rome, gave money to the poor, and showed himself abroad as one who had
come from the ends of the earth, that is, from the kingdom of Sussex,
which in those days was not yet famous. Caedwalla, now being thirty years
old and having learnt what one should learn in order to receive baptism,
was baptized, and they put a white robe on him which he was to wear for
certain days.

King Caedwalla, when he was thus made one with the unity of Christian men,
was very glad. But he also said that before he had lost that white robe so
given him, death would come and take him (though he was a young man and a
warrior), and that not in battle. He was certain it was so.

And so indeed it came about. For within the limit of days during which
ritual demanded that the King should wear his white garment, nay, within
that same week, he died.

So those boys who had found death at his hands had died after baptism,
up on Itchen in the Gwent, when Caedwalla the King had journeyed out of
Sussex to conquer and to hold the Wight with his spear and his sword and
his shield, and his captains and his armoured men.

Now that you have done reading this story you may think that I have made
it up or that it is a legend or that it comes out of some storyteller's
book. Learn, therefore, that it is plain history, like the battle of
Waterloo or the Licensing Bill (differing from the chronicle only in this,
that I have put living words into the mouths of men), and be assured that
the history of England is a very wonderful thing.



A UNIT OF ENGLAND


England has been lucky in its type of subdivision. All over Western
Europe the type of subdivision following in the fall of the Empire has
been of capital importance in the development of the great nations,
but while these have elsewhere been exaggerated to petty kingdoms or
diminished to mere townships in Britain, for centuries the counties have
formed true and lasting local units, and they have survived with more
vigour than the corresponding divisions of the other provinces of Roman
Europe.

That accident of the county moulded and sustained local feeling during
the generations when local government and local initiative were dying
elsewhere; it has preserved a sort of aristocratic independence, the
survival of custom, and the differentiation of the State.

It is not necessarily (as many historians unacquainted with Europe as a
whole have taken for granted) a supreme advantage for any people to escape
from institution of a strong central executive. Such a power is the normal
fruit of all high civilizations. It protects the weak against the strong.
It is necessary for rapid action in war, it makes for clarity and method
during peace, it secures a minimum for all, and it forbids the illusions
and vices of the rich to taint the whole commonwealth.

But though such an escape from strong central government and the
substitution for it of a ruling class is not a supreme advantage, it
has advantages of its own which every foreign historian of England has
recognized, and it is the divisions into counties which, after the change
of religion in the sixteenth century, was mainly responsible for the
slow substitution of local and oligarchic for general, central, and
bureaucratic government in England.

Not all the counties by any means are true to type. All the Welsh
divisions, for instance, are more or less artificial and late, with the
exception of Anglesey. And as for the non-Roman parts, Ireland and the
Highlands of Scotland, it goes without saying that the county never was,
and is not to this day, a true unit. The central and much of the west of
England is the same. That is, the shires are cut as their name implies,
somewhat arbitrarily, from the general mass of territory.

When one says "arbitrarily" one does not mean that no local sentiment
bound them, or that they had not some natural basis, for they had. They
were the territory of central towns: Shrewsbury, Warwick, Derby, Chester,
Oxford, Buckingham, Bedford, Nottingham. But their life was not and has
not since been strongly individual. They have not continuous boundaries
nor an early national root. But all round these, in a sort of ring, run
the counties which have had true local life from the beginning. Cornwall
is utterly different from Devon, and with a clear historic reason for the
difference. Devon, again, is a perfectly separate unit, resulting from a
definite political act of the early ninth century. Of Dorset and Hampshire
one can say less, but with Sussex you get a unit which has been one
kingdom and one diocese, set in true natural limits and lying within
these same boundaries for much more than a thousand years. Kent, probably
an original Roman division, has been one unit for longer still. Norfolk,
Suffolk, and Essex are equally old, though not upon their land boundaries
equally denned; but perhaps the most sharply defined of all--after Sussex,
at least--was Southern and Central Lancashire.

Its topography was like one of those ideal examples which military
instructors take for their models when they wish to simplify a lesson
upon terrain. Upon one side ran the long, high, and difficult range which
is the backbone of England; upon the other the sea, and the sea and the
mountains leant one towards the other, making two sides of a triangle
that met above Morecambe Bay.

How formidable the natural barriers of this triangle were it is not easy
for the student of our time to recognize. It needs a general survey of the
past, and a knowledge of many unfamiliar conditions in the present, to
appreciate it.

The difficulty of those Eastern moors and hills, for instance, the
resistance they offer to human passage, meets you continually throughout
English history. The engineers of the modern railways could give one a
whole romance of it; the story of every army that has had to cross them,
and of which we have record, bears the same witness. The illusion which
the modern traveller may be under that the barrier is negligible is very
soon dispelled when for his recreation he crosses it by any other methods
than the railway; and perhaps in such an experience of travel nothing more
impresses one in the character of that barrier than the _loneliness_.

There is no other corresponding contrast of men and emptiness that I know
of in Europe.

The great towns lie, enormous, pullulating, millioned in the plains on
either side; they push their limbs up far into the valleys. Between them,
utterly deserted, you have these miles and miles of bare upland, like the
roof of a house between two crowded streets.

Merely to cross the Pennines, driving or on foot, is sufficient to teach
one this. To go the length of the hills along the watershed from the
Peak to Crossfell (few people have done it!) is to get an impression of
desertion and separation which you will match nowhere else in travel,
nowhere else, at least, within touch and almost hearing of great towns.

The sea also was here more of a barrier than a bond. Ireland--not Roman,
and later an enemy--lay over against that shore. Its ports (save one)
silted. Its slope from the shore was shallow: the approach and the
beaching of a fleet not easy. Its river mouths were few and dangerous.

This triangle of Lancashire, so cut off from the west and from the east,
had for its base a barrier that completed its isolation. That barrier
was the marshy valley of the Mersey. It could be outflanked only at
its extreme eastern point, where the valley rises to the hundred-foot
contour line. From that point the valley rises so rapidly within half a
dozen miles into the eastern hills that it was dry even under primitive
conditions, and the opportunity here afforded for a passage is marked
by the topographical point of Stockport.

By that gate the main avenues of approach still enter the county. Through
this gap passed the London Road, and passes to-day the London and
North-Western Railway. It was this gate which gave its early strategic
importance to Manchester, lying just north of it and holding the whole of
this corner.

Historians have noted that to hold Manchester was ultimately to hold
Lancashire itself. It was not the industrial importance of the town, for
that was hardly existent until quite modern times: it was its strategic
position which gave it such a character. The Roman fort at the junction
of the two rivers near Knott Mill represented the first good defensible
position commanding this gate upon the south-east.

To enter the county anywhere west of the hundred-foot contour and the
Mersey Valley was, for an army deprived of modern methods, impossible:
a little organized destruction would make it impossible again.

Two artificial causeways negotiated the valley. Each bears to this day (at
Stretford and at Stretton) the proof of its old character, for both words
indicate the passage of a "street," that is, of a hard-made way, over the
soft and drowned land. Stretford was but the approach to Manchester from
Chester--and Manchester thus commanded (by the way) the two south-eastern
approaches to the county, the one natural, the other artificial. The
approach by Stretton gave Warrington its strategic importance in the early
history of the county; Warrington, the central point upon the Mersey,
standing at a clear day's march from Liverpool, the port on the one
hand, and a clear day's march from Manchester on the other. It was from
Warrington that Lord Strange marched upon Manchester at the very beginning
of the Civil War, and if by some accident this stretch of territory should
again be a scene of warfare, Warrington, in spite of the close network of
modern communications, would be the strategic centre of the county
boundary.

So one might take the units out of which modern England has been built
up one by one, showing that their boundaries were fixed by nature, and
that their local separation was not the product of the pirate raids, but
is something infinitely older, older than the Empire, and very probably
(did we know what the Roman divisions of Britain were) accepted under
the Empire. So one might prove or at least suggest that the strategical
character of the English county and of its chief stronghold and barriers
lay in an origin far beyond the limits of recorded history. To produce
such a study would be to add to the truth and reality of our history, for
England was not made nor even moulded by the Danish and the Saxon raids.
The framework is far, far older and so strong that it still survives.



THE RELIC


It was upon an evening in Spain, but with nothing which that word evokes
for us in the North--for it was merely a lessening of the light without
dews, without mists, and without skies--that I came up a stony valley
and saw against the random line of the plateau at its head the dome of a
church. The road I travelled was but faintly marked, and was often lost
and mingled with the rough boulders and the sand, and in the shallow
depression of the valley there were but a few stagnant pools.

The shape of the dome was Italian, and it should have stood in an Italian
landscape, drier indeed than that to which Northerners are accustomed,
but still surrounded by trees, and with a distance that could render
things lightly blue. Instead of that this large building stood in the
complete waste which I have already described at such length, which is so
appalling and so new to an European from any other province of Europe. As
I approached the building I saw that there gathered round it a village, or
rather a group of dependent houses; for the church was so much larger than
anything in the place, and the material of which the church itself and the
habitations were built was so similar, the flat old tiled roofs all mixed
under the advance of darkness into so united a body, that one would have
said, as was perhaps historically the truth, that the church was not built
for the needs of the place, but that the borough had grown round the
shrine, and had served for little save to house its servants.

When the long ascent was ended and the crest reached, where the head of
the valley merged into the upper plain, I passed into the narrow first
lanes. It was now quite dark. The darkness had come suddenly, and, to
make all things consonant, there was no moon and there were not any
stars; clouds had risen of an even and menacing sort, and one could see no
heaven. Here and there lights began to show in the houses, but most people
were in the street, talking loudly from their doorsteps to each other.
They watched me as I came along because I was a foreigner, and I went down
till I reached the central market-place, wondering how I should tell the
best place for sleep. But long before my choice could be made my thoughts
were turned in another direction by finding myself at a turn of the
irregular paving, right in front of a vast façade, and behind it, somewhat
belittled by the great length of the church itself, the dome just showed.
I had come to the very steps of the church which had accompanied my
thoughts and had been a goal before me during all the last hours of the
day.

In the presence of so wonderful a thing I forgot the object of my journey
and the immediate care of the moment, and I went through the great doors
that opened on the Place. These were carved, and by the little that
lingered of the light and the glimmer of the electric light on the
neighbouring wall (for there is electric light everywhere in Spain, but it
is often of a red heat) I could perceive that these doors were wonderfully
carved. Already at Saragossa, and several times during my walking south
from thence, I had noted that what the Spaniards did had a strange
affinity to the work of Flanders. The two districts differ altogether save
in the human character of those who inhabit them: the one is pastoral,
full of deep meadows and perpetual woods, of minerals and of coal for
modern energy, of harbours and good tidal rivers for the industry of the
Middle Ages; the other is a desert land, far up in the sky, with an air
like a knife, and a complete absence of the creative sense in nature about
one. Yet in both the creation of man runs riot; in both there is a sort
of endlessness of imagination; in both every detail that man achieves
in art is carefully completed and different from its neighbour; and in
both there is an exuberance of the human soul: but with this difference,
that something in the Spanish temper has killed the grotesque. Both
districts have been mingled in history, yet it is not the Spaniard who has
invigorated the Delta of the Rhine and the high country to the south of
it, nor the Walloons and the Flemings who have taught the Spaniards; but
each of these highly separated peoples resembles the other when it comes
to the outward expression of the soul: why, I cannot tell.

Within, there is not a complete darkness, but a series of lights showing
against the silence of the blackness of the nave; and in the middle of
the nave, like a great funeral thing, was the choir which these Spanish
churches have preserved, an intact tradition, from the origins of the
Christian Faith. Go to the earliest of the basilicas in Rome, and you
will see that sacred enclosure standing in the middle of the edifice and
taking up a certain proportion of the whole. We in the North, where the
Faith lived uninterruptedly and, after the ninth century, with no great
struggle, dwindled this feature and extended the open and popular space,
keeping only the rood-screen as a hint of what had once been the Secret
Mysteries and the Initiations of our origins. But here in Spain the
earliest forms of Christian externals crystallized, as it were; they
were thrust, like an insult or a challenge, against the Asiatic as the
reconquest of the desolated province proceeded; and therefore in every
Spanish church you have, side by side with the Christian riot of art, this
original hierarchic and secret thing, almost shocking to a Northerner, the
choir, the Coro, with high solemn walls shutting out the people from the
priests and from the Mysteries as they had been shut out when the whole
system was organized for defence against an inimical society around.

The silence of the place was not complete nor, as I have said, was the
darkness. At the far end of the choir, behind the high altar, was the
light of many candles, and there were people murmuring or whispering,
though not at prayers. There was a young priest passing me at that moment,
and I said to him in Latin of the common sort that I could speak no
Spanish. I asked him if he could speak to me slowly in Latin, as I was
speaking to him. He answered me with this word, "_Paucissime_," which
I easily understood. I then asked him very carefully, and speaking slowly,
whether Benediction were about to be held--an evening rite; but as I did
not know the Latin for Benediction, I called it alternately "Benedictio,"
which is English, and "Salus," which is French. He said twice, "Si, si,"
which, whether it were Italian or French or local, I understood by the
nodding of his head; but at any rate he had not caught my meaning, for
when I came behind the high altar where the candles were, and knelt there,
I clearly saw that no preparations for Benediction were toward. There was
not even an altar. All there was was a pair of cupboard doors, as it were,
of very thickly carved wood, very heavily gilded and very old; indeed, the
pattern of the carving was barbaric, and I think it must have dated from
that turn of the Dark into the Middle Ages when so much of our Christian
work resembled the work of savages: spirals and hideous heads, and
serpents and other things.

By this I was already enormously impressed, and by a little group of
people around of whom perhaps half were children, when the young priest to
whom I had spoken approached and, calling a well-dressed man of the middle
class who stood by and who had, I suppose, some local prominence, went up
the steps with him towards these wooden doors; he fitted a key into the
lock and opened them wide. The candles shone at once through thick clear
glass upon a frame of jewels which flashed wonderfully, and in their
midst was the head of a dead man, cut off from the body, leaning somewhat
sideways, and changed in a terrible manner from the expression of living
men. It was so changed, not only by incalculable age, but also, as I
presume, by the violence of his death.

To those inexperienced in the practice of such worship there might be more
excuse for the novel impression which this sight suddenly produced upon
me. Our race from its very beginning, nay, all the races of men, have
preserved the fleshly memorials of those to whom sanctity attached, and I
have seen such relics in many parts of Europe almost as commonplaces; but
for some reason my emotions upon that evening were of a different kind.
The length of the way (for I was miles and miles southwards over this
desert waste), the ignorance of the language which surrounded me, the
inhuman outline hour after hour under the glare of the sun, or in the
inhospitable darkness of this hard Iberian land, the sternness of the
faces, the violent richness and the magnitude of the architecture about
me, and my knowledge of the trials through which the province had passed,
put me in this Presence into a mood very different, I think, from that
which pilgrimage is calculated to arouse; there was in it much more of
awe, and even of terror; there seemed to re-arise in the presence of
that distorted face the memories of active pain and of the unconquerable
struggle by which this ruined land was recovered. I wondered as I looked
at that face whether he had fallen in protest against the Mohammedans, or,
as have so many, in a Spanish endurance of torture, martyred by Pagans in
the Pacific Seas. But no history of him was given to me, nor do I now know
as I write what occasion it was that made this head so great.

They said but a few prayers, all familiar to me, in the Latin tongue; then
the "Our Father" and some few others which have always been recited in the
vernacular. They next intoned the Salve Regina. But what an intonation!

Had I not heard that chant often enough in my life to catch its meaning?
I had never heard it set to such a tune! It was harsh, it was full of
battle, and the supplication in it throbbed with present and physical
agony. Had I cared less for the human beings about me, so much suffering,
so much national tradition of suffering would have revolted, as it did
indeed appal, me. The chant came to an end, and the three gracious
epithets in which it closes were full of wailing, and the children's
voices were very high.

Then the priest shut the doors and locked them, and a boy came and blew
the candles out one by one, and I went out into the market-place, fuller
than ever of Spain.



THE IRONMONGER


When I was in the French army we came one day with the guns in July along
a straight and dusty road and clattered into the village called Bar-le-Duc.
Of the details of such marches I have often written. I wish now to speak of
another thing, which, in long accounts of mere rumbling of guns, one might
never have time to tell, but which is really the most important of all
experiences under arms in France--I mean the older civilians, the fathers.

Who made the French army? Who determined to recover from the defeats and
to play once more that determined game which makes up half French history,
the "Thesaurization," the gradual reaccumulation of power? The general
answer to such questions is to say: "The nation being beaten had to set
to and recover its old position." That answer is insufficient. It deals
in abstractions and it tells you nothing. Plenty of political societies
throughout history have sat down under disaster and consented to sink
slowly. Many have done worse--they have maintained after sharp warnings
the pride of their blind years; they have maintained that pride on into
the great disasters, and when these came they have sullenly died. France
neither consented to sink nor died by being overweening. Some men must
have been at work to force their sons into the conscription, to consent
to heavy taxation, to be vigilant, accumulative, tenacious, and, as it
were, constantly eager. There must have been classes in which, unknown to
themselves, the stirp of the nation survived; individuals who, aiming at
twenty different things, managed, as a resultant, to carry up the army
to the pitch in which I had known it and to lay a slow foundation for
recovered vigour. Who were these men?

I had read of them in Birmingham when I was at school; I had read of them
in books when I read of the Hundred Years' War and of the Revolution.
I was to read of them again in books at Oxford. But on that Saturday
at Bar-le-Duc I _saw_ one of them, and by as much as the physical
impression is worth more than the secondary effect of history, my sight
of them is worth writing down.

A man in my battery, one Matthieu, told me he had leave to go out for the
evening, and told me also to go and get leave. He said his uncle had asked
him to dine and bring a friend. It seemed his uncle lived in a villa on
the heights above the town; he was an ironmonger who had retired. I went
to my Sergeant and asked him for leave.

My Sergeant was a noble who was working his way up through the ranks, and
when I found him he was checking off forage at a barn where some of our
men were working. He looked me hard in the eyes, and said in a drawling
lackadaisical voice:

"You are the Englishman?"

"Yes, Sergeant," said I a little anxiously (for I was very keen to get a
good dinner in town after all that marching).

"Well," said he, "as you are the Englishman you can go." Such is the logic
of the service.

The army is no place to argue, and I went. I suppose what he meant was,
"As we are both more or less in exile, take my blessing and be off," but
he may merely have meant to be inconsequent, for inconsequence is the wit
of schoolboys and soldiers. I went up the hill with my friend.

The long twilight was still broad over the hill and the old houses of
Bar-le-Duc, as we climbed. It was night by the clock, but one could have
seen to read. We were tired, and talked of nothing in particular, but such
things as we said were full of the old refrain of conscripts: "Dog of a
trade," "When shall we be out of it?" Even as we spoke there was pride in
our breasts at the noise of trumpets in the mist below along the river and
the Eighth making its presence known, and our uniforms and our swords.

We stopped at last before a little square house with "The Lilacs" painted
on its gate; there was a parched little lawn, a little fountain, a tripod
supporting a globular mirror, and we went in.

Matthieu's uncle met us; he was in a cotton suit walking about among his
flowers and enjoying the evening. He was a man of about fifty, short,
strong, brown, and abrupt. Though it was already evening and one could see
little, we knew well enough that his eyes were steady and dark. For he
had the attitude and carriage of those men who invigorate France. His
self-confidence was evident in his sturdy legs and his arms akimbo, his
vulgarity in his gesture, his narrowness in his forward and peering look,
his indomitable energy in every movement of his body. It did not surprise
me to learn in his later conversation that he was a Republican. He spoke
at once to us both, saying in a kind of grumbling shout:

"Well, gunners!"

Then he spoke roughly to his nephew, telling him we were late: to me
a little too politely saying he put no blame on me, but only on his
scapegrace of a nephew. I said that our lateness was due to having to
find the Sergeant. He answered:

"One must always put the blame on some one else," which was rank bad
manners.

He led the way into the house. The dining-room gave on to a veranda,
and beyond this was another little lawn with trees. In the dark a few
insects chirped, and, as the evening was warmish, one smelt the flowers.
The windows had been left open. Everything was clean, neat, and bare. On
the walls were two excellent old prints, a badly drawn certificate of
membership in some society or other, a still worse portrait of a local
worthy, and a water-colour painted, I suppose, by his daughter.

He introduced me to his wife, a hard-featured woman, with thin hair, full
of duty, busy and precise--fresh from the kitchen. We unhooked our swords
with the conventional clatter, and sat down to the meal.

I will confess that as we ate those excellent dishes (they were all
excellent) and drank that ordinary wine, I seemed to be living in a book
rather than among living men. Here was I, a young English boy, thrust
by accident into the French army. Fairly acquainted with its language,
though I spoke it with an accent; taken (of course) by my host for a pure
Englishman, though half my blood was French. Here was I sitting at his
side and watching things, and learning--as for him, men like him, of whom
England has some few left in forgotten villages, and who are, when they
can be found, the strength of a State, _they_ never bother about
learning anything far removed from their realities.

I noticed the one servant going in and out rapidly, bullied a good deal by
her master, deft but nervous. I noticed how everything was solid and good:
the chairs, table, clock, clothes--and especially the cooking. I saw his
local newspaper neatly folded on the mantelpiece. I saw the pet dog of his
retirement crouching at his side, and I heard the chance sayings he threw
to his nephew, the maxims granted to youth long ago. I wondered how much
that nephew would inherit. I guessed about ten thousand pounds at the
least, and twenty at the most. I was almost inclined to cross myself at
the thought of such a lot of money.

My host grew more genial: he asked me questions on England. His wife also
was interested in that country. They both knew more about it than their
class in England knows about France: and this astonished me, for, in the
gentry, English gentlemen know more about France than French gentlemen
know about England.

He asked me if agriculture were still in a bad way; why we had not more
of the people at the Universities; why we allowed only lords into our
Parliament, and whether there were more French commercial travellers in
England than English commercial travellers in France. In all these points
I admitted, supplemented, and corrected, and probably distorted his
impressions.

He asked me if English gunners were good. I said I did not know, but I
thought so. He replied that the English drivers had a high reputation in
his country--his brother (the brother of an ironmonger) was a Captain of
the Horse Artillery, and had told him so. And this he said to me, who wore
a French uniform, but whose heart was away up in Arun Valley, in my own
woods, and at rest and alone.

In the last hour when we had to be getting back a certain tenderness came
into his somewhat mercenary look. He devoted himself more to his nephew;
he took him aside, and, with some ceremony, gave him money. He offered us
cigars. We took one each. His round French face became all wrinkles, like
a cracked plate. He said:

"Bah! Take them by the pocketful! We know what life is in the regiment,"
and he crammed half a dozen each into the pocket of our tunics. But when
he said "We know what the life is," he lied. For he had only been a
"mobile" in '70. He had voted, but never suffered, the conscription.

So we said good night to this man, our host, who had so regaled us. I may
be wrong, but I fancy he was an anti-clerical. He was a hard man, just,
eager, and attentive, narrow, as I have said, and unconsciously (as I have
also said) building up the nation.

There was the Ironmonger of Bar-le-Duc; and there are hundreds of
thousands of the same kind.



A FORCE IN GAUL


There is a force in Gaul which is of prime consequence to all Europe. It
has canalized European religion, fixed European law, and latterly launched
a renewed political ideal. It is very vigorous to-day.

It was this force which made the massacres of September, which overthrew
Robespierre, which elected Napoleon. In a more concentrated form, it was
this force which combined into so puissant a whole the separate men--not
men of genius--who formed the Committee of Public Safety. It is this
force which made the Commune, so that to this day no individual can quite
tell you what the Commune was driving at. And it is this force which at
the present moment so grievously misunderstands and overestimates the
strength of the armies which are the rivals of the French; indeed, in that
connexion it might truly be said that the peace of Europe is preserved
much more by the German knowledge of what the French army is, even than
by French ignorance of what the German army is.

I say the disadvantages of this force or quality in a commonwealth are
apparent, for the weakness and disadvantages of something extraneous to
ourselves are never difficult to grasp. What is of more moment for us
is to understand, with whatever difficulty, the strength which such a
quality conveys. Not to have understood that strength, nay, not to have
appreciated the existence of the force of which I speak, has made nearly
all the English histories of France worthless. French turbulence is
represented in them as anarchy, and the whole of the great story which has
been the central pivot of Western Europe appears as an incongruous series
of misfortunes. Even Carlyle, with his astonishing grasp of men and his
power of rapid integration from a few details (for he read hardly anything
of his subject), never comprehended this force. He could understand a
master ordering about a lot of servants; indeed, he would have liked
to have been a servant himself, and _was_ one to the best of his
ability; but he could not understand self-organization from below. Yet
upon the existence of that power depends the whole business of the
Revolution. Its strength, then, (and principal advantage), lies in the
fact that it makes democracy possible at critical moments, even in a large
community.

There is no one, or hardly any one, so wicked or so stupid as to deny the
democratic ideal. There is no one, or hardly any one, so perverted that,
were he the member of a small and simple community, he would be content to
forgo his natural right to be a full member thereof. There is no one, or
hardly any one, who would not feel his exclusion from such rights, among
men of his own blood, to be intolerable. But while every one admits the
democratic ideal, most men who think and nearly all the wiser of those
who think, perceive its one great obstacle to lie in the contrast between
the idea and the action where the obstacle of complexity--whether due
to varied interests, to separate origins, or even to mere numbers--is
present.

The psychology of the multitude is not the psychology of the individual.
Ask every man in West Sussex separately whether he would have bread made
artificially dearer by Act of Parliament, and you will get an overwhelming
majority against such economic action on the part of the State. Treat them
collectively, and they will elect--I bargain they will elect for years
to come--men pledged to such an action. Or again, look at a crowd when
it roars down a street in anger--the sight is unfortunately only too
rare to-day--you have the impression of a beast majestic in its courage,
terrible in its ferocity, but with something evil about its cruelty and
determination. Yet if you stop and consider the face of one of its members
straggling on one of its outer edges, you will probably see the bewildered
face of a poor, uncertain, weak-mouthed man whose eyes are roving from
one object to another, and who appears all the weaker because he is under
the influence of this collective domination. Or again, consider the jokes
which make a great public assembly honestly shake with laughter, and
imagine those jokes attempted in a private room! Our tricky politicians
know well this difference between the psychologies of the individual
and of the multitude. The cleverest of them often suffer in reputation
precisely because they know what hopeless arguments and what still more
hopeless jests will move collectivities, the individual units of which
would never have listened to such humour or to such reasoning.

The larger the community with which one is dealing, the truer this is; so
that, when it comes to many millions spread upon a large territory, one
may well despair of any machinery which shall give expression to that very
real thing which Rousseau called the General Will.

In the presence of such a difficulty most men who are concerned both for
the good of their country and for the general order of society incline,
especially as they grow older, to one, or other of the old traditional
organic methods by which a State may be expressed and controlled. They
incline to an oligarchy such as is here in England where a small group of
families, intermarried one with the other, dining together perpetually
and perpetually guests in each other's houses, are by a tacit agreement
with the populace permitted to direct a nation. Or they incline to the
old-fashioned and very stable device of a despotic bureaucracy such as
manages to keep Prussia upright, and did until recently support the
expansion of Russia.

The evils of such a compromise with a political idea are evident enough.
The oligarchy will be luxurious and corporately corrupt, and individually
somewhat despicable, with a sort of softness about it in morals and in
military affairs. The despot or the bureaucracy will be individually
corrupt, especially in the lower branches of the system, and hatefully
unfeeling.

"But," (says your thinker, especially as he advances in age) "man is so
made that he _cannot_ otherwise be collectively governed. He cannot
collectively be the master, or at any rate permanently the master of his
collective destiny, whatever power his reason and free will give him over
his individual fate. The nation" (says he), "especially the large nation,
certainly has a Will, but it cannot directly express that Will. And if it
attempts to do so, whatever machinery it chooses--even the referendum--will
but create a gross mechanical parody of that subtle organic thing, the
National soul. The oligarchy or the bureaucracy" (he will maintain, and
usually maintain justly) "inherit, convey, and maintain the national
spirit more truly than would an attempted democratic system."

General history, even the general history of Western Europe, is upon the
whole on the side of such a criticism. Andorra is a perfect democracy, and
has been a perfect democracy for at least a thousand years, perhaps since
first men inhabited that isolated valley. But there is no great State
which has maintained even for three generations a democratic system
undisturbed.

Now it is peculiar to the French among the great and independent nations,
that they are capable, by some freak in their development, of rapid
_communal_ self-expression. It is, I repeat, only in crises that
this power appears. But such as it is, it plays a part much more real and
much more expressive of the collective will than does the more ordinary
organization of other peoples.

Those who attacked the Tuileries upon the 10th of August acted in a manner
entirely spontaneous, and succeeded. The arrest of the Royal Family at
Varennes was not the action of one individual or of two; it was not Drouet
nor was it the Saulce family. It was a great number of individuals (the
King had been recognized all along the journey), each thinking the same
thing under the tension of a particular episode, each vaguely tending to
one kind of action and tending with increasing energy towards that action,
and all combining, as it were, upon that culminating point in the long
journey which was reached at the archway of the little town in Argonne.

To have expressed and portrayed this common national power has been the
saving of the principal French historians, notably of Michelet. It has
furnished them with the key by which alone the history of their country
could be made plain. Nothing is easier than to ridicule or deny so
mystical a thing. Taine, by temperament intensely anti-national, ridiculed
it as he ridiculed the mysteries of the Faith; but with this consequence,
that his denial made it impossible for him to write the history of his
country, and compelled him throughout his work, but especially in his
history of the Revolution, to perpetual, and at last to somewhat crude,
forms of falsehood.

Not to recognize this National force has, again, led men into another
error: they will have it that the great common actions of Frenchmen are
due to some occult force or to a master. They will explain the Crusades
by the cunning organization of the Papacy; the French Revolution by the
cunning organization of the Masonic lodges; the Napoleonic episode by the
individual cunning and plan of Bonaparte. Such explanations are puerile.

The blow of 1870 was perhaps the most severe which any modern nation has
endured. By some accident it did not terminate the activity of the French
nation. The Southern States of America remain under the effect of the
Civil War. All that is not Prussian in Germany remains
prostrate--especially in ideas--under the effect of the Prussian victory
over it. The French but barely escaped a similarly permanent dissolution
of national character: but they did escape it; and the national mark, the
power of spontaneous and collective action, after a few years' check,
began to emerge.

Upon two occasions an attempt was made towards such action. The first was
in the time of Boulanger, the second during the Dreyfus business. In both
cases the nation instinctively saw, or rather felt, its enemy. In both
there was a moment when the cosmopolitan financier stood in physical peril
of his life. Neither, however, matured; in neither did the people finally
move.

Latterly several partial risings have marked French life. Why none of them
should have culminated I will consider in a moment. Meanwhile, the foreign
observer will do well to note the character of these movements, abortive
though they were. It is like standing upon the edge of a crater and
watching the heave and swell of the vast energies below. There may have
been no actual eruption for some time, but the activities of the volcano
and its nature are certain to you as you gaze. The few days that passed
two years ago in Herault are an example.

No one who is concerned for the immediate future of Europe should neglect
the omen: half a million men, with leaders chosen rapidly by themselves,
converging without disaster, with ample commissariat, with precision and
rapidity upon one spot: a common action decided upon, and that action most
calculated to defeat the enemy; decided upon by men of no exceptional
power, mere mouthpieces of this vast concourse: similar and exactly
parallel decisions over the whole countryside from the great towns to the
tiny mountain villages. It is the spirit of a swarm of bees. One incident
in the affair was the most characteristic of it all: fearing they would
be ordered to fire on men of their own district the private soldiers and
corporals of the 17th of the Line mutinied. So far so good: mutinies are
common in all actively military states--the exceptional thing was what
followed. The men organized themselves without a single officer or
non-commissioned officer, equipped themselves for a full day's march to
the capital of the province, achieved it in good order, and took quarters
in the town. All that exact movement was spontaneous. It explains the
Marshals of the Empire. These were sent off as a punishment to the edge
of the African desert; the mutiny seemed to the moneydealers a proof of
military defeat. They erred: these young men, some of them of but six
months' training, none of them of much more than two years, not one of
them over twenty-five years of age, were a precise symbol of the power
which made the Revolution and its victims. The reappearance of that power
in our tranquil modern affairs seems to me of capital importance.

One should end by asking one's self, "Will these unfinished movements
breed a finished movement at last? Will Gaul move to some final purpose
in our time, and if so, against what, with what an object and in what a
manner?"

Prophecy is vain, but it is entertaining, and I will prophesy that Gaul
will move in our time, and that the movement will be directed against the
pestilent humbug of the parliamentary system.

For forty years this force in the nation of which I speak, though so
frequently stirred, has not achieved its purpose. But in nearly every
case, directly or indirectly, the thing against which it moved was the
Parliament. It would be too lengthy a matter to discuss here why the
representative system has sunk to be what it is in modern Europe. It
was the glory of the Middle Ages, it was a great vital institution of
Christendom, sprung from the monastic institution that preceded it, a true
and living power first in Spain, where Christendom was at its most acute
activity in the struggle against Asia, then in the north-west, in England
and in France. And indeed, in one form or another, throughout all the old
limits of the Empire. It died, its fossil was preserved in one or two
small and obscure communities, its ancient rules and form were captured by
the English squires and merchants, and it was maintained, a curious but
vigorous survival, in this country. When the Revolution in 1789 began the
revival of democracy in the great nations the old representative scheme of
the French, a very perfect one, was artificially resurrected, based upon
the old doctrine of universal suffrage and upon a direct mandate. It was
logical, it ought to have worked, but in barely a hundred years it has
failed.

There is an instructive little anecdote upon the occupation of Rome in
1870.

When the French garrison was withdrawn and the Northern Italians had
occupied the city, representative machinery was set to work, nominally
to discover whether the change in Government were popular or no. A tiny
handful of votes was recorded in the negative, let us say forty-three.

Later, in the early winter of that same year, a great festival of the
Church was celebrated in the Basilica of St. Peter and at the tombs of the
Apostles. The huge church was crowded, many were even pressed outside the
doors. When the ceremony was over the dense mass that streamed out into
the darkness took up the cry, the irony of which filled the night air of
the Trastevere and its slums of sovereign citizens. The cry was this:

"We are the Forty-three!"

It is an anecdote that applies continually to the modern representative
system in every country which has the misfortune to support it. No one
needs to be reminded of such a truth. We know in England how the one
strong feeling in the elections of 1906 was the desire to get at the South
African Jews and sweep away their Chinese labour from under them.

The politicians and the party hacks put into power by that popular
determination went straight to the South African Jews, hat in hand, asked
them what was their good pleasure in the matter, and framed a scheme in
connivance with them, by which no vengeance should be taken and not a
penny of theirs should be imperilled.

In modern France the chances of escape from the parliamentary game, tawdry
at its best, at its worst a social peril, are much greater than in this
country. The names and forms of the thing are not of ancient institution.
There is therefore no opportunity for bamboozling people with a sham
continuity, or of mixing up the interests of the party hacks with the
instinct of patriotism. Moreover, in modern France the parliamentary
system happened to come up vitally against the domestic habits of
the people earlier and more violently than it has yet done in this
country. The little gang which had captured the machine was violently
anti-Christian; it proceeded step by step to the destruction of the
Church, until at the end of 1905 the crisis had taken this form. The
Church was disestablished, its endowments were cancelled, the housing of
its hierarchy, its churches and its cathedrals and their furniture were,
further, to be taken from it unless it adopted a Presbyterian form of
government which could not but have cankered it and which was the very
negative of its spirit. So far nothing that the Parliament had done really
touched the lives of the people. Even the proposal to put the remaining
goods of the Church under Presbyterian management was a matter for the
theologians and not for them. Not one man in a hundred knew or cared
about the business. The critical date approached (the 11th of December,
if I remember rightly). Rome was to accept the anti-Catholic scheme of
government or all the churches were to be shut. Rome refused the scheme,
and Parliament, faced for once with a reality and brought under the
necessity of really interfering with the popular life or of capitulating,
capitulated.

What has that example to do, you may ask, with that movement in the south
of France, which is the text of these pages? The answer is as follows:

In the south of France the one main thing actually touching the lives
of the people, after their religion (which the complete breakdown of
the anti-clerical threat had secured), was the sale of their principal
manufacture. This sale was rendered difficult from a number of reasons,
one of which, perhaps not the chief, but the most apparent and the most
easily remediable, was the adulteration and fraud existing in the trade.
Such adulteration and fraud are common to all the trade of our own time.
It was winked at by the gang in power in France, just as similar dirty
work is winked at by the gang in power in every other parliamentary
country. When the peasants who had suffered so severely by this
commercial corruption of our time asked that it should be put a stop to,
the old reply, which has done duty half a million times in every case of
corruption in France, England, or America for a generation, was given to
them: "If you desire a policy to be effected, elect men who will effect
it." As a fact, these four departments had elected a group of men, of whom
Laferre, the Grand Master of the Freemasons, is a good type, with his
absorbing interest in the destruction of Christianity, and his ignorance
and ineptitude in any other field than that of theology.

The peasants replied to this sophistry, which had done duty so often and
had been successful so often in their case as in others, by calling upon
their Deputies to resign. Laferre neglected to do so. He was too greatly
occupied with his opportunity. He went down to "address his constituents."
They chased him for miles. And in that exhilarating episode it was
apparent that the peasants of the Aude had discovered in their simple
fashion both where the representative system was at fault and by what
methods it may be remedied.



ON BRIDGES


Stand on the side of a stream and consider two things: the imbecility of
your private nature and the genius of your common kind.

For you cannot cross the stream, you--Individual you; but Man (from whence
you come) has found out an art for crossing it. This art is the building
of bridges. And hence man in the general may properly be called Pontifex,
or "The Bridge Builder"; and his symbolic summits of office will carry
some such title.

Here I will confess (Individual) that I am tempted to leave you by the
side of the stream, to swim it if you can, to drown if you can't, or to
go back home and be eaten out with your desire for the ulterior shore,
while I digress upon that word Pontifex, which, note you, is not only a
name over a shop as "Henry Pontifex, Italian Warehouseman," or "Pontifex
Brothers, Barbers," but a true key-word breeding ideas and making one
consider the greatness of man, or rather the greatness of what made him.

For man builds bridges over streams, and he has built bridges more or less
stable between mind and mind (a difficult art!), having designed letters
for that purpose, which are his instrument; and man builds by prayer a
bridge between himself and God; man also builds bridges which unite him
with Beauty all about.

Thus he paints and draws and makes statues, and builds for beauty as well
as for shelter from the weather. And man builds bridges between knowledge
and knowledge, co-ordinating one thing that he knows with another thing
that he knows, and putting a bridge from each to each. And man is for ever
building--but he has never yet completed, nor ever will--that bridge they
call philosophy, which is to explain himself in relation to that whence
he came. I say, when his skeleton is put in the Museum properly labelled,
it shall be labelled not _Homo Sapiens_, but _Homo Pontifex_;
hence also the anthem, or rather the choral response, "_Pontificem
habemus_," which is sung so nobly by pontifical great choirs, when
pontifications are pontificated, as behooves the court of a Pontiff.

Nevertheless (Individual) I will not leave you there, for I have pity
on you, and I will explain to you the nature of bridges. By a bridge
was man's first worry overcome. For note you, there is no worry so
considerable as to wail by impassable streams (as Swinburne has it).
It is the proper occupation of the less fortunate dead.



ON BRIDGES


Believe me, without bridges the world would be very different to you. You
take them for granted, you lollop along the road, you cross a bridge. You
may be so ungrateful as to forget all about it, but it is an awful thing!

A bridge is a violation of the will of nature and a challenge. "You
desired me not to cross," says man to the River God, "but I will." And
he does so: not easily. The god had never objected to him that he should
swim and wet himself. Nay, when he was swimming the god could drown him at
will, but to bridge the stream, nay, to insult it, to leap over it, that
was man all over; in a way he knows that the earthy gods are less than
himself and that all that he dreads is his inferior, for only that which
he reveres and loves can properly claim his allegiance. Nor does he in the
long run pay that allegiance save to holiness, or in a lesser way to
valour and to worth.

Man cannot build bridges everywhere. They are not multitudinous as are his
roads, nor universal as are his pastures and his tillage. He builds from
time to time in one rare place and another, and the bridge always remains
a sacred thing. Moreover, the bridge is always in peril. The little
bridge at Paris which carried the Roman road to the island was swept away
continually; and the bridge of Staines that carried the Roman road from
the great port to London was utterly destroyed.

Bridges have always lived with fear in their hearts; and if you think
this is only true of old bridges (Individual), have you forgotten the Tay
Bridge with the train upon it? Or the bridge that they were building over
the St. Lawrence some little time ago, or the bridge across the Loire
where those peasants went to their death on a Sunday only a few months
since? Carefully consider these things and remember that the building and
the sustaining of a bridge is always a wonderful and therefore a perilous
thing.

No bridges more testify to the soul of man than the bridges that leap
in one arch from height to height over the gorge of a torrent. Many of
these are called the Devil's Bridges with good reason, for they suggest
art beyond man's power, and there are two to be crossed and wondered at,
one in Wales in the mountains, and another in Switzerland, also in the
mountains. There is a third in the mountains at the gate of the Sahara, of
the same sort, jumping from rock to rock. But it is not called the Devil's
Bridge. It is called with Semitic simplicity "El Kantara," and that is
the name the Arabs gave to the old bridges, to the lordly bridges of the
Romans, wherever they came across them, for the Arabs were as incapable
of making bridges as they were of doing anything else except singing love
songs and riding about on horses. "Alcantara" is a name all over Spain,
and it is in the heart of the capital of Portugal, and it is fixed in the
wilds of Estremadura. You get it outside Constantine also where the bridge
spans the gulf. Never did an Arab see bridges but he wondered.

Our people also, though they were not of the sort to stand with their
mouths open in front of bridges or anything else, felt the mystery of
these things. And they put chapels in the middle of them, as you may see
at Bale, and at Bradford-upon-Avon, and especially was there one upon old
London Bridge, which was dedicated to St. Thomas a Becket, and was very
large. And speaking of old London Bridge, every one in London should
revere bridges, for a great number of reasons.

In the first place London never would have been London but for London
Bridge.

In the second place, bridges enable the people of London to visit the
south of the river, which is full of pleasing and extraordinary sights,
and in which may be seen, visibly present to the eye, Democracy. If any
one doubts this let him take the voyage.

Then again, but for bridges Londoners could not see the river except
from the Embankment, which is an empty sort of place, or from the windows
of hotels. Bridges also permit railways from the south to enter London.
If this seems to you a commonplace, visit New York or for ever after hold
your peace.

All things have been degraded in our time and have also been multiplied,
which is perhaps a condition of degradation; and your simple thing, your
bridge, has suffered with the rest. Men have invented all manner of
bridges: tubular bridges, suspension bridges, cantilever bridges, swing
bridges, pontoon bridges, and the bridge called the Russian Bridge, which
is intolerable; but they have not been able to do with the bridge what
they have done with some other things: they have not been able to destroy
it; it is still a bridge, still perilous, and still a triumph. The bridge
still remains the thing which may go at any moment and yet the thing
which, when it remains, remains our oldest monument. There is a bridge
over the Euphrates--I forget whether it goes all the way across--which the
Romans built. And the oldest thing in the way of bridges in the town of
Paris, a thing three hundred years old, was the bridge that stood the late
floods best. The bridge will remain a symbol in spite of the engineers.

Look how differently men have treated bridges according to the passing
mood of civilization. Once they thought it reasonable to tax people who
crossed bridges. Now they think it unreasonable. Yet the one course was
as reasonable as the other. Once they built houses on bridges, clearly
perceiving that there was lack of room for houses, and that there was
a housing problem, and that the bridges gave a splendid chance. Now no
one dares to build a house upon a bridge, and the one proceeding is as
reasonable as the other.

The time has come to talk at random about bridges.

The ugliest bridge in the world runs from Lambeth to the Horseferry Road,
and takes the place of the old British trackway which here crossed the
Thames. About the middle of it, if you will grope in the mud, you may or
may not find the great Seal of England which James II there cast into
the flood. If it was fished up again, why then it is not there. The most
beautiful bridge in London is Waterloo Bridge; the most historic is London
Bridge; and far the most useful Westminster Bridge. The most famous bridge
in Italy to tourists is the old bridge at Florence, and the best known
from pictures the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. That with the best chance
of an eternal fame is the bridge which carries the road from Tizzano to
Serchia over the gully of the muddy Apennines, for upon the 18th of June,
1901, it was broken down in the middle of the night, and very nearly cost
the life of a man who could ill afford it. The place where a bridge is
most needed, and is not present, is the Ford of Fornovo. The place where
there is most bridge and where it is least needed is the railway bridge
at Venice. The bridge that trembles most is the Bridge of Piacenza. The
bridge that frightens you most is the Brooklyn Bridge, and the bridge that
frightens you least is the bridge in St. James's Park; for even if you
are terrified by water in every form, as are too many boastful men, you
must know, or can be told, that there is but a dampness of some inches in
the sheet below. The longest bridge for boring one is the railway bridge
across the Somme to St. Valery, whence Duke William started with a
horseshoe mouth and very glum upon his doubtful adventure to invade these
shores--but there was no bridge in his time. The shortest bridge is made
of a plank, in the village of Loudwater in the county of Bucks, not far
from those Chiltern Hundreds which men take in Parliament for the good of
their health as a man might take the waters. The most entertaining bridge
is the Tower Bridge, which lifts up and splits into two just as you are
beginning to cross it, as can be testified by a cloud of witnesses. The
broadest bridge is the Alexandre III Bridge in Paris, at least it looks
the broadest, while the narrowest bridge, without a shadow of doubt, is
the bridge that was built by ants in the moon; if the phrase startles you
remember it is only in a novel by Wells.

The first elliptical bridge was designed by a monk of Cortona, and the
first round one by Adam....

But one might go on indefinitely about bridges and I am heartily tired of
them. Let them cross and recross the streams of the world. I for my part
will stay upon my own side.



A BLUE BOOK


I have thought it of some value to contemporary history to preserve the
following document, which concerns the discovery and survey of an island
in the North Atlantic, which upon its discovery was annexed by the United
States in the first moments of their imperial expansion, and was given the
name of "Atlantis."

The island, which appears to have been formed by some convulsion of
nature, disappeared the year after its discovery, and the report drawn up
by the Commissioners is therefore very little known, and has of course
no importance in the field of practical finance and administration. But
it is a document of the highest and most curious interest as an example
of the ideas that guided the policy of the Great Republic at the moment
when the survey was undertaken; and English readers in particular will
be pleased to note the development and expansion of English methods and
of characteristic English points of view and institutions throughout the
whole document.

Any one who desires to consult the maps, etc., which I have been unable
to reproduce in this little volume, must refer to the Record Office at
Washington. My only purpose in reprinting these really fascinating pages
in such a volume as this is the hope that they may give pleasure to many
who would not have had the opportunity to consult them in the public
archives where they have hitherto been buried.

     A. 2. E. 331 ff.

REPORT OF THE THREE COMMISSIONERS APPOINTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC TO REPORT UPON THE POTENTIAL RESOURCES, SITUATION, ETC., OF THE
NEW ISLAND KNOWN AS "ATLANTIS," RECENTLY DISCOVERED IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC
AND ANNEXED TO THE REPUBLIC, TOGETHER WITH A RECOMMENDATION ON FUTURE
TREATMENT OF SAME.

TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC.

YOUR HONOUR,

[Sidenote: Preamble.]

Your Honour's three Commissioners, Joshua Hogg, Abraham Bush and Jack
Bimber, being of sound mind, solvent, and in good corporeal health, all
citizens of more than five years' standing, and domiciled within the
boundaries, frontiers or terms of the Republic, do make oath and say, So
Help Them God:--

[Sidenote: _Arrival off Atlantis_.]

I. That on the 20th of the month of July, being at that time in or about
Latitude 45 N. and betwixt and between Longitude 51 W. and 51.10° W., so
near as could be made out, the captain of the steamboat "Glory of the
Morning Star" (chartered _for this occasion only_ by the Government
of the Republic, without any damage, precedent or future lien whatsoever),
by name James Murphy, of Cork, Ireland, and domiciled within the aforesaid
terms, boundaries, etc., did in a loud voice at about 4.33 a.m., when it
was already light, cry out "That's Hur," or words to that effect. Your
three Commissioners being at that moment in the cabin, state-room or cuddy
in the forward part of the ship (see annexed plan), came up on deck and
were ordered or enjoined to go below by those having authority on the
"Glory of the Morning Star." Your three Commissioners desire individually
and collectively to call attention to the fact that this order was
obeyed, being given under the Maritime Acts of 1853, and desire also to
protest against the indignity offered in their persons to the majesty of
the Republic. (See Attorney-General's Plea, Folio 56, M.) At or about
_6.30_ a.m. of the same day, July 20th, your Commissioners were
called upon deck, and there was put at their disposal a beat manned by
four sailors, who did thereupon and with all due dispatch row them towards
the island, at that moment some two miles off the weather bow, that is
S.S.W. by S. of the "Glory of the Morning Star." They did then each
individually and all collectively land, disembark and set foot upon the
Island of Atlantis and take possession thereof in the name of Your Honour
and the Republic, displaying at the same time a small flag 19" x 6" in
token of the same, which flag was distinctly noted, seen, recorded and
witnessed by the undersigned, to which they put their hand and seal,
trusting in the guidance of Divine Providence.

JOSHUA HOGG

ABRAHAM BUSH

JACK BIMBER.

[Sidenote: _Shape and Dimensions of the Island_]

II. Your Commissioners proceeded at once to a measurement of the aforesaid
island of Atlantis, which they discovered to be of a triangular or
three-cornered shape, in dimensions as follows: On the northern face from
Cape Providence (q.v.) to Cape Mercy (q.v.), one mile one furlong and a
bit. On the south-western face from Cape Mercy (q.v.) to Point Liberty
(q.v.), seven furlongs, two roods and a foot. On the south-eastern face,
which is the shortest face, from Point Liberty (q.v.) round again to Cape
Providence (q.v.), from which we started, something like half a mile, and
not worth measuring. These dimensions, lines, figures, measurements and
plans they do submit to the public office of Record as accurate and done
to the best of their ability by the undersigned: So Help Them God. (SEAL.)

[Sidenote: _Appearance and Structure of the Island_.]

III. It will be seen from the above that the island is in shape an
Isosceles triangle, as it were, pointing in a north-westerly direction
and having a short base turned to the south-east, contains some 170 acres
or half a square mile, and is situate in a temperate latitude suited to
the Anglo-Saxon Race. As to material or structure, it is composed of sand
(_see its specimens in glass phial_), the said sand being of a yellow
colour when dry and inclining to a brown colour where it may be wet by the
sea or by rain.

[Sidenote: _Springs and Rivers_.]

IV. There are no springs or rivers in the Island.

[Sidenote: _Hills and Mountains_.]

V. There are no mountains on the Island, but there is in the North a
slight hummock some fifteen feet in height. To this hummock we have
given (saving your Honour's Reverence) the name of "Mount Providence"
in commemoration of the manifold and evident graces of Providence in
permitting us to occupy and develop this new land in the furtherance of
true civilization and good government. The hill is at present too small
to make a feature in the landscape, but we have great hopes that it will
grow. (See _Younger_ on "The Sand Dunes of Picardy," Vol. II, pp.
199-200.)

[Sidenote: Harbours.]

VI. The Island is difficult of approach as it slopes up gradually from the
sea bottom and the tides are slight. At high water there is no sounding
of more than three fathoms for about a mile and a half from shore; but at
a distance of two miles soundings of five and six fathoms are common, and
it would be feasible in fine weather for a vessel of moderate draught to
land her cargo, passengers, etc. in small boats. Moreover a harbour might
be built as in our Recommendations (q.v.). There is on the northern side
a bay (caused by indentation of the land) which we think suitable to the
purpose and which, in Your Honour's honour, we have called Buggins' Bay.

[Sidenote: Capes and Headlands.]

VII. These are three, as above enumerated (q.v.); one, the most
precipitous and bold, we have called Cape _Providence_ (q.v.) for
reasons which appear above; the second, Cape _Mercy_, in recognition
of the great mercy shown us in finding this place without running on it
as has been the fate of many a noble vessel. The third we called Point
_Liberty_ from the nature of those glorious institutions which are
the pride of the Republic and which we intend to impose upon any future
inhabitants. These titles, which are but provisional, we pray may remain
and be Enregistered under the seal, notwithstanding the "Act to Restrain
Nuisances and Voids" of 1819, Cap. 2.

[Sidenote: _Climate_.]

VIII. The climate is that of the North Atlantic known as the "Oceanic."
Rain falls not infrequently, and between November and April snow is not
unknown. In summer a more genial temperature prevails, but it is never so
hot as to endanger life or to facilitate the progress of epidemic disease.
Wheat, beans, hops, turnips, and barley could be grown did the soil permit
of it. But we cannot regard an agricultural future as promising for the
new territory.

HERE ENDETH your Commissioners' Report.

(_Seal_)

JOSHUA HOGG. ABRAHAM BUSH. JACOBUS BIMBER.

       *       *       *       *       *

RECOMMENDATIONS

Your Commissioners being also entrusted with the privilege of making
Recommendations, submit the following without prejudice and all pursuants
to the contrary notwithstanding.

As to the _land_: your Commissioners recommend that it should be
held by the State in conformity with those principles which are gaining
a complete ascendancy among the Leading Nations of the Earth. This might
then be let out at its full value to private individuals who would make
what they could of it, leaving the Economic Rent to the community. For
the individual did not make the land, but the State did.

This power of letting the land should, they recommend, be left in the
hands of a _Chartered Company_. Your Commissioners will provide
the names of certain reputable and wealthy citizens who will be glad to
undertake the duty of forming and directing this company, and who will act
on the principle of unsalaried public service by the upper classes, which
is the chief characteristic of our civilization. I. Jacobs, Esq., and Z.
Lewis, Esq. (to be directors of the proposed Chartered Company) have
already volunteered in this matter.

Your Commissioners recommend that the Chartered Company should be granted
the right to strike coins of copper, nickel, silver and gold, the first
three to be issued at three times eight times and twice the value of
the metals respectively, the said currency to be on a gold basis and
mono-metallic and not to exceed the amount of $100 _per capita_.

Your Commissioners further recommend that the same authority be empowered
to issue paper money in proportions of 165% to the gold reserve, the right
to give high values to pieces of paper having proved in the past of the
greatest value to those who have obtained it.

Your Commissioners recommend the building of a stone harbour out to sea
without encroaching on the already exiguous dimensions of the land. They
propose two piers, each some mile and a half long, and built of Portland
rock, an excellent quarry of which is to be discovered on the property
of James Barber, Esq., of Maryville, Kent County, Conn. The stone could
be brought to Atlantis at the lowest rates by the Wall Schreiner line of
floats. In this harbour, if it be sufficiently deepened and its piers set
wide enough apart, the navies of the world could be contained, and it
would be a standing testimony to the energy of our race, "which maketh
the desert to blossom like a rose" (Lev. XXII. 3, 2).

Your Commissioners also recommend an artesian well to be sunk until fresh
water be discovered. This method has been found successful in Australia,
which is also an island and largely composed of sand. It is said that this
method of irrigation produces astonishing results.

Finally, in the matter of industry your Commissioners propose (not, of
course, as a unique industry but as a staple) the packing of sardines. A
sound system of fair trade based upon a tariff scientifically adjusted
to the conditions of the Island should develop the industry rapidly.
Everything lends itself to this: the skilled labour could be imparted
from home, the sardines from France, and the tin and oil from Spain. It
would need for some years an export Bounty somewhat in the nature of
Protection, the scale of which would have to be regulated by the needs
of the community, but they are convinced that when once the industry was
established, the superior skill of our workmen and the enterprise of
our capitalists would control the markets of the world.

As to political rights, we recommend that Atlantis should be treated as a
territory, and that a sharp distinction should be drawn between Rural and
Urban conditions; that the inhabitants should not be granted the franchise
till they have shown themselves worthy of self-government, saving, of
course, those immigrants (such as the negroes of Carolina, etc.) who have
been trained in the exercise of representative institutions. All Religions
should be tolerated except those to which the bulk of the community show
an implacable aversion. Education should be free to all, compulsory upon
the poor, non-sectarian, absolutely elementary, and subject, of course,
to the paramount position of that gospel which has done so much for our
dear country. The sale of Intoxicants should be regulated by the Company,
and these should be limited to a little spirits: wine and beer and all
alcoholic liquors habitually used as beverages should be rigorously
forbidden to the labouring classes, and should only be supplied in _bona
fide_ clubs with a certain minimum yearly subscription.

IN CONCLUSION your Commissioners will ever pray, etc.

MS. note added at the end in the hand of Mr. Charles P. Hands, the curator
of this section:

(_The Island was lost--luckily with no one aboard--during the storms
of the following winter. This report still possesses, however, a strong
historical interest_).



PERIGEUX OF THE PERIGORD


I knew a man once. I met him in a wooden inn upon a bitterly cold day.
He was an American, and we talked of many things. At last he said to me:
"Have you ever seen the Matterhorn?"

"No," said I; for I hated the very name of it. Then he continued:

"It is the most surprising thing I ever saw."

"By the Lord," said I, "'you have found the very word!" I took out a
sketch-book and noted his word "surprising." What admirable humour had
this American; how subtle and how excellent a spirit! I have never seen
the Matterhorn; but it seems that one comes round a corner, and there it
is. It is surprising! Excellent word of the American. I never shall forget
it!

An elephant escapes from a circus and puts his head in at your window
while you are writing and thinking of a word. You look up. You may be
alarmed, you may be astonished, you may be moved to sudden processes of
thought; but one thing you will find about it, and you will find out quite
quickly, and it will dominate all your other emotions of the time: the
elephant's head will be surprising. You are caught. Your soul says loudly
to its Creator: "Oh, this is something new!"

So did I first see in the moonlight up the quite unknown and quite
deserted valley which the peak of the Dead Man dominates in a lonely
and savage manner the main crest of the Pyrenees. So did I first see a
land-fall when I first went overseas. So did I first see the Snowdon range
when I was a little boy, having, until I woke up that morning and looked
out of the windows of the hotel, never seen anything in my life more
uplifted than the rounded green hills of South England.

Now the cathedral of St. Front in Perigeux of the Perigord is the most
surprising thing in Europe. It is much more surprising than the hills--for
a man made it. Man made it hundreds and hundreds of years ago; man has
added to it, and, by the grace of his enthusiasm and his disciplined
zeal, man has (thank God!) scraped, remodelled, and restored it. Upon my
soul, to see such a thing I was proud to be an Anthropoid, and to claim
cousinship with those dark citizens of the Dordogne and of Garonne and of
the Tarn and of the Lot, and of whatever rivers fall into the Gironde. I
know very well that they have sweated to indoctrinate, to persecute, to
trim, to improve, to exterminate, to lift up, to cast down, to annoy, to
amuse, to exasperate, to please, to enmusic, to offend, to glorify their
kind. In some of these energies of theirs I blame them, in others I
praise; but it is plainly evident that they know how to binge. I wished
(for a moment) to be altogether of their race, like that strong cavalry
man of their race to whom they have put up a statue pointing to his wooden
leg. What an incredible people to build such an incredible church!

The Clericals claim it, the anti-Clericals adorn it. The Christians bemoan
within it the wickedness of the times. The Atheists are baptized in it,
married in it, denounced in it, and when they die are, in great coffins
surrounded by great candles, to the dirge of the _Dies Iræ_, to the
booming of the vast new organ, very formally and determinedly absolved
in it; and holy water is sprinkled over the black cloth and cross of
silver. The pious and the indifferent, nay, the sad little army of
earnest, intelligent, strenuous men who still anxiously await the death
of religion--they all draw it, photograph it, paint it; they name their
streets, their hotels, their villages, and their very children after it.
It is like everything else in the world: it must be seen to be believed.
It rises up in a big cluster of white domes upon the steep bank of the
river. And sometimes you think it a fortress, and sometimes you think it
a town, and sometimes you think it a vision. It is simple in plan and
multiple in the mind; and after all these years I remember it as one
remembers a sudden and unexpected chorus. It is well worthy of Perigeux of
the Perigord.

Perigeux of the Perigord is Gaulish, and it has never died. When it was
Roman it was Vesona; the temple of that patron Goddess still stands at its
eastern gate, and it is one of those teaching towns which have never died,
but in which you can find quite easily and before your eyes every chapter
of our worthy story. In such towns I am filled as though by a book, with a
contemplation of what we have done, and I have little doubt for our sons.

The city reclines and is supported upon the steep bank of the Isle just
where the stream bends and makes an amphitheatre, so that men coming in
from the north (which is the way the city was meant to be entered--and
therefore, as you may properly bet, the railway comes in at the other side
by the back door) see it all at once: a great sight. One goes up through
its narrow streets, especially noting that street which is very nobly
called after the man who tossed his sword in the air riding before the
Conqueror at Hastings, Taillefer. One turns a narrow corner between houses
very old and very tall, and then quite close, no longer a vision, but a
thing to be touched, you see--to use the word again--the "surprising"
thing. You see something bigger than you thought possible.

Great heavens, what a church!

Where have I heard a church called "the House of God"? I think it was in
Westmorland near an inn called "The Nag's Head"--or perhaps "The Nag's
Head" is in Cumberland--no matter, I did once hear a church so called. But
this church has a right to the name. It is a gathering-up of all that men
could do. It has fifty roofs, it has a gigantic signal tower, it has blank
walls like precipices, and round arch after round arch, and architrave
after architrave. It is like a good and settled epic; or, better still, it
is like the life of a healthy and adventurous man who, having accomplished
all his journeys and taken the Fleece of Gold, comes home to tell his
stories at evening, and to pass among his own people the years that are
left to him of his age. It has experience and growth and intensity of
knowledge, all caught up into one unity; it conquers the hill upon which
it stands. I drew one window and then another, and then before I had
finished that a cornice, and then before I had finished that a porch,
for it was evening when I saw it, and I had not many hours.

Music, they say, does something to the soul, filling it full of
unsatisfied but transcendent desires, and making it guess, in glimpses
that mix and fail, the soul's ultimate reward or destiny. Here, in
Perigeux of the Perigord, where men hunt truffles with hounds, stone set
in a certain order does what music is said to do. For in the sight of this
standing miracle I could believe and confess, and doubt and fear, and
control, all in one.

Here is, living and continuous, the Empire in its majority and
its determination to be eternal. The people of the Perigord, the
truffle-hunting people, need never seek civilization nor fear its death,
for they have its symbol, and a sacrament, as it were, to promise them
that the arteries of the life of Europe can never be severed. The arches
and the entablatures of this solemn thing are alive.

It was built some say nine, some say eight hundred years ago; its apse was
built yesterday, but the whole of it is outside time.

In human life, which goes with a short rush and then a lull, like the wind
among trees before rains, great moments are remembered; they comfort us
and they help us to laugh at decay. I am very glad that I once saw this
church in Perigeux of the Perigord.

When I die I should like to be buried in my own land, but I should take it
as a favour from the Bishop, who is master of this place, if he would come
and give my coffin an absolution, and bring with him the cloth and the
silver cross, and if he would carry in his hand (as some of the statues
have) a little model of St. Front, the church which I have seen and which
renewed my faith.



THE POSITION


There is a place where the valley of the Allier escapes from the central
mountains of France and broadens out into a fertile plain.

Here is a march or boundary between two things, the one familiar to most
English travellers, the other unfamiliar. The familiar thing is the rich
alluvium and gravel of the Northern French countrysides, the poplar trees,
the full and quiet rivers, the many towns and villages of stone, the broad
white roads interminable and intersecting the very fat of prosperity,
and over it all a mild air. The unfamiliar is the mass of the Avernian
Mountains, which mass is the core and centre of Gaul and of Gaulish
history, and of the unseen power that lies behind the whole of that
business.

The plains are before one, the mountains behind one, and one stands in
that borderland. I know it well.

I have said that in the Avernian Mountains was the centre of Gaul and the
power upon which the history of Gaul depends. Upon the Margeride, which is
one of their uttermost ridges, du Guesclin was wounded to death. One may
see the huge stones piled up on the place where he fell. In the heart of
those mountains, at Puy, religion has effects that are eerie; it uses odd
high peaks for shrines--needles of rock; and a long way off all round is a
circle of hills of a black-blue in the distance, and they and the rivers
have magical names--the river Red Cap and Chaise Dieu, "God's Chair."
In these mountains Julius Caesar lost (the story says) his sword; and
in these mountains the Roman armies were staved off by the Avernians.
They are as full of wonder as anything in Europe can be, and they are
complicated and tumbled all about, so that those who travel in them with
difficulty remember where they have been, unless indeed they have that
general eye for a countryside which is rare nowadays among men.

Just at the place where the mountain land and the plain land meet, where
the shallow valleys get rounder and less abrupt, I went last September,
following the directions of a soldier who had told me how I might find
where the centre of the manoeuvres lay. The manoeuvres, attempting to
reproduce the conditions of war, made a drifting scheme of men upon either
side of the River Sioule. One could never be certain where one would find
the guns.

I had come up off the main road from Vichy, walking vaguely towards the
sound of the firing. It was unfamiliar. The old and terrible rumble has
been lost for a generation; even the plain noise of the field-piece which
used to be called "90" is forgotten by the young men now. The new little
guns pop and ring. And when you are walking towards them from a long way
off you do not seem to be marching towards anything great, but rather
towards something clever. Nevertheless it is as easy to-day as ever it
was to walk towards the sound of cannon.

Two valleys absolutely lonely had I trudged-through since the sun rose,
and it was perhaps eight o'clock when I came upon one of those lonely
walled parks set in bare fields which the French gentry seem to find
homelike enough. I asked a man at the lodge about how far the position
was. He said he did not know, and looked upon me with suspicion.

I went down into the depth of the valley, and there I met a priest who was
reading his Breviary and erroneously believed me (if I might judge his
looks) to be of a different religion, for he tested philosophy by clothes;
and this, by the way, is unalterably necessary for all mankind. When,
however, he found by my method of address that I knew his language and
was of his own faith, he became very courteous, and when I told him that
I wanted to find the position he became as lively as a linesman, making
little maps with his stick in the earth, and waving his arms, and making
great sweeps with his hand to show the way in which the army had been
drifting all morning, northward and eastward, above the Sioule, with the
other division on the opposite bank, and how, whenever there was a bridge
to be fought for, the game had been to pretend that one or the other had
got hold of it. Of this priest it might truly be said, as was said of
the priest of Thiers in the Forez, that chance had made him a choir-boy,
but destiny had designed him for the profession of arms; and upon this
one could build an interesting comedy of how chance and destiny are
perpetually at issue, and how chance, having more initiative and not
being so bound to routine, gets the better of destiny upon all occasions
whatsoever.

Well, the priest showed me in this manner whither I should walk, and so I
came out of the valley on to a great upland, and there a small boy (who
was bullying a few geese near a pond) showed much the same excitement as
the priest when he told me at what village I should find the guns.

That village was a few miles further on. As I went along the straight,
bare road, with stubble upon either side, I thought the sound of firing
got louder; but then, again, it would diminish, as the batteries took a
further and a further position in their advance. It was great fun, this
sham action, with its crescent of advancing fire and one's self in the
centre of the curve. At the next village I had come across the arteries
of the movement. By one road provisionment was going off to the right;
by another two men with messages, one a Hussar on horseback, the other a
Reservist upon a bicycle, went by me very quickly. Then from behind some
high trees in a churchyard there popped out a lot of little Engineers, who
were rolling a great roll of wire along. So I went onwards; and at last
I came to a cleft just before the left bank of the Sioule. This cleft
appeared deserted: there was brushwood on its sides and a tiny stream
running through it. On the ridge beyond were the roofs of a village. The
firing of the pieces was now quite close and near. They were a little
further than the houses of the hamlet, doubtless in some flat field where
the position was favourable to them. Down that cleft I went, and in its
hollow I saw the first post, but as yet nothing more. Then when I got to
the top of the opposing ridge I found the whole of the 38th lolling under
the cover of the road bank. From below you would have said there were no
men at all. The guns were right up beyond the line, firing away. I went up
past the linesmen till I found the guns.

And what a pretty sight! They were so small and light and delicate! There
was no clanking, and no shouting, and to fire them a man pulled a mere
trigger. I thought to myself: "How simple and easy our civilization
becomes. Think of the motor-cars, and how they purr. Think of the simple
telephone, and all the other little things." And with this thought in my
mind I continued to watch the guns. Without yells or worry a man spoke
gently to other men, and they all limbered up, quite easily. The weight
seemed to have gone since my time. They trotted off with the pieces, and
when they crossed the little ditch at the edge of the field I waited for
the heavy clank-clank and the jog that ought to go with that well-known
episode; but I did not hear it, and I saw no shock. They got off the
field with its little ditch on to the high road as a light cart with good
springs might have done. And when they massed themselves under the cover
of a roll of land it was all done again without noise. I thought a little
sadly that the world had changed. But it was all so pretty and sensible
that I hardly regretted the change. There was a stretch of road in front
where nothing on earth could have given cover. The line was on its
stomach, firing away, and it was getting fired at apparently, in the sham
of the manoeuvre from the other side of the Sioule. As it covered this
open space the line edged forward and upward. When a certain number of the
38th had worked up like this, the whole bunch of them, from half a mile
down the road, right through the village, were moved along, and the head
of the column was scattered to follow up the firing. It was like spraying
water out of a tap. The guns still stood massed, and then at a sudden
order which was passed along as though in the tones of a conversation
(and again I thought to myself, "Surely the world is turning upside down
since I was a boy") they started off at a sharp gallop and leapt, as it
were, the two or three hundred yards of open road between cover and cover.
They were very well driven. The middle horses and the wheelers were doing
their work: it was not only the leaders that kept the traces taut. It was
wonderfully pretty to see them go by: not like a storm but like a smoke.
No one could have hit those gunners or those teams. Whether they were on
the sky-line or not I could not tell, but at any rate they could have been
seen just for that moment from beyond the Sioule. And when they massed up
again, beyond--some seconds afterwards--one heard the pop-pop from over
the valley, which showed they had been seen just too late.

Hours and hours after that I went on with the young fellows. The guns I
could not keep with: I walked with the line. And all the while as I walked
I kept on wondering at the change that comes over European things. This
army of young men doing two years, with its odd silence and its sharp
twittering movements, and the sense of eyes all round one, of men glancing
and appreciating: individual men catching an opportunity for cover; and
commanding men catching the whole countryside.... Then, in the early
afternoon, the bugles and the trumpets sounded that long-drawn call which
has attended victories and capitulations, and which is also sounded every
night to tell people to put out the lights in the barrack-rooms. It is the
French "Cease fire." And whether from the national irony or the national
economy, I know not, but the stopping of either kind of fire has the
same call attached to it, and you must turn out a light in a French
barrack-room to the same notes as you must by command stop shooting at the
other people.

The game was over. I faced the fourteen miles back to Gannat very stiff.
All during those hours I had been wondering at the novelty of Europe, and
at all these young men now so different, at the silence and the cover, and
the hefty, disposable little guns. But when I had my face turned southward
again to get back to a meal, that other aspect of Europe, its eternity,
was pictured all abroad. For there right before me stood the immutable
mountains, which stand enormous and sullen, but also vague at the base,
and, therefore, in their summits, unearthly, above the Limagne. There was
that upper valley of the Allier down which Cæsar had retreated, gathering
his legions into the North, and there was that silent and menacing sky
which everywhere broods over Auvergne, and even in its clearest days seems
to lend the granite and the lava land a sort of doomed hardness, as though
Heaven in this country commanded and did not allure. Never had I seen a
landscape more mysterious than those hills, nor at the same time anything
more enduring.



HOME


There is a river called the Eure which runs between low hills often
wooded, with a flat meadow floor in between. It so runs for many miles.
The towns that are set upon it are for the most part small and rare,
and though the river is well known by name, and though one of the chief
cathedrals of Europe stands near its source, for the most part it is not
visited by strangers.

In this valley one day as I was drawing a picture of the woods I found a
wandering Englishman who was in the oddest way. He seemed by the slight
bend at his knees and the leaning forward of his head to have no very
great care how much further he might go. He was in the clothes of an
English tourist, which looked odd in such a place, as, for that matter,
they do anywhere. He had upon his head a pork-pie hat which was of the
same colour and texture as his clothes, a speckly brown. He carried a
thick stick. He was a man over fifty years of age; his face was rather
hollow and worn; his eyes were very simple and pale; he was bearded with a
weak beard, and in his expression there appeared a constrained but kindly
weariness. This was the man who came up to me as I was drawing my picture.
I had heard him scrambling in the undergrowth of the woods just behind me.

He came out and walked to me across the few yards of meadow. The haying
was over, so he did the grass no harm. He came and stood near me,
irresolutely, looking vaguely up and across the valley towards the further
woods, and then gently towards what I was drawing. When he had so stood
still and so looked for a moment he asked me in French the name of the
great house whose roof showed above the more ordered trees beyond the
river, where a park emerged from and mixed with the forest. I told him the
name of the house, whereupon he shook his head and said that he had once
more come to the wrong place.

I asked him what he meant, and he told me, sitting down slowly and
carefully upon the grass, this adventure:

"First," said he, "are you always quite sure whether a thing is really
there or not?"

"I am always quite sure," said I; "I am always positive."

He sighed, and added: "Could you understand how a man might feel that
things were really there when they were not?"

"Only," said I, "in some very vivid dream, and even then I think a man
knows pretty well inside his own mind that he is dreaming." I said that it
seemed to me rather like the question of the cunning of lunatics; most of
them know at the bottom of their silly minds that they are cracked, as you
may see by the way they plot and pretend.

"You are not sympathetic with me," he said slowly, "but I will
nevertheless tell you what I want to tell you, for it will relieve me, and
it will explain to you why I have again come into this valley." "Why do
you say 'again'?" said I.

"Because," he answered gently, "whenever my work gives me the opportunity
I do the same thing. I go up the valley of the Seine by train from Dieppe;
I get out at the station at which I got out on that day, and I walk across
these low hills, hoping that I may strike just the path and just the
mood--but I never do."

"What path and what mood?" said I.

"I was telling you," he answered patiently, "only you were so brutal about
reality." And then he sighed. He put his stick across his knees as he sat
there on the grass, held it with a hand on either side of his knees, and
so sitting bunched up began his tale once more.

"It was ten years ago, and I was extremely tired, for you must know that
I am a Government servant, and I find my work most wearisome. It was just
this time of year that I took a week's holiday. I intended to take it in
Paris, but I thought on my way, as the weather was so fine, that I would
do something new and that I would walk a little way off the track. I had
often wondered what country lay behind the low and steep hills on the
right of the railway line.

"I had crossed the Channel by night," he continued, a little sorry for
himself, "to save the expense. It was dawn when reached Rouen, and there I
very well remember drinking some coffee which I did not like, and eating
some good bread which I did. I changed carriages at Rouen because the
express did not stop at any of the little stations beyond. I took a slower
train, which came immediately behind it, and stopped at most of the
stations. I took my ticket rather at random for a little station between
Pont de l'Arche and Mantes. I got out at that little station, and it was
still early--only midway through the morning.

"I was in an odd mixture of fatigue and exhilaration: I had not slept and
I would willingly have done so, but the freshness of the new day was upon
me, and I have always had a very keen curiosity to see new sights and to
know what lies behind the hills.

"The day was fine and already rather hot for June. I did not stop in the
village near the station for more than half an hour, just the time to take
some soup and a little wine; then I set out into the woods to cross over
into this parallel valley. I knew that I should come to it and to the
railway line that goes down it in a very few miles. I proposed when I came
to that other railway line on the far side of the hills to walk quietly
down it as nearly parallel to it as I could get, and at the first station
to take the next train for Chartres, and then the next day to go from
Chartres to Paris. That was my plan.

"The road up into the woods was one of those great French roads which
sometimes frighten me and always weary me by their length and insistence:
men seem to have taken so much trouble to make them, and they make me
feel as though I had to take trouble myself; I avoid them when I walk.
Therefore, so soon as this great road had struck the crest of the hills
and was well into the woods (cutting through them like the trench of a
fortification, with the tall trees on either side) I struck out into a
ride which had been cut through them many years ago and was already half
overgrown, and I went along this ride for several miles.

"It did not matter to me how I went, since my design was so simple and
since any direction more or less westward would enable me to fulfil it,
that is, to come down upon the valley of the Eure and to find the single
railway line which leads to Chartres. The woods were very pleasant on that
June noon, and once or twice I was inclined to linger in their shade and
sleep an hour. But--note this clearly--I did not sleep. I remember every
moment of the way, though I confess my fatigue oppressed me somewhat
as the miles continued.

"At last by the steepness of a new descent I
recognized that I had crossed the watershed and was coming down into the
valley of this river. The ride had dwindled to a path, and I was wondering
where the path would lead me when I noticed that it was getting more
orderly: there were patches of sand, and here and there a man had cut and
trimmed the edges of the way. Then it became more orderly still. It was
all sanded, and there were artificial bushes here and there--I mean bushes
not native to the forest, until at last I was aware that my ramble had
taken me into some one's own land, and that I was in a private ground.

"I saw no great harm in this, for a traveller, if he explains himself,
will usually be excused; moreover, I had to continue, for I knew no
other way, and this path led me westward also. Only, whether because my
trespassing worried me or because I felt my own dishevelment more acutely,
the lack of sleep and the strain upon me increased as I pursued those
last hundred yards, until I came out suddenly from behind a screen of
rosebushes upon a large lawn, and at the end of it there was a French
country house with a moat round it, such as they often have, and a stone
bridge over the moat.

"The château was simple and very grand. The mouldings upon it pleased me,
and it was full of peace. Upon the further side of the lawn, so that I
could hear it but not see it, a fountain was playing into a basin. By the
sound it was one of those high French fountains which the people who built
such houses as these two hundred years ago delighted in. The plash of it
was very soothing, but I was so tired and drooping that at one moment it
sounded much further than at the next.

"There was an iron bench at the edge of the screen of roses, and hardly
knowing what I did,--for it was not the right thing to do in another
person's place--I sat down on this bench, taking pleasure in the sight of
the moat and the house with its noble roof, and the noise of the fountain.
I think I should have gone to sleep there and at that moment--for I felt
upon me worse than ever the strain of that long hot morning and that long
night journey--had not a very curious thing happened."

Here the man looked up at me oddly, as though to see whether I disbelieved
him or not; but I did not disbelieve him.

I was not even very much interested, for I was trying to make the trees to
look different one from the other, which is an extremely difficult thing:
I had not succeeded and I was niggling away. He continued with more
assurance:

"The thing that happened was this: a young girl came out of the house
dressed in white, with a blue scarf over her head and crossed round her
neck. I knew her face as well as possible: it was a face I had known all
my youth and early manhood--but for the life of me I could not remember
her name!'

"When one is very tired," I said, "that does happen to one: a name one
knows as well as one's own escapes one. It is especially the effect of
lack of sleep."

"It is," said he, sighing profoundly; "but the oddness of my feeling it is
impossible to describe, for there I was meeting the oldest and perhaps the
dearest and certainly the most familiar of my friends, whom," he added,
hesitating a moment, "I had not seen for many years. It was a very great
pleasure ... it was a sort of comfort and an ending. I forgot, the moment
I saw her, why I had come over the hills, and all about how I meant to get
to Chartres.... And now I must tell you," added the man a little awkwardly,
"that my name is Peter."

"No doubt," said I gravely, for I could not see why he should not bear
that name.

"My Christian name," he continued hurriedly.

"Of course," said I, as sympathetically as I could. He seemed relieved
that I had not even smiled at it.

"Yes," he went on rather quickly, "Peter--my name is Peter. Well, this
lady came up to me and said, 'Why, Peter, we never thought you would
come!' She did not seem very much astonished, but rather as though I had
come earlier than she had expected. 'I will get Philip,' she said. 'You
remember Philip?' Here I had another little trouble with my memory: I did
remember that there was a Philip, but I could not place him. That was odd,
you know. As for her, oh, I knew _her_ as well as the colour of the
sky: it was her name that my brain missed, as it might have missed my own
name or my mother's.

"Philip came out as she called him, and there was a familiarity between
them that seemed natural to me at the time, but whether he was a brother
or a lover or a husband, or what, I could not for the life of me remember.

"'You look tired,' he said to me in a kind voice that I liked very much
and remembered clearly. 'I am,' said I, 'dog tired.' 'Come in with us,' he
said, 'and we will give you some wine and water. When would you like to
eat?' I said I would rather sleep than eat. He said that could easily be
arranged.

"I strolled with them towards the house across that great lawn, hearing
the noise of the fountain, now dimmer, now nearer; sometimes it seemed
miles away and sometimes right in my ears. Whether it was their
conversation or my familiarity with them or my fatigue, at any rate, as I
crossed the moat I could no longer recall anything save their presence. I
was not even troubled by the desire to recall anything; I was full of a
complete contentment, and this surging up of familiar things, this surging
up of it in a foreign place, without excuse or possible connexion or any
explanation whatsoever, seemed to me as natural as breathing.

"As I crossed the bridge I wholly forgot whence I came or whither I was
going, but I knew myself better than ever I had known myself, and every
detail of the place was familiar to me.

"Here I had passed (I thought) many hours of my childhood and my boyhood
and my early manhood also. I ceased considering the names and the relation
of Philip and the girl.

"They gave me cold meat and bread and excellent wine, and water to mix
with it, and as they continued to speak even the last adumbrations of care
fell off me altogether, and my spirit seemed entirely released and free.
My approaching sleep beckoned to me like an easy entrance into Paradise.
I should wake from it quite simply into the perpetual enjoyment of this
place and its companionship. Oh, it was an absolute repose!

"Philip took me to a little room on the ground floor fitted with the
exquisite care and the simplicity of the French: there was a curtained
bed, a thing I love. He lent me night clothes, though it was broad day,
because he said that if I undressed and got into the bed I should be much
more rested; they would keep everything quiet at that end of the house,
and the gentle fall of the water into the moat outside would not disturb
me. I said on the contrary it would soothe me, and I felt the benignity of
the place possess me like a spell. Remember that I was very tired and had
not slept for now thirty hours.

"I remember handling the white counterpane and noting the delicate French
pattern upon it, and seeing at one corner the little red silk coronet
embroidered, which made me smile. I remember putting my hand upon the cool
linen of the pillow-case and smoothing it; then I got into that bed and
fell asleep. It was broad noon, with the stillness that comes of a summer
noon upon the woods; the air was cool and delicious above the water of the
moat, and my windows were open to it.

"The last thing I heard as I dropped asleep was her voice calling to
Philip in the corridor. I could have told the very place. I knew that
corridor so well. We used to play there when we were children. We used to
play at travelling, and we used to invent the names of railway stations
for the various doors. Remembering this and smiling at the memory, I fell
at once into a blessed sleep.

"...I do not want to annoy you," said the man apologetically, "but I
really had to tell you this story, and I hardly know how to tell you the
end of it."

"Go on," said I hurriedly, for I had gone and made two trees one exactly
like the other (which in nature was never seen) and I was annoyed with
myself.

"Well," said he, still hesitating and sighing with real sadness, "when
I woke up I was in a third-class carriage; the light was that of late
afternoon, and a man had woken me by tapping my shoulder and telling me
that the next station was Chartres.... That's all."

He sighed again. He expected me to say something. So I did. I said without
much originality: "You must have dreamed it."

"No," said he, very considerably put out, "that is the point! I didn't! I
tell you I can remember exactly every stage from when I left the railway
train in the Seine Valley until I got into that bed."

"It's all very odd," said I.

"Yes," said he, "and so was my mood; but it was real enough. It was the
second or third most real thing that has ever happened to me. I am quite
certain that it happened to me."

I remained silent, and rubbed out the top of one of my trees so as to
invent a new top for it, since I could not draw it as it was. Then, as he
wanted me to say something more, I said: "Well, you must have got into the
train somehow."

"Of course," said he.

"Well, where did you get into the train?"

"I don't know."

"Your ticket would have told you that."

"I think I must have given it up to the man," he answered doubtfully, "the
guard who told me that the next station was Chartres."

"Well, it's all very mysterious," I said.

"Yes," he said, getting up rather weakly to go on again, "it is." And
he sighed again. "I come here every year. I hope," he added a little
wistfully, "I hope, you see, that it may happen to me again ... but it
never does."

"It will at last," said I to comfort him.

And, will you believe it, that simple sentence made him in a moment
radiantly happy; his face beamed, and he positively thanked me, thanked me
warmly.

"You speak like one inspired," he said. (I confess I did not feel like it
at all.) "I shall go much lighter on my way after that sentence of yours."

He bade me good-bye with some ceremony and slouched off, with his eyes set
towards the west and the more distant hills.



THE WAY TO FAIRYLAND


A child of four years old, having read of Fairyland and of the people in
it, asked only two days ago, in a very popular attitude of doubt, whether
there were any such place, and, if so, where it was; for she believed in
her heart that the whole thing was a pack of lies.

I was happy to be able to tell her that her scepticism, though well
founded, was extreme. The existence of Fairyland, I was able to point out
to her both by documentary evidence from books and also by calling in the
testimony of the aged, could not be doubted by any reasonable person. What
was really difficult was the way to get there. Indeed, so obviously true
was the existence of Fairyland, that every one in this world set out to go
there as a matter of course, but so difficult was it to find the way that
very few reached the place. Upon this the child very naturally asked me
what sort of way the way was and why it was so difficult.

"You must first understand," said I, "where Fairyland is: it lies a little
way farther than the farthest hill you can see. It lies, in fact, just
beyond that hill. The frontiers of it are sometimes a little doubtful in
any landscape, because the landscape is confused, but if on the extreme
limits of the horizon you see a long line of hills bounding your view
exactly, then you may be perfectly certain that on the other side of those
hills is Fairyland. There are times of the day and of the weather when the
sky over Fairyland can be clearly perceived, for it has a different colour
from any other kind of sky. That is where Fairyland is. It is not on an
island, as some have pretended, still less is it under the earth--a
ridiculous story, for there it is all dark."

"But how do you get there?" asked the child. "Do you get there by walking
to the hills and going over?"

"No," said I, "that is just the bother of it. Several people have thought
that that was the way of getting there; in fact, it looked plain common
sense, but there is a trick about it; when you get to the hills everything
changes, because the fairies have that power: the hills become ordinary,
the people living on them turn into people just like you and me, and then
when you get to the top of the hills, before you can say knife another
common country just like ours has been stuck on the other side. On this
account, through the power of the fairies, who hate particularly to be
disturbed, no one can reach Fairyland in so simple a way as by walking
towards it."

"Then," said the child to me, "I don't see how any one can get there"--for
this child had good brains and common sense.

"But," said I, "you must have read in stories of people who get to
Fairyland, and I think you will notice that in the stories written by
people who know anything about it (and you know how easily these are
distinguished from the others) there are always two ways of getting to
Fairyland, and only two: one is by mistake, and the other is by a spell.
In the first way to Fairyland is to lose your way, and this is one of the
best ways of getting there; but it is dangerous, because if you get there
that way you offend the fairies. It is better to get there by a spell.
But the inconvenience of that is that you are blindfolded so as not to be
allowed to remember the way there or back again. When you get there by a
spell, one of the people from Fairyland takes you in charge. They prefer
to do it when you are asleep, but they are quite game to do it at other
times if they think it worth their while.

"Why do they do it?" said the child.

"They do it," said I, "because it annoys the fairies very much to think
that people are stopping believing in them. They are very proud people,
and think a lot of themselves. They can, if they like, do us good, and
they think us ungrateful when we forget about them. Sometimes in the past
people have gone on forgetting about fairies more and more and more,
until at last they have stopped believing in them altogether. The fairies
meanwhile have been looking after their own affairs, and it is their fault
more than ours when we forget about them. But when this has gone on for
too long a time the fairies wake up and find out by a way they have that
men have stopped believing in them, and get very much annoyed. Then some
fairy proposes that a map of the way to Fairyland should be drawn up and
given to the people; but this is always voted down; and at last they make
up their minds to wake people up to Fairyland by going and visiting this
world, and by spells bringing several people into their kingdom and so
getting witnesses. For, as you can imagine, it is a most unpleasant thing
to be really important and for other people not to know it."

"Yes," said the child, who had had this unpleasant experience, and greatly
sympathized with the fairies when I explained how much they disliked it.
Then the child asked me again:

"Why do the fairies let us forget about them?"

"It is," said I, "because they get so excited about their own affairs.
Rather more than a hundred years ago, for instance, a war broke out in
Fairyland because the King of the Fairies, whose name is Oberon, and the
Queen of the Fairies, whose name is Titania, had asked the Trolls to
dinner. The Gnomes were very much annoyed at this, and the Elves still
more so, for the chief glory of the Elves was that being elfish got you to
know people; and it was universally admitted that the Trolls ought never
to be asked out, because they were trollish. King Oberon said that all
that was a wicked prejudice, and that the Trolls ought to be asked out to
dinner just as much as the Elves, in common justice. But his real reason
was that he was bored by the perpetual elfishness of the Elves, and wanted
to see the great ugly Trolls trying to behave like gentlemen for a change.
So the Trolls came and tied their napkins round their necks, and ate such
enormous quantities at dinner that King Oberon and his Queen almost died
of laughing. The Elves were frightfully jealous, and so the war began. And
while it was going on everybody in Earthland forgot more and more about
Fairyland, until at last some people went so far as to say, like you, that
Fairyland did not exist."

"I did not say so," said the child, "I only asked."

"But," I answered severely, "asking about such things is the beginning of
doubting them. Anyhow, the fairies woke up one fine day about the time
when your great-grandfather got married, to discover that they were not
believed in, so they patched up their quarrel and they sent fairies to
cast spells, and any amount of people began to be taken to Fairyland,
until at last every one was forced to believe their evidence and to say
that Fairyland existed."

"Were they glad?" said the child.

"Who?" said I; "the witnesses who were thus taken away and shown
Fairyland?"

"Yes," said the child. "They ought to have been glad."

"Well, they _weren't_!" said I. "They were as sick as dogs. Not one
of them but got into some dreadful trouble. From one his wife ran away,
another starved to death, a third killed himself, a fourth was drowned
and then burned upon the seashore, a fifth went mad (and so did several
others), and as for poverty, and all the misfortunes that go with it, it
simply rained upon the people who had been to Fairyland."

"Why?" said the child, greatly troubled.

"Ah!" said I, "that is what none of us know, but so it is, if they take
you to Fairyland you are in for a very bad business indeed. There is only
one way out of it."

"And what is that?" said the child, interested.

"Washing," said I, "washing in cold water. It has been proved over and
over again."

"Then," said the child happily, "they can take me to Fairyland as often as
they like, and I shall not be the worse for it, for I am washed in cold
water every day. What about the other way to Fairyland?"

"Oh _that_," said I, "that, I think, is much the best way; I've gone
there myself."

"Have you really?" said the child, now intensely interested. "That
_is_ good! How often have you been there?"

"Oh I can't tell you," I said carelessly, "but at least eight times, and
perhaps more, and the dodge is, as I told you, to lose your way; only the
great trouble is that no one can lose his way on purpose. At first I used
to think that one had to follow signs. There was an omnibus going down the
King's Road which had 'To the World's End' painted on it. I got into this
one day, and after I had gone some miles I said to the man, 'When do we
get to the World's End?' 'Oh,' said he, 'you have passed it long ago,' and
he rang a little bell to make me get out. So it was a fraud. Another time
I saw another omnibus with the words, 'To the Monster,' and I got into
that, but I heard that it was only a sort of joke, and that though the
Monster was there all right, he was not in Fairyland. This omnibus went
through a very uninteresting part of London, and Fairyland was nowhere in
the neighbourhood. Another time in the country of France I came upon a
printed placard which said: 'The excursion will pass by the Seven Winds,
the Foolish Heath, and St. Martin under Heaven.' This time also I thought
I had got it, but when I looked at the date on the placard I saw that the
excursion had started several days before, so I missed it again. Another
time up in Scotland I saw a signpost on which there was, 'To the King's
House seven miles.' And some one had written underneath in pencil: 'And
to the Dragon's Cave eleven.' But nothing came of it. It was a false
lane. After that I gave up believing that one could get to Fairyland by
signposts or omnibuses, until one day, quite by mistake, I chanced on the
dodge of losing one's way."

"How is that done?" said the child.

"That is what no one can tell you," said I. "If people knew how it was
done everybody would do it, but the whole point of losing your way is that
you do it by mistake. You must be quite certain that you have not lost
your way or it is no good. You walk along, and you walk along, and you
wonder how long it will be before you get to the town, and then instead of
getting to the town at all, there you are in Fairyland."

"How do you know that you are in Fairyland?" said the little child.

"It depends how far you get in," said I. "If you get in far enough trees
and rocks change into men, rivers talk, and voices of people whom you
cannot see tell you all sorts of things in loud and clear tones close to
your ear. But if you only get a little way inside then you know that you
are there by a sort of wonderment. The things ought to be like the things
you see every day, but they are a little different, notably the trees.
It happened to me once in a town called Lanchester. A part of that
town (though no one would think of it to look at it) happens to be in
Fairyland. And there I was received by three fairies, who gave me supper
in an inn. And it happened to me once in the mountains and once it
happened to me at sea. I lost my way and came upon a beach which was in
Fairyland. Another time it happened to me between Goodwood and Upwaltham
in Sussex."

At this moment the child's nurse came in to take it away, so she came to
the point:

"How did you know you were in Fairyland?' she said doubtfully." Perhaps
you are making all this up."

"Nonsense!" I said reprovingly, "the only people who make things up are
little children, for they always tell lies. Grown-up people never tell
lies. Let me tell you that one always knows when one has been in Fairyland
by the feeling afterwards, and because it is impossible to find it again."

The child said, "Very well, I will believe you," but I could see from the
expression of her eyes that she was not wholly convinced, and that in the
bottom of her heart she does not believe there is any such place. She
will, however, if she can hang on another forty years, and then I shall
have my revenge.



THE PORTRAIT OF A CHILD


In a garden which must, I think, lie somewhat apart and enclosed in one
of the valleys of central England, you came across the English grass in
summer beneath the shade of a tree; you were running, but your arms were
stretched before you in a sort of dance and balance as though you rather
belonged to the air and to the growing things about you and above you than
to the earth over which you passed; and you were not three years old.

As, in jest, this charming vision was recorded by a camera which some
guest had with him, a happy accident (designed, for all we know, by
whatever powers arrange such things, an accident of the instrument or of
the plate upon which your small, happy, advancing figure was recorded) so
chanced that your figure, when the picture was printed, shone all around
with light.

I cannot, as I look at it now before me and as I write these words,
express, however much I may seek for expression, how great a meaning
underlies that accident nor how full of fate and of reason and of
suggested truth that aureole grows as I gaze. Your innocence is beatified
by it, and takes on with majesty the glory which lies behind all
innocence, but which our eyes can never see. Your happiness seems in that
mist of light to be removed and permanent; the common world in which you
are moving passes, through this trick of the lens, into a stronger world
more apt for such a sight, and one in which I am half persuaded (as I
still look upon the picture) blessedness is not a rare adventure, but
something native and secure.

Little child, the trick which the camera has played means more and more as
I still watch your picture, for there is present in that light not only
blessedness, but holiness as well. The lightness of your movement and of
your poise (as though you were blown like a blossom along the tops of the
grass) is shone through, and your face, especially its ready and wondering
laughter, is inspired, as though the Light had filled it from within;
so that, looking thus, I look not on, but through. I say that in this
portrait which I treasure there is not only blessedness, but holiness as
well--holiness which is the cause of blessedness and which contains it,
and by which secretly all this world is sustained.

Now there is a third thing in your portrait, little child. That accident
of light, light all about you and shining through your face, is not only
blessed nor only holy, but it is also sacred, and with that thought there
returns to me as I look what always should return to man if he is to find
any stuff or profit in his consideration of divine things. In blessedness
there is joy for which here we are not made, so that we catch it only
in glimpses or in adumbrations. And in holiness, when we perceive it we
perceive something far off; it is that from which we came and to which
we should return; yet holiness is not a human thing. But things
sacred--things devoted to a purpose, things about which there lies an awful
necessity of sacrifice, things devoted and necessarily suffering some
doom--these are certainly of this world; that, indeed, all men know well
at last, and find it part of the business through which they needs must
pass. Human memories, since they are only memories; human attachments,
since they are offered up and end; great human fears and hopeless human
longings--these are sacred things attached to a victim and to a sacrifice;
and in this picture of yours, with the light so glorifying you all round,
no one can doubt who sees it but that the sacredness of human life will be
yours also; that is, you must learn how it is offered up to some end and
what a sacrifice is there.

I could wish, as I consider this, that the camera had played no such
trick, and had not revealed in that haze of awful meaning all that lies
beyond the nature of you, child. But it is a truth which is so revealed;
and we may not, upon a penalty more terrible than death, neglect any
ultimate truth concerning our mortal way.

Your feet, which now do not seem to press upon the lawn across which they
run, have to go more miles than you can dream of, through more places than
you could bear to hear, and they must be directed to a goal which will not
in your very young delight be mentioned before you, or of which, if it is
mentioned, you will not understand by name; and your little hands which
you bear before you with the little gesture of flying things, will grasp
most tightly that which can least remain and will attempt to fashion what
can never be completed, and will caress that which will not respond to
the caress. Your eyes, which are now so principally filled with innocence
that that bright quality drowns all the rest, will look upon so much of
deadly suffering and of misuse in men, that they will very early change
themselves in kind; and all your face, which now vaguely remembers nothing
but the early vision from which childhood proceeds, will grow drawn and
self-guarded, and will suffer some agonies, a few despairs, innumerable
fatigues, until it has become the face of a woman grown. Nor will this
sacred doom about you, which is that of all mankind, cease or grow less
or be mitigated in any way; it will increase as surely and as steadily
as increase the number of the years, until at last you will lay down the
daylight and the knowledge of day-lit things as gladly as now you wake
from sleep to see them.

For you are sacred, and all those elders about you, whose solemn demeanour
now and then startles you into a pretty perplexity which soon calls back
their smiles, have hearts only quite different from your quite careless
heart, because they have known the things to which, in the manner of
victims, they are consecrated.

All that by which we painfully may earn rectitude and a proper balance in
the conduct of our short affairs I must believe that you will practise;
and I must believe, as I look here into your face, seeing your confident
advance (as though you were flying out from your babyhood into young life
without any fear), that the virtues which now surround you in a crowd and
make a sort of court for you and are your angels every way, will go along
with you and will stand by you to the end. Even so, and the more so, you
will find (if you read this some years hence) how truly it is written. By
contrast with your demeanour, with your immortal hopes, and with your
pious efforts the world about you will seem darker and less secure with
every passing harvest, and in proportion as you remember the childhood
which has led me so to write of you, in proportion as you remember
gladness and innocence with its completed joy, in that proportion will
you find at least a breaking burden in the weight of this world.

Now you may say to me, little child (not now, but later on), to what
purpose is all this complaint, and why should you tell me these things?

It is because in the portrait before me the holiness, the blessedness, and
therefore the sacredness are apparent that I am writing as I do. For you
must know that there is a false way out and a seeming relief for the rack
of human affairs, and that this way is taken by many. Since you are sacred
do not take it, but bear the burden. It is the character of whatever is
sacred that it does not take that way; but, like a true victim, remains
to the end, ready to complete the sacrifice.

The way out is to forget that one is sacred, and this men and women do in
many ways. The most of them by way of treason. They betray. They break at
first uneasily, later easily, and at last unconsciously, the word which
each of us has passed before He was born in Paradise. All men and all
women are conscious of that word, for though their lips cannot frame it
here, and though the terms of the pledge are forgotten, the memory of its
obligation fills the mind. But there comes a day, and that soon in the
lives of many, when to break it once is to be much refreshed and to seem
to drop the burden; and in the second and the third time it is done, and
the fourth it is done more easily--until at last there is no more need
for a man or a woman to break that pledged word again and once again; it
is broken for good and for all. This is one most common way in which the
sacred quality is lost: the way of treason. Round about such as choose
this kind of relief grows a habit and an air of treason. They betray all
things at last, and even common friendship is at last no longer theirs.
The end of this false issue is despair.

Another way is to take refuge from ourselves in pleasures, and this is
easily done, not by the worse, but by the better sort; for there are some,
some few, who would never betray nor break their ancient word, but who,
seeing no meaning in a sacrifice nor in a burden, escape from it through
pleasure as through a drug, and this pleasure they find in all manner of
things, and always that spirit near them which would destroy their sacred
mark, persuades them that they are right, and that in such pursuits the
sacrifice is evaded. So some will steep themselves in rhyme, some in
landscapes, some in pictures, some in the watching of the complexity and
change of things, some in music, some in action, some in mere ease. It
seems as though the men and women who would thus forget their sacredness
are better loved and better warned than those who take the other path, for
they never forget certain gracious things which should be proper to the
mind, nor do they lose their friends. But that they have taken a wrong
path you may easily perceive from this sign: that these pleasures, like
any other drug, do not feed or satisfy, but must be increased with every
dose, and even so soon pall and are continued not because they are
pleasures any longer, but because, dull though they have become, without
them there is active pain.

Take neither the one path nor the other, but retain, I beseech you, when
the time comes, that quality of sacredness of which I speak, for there
is no alternative. Some trouble fell upon our race, and all of us must
take upon ourselves the business and the burden. If you will attempt any
way out at all it will but lead you to some worse thing. We have not all
choices before us, but only one of very few, and each of those few choices
is mortal, and all but one is evil.

You should remember this also, dear little child, that at the
beginning--oh, only at the very beginning of life--even your reason that
God gave may lead you wrong. For with those memories strong upon you of
perfect will, of clear intelligence, and of harmonious beauty all about,
you will believe the world in which you stand to be the world from which
you have come and to which you are also destined. You have but to treat
this world for but a very little while as though it were the thing you
think it to find it is not so.

Do you know that that which smells most strongly in this life of
immortality, and which a poet has called "the ultimate outpost of
eternity," is insecure and perishes? I mean the passionate affection of
early youth. If that does not remain, what then do you think can remain?
I tell you that nothing which you take to be permanent round about you
when you are very young is more than the symbol or clothes of permanence.
Another poet has written, speaking of the chalk hills:--

   Only a little while remain
   The Downs in their solemnity.

Nor is this saying forced. Men and women cannot attach themselves even to
the hills where they first played.

Some men, wise but unillumined, and not conscious of that light which I
here physically see shining all round and through you in the picture which
is before my eyes as I write, have said that to die young and to end the
business early was a great blessing. We do not know. But we do know that
to die long after and to have gone through the business must be blessed,
since blessedness and holiness and sacredness are bound together in one.

But, of these three, be certain that sacredness is your chief business,
blessedness after your first childhood you will never know, and holiness
you may only see as men see distant mountains lifted beyond a plain; it
cannot be your habitation. Sacredness, which is the mark of that purpose
whose heir is blessedness, whose end is holiness, will be upon you until
you die; maintain it, and let it be your chief concern, for though you
neglect it, it will remain and avenge itself.

All this I have seen in your picture as you go across the grass, and it
was an accident of the camera that did it. If any one shall say these
things do not attach to the portrait of a child, let him ask himself
whether they do not attach to the portrait that might be drawn, did human
skill suffice, of the life of a woman or a man which springs from the
demeanour of childhood; or let him ask himself whether, if a face in old
age and that same face in childhood were equally and as by a revelation
set down each in its full truth, and the growth of the one into the other
were interpreted by a profound intelligence, what I have said would not
be true of all that little passage of ours through the daylight.



ON EXPERIENCE


There are three phases in the life of man, so far as his thoughts upon
his surroundings are concerned.

The first of these is the phase of youth, in which he takes certain
matured things for granted, and whether he realizes his illusion or no,
believes them to be eternal. This phase ends sharply with every man, by
the action of one blow. Some essence is dissolved, some binding cordage
snaps, or some one dies.

I say no matter how clearly the reason of a man tells him that all about
him is changeable, and that perfect and matured things and characters upon
whose perfection and maturity he reposes for his peace must disappear, his
attitude in youth towards those things is one of a complete security as
towards things eternal. For the young man, convinced as he is that his
youth and he himself are there for ever, sees in one lasting framework his
father's garden, his mother's face, the landscape from his windows, his
friendships, and even his life; the very details of food, of clothing,
and of lesser custom, all these are fixed for him. Fixed also are the
mature and perfect things. This aged friend, in whose excellent humour
and universal science he takes so continual a delight, is there for ever.
That considered judgment of mankind upon such and such a troubling matter,
of sex, of property, or of political right, is anchored or rooted in
eternity. There comes a day when by some one experience he is startled out
of that morning dream. It is not the first death, perhaps, that strikes
him, nor the first loss--no, not even, perhaps, the first discovery that
human affection also passes (though that should be for every man the
deepest lesson of all). What wakes him to the reality which is for some
dreadful, for others august, and for the faithful divine, is always an
accident. One death, one change, one loss, among so many, unseals his
judgment, and he sees thenceforward, nay, often from one particular moment
upon which he can put his finger, the doom which lies upon all things
whatsoever that live by a material change.

The second phase which he next enters is for a thoughtful man in a
sceptical and corrupted age the crucial phase, whereby will be determined,
not indeed the fate of his soul, but the justice, and therefore the
advantage to others, of his philosophy.

He has done with all illusions of permanence and repose. Henceforward he
sees for himself a definite end, and the road which used to lead over
the hills and to be lost beyond in the haze of summer plains now leads
directly to a visible place; that place is a cavern in the mountain side,
dark and without issue. He must die. Henceforward he expects the passing
of all to which he is attached, and he is braced against loss by something
lent to him which is to despair as an angel is to a demon; something in
the same category of emotion, but just and fortifying, instead of void
and vain and tempting and without an end. A man sees in this second phase
of his experience that he must lose. Oh, he does not lose in a gamble!
It is not a question of winning a stake or forfeiting it, as the vulgar
falsehood of commercial analogy would try to make our time believe. He
knows henceforward that there is no success, no final attainment of
desire, because there is no fixity in any material thing. As he sits at
table with the wisest and keenest of his time, especially with the old,
hearing true stories of the great men who came before him, looking at
well-painted pictures, admiring the proper printing of collected books,
and praising the just balance of some classical verse or music which
time has judged and made worthy, he so admires and enjoys with a full
consciousness that these things are flowing past him. He cannot rely; he
attempts no foothold. The equilibrium of his soul is only to be discovered
in marching and continually marching. He now knows that he must go onward,
he may not stand, for if he did he would fall. He must go forward and see
the river of things run by. He must go forward--but to what goal?

There is a third phase, in which (as the experience of twenty Christian
centuries determines) that goal also is discovered, and for some who so
discover it the experience of loss begins to possess a meaning.

What this third phase is I confess I do not know, and as I have not felt
it I cannot describe it, but when that third phase is used as I have
suggested a character of wisdom enters into those so using it; a character
of wisdom which is the nearest thing our dull time can show to inspiration
and to prophecy.

It is to be noted also that in this third phase of man's experience of
doom those who are not wise are most unwise indeed; and that where the age
of experience has not produced this sort of clear maturity in the spirit,
then it produces either despair or folly, or an exaggerated shirking of
reality, which, being a falsehood, is wickeder than despair, and far more
inhuman than mere foolishness. Thus those who in the third phase of which
I speak have not attained the wisdom which I here recognize will often
sink into a passion of avarice, accumulating wealth which they cannot
conceivably enjoy; a stupidity so manifest that every age of satire has
found it the most facile of commonplaces. Or, again, those who fail to
find wisdom in that last phase will constantly pretend an unreal world,
making plans for a future that cannot be there. So did a man eleven
years ago in the neighbourhood of Regent Street, for this man, being
eighty-seven years of age, wealthy, and wholly devoid of friends, or near
kindred, took a flat, but he insisted that the lease should be one of not
less than sixty years. In a hundred ways this last phase if it is degraded
is most degraded; and, though it is not worst, it is most sterile when it
falls to a mere regret for the past.

Now it is here that the opposite, the wisdoms of old age appears; for the
old, when they are wise, are able to point out to men and to women of
middle age what these least suspect, and can provide them with a good
medicine against the insecurity of the soul. The old in their wisdom can
tell those just beneath them this: that though all things human pass, all
bear their fruit. They can say: "You believe that such and such a woman,
with her courtesy, her travel, her sharp edge of judgment, her large
humanity, and her love of the comedy of the world, being dead can never be
replaced. There are, growing up around you, characters quite insufficient,
and to you, perhaps, contemptible, who will in their fruiting display all
these things." There never was, nor has been, a time (say those who are
acquainted with the great story of Europe) when Christendom has failed.
Out of dead passages there has sprung up suddenly, and quite miraculously,
whatever was thought to be lost. So it has been with our music, so with
the splendour of our armies, so with the fabric of our temples, so with
our deathless rhymes. The old, when they are wise, can do for men younger
than they what history does for the reader; but they can do it far more
poignantly, having expression in their eyes and the living tones of a
voice. It is their business to console the world.



ON IMMORTALITY


Here and there, scattered rarely among men as men are now, you will
find one man who does not pursue the same ends as his fellows; but in a
peculiar manner leads his life as though his eyes were fixed upon some
distant goal or his appetites subjected to some constant and individual
influence.

Such a man may be doing any one of many things. He may be a poet, and his
occupation may be the writing of good verse, pleased at its sound and
pleased as well by the reflection of the pleasure it will give to others.
Or he may be devoted, and follow a creed, a single truth or a character
which he loves, and whose influence and glory he makes it his business to
propagate. Or he may be but a worker in some material, a carver in wood,
or a manager of commercial affairs, or a governor and administrator of
men, and yet so order his life that his work and his material are his
object: not his gain in the end--not his appreciable and calculable gain
at least--nor his immediate and ephemeral pleasures.

Such men, if you will examine them, will prove intent upon one ultimate
completion of their being which is also (whether they know it or not) a
reward, and those who have carefully considered the matter and give it
expression say that such men are out a-hunting for Immortality.

Now what is that? There was a man, before the Normans came to England, who
sailed from the highest Scandinavian mountains, I think, towards these
shores, and landing, fought against men and was wounded so that he was
certain to die. When they asked him why he had undertaken that adventure,
he answered: "That my name might live between the lips of men."

The young, the adventurous, the admired--how eagerly and how properly do
they not crave for glory. Fame has about it a divine something as it were
an echo of perfect worship and of perfect praise, which, though it is
itself imperfect, may well deceive the young, the adventurous, and the
admired. How great to think that things well done and the enlargement of
others shall call down upon our names, even when all is lost but the mere
names, a continuous and an increasing benediction. Nay, more than this:
how great to think of the noise only of an achievement, and to be sure
that the poem written, the carving concluded, or the battle won, the
achievement of itself, though the name of the achiever be perished or
unknown, shall awake those tremendous echoes.

But wait a moment. What is that thing which so does and so desires? What
end does _it_ find in glory? _It_ is not the receiver of the
benefit; _it_ will not hear that large volume of recognition and of
salute. Twist it how you will no end is here, nor in such a pursuit is the
pursuer satisfied.

It is true that men who love to create for themselves imaginary stuff, and
to feed, their cravings, if they cannot with substance then with dreams,
perpetually pretend a satisfaction in such acquirements which the years as
they proceed tell them with increasing iteration that they do not feel.
The young, the adventurous, the admired, may at first be deceived by such
a glamour, and it is in the providential scheme of human affairs, and it
is for the good of us all that the pleasing cheat should last while the
good things are doing. Thus do substantial verse and noble sculpture and
building whose stuff is lasting and whose beauty is almost imperishable,
rise to the advantage of mankind--but oh! there is no lasting in the
dream.

There comes a day of truth inwardly but ineradicably perceived, when such
things, such aspirations, are clearly known for what they are. Of all the
affections that pass, of all those things which being made by a power
itself perishable, must be unmade again, some may be less, others more
lasting, but not one remains for ever.

Nor is this all. What is it, I say, which did the thing and suffered the
desire? Not the receiver, still less the work achieved, it was the man
that so acted and so desired; and that part of him which was affected thus
we call the Soul. Then, surely (one may reason) the soul has, apt to its
own nature, a completion which is also a reward, and there is something
before it which is not the symbol or the cheat of perfect praise, but
is perfect praise; there is surely something before it which is not the
symbol or the cheat of life, but life completed.

Now stand at night beneath a clear heaven solemn and severe with stars,
comprehend (as the great achievement of our race permits us now to do)
what an emptiness and what a scale are there, and you will easily discover
in that one glance, or you will feel at least the appalling thing which
tempts men to deny their immortality.

There is no man who has closely inquired upon this, and there is none
who has troubled himself and admitted a reasonable anxiety upon it, who
has not well retained the nature of despair. Those who approach their
fellow-beings with assertion and with violence in such a matter, affirming
their discovery, their conviction, or their acquired certitude, do an
ill service to their kind. It is not thus that the last things should be
approached nor the most tremendous problem which man is doomed to envisage
be propounded and solved. Ah! the long business in this world! The way in
which your deepest love goes up in nothingness and breaks away, and the
way in which the strongest and the most continuous element of your dear
self is dissipated and fails you in some moment; if I do not understand
these things in a man nor comprehend how the turn of the years can obscure
or obliterate a man's consciousness of what his end should be, then I act
in brute ignorance, or what is much worse, in lack of charity.

How should you not be persuaded, ephemeral intelligence? Does not every
matter which you have held closely enough and long enough escape you and
withdraw? Is not that doom true of things which were knit into us, and
were of necessity, so to speak, prime parts of our being? Is it not true
of the network and the structure which supports whatever we are, and
without which we cannot imagine ourselves to be? We ourselves perish. Of
that there is no doubt at all. One is here talking and alive. His friends
are with him: on the time when they shall meet again he is utterly not
there. The motionless flesh before his mourners is nothing. It is not a
simulacrum, it is not an outline, it is not a recollection of the man, but
rather something wholly gone useless. As for that voice, those meanings in
the eyes, and that gesture of the hand, it has suddenly and entirely
ceased to be.

Then how shall we deny the dreadful conclusion (to which how many elder
civilizations have not turned!) that we must seek in vain for any gift to
the giver for any workers' wage, or, rather, to put it more justly, for
a true end to the life we lead. Yet it is not so. The conclusion is more
weighty by far that all things bear their fruit: that the comprehender and
the master of so much, the very _mind_, suffers to no purpose and in
one moment a tragic, final, and unworthy catastrophe agrees with nothing
other that we know. It is not thus of the good things of the earth that
turn kindly into the earth again. It cannot be thus with that which makes
of all the earth a subject thing for contemplation and for description,
for understanding, and, if it so choose--for sacrifice.

Those of our race who have deliberately looked upon the scroll and found
there nothing to read, who have lifted the curtain and found beyond it
nothing to see, have faced their conclusions with a nobility which should
determine us; for that nobility does prove, or, if it does not prove,
compels us to proclaim, that the soul of man which breeds it has somewhere
a lasting home. The conclusion is imperative.

Let not any one pretend in his faith that his faith is immediately evident
and everywhere acceptable. There is in all who pretend to judgment a sense
of the doubt that lies between the one conviction and the other, and all
acknowledge that the scales swing normally upon the beam for normal men.
But they swing--and one is the heavier.

The poets, who are our interpreters, know well and can set forth the
contrast between such intimations and such despair.

   The long descent of wasted days
   To these at last have led me down:
   Remember that I filled with praise
   The meaningless and doubtful ways
   That lead to an eternal town.

Moreover, since we have spoken of the night it is only reasonable to
consider the alternate dawn. The quality of light, its merry action on the
mind, the daylit sky under whose benediction we repose and in which our
kind has always seen the picture of its final place: are these then
visions and deceits?



ON SACRAMENTAL THINGS


It is good for a man's soul to sit down in the silence by himself and to
think of those things which happen by some accident to be in communion
with the whole world. If he has not the faculty of remembering these
things in their order and of calling them up one after another in his
mind, then let him write them down as they come to him upon a piece of
paper. They will comfort him; they will prove a sort of solace against
the expectation of the end. To consider such things is a sacramental
occupation. And yet the more I think of them the less I can quite
understand in what elements their power consists.

A woman smiling at a little child, not knowing that others see her, and
holding out her hands towards it, and in one of her hands flowers; an old
man, lean and active, with an eager face, walking at dusk upon a warm
and windy evening westward towards a clear sunset below dark and flying
clouds; a group of soldiers, seen suddenly in manoeuvres, each man intent
upon his business, all working at the wonderful trade, taking their places
with exactitude and order and yet with elasticity; a deep, strong tide
running back to the sea, going noiselessly and flat and black and smooth,
and heavy with purpose under an old wall; the sea smell of a Channel
seaport town; a ship coming up at one out of the whole sea when one is
in a little boat and is waiting for her, coming up at one with her great
sails merry and every one doing its work, with the life of the wind in
her, and a balance, rhythm, and give in all that she does which marries
her to the sea--whether it be a fore and aft rig and one sees only great
lines of the white, or a square rig and one sees what is commonly and well
called a leaning tower of canvas, or that primal rig, the triangular sail,
that cuts through the airs of the world and clove a way for the first
adventures, whatever its rig, a ship so approaching an awaiting boat from
which we watch her is one of the things I mean.

I would that the taste of my time permitted a lengthy list of such things:
they are pleasant to remember! They do so nourish the mind! A glance
of sudden comprehension mixed with mercy and humour from the face of a
lover or a friend; the noise of wheels when the guns are going by; the
clatter-clank-clank of the pieces and the shouted halt at the head of the
column; the noise of many horses, the metallic but united and harmonious
clamour of all those ironed hoofs, rapidly occupying the highway; chief
and most persistent memory, a great hill when the morning strikes it and
one sees it up before one round the turning of a rock after the long passes
and despairs of the night.

When a man has journeyed and journeyed through those hours in which there
is no colour or shape, all along the little hours that were made for sleep
and when, therefore, the waking soul is bewildered or despairs, the morning
is always a resurrection--but especially when it reveals a height in the
sky.

This last picture I would particularly cherish, so great a consolation is
it, and so permanent a grace does it lend later to the burdened mind of a
man.

For when a man looks back upon his many journeys--so many rivers crossed,
and more than one of them forded in peril; so many swinging mountain
roads, so many difficult steeps and such long wastes of plains--of all the
pictures that impress themselves by the art or kindness of whatever god
presides over the success of journeys, no picture more remains than that
picture of a great hill when the day first strikes it after the long
burden of the night.

Whatever reasons a man may have for occupying the darkness with his travel
and his weariness, those reasons must be out of the ordinary and must go
with some bad strain upon the mind. Perhaps one undertook the march from
an evil necessity under the coercion of other men, or perhaps in terror,
hoping that the darkness might hide one, or perhaps for cool, dreading the
unnatural heat of noon in a desert land; perhaps haste, which is in itself
so wearying a thing, compelled one, or perhaps anxiety. Or perhaps, most
dreadful of all, one hurried through the night afoot because one feared
what otherwise the night would bring, a night empty of sleep and a night
whose dreams were waking dreams and evil.

But whatever prompts the adventure or the necessity, when the long burden
has been borne, and when the turn of the hours has come; when the stars
have grown paler; when colour creeps back greyly and uncertainly to the
earth, first into the greens of the high pastures, then here and there
upon a rock or a pool with reeds, while all the air, still cold, is full
of the scent of morning; while one notices the imperceptible disappearance
of the severities of Heaven until at last only the morning star hangs
splendid; when in the end of that miracle the landscape is fully revealed,
and one finds into what country one has come; then a great hill before
one, losing the forests upwards into rock and steep meadow upon its sides,
and towering at last into the peaks and crests of the inaccessible places,
gives a soul to the new land.... The sun, in a single moment and with the
immediate summons of a trumpet-call, strikes the spear-head of the high
places, and at once the valley, though still in shadow, is transfigured,
and with the daylight all manner of things have come back to the world.

Hope is the word which gathers the origins of those things together, and
hope is the seed of what they mean, but that new light and its new quality
is more than hope. Livelihood is come back with the sunrise, and the fixed
certitude of the soul; number and measure and comprehension have returned,
and a just appreciation of all reality is the gift of the new day. Glory
(which, if men would only know it, lies behind all true certitude)
illumines and enlivens the seen world, and the living light makes of the
true things now revealed something more than truth absolute; they appear
as truth acting and creative.

This first shaft of the sun is to that hill and valley what a word is to a
thought. It is to that hill and valley what verse is to the common story
told; it is to that hill and valley what music is to verse. And there lies
behind it, one is very sure, an infinite progress of such exaltations, so
that one begins to understand, as the pure light shines and grows and as
the limit of shadow descends the vast shoulder of the steep, what has been
meant by those great phrases which still lead on, still comfort, and still
make darkly wise, the uncomforted wondering of mankind. Such is the famous
phrase: "Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor can it enter into the heart
of man what things God has prepared for those that serve Him."

So much, then, is conveyed by a hill-top at sunrise when it comes upon the
traveller or the soldier after the long march of a night, the bending of
the shoulders, and the emptiness of the dark.

Many other things put one into communion with the whole world.

Who does not remember coming over a lifting road to a place where the
ridge is topped, and where, upon the further side, a broad landscape,
novel or endeared by memory (for either is a good thing), bursts upon the
seized imagination as a wave from the open sea, swelling up an inland
creek, breaks and bursts upon the rocks of the shore? There is a place
where a man passes from the main valley of the Rhone over into the valley
of the Isère, and where the Grésivandan so suddenly comes upon him. Two
gates of limestone rock, high as the first shoulders of the mountains,
lead into the valley which they guard; it is a province of itself, a level
floor of thirty miles, nourished by one river, and walled in up to the
clouds on either side.

Or again, in the champagne country, moving between great blocks of wood
in the Forest of Rheims and always going upward as the ride leads him, a
man comes to a point whence he suddenly sees all that vast plain of the
invasions stretching out to where, very far off against the horizon, two
days away, twin summits mark the whole site sharply with a limit as a
frame marks a picture or a punctuation a phrase.

There is another place more dear to me, but which I doubt whether any
other but a native of that place can know. After passing through the
plough lands of an empty plateau, a traveller breaks through a little
fringe of chestnut hedge and perceives at once before him the wealthiest
and the most historical of European things, the chief of the great
capitals of Christendom and the arena in which is now debated (and has
been for how long!) the Faith, the chief problem of this world.

Apart from landscape other things belong to this contemplation: Notes
of music, and, stronger even than repeated and simple notes of music, a
subtle scent and its association, a familiar printed page. Perhaps the
test of these sacramental things is their power to revive the past.

There is a story translated into the noblest of English writing by Dasent.
It is to be found in his "Tales from the Norse." It is called the Story of
the Master Maid.

A man had found in his youth a woman on the Norwegian hills: this woman
was faëry, and there was a spell upon her. But he won her out of it in
various ways, and they crossed the sea together, and he would bring her
to his father's house, but his father was a King. As they went over-sea
together alone, he said and swore to her that he would never forget how
they had met and loved each other without warning, but by an act of God,
upon the Dovrefjeld. Come near his father's house, the ordinary influences
of the ordinary day touched him; he bade her enter a hut and wait a moment
until he had warned his father of so strange a marriage; she, however,
gazing into his eyes, and knowing how the divine may be transformed into
the earthly, quite as surely as the earthly into the divine, makes him
promise that he will not eat human food. He sits at his father's table,
still steeped in her and in the seas. He forgets his vow and eats human
food, and at once he forgets.

Then follows much for which I have not space, but the woman in the hut by
her magic causes herself to be at last sent for to the father's palace.
The young man sees her, and is only slightly troubled as by a memory which
he cannot grasp. They talk together as strangers; but looking out of the
window by accident the King's son sees a bird and its mate; he points them
out to the woman, and she says suddenly: "So was it with you and me high
up upon the Dovrefjeld." Then he remembers all.

Now that story is a symbol, and tells the truth. We see some one thing in
this world, and suddenly it becomes particular and sacramental; a woman
and a child, a man at evening, a troop of soldiers; we hear notes of
music, we smell the smell that went with a passed time, or we discover
after the long night a shaft of light upon the tops of the hills at
morning: there is a resurrection, and we are refreshed and renewed.

But why all these things are so neither I nor any other man can tell.



IN PATRIA


There is a certain valley, or rather profound cleft, through the living
rock of certain savage mountains through which there roars and tumbles in
its narrow trench the Segre, here but a few miles from its rising in the
upland grass.

This cleft is so disposed that the smooth limestone slabs of its western
wall stand higher than the gloomy steps of cliff upon its eastern, and
thus these western cliffs take the glare of the morning sunlight upon
them, or the brilliance of the moon when she is full or waning in the
first part of her course through the night.

The only path by which men can go down that gorge clings to the eastern
face of the abyss and is for ever plunged in shadow. Down this path I went
very late upon a summer night, close upon midnight, and the moon just past
the full. The air was exceedingly clear even for that high place, and the
moon struck upon the limestone of the sheer opposing cliffs in a manner
neither natural nor pleasing, but suggesting horror, and, as it were,
something absolute, too simple for mankind.

It was not cold, but there were no crickets at such a level in the
mountains, nor any vegetation there except a brush here and there clinging
between the rocks and finding a droughty rooting in their fissures.
Though the map did not include this gorge, I could guess that it would be
impossible for me, save by following that dreadful path all night, to find
a village, and therefore I peered about in the dense shadow as I went for
one of those overhanging rocks which are so common in that region, and
soon I found one. It was a refuge better than most that I had known during
a lonely travel of three days, for the whole bank was hollowed in, and
there was a distinct, if shallow, cave bordering the path. Into this,
therefore, I went and laid down, wrapping myself round in a blanket I
had brought from the plains beyond the mountains, and, with my loaf and
haversack and a wine-skin that I carried for a pillow, I was very soon
asleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I woke, which I did with suddenness, it seemed to me to have turned
uncommonly cold, and when I stepped out from my blanket (for I was broad
awake) the cold struck me still more nearly, and was not natural in such a
place. But I knew how a mist will gather suddenly upon these hills, and I
went out and stood upon the path to see what weather the hour had brought
me. The sky, the narrow strip of sky above the gorge, was filled with
scud flying so low that now and then bulges or trails of it would strike
against that western cliff of limestone and wreath down it, and lift and
disappear, but fast as the scud was moving there was no noise of wind. I
seemed not to have slept long, for the moon was still riding in heaven,
though her light now came in rapid waxing and waning between the shreds of
the clouds. Beneath me a little angrier than before (so that I thought to
myself, "Up in the hills it has been raining") roared the Segre.

As I stood thus irresolute and quite awakened from sleep, I saw to my
right the figure of a little man who beckoned. No fear took me as I saw
him, but a good deal of wonder, for he was oddly shaped, and in the
darkness of that pathway I could not see his face. But in his presence
by some accident of the mind many things changed their significance: the
gorge became personal to me, the river a voice, the fitful moonlight a
warning, and it seemed as though some safety was to be sought, or some
certitude, upwards, whence I had come, and I felt oddly as though the
little figure were a guide.

He was so short as I watched him that I thought him almost a dwarf, though
I have seen men as small guiding the mules over the breaches in the ridge
of the hills. He was hunchback, or the great pack he was carrying made him
seem so. His thin legs were long for his body, and he walked too rapidly,
with bent knees; his right hand he leant upon a great sapling; upon his
head was a very wide hat, the stuff of which I could not see in the
darkness. Now and again he would turn and beckon me, and he always went
on a little way before. As for me, partly because he beckoned, but more
because I felt prescient of a goal, I followed him.

No mountain path seems the same when you go up it and when you go down it.
This it was which rendered unfamiliar to me the shapes of the rocks and
the turnings of the gorge as I hurried, behind my companion. With every
passing moment, moreover, the light grew less secure, the scud thickened,
and as we rose towards the lower level of those clouds the mass of them
grew more even, until at last the path and some few yards of the emptiness
which sank away to our left was all one could discern. The mist was full
of a diffused moonlight, but it was dense. I wondered when we should
strike out of the gorge and begin to find the upland grasses that lead
toward the highest summits of those hills, for thither I was sure were we
bound.

Soon I began to recognize that easier trend in the rock wall, those
increasing and flattened gullies which mark the higher slope. Here and
there an unmelted patch of snow appeared, grass could be seen, and at last
we were upon the roll of the high land where it runs up steeply to the
ridge of the chain. Moss and the sponging of moisture in the turf were
beneath our feet, the path disappeared, and our climb got steeper and
steeper; and still the little man went on before, pressing eagerly and
breasting the hill. I neither felt fatigue nor noticed that I did not feel
it. The extreme angle of the slope suited my mood, nor was I conscious of
its danger, though its fantastic steepness exhilarated me because it was
so novel to be trying such things at night in such a weather. The moon,
I think, must by this time have been near its sinking, for the mist grew
full of darkness round about us, and at last it was altogether deep night.
I could see my companion only as a blur of difference in the darkness, but
even as this change came I felt the steepness relax beneath my climbing
feet, the round level of the ridge was come, and soon again we were
hurrying across it until there came, in a hundred yards or so, a moment in
which my companion halted, as men who know the mountains halt when they
reach an edge below which they know the land to break away.

He was waiting, and I waited with him: we had not long so to stand.

The mist which so often lifts as one passes the crest of the hills lifted
for us also, and, below, it was broad day.

Ten thousand feet below, at the foot of forest cascading into forest,
stretched out into an endless day, was the Weald. There were the places I
had always known, but not as I had known them: they were in another air.
There was the ridge, and the river valley far off to the eastward, and
Pasham Pines, Amberley wild brooks, and Petworth the little town, and I
saw the Rough clearly, and the hills out beyond the county, and beyond
them farther plains, and all the fields and all the houses of the men I
knew. Only it was much larger, and it was more intimate, and it was
farther away, and it was certainly divine.

A broad road such as we have not here and such as they have not in those
hills, a road for armies, sank back and forth in great gradients down to
the plain. These and the forests were foreign; the Weald below, so many
thousand feet below, was not foreign but transformed. The dwarf went down
that road. I did not follow him. I saw him clearly now. His curious little
coat of mountain stuff, his thin, bent legs walking rapidly, and the
chestnut sapling by he walked, holding it in his hand by the middle. I
could see the brown colour of it, and the shininess of the bark of it, and
the ovals of white where the branchlings had been cut away. So I watched
him as he went down and down the road. He never once looked back and he no
longer beckoned me.

In a moment, before a word could form in the mind, the mist had closed
again and it was mortally cold; and with that cold there came to me an
appalling knowledge that I was alone upon such a height and knew nothing
of my way. The hand which I put to my shoulder where my blanket was found
it wringing wet. The mist got greyer, my mind more confused as I struggled
to remember, and then I woke and found I was still in the cave. All that
business had been a dream, but so vivid that I carried it all through the
day, and carry it still.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was the very early morning; the gorge was full of mist, the Segre made
a muffled roaring through such a bank of cloud; the damp of the mist was
on everything. The stones in the pathway glistened, the air was raw and
fresh, awaiting the rising of the sun. I took the path and went downward.





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